1. A drunken person. 2. One easily victimized; a gullible person; a stupid fellow. 3. Alcoholic drinks. 4. To drink in excess.

- american underworld dictionary - 1950

Walking up the seaside
This is not a joyride
Tell me in the meantime
"it's okay"

Lush was originally formed on Halloween, 1988, in London, England, just as the shoegazer music trend was coming into being. The first of relatively few different lineups looked like this:

Before recording anything or getting any gigs under their belts, Meriel Barham left to form The Pale Saints with Chris Cooper, Graeme Naysmith, and Ian Masters, leaving Miki to take on full lead vocals duties. Meriel's departure helped the band solidify and before long they'd released their first EP, the bright yet menacing Scar, in October of 1989. Gigging followed and soon they were playing all over the UK, and due to the favour that shoegazing held with music critics at the time, they were all over music industry magazines like Melody Maker, NME, and others, as well. Like many of the shoegazer bands from this era, Lush issued an impressive catalogue of EP releases before actually releasing a full album. In this case, Lush took it a step further and combined three of their early EPs into their first album, entitled Gala, which was released in late 1990. It took their first three EPs, Scar, Mad Love, and Sweetness & Light, threw the tracklists into a blender, and came out as an album. Multiple versions of two seperate songs ("Thoughtforms" and "Scarlet") appear on Gala, adding to the air of "this is our first album made from EPs" that the band was exuding at the time.

Enter the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. He'd heard Gala and been mighty impressed, so he took it upon himself to become the band's producer, and given his clout in the British music scene, helped them land a record deal with 4AD, run by his good friend Ivo Watts-Russell. As Guthrie and the band finished up the recording of Spooky, bassist Steve Rippon left the band, reportedly because he couldn't endure Guthrie's ego any longer. He was replaced by one-time NME columnist/full-time bassist Philip King, then most recently of Biff Bang Pow. Spooky took nearly two years to record, in true Guthrie/Cocteau Twins fashion, though it turned out to be worth the wait. Upon its release in January 1992, Lush was one of the biggest draws in the UK. Spooky briefly held the top spot on the British Indie chart, as well as the non-indie British Top 10. Before long, Lush was making music videos and touring Europe and North America. Listening to the album, you can almost hear Robin Guthrie's eyes turning into £ symbols as he grins like a dog in the booth as the idyllic, layered songs made their way onto tape and eventually, onto the world. (The best example of Guthrie's influence during production is probably the song "Nothing Natural.")

Lush was eagerly added to the inaugural Lollapalooza roster in 1992 by its organizer, Perry Ferrell, the Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros frontman, who personally requested Lush for his new tour program. Though they were given main stage status (can you imagine that? Lush, RHCP, Soundgarden, and Ice Cube sharing a stage? Must've been wild.), they received a rather tepid reception on that tour due to the huge popularity of grunge metal in the United States at the time -- Indeed, it isn't difficult to imagine an early 1990s-era American Joe Average metal fan jamming his hands into his pockets and yelling to his mates: "Who wants to stand around and listen to this swirly girly shit when The Screaming Trees are on the next stage over, dude?!" The other non-metal acts on that tour, like Siouxsie & The Banshees, received similar receptions, but got along on the tour mostly due to rabid Banshees fans turning up at many of the tour stops and drowning out the detractors during stage time.

Undaunted, Lush returned home to the UK and began working on material for their third album, which turned out to be the definitive Split, released in mid-1994. Split, as it has been described, is where Emma and Miki finally click and come into their own, emerging from rock band infancy to writing extremely complex and lyrically stimulating songs, some of which neared the 10-minute mark. Split was pure dreampop. It wasn't a complete departure from their previous albums, though the fact that the band had parted ways with Robin Guthrie allowed them a much greater degree of musical freedom and room to experiment. Mike Hedges, who had previously produced The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Everything But The Girl, to name a few, was brought in to produce, and he didn't stand in the band's way. His subtle production allowed for masterpieces like the eight-minute long opus "Never-never" to come into being. Guthrie had been producing the band with something of a heavy hand, and his absence is starkly noticeable here. Split is the most evenly produced of the four Lush albums.

Lush hit the road again in support of Split, touring North America with Slowdive and Ride during the spring and early summer of 1994. Between stops on the tour they recorded a video for Split's lead single, "Hypocrite," at a carnival up the road from one of the tour venues, in a few days.

After appearances at several of the annual music festivals across Europe, Lush again returned to the UK to begin working on their fourth album, Lovelife, which was produced by Pete Bartlett, the band's live sound engineer. The band spent the middle months of 1995 in the studio laying down the vocals, guitars, drums, and so forth. The shoegazer movement had died a violent death at the hands of the British music press, so Lovelife found Lush adapting their sound for a new era, and as a result, the album is more pop than anything else, particularly the singles. It was released right on the heels of the then-new Britpop genre, and the band's new sound did well based on that. Also notable about this album is a duet between Miki and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, entitled "Ciao!"

