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Cardiacs - All That Glitters Is A Mares Nest  CD (album) cover





4.47 | 23 ratings

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5 stars A series of chimes ring out announcing the Alphabet Business Concern, the totalitarian (and totally fictional) umbrella under which CARDIACS performed. Pigeons coo, the crowd cheer and throw a prosthetic leg about the place. Everyone's up for it, and with a stinging guitar chord it begins...

... an hour and a half of the weirdest, most thrilling musical ride imaginable. CARDIACS don't care about fashion or labels. They care about drama and great fun, they see music as an out and out knees up. Complex time signatures because they fit, not because they're trying to be clever. Pomp and prog and punk and progression and psychedelica all mixed together in a great slab of in-your-face joy. Wry humour everywhere - Christan, the lead guitarist, is referred to throughout as 'she' and the crowd chants for Jim, the battered and picked-on younger brother of the band's leader and resident genius, TIM SMITH. And real skill: if you have the rare VHS video that goes with this performance (or if you watch the various Maresnest clips on YouTube) have a look at the work of the rhythm section and the keyboardist. Genuine virtuosity. 'It's a Lovely Day' is a microcosm of everything CARDIACS - a carnival whirlwind of everything that makes music such a fundamental part of life. Within this song is every component of progressive music youy could wish for, albeit presented in an unorthodox manner, a collision between the Canterbury Scene and Punk Rock, exploding everywhere with outrageous energy. The pace never slackens, the compositional and performance skills remain of the highest quality throughout. Pure gold, every moment.

As well as being a right royal rave-up, this live recording (released in 1995 but from a 1990 concert in Salisbury Cathedral) is something of a historical document, being the last time SARAH SMITH and TIM QUY performed with the band. This is a watershed in CARDIACS history, as after this they became a standard four-piece band. They retained their zaniness but, to my mind at least, lost that golden edge, that deep magic they mined during the 1980s. This adds a bittersweet tinge to a glorious moment in time. Adding further to that feeling is the knowledge that TIM SMITH is still recovering from a heart attack and subsequent strokes.

I tell you something, the man and his band made my heart feel better with this infectious, wacky, wholehearted, impossibly glorious music.

russellk | 5/5 |


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