‘Life’s What You Make It’
Lush Fresh Handmade Sound and Mark Constantine are proud to unveil ‘Life’s What You Make It’, following from the acclaimed compilation albums ‘Self Preservation Society’ and ‘Instant Replay’. This stunning vinyl triple album has once again been personally curated by Mark Constantine, co-founder of Lush and passionate music fan. It features 30 brand new versions of songs originally recorded between 1981 to 1991, including some of the finest pop, folk, rock and ballads of the time.
You’ll find the familiar and the unfamiliar, unexpected collisions of styles, radical reworkings and faithful renditions, all in celebration of a musical golden era. Many of these tracks will have specific associations for each of us, but collectively they formed the soundtrack to Mark’s decade during Cosmetics to Go and the pre-Lush Cosmetics years.
Compositions by artists as diverse as The Cure, Phil Collins, Tina Turner, Kate Bush and Nirvana have been reinterpreted by a galaxy of established and rising stars including Teddy Thompson, Eliza Carthy, Jackie Oates, Marry Waterson, Stealing Sheep and Honeyfeet, many of which you’ll found on Lush’s bespoke Spa Treatment soundtracks. The result is a magnificently diverse, six-sided jewel of a record.
This record has been 2 years in the making and did not only start off as a continuation of the compilation album series, which is Mark’s very personal version of his autobiography, but also out of Mark’s desire to support the artists Lush has been collaborating with for a long time through the difficulties during the Covid lockdowns.
Song Notes by Mark Constantine and Producer Rhodri Marsden
- Life In A Northern Town – Afro Celt Sound System
[originally by The Dream Academy, 1985]
Life In A Northern Town, written as a tribute to Nick Drake, was a collision of baroque pop, orchestral flourishes and African chants; a bunch of diverse influences cooked up into a global hit. Who better to cover the song than the Afro Celts, with their delicate rhythmic touches, Ríoghnach Connolly’s sumptuous vocal, and a brilliant remix by long-time collaborator Simon Massey.
- The Thinner The Air – Lisa Knapp
“The Cocteau Twins’ music has always had that otherworldly quality,” says producer Rhodri Marsden, “but their album Victorialand is completely transcendental. I remember listening to it every summer morning in the mid-1980s when I was supposed to be revising for my exams. It provided a very welcome sedative.” The Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie was a master of creating soundscapes out of layered guitars; here they’re played by dulcimer, bassoon and violin, with Lisa Knapp’s exquisite vocal soaring skywards.
- Untitled – Jackie Oates
[originally by The Cure, 1989]
“This is a very personal track,” says Mark Constantine. “I like the concept of using art to express yourself when words won’t do. People always assume that words will do the trick, and 90 per cent of the time they don’t. The Cure’s version is very diffident, very unsure, and I really respect Robert Smith for that.” The Cure flourished throughout the 1980s, moving from spiky post-punk to gothic introspection to out-and-out pop; Jackie and friends pay a fitting tribute to this magnificent band.
- What’s Love Got To Do With It – Teddy Thompson
[originally by Tina Turner, 1984]
Tina Turner’s most successful single is a masterpiece of songcraft by British writers Terry Britten and Graham Lyle. It has sold millions, been covered many times, and Turner’s recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012. So it might be an obvious song choice – but giving it to Teddy Thompson was a flash of inspiration on Mark’s part. “Teddy’s voice is so wonderful, but he always gives me this impression that he’s just passing through,” he says. “Pretending that he doesn’t care. And so this song just seemed made for him to sing.”
- Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam – Eliza & Martin Carthy
[originally by The Vaselines, 1988]
Nirvana brought this song to the world’s attention when Kurt Cobain chose to cover it at their 1993 MTV Unplugged concert. But it was originally recorded in 1988 as Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam by Scottish indie-pop band The Vaselines. We’re thrilled that father and daughter came together to record this version during lockdown, with exquisite guitar from Martin and inventive production from Eliza, incorporating the haunting sound of the hymn which inspired the song.
