Cocteau Twins influence grows as Grangemouth group’s seminal albums are rereleased

The Cocteau Twins split in 1997 after an illustrious recording career
The Cocteau Twins split in 1997 after an illustrious recording career

Their record sales never troubled the charts but the influence of their extraordinary music continues to grow with each passing year.

The Cocteau Twins released seven full-length albums and a variety of EPs, singles and compilations during an 18-year career that would see them lauded as one of the most strikingly original bands to emerge from the UK’s burgeoning independent music scene.

Now two of the group’s most acclaimed albums, 1988’s ‘Blue Bell Knoll’ and 1990’s ‘Heaven or Las Vegas’ have been remastered and rereleased on vinyl by the 4AD label.

It marks the first time the works have been pressed since their original release more than 20 years ago and have generated huge interest among their considerable American fanbase.

The Cocteau Twins were driven by the creative energies of guitarist and producer Robin Guthrie and vocalist Liz Fraser, two Grangemouth residents who first met at a punk club night in the town’s International Hotel in 1979.

Named after an obscure Simple Minds track, the duo added Will Heggie on bass and first found national prominence after recording a session for legendary BBC DJ John Peel in 1982, which quickly led them to signing a deal with the London-based label 4AD.

Heggie left after the release of the group’s debut album ‘Garlands’ in 1982, and would later join Lowlife - another Grangemouth band who would go on to find critical acclaim.

It was when Simon Raymonde joined the Cocteau Twins that the trio would reach their creative peak.

Their atmospheric, etheral sound was grounded by repetitive bass lines and drum machines, which acted as a firm foundation for Guthrie’s spectral, often minimal guitar parts.

But it was Fraser’s soprano vocals that set the group apart from their contemporaries. Famously described as “the voice of God” (much to Fraser’s alleged displeasure), she relied less on recognisable lyrics and more on the endless possibilites of what her vocals could achieve on their own.

The two re-released albums find Fraser and Guthrie on top form, with ‘Blue Bell Knoll’ being described as “the perfect album” by 4AD boss and respected indie music guru Ivo Watts-Russell.