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Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas (1990)

August 10, 2018

[Album 613/1001]

If you had to choose: Heaven or Las Vegas?

Saints vs. Sin City?

I suppose if you consulted Billy Joel, due to the perceived probability of more laughter/fun, he’d choose the latter.

Given the conjunction in this Cocteau Twins album title, I was quite curious as to what they might choose.

Is it Heaven or Las Vegas?

It looked like the answer would be revealed on track 5 (the title track).

Are they siding with the Saints? Or was Billy Joel right all along?

It turns out, after many listens…I’m absolutely no closer to solving the riddle.

I recognize a search engine could likely produce the lyrics (and almost certainly ruin the fun) but I recommend playing the video below at 0:45.

Bonne chance!

.

“But is it Heaven or Las Vegas…
(beautifully sung yet completely undecipherable response?!)”

.

Perhaps it’s an unsolvable mystery?

After a while, I stopped worrying about what vocalist Elizabeth Fraser was singing about and started to shift my attention to how she was singing it.220px-Cocteau_Twins—Heaven_or_Las_Vegas

Through that perspective, I’m quite partial to her delivery, particularly her upper register work (as in the Cherry-coloured funk chorus).

Given her pleasant voice, at first, I found it strange that her vocals weren’t more prominent in the mix.

But it’s now starting to feel like that’s what Cocteau Twins had in mind: it’s all about the ambiance, the overall experience.

With Heaven or Las Vegas, it’s somewhat difficult to describe exactly what it’s like, but it’s a positive experience.

Not unlike how some might describe Heaven, or even Las Vegas!

.

Verbalize the Positive

I picked up this CD in Napanee at a terrific record store named, “It’s Mostly Harmless.”

There’s an increased-faith-in-humanity-story behind the purchase (spoiler: I was really impressed with the owner) that I’d like to share soon!

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From → 1990s

12 Comments
  1. Love the Cocteau Twins, and have all their material. This album is actually a pretty good entry point but all their albums are worthwhile if you are open to exploring a different kind of beauty. As you clearly were, Geoff. Nice work.

    • My thanks Bruce – I believe at one point you’d said in a post, (paraphrased, less articulately be me) “if the tourist was your favourite song from OK Computer, Cocteau Twins album ______ might appeal”
      The tourist might not be my favourite from OK Computer (but OK Computer was my #3 when we did our Top 15s a few years ago!) and I think it’s also an apt connection here – dreamy instrumentation with beautiful vocals that I don’t always understand!

  2. Love this album!

  3. I tend not to pay attention to Cocteau Twins lyrics and just enjoy the sound (some of their work abandoned recognizable language altogether) though “Is it Heaven or Las Vegas?” I agree is a powerful lyric/question. Elizabeth Fraser has a beautiful, heavenly vocal.

    • I haven’t heard their other 1001 album yet (Treasure) – but I think I’ll go with that approach of enjoying the sound. I don’t suppose I’ll find it too difficult to enjoy a beautiful heavenly vocal!

  4. Had no idea until recently that this band was Scottish… from the Blade Runner-esque Grangemouth! There’s been a new TV series called Rip It Up on the BBC charting the history of Scottish pop/rock. Quite entertaining if you’re able to watch it in Canada.

  5. I see this band’s CDs all the time and never grab one. Maybe I should?

    Interesting they’ve equated Las Vegas and Hell. Sounds to me like they don’t like Las Vegas very much.

    I look forward to your extra story… when I read Mostly Harmless, I thought of Douglas Adams (of course).

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