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Cardiacs A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window album cover
4.28 | 321 ratings | 23 reviews | 47% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Little Man And A House (5:05)
2. In A City Lining (5:52)
3. Is This The Life (5:37)
4. Interlude (0:47)
5. Dive (4:09)
6. The Icing On The World (4:02)
7. The Breakfast Line (4:55)
8. Victory (3:08)
9. R.E.S. (5:16)
10. The Whole World Window (5:56)

Total time 44:47

Bonus tracks on 1988 and 1995 (*) CD editions:
11. Goosegash (1:56)
12. Loosefish Scape Grace (7:41)
13. I'm Eating In Bed (5:06) *
14. There's Too Many Irons In The Fire (3:15)
15. All Spectacular (2:33)

Total time 65:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Smith / guitar, flute, recorder, lead vocals, producer
- William D. Drake / keyboards, vocals
- Sarah Smith / saxophone, clarinet, recorder, vocals
- Jim Smith / bass, vocals
- Dominic Luckman / drums
- Tim Quy / marimba, percussion, synth

- Ashley Slater / tenor & bass trombones
- Phil Cesar / trumpet, soprano trumpet, flugelhorn
- Elaine Herman / violin
- James Stevens "The Consultant" / vocals
- Miss Swift / vocals
- Mark Walmesley / vocals

Releases information

LP Alphabet ‎- ALPHLP 007 (1988, UK)

CD Torso ‎- TORSO CD 060 (1988, Netherlands) With 5 bonus tracks
CD Alphabet ‎- ALPH CD 007 (1995, UK) With a bonus track (as third track)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CARDIACS A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window ratings distribution

(321 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(47%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

CARDIACS A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by russellk
4 stars CARDIACS deliver music that is both challenging and plain good fun, and their albums are of a consistently high standard. This, their second album (excluding a few early limited cassette releases), is typical CARDIACS.

Right from the start we are thrown blindfolded into the zany world of the CARDIACS. The opener (A Little Man and a House) and closer (The Whole World Window) to this album - the two parts of the album title - are imposing, heavyweight compositions with sustained notes and progressive atmospheres, keyboard driven and without TIM SMITH's voice dominating proceedings. In between, however, are some of the band's most impressive work: the surprisingly commercial, new wave 'Is This The Life?', the tempo-changing 'In a City Lining', where the change to 3/4 time is hilarious and very effective, only to give way to what sounds suspiciously like a ska beat - oh boy, this lot mix it up, and unlike most experimental bands, they actually make great music. 'Dive' and 'R.E.S' further extend the bounds of credulity with their sax blarts and carnival keyboards, the stop-start rhythms and the outrageous vocals. The nearest reference I can offer is that a number of these songs sound like early SPLIT ENZ, though CARDIACS are more polished.

To my mind this album doesn't have the depth of their three great albums ('On Land and In The Sea', 'Sing To God' and 'Songs for Ships and Irons') but it's not far behind.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album was sooooooooooooooo hard to get a hold of. But now that I did I'm never letting go since this is a complete masterpiece! The tracks, their arrangements, fantastic lyrics, overall feel of a complete album and much much more!

Most people consider Sing To God to be the band's true masterpiece and they are definitely not wrong, but after hearing A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window I just can't imagine how an album can be even better then this. The opening and closing tracks combined create this album's title and both of these compositions show completely different sides of Cardiacs' repertoire and both of those sides are completely fabulous to say the least.

The album is probably most known for featuring one of the band's most commercially oriented songs titled Is This The Life which has strong roots in the New Wave movement of the time. Although its contrast to the rest of the album I still find this tune extremely catchy and it works as a nice complement.

This is an essential album for everyone who likes their Art-Rock with a touch of Avant-garde!

Edit: I chose to base my opinion on the 11 track release (including I'm Eating In Bed) although the version I have is slightly different.

