Lush; early 1990s
|Labels||4AD, Reprise (US), Edamame|
|The Lillies, Sing-Sing|
Lush were an English rock band formed in London in 1987. The original line-up consisted of Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar), Emma Anderson (vocals), Steve Rippon (bass) and Chris Acland (drums). Phil King replaced Rippon in 1991. They were one of the first bands to have been described with the "shoegazing" label. Following the death of Acland, the group disbanded in 1996.
The band formed in 1987 in London, initially named the Baby Machines (after a line in the Siouxsie and the Banshees song "Arabian Knights"), with a lineup of Meriel Barham (vocals), Anderson (guitar, vocals), Berenyi (guitar, vocals), Steve Rippon (bass) and Chris Acland (drums). Their influences were diverse; they were inspired by the garage rock scene of the Nuggets series, Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Beach Boys and the Byrds.
Anderson and Berenyi had been school friends, having known each other since the early 1980s, and together published the Alphabet Soup fanzine. In 1986, Anderson joined the Rover Girls as bassist, and Berenyi joined the Bugs, also as a bass player. Neither band lasted long, and in 1987, they joined Barham and Acland in the Baby Machines. Rippon joined shortly thereafter, and the band members decided on a change of name to Lush, making their live debut at the Camden Falcon on 6 March 1988. Barham left the band and later joined Pale Saints. Berenyi then took on lead vocal duties.
Anderson said of the band's beginnings: "We were kind of punk rock in one way. We did think, 'Well, if they can do it, why the fuck can't we?' Basically, our idea was to have extremely loud guitars with much weaker vocals. And, really, the vocals were weaker due to nervousness - we'd always be going 'Turn them down! Turn them down!'" Berenyi said, "We started by writing crappy riot grrl anthems... which was probably charming in a juvenile way. But there was a very rapid shift from the minute we started to write for records. The music, the lyrics became much more thoughtful and expressive, more important, really. I remember that change beginning when Emma wrote "Thoughtforms," it certainly made me think I needed to get my act together."
In 1989, the band signed to 4AD and released Scar, a six-track mini-album. Critical praise for Scar and a popular live show established Lush as one of the most written-about groups of the late 1980s/early 1990s UK indie scene. Anderson told Everett True in Melody Maker, "I remember when I couldn't play, I wasn't in a band, didn't know anyone else who could play, and now we've got a record out on 4AD. I sometimes find it impossible to come to terms with what's happening."
Not long after, the British music press tagged them with the "shoegazing" label. The following year, the EPs Mad Love (produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins) and Sweetness and Light (produced by Tim Friese-Greene) were released. All three releases were eventually combined into the Gala compilation album, which was produced mainly for the US and Japanese markets. The band recorded a live session for John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show in 1990 and contributed a cover version of "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" later that year to the anti-poll tax album Alvin Lives (In Leeds).
The band's profile was raised by extensive touring, including an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in June 1990 and tours of Japan in late 1990 and the US (with Ride) in the spring of 1991. Preceded by the Black Spring EP issued in October 1991, Lush's first full-length album of completely new material, Spooky, was released in January 1992. Again produced by Guthrie, Spooky featured a sound very similar to Guthrie's band Cocteau Twins, with walls of sound and a great deal of guitar effects. Reviews were mixed and critics of the album held that Guthrie's production brought the sound away from the band's original creative vision, although it sold well, reaching No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart. The album was preceded by the band's first UK top 40 single, "For Love", which was partly re-recorded and remixed by Mark Freegard. He also produced the single's B-sides: the original recording of "Starlust", Wire cover "Outdoor Miner" and the only Lush track with lead vocals by Anderson, "Astronaut". Gil Norton remixed "Superblast!" for the Japanese single release.
Rippon left the band after recording the "For Love" EP to concentrate on writing; though his book Cold Turkey Sandwich--a fictionalised chronicle of his time touring--was rejected by publishers. He was replaced by Phil King. During the summer of 1992, Lush toured America as part of the second edition of the Lollapalooza festival. Lush was added to the roster by Lollapalooza organiser Perry Farrell, the Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros frontman, who personally requested Lush.
