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A THINKING PLAGUE

Thinking Plague

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Thinking Plague A Thinking Plague album cover
3.51 | 33 ratings | 6 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Do Not Live (5:04)
2. Possessed (8:19)
3. How To Clean Squid (5:02)
4. A Light Is On And Name The World (1:32)
5. The Taste That Lingers On (2:12)
6. Four Men In The Rain (2:33)
7. Thorns Of Blue And Red / The War (15:28)

Total time 40:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Sharon Bradford / vocals, Casio keyboards (5), "Drake noise-box" (5)
- Mike Johnson / guitar, synth, piano & Casio keyboards (7), vocals
- Harry Fleishman / piano, organ & noises (3)
- Bob Drake / bass, drums, percussion (5), guitar (1,4,5,7), bowed balalaika (2,6), synths (2,5), piano & Casio keyboards (7), vocals
- Mark Fuller / drums (2), Simmons electronic drums (7)

With:
- Mark Bradford / noises (3), vocals (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Kevin Saunders with Bob Drake

LP Endemic Music ‎- none (1984, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THINKING PLAGUE A Thinking Plague ratings distribution


3.51
(33 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
6%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
48%
Good, but non-essential (27%)
27%
Collectors/fans only (15%)
15%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

THINKING PLAGUE A Thinking Plague reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars My first contact with this band was in perfect conditions so I was quasi-certain I would enjoy this band I had heard so much about. I have been told countless times how Bob Drake was such a genius but had only heard him on other people's groups or project and as a guest appearance. Maybe I was expecting too much , but I got what I was expecting: extremely difficult RIO. What I had not expected was that this music was unexpectedly too complicated and done exactly on that very purpose. I mean Univers Zero , Samla , Henry Cow had done just the same RIO a some years before and did not feel obliged to overdo things like they do. One thing is certain though, Bjork heard these guys before going solo because you can find many T P elements throughout her career.

Only if you are a RIO nutcase. I usually am but this is too much for me.

Review by laplace
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Not nearly as experimental as they think they are, Thinking Plague are nevertheless a skilled and entertaining band. Comparisons to Henry Cow aren't entirely unfounded although perhaps a little too flattering in terms of new ground covered.

This disc starts with a rather abrasive song with contrary instrumentation and urgently delivered lyrics, but don't let it scare you away as what lies beyond is much more fulfilling. The disc contains pieces which can be likened to various RIO bands, all the way from tense chamber avant-rock to the confused new-wave, post-punk pop songs "How to Clean Squid" and "The Taste That Lingers On" which this reviewer found similar to certain pieces on Stormy Six's "Al Volo" album.

Look to this album if you crave a disc that will create certain moods rather than to help you rock out. Pay particularly close attention to the second and last tracks as they are true gems. Of course, this reviewer's advice would be to delay the purchase of A Thinking Plague (or more likely, the double album compilation upon which this appears) until you have paid tribute to bands such as Univers Zero and Etron Fou Leloublan.

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With THINKING PLAGUE about to release a new album I thought I better review their first two records. For me this is a great way to prepare for the new one. Sharon Bradford is the vocalist on this their debut released in 1984 although we do get plenty of male vocals too. This is such an inventive album full of adventure and there's that humour too.

"I Do Not Live" opens with male vocals, acoustic guitar and more. Avant is the word (haha). A calm before 1 1/2 minutes then these loud percussion sounds and female vocals take over. Back to that earlier soundscape around 4 minutes although the vocals sound distorted this time. "Possesed" is led by guitar and drums early. Great sound here. A calm before 2 minutes with piano and female vocals. It kicks back in before 3 1/2 minutes with guitar and drums. Vocals are back around 4 minutes in then it turns pastoral a minute later. It's fuller again as contrasts continue.

"How To Clean Squid" is funny lyrically. It's an uptermpo rocker to start before settling back. Crazy stuff. Love the bass late. "A Light Is On And Name The World" is a short piece with loud bangs and lots of chaos. "The Taste That Lingers On" is funny with almost spoken vocals with a silly sounding rhythm and other humorous sounds. "Four Men In The Rain" is melancholic with dissonance. "Thorns Of Blue And Red / The War" is the almost 15 1/2 minute closer. Piano and male vocals to start then guitar and drums take over before a minute. Nice. A calm after 3 minutes with sparse sounds.Piano and drums before 6 minutes then vocals and a fuller sound follow. Nice. A calm with male vocals before 10 minutes then the guitar and drums return.

