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Cardiacs - looking into the albums for beginners

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LAM-SGC View Drop Down
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    Posted: February 27 2020 at 06:03
Here is a list of Cardiacs albums for beginners, followed by a list for those who want to go deeper.

Absolute essentials for beginners
On Land and in the Sea - the best album with the full 6 to 8 member line-up
Sing to God - I and II - their most accomplished album of the three albums with the 4 man line-up
All that Glitters is a Mare's Nest - their best live album
Songs for Ships and Irons - a fantastic compilation of their earliest 12" mini albums and EPs
The Sea Nymphs s/t second Sea Nymphs album.


Going deeper:
Archive, The Seaside, ALMAAHATWWW* - if you want to hear what these Gentle Giant/Zappa influenced pronk nutters sounded like in their earliest days, start with these three

(Super, super deep - Seaside Treats,The Obvious Identity and Toy World if you can get hold of them, which is very difficult nowadays)

Garage Concerts I and II - if you just want to hear the songs from the early days without needing to hear the original sound. These two albums, include songs from the two cassette only albums as well The Obvious Identity (Cardiac Arrest) and Toy World.

The other two 4/5 piece albums
Heaven Born & Ever Bright - My absolute favourite Cardiacs album
Guns - My least favourite album
Both are fantastic in their own way but not essential if you are just getting into Cardiacs.

The other live albums:
Rude Bootleg - Reading Festival
Cardiacs Live - Amsterdam

The other compilations:
Sampler - ok. But Ships & Irons and Archive cover more ground and do a better job.
Greatest Hits - late stuff only.

Other subset stuff:
Tim Smith's Extra Special OceanLandWorld - this is bloody fantastic
Mr & Mrs Smith and Mr Drake - the first Sea Nymphs album and my favourite of the three - absolutely gorgeous
On The Dry Land - the third Sea Nymphs album - also bloody fantastic

Spratleys Japs - Pony (and Hazel the mini-album)
Tim of course is the motor on these as well but sharing singing duties with Joanne Spratley - again both gorgeous CDs

*ALMAAHATWWW - A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window

Edited by LAM-SGC - February 27 2020 at 09:07
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 08:16
Thanks for that, this is a band I've wanted to get into more for a long time (since they hail from my neck of the woods). I've listened to Sing To God a few times but need to check out some others.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 08:22
Originally posted by chopper chopper wrote:


Thanks for that, this is a band I've wanted to get into more for a long time (since they hail from my neck of the woods). I've listened to Sing To God a few times but need to check out some others.


You're welcome. Start with On Land and in the Sea, if you want to hear the best of the classic line-up in the classic period.

But as you've only heard STG, then Heaven Born & Ever Bright, the album immediately before it will be an easy listen for you.
I came to it from the other direction, and having heard older albums and having seen tbe large line-up live, it took a bit of time for us old fans to get used to the new style of music, the new sonic adventure, the new way of performing with taped and looped sounds and no synth/piano player or percussionist on stage, and of course the very new look. A very strict, all black and dark grey look, with black ties and suits.


Edited by LAM-SGC - February 27 2020 at 09:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 09:02
Interestingly, while On Land and in the Sea became my favourite Cardiacs album (along with Songs for Ships and Irons), it didn't immediately appeal. At the time I was really into A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window. My first album was Sing to God, which I adored. It was due to hearing "Dirty Boy" that I purchased that album. "All That Glitters Is a Mares Nest" is another particular favourite of mine. In terms of songs, which is another way to test them, I adore "Big Ship".

Watching and listening to this could be an awesome experience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmitqsDp1uw

It's one of the bands that I most wish I had seen live.

EDIT: By the way, while I had heard "Is This The Life?" on the radio before, it wasn't until quite some years later that I started to become reasonably familiar with Cardiacs. I was at a sci-fi forum before this witha small but very close-knit community, and there were a few Cradicas fans there that tutrned me onto the music. That said, knowing I tend to appreciate the abusrd and quirky, my first real knowing experiences were some of their weird early videos -- RES and Tarred and Feathered as I recall. I was intrigued, was fun, but it didn't make me a fan. It wasn't until I joined this site that I explored more and got Sing to God, and from there grew to appreciate lots of Cardiacs and related music.

Edited by Logan - February 27 2020 at 09:18
"The first step on the path to wisdom is the recognition of one's own ignorance" (paraphrased from Plato).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 09:12
Absolutely! As for Ships and Irons, that is my joint fav along with HB&EB. It was the first album I bought new on vinyl when it came out in 91, the same year the original version of HB&EB was released, and so that was the second new album I bought. The first albums I heard though were Toy World and Seaside on a cassette a friend made for me in about 1988. And I first saw them in 89.