***** star songs: A Little Man And A House (5:01) In A City Lining (5:54) Is This The Life (5:37) Dive (4:08) R.E.S. (5:16) The Whole World Window (5:46)

**** star songs: I'm Eating In Bed (5:00) Interlude (0:46) The Breakfast Line (4:54) Victory Egg (3:07)

*** star songs: The Icing On The World (4:02)

Total rating: 4,56

Review by stefro
5 stars Imagine The Cure freaking out on acid crossed with Captain Beefheart, IQ, The Smiths and The Residents and you have The Cardiacs, one of the strangest bands you've never heard of. Led by multi-talented head-banger Tim Smith, The Cardiacs emerged at some point in the mid-1980's, sporting a bizarre sonic hybrid of progressive rock and punk - called 'Pronk' by some - and a manic intensity which quickly won them a hardcore loyal following made up of a genuine cross-section of sub-sceners, ranging from goths to punks to rockers and the occasional mental patient. The enigmatic Smith, who had, since his very early teens been devouring literally thousands of records of all kinds, began - like some crazed mad professor - stitching together sounds and textures from bands as diverse as of The Damned, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Pink Floyd and Genesis, thus brewing up his highly-charged musical bastardization to the utter amazement of anyone who dared to listen. A first album, 1984's 'The Seaside', would prove a bold, low-budget start, with Smith(guitar, vocals) joined by a collection of similarly-inclined and utterly bonkers musicians such as William D. Drake(keyboards), Jim Smith(bass), Sarah Smith(sax) and Dominic Luckman(drums), all of whom also possessed phenomenal musical abilities to go with their weirdo-goth-punk sensibilities. 'The Seaside' would prove an engaging beginning but it would be the follow-up album 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window' that would really put The Cardiacs on the map. Retaining the zany psych-rock of it's predecessor but amping up the prog aspects, album no.2 proved to be anything but the cliched 'second difficult album' it was meant to be. Indeed, 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window' is seen by both Cardiacs fans and music critics alike as the group's magnus opus, featuring as it does the classic rockers 'Is This The Life' and 'In A City Lining', both of which feature screeching guitars, thick slabs of neo-prog keyboards and Smith's trademark lunatic-jester vocals. As one un-named commentator so succinctly put it: 'The Cardiacs feature more ideas in one song than most band's do in their entire careers'; he's not wrong. Each song on this glorious anti-pop album features an abundance of creativity with anarchic punk aesthetics and complex prog riffs strapped together and injected with thuddering bass-lines, shimmering synths, squawking saxophones, glass- shattering guitars, sweeping orchestral soundbites, moody post-punk textures and catchy pop rhythms - often all at once. There is little as purposefully absurd as Tim Smith and his rampant cohorts in full flow. For those of you out there who are prepared to take a step into the unknown, hidden treasures await. Imagine Marillion jamming with Throbbing Gristle and 'Trout Mask Replica'-era Beefheart and you're halfway there, but even that unholy mix fails to be as insanely original as 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window'. Just like the best foods in life The Cardiacs leave you screaming for more, their wonderfully perverse brew of sounds and styles proving as addictive as crack, as exciting as sex and as inventive as anything by the 1970's-era progressive rock greats. A truly fabulous album. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by frippism
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm such an insane Cardiacs fanboy, that I'm starting to feel bad that I give everything 5 stars (well 3 out of 5, the other two are a 4 star review, anyway high scores). But what can I do? It's not my fault they are so brilliant and out of their minds. It's not my fault that when you listen to them the universe makes sense by making absolutely no sense, and listening to their music makes you understand how the brain works better than any professor. Their melodies have soul. They literally have a soul. Not James Brown soul. They have their strange spirit. It's like the melodies were meant to be the musical standard in the world, like they were supposed to be the expected chord progressions and derivative lines, because they are so very harmonically perfect, yet nobody uses these chord progressions. So really, is it my fault that they are more or less (leaning to the more) the best band to have risen, at very least in the 20th century, no, it's not my fault! So stop blaming me... jerks.