- Simply Irresistible – Barney Morse-Brown
[originally by Robert Palmer, 1988]
“I bought everything Palmer ever did, and I liked all of it,” says Mark. Praise indeed! Taken from the album Heavy Nova, the single was released at the peak of Palmer’s commercial success, and was accompanied by a memorable (and in retrospect slightly dubious) video directed by Terence Donovan. “Sometimes it just seems right to give the most introspective of all the musicians we work with the most demonstrative and rousing tune,” says Mark. “Barney does this kind of thing so well.”
- The Island – Ríoghnach Connolly
[originally by Paul Brady, 1985]
“I loved that album by Andy Irvine and Paul Brady which came out in the mid 1970s,” says Mark. “Ten years later Paul had given up folk music and had started writing his own stuff. He never really made it, but even when he was playing to small crowds he would give it his all.” The song focuses on the tragedy and hypocrisy that blighted Northern Ireland for so many decades, and Ríoghnach gives a truly moving performance. “The song sums up the Troubles so well, and the dichotomy that lived within all Irish people at that time,” says Mark.
- In The Air Tonight – Ben Murray & Richard Evans
[originally by Phil Collins, 1981]
Collins has become a slightly maligned character, and this, his best known song, became something of a joke after being used in a popular commercial for a brand of chocolate. But his first solo album post-Genesis – from which this is taken – is a gorgeous, introspective piece of work that deserves proper reappraisal. “I knew that I was pushing it, asking Ben and Richard to do this, because it’s the track everyone loves to hate,” says Mark. “But it really works as a folk track. The way it’s sung here gives it such strength.” And not a drumming gorilla in sight…
- Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) – Wattle & Daub
[originally by Spandau Ballet, 1982] “I had a PR, Gina, who was the biggest Spandau Ballet fan ever,” says Mark. “I asked her partner, my colleague Paul Wheatley, if I was going to put one track of theirs on this album, what should it be? The message came back: Chant No. 1.” Rhodri Marsden assembled the track with his Scritti Politti colleague (and member of Hot Chip) Rob Smoughton, along with Jim Howick (of Horrible Histories fame) and some friends who volunteered to provide backing vocals remotely during lockdown. “I put out a call in the morning, and by the end of the day I had three dozen audio files of people shouting ‘I don’t need this pressure on!’,” he says. “Which seemed appropriate.”
- Cabin Boy – Eliza Carthy
[originally by Tom Robinson, 1984]
The album War Baby (also known as Hope And Glory) revitalised Tom Robinson’s career. Its stunning title track has a timeless quality to it, and Cabin Boy – just as good – was a rollocking tale whose subject matter was still seen by many as controversial in the 1980s. “I loved everything about this track, it was so mischievous,” says Mark. “And Eliza singing it in this almost raunchy way is so great. Only she could do something like that.”
- The Party’s Over – Da Da La La
[originally by Talk Talk, 1982]
“During a lot of this period I was making products for the Body Shop out of my garage,” says Mark. “I was in one bit, my friend Karl was in another bit, we were working constantly. And I’d put on Talk Talk, on vinyl. Over and over again.” This song, the title track of their debut album, was the sound of a band finding their way. Later in the decade they would inspire countless experimental musicians with their seminal album Spirit Of Eden. But for now, they were a young, dynamic pop band, which is echoed and embellished here by father and daughter team Da Da La La.
- There She Goes – Lockwatchers
[originally by The La’s, 1988]
There She Goes was a classic case of third time lucky. It bombed in 1988, did nothing in 1989, and finally reached the UK Top 20 in October 1990, becoming The La’s best known song. Its re-release in 1999 and again in 2008 cemented its status as a pop classic. “It’s been covered a number of times, so it almost felt impossible to tackle,” says Rhodri. “I ended up breaking it down and writing the whole thing out for four voices on manuscript paper, old school! It ultimately became about twenty voices, all stacked up, Beach Boys-style. A real labour of love.”
