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Cardiacs - Cardiacs Live  CD (album) cover

CARDIACS LIVE

Cardiacs

RIO/Avant-Prog


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4 stars The highly energetic music of the Cardiacs works very well live, particularly because the musicians are so good that all the speedy twists and turns of their music are done flawlessly on stage. I know that the sound of live albums is not everyone's cup of tea, but I often perceive it as more dynamic and more direct than studio recordings. It helps me to feel more connected and closer to the band, which adds to my experience of the music. The sound here is good enough for following the details in the music, it's not of studio quality but just what is needed to produce this more direct live sound quality. I wasn't able to see the Cardiacs live at the time, so I'm not going to comment on how well or not so well this album reproduces the experience.

This album contains songs from their first albums up to " A little man and a house...". If I'm not mistaken, this is the first appearance of the marvellous "Big Ship" on a record (edit: that's actually not true, there was an EP Big Ship earlier), which has become my Cardiacs favourite (this is also on the apparently better known Mares Nest live album that was recorded two years later, I think, and has similar qualities to this one - it is well worthwhile having both because the intersection is not so large with five songs). The music is Cardiacs' trademark punky theatralic music with frequent changes in speed and time signatures, complex and surprising melodies (with some straight ones thrown in that surprise in this context as well), some ska and some middle age elements. Tim Smith's voice is even more on overdrive on this live record than in the studio; actually he isn't much bothered about hitting the right notes at times, rather he tells stories, shouts, whispers and does all kinds of things that a well behaved singer wouldn't do. I'm impressed by the variety of William D. Drake's keyboard work on organ, piano and synth, Sarah Smith's sax is very important particularly when the music is at its most intense and theatralic; she doesn't play solos but rather brings the energy out, seemingly emulating a whole brass section at times. Guitar and drums are very dominant, too (this has some hard rock qualities too, at times, particularly toward the end, where also the music has some more time to flow without all too sudden changes and all too dominating vocals); the bass and percussion rather work in the background (it's better going to the studio albums for appreciating them).

This is a great energetic document of a great show of a great band that shows its complex disturbing theatralic side here as well as some free flowing hard rock music. It's not going to convince regular haters of live albums of their merits but for those who appreciate live sound on records this is top notch.

4 1/2, kind of five for me but four acknowledging that certain sound deficiencies may keep some people at bay.

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Posted Saturday, October 24, 2015 | Review Permalink

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