We're both sick
But still you hold my hand
We're together
But I understand

As Lush was making preparations for another tour following the release of Lovelife in May 1996, everything came to an abrupt halt. The band's drummer, Chris Acland, who had once been Miki's boyfriend, hanged himself on October 17, 1996. Understandably, this had a huge impact on the band and they ceased all activity altogether. Bassist Philip King shortly thereafter moved on to play bass for a small variety of obscure bands, such as De Dannan and August, more or less becoming a session bassist for a while, until he joined the Jesus & Mary Chain in 1999. Emma Anderson formed Sing-Sing in late 1998 with Lisa O'Neill, formerly of Locust. Sing-Sing decided to part ways in early 2008.

Miki, devastated by Chris' death, removed herself from public life and eventually went to work as an editorial assistant for the BBC. According to an unidentified friend of hers that's still in the music business, "she just wants to tend her garden, go to work, and move on with life." Though she did contribute her voice to various songs by The Replacements and Moose, following the end of Lush, we will probably never see her vermilion hair wildly whipping around as she stomps around the stage in a sequined minidress while beating the hell out of her guitar and effects pedals, and belting out vocals. Particularly now that she's about 40 years old, married and the mother of multiple children. She has, however, been giving interviews and the like again (as of early 2008), after maintaining radio silence with the media and her fan base for several years. According to one interview in particular, she hasn't even touched any of her guitars in years, although she still has the trademark Gibson Firebird and Epiphone Riviera guitars featured in many photographs of her taken during the Lush years. She says that she's very flattered that anyone remembers her at all—DUH! She'll always have the love of her fans.

You're going to die under the sun
And I'll be doomed to carry on
You have become like other men
But let me kiss you once again

You have the sun, I have the moon

Lush officially announced their breakup on February 23, 1998, nearly a year and a half after Chris' suicide.

DISCOGRAPHY

ALBUMS

  • 1990 Gala (singles compilation) -- 4AD/Reprise Records
  • 1992 Spooky -- 4AD/Reprise Records
  • 1994 Split -- 4AD/Reprise Records
  • 1996 Lovelife -- 4AD/Reprise Records
  • 1998 Topolino (B-sides compilation; the tracklists for the Canadian and Japanese releases differ slightly) -- 4AD
  • 2001 Ciao! 1989-1996 ("Best of" compilation) -- 4AD

In 2007-08, there have been rumours of the entire Lush back catalogue being re-released by 4AD, and of a live/music video compilation DVD coming out as well.

SINGLES & EPs

ONE-OFFS

The song "De-Luxe" was included in the video game Rock Band 2.

What's black and green and natural all over, melts in your hands, and has great karma?

Lush.

Apart from being a generally positive descriptor, a successful music-making venture, and the categorically truthful explanation of why I don't hang out with most people in my university, Lush is a highly successful chain of stores focusing on those aspects of personal hygiene we are likely to take for granted. From soap to shampoo, lip balm to lotion, Lush offers a large variety of products to pamper your every mood. They help to invigorate, relax, smooth, support, and generally resolve all physical and emotional issues a person may be suffering before allowing themselves a well-seasoned respite from it all. And you want to know the best part? It's almost all natural, never tested on animals, and a supporter of multiple environmental charities to boot.

Here's a quick look at all Lush is, and all it has to offer.



The makings of something beautiful

Lush is an English shop by birth. The primordial inklings were spawned in the late 1970's in Poole, Dorset by Mo and Mark Constantine. Their herbal alchemy attracted the attention of The Body Shop, to whom they were a main supplier for many years. In the early 90's, Body Shop bought out the Constantines for about 6 million quid, and they used the money to perpetuate a mail-order service called Cosmetics to Go. This was the birth of the Bath Ballistics, shampoo bars, and massage bars that have moved with the company in to the modern day. However, Cosmetics to Go floundered and went under like so many bath fizzies, and the company was dissolved.

Not to be defeated, the creators began anew in 1994, beginning the first Lush shop on High Street in Poole. This led to the opening of another store in London, where booming business proved that the company was indeed ready for branching. Lush now sports shops in many countries around the world, which sell products (still made from fresh ingredients by hand) created in the production facilities found on all inhabited continents. Unfortunately, penguins cannot yet purchase Lush locally, but can probably partake in the extensive mail-order services provided. The citizens of the United States must also often resort to this means of procuring their bathing necessities, as Lush has shown an aversion to opening franchise locations on U.S. soil.