- Duel – Marry Waterson
[originally by Propaganda, 1985]
German pop group Propaganda were signed to the same record label (ZTT) as Frankie Goes To Hollywood and The Art Of Noise, and the sound of all three bands was carefully produced and sculpted by über-producer Trevor Horn. Those sophisticated arrangements couldn’t conceal Propaganda’s brilliant pop sensibility, and Marry Waterson’s wonderful version, stripped of all those ‘80s bells and whistles, shows what a brilliant song it really is.
- It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It) – Palm Skin Productions featuring Ríoghnach Connolly
[originally by Fun Boy Three and Bananarama, 1982] “Throughout that period I was constantly listening to the Two Tone bands – The Selecter, The Specials, Madness,” says Mark. “And I liked all the manifestations of Fun Boy Three. They were completely unpretentious, and the songs were just great.” This, their second single and itself a cover of a 1939 jazz standard, helped to bring Bananarama to the attention of an unsuspecting British public. Simon and Ríoghnach’s take on it is laid back, playful and completely enchanting.
- Fifteen Minutes – Teddy Thompson
[originally by Kirsty MacColl, 1989]
“Kirsty is one of my all time favourite artists,” says Mark. “Teddy and I talked about doing an album of covers of Kirsty’s songs, which I still think is a great idea. And again, Teddy’s slightly careworn attitude to fame and fortune is just perfect for this track. The album it’s taken from – Kite – is one that I must have played 1000 times, because sometimes cynicism can be refreshing! I really rated her, and I still do, more than twenty years after she died.”
- Come As You Are – Barney Morse-Brown
[originally by Nirvana, 1991]
“It’s another song that’s so embedded in our culture that it felt almost impossible to cover,” says Rhodri. “My friend Rob plays in marching bands, so I asked him to bring his rattling snares and big bass drum to the studio. And then it was just a question of getting my bassoon and Barney’s cello to successfully emulate Cobain and Novoselic’s guitars. A tall order, but I think we pulled it off!”
- Cloudbusting – Martha Tilston
[originally by Kate Bush, 1985]
Anyone lucky enough to have attended Kate Bush’s run of concerts in London in 2014 will remember the atmosphere in the crowd during the final encore, where she performed this track onstage for the first time. It demonstrated how fond her fans are of this song, and how exuberant and uplifting it is: “I just know that something good is going to happen…” When Mark heard how much Martha loved it (”I’ve wanted to do that song for years!” she said) it became hers. We love this version too.
- Little Fluffy Clouds – Palm Skin Productions
[originally by The Orb, 1990]
“Listening to the original brought a huge wave of memories flooding back,” says producer Simon Richmond. “I heard the piece in an emotional way I had never done before. It made me think about everything I’d first wanted to do when I was armed with a 4MB Atari computer and a basic sampler, through to where my life is now, both musically and as a person… In the original, the spoken voice comes from an interview with Ricky Lee Jones, and I decided I wanted my voices to invoke my feelings about memory and time passing. I recorded my 90 year old father speaking the words of the interview, and then recorded my 6 year old daughter speaking the same words. The elderly man looking back and the child full of future wonder unite at the end.”
- Hippychick – Beagle & Amalthea
[originally by Soho, 1990]
“I remember that we listened a lot to those two Happy Daze compilations, which had a load of really good guitar bands on it. We just found that when we were working hard on making products, this stuff was the perfect soundtrack. The Las, Stone Roses, other great stuff like The Paris Angels.” Soho’s only UK hit was featured on Happy Daze Vol 1; there’s no sample of The Smiths’ How Soon Is Now on this version, but if you listen closely you might just make out the sound of Arthur Scargill…
- Enter Sandman – Fibreglass
[originally by Metallica, 1991]
“My son Simon was really into Metallica, so that’s why this is in here!” says Mark. Electronica prodigy and Warp Records alumnus Max Tundra displays his unique talent for pointillistic keyboard arrangements, along with his legendary karaoke talent. Would Metallica approve? Who cares?