Lush approached Bob Mould to produce their second album. The band stated that Mould was too busy to produce them, but Mould said in a Spin article that he backed out because "I kept picking the wrong girl's songs... I had to get out before I broke up the band!" The band found completing Split frustrating. It was recorded by Mike Hedges at Rockfield Studios in Wales. Then Hedges along with the band went to mix the recordings, first at Abbey Road Studios, and then at Hedges' studio in Domfront, France. However, neither the band nor Ivo Watts-Russell of their label 4AD were satisfied with the sound; eventually Alan Moulder was hired to remix it. Unusually, the band released two EPs from the album ("Hypocrite" and "Desire Lines") both on the same day (30 May 1994). Neither single broke into the UK Top 40. Released on 13 June 1994, Split was less successful than Spooky.
The band concentrated on the American market, on the advice of their management, but failed to make a breakthrough. A third EP from "Split", planned for release in the autumn of 1994, was to have featured "Lovelife" as the lead track along with a version of "The Childcatcher" recorded during the "Split" sessions; but the release was shelved by management. This first version of "The Childcatcher" was released three times: on the Secret Tracks 2 free cassette included in the May 1994 issue of 'Select' magazine, on the 4AD compilation All Virgos Are Mad and as part of the double 7" compilation EP From Greer to Eternity, issued on Fierce Panda Records later that year. They suffered further setbacks when tours of Japan and the UK were cancelled. They decided to break from their manager, Howard Gough, and begin work on a new album. However, the new management also prioritised achieving success in America.
Lovelife, the band's third album, was released in March 1996. It was produced by Pete Bartlett, the band's live engineer. Lovelife represented a change in production, with less reliance on heavy guitar effects. It became the biggest seller of their career, possibly as it was more instep with the contemporary Britpop style.Lovelife included the hit singles "Single Girl", "Ladykillers" and "500 (Shake Baby Shake)", and also featured a guest appearance by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp duetting with Berenyi on the song "Ciao!".
Instead of capitalising on their success in the UK, the band's management sent them on an ill-conceived American tour with the Gin Blossoms. With the band members feeling pressured and tired, Anderson discussed leaving. She stated she could not make another Lovelife but would rather make a smaller, more personal album. The other band members were amenable to this idea, with Berenyi, in particular, being keen to keep the band together.
In September 1996, the band played their last performance, prior to reuniting, in Japan. A month later, tragedy struck the band when drummer Acland died by hanging himself in his parents' garden on 17 October. The band effectively went on an extended hiatus, officially announcing their break-up on 23 February 1998.
Berenyi went on to work as a production editor at two major magazine publishers. In 1998, Anderson formed a new group, Sing-Sing, with singer Lisa O'Neill. Sing-Sing released two full-length albums but in January 2008, announced they were disbanding. Anderson lived in Hastings and has held various jobs in the music business in management, PR, accountancy and at a booking agency. King played bass for the Jesus and Mary Chain and also worked for Uncut magazine as a picture researcher.
In September 2015, the music press suggested a reunion might be planned after Anderson posted a cryptic "7 day." message on social media and an official band website appeared. On 28 September, Lush announced their reunion on their Facebook page. The reunited band consists of Anderson, Berenyi and King with the addition of Justin Welch (Elastica) on drums, an old friend of Chris Acland.
|"||We wish it could have been sooner but, for many years, it was just too painful to contemplate without Chris, and then all kinds of life-changing commitments made it impossible. Now, at last, the three of us are in the right place at the right time to play music together again.||"|
To celebrate their return, 4AD released a limited red vinyl double LP of their compilation Ciao! Best of Lush on 7 November 2015, followed on 11 December by Chorus; a CD-only, 5-disc box set containing almost all of their released material along with a selection of rarities, radio sessions and demos. For Record Store Day 2016, 4AD released a limited edition 5-LP colour vinyl box set titled Origami, comprising Gala (clear vinyl), Spooky (silver vinyl), Split (red vinyl), Lovelife (pink vinyl) and the first vinyl release of the Canadian version of Topolino (yellow vinyl), with revised artwork by Chris Bigg. The UK/European version was packaged in a white cardboard "pizza box" emblazoned with three different Lush logos from 1990, 1994 and 1996.