What a great way to start their careers. A very solid 4 stars for this one.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Thinking Plague's debut album - quite rare in its original issue, and much easier to find as half of the Early Plague Years compilation - mashes up the avant-prog RIO sound of Henry Cow with a more whimsical and less overtly political outlook, and freshens things up with a distinctive 1980s sound thanks largely to Sharon Bradford's minisynth and a production style reminiscent of, say, Peter Gabriel's third or fourth self-titled album. It's certainly an oddball number, and Thinking Plague accomplish what their inspirations Henry Cow sometimes failed to do in terms of producing material that is experimental enough to feel fresh but at the same time isn't extremely difficult to get into. A promising start all round.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars While the 80s are more known for the catchier commercial aspects of music such as the new wave hits of early MTV, the decade of heavy metal reaching its full maturity and tons of other styles under the sun, there were also many strange avant-garde musicians lurking around like small mammals under the feet of behemoth dinosaurs in the Cretaceous that while barely noticed and even less appreciated managed to buck the trend and evolve their own brand of bizarre and complex music in a feisty DIY ethic. In the process of this musical rebellion they literally defied every musical trend of the day.

The Denver, Colorado based THINKING PLAGUE was one of these strange new musical entities to emerge in 1982 after founders Mike Johnson and Bob Drake met back in 78 in various cover bands. Their appetites for the experimental found them creating new musical Frankensteins in the form of basement recordings and their eclectic palettes also found them taking the errant ethos of punk with the musical disregard of no wave and married them to the avant-garde angularity of 70s Rock In Opposition bands from such progressive bands like Henry Cow and Art Bears.

After recruiting several new members such as the classically trained vocalist Sharon Bradford, keyboardist Harry Fleishman and percussionist Rick Arsaenault, Johnson (guitar, piano, vocals) and Drake (bass, percussion, guitar, balalaika, keys) began to concoct their own brand of avant-garde prog and offer the public a taste with a few live performances. Predictably the band found little tolerance for the bold intellectual complexities of their style and they instead commenced on to forge some new tracks for their debut album.

Bradford, Fleishman and Fuller were the primary players and recorded several tracks on a primitive 8-track in the basement of an old slaughterhouse that they penned Packing House Studios. After a year of refining their bizarre mix of Zappa inspired orchestral arrangements laced with collage techniques that liberally mixed aspects of folk, jazz, classical and rock, the band emerged in 1984 with their debut album A THINKING PLAGUE on their independent Endemic label. The album was limited to only 500 vinyl LPs with each cover created by Drake depicting a flea done by stencil and spray paint. While clearly existing at the lowest dredges of the underground, THINKING PLAGUE found a few interested distributors including Recommended Records and Cuneiform.

While not exactly finding their music on MTV or college radio stations, the avant-garde and prog critics were impressed. While THINKING PLAGUE have over the years become one of avant-prog's most demanding and consistent musical experiences, the debut is quite unique in their canon. The overall trend of an album consisting of a few short tracks and a select few extremely lengthy multi-themed prog suits had already developed on A THINKING PLAGUE with the fifteen minute closer 'Thorns Of Blue And Red / The War' setting the stage for the more complex albums to follow.

Album number 1 displays the origins of the band's idiosyncrasies with not only the expected prog from the Henry Cow and family camp but also surprisingly displays contemporary influences ranging from the more pop hook world of new wave as well as the alternative rock universe. While clearly displaying elements of the classic THINKING PLAGUE sound, tracks like the opening 'I Do Not Live' and 'The Taste That Lingers On' are downright catchy in comparison and sound closer to quirky bands such as Family Fodder or even the Cardiacs with more rhythmic grooves and a straight forwardness that eschews the nebulous angularity of the longer tracks. But make no mistake, amongst theses catchy grooves emerge ethereal angular vocal outbursts, freaked out instrumental noodling as well as other weirdness.

A THINKING PLAGUE was released once in 1984 on vinyl and then never again which has made this one pretty much a true obscurity until Mike Johnson found the master tapes for the first two albums many years later (they had been presumed lost). While there has never been an official re-pressing of this debut, the album was remastered along with 'Moonsongs' and released as the compilation 'Early Plague Years' in its entirety. While many complex bands require several albums to warm up to get their groove on, THINKING PLAGUE scored with their very first release. While not as over the top complex as albums like 'In Extremis,' this one works quite well in its own context with its quirky more accessible charm, with 'accessible' in terms of THINKING PLAGUE's later years. This would've obviously gone over the heads of the average person of the day but an essential addition for fans. Brilliant debut.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Obviously I don't own one of those 500 rare original LP's of this record. The review is based on the 'Early Plague Years' reissue CD which contains TP's first two LP's. This album featured in tracks 6 to 12. The importance of this first LP in my opinion, is the opportunity to notice where all this s ... (read more)

Report this review (#82883) | Posted by ShW1 | Wednesday, July 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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