"A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window" is a majestically beautiful, fun and intelligent album, that it just makes perfect sense. Every time you listen to it, like every time, you have this unbelievable happiness exploding out of your ears, that for me it's hard not to like. Their hyper musical passages, interlocked with avant-garde beauty, new wave post- punk fun, just seem to be the perfect mix. The time changes aren't there because they're like ooooo check it out it's 13/8 (I'm guilty in that retrospect) but because the time changes make perfect sense. Cardiacs ARE NOT a prog band, they are Cardiacs, and the prog elements in Cardiacs are there because their heads work in a way so genius that they at times need to use these prog elements, because as I said, they just make sense.

So what about the songs? Come on! Of course they're all absolutely fantastic it's a shame to waste words really, but I will on a few. The opener "A Little Man And A House" starts with beautiful violin sections. And just sections into Tim Smith's ever so dashing vocals, it just slips you into this universe where it's Cardiacs a-clock and all is well (eh? eh?). "In A City Lining" is just so damn perfect, transversing through moods and sound scape so quickly and so beautifully it's so very hard to hate. "I'm Eating In Bed" really makes you skip around randomly. "Is This The Life?"- Cardiacs' biggest hit to date (and possibly ever). Beautiful post-punk song, with great lyrics, a great guitar solo (quite a surprise from Tim Smith who was never a showy guitarist). Deservedly a Top 10 hit in the British indie charts (not saying much, but saying something). It's a great song which definitely can fit the indie category. "The Icing On The World" has such beautiful drum effects, and great keyboards by Mr. William D. Drake. "The Breakfast Line" is probably my favorite, just so weird and magical, and has such an epic finish, that you'll be banging your head in many different time signatures. "R.E.S."! Pure classic Cardiacs song, probably most popular in the Cardiacs community. Fun main keyboard melody which later evolves into, and I mean it, the best instrumental section probably of all time. Then Tim gives another great guitar solo (learned it on bass, should do a cover). Considering with that, that R.E.S. was also on their first album "The Seaside" (review to that will happen), well I don't know what it considers. This song's perfect. It is re-recorded, but the versions are similar, and it's hard to pick a better version. The ending "The Whole World Window", is just so very beautiful, you'd feel like punching them for writing something so very beautiful, it really isn't very fair! It has this beautiful closing feeling to it, which again restores everything in the universe to place.

The musicianship is all top-notch. Tim and Jim Smith, the only constant members in Cardiacs for 30 years, are their usual epic selves. Tim's best guitar work is probably most dominant here than on any other album , with the solos, the insanely fast riffs. His vocals are so very British, and so pretty. Though I do like his vocals better in "Sing To God". Jim bass is still beautifully melodic, yet punchy and accurate at the same time. His syncopation with drummer Dominic Luckman, gives the Cardiacs the oomph they so very wonderfully possess. Sarah Smith's sax, is wonderful and emotional. The lines many time are very powerful. William D. Drake is probably the most genius pianist/ keyboard player ever. His lines speak, and you really just have to listen to it to understand. And his technique is impeccable. Tim Quy, multi- instrumentalists, adds to the fun in the most important times, and to say you can constantly understand his job in the band is hard, but when the spotlight's on him, he shines, and does so delightfully.

To say that Cardiacs are the best band in the world would be... true. But with that, it's not for everyone. If you don't want to branch out than this album's not for you. But if you come ready to have your mind blown, than step right up. And if you like them, you love them, and if you dislike them, you hate them. And that's also their beauty. They are so very special and different, that you have solely to trust what your very basic likings were in the very beginning. You can't say they sound a bit like X who I like, and so I like them. And so listen, and listen longly, but for those who like them it will be love at first sight. Those who don't like them, you better listen to them some more (Me? A hypocrite? You guys really are jerks!).

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I feel I must make this announcement before writing this review: I am a huge Cardiacs fanboy, who found them many, many years too late (two or three years ago, to be precise). I love every project I've heard from members of the extended Cardiacs family (Tim's solo work, Sea Nymphs, Spratleys Japs, Knifeworld, William D. Drake, etc. etc. etc.) and [i]especially[/i] in the case of Cardiacs themselves, hardly find a wrong/unpleasing note in the entire discography. Though this album, along with Sing to God (and very probably On Land and In the Sea) really, really tops the rest. Everything about this album is wonderful, beautiful, and basically beyond comparison.

