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CARDIACS

RIO/Avant-Prog • United Kingdom


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Cardiacs biography
Complex, eccentric, defiantly different - Cardiacs are a unique, influential and sometimes overlooked force within the history of rock. Their status as a prog rock band is disputed by some, including frontman and composer Tim Smith himself, who notably prefers the term "psychedelic" or simply "pop".

Regardless, they are embraced by much of the prog rock community, as well as fans of punk, alternative, indie and pretty much every other permutation of rock music.

Their sound has gradually evolved over the decades from the raw DIY punk sound of their early cassette albums to the sumptuous grandeur and off-kilter pop of their most recent efforts, but all of it is shot through with Tim Smith's unique use of unusual chord progressions, Zappa-esque complexity, psychedelic overtones, catchy melodies and odd, often impenetrable lyrics.

Formed in 1977 (originally under the name of Cardiac Arrest), the band went through several line-ups, with Tim Smith and his brother Jim as the only constant members, before settling on the so-called "classic" line-up in 1984. This consisted of Tim Smith (guitar and lead vocals, primarily), Jim Smith (bass, vocals), William D. Drake (keyboards, vocals), Sarah Smith (saxophone, vocals), Tim Quy (percussion) and Dominic Luckman (drums).

This line-up was responsible for some of Cardiacs' most widely known albums including "A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window" and "On Land and in the Sea", as well as an eccentric, theatrical quality to their live performances including shabby uniforms, make-up, confetti and strange onstage banter.

After several departures (including Sarah Smith and William D. Drake) a pared-down quartet of Tim Smith, Jim Smith, Dominic Luckman and new second guitarist Jon Poole was established. William D. Drake was deemed irreplaceable and all future Cardiacs concerts featured the band playing to pre-recorded keyboard parts rather than a live musician, which took considerable skill, given the complex nature of much of the material.

This formula remained more or less constant from "Heaven Born and Ever Bright" up until the present, though Dominic Luckman and Jon Poole left at different points to be replaced by Bob Leith and Kavus Torabi respectively. For many the highlight of this period is the double album "Sing to God".

