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Various Artists (Tributes) - Leader of the Starry Skies: A Tribute to Tim Smith, Songbook 1 CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Tributes)


Various Genres

4.54 | 14 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars TIM SMITH ( 3 July 1961 - 21 July 2020 ) was without doubt one of the most respected musicians of the art rock world to emerge in the last 50 years with his unique mix of psychedelic pop, progressive rock and post-punk with the Cardiacs as well as the lesser known acts The Sea Nymphs, Spratley Japs and Panixphere. Add to that a short stint in Mr & Mrs Smith & Mr Drake as well as a solo album titled "Tim Smith's Extra Special OceanLandWorld." The man is considered a true genius in the world of pronk (prog x punk) for the innovative songwriting techniques employed on the Cardiacs albums that began under the moniker Cardiac Arrest. Albums like "A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window" and "On Land and in the Sea" are considered by many including myself to be absolute masterpieces of indie DIY art rock that please punk rockers and hardened proggers alike. No easy feat there.

In response to TIM SMITH's combo heart attack and stroke that took place in 2008 and landed him in a London hospital, the compilation LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES: A TRIBUTE TO TIM SMITH, SONGBOOK 1 was created by a long list of artists who either stated a strong Cardiacs influence or an above average admiration in SMITH's musical heritage including a few musicians who worked with the Cardiacs directly. This album of 17 tracks was released to raise funds for his ongoing care and recovery which also signified how a given artist can be extremely loved in the underground world of music but still reaped very few financial rewards from his / her contributions to the said underground. While the album was released in 2010 and is still available, the original preorder edition offered a 14-track bonus disc titled "A Loyal Companion." Unfortunately there are few samples of this bonus disc so i can only review the one album that clocks in at 73:47 and features popular artists such as Steven Wilson, Oceansize, North Sea Orchestra and Knifeworld covering their favorite TIM SMITH tunes.

This album is the ultimate tribute to a most respected musician in need and not only consists of Cardiacs covers but songs sampled from all of SMITH's projects. "Savour" by former Cardiacs member William D. Drake starts the compilation off and was lifted from SMITH's solo album. Other artists involved in this project include The Magic Numbers covering "A Little Man And A House," Robert White of The Milk And Honey Band with Andy Partridge of XTC covering "Lillywhite's Party" and the Britpop band Ultrasound covering "Big Ship" which reunited specifically to record this one track. Despite the unique idiosyncrasies that TIM SMITH employed to make his music sound like no other, the artists involved in this project, while staying true to the original intent of the music, manage to add their own stamp on these tracks which makes this an unexpected pleasure as i rarely find tribute albums to be worthy of exploration however TIM SMITH evoked something beyond the average musician and clearly garnered nothing but pure respect from the various alternative oriented musicians who followed in his footsteps.

While none of the tracks on LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES: A TRIBUTE TO TIM SMITH, SONGBOOK 1 eclipse the original recordings, this compilation of TIM SMITH songs is the ultimate tribute to one of the world's greatest songwriters and will be most revered by punk rockers and proggers alike. Despite the album emerging ten years ago in response to SMITH's medical needs, it is more than fitting to finally check out this fine compilation of underground indie artists to celebrate the life of one of the most unique singer / songwriter / guitarists of all time. TIM SMITH was lucky enough to survive another decade but finally left this crazy world at the age of 59 on the 21st of July, 2020 following another heart attack. All i can say is?. THANK YOU, TIM SMITH FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD OF UNDERGROUND MUSIC! You are truly a hero in my book and deserve a respite from this tumultuous and messed up planet we call home. Your music will live on forever and your legend will only grow. R.I.P, dude!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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