From the opening of A Little Man and A House, I knew upon first listen that I had found something special from this group...again. After listening to Sing to God so many times and loving it so much, I was certain that no other album from the group could top it, or indeed match it. I was proven horrifically wrong after listening to this. That album is very hard-edged, lots of complex guitar riffs with a satisfying amount of effects, not to mention a very prominent punk feel throughout. The punk feel is still noticeable on this (earlier) album, though less pronounced. What we're presented with on THIS album is lush instrumentation, complex band arrangements, and a variety of sounds on display throughout. There's a lot of humor evident, both in the lyrics and in the music itself.

Tim Smith is the genius behind the group (main songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, etc), and this is one of the many albums on which my favorite of his co-conspirators plays keyboards, namely Mr. William D. Drake (currently a successful solo artist, not to mention his involvement writing/performing with North Sea Radio Orchestra). Drake's keyboards are absolutely [i]amazing[/i], and his ability to play complex material which puts most of the popular prog keyboardists to shame is constantly on display here (listen, for a great example of his talent, to R.E.S. sometime). Funny story I heard...apparently, Tim Smith heard Drake playing keyboards with another group, at which point he wrote him a supposedly fairly complex piece of music and asked him to play it. After he did it with relative ease, Tim supposedly informed Drake that he was now a member of Cardiacs, whether he wanted to be or not. I'm glad he didn't decline the "offer" because so much of their best music involves his talent.

After many, many listens, this album still regularly sends shivers down my spine. If I had to describe the music...I'd say it's something like new wave/post punk meets circus music meets symphonic prog meets Zappa's complexity meets some jazzy (for the albums with Sarah Smith's sax, at least). Cardiacs really were unique, that's all there is to it. Everyone should at least give them a chance, and this album is the one I'd probably recommend to most listeners to start with.

Personal highlights from the album (though every track's just about equally incredible): A Little Man and a House, In a City Lining, Dive, R.E.S.

This album is definitely deserving of a five star rating. It's one of the most perfectly concocted rock albums I've heard, full of care and detail and some of the best music around. Fifty, a hundred, several hundred years from now even, I think this is one of the albums from rock which, given enough notice, will be looked back upon as legendary, archetypal, and that goes for Cardiacs as a band as well.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars Honestly before being involved in the ZART team I didn't know anything of Cardiacs but this album. I also didn't know anything about prog subgenres before joining PA and Cardiacs were to me something that I would have called "post-punk" but only to give it a name.

The important is that this is an excellent album under all the points of view, and respect to most of the avant stuff is less challenging and could be a very good starting point for whoever wants to approach this subgenre for the first time. It was released at the end of the 80s and it's still full of influences from that period, probably this is what makes it so approachable.

The first song, "A Little Man And a House", is an exception to all I have writen about the album up to now. It's a very progressive song with a bit of Devo in the vocals, an orchestral arrangement with folk elements and melody and signatures that can remind to the bigs like KC and YES. A song like this is enough to make this album a worth buying, but there's even better.

"In A City Lining" is one of the most famous songs of the band, one which had a lot of radio passages (on rock radios, I don't mean MTV or similars). I remember that at the first listen I was thinking to the Devo, but again, it's more question of vocals as the music is closer probably to Zappa with punk elements and a clear remind to the Ska of bands like Specials or Madness in the chorus. If you are looking for something decent coming from the 80s, this is absolutely more than decent. It's how the 80s could have been with a bit more of art and a bit less of glamour and hair-spray.

"I'm Eating in Bed" reminds me again to the Devo, but this time it's rhythm and tempo. Let me add that unlikely the Devo could have ever played so good. I have the impression that Cardiacs are surely more talented and skilled as musicians respect to the good-but-non- essential post-punk devoluted band. I can hear Yes (Anderson and Wakeman mainly) and Zappa in this song, plus the symptoms of what would later be called Avant-garde.