In 2008, Tim Smith suffered a major stroke, which has left him unable to record and perform music and plans for the long-awaited and imm...
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Heaven Born And Ever BrightHeaven Born And Ever Bright
Audio CD$26.99
$138.85 (used)
On Land and in the SeaOn Land and in the Sea
Audio CD$26.99
The Seaside (original edition)The Seaside (original edition)
The Alphabet Business Concern
Audio CD$26.99
Little Man & A House & The Whole WLittle Man & A House & The Whole W
Import
Under license from The Alphabet Business by Torso 1995
Audio CD$28.99
$84.63 (used)
Sing to God Parts 1 & 2Sing to God Parts 1 & 2
Import
Alph
Audio CD$49.00
$121.33 (used)
GunsGuns
Import
Alph
Audio CD$26.99
$43.90 (used)
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THE DOWLING POOLE 'Bleak Strategies' LP Cardiacs Honeycrack Wildhearts USD $6.52 [1 bids]
CARDIACS - Guns Alphabet 1999 Vinyl LP 2015 Reissue SEALED FREE Shipping USD $69.90 Buy It Now 1 day
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NME 1988 APRIL 2 REM JOE STRUMMER WET WET WET MAXI PRIEST CARDIACS USD $11.75 Buy It Now 2 days
SOUNDS 1989 JUNE 10 FALL MARK E SMITH CARDIACS FAITH NO MORE INSPIRAL CARPETS USD $11.75 Buy It Now 2 days
Cardiacs 12" vinyl single record (Maxi) Big Ship EP UK ALPH004 USD $57.46 Buy It Now 2 days
Cardiacs On Land And In The Sea The Alphabet Business ALPH LP012 Vinyl LP Album USD $43.75 [0 bids]
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Mr & Mrs Smith And Mr Drake- S/T. Prog, Tim Smith, Cardiacs, sealed! USD $32.99 Buy It Now 2 days
The Sea Nymphs Cd Cardiacs William D Drake Tim Smith USD $43.08 Buy It Now 3 days
Cardiacs Garage Vol 2 Live USD $32.62 Buy It Now 3 days
NEW - Archive Cardiacs (A Collection of Early Works 1977-1979) USD $26.99 Buy It Now 4 days
CRAYOLA LECTERN: The Fall & Rise Of - Promo CD 2013 - Jon Poole of The Cardiacs USD $3.27 [0 bids]
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CARDIACS Nightracks Radio 1 Evening Session EP 12" VERY RARE UK 1988 ORIGINAL USD $47.06 Buy It Now 6 days
The Cardiacs - Songs For Ships And Irons (CD 1995) USD $6.15 [2 bids]
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WILLIAM DRAKE "Revere Reach" LP SEALED cardiacs USD $19.60 Buy It Now 9 days
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CARDIACS Seaside Treats EP ALPHABET 12" VERY RARE UK 1985 ORIGINAL PRESSING USD $117.66 Buy It Now 15 days
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SOUNDS 16/4/88 SINEAD O'CONNOR, CARDIACS, THE CHURCH, IRON MAIDEN, KING BUTCHER, USD $15.68 Buy It Now 16 days
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CARDIACS "SING TO GOD" SEALED DOUBLE LP USD $45.75 Buy It Now 18 days
THE CARDIACS "The Seaside (original edition)" CD SEALED USD $19.60 Buy It Now 18 days
Songs by Cardiacs and Affectionate Friends CD Compact Disc Various Tim Smith USD $49.99 Buy It Now 18 days
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DOWLING POOLE (ex WILDHEARTS, CARDIACS) ONE HYDE PARK, only 300 pressed. USD $26.14 Buy It Now 21 days
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THE ORGAN FANZINE ISSUE 47 - CARDIACS/THE DANDY WARHOLS/CORROSION OF CONFORMITY USD $11.75 Buy It Now 22 days
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The Cardiacs: A Little Man And a House CD - 1989 - ALPH CD007 USD $32.67 Buy It Now 23 days
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CARDIACS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CARDIACS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 14 ratings
The Obvious Identity
1980
4.00 | 13 ratings
Toy World
1981
4.05 | 68 ratings
The Seaside
1984
4.24 | 206 ratings
A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
1988
4.31 | 85 ratings
On Land And In The Sea
1989
3.78 | 46 ratings
Heaven Born And Ever Bright
1992
4.31 | 227 ratings
Sing To God
1996
3.44 | 47 ratings
Guns
1999

CARDIACS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.44 | 9 ratings
Rude Bootleg
1986
4.24 | 16 ratings
Cardiacs Live
1988
4.52 | 19 ratings
All That Glitters Is A Mares Nest
1995
4.60 | 20 ratings
Garage Concerts Vol.I
2005
4.40 | 16 ratings
Garage Concerts Vol.II
2005

CARDIACS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Seaside Treats
1985
4.67 | 3 ratings
All That Glitters Is A Maresnest
1992

CARDIACS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 16 ratings
Archive Cardiacs 1977-1979
1989
4.35 | 61 ratings
Songs For Ships And Irons
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greatest Hits
2001

CARDIACS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Seaside Treats
1984
4.50 | 4 ratings
Big Ship
1986
5.00 | 2 ratings
There's Too Many Irons In The Fire
1987
4.67 | 3 ratings
Is This The Life
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Night Tracks
1988
5.00 | 2 ratings
Susannah's Still Alive
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Baby Heart Dirt
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Baby Heart Dirt (12 Version)
1989
4.12 | 7 ratings
Day Is Gone
1991
4.96 | 6 ratings
Manhoo
1995
4.13 | 5 ratings
Odd Even
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bellyeye
1995
4.75 | 4 ratings
Signs
1999
4.09 | 7 ratings
Ditzy Scene
2007

CARDIACS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window  by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.24 | 206 ratings

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A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I must admit I had a pretty big smile on my face as I read in the liner notes "Thank you to Martin Orford for the loan of his beautiful mellotron." Yes the former IQ keyboardist gets mentioned in the liner notes of one of CARDIACS most treasured albums. There's a lot of guests on this one as well adding brass, strings and voices. Yes this is a CARDIACS album that most fans would rank in their top three. Speaking of top three, it was fairly easy for me to pick my three favourite songs from this album as they are the songs that really spoke to me in one way or another.

