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Warning: The Cardiacs can seriously effect your ability to write.
Guns - Cardiacs
Member Name: Irp13
Guns - Cardiacs
Date: 27/07/01, updated on 27/07/01 (791 review reads)
For a change lets start by commenting on the cover and packaging (i.e. the easy bit), the front cover isn't terribly exciting really. The whole thing is green with the background being storm clouds, over this has been pasted two dog heads (mirrored) and the artist/album title. Its not as bad as it sounds, its well done, just a bit dull. The booklet is small (8 pages, 2 sheets) and beautifully formed. It contains all the lyrics on the album as well as the band line up (with child photos) and a photo of the supporting crew.
The line up for this album was: Sharron Saddington, Bob Leith (the only one who doesn't sing), Jim Smith, Joanne Spratley, Jon Poole, Tim Smith and Sarah Smith. With the main lyricist being Tim Smith.
Before getting onto the individual songs on this album I feel it would be good to try and describe their general sound for those who have not heard them (boy is this going to be impossible). The quickest and simplest way to describe the Cardiacs sound is Chaos, which is barely held in check and always tuneful. In the loud parts its like absolutely everyone is going at full volume and still they manage to hold it together. The drums are very important in the songs (like most songs) with them really setting the pace for the other elements. This is where the Cardiacs are so different from other bands in the way they change pace, a lot of the time there no indication that the song is going to change from slow to fast, quiet to loud or sparse to chaotic. Finally the usage of multiple vocalists is important, whilst Tim Smith does the loins share of the vocals, there is also a large contingent of female vocals which are mainly use
d as a calming effect on the song. All that and I've still managed to miss mentioning the organ, definitely a vital element.
'Spell with A Shell' is classic Cardiacs. Relatively simple tune with drums and rhymic pulsing pulsing guitar. Lots of tempo change and disparate tune styles knitted together wonderfully. Tim Smiths vocals are brilliantly complemented with female vocals in the chorus.
"alive don't! Stop it!
You're my only friend yeah"
'There's Good Cud' is a faster track with very speedy tune in the verse before the slightly slower chorus which then breaks into utter pandemonian. Fast beats occur in small packets in sections followed with guitar taking the same form.
""Don't you get me! Don't you spoil the air with all your craziness!"
'Wind and Rains is Cold' is a slow song with soft vocals. It bounces along quite mellowly with its interrupts formed by acoustic guitar and soft female vocals.
"Now you remember children how blessed are the pure in heart.
Want me to take' em up and wash' em good?"
'Cry Wet Dry Smile' is a high whining song. Its amazing how a song that is played and sung so highly can have such power.
"It is today, couriers day.
I have a letter to say
pen is good for nothing"
'Jitterbug (junior is a)' is fairly clean with the main instrument here being the organ. Quite sparse on the changes front with nothing happening particularly quickly (for the Cardiacs). Then there is an extraordinarily long quiet bit consisting of sweeping vocals and organs, To be honest this gets a bit boring as it reaches its third minute.
"broken as a bird in air with strangers"
'Sleep All Eyes Open' starts with a quiet build leading into some fairly standard guitar, Am
I still listening to a Cardiacs album? This is the most normal track on here with quite a lot of standard rock guitar but we also have the other worldly vocals which reminds us that we are far removed from standard rock. And it still retains the sudden change in beat.
"Is your master at home?
Yes Sir! Is it up? No Sir he sleep yet!"
'Come Back Clammy Lammy' is heavy drumming with shouted short breathed vocals,. In here we have the brilliantly harmonised vocals of an indeterminate number of people. This pounds along unrelentingly with the odd flare up up of celebratory guitar and even the occasional piece of brass making it in.
"COME BACK CLAMMY you dead.
Saw barnacle make it up to heaven red rim"
'Clean That Evil Mud Out Of Your Soul' has a great classic intro with stepping organ before it steps out and drifts back down. Next we have Tim's vocals on their own with just percussion backing him. The final sections are full of flowing vocals flowing and both male and female.
"All spawn of my own flesh and blood
All spawn of my devils own strumpet"
'Ain't He Messy Though' has a touch of Beatles about it. It has a loud drum beat supporting the vocals, the rest of the sounds are very post Sgt. Pepper Beatles.
"What's up with eyes?
What's up with everyones ones sad leaky
wet and wincey eyes?"
'Signs' has an excessively quiet beginning which builds and launched into the chaos that is a Cardiacs song. It then proceeds to alternate between the two.
"Oh my saviour, create me to die alone,
I'm what you flush."
'Song Of A Dead Poet' is a sweet and innocent tune played mainly on the keyboards with drums backing it up. This overwhelming happy sweet tune is slightly more sinister when you listen to the lyri
"and in tones of deep solemnity
pronounced that she is dead."
'Will Bleed Amen' is a full on onslaught with everything going at full pace. There's just a small little restbite in the middle, then the franticness resumes.
"Missed that chance to sing
missed that only dance
dying to snatch Eden"
'The Hidden Track', is there.
I think highly of the Cardiacs and have ever since I was at college and someone gave me a compilation tape with a couple of their songs on. Why do I hold them in such regard you may wonder, well its because of their relatively unique music and the fine the line they tread between chaos and an unlistenable mess. I also can say that they very good live and well worth going to see, great atmosphere (even if I was ill when I saw them). Also quickly a quick mention of their merchandise, its all very smart and quality stuff (and wearing the T-Shirt can mean you'll end up talking to new people), and there's a massive range from Mugs (which I got) to Bathrobes.
This is a brilliant album but it is not their best but will probably be quite a good introduction to the band for those who own gone. To be honest though the Cardiacs are not going to be everyone's cup of tea and it does tend to be a love or hate thing, so it would probably be wise to hear some before you buy if you've never heard of them.
Update at 20mins: If you want to have a listen before you buy they have clips on their website at www.cardiacs.com and apparently they are also on mp3.com (although I've not checked).