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The Lotus Eaters – The First Picture of You

Liverpool in 1983 was a wilfully contrarian place. On the one hand here was a crumbling post-industrial empire still scarred by the Liverpool 8 riots two years before and in the throes of civic and political unrest that would see the hard-left city council come into direct confrontation with Margaret Thatcher's Tory government. Yosser Hughes, the moustachioed anti-hero of Alan Bleasdale's TV drama Boys From the Blackstuff, had entered mass consciousness the year before as a tragicomic icon of a working-class community having its heart and soul ripped out, while a new wave of tripped-out dole queue dreamers had already claimed the city's primary-coloured post-punk landscape as its own.

But when the debut single by a band who'd yet to play a gig made the charts in July to define that year's summer, you can see why more barricade-manning lyricists openly mocked the song's images of flowers screaming their joy. In truth, from the pastoral exotica of a band calling themselves The Lotus Eaters to the breathless wide-eyed idyll of the song itself, The First Picture of You was a necessary soft-focus flipside to gritty realism.

Formed by an ad hoc alliance based around Jass Babies vocalist Peter Coyle and Wild Swans guitarist Jeri Kelly, The Lotus Eaters' part charity shop Famous Five, part shaved-back-n'-sides 1930s austerity chic image similarly captured the conflicting moods of the times. With the duo caught in the crossfire of a record label bidding war following an October '82 John Peel session, the eventual first fruits of this coupling was a lushly produced version of the Peel session's highlight.

Ushered in by piano flourishes played by Kelly's fellow Wild Swan Ged Quinn and driven by Kelly's itchy guitar patterns, The First Picture of You was a sublime evocation of innocence and yearned-for experience that seemed to offer an escape into the pure joy of post-adolescent erotic promise. As another Scouse sage, poet Roger McGough, once wrote in Summer With Monika, his extended poetic yarn that charted a heady affair that ran from love's first fever to its plague, they don't make summers like they used to.

http://www.mtv.co.uk/lotus-eaters/videos/the-first-picture-of-you   

Written as part of Here Comes The Sun, various writers selections of their favourite summer songs, and published in Product, July 2015.     


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