"A Little Man And A House" opens with strings and horns not sounding very CARDIACS-like until almost spoken vocals arrive after a minute. We keep getting teased on this one that it's going to breakout but it doesn't as they reel it back in each time. Horns are back late in this interesting opener. "In A City Lining" is a top three track for me. A catchy beat with atmosphere and determined vocals. It turns circus-like around 2 minutes. Organ 4 minutes in then it slows down but at the same time becomes more powerful then the tempo speeds up. Lots of sax here as well. "I'm Eating In Bed" is a title that makes me smile and we can hear samples of that. So catchy. A variety of keyboards around 3 minutes. "Is This The Life" is another top three tune. It brings back the eighties for me and that guitar melody throughout is so appealing. And check it out when he starts to light it up before 3 minutes as the guitar goes on and on. So good! I like the synth/ drum section that follows as well. "Interlude" is less than a minute of solemn horns with keyboards arriving late.

"Dive" is hyper to say the least. A fast- paced Punk inspired track. "The Icing On The World" has lots of tempo changes and this urgent beat. Horns blast as vocals dominate. "The Breakfast Line" like "I'm Eating In Bed" features samples that you would expect from the title. Lots of tempo changes early on, it's all over the place, very entertaining. Strings only before 3 minutes then it turns fuller to the end. Nice. "Victory Egg" is catchy with vocals, drums and organ standing out early before strings and horns join in. "R.E.S." is catchy and uptempo but the highlight is the guitar solo after 3 minutes. "The Whole World Window" is my final top three and man this hits me emotionally. He almost speaks the lyrics early on then it all turns fuller including the vocals around 1 1/2 minutes. So good! He almost sounds like Peter Hammill here. I like how that theme is repeated, it's so moving and majestic. Some beautiful sax in this one as well. Tim starts yelling for some time during this majestic soundscape. Nice contrast.

A must if your going to check out the world that is the CARDIACS.

 Guns by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.44 | 47 ratings

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Guns
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

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!

 A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window  by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.24 | 206 ratings

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A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Hercules
Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars Music for people with ADHD

OK, sometimes you just have to man up, bite the bullet and admit you were wrong. Very wrong.

I have always dismissed RIO/Avant as a genre because it very obviously just wasn't to my taste. And most of it absolutely still isn't. I've had a Cardiacs album in the past (Sing to God), listened to it once, hated it and sold it. End of interest. However, Darren Reddick played Is This The Life? on his excellent "One Man and his Prog" on Planet Rock, and rather than turn it off, I listened to it. And I liked it. So I got this album.

It's a bit like a mixture of Barrett era Floyd (absolutely not my taste), The Stranglers (very much my taste) and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (No thank you). Tim Smith's vocal delivery is weird and the lyrics bizarre; the band never settles on an idea for long, but flit from discordant passages to ones of considerable beauty, alternating rhythms and time signatures at random. It's the sort of music someone with a very limited attention span would compose and absolutely love. But it works because it's interesting

If you buy this, don't expect an easy ride. This is not music for background listening: it demands your attention all the time. Do I like it? Well it depends on my mood.

In the wrong mood, something like R.E.S. would make me want to smash the hi fi, with its frenetic vocals and vaguely irritating keyboards motif. But at other times, the wacky but brilliant guitar part makes me want to play it again and again.

Do I like it? Not all of it all the time. But in the right mood, its complexity, interest and sheer eccentricity make it a good listen. Favourites are RES (if I'm in the mood), In a City Lining, The Whole World Window and Is This The Life. At times I hate the whole album, at others I really enjoy it.

