The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters were an English sophisti-pop combo from Liverpool that released five singles and the 1984 Arista album No Sense of Sin. They scored a 1983 UK hit with “The First Picture of You” and a Continental charter with “It Hurts.” Their album includes the Peel-broadcasted numbers “German Girl,” “Love Still Flows,” and “Alone of All Her Sex.”

Members: Peter Coyle (vocals), Jeremy ‘Jerry’ Kelly (guitar), Michael Dempsey (bass), Gerard Quinn (keyboards), Steve Creese (drums)


Formation

The Lotus Eaters formed in September 1982 when singer Peter Coyle met guitarist Jeremy Kelly, recently of The Wild Swans, a well-connected Liverpool act that completed its initial run after the Zoo single “Revolutionary Spirit.” Coyle hailed from the unsigned Jass Babies, which recorded autumn 1981 sessions for BBC Radio One DJ John Peel and Maida Vale producer Tony Wilson. Kelly played earlier in Dance Party with (future Pale Fountains) guitarist–singer Michael Head.

Coyle and Kelly formed a songwriting team with keyboardist Gerard Quinn, Jeremy’s Wild Swans colleague who played in a formative Teardrop Explodes lineup. Bassist Phil Lucking and Wild Swans drummer Alan Wills rounded out the lineup. They took their name from a Greek myth about a race of island people whose main food source, the lotus tree, caused lethargy and apathy due to the sedatives of its fruit. (In casual English, ‘lotus eater’ refers to an individual who neglects practical concerns for leisurely activities.)

On October 2, 1982, The Lotus Eaters taped their first Peel session, comprised of four songs: “Stranger So Far,” “When You Look at Boys,” “The First Picture of You,” and “Can You Keep a Secret?” The Radio One broadcast (aired October 18 and repeated on November 8) netted the band a contract with Arista Records.


“The First Picture of You”

In June 1983, The Lotus Eaters released their debut single “The First Picture of You” (b/w “The Lotus Eaters”) on Sylvan, a customized imprint distributed by Arista. Peter Coyle and Jeremy Kelly joint-wrote the a-side with Gerard Quinn and co-wrote the self-titled b-side as a duo. Surrey Sound owner Nigel Gray produced both sides amid singles by Danse Society and Indians of Moscow.

A. “The First Picture of You” (3:36)
B. “The Lotus Eaters” (3:00)

In the “First Picture of You” video, Coyle (red button-up sweater, pleated baggies) joins his band (attired in 1930s daytime wear) in a standalone house on the English countryside. Outside, a young ’30s-style woman poses for a photo-shoot.

“The First Picture of You” reached No. 15 on the UK Singles Chart. The Lotus Eaters mimed it on the July 28, 1983, broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which also featured appearances by Bananarama (“Cruel Summer”), Robert Plant (“Big Log”), Elvis Costello & The Attractions (“Everyday I Write the Book”), and videos by Depeche Mode (“Everything Counts”), Paul Young (“Wherever I Lay My Hat”), and Siouxsie & The Banshees spinoff The Creatures (“Right Now”). Coyle wears a black shirt and pleated off-white baggies in the Lotus Eaters segment, which takes place in a smoky florescent-lighted stage contraption flanked with studio dancers.

“The First Picture of You” appears on the 1983 UK Ronco comp Chart Trek Volumes 1 + 2, a double-album with singles by Tears for Fears (“Pale Shelter”), Blancmange (“Waves”), Thompson Twins (“Hold Me Now”), Care (“Flaming Sword”), Kissing the Pink (“Last Film”), Eurythmics (“Love Is a Stranger”), JoBoxers (“Boxer Beat”), Fad Gadget (“Discover Love”), China Crisis (“Christian”), Carmel “(Bad Day”), and Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian (“Forbidden Colours”).


You Don’t Need Someone New

In September 1983, The Lotus Eaters released “You Don’t Need Someone New,” another Coyle–Kelly–Quinn original backed with the duo-written “Two Virgins Tender.” Veteran Australian soundman Alan Tarney (Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer) produced both sides amid work with Bow Wow Wow and The Bluebells.

A. “You Don’t Need Someone New” (3:18)
B. “Two Virgins Tender” (4:06)

In the park-situated video to “You Don’t Need Someone New,” The Lotus Eaters perform in front of an Oriental gazebo beside a lily pond. Kelly plays a sunburst hollow-body Gibson.

On October 5, The Lotus Eaters taped their second Peel session. This set (aired 10/10) featured five new songs: “Alone of All Her Sex,” “German Girl,” “You Fill Me With Need,” “Love Still Flows,” and the instrumental “Signature Tune.”