One of Lush's main draws is that they point-blank refuse to test products on animals. They do not test their own cosmetics in this fashion, and they also refuse to buy supplies from companies that allow testing. Even if a different sector of a supplier uses animal testing (which Lush considers wholly unneccessary) they refuse to purchase from said company until all testing is ended. To date, they have persuaded two suppliers to give up animal testing in favor of alternative practices. They also try to support causes which they deem worthwhile. Currently, they procure the olive oil for their olive oil-based products from olive groves reclaimed from Sicilian organized crime syndicates. What's more, the groves are tended by recovering heroin addicts. These people are dedicated.

In total, the company pulls about 130 million pounds a year, allowing it to invest in new and more diverse products year after year. Mo can be found to explore new products and scents in the garden shed behind the house. Mark, trained as a perfumer, helps to come up with new ideas as well. Between the two of them and the rest of the staff, new items hit the shelves to celebrate holidays, seasonal changes, and even company anniversaries. Though some offerings change, some favorites have earned a perennial place upon the Lush catalog and shelves, occasionally garnering entire lines of products in that scent. In all, after a rather rocky start, things appear to be going very well for the company.



Fresh products for a fresh world

History of these fresh and fancy grooming aids aside, the products themselves are very intriguing. The layout of the stores compliments the nature of the assorted itemry available. Each store looks more like some sort of exotic foods bazaar than actual soap shop, designed to mimic an old-time grocery store. Because the "produce" is fresh, it's stacked high in wicker baskets like so many oranges and apples. The soaps are formed in large slabs that are cut and sold by weight. Packaging is at a minimum in accordance with the ideals of the company. Walking these well-stocked displays is likely to turn up a variety of interesting and intoxicating treasures. Here are a few that I found rather exciting:

  • Sex Bomb-- Bath Ballistic containing: Jasmine, Clary Sage, synthetic musk, Ylang Ylang-- This bomb is meant to be an aphrodisiac through and through. It's a delicate pink with a flowery scent. It even has a little rice paper rose set into the bomb to set the mood.

  • Romance in a Stone-- Bath Ballistic containing: Sweet wild orange, Mandarin, Tangerine-- This bomb smells like a sophisticated lady, with a delicate size and fragrance. Like certain other bombs, it contains things that may make cleaning a tub after the bath rather unpalatable. However, unlike other bombs, when it melts away it leaves behind a paper slip with a love poem. Adorable!

  • Karma Kream-- Cream containing: Patchouli, Lemongrass, Orange-- Part of the long line of Karma products, this tub of lotion helps keep you and your largest organ balanced, as well as smelling delightful.

  • Caca Marron-- Henna Hair Bar that boosts colored hair in shine and depth. Not too red, but not too brown, this may be the Caca for you.

  • Razorantium-- Shaving Cream containing: Linseed, Jojoba, Cocoa butter-- Don't fool yourself into thinking all Lush products are for ladies! This shaving cream tames the most stubborn of stubble while helping to smooth and calm the skin beneath.

  • The Joy of Jelly--Shower Jelly containing: Tiger lily, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang-- Yet another in the line of aphrodisiac products, this shower jelly is just that. It's a great big jiggly hunk of cleansing gel made from seaweed extracts. Useful on hair or body, you can play with it any way you like.

Add to this list at least another dozen types of bath bombs, massage bars, soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, lip balms, and even some toothpaste. Throw in a variety of boxed gift sets, all hand-packed and wrapped, featuring a sticker of the worker who created the package. Now you've got a good idea of Lush's product landscape. All can be purchased by catalog or online, but you have to keep in mind that summer can be deadly for certain products. Many of the bath melts, moisturizers, and jellies come with a melt warning in hot months (alternating depending on your hemisphere). No one wants to spend money just to end up with a box full of goo.



So there you have it.The company, the products, and the story are all worth a look. I hope you can get as much enjoyment out of them as I do.


Certain respectable noders remind me that most Lush shops are generally easy to find, even in an unfamiliar town. Just follow the overwhelming smell to a world of adventure. DonJaime also points out that if the smell does in fact overpower you, they keep a sniffable jar of coffee beans to help clear you right up again.

ascorbic also informs me that Mark may have trained as a trichologist. I counter with the fact that he also really likes birdwatching. I think the two are rather unrelated.


  • http://lush.com/
  • http://www.multichannelmarketing.co.uk/contentdetail.php?id=CNT_44035fe852d0d
  • http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2055953,00.html
  • http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg19426071.800-interview-scents-soaps-and-birdsong.html

Lush (?), a. [Prob. an abbrev. of lushious, fr. luscious.]

Full of juice or succulence. Tennyson.

How lush and lusty the grass looks! how green!
Shak.

 

© Webster 1913


Lush (?), n. [Etymol uncertain; said to be fr. Lushington, name of a London brewer.]

Liquor, esp. intoxicating liquor; drink. [Slang] C. Lever.

 

© Webster 1913

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