But I guess that's the brilliance of The Cardiacs. At last, I understand.

 Day Is Gone by CARDIACS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1991
4.12 | 7 ratings

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Day Is Gone
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars DAY IS GONE is teeny weenie little EP that only runs for a mere 16:41 by CARDIACS that is sandwiched between their full albums "On Land And In The Sea" and "Heaven Born And Ever Bright." It is yet again another strong release from the jittery merry pronksters. This was the period when the band went through some serious lineup changes including the departure of William Drake who provided all those whacky and virtuosic keyboard runs on the previous albums which was one of the band's trademarks. DAY IS GONE pretty much finds the band licking its wounds and finding a new way.

To be honest, this stuff may not quite be up to par with the 80s albums but Tim Smith and company do an exemplary job at picking up the pieces and rolling with it. While CARDIACS have always been called "pronk" as far as musical style goes, i can't say their earlier albums come across that way but with this one that reference becomes more clear. The punk meets progressive rock label is more fitting here. The spastic zolo effect is still in play but the music isn't quite as quirkly. It is more like a regular hard rock band that happens to engage in strange time signatures with a punkish delivery.

While Drake's virtuosic keyboard runs have been demoted to Tim Smith's contribution of mere atmospheric generator, the exit of the instrument as a heavy hitter only makes the band focus on becoming a tighter quintet that focuses on the hard hitting rhythmic developments. The result is that CARDIACS sound closer to a "normal" band than ever before but have more than enough wild and unpredictable energy that oozes out every chance it gets. The title track was released as a single but success always eluded this whacky band despite actually being paired up with Radiohead at one point.

 Cardiacs Live  by CARDIACS album cover Live, 1988
4.24 | 16 ratings

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Cardiacs Live
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Lewian

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.

 On Land And In The Sea  by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.31 | 85 ratings

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On Land And In The Sea
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Dobermensch
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is one of many superb albums in the 'Cardiacs' catalogue. The band that everyone either loves or hates. Amongst a miserable few years at the tail end of the 80's along come the effervescent and boisterous 'Cardiacs' playing their prog-punk without a care in the world.

Tim Smith's high pitched maniacal vocals dominate 'On Land and in the Sea'. He brings an intensity amongst the staccato stabbing sound that the 'Cardiacs' were so superb at executing.

At points the guitarist sounds like Brian May of 'Queen', but he's more delirious and frantic. I just laugh and smile at every verse Tim Smith sings. The guy is a quite frankly a genius. Possibly the the best singer-songwriter I've heard. He was influenced by 'Gentle Giant' and that's pretty obvious as you listen to the instrumentation on this album. It's 100 miles per hour stuff, without a dull moment, as if your two favourite prog bands were mashed through a food blender.

'On Land and in the Sea' is incredibly complex, with no regular beat appearing for more than a few seconds before stopping and suddenly changing at 90 degree angles.

Watching them live is like viewing a 'Three Stooges' movie as they slap and batter each other in a sea of verbal abuse. Along with the 'Residents' they surely have to be the most unusual artists on this website.

The 'Cardiacs' sound timeless and relevant in 2015, being completely undated with their fast, powerful and frantic tunes, which despite their really odd time signatures, don't seem to put a single beat out of time. For the likes of you and I this would have been absolute murder trying to record. So it's a big 'hat's off' to the drummer who somehow understands the mindset of his fellow musicians. I drum pretty competently, but I would never have got my head around this craziness for all its 40 minutes of psychedelic madness.

How on earth are human beings capable of doing this so perfectly?

Just listen to' The Duck and Roger the horse' - this encapsulates the whole album. Demented drums, stuttering keyboards and mental vocals run rampant where only 'Koenjihyakkei' of Japan come close in comparison.

The 'Cardiacs' were of the most unique and original bands you'll hear on this entire website - with nobody since able to advance and improve their complexity.

I hope you're feeling better Tim. You brought some happiness and sunshine to my life.

 Guns by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.44 | 47 ratings

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Guns
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by suomynona

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 accessible.

