The Coral are an English band formed in 1996 in Hoylake on the Wirral Peninsula in England.[1] The band first emerged during the early 2000s (decade)[2] and found success with their debut album The Coral (2002) and follow up Magic and Medicine (2003). Their self-titled debut album was nominated for the 2002 Mercury Music Prize[3] and later voted the fourth best album of the year by NME Magazine.[4]

In 2008 guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones left the band, however The Coral continued as a five-piece. Their sixth album Butterfly House was released in 2010.


 [hide*1 History


1996–2000: Formation and early years[edit]Edit

In 1996, schoolfriends Ian Skelly and Paul Duffy began jamming together in the basement of Flat Foot Sams pub in Hoylake. Over the following months they were joined by Bill Ryder-Jones on lead guitar, Ian's older brother James Skelly on vocals and main songwriting duties, and then Lee Southall on rhythm guitar. The band were known briefly as Hive before choosing the name The Coral, and the line-up was completed with the addition of Nick Power, who joined as keyboard player in 1998.[5][6]

According to Deltasonic head Alan Wills, he first encountered the band in a rehearsal room where they were playing pool. He thought they looked "cool" and decided to go and see them live. At that point the band hadn't released any records.[7] When Wills discovered the band he had already started to think about starting a label but had yet to realise it, and The Coral gave Wills the impetus to start Deltasonic. Wills told HitQuarters that: "It was always the aim to release them through Deltasonic, and it was always their aim to be on Deltasonic ... Most people wouldn’t have understood the Coral at that point." Wills also assumed responsibility for managing the band, albeit reluctantly as he was unable to find anyone else to take on the role.[7]

2001–2004: Début album and breakthrough[edit]Edit

Hailed as the first English band of the "guitar group revival", the band's first release was the single "Shadows Fall" (2001), which was followed by two EPs The Oldest Path EP (2001) and Skeleton Key EP (2002).

Their eponymous debut album The Coral, released in 2002, reached number five on the UK Albums Chart and was nominated for the Mercury Prize the day after its release. A successful UK tour and festival slots followed along with the singles "Goodbye" reaching number twenty-one in the UK Singles Chart and "Dreaming of You" reaching number thirteen. The single "Dreaming of You" was included in the United States sitcom "Scrubs" episode My Monster. The Coral also performed "Dreaming of You" live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

After a hectic year they recorded Magic and Medicine in 2003, which reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and garnered critical praise. The album was largely made up of dreamlike acoustic ballads rather than the aggressive psychedelia of their debut. They followed the release with UK, European, American and Japanese tours and a one-off festival Midsummer Nights Scream, held in a big top on the New Brighton promenade. The support for this event included a line up of up-and-coming bands, such as The Libertines, The Zutons and The Thrills. Singles from the album, "Don't Think You're the First", "Pass It On", "Secret Kiss" and "Bill McCai" reached number 10, 5, 25, and 23 respectively on the UK Singles Chart.

Next The Coral quickly recorded the mini-album Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker. Released in early 2004 with little promotion and no accompanying singles, it was also included as a bonus disc with US versions of Magic and MedicineNightfreak and the Sons of Becker marked another change in direction for the band, showcasing a darker, funkier and more lo-fi sound.

2005–2008: Continued success and Bill Ryder-Jones departure[edit]Edit

In 2004 they began recording The Invisible Invasion, with Portishead's Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow as producers. On its 2005 release, The Invisible Invasion entered the UK Album Chart at number 3.[8] A second CD containing live versions of songs from this and previous albums was included with early copies. The Coral followed this with UK, European, American and Japanese tours, also releasing "In The Morning" which reached number six and "Something Inside of Me" which reached number forty-one on the UK Singles Chart.

In June 2005 guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones took a break from the band and it was announced that he would not tour again, but might continue to help with future recordings. He was replaced by David McDonnell (later of The Sand Band) for The Invisible Invasion tour. In late 2005 the band had written an album without Bill entitled The Curse of Love, at the beginning of 2006, however, Ryder-Jones was persuaded to rejoin as a full-time band member and the band shelved those songs in order to begin work on another album, Roots & Echoes.

The Coral toured with Arctic Monkeys during their 2007 summer festival gigs, releasing the single "Who's Gonna Find Me" on 30 July 2007 followed by the album Roots & Echoes on 6 August 2007. The band enlisted the help of Matt Potter for percussion and jazz flute on the album. In contrast to their frenetic early material, this album was a much more laid-back affair, and displayed a new-found maturity to the band's songwriting. Tracks such as "Rebecca You" and "Music at Night" were embellished with string arrangements written by Ryder-Jones. They opened the BBC Electric Proms on 24 October 2007 with "Who's Gonna Find Me" and were joined on stage by celebrity friend Noel Gallagher, who played lead guitar on their track "In the Rain".

In January 2008 Ryder-Jones left The Coral, apparently due to experiencing panic attacks before playing live, and finding that his desire to be part of a commercially successful band had disappeared. He has since received great acclaim with an orchestral solo album.[9] In a March 2010 interview, Bill Ryder-Jones said of James Skelly's songwriting: "James was such a brilliant songwriter, still is."[10]

Drawing a line under the first chapter of their career, The Coral released a 3LP & 2CD compilation album Singles Collection on 15 September 2008, featuring all but 2 of their singles to date. A new single, "Being Somebody Else" was released on 8 September 2008. The album also contained a second CD entitled Mysteries & Rarities which contained 19 previously unreleased songs, demos, outtakes and live recordings of earlier songs.

