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Cardiacs - A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window  CD (album) cover

A LITTLE MAN AND A HOUSE AND THE WHOLE WORLD WINDOW

Cardiacs

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.26 | 187 ratings

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octopus-4
Special Collaborator
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Honestly before being involved in the ZART team I didn't know anything of Cardiacs but this album. I also didn't know anything about prog subgenres before joining PA and Cardiacs were to me something that I would have called "post-punk" but only to give it a name.

The important is that this is an excellent album under all the points of view, and respect to most of the avant stuff is less challenging and could be a very good starting point for whoever wants to approach this subgenre for the first time. It was released at the end of the 80s and it's still full of influences from that period, probably this is what makes it so approachable.

The first song, "A Little Man And a House", is an exception to all I have writen about the album up to now. It's a very progressive song with a bit of Devo in the vocals, an orchestral arrangement with folk elements and melody and signatures that can remind to the bigs like KC and YES. A song like this is enough to make this album a worth buying, but there's even better.

"In A City Lining" is one of the most famous songs of the band, one which had a lot of radio passages (on rock radios, I don't mean MTV or similars). I remember that at the first listen I was thinking to the Devo, but again, it's more question of vocals as the music is closer probably to Zappa with punk elements and a clear remind to the Ska of bands like Specials or Madness in the chorus. If you are looking for something decent coming from the 80s, this is absolutely more than decent. It's how the 80s could have been with a bit more of art and a bit less of glamour and hair-spray.

"I'm Eating in Bed" reminds me again to the Devo, but this time it's rhythm and tempo. Let me add that unlikely the Devo could have ever played so good. I have the impression that Cardiacs are surely more talented and skilled as musicians respect to the good-but-non- essential post-punk devoluted band. I can hear Yes (Anderson and Wakeman mainly) and Zappa in this song, plus the symptoms of what would later be called Avant-garde.

"Is This The Life?" is a song that can still be heard on the radio. Effectively listening to it on the radio is what has caused me to write this review. This is a 5-stars song which mixes an 80s Yes keyboard background with an U2 guitar and a voice that here sounds quite like the Cure. Three things that separately I don't like much but taken together make a masterpiece. The guitar solo could be the Gilmour of About Face, too. Everything very 80s but so good...this is the topic moment of the album.

"Interlude" is a connection more than a filler. Those 46 seconds of brasses are the counterpart to the post punk attack of "Dive" (or should I say Devo?). This is a genre that I like, one of the few good things coming from the 80s, and listening to how this band has brought it to the 00s is amazing.

"The Icing On The World" is a strange waltz, very intense and with orchestral arrangements. Another very good song that disappeares beneath so many masterpieces.

"The Breakfast Line" is theatrical and totally suitable to be called Avant. It's grotesque and intense at the same time. The orchestral parts are excellent, not last the violins in the middle of the song. After the violins it comes a part that Keith Emerson would surely like. The Emerson of the 80s, at least. Another great song. "Victory Egg" is a short song which has a lot of Irish pub flavor. A very interesting one with the main theme reminding to Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King.

"R.E.S." starts with percussions followed by organ. Initially between the Specials and the Devo it goes to different landscapes with the chorus. I'm probably the only one in seeing this relationship, but I think that even Phideaux has inherited something from this album. After a couple of minutes the song incarnates the spirit of what we now call avant, if I have ever understood what this word means....and I'm not sure to have understood. The final is pompously orchestral with a short coda of piano. Another great song.

"The Whole World Window" is unexpectedly "normal". It makes me think to King Crimson and Yes as well as to Beatles and Phideaux. So it's nothing of them. It's a melodic song, more melodic than everything else on this album. It's an excellent closer. There's another album of another band that develops similarily. The punk band "Green Jelly" has a parodistic cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird as closer on one of their two albums. The Whole World Window on this one has almost the same effect with an important difference. This is a real song with a great arrangement and skillfully played. The Green Jelly's one is only a joke.

This album contains at least three masterpiece songs and has no weak moments so I think it deserves the maximum rating.

octopus-4 | 5/5 |

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