- Blister In The Sun – Stealing Sheep
[originally by Violent Femmes, 1983]
Sometimes covers stay true to the original. Stealing Sheep prefer to rework them from the ground up, and if barely any of the original remains, well, so be it. Following up on their brilliant cover of Heart’s Barracuda on the last album, this is equally cool, original and enigmatic. “I love John Cusack and his films, and this song appears in Grosse Pointe Blank – so that’s part of the reason I chose it,” says Mark.
- Dance Me to the End of Love – Jackie Oates
[originally by Leonard Cohen, 1984]
“Leonard Cohen’s music has informed our lives,” says Mark. “My wife Mo and I know his music more than any other. He’s part enigma, part poet. And he screwed up his life so often. Chasing different religions, being ripped off… But in the end, all that touring he did in his later years really summed up his quality. We went to see him, and he was absolutely brilliant. No one touches his poetry, really – and whenever he talks about love it always has another dimension. I agree with Bob Dylan that he’s better than Bob Dylan!”
- Paint A Rumour – Honeyfeet
[originally by Eurythmics, 1983]
The closing track of Touch, the Eurythmics first UK number one album, is given the unique Honeyfeet treatment . “I have a vivid memory of listening to this at 5am with all the pots steaming,” says Mark. “I love Annie Lennox, and I used to serve her in the shop. It was always nice to serve someone like that – selling a product you invented to someone who you admire…”
- Everywhere – Sheema Mukherjee
[originally by Fleetwood Mac, 1987]
The British public bought more than a million copies of this single, the fourth to come from Fleetwood Mac’s album Tango In The Night. “Sheema sent me this wonderful recording of her playing the riff on the sitar, and everything came together around that,” says Rhodri. “She gave me some invaluable advice on how to write Bollywood string lines, and we were off and running. It was such an uplifting tune to work on during the pandemic.”
- Wig – The Duloks
[originally by The B-52s, 1986]
Here’s another song which inspired Lush products, the limited edition “Wig” and “Infra Wig”! “There’s nothing the B52’s did which I didn’t like,” says Mark. He made a special request that The Duloks came out of retirement to record a cover version, and this joyful, irreverent, hairy version is the glorious result.
- Long Hot Summer – Honeyfeet
[originally by The Style Council, 1983]
“I remember seeing The Jam when I was marching for CND, they were playing at the side of the road,” says Mark. “I didn’t really get it, but when Paul Weller formed The Style Council, I loved it immediately. It was completely up my street.” The original version of Long Hot Summer has a lazy, sultry quality to it, something which Honeyfeet have beautifully captured; Ríoghnach and the band in perfect step.
- Here Comes The Rain Again – Marry Waterson
[originally by Eurythmics, 1984]
Another track from the album Touch, written by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox while staying at New York City’s Mayflower Hotel, as grey skies hovered over the building. Stewart has stated in an interview how proud he is of the melancholy nature of the song; Marry’s powerful performance, coupled with some brilliant string arrangements, is a perfect tribute.
- The Opium Eaters – Lockwatchers
[originally by Madness, 1981]
“It was very hard to choose a Madness tune that people don’t already know!” says Mark. “I absolutely loved them. There was a point in the 1980s where I’d stopped going to gigs, mainly because of a bad experience seeing the band Argent, who were as miserable as sin. But a friend of mine said ‘Come on, let’s go to a Madness concert.’ I remember that we went down there on a tandem bicycle. And it was completely amazing. Such a good time! Three encores of three songs each! Now, that’s value for money!”
- Small Blue Thing – Rosie Doonan
[originally by Suzanne Vega, 1985]
“I really love those tracks where the enigma is almost stronger than anything else,” says Mark. “And this is one of those. It’s almost modern art in music.” “Rosie’s voice is such a wonderful thing,” says Rhodri, “and it’s a joy to work with her. It’s just about framing that sound as delicately and beautifully as you can. I’m really proud of this track.”
