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CARDIACS

RIO/Avant-Prog • United Kingdom


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Cardiacs biography
Founded in Surrey, UK in 1977 (until 1980 as "Cardiac Arrest") - On hiatus since 2008

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,...
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CARDIACS discography


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

3.84 | 24 ratings
Cardiac Arrest: The Obvious Identity
1980
3.84 | 25 ratings
Toy World
1981
4.16 | 100 ratings
The Seaside
1983
4.29 | 282 ratings
A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window
1988
4.38 | 144 ratings
On Land And In The Sea
1989
4.00 | 71 ratings
Heaven Born and Ever Bright
1992
4.30 | 340 ratings
Sing to God
1996
3.60 | 63 ratings
Guns
1999

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

3.41 | 13 ratings
Rude Bootleg
1986
4.05 | 20 ratings
Cardiacs Live
1988
4.10 | 25 ratings
All That Glitters Is A Mares Nest
1995
4.16 | 28 ratings
Garage Concerts Vol. I
2005
4.14 | 21 ratings
Garage Concerts Vol. II
2005

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

3.67 | 3 ratings
Seaside Treats
1985
4.50 | 10 ratings
All That Glitters Is A Maresnest
1992
3.75 | 4 ratings
Some Fairytales From The Rotten Shed
2017

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

3.87 | 21 ratings
Archive Cardiacs 1977-1979
1989
4.19 | 79 ratings
Songs For Ships And Irons
1991
3.00 | 2 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
3.67 | 3 ratings
There's Too Many Irons In The Fire
1987
3.96 | 6 ratings
Big Ship
1987
3.67 | 3 ratings
Susannah's Still Alive
1988
3.75 | 4 ratings
Is This The Life
1988
0.00 | 0 ratings
Night Tracks
1988
4.00 | 1 ratings
Baby Heart Dirt
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Baby Heart Dirt (12 Version)
1989
4.03 | 12 ratings
Day Is Gone
1991
4.82 | 9 ratings
Manhoo
1995
4.00 | 7 ratings
Odd Even
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bellyeye
1995
4.00 | 5 ratings
Signs
1999
4.02 | 9 ratings
Ditzy Scene
2007

CARDIACS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sing to God by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.30 | 340 ratings

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Sing to God
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Ian McGregor

5 stars Obviously a masterpiece. After many years it's still my favorite avant-garde album of all time. It has twenty two tracks that flow very well, they're split into two CDs. This record sounds like a combination of the heavy metal aspects of Dream Theater and the raw avant-garde of Frank Zappa. Tim Smith provides an iconic performance and the other musicians did some very tight playing. Some favorites are Fiery Gun Hand, Angleworm Angel, Manhoo, Bellyeye and Nurses Whispering Verses.

Recommended not only to Avant-Garde fans, but prog fans in general. A masterpiece of its genre and yet another proof that Tim Smith was a genius.

 On Land And In The Sea by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.38 | 144 ratings

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

Review by Ian McGregor

5 stars An underrated gem of avant-garde and the Cardiacs discography. It's undeniably a masterpiece, and a follow-up to the masterful A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window which defined their signature pompous sound. The album features the classic line-up which included Tim Smith's saxophonist sister Sarah Smith, so you'll hear a much more prominent saxophone than in albums like Heaven Born And Ever Bright and Sing To God.

Standouts would be The Duck And Roger The Horse, Arnald, Mare's Nest, Stench Of Honey and one of their best tracks to date, Buds And Spawn. One of my favorite Cardiacs albums, five stars.

 The Seaside by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.16 | 100 ratings

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The Seaside
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by King Brimstone

5 stars - Review #31 -

A slightly more obscure (than usual) Cardiacs release, The Seaside was the first CD by the Cardiacs, featuring their classic avant-garde style combined with some sweet and heavy punk. Best songs from this album are Jibber And Twitch, Hello Mr. Sparrow, A Wooden Fish On Wheels and Hope Day. The last one mentioned is the most quintessential song from the album. This is a pretty accessible album and it works as a great starting point if you want to start listening to Cardiacs' music.

I definitely recommend this album, it's pretty underrated and works very well despite being one of their early works. Five Stars.

 The Seaside by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1983
4.16 | 100 ratings

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The Seaside
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Gorgut Muncher

5 stars Last Cardiacs cassette. Well, I'm someone who loves this band with all my heart and to be honest I can't help but give it five stars as well. Very few bands were so inventive since their beginnings. The Seaside features a good amount of tracks that would be used in the following album, such as R.E.S. and A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window, which would also become the title for their first CD. I actually believe this is one of the most solid Cardiacs albums and it's, surprisingly, very accessible as well. It's not as Avant-Garde-ish as their subsequent releases, but it does feature a lot of post-punk or prunk.

I don't think there's a single song that I can call "the best" because they're all very good. It's five stars for me.

