“It’s got her best singing since she discovered her higher range. ‘Carolyn’s Fingers’ is absolutely beautiful, and still gives me the shivers.” Ivo Watts-Russell
“Blue Bell Knoll was the easiest I’ve ever done to make a record. The records are a representation of our coping skills, and I think I was very much in denial, and I think that you can hear that on Blue Bell Knoll. Not one word can you grasp. Giving anything away… it just wasn’t allowed.” Elizabeth Fraser
“There was an element of freedom about the whole thing. It really felt like a period of creativity and freedom, we were all getting on great musically and socially, Liz and Robin were about to have a baby, I was about to get married, there was lots of joy around. Very productive! It was a really fun record to make.” Simon Raymonde
Blue Bell Knoll
- October 1988
- 4AD / Capitol
- CAD 807
- 35 min, 20 sec
- Blue Bell Knoll
- Carolyn’s Fingers
- For Phoebe Still a Baby
- The Itchy Glowbo Blow
- Cico Buff
- Suckling the Mender
- Spooning Good Singing Gum
- A Kissed Out Red Floatboat
- Ella Megalast Burls Forever
- Digital Audio Tape (DAT)
- Written and produced by Cocteau Twins.
- Sleeve design by Paul West and Jeremy Tilston. Photography by Juergen Teller.
- This was the first major label Cocteau Twins LP release (on Capitol Records in the USA).
- Blue Bell Knoll peaked at #15 on the UK album chart, and #109 in the US. “Carolyn’s Fingers” reached #2 on the US alternative singles chart.
- Blue Bell Knoll was the only Cocteau Twins LP to be released commercially in DAT format (and was the only 4AD release to ever appear in that format).
- A limited-edition gatefold sleeve design was available for the vinyl format.
- Promotional videos were produced for “Carolyn’s Fingers” and “Cico Buff.”
- 7-inch and 12-inch singles were released for “Carolyn’s Fingers” backed with “Ella Megalast Burls Forever,” and for “A Kissed Out Red Floatboat.”
- The song “The High Monkey-Monk” was recorded at this time, but was released only as part of the compilation from Gigantic! 2 from Melody Maker in 1990. It was later released on the Bonus Disc in the EPs and Singles Box Set in 1991.
- “Athol-Brose” was released as a single in Japan in 1990, backed with “Carolyn’s Fingers” and “Iceblink Luck,” after having appeared in an automobile commercial for television.
- A live performance of “Ella Megalast Burls Forever” was recorded for SNUB-TV in 1990.
- The following songs have appeared in live performances: “Blue Bell Knoll,” “Carolyn’s Fingers,” “For Phoebe Still a Baby,” “Cico Buff,” “A Kissed Out Red Floatboat,” and “Ella Megalast Burls Forever.” An extended version of “Blue Bell Knoll” was performed during the 1996 Milk & Kisses Tour.
- The songs “Blue Bell Knoll,” “Athol-Brose,” and “Suckling the Mender” were performed live with new arrangements by Elizabeth Fraser during her Meltdown Festival solo performances in 2012.
- “Carolyn’s Fingers” and “Cico Buff” appear on the 2000 compilation Stars and Topsoil.
- Blue Bell Knoll was digitally remastered and re-released on CD by 4AD in 2003.
- The model for the hands used in the sleeve photography was a friend named Carolyn, hence “Carolyn’s Fingers.”
- In 2012, Elizabeth Fraser gave two solo performances in the Bath and London, England, during which she performed new arrangements of “Blue Bell Knoll,” “Athol-Brose,” and “Suckling the Mender.”
- Blue Bell Knoll was re-released on high-definition vinyl in 2014.
- Included in Pitchfork.com’s “Top 100 Albums of the 80s.”
- The album title takes its name from a land formation in Utah (USA).
- Though the band typically recorded music tracks before Elizabeth composed vocal lines and melodies, “A Kissed Out Red Floatboat” was recorded the other way around, with Liz recording the vocals first using a basic click-track. Robin and Simon then composed music to fit what she had sung.
Listen and buy online
- “The Elusive Cocteau Twins: ‘Blue Bell Knoll’ Rings Through Record Stores - Another Majestically Murky Album. Terry Atkinson. Los Angeles Times. 2-Oct 1988.
- Review of Blue Bell Knoll. Steve Sutherland. NME/New Musical Express. 17-Sep 1988.
- Untitled. Record Mirror. 1988.
- Untitled. Cut. Sep 1988.
- “Cocteau Twins”. Staci Bonner. Reflex. Sep 1988.
- “Cocteau Twins: Their Past and the Present LP”. The Catalogue for the Independent Music Trade. Sep 1988.
- “Love, Enthusiasm, and the Extermination of Perspective”. Paul Morley. Blitz. Oct 1988.
- “Velvet Opera”. Alex Kakis. Offbeat. Oct 1988.
- “Sounding the death knoll for the Cocteaus’ myth”. Chris Twomey. Record Mirror. Oct 1988.
- “Trying to Say What Can’t Be Said”. Frank Coleman and David Zinn. Boston Rock. 1988.
- “Mood Music for the Arty”. Don Shewey. 7 Days. 1988.
- Untitled. Details. Nov 1988.
- “On ‘Teau”. Paul Trynka. International Musician & Recording World. Nov 1988.
- Untitled. NME/New Musical Express. 17-Dec 1988.
- “Picks and Pans Review: Blue Bell Knoll”. People Staff. People Magazine. 16-Jan 1989.
- “A voice, a few guitars, a bit of processing, and a hell of a lot of inspiration”. Mark Prendergast. Sound on Sound. Jul 1989.
- “Ether Madness”. David Stubbs. Uncut. Apr 2003.
- “Review Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas”. Danny Riley. The Quietus. 1-Aug 2014.
- “Twin Peaks”. Keith Cameron. Q. Aug 2014.
- “Cocteau Twins on Blue Bell Knoll: Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie on the Band’s ‘Golden Era’”. Laura Studarus. Under the Radar. 21-Jan 2014.
- “Divine Rapture: Simon Raymonde revisits Cocteau Twins’ purple patch”. Colm McAuliffe. The Skinny. 1-Jul 2014.
- “Cocteau Twins: The Complete Guide”. Jack Scourfield. Clash. 14-Jul 2014.
- Reviews of Blue Bell Knoll and Heaven or Las Vegas. Stephen Deusner. Pitchfork. 16-Jul 2014.
- “Overlooked Albums #42: Cocteau Twins Blue Bell Knoll”. Angel Aguilar. No Ripcord: Independent Music and Film Magazine. 22-Aug 2015.
- Reviews of Treasure and Blue Bell Knoll. The New Perfect Collection. 21-Feb 2015.
- “Elizabeth Fraser and John Grant Talk Blue Bell Knoll”. Patrick Clarke. The Quietus. 26-Jul 2017.
- “John Grant and Elizabeth Fraser in Conversation at Royal Albert Hall”. Billy Campbell. Drowned in Sound. 10-Aug 2017.
- “The 30 Best Dream Pop Albums”. Pitchfork. 16-Apr 2018.
- “The 200 Best Albums of the 1980s”. Pitchfork. 10-Sep 2018.