"Is This The Life?" is a song that can still be heard on the radio. Effectively listening to it on the radio is what has caused me to write this review. This is a 5-stars song which mixes an 80s Yes keyboard background with an U2 guitar and a voice that here sounds quite like the Cure. Three things that separately I don't like much but taken together make a masterpiece. The guitar solo could be the Gilmour of About Face, too. Everything very 80s but so good...this is the topic moment of the album.

"Interlude" is a connection more than a filler. Those 46 seconds of brasses are the counterpart to the post punk attack of "Dive" (or should I say Devo?). This is a genre that I like, one of the few good things coming from the 80s, and listening to how this band has brought it to the 00s is amazing.

"The Icing On The World" is a strange waltz, very intense and with orchestral arrangements. Another very good song that disappeares beneath so many masterpieces.

"The Breakfast Line" is theatrical and totally suitable to be called Avant. It's grotesque and intense at the same time. The orchestral parts are excellent, not last the violins in the middle of the song. After the violins it comes a part that Keith Emerson would surely like. The Emerson of the 80s, at least. Another great song. "Victory Egg" is a short song which has a lot of Irish pub flavor. A very interesting one with the main theme reminding to Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King.

"R.E.S." starts with percussions followed by organ. Initially between the Specials and the Devo it goes to different landscapes with the chorus. I'm probably the only one in seeing this relationship, but I think that even Phideaux has inherited something from this album. After a couple of minutes the song incarnates the spirit of what we now call avant, if I have ever understood what this word means....and I'm not sure to have understood. The final is pompously orchestral with a short coda of piano. Another great song.

"The Whole World Window" is unexpectedly "normal". It makes me think to King Crimson and Yes as well as to Beatles and Phideaux. So it's nothing of them. It's a melodic song, more melodic than everything else on this album. It's an excellent closer. There's another album of another band that develops similarily. The punk band "Green Jelly" has a parodistic cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird as closer on one of their two albums. The Whole World Window on this one has almost the same effect with an important difference. This is a real song with a great arrangement and skillfully played. The Green Jelly's one is only a joke.

This album contains at least three masterpiece songs and has no weak moments so I think it deserves the maximum rating.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Cardiacs are well known in prog circles for their incredible masterful "Sing To God" album, but before that there was "A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window". Each track signifies a highly original approach and a refreshing attempt to bring something vibrant and new to the table in a decade when prog really struggles to maintain respect. The upper class twit lyrics and style and contrasted by intelligent musicianship and inventiveness. It is a little like a deranged form of the band Madness.

'A Little Man And A House' features full blown orchestra and lots of shouting, but starts the album off with a bang, and we know we are instantly in the mad world of Cardiacs. 'In A City Lining' has good rifffing and wall of keyboards as Smith's punkish vocals have attitude. I like the way it speeds up like a manic circus theme. Much like the material on "Sing To God" which would eclipse this release for sheer inventiveness. There is a time sig in 3/ 4 and a Ska style thrown in for good measure. It speeds up frantically again at the end. Lots of fun and experimentation on this track, one of the album highlights.

The album continues to impress with raucous compositions such as 'I'm Eating In Bed', that begins with some footsteps and effects before the circus music chimes in. Smith sounds less serious and the music is rather delirious and often hilarious. After many time changes it slows to a satisfying conclusion. 'Is This The Life' is a catchy song, and a fan favourite, with a moderate tempo and some delightful saxophone. A definitive Cardiacs highlight, the song also had quite a disturbing film clip as a promo. The instrumental break features a high pitched lead guitar solo that cries out in pain over the steady tempo. This is followed by 'Interlude', a short blast of trumpets and some unusual revered effects with organ.

This leads to another highlight, the high energy pacey 'Dive' and the feisty vocals are very new wave punk here. It never detracts from the sound as there is a constant clever use of weird instruments or normal instruments played weirdly. The whole thing sounds odd and way off kilter, playful yet dangerously over the edge. The piano tinkling is especially effective, and the xylophone plink plonks insanely along with nasty guitar chords and a jazzy sax blast. Together it makes a wonderfully delirious spirited sound fit for an asylum.