Lush also announced a show at the Roundhouse in London on 6 May 2016, and later added a second date, 7 May 2016, after the first show sold out in six hours. They alluded to further dates in North America, confirmed on 19 January 2016 when their first North American tour in 20 years was announced.
On 18 October 2016, the band announced the departure of bassist King on their official website. On 15 November 2016, Lush issued a statement announcing that Michael Conroy of Modern English would play bass for the final show at Manchester Academy, and confirming the band would split after the show.
|"||It's been a fantastic year for Lush. We received an incredible reception to our Blind Spot EP and the three beautiful career-spanning 4AD releases, sold out two Roundhouse shows, toured North America with great success and had a ball at our European festival appearances. It's been wonderful to revisit our old music and to create new material. However, it is now time for us to return to our families and homes, and bring our time together as a band to a close. We offer heartfelt thanks to all our fans - this reunion would never have happened without your overwhelming support and dedication.||"|
Lush's cover of the Rubinoos song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" (retitled "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend" for Lush's authorised version) was cited in a 2007 lawsuit filed by the Rubinoos against Avril Lavigne, whose song "Girlfriend" bore similarities to the Lush cover of the Rubinoos song. A settlement in the case has since been reached.
|Title||Release date||Format||Label||Code||UK Albums Chart||UK Indie||US Billboard 200|
|Scar (mini-album)||9 October 1989||LP/CD/C||4AD||JAD 911||-||3||-|
|Spooky||27 January 1992||LP/CD/double-10"/C||CAD 2002||7||-||-|
|Split||13 June 1994||LP/CD/C||CAD 4011||19||-||195|
|Lovelife||4 March 1996||limited clear vinyl LP/CD/C||CAD 6004||8||-||189|
|Gala||13 November 1990:US/reprise /Nippon Columbia
3 December 1990:UK/4AD limited edition
|CD/C / LP (UK only)||Worldwide||4AD||reprise: 926463-2 / 4AD: CAD 0017 / Nippon Columbia: COCY-6925|
|Cookie||December 1994||CD||Japan||Nippon Columbia||COCY-78365|
|Topolino||August 1996||CD (9 tracks)||Japan||Nippon Columbia||COCY-80351|
|Topolino||August 1997||CD (12 tracks)||Canada||Polygram/4AD||76974 2110 2|
|Ciao! Best of Lush||19 March 2001||CD, 2LP||Worldwide||4AD||CAD 2K22|
|Chorus||11 December 2015||5-CD box set||Worldwide||4AD||LUSHBOX1|
|Origami||16 April 2016||5-LP box set||Worldwide||4AD||LUSHBOX2|
|Title||Release date||Format||Code||UK Singles Chart||US Modern Rock||Album|
|Mad Love||26 February 1990||12"/CD/C||BAD 0003||55||-||-|
|"Sweetness and Light"||15 October 1990||7"/12"/CD/C||BAD 0013||47||4||Gala|
|"De-Luxe"||March 1991||Radio promo CD||PRO-CD-4662||-||14|
|Black Spring||7 October 1991||7"/12"/CD/C||BAD 1016||43||-||Spooky|
|"Nothing Natural"||29 October 1991||CD||9 40231-2 (US only)||-||22|
|"For Love"||30 December 1991||10"/12"/CD/C||BAD 2001||35||9|
|"Superblast!"||February 1992||Radio promo CD||PRO-CD-5471||-||-|
|"Hypocrite"||30 May 1994||7"/12"/CD||BAD 4008||52||-||Split|
|"Desire Lines"||30 May 1994||7"/12"/CD||BAD 4010||60||-|
|"Single Girl"||8 January 1996||7"/2xCD 1||BAD 6001||21||-||Lovelife|
|"Ladykillers"||26 February 1996||7"/2xCD 1||BAD 6002||22||18|
|"500 (Shake Baby Shake)"||15 July 1996||7"/2xCD 1||BAD 6009||21||-|
|Blind Spot||15 April 2016||10"/CD||BEAN-01 CD||-||-||-|
|Live At KCRW - Morning Becomes Eclectic||28 Nov 2016||CD (limited)||TFCD0001||-||-||-|
1 The two CD releases for "Single Girl", "Ladykillers" and "500 (Shake Baby Shake)" had different B-sides on each format (see below)
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