2009–present: Five-piece lineup[edit]Edit

The Coral released their sixth album Butterfly House on 12 July 2010.[11] The album was produced by John Leckie, of The Stone Roses and Radiohead fame,[12] and was recorded at RAK studios in London as well as Rockfield in South Wales.

Four singles were released from the album, "1000 Years", "More than a Lover","Walking in the Winter" and "Two Faces". The new songs had been crafted over a two-year span during which the band fine-honed and road-tested the material. The deluxe version of this album came with a bonus CD of 5 additional songs. Critical reception was largely positive. Record Collector Magazine was notably praiseworthy: "Butterfly House… continues to set the benchmark high. A thing of true wonderment, it’s shimmering, beatific multi-coloured coats of guitars and vocal harmonies – think The Everly Brothers, Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash – dress songs that primarily concern themselves with the demystification process… this is a genuine contender for 2010 album of the year."[13]

Six months after the release of Butterfly House, The Coral released Butterfly House Acoustic, a limited edition acoustic re-recording of the entire album which they completed in a single day, after positive reviews of their acoustic live performances.

In February 2011, Butterfly House was named UK Album of the Year 2010 at the Music Producers Guild Awards.[14] Robert Plant a fellow MPG nominee[15] for his album with The Band of Joy, carefully scheduled his rehearsal on BBC2's Later With Jools in order to make it to The Coral's performance at the Royal Albert Hall on 15 November 2010.

In a March 2012 interview, bassist Paul Duffy reported that a new album is in progress at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Bristol, stating that the sound was a lot heavier: "It’s very layered, it's like you have one thing and you just keep adding things on top, and it just sounds big cause we've gone in as a six piece."[16] In spring 2012 the band announced an indefinite hiatus in order to concentrate on individual projects. Their half-finished seventh album was shelved.

Musical style and influence[edit]Edit

Despite the "guitar group revival" tag, they had little in common with their peers. Their music was a hybrid of psychedelia, Motown, dub reggae, Merseybeat and spaghetti western soundtracks, and their lyrics betrayed an obsession with the sea.

The band's music is a mixture of 1960s-style psychedelia and folk-rock with old-fashioned country and modern indie rock influences.

The Coral's distinctive musical style has strongly influenced many other of the Liverpool-based label's acts, including The ZutonsThe Dead 60s and The Rascals.

Other projects[edit]Edit

Solo albums[edit]Edit

Drummer Ian Skelly released a solo album, Cut From A Star, on 10 December 2012.[17] He subsequently toured with a 7-piece backing band, The Serpent Power, which included Coral members James Skelly, Paul Duffy and Nick Power. In July 2013 the album was re-released as a deluxe edition double-CD.

Lead singer James Skelly released an album entitled Love Undercover [18] on 3 June 2013 with The Intenders, a band comprising Coral members Ian Skelly, Paul Duffy and Nick Power, as well as members of The Sundowners and Tramp Attack. Tracks such as "Do It Again"[19] unveiled a less abstract dimension to the artist's songwriting style and highlighted the earthy power of Skelly's distinctive vocals. The band toured the UK in June 2013.[20]

Guitarist Lee Southall is recording an album with the singer Molly Jones,[21] provisionally titled Goodbye To The River, due for release in 2013 under the name Northern Sky. The duo are planning gigs in the lead up to the album's release.

Bassist Paul Duffy has provided music in collaboration with Eva Petersen for animator John Davide.

Keyboard player Nick Power, aside from supporting his band mates' solo work, is making DJ appearances around the UK and Europe as Nuclear Nick Power.[22] He has also published "Small Town Chase", a book of poetry.

Skeleton Key Records[edit]Edit

Skeleton Key Records was founded as a Liverpool-based independent record label in 2013 by James, Ian and Neville Skelly. The label evolved out of Neville's earlier label Watertown Records, on which he had released his own material. James Skelly & the Intenders' Love Undercover (2013) was the first album released by the label, followed by the 2-CD deluxe edition of Ian Skelly's Cut from a Star. Artists signed to the label include James Skelly & the Intenders, Ian Skelly, Neville Skelly, and The Sundowners.


  • The Coral Mini Movie (2002)
  • The Curry Files (2003)
  • The Coral Film (2008)


Current members
  • James Skelly – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion, lyrics (1996–present)
  • Lee Southall – guitars, backing vocals (1996–present)
  • Paul Duffy – bass guitar, saxophone, backing vocals (1996–present)
  • Nick Power – keyboards, organ, melodica, piano, backing vocals, lyrics (1998–present)
  • Ian Skelly – drums (1996–present)
Former members
Live members


Main article: The Coral discography;Studio albums


  • Debut UK Tour (November 2001)
  • The Coral Tour (2002)
  • Magic and Medicine Tour (2003–2004)
  • The Invisible Invasion Tour (2005)
  • Roots & Echoes Tour (2007)
  • The Singles Collection Tour (2008)
  • Butterfly House Tour (2010–2011)
As support act
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