'The Icing On The World' has a pronounced drum beat and odd tempo, with the circus jazz music an ever present force. Smith's vocals are relentless hammering out lyrics that never make sense, and almost self parodies the style of music, that is unreservedly RIO and carnivalesque.

'The Breakfast Line' begins with some banter, an argument at the table or something. The chimes and weirdness soon take over. Time sigs are off the scale for a while and the piece goes all over the place. The way it keeps slowing down and then breaking into a silly tempo is absolutely a Cardiacs template. There is a violin interlude and then a heavier guitar crunches over. The extended Coda at the end is excellent; a real wall of sound.

'Victory Egg' has a minimalist organ and some vocals for a while. Eventually it builds into an almost Elizabethan style, and the vocals are rhythmic and relentless. Finally the pace settles with a melodic break on guitar and keys. The brass section at the end is a good way to end a song.

'R.E.S.' sounds like King Crimson at the start with a lot of clinking and clanking until the playful organ strikes up with a quirky melody and Smith's vocals catches up with it. This one is very strange and certainly one of the funniest Cardiacs tracks. It grabs hold of you though and has a cool synth motif ad odd time changes. The break in the middle is absolutely out of the box musically, throwing in jazz blasts, woodwind, glockenspiel and brass with a feast of sax. One of the great songs on the album with a very complex structure and even an excellent lead guitar solo to revel in. It even returns to the main theme of the opening track.

'The Whole World Window' ends the album on a high note, with ambient sax and keys at the intro. Smith's voice is underplayed for a while. The melody and style reminds me of Gabriel for a while. There is a pleasant sax and piano trade off in the break, that is a more beautiful side of the Cardiacs. Eventually it gets to a very shouty part with Smith going off his head unintelligibly. It has an emotional impact and once again the music is soaring and majestic.

Overall the album does not measure up to the classic "Sing To God" but this lead to the release of that masterpiece and exists as a good blast of fun from some of the most original avant garde musicians to come out in the 80s.

Review by Warthur
5 stars No wonder people didn't know what to make of the Cardiacs back in the day. With the whimsical vocals and occasional Samla-esque outbreaks of circus-like music on A Little Man and a House on the one hand, the band seem determined to revive the more comedic and satirical side of the RIO movement a full decade after its peak - and yet, at the same time, in their grasp of melody and their knack for writing gorgeously well-formed little songs, and in their willing acceptance of influences from more recent commercial rock genres (punk, post- punk and indie in their case) the band seem to take on the best of the neo-prog compositional approach without necessarily taking on neo-prog motifs and sounds.

No wonder the confused NME reviewers drew comparisions with Fish-era Marillion at the time, a comparison as ludicrous then as it is today. Quite simply, the Cardiacs seem to me to be one of those bands who really exist in a genre of their own - and A Little Man and a House is a fantastic introduction to them. I for one will be exploring more of their output.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars Truly one of those bands you'll either love or hate, the Cardiacs polarise opinions with everyone who's heard them. There's something endearingly English and wacky about the Cardiacs that no other nation have been able to replicate before or since. On this one they've finally got the big studio sound they so deserved.

This album is a bit more straightforward in construction than their masterpiece "Sing to God' from '95. Therefore it's a much easier listen. That's not to say that things are easy... Things never are with the Cardiacs. You'll hear some truly deranged time signatures accompanied by start-stop keyboards and guitars which vary in speed dramatically. It's all very exciting and unpredictable as you'd come to expect from this bunch of whacked out loonies. For a quick reference check out 'Tarred and Feathered' on You Tube to see what you'll be letting yourself in for.

Consistently brilliant, without a dull moment due to the delightful crazy tight musicianship and frantic staccato between all players which sound as tight as 'Beefheart and his Magic Band' at their prime.

There's a fair bit of 'Madness' with muscle flung in as well amongst the melee which only increases the brilliance. This recording is far easier to consume, being more vulnerable than 'Sing to God' but remains just as schizophrenic and intense.