No Sense of Sin

The Lotus Eaters released their album No Sense of Sin in June 1984 on Sylvan–Arista. It features twelve originals, including their 1983 hit “The First Picture of You” and their third and fourth a-sides “Set Me Apart” and “Out on Your Own.”

Singer Peter Coyle and guitarist Jeremy Kelly joint-wrote everything with keyboardist Gerard Quinn apart from the final three tracks on Side Two (all co-writes). Of the nine songs performed on their Peel broadcasts, No Sense of Sin features seven, including “German Girl,” “Love Still Flows,” “Can You Keep a Secret,” and “Alone of All Her Sex.”

1. “German Girl” (3:10)
2. “Love Still Flows” (3:57)
3. “Can You Keep a Secret” (3:10)
4. “Out on Your Own” (3:55)
5. “Put Your Touch on Love” (3:55)
6. “Too Young” (2:49)

7. “Set Me Apart” (3:56)
8. “You Fill Me with Your Need” (3:39)
9. “The First Picture of You” (3:36)
10. “Alone of All Her Sex” (2:48)
11. “When You Look at Boys” (3:59)
12. “Start of the Search” (3:24)

Onetime Junco Partner Bob Sargeant produced No Sense of Sin apart from “The First Picture of You” (Nigel Gray) and “When You Look at Boys,” produced by ex-Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin.

The Lotus Eaters lifted “Set Me Apart” as a single, backed with the non-album “My Happy Dream.

B. “My Happy Dream” (2:47)

In the “Set Me Apart” video, the Lotus Eaters perform inside the narrow passenger compartment of a train, which passes Merseyside sites like the pink Sitting Bull statue at the Otterspool Promenade. Coyle (gray-suited) also appears on a deck overlooking the countryside.

Quinn left music and entered the world of painting. The Lotus Eaters toured No Sense of Sin with ex-CureAssociates bassist Michael Dempsey and former Minny Pops keyboardist Stephen Emmer.

In late 1984, “Out On Your Own” became the third No Sense of Sin a-side, backed with the Coyle–Kelly exclusive “Endless,” a self-produced track arranged by Emmer.

B. “Endless” (4:33)


“It Hurts”

In February 1985, The Lotus Eaters released the standalone single “It Hurts,” a Coyle–Kelly number backed with “The Evidence,” a joint-write with early OMD keyboardist Dave Hughs.

A. “It Hurts” (3:09)
B. “The Evidence” (3:07)

The Lotus Eaters performed “It Hurts” and their earlier hit on the July 23, 1985, broadcast of the Spanish music program Tocata. For the song’s video, they assembled a film montage of 1920s movie siren Louise Brooks (aka Lulu, 1906–1985), whose status as a flapper icon caught hold during the late-1980s when Swing Out Sister frontwoman Corinne Drewery re-popularized Lulu’s trademark black-bob haircut. “It Hurts” went Top 5 on the Italian singles chart.


Aftermath

The Lotus Eaters disbanded after their 1985 tour. Peter Coyle went solo with the 1986 double-album A Slap In the Face for Public Taste on Ediesta Records. His second album, I’d Sacrifice Eight Orgasms With Shirley Maclaine Just to Be There, appeared in 1988 on Big Big Massive Records.

Jeremy Kelly re-teamed with Gerard Quinn and singer Paul Simpson (recently of Care with Liverpool stalwart Ian Broudie) in a reformed Wild Swans, which made the 1988–90 Sire albums Bringing Home the Ashes and Space Flower.

In 2001, Coyle and Kelly reunited as the Lotus Eaters for a second album, Silentspace, on the Vinyl Japan label.


Discography:

Singles:

  • “The First Picture of You” / “The Lotus Eaters” (1983)
  • “You Don’t Need Someone New” / “Two Virgins Tender” (1983)
  • “Set Me Apart” / “My Happy Dream” / “Set Me Apart (Instrumental)” (1984)
  • “Out on Your Own” / “Endless” / “Endless (Instrumental)” (1985)
  • “It Hurts” / “The Evidence” (1985)

Sources:

1 thought on “The Lotus Eaters

  1. Draft (2018) – “The Lotus Eaters formed around the trio of Peter Coyle, Jeremy Kelly, and Gerard Quinn.

    They scored a hit the following year with “The First Picture of You,” followed by two further singles: “Set Me Apart” and the Alan Tarney-produced “You Don’t Need Someone New” (b/w “Two Virgins Tender”).

    The band’s one album, No Sense of Sin, appeared in 1984, by which time Quinn had departed. They toured the album with session drummer Steve Creese and ex-Cure/Associates bassist Michael Dempsey.

    Kelly had earlier played on a single by Liverpudlian shortplayer act Systems and formed The Wild Swans, which he reactivated after The Lotus Eaters’ initial split. Coyle subsequently recorded as a solo artist. The pair reunited in the 21st century.”

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