Guns is the final studio release from this gem of a band and seems to be a kind of change in direction from their previous efforts. Traditionally, the band exhibited an odd mix of high energy Prog instrumentation coupled with punk sounding vocals. Those elements still exist on Guns, but have been tempered somewhat. Loyal fans to the group would have likely perceived this effort as lacking because of this change in temperament; however, having the benefit of listening to their catalogue "out of order", one can objectively appreciate this album as being one of very high quality.

The songs generally have a musical coherence and are generally concise. That being said, there is little on this effort that would be viewed as straight forward and consequently Guns proves to give the listener something new and interesting to play with. In general, there are no weak tracks, though none are outright spectacular or memorable either. Taken as a whole, Guns proves to be very strong; the sum definitely being greater than its parts and ultimately a worthy purchase for most, if not all prog-heads.

 Sing To God by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.31 | 227 ratings

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Sing To God
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by jeromach

5 stars A brilliantly amazing and amazingly brilliant album, I have no other words for it.

Genesis, Queen, Madness, The Stranglers, Captain Beefheart, Amon Düül II and who knows who else were mercilessly pushed into a nuclear powered blender, then cryogenically submerged in and shiveringly topped with cardiacssauce and this is what came out; a roller coaster of randomly changing time signatures frantically making love to pastoral sounding dissonants descending from heaven without any detour.

Sung to God and those who listen carefully can hear him sing along. I do, even through my own tears of utter joy and enlightenment.

If it'd wake the deceased from the dead I would not be surprised, but for sure it will melt any bad mood like an ice cube in a cup of hot boiling tea on a tropical beach on a volcanic Island in a heat wave.

And then these last two minutes of Dirty Boy, oh boy, it will make the most austere and rigorous atheist fall on his knees singing his heart out in repentance.

 Sing To God by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.31 | 227 ratings

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Sing To God
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I must admit i'm a little intimidated doing this review, my first of a CARDIACS album. I really hadn't checked them out until last year mainly because of the descriptions I had read about their music being fast-paced with chipmunk backing vocals and that Punk flavour. None of those three descriptions appealed to me in the least. Well after their music finally became available again about a year ago I decided to give them a chance, and here I am back to report. Run! Do not look back! Haha, just kidding I highly recommend this double album with perhaps the most talked about album cover on the planet. It always gets comments from those who see it for the first time. I should mention that Steven Wilson thinks Tim Smith(CARDIACS leader) is a genius and stated that CARDIACS music is complex especially the way Smith interlocks passages together. Kavus Torabi from KNIFEWORLD who played in the CARDIACS claims "...Tim is a visionary man, every, every, EVERYTHING he wrote is extraordinary". So yeah there are a lot of CARDIAC fans out there who will convince you with passion that there is no greater band. This is melodic yet frantic music with clever lyrics to over simplify it. Tim Smith was a fan of Prog before he started this band in the late seventies. He was a big fan of HENRY COW and saw them in concert back in the seventies. So the music of CARDIACS is Progressive Rock, onlyTim has put his own stamp on it.

Up first on disc one is "Eden On The Air" which is mellow compared to what will follow but I really dig this tune. "Eat It Up Worms Hero" hits the ground running. This is intense and quirky just as you'd expect from this band. "Dog-Like Sparky" opens with piano before Tim comes in with vocals and zany music. You'll notice that some CARDIACS album covers feature dogs on them. I like when the female vocals come in. Great singer that Sarah Smith is. Such an amazing track. "Fiery Gun Hand" kicks into gear fairly quickly with drums leading the way. Vocals join in. Man this is crazy with the lyrics and intensity. Check out the guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in! As Karvus says, CARDIACS rarely have guitar solos but when they do they are the best. One of CARDIACS greatest tracks for sure. "Insect Hoofs On Lassie" makes me laugh but then the humour in a lot of CARDIACS music does. Brilliant! "Fairy Mary Mag" is just a killer! Love the instrumental intro. Vocals arrive along with what sounds like mellotron. So good. It sounds like Zappa before 3 1/2 minutes. Themes are repeated in this one of my favs. "Bellyeye" is another catchy track with vocals and it's funny. "A Horse's Tail" is another uptempo song with some insanity, okay lots of insanity. "Manhoo" is pretty good but it hasn't actually won me over yet despite the many who love it. "Wireless" ends disc one and it's 8 1/2 minutes long. Man this sounds so amazing, it's just different in that you really need to hear it. Sarah sings on this one too along with Tim. The second part of this track called "Perl On The Sea" comes in before 5 minutes as we get the same melody but spoken words come in. This is really cool, especially when the spoken words stop and we get this atmosphere in the form of orchestration to end it.