It's such a shame that no one could make head nor tail of them in '88. They should have been superstars .

The Cardiacs drove me to drink and I never even had the decency to thank them.

Review by admireArt
2 stars EXTRA!! "THE RESIDENTS"; HAVE BEEN ABDUCTED, STERILIZED; AND TURNED BACK TO PLAY THE MUSIC OF "GONG"!!! (With less humor; but all their cliches even Davidsīs screams!!... READ ALL ABOUT IT!!!! ....Come on people; so this is where RIO is turning; backwards and nowhere. How F..King sad; really. Or maybe "GONG" is really, really; underrated and overlooked (When you come to terms with it) even in the RIO / AG category! . I was so excited to get this work. Why do people insist on looking forward if they dont know whats behind? Really there are things Music School cant! teach you; you have to do it by your own. How I miss Samla Mammas Manna; un-pretentious dexterity and real-humor! Because a Gong fan I never was; less their "they dont have a clue "replicas". Well so; this is how RIO sounds in the Sell-out or Die! ! ! "era" or go main-stream and lose your soul in the giving!! .So it came to this: More musicianship, less Balls, less daring, less original; F$$K! 2 - "IM SURE THEY HAVE LOYAL FANS STARS"
Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars This is where the CARDIACS hit their stride after honing and perfecting their sound from the punk roots of their earlier albums. Here they perfected the songwriting, added new instruments, crafted diverse intros and upped the progginess with strange time signatures in unexpected ways including waltzes and military marches. The progressive punk elements are mixed with an Oingo Boingo type circus music effect that firmly cements them in their own branch in the rock universe since absolutely nobody else sounds like they do.

This is one of those rare albums where I literally never tire of it. I can listen to it and then listen to it again and again and again. I am so intrigued by how well crafted this magnificent specimen of musical maestrohood springs forth everything I love about music including somewhat simple catchy melodies that spiral off into subtle prog tangents that don't interfere with the continuity of the simple parts while boldly interpolating themselves randomly into the flow of things yet never impeding it. The songs are more varied on this album compared with the previous ones and there are simpler tracks that are happy being closer to early guitar oriented new wave than full on schizoid hyperactivity that tracks like R.E.S. exhibit.

Despite being utterly shunned back when this was released time has been kind to the CARDIACS since this album is cited by countless artists as being a major influence in their own work and the consistent high praise and ratings only confirm that this will be loved for many decades to come. I am a very late discoverer of this group but once I heard this (my first album) I was instantly hooked and couldn't believe that this came out when it did. A latecomer to my musical collection it is but it has skyrocketed up to the top tier of my absolute favorites.

Review by Hercules
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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
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.

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2577772) | Posted by King Brimstone | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2577762) | Posted by Gorgut Muncher | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I can name multiple bands that never did a bad album. But one thing is never making a bad album, and another thing is never making album that falls under the "Amazing" category. For their third album (Fourth if you count Cardiac Arrest), Cardiacs continue their streak of inventive and creative al ... (read more)

Report this review (#2508748) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars (10/10) The studied art of insanity in music form. I'm talking of course about the mad mad world of the Cardiacs. Out of their two indisputable masterpieces (the other being 'Sing To God') this one is actually the more accessible. However, beware, that's all a matter of relativity, and this is pr ... (read more)

Report this review (#2431230) | Posted by ScorchedFirth | Wednesday, July 22, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Now you have created your own monster" Take the grandeur of early Genesis, the aggressive punk of the Sex Pistols, the intensity of "Pawnhearts" era VDGG, the madness of er.. Madness, the sheer complexity of Gentle Giant the snarly vocal delivery of The Cure and you will get some idea of wha ... (read more)

Report this review (#2408530) | Posted by Lupton | Sunday, May 31, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Cardiacs' album A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window is their most popular release to date. Cardiacs' style - part art rock, part punk, part prog, and extremely experimental - makes them one of the more interesting bands out there. The band is also very technical - they blow tradition ... (read more)

