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Cardiacs Guns album cover
3.52 | 57 ratings | 5 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Spell With a Shell (3:17)
2. There's Good Cud (2:17)
3. Wind and Rains Is Cold (3:20)
4. Cry Wet Smile Dry (3:27)
5. Jitterbug (Junior Is A) (7:31)
6. Sleep All Eyes Open (2:58)
7. Come Back Clammy Lammy (4:07)
8. Clean That Evil Mud Out Your Soul (2:25)
9. Ain't He Messy Though (2:03)
10. Signs (4:25)
11. Song of a Dead Pest (2:37)
12. Will Bleed Amen (7:30)

Total Time: 45:57

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Smith / lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, arrangements, producer
- Jon Poole / guitar, keyboards, vocals, arrangements
- Sarah Smith / saxophones, vocals (1,3)
- Jim Smith / bass, vocals
- Bob Leith / drums
- Sharron Saddington / vocals (1,3,8,12)
- Joanne Spratley / vocals (6,7)

- Rob Deschamps / trombone, French horn

String quartet:
- Chris Brierly
- Catherine Morgan / violin
- Mark Pharaoh
- Robert Woolard

Releases information

CD The Alphabet ‎- ALPH CD 027 (1999, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CARDIACS Guns ratings distribution

(57 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

CARDIACS Guns reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by russellk
2 stars This 1999 album is, sadly, likely to be CARDIACS' last full-length release. Even more sorrowfully, of all their incomparable catalogue this is the least essential.

What's missing? The energy, the vibrancy. The songs here are fine, but are played without the fire I worship them for. In fact I can't make up my mind whether they sound more like a BOWIE/MARC BOLAN glam rock pastiche or like a 70's SPLIT ENZ side project. This is certainly an enormous step down from 'Sing To God' released only a few years earlier.The flat, glossy production is partly to blame, but I think the fire has simply damped down too much.

But then there's 'Will Bleed Amen,' the album's last track. This song is right up there with the best in their canon and, for the serious CARDIACS fan, 'Guns' must be purchased for this song alone. Manic, glorious, playful, creative, enjoyable. The rest of the album, less so. If you are new to CARDIACS, please start somewhere else.

Review by frippism
4 stars I've been most careful with "Guns". It was either loved or rather disliked by many people, so I thought quite carefully about whether eventually getting it or not. The sound can be described many times with one word: Underwhelming. That is not a bad word at all. When I finally got it I listened to it once, and loved it. Many of them songs here are less in your face punk prog train smashing into a gigantic beehive made of steel. But they are beautiful. So very very beautiful. There always were so many layers in Cardiacs songs, that after more than 2,000 plays I have listening to this bands that I love more than words will ever be able to describe, there are always new things to find. And eventually even in the noisiest wildest moments of Cardiacs, I will find sincere and touching beauty. Here on "Guns" there are many moments of this beauty. After tens of listens I can say, that Cardiacs still had it back in '99, and managed to create a genius album and a worthy follow up to the sensational, mind blowing "Sing To God". Underwhelming is not a bad word at all.

A few things about the sound: it is more or less the same as any Cardiacs album, but different. It is quieter, more pastoral. It seems to me Tim Smith has been influenced by his mesmerizing side project "Spratley's Japs". The sound here at times is more psychedelic, more spacey, breathes more. The studio effects are put here to very good use, as these wonderful sound effects coat the songs in a supernatural aura.

A few things about the songs: They're spectacular. "Spell With A Shell", opens this album, and it's a bit of surprise. You can hear a change of sound. But it's grown on me and is a classic. "There's Good Cud" explodes with the insane energy you'd expect from Cardiacs, and wakes you up. "Cry Wet Smile Dry"- now that is a song. My god you can cry from the energy of this song, this wailing incredible chorus. "Jitterbug" has this long and twisting development until it slides into a very long and hypnotic psychedelic outro. Just bliss. "Clean That Evil Mud Out Your Soul"- this song is heaven. Cardiacs heaven. It takes this most hysterical and ridiculous line, twists it into so many time changes that I can hardly breathe, and opens into a chorus that always makes me think of go-go dancers (I don't know why don't ask me). "Signs"- this song is GENIUS. Tim Smith quivers like a mouse here on vocals, and it makes me grin. "Will Bleed Amen"- not much to say of this song. All there is to say it- it is the best thing to have been summoned to Earth by Tim Smith. It's bluesy riff (as bluesy as Cardiacs can be) gives me goosebumps especially when they get to the singing. I can't understand how someone can write something so beautiful and be human.