EDIT: just looked at that old cassette, and I remembered incorrectly,it is in fact all of OLAITS, most of Toy World, and about half of The Seaside. Bearing in mind that a few from Toy World later appeared on The Seaside, in better versions, most notably the amazing Nurses Whispering Verses.
I personally can't stand the STG version of NWV, I think they ruined it.

Edited by LAM-SGC - February 27 2020 at 09:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 09:18
Forgot to say Logan, that while OLAITS is generally considered the best of the three classic period studio albums, my favourite is easily The Seaside.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Logan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 09:20
I must admit, I still don't have The Seaside in my collection. I've been meaning to rectify that for years.
"The first step on the path to wisdom is the recognition of one's own ignorance" (paraphrased from Plato).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 09:27
Originally posted by Logan Logan wrote:

I must admit, I still don't have The Seaside in my collection. I've been meaning to rectify that for years.


WADDAFUGG!!!!

So you've never heard their mental ska song A Wooden Fish on Wheels and NWV in their correct album context?

I'm sure there must be a helpline you can ring for such trauma. ;)

Edited by LAM-SGC - February 27 2020 at 09:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote twseel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 10:03
I've got a slightly different view; Sing to God has the most impactful tracks and moments, A Little Man has the most prog appeal and wildest arrangements, HB&EB has the most consistent energy (though it is a grower). The others are a modest cut below I think.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Grumpyprogfan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 13:12
So where can I buy "Sing to God I&II" CD at a decent price? I ordered it directly from the bands website five days ago and have had no correspondence whatsoever. Wayside music does not carry it. Don't want to spend a small fortune on a used copy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 13:45
Cardiacs website is notoriously slow at times in my experience but 100% trustworthy and reliable, five days is nothing really, just drop them a friendly email.

eBay and other sales websites really seem to be full of highway robbers asking fantasy prices for Cardiacs albums, tbh I don't know how they get away with it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 13:56
Cardiacs are not a prog band nor are they a punk band nor are they rock band, according to Tim they are a pop band, and according to The Organ magazine, who minted tbe term, they are a pronk band, and I agree with that Pronk-Pop I would say, some of their music is such gentle beautiful indie pop and some of it is mind-blowing pronk noise, but all of it is the best music I've ever heard in My life.
If it isn't already obvious, Cardiacs has been my fav band since the late 80s,I'm very knowledgable about them and saw them live dozens of times.
But most importantly for me, like many other fans have said, and still say, they gave me a whole new insight into what music can and perhaps should be, they opened my eyes to what is possible. In other words they ruined music for me, in a good way. To this day, 32 years later, everything is still measured in my ears and soul against Cardiacs.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Grumpyprogfan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 14:10
I would classify them as carnival music. I have liked what I heard but they are an acquired taste. You need an open mind to absorb their sonic palette.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2020 at 15:10
Originally posted by Grumpyprogfan Grumpyprogfan wrote:

I would classify them as carnival music. I have liked what I heard but they are an acquired taste. You need an open mind to absorb their sonic palette.


To be fair, all music that isn't in your everyday diet is an acquired taste.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Grumpyprogfan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2020 at 12:46
Originally posted by LAM-SGC LAM-SGC wrote:

Cardiacs website is notoriously slow at times in my experience but 100% trustworthy and reliable, five days is nothing really, just drop them a friendly email.
To drop this friendly email I have to answer the following question. "Are YOU a Siberian spambot? If not then answer this.. Who is him?" Do you know the answer to this?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2020 at 13:09
The answer to "Who is him?" Is this:
"He's Jim, he's Jim"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2020 at 13:15
It comes from a gig I was at in the early 90s, when Tim, kept shouting at us very angrily, Who is him? While making faces at Jim
and insulting him. You can hear quite a bit of this banter on the live albums and in bootlegs. It was hilarious ;) And the fans used
to join in with all sorts of chants and slogans as well.
This is part of Cardiacs fan culture. The little fishies in the Pond as Tim used to call is.

Tim and Jim used to act on stage like schoolboys with Tim hating and bullying and hitting his brother Jim.

Edited by LAM-SGC - March 04 2020 at 13:19
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Grumpyprogfan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2020 at 13:15
Thank you
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote richardh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2020 at 00:47
Ok I've bitten and ordered the first album on the list direct from their website. A band I've literally never heard at all , not even streaming wise.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LAM-SGC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2020 at 02:26
Originally posted by richardh richardh wrote:

Ok I've bitten and ordered the first album on the list direct from their website. A band I've literally never heard at all , not even streaming wise.



That is the classic album that is by far the best. A lovely mix of shouty anthems, mad energy, and gentle reflection.

I'll be keen to hear what you think of it.
When I think back, I realise that Cardiacs and Kate Bush are the only artists I don't describe by comparing to other artists, I try to describe the music instead.
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