This Mortal Coil was essentially the creation of Ivo Watts-Russell, the co-owner of 4AD Records, a highly successful independent label based in Wandsworth, London. Watts-Russell used the umbrella name to collaborate with a number of musicians recording in various permutations.
The first single, an epic cover version of Tim Buckley‘s Song To The Siren, was originally intended as a B-side. Bolstered by the considerable talents of Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins), it earned its own release and became a near-permanent fixture in the indie charts in 1983.
The album that followed set the pattern for the sporadic outings to come. Featuring a selection of artists from the 4AD roster plus various outsiders, the albums included several cover versions of works by Watts-Russell’s favourite songwriters – Tim Buckley, Alex Chilton, Roy Harper, Gene Clark and Syd Barrett.
At time shamefully indulgent, the series of LPs nevertheless highlighted the occasional stunning performance and breathtaking arrangement.
The final outing from This Mortal Coil was Blood (1991), a collection which continued the tradition. In addition to label favourites Kim Deal (The Pixies), Tanya Donnelly (Throwing Muses) and Heidi Berry, Caroline Crawley was also recruited.
In 1998, Watts-Russell repeated the concept with the Hope Blister.