Unfortunately, "Come Back Clammy Lammy" is probably the one song separating this album from 5 stars. It is not a bad song, Cardiacs will never, ever write a bad song (Tim Smith himself said that he hates bad songs- proof right there). It's just not great as the rest of the album, and goes on a bit too long. "Sleep All Eyes Open", while having a great chorus, is not a masterpiece.

Musicians? All great. I don't really need to elongate. Listen to "Clean That Dirty Mud Out Your Soul". Case closed.

I really cannot think of a world without Cardiacs. Tim Smith is still recuperating from a stroke from '08 and is yet to get better. There is nothing as genius and pure, just pure music as Cardiacs. A world without them will just break the status quo of this planet.

Tim get well soon, all the best to you.

Review by Lewian
4 stars A number of people don't seem to love Guns as much as pretty much all other Cardiacs albums. Why is this? Certainly it's a fully valid Cardiacs album with excellent Cardiacs music on it.

Well, one explanation may be that the album is off to a somewhat weak start with Spell with a Shell, and people may not then be able to shake off the first impression. This comes with a fairly thin sound, a not particularly interesting rhythm, a single chord for quite some time and just two for some more time and some not particularly catchy singing from the first moment. To be fair, at some point it takes off into a more intense chorus and actually starts to make some sense.

Anyway, from then on things go uphill. With There's Good Cud the album certainly hasn't yet reached the peak. It's a fast and hard rocking punk orgy which will appeal to headbangers. Wind and Rain is Cold is the first highlight, more folky and poetic, with typical Cardiacs theatre spirit and some rare but great and dreamy Sarah Smith vocals; she returned for this album and is extremely welcome. Cry Wet Smile Day is again rocking harder and has one of these iconic crowd singing choruses, ah, the choruses! You want to join in so much but it's not that easy. OK, then Jitterbug (junior is a). This starts like a typical energetic Cardiacs song and then from the 3 minute mark get caught in a strange slow outworldly succession of chords in spacey sound over which Tim's voice meanders around, for almost 5 minutes. Depending on your mood this may be very annoying or genius; I'd be interested in whether anybody has followed this often enough to know exactly where it's going in the next moment, this is probably a half life's project. Sleep All Eyes Open is another fast rocker; nice how they already start fast and then give you the feeling of ever getting faster, wait, there's some illusion somewhere in it, like Escher's stairs that go upwards all the time. Come Back Clammy Lammy is again fast and quite straight for a Cardiacs song. It has another addictive crowd chorus but the Cardiacs can be accused of recycling some of their own older ideas in places (also in the odd other song).

The band then calms down a bit; Clean That Evil Mud Out Of Your Soul doesn't go for speed generally, although it has a weird and fast guitar melody in its instrumental bridges, but also they wind it down at some moments, this is melodic and rich in contrasts. Ain't He Messy Though is also about the melody and the chords, it's very nicely crafted with the typical twists, a strong keyboards sound and some very nice sax by Sarah.

Then Signs, which alone is strong enough to justify buying Guns; it's my no. 2 favourite Cardiacs song (behind Big Ship) and has the most memorable and intense chorus of them all, which is most effectively build on some very calm and vulnerable almost standing still ballad parts in between. I can listen to just this song for ages.

Song of a Dead Pest is a rather straight keyboard oriented melodic song, which sounds rather uplifting and relaxed, in stark contrast to its title and the lyrics. Will Bleed Amen is again a fast and hard finale with once more fascinating melodic turns. Attached to it is an epilogue that has Tim singing to the organ, leading up to a closure by the full band.

Perhaps I shouldn't have written that much on the individual songs, ultimately it's the Cardiacs and they totally defy description. Anyway, overall this has developed into something pretty strong again. OK, in the context of the Cardiacs universe it may not be seen as one of their peaks and there are some self citations in this one, and also (as usual) one can criticise the mix at times. On the other hand, when it comes to memorable addictive (but still twisted) melodies and choruses, Guns is second to pretty much no other Cardiacs album, with some real crackers on it, notably the stunning Signs. So this is the real deal, not some kind of second rate album, just if you test-listen to it, don't start in the beginning.

Get well soon, Tim, you're missed!

Latest members reviews

4 stars Like many other reviewers, Cardiacs, have only become known to me in the very recent past. Though this group is labelled under the RIO/Avant-Prog sub-genre, I can attest that this a very thin affiliation at best. Unlike the remainder of artists found in this genre, Cardiacs are highly accessib ... (read more)

Report this review (#1323180) | Posted by suomynona | Thursday, December 11, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Cardiacs is a band. I love them Cardiacs people and having read sundry reviews of their noise on this site it is clear that they is a quicksand minded band who pull you into their world and not lets never. So I guess I'm preaching to the converted in my scribblings. But hey ho, nothi ... (read more)

Report this review (#331155) | Posted by raggleman | Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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