Disc two begins with "Dirty Boy" without question my favourite track on here and I can't believe it goes on for almost 9 minutes. I can't see another CARDIAC's track doing for me what this song does. The guitar, the passionate vocals, the lyrics. I'm in awe of this track and will stop here before I just gush all over the place. "Billion" is a short(less than a minute) piece with reserved vocals and a cool soundscape. "Odd Even" is fantastic, very catchy. So many great tracks on this recording. "Bell Stinks" is a short and intense instrumental until it becomes dreamy then it kicks back in. "Bell Clinks" is the fastest paced tune on here. Even the vocals are going a million miles per hour. "Flap Off You Beak" opens with piano before the whole band joins in. It settles some when the vocals arrive. "Quiet As A Mouse" is short with samples of a conversation between two people then strange sounds when they stop. "Angelworm Angel" is fast-paced with vocals and it rivals "Bell Clinks" with it's break-neck speed. "Red Fire Coming Out From His Gills" is interesting with the tempo changes and lyrics. "No Gold" is also different with the softer vocals and more laid back sound. "Nurses Whispering Verses" is a top three song for me. It kicks in before a minute and then proceeds to kick some major ass. Man what a song! The final tune "Foundling" really intrigues me for some reason. It's partly the words and partly the more laid back vocals as the sound pulsates slowly when he's not singing.

Man what a recording this is. This was released back in 1996 after the band was well established. As double albums go there are some tracks I could do without yet the highs are addictive to say the least. Still I can't give this anything more than 4 solid stars, that may change down the road.

 Sing To God by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.31 | 227 ratings

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Sing To God
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

5 stars More Songs About Dogs And God.

My gawd this is a bouncy album.

OK, so I first encountered them and brother Tim many years after this was originally released and frankly it bowled me over. I'm not entirely sure it would have worked for me when it came out in 1995, but then again I was a huge XTC fan and was going hungry for more of the same.

So, it would figure that when I took an interest in Cardiacs the catalog would be out of print. But yeah, I finally got an import of the re-release in 2013 and delighted in how it is wonderfully crazy.

So, this is pronk... I find it actually has very little to do with punk aside from a less than easy to listen to vocal style. There is no disdain for making complex music and interesting lyrics unlike the punk of the 1970's that allegedly destroyed progressive rock or art rock or whatever the hell you called it, if you were listening to it back then. Commercialitis was what brought the golden age of prog to an end.

I had refrained from exploring Cardiacs because my first encounter was a video from an older album that was fairly decently weird but didn't click with me. Finally ordered a copy of this and boy did it click. There was good new stuff out in 2013 but this one, which I got late in that year, really rivaled those.

I think what really makes this album for me is how they use synthesizers, really well. That if nothing else, that really divorces them from being punk.

My favorite songs to god are

Fiery Gun Hand "Sacred patience and a short silence And we will be sure as eggs is eggs that Jesus'll hold his fiery hand to the gun

And together we'll blow him to the ends of the earth To the ends of the earth"

and

Flap Off You Beak - "All nineteen birds flying fast up They are dead they are not alive Bad bird you flap off you beak High and mighty beady bird eye."

Also I had it in heavy rotation and was doing stair detailing when I head "perseverance understanding climb the stairs and cross the landing" in Horse's Tail.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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