 Heaven Born and Ever Bright by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.00 | 71 ratings

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Heaven Born and Ever Bright
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Gorgut Muncher

5 stars This album is SO underrated! I don't understand why its rating is lower than the other albums before and after it. Sure, it isn't their best, but the genius of Tim Smith is still there, and the music itself is as amazing as always. Seriously, the only band I can name that makes more insane albums that this one is Frank Zappa!

This album is the first after very strong line-up changes going from a six person band to just four? Songs like the opener feature majestic use of duplicated vocals. Anything I Can Eat is an intense and crazy track (even more than the rest of the album!). This album is definitely more accessible than the rest of their discography, but that doesn't mean it's accessible.

Seriously underrated. Ignore the ratings, go check it out! This band was always creative and very consistent. Five Stars.

 On Land And In The Sea by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.38 | 144 ratings

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

Review by King Brimstone

5 stars - Review #29 -

The third Cardiacs album is as much of a milestone as Sing To God or A Little Man And A House And The Whole Window. It's just as inventive and creative as those two albums, and without a doubt a cornerstone of modern Avant-Garde and Prunk (progressive punk).

The Duck And Roger The Horse is the best song from the album, mostly because it features all the key elements in this full-length. The silly and manic vocals, the fast paced and technical instrumentation, along with the constant dynamic present in each track.

Absolutely recommended to all Avant-Garde lovers and it's without a doubt one of my favorite releases from this great band. Five Stars.

 A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.29 | 282 ratings

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

Review by King Brimstone

5 stars - Review #27 -

The second Cardiacs album, A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window, is a truly outstanding album. I was checking the recent review tab and looked at its album cover and went like "Oh! I totally forgot about this album!". I gave it another full listen and it was just as good as I remembered it being. Creative, inventive and incredibly important for music itself, this album (and this band) was the inspiration of many bands, that's undeniable.

With that said, I love this album. It features Cardiacs' signature manic avant-garde that is entertaining in every second. Some of the songs in this album are remastered versions of songs that appeared in the album preceding it, The Seaside. Because of that, I consider this the true first Cardiacs album, even though it's technically the first one. Stand-outs would be In A City Lining, Is This The Life, Dive, The Breakfast Line and R.E.S.

I recommend it if you like Avant-Garde, or bands like Zappa or Mr. Bungle. Very strong album with no weak tracks. It's five stars for me.

 On Land And In The Sea by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.38 | 144 ratings

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

Review by Gorgut Muncher

5 stars I can definitely say there's a holy trinity of Cardiacs albums, all three of them being cornerstones of Avant-Garde in my opinion: A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window, On Land And In The Sea and Sing To God. This album is my personal favorite of them. I can also say that it's probably their most consistent.

On Land And In The Sea is the third proper Cardiacs album. It takes ALMAAHATWWW's progressiveness and takes it one step further: Sacrificing accessibility in the process. Songs like The Duck Roger And The Horse, The Stench Of Honey and Buds And Spawn (The best from the album) are absolutely amazing and creative that aren't boring in the slightest. There's other like the closer that have a more ambience-focused nature.

My favorite Cardiacs album, although just like most of their content, it's not very accessible. You must still listen it however, it will be a pleasant surprise! Five Stars

 A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1988
4.29 | 282 ratings

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

Review by Gorgut Muncher

5 stars First godly Cardiacs album. Also features my favorite Cardiacs song, "Is This The Life?".

Having a steady and technically proficient line-up, while Seaside was the first proper Cardiacs album, A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window was the first Cardiacs album where I can say they acquired their signature sound: Insane Avant-Garde. Even though it isn't as heavy as Sing To God or as unexpected and random as On Land And In The Sea, this album instead features a more song-focused nature, while keeping the avant-garde aspects.

"Is This The Life?" Is the perfect example of that, and it works amazingly just like the rest of the album. It has a nice main verse and guitar solo, and it starts to feel more Avant-Garde-ish around the four minute mark. This album also features an old track remastered: R.E.S.

Definitely recommended, I would say it's the most accessible Cardiacs album that still manages to pack one hell of a punch. Five Stars.

 Sing to God by CARDIACS album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.30 | 340 ratings

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Sing to God
Cardiacs RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Gorgut Muncher

5 stars How does this not have a 4.40 score in this site, it beats almost everything you have heard and will hear in your life. Sing To God, being a double CD, is the fifth proper studio album by Cardiacs, an avant-garde band that pushed the limits further in a genre that was already pushing the limits.

Featuring 22 tracks, you can expect various lengths and approaches to avant-garde/prog-metal in here. Most of the album features fast-paced and upbeat tracks along with some other shorter tracks meant to work as transitions. My favorite tracks are Eat It Up Worms Hero, Manhoo, Bellyeye, Dirty Boy, Angleworm Angel and the groovy closer Nurses Whispering Verses.

Absolutely recommend, whether you like Avant-Garde or not. Five Stars without a doubt.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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