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Cardiacs - Big Ship CD (album) cover

BIG SHIP

Cardiacs

RIO/Avant-Prog


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siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars

BIG SHIP EP

The classic CARDIACS lineup was settled by the end of 1984 when the band released the last of the cassette only releases and would appear on the final "The Seaside" however it would take two more years for Tim Smith (lead vocals and guitar), Jim Smith (bass and vocals), William D. Drake (keyboards and vocals), Sarah Smith (saxophones and vocals), Tim Quy (percussion and bass synth) and Dominic Luckman (drums) to unleash their first real product into the underground scene beyond the cassettes available only albums at live shows and through mail order. After this septet found a new chemistry the band was discovered by Marillion's Fish and was invited to tour with them which despite the exposure was not well accepted by the neo-prog crowds as the rowdy boisterous and staunchly avant-garde antics of the band were too hot to handle.

The band would continue to tour for the next couple of years and would finally release the first real product of the band in the form of an EP titled BIG SHIP in January of 1987 on a vinyl 12" that was played at the speed of a single at 45rpm. While the little EP of just shy of 19 minutes was sort of a fluffer for the first "real" album "A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window," the title track became a staple for the live shows and was performed at almost every concert appearance and "Burn Your House Brown" would also be played regularly during the 90s and 2000s. While the EP itself would never see an independent reissue, the five tracks have been included on the 1991 compilation "Songs For Ships And Irons."

While approaching the stylistic fusion as heard on "A Little Man" album, the tracks on BIG SHIP are noticeably lower key (relatively speaking) than the frenetic power prog punk to come. At this point the power septet was keen on developing the intricately designed atmospheric constructs along with the more proggy time signatures as heard on the most outlandish track "Tarred And Feathers" which sounds the most like what would appear on the "A Little Man" album which came out the next year. The rest of the tracks resemble the more mellow moments on that album but the band were also developing the interesting melodic escapades that implemented the carnival show vibes into the merry pronkster mix of art punk and psychedelic prog.

As with almost every CARDIACS release that came out while the band was in its prime, it was all a little too much for the critics who almost universally panned it as rubbish and likewise the neo-prog fans who were keeping the progressive rock scene on life support failed to grasp the magnanimous nature of this bizarre amalgamation of sounds that evoke a sordid love affair between Devo, Madness, Oingo Boingo, Gentle Giant and whomever else decided to attend the party. I've yet to hear a CARDIACS release i didn't like and it's obvious how songs like "Burn Your House Brown" were the primarily influence of bands like Mr Bungle and the other hardcore circus acts to follow. While not as OMG perfect as "A Little Man," this EP shows the band closer to that divine awesomeness and should not be missed.

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Posted Friday, April 5, 2019 | Review Permalink

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