- Life’s What You Make It – Julie Tippetts
[originally by Talk Talk, 1985]
“When I heard that Mark Hollis from Talk Talk had died, early in 2019, I immediately started thinking about including this song on the record,” says Mark. “It seemed completely right to ask Julie to do it; she has done so much with her life, she’s still going strong, and her voice is still so wonderful. I can’t think of a better way to end the album.”
CO-FOUNDER AND INVENTOR
Mark Constantine is passionate about music. His vision is to return back to a time when albums were eagerly anticipated, rushed straight home to the record player and listened to in one delicious sitting, and when each element of the music – art, sleeve notes and lyrics were dissected, digested, discussed and enjoyed. ECC seeks out exceptional new original music, explores the quirky and eclectic and celebrates the back catalogues of artists that we have loved for many years. Artwork and notes are an extension of the music curated with respect for the compositions. The companion USB cards contain the highest quality sound files and additional media to enhance the listening experience. The label releases albums designed to allow music fans to stop, sit and listen to the music, in all its glory, just as the artists intended.
Mark Constantine co-founded Lush with five friends and creative confidants in 1995 after the collapse of previous mail order business Cosmetics To Go. Mark has been a key driving force behind the business for 25 years and also works as part of the product development team creating hair, skincare and body creams as well as decadent Lush spa treatments.
Challenging the business to create fresh, innovative and anarchic cosmetic products, it is some of Mark’s beliefs that Lush is based on and that have become the backbone of the company. Lush’s stringent and pioneering ‘against animal testing policy’ is just one example of how his strong beliefs have transformed the cosmetics industry – he introduced a Supplier Specific Boycott Policy, which means that Lush will not buy any ingredient from any supplier that tests any of its materials on animals for any purpose. This policy is unique in its field and is different and distinct from the Fixed Cut-Off Date policy employed by the Humane Cosmetics Standard.
Mark’s plight against over packaging in the cosmetic industry is another. In the Channel 4 documentary ‘The Insider: Packaging is Rubbish,’ Mark highlighted just how much waste the average British citizen goes through in a lifetime and exactly where it ends up – in landfill. This is why the majority of Lush products are designed to be solid and can be sold without packaging.
In the 2010 Queen’s New Years Honours list Mark and his wife Mo Constantine both received OBEs for their services to the beauty industry. Mark has been named five times since 2010 as one of London’s 1000 Most Influential People in the Environment and Business Brains categories by The Evening Standard newspaper. In 2015 Mark was named in BBC Wildlife magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in British wildlife.
Mark’s enduring love and enthusiasm for his work, as well as the beauty and retail industries, remain at the heart of his determination to make Lush the company we all want it to be.
MUSIC THE LUSH WAY
You would be hard pushed to pick up a Lush product that hadn’t been inspired in some part by music. You could say that music is one of their essential ingredients.
Interacting and working alongside musicians rather than just listening to them started with the creation of our first Spa treatments. Music was to play an important role and become a part of the therapy, creating the perfect soundtrack to the massage routines, scrubs and soaks. All of Lush’s Spa treatments have bespoke soundtracks created by the ever expanding community of musicians who have become part of the Lush family.
Lush Fresh Handmade Sound has become the collection of these beautiful Spa records and lovingly curated compilation albums and is striving to support and promote more inspiring new and established artists.
Listen to the ridiculously talented musicians that join us on our soundtracks and compilation albums, moods Playlists and our latest musical crushes here Lush Fresh Handmade Sound
Lush invent, manufacture and retail fresh handmade cosmetics, such as the fizzing Bath Bomb and solid Shampoo Bars. A beauty company with a campaigning heart, Lush is on a mission to create a product for every need and a cosmetic revolution to save the planet. The ultimate goal is to leave the world Lusher than we found it. Lush operates a strict policy against animal testing and lead the cosmetics industry in combating over-packaging by developing products that can be sold ‘naked’ to the consumer.
Today Lush operates in 48 countries with over 900 shops, 38 websites shipping worldwide and a global network of native apps, broadcasting channels and digital communities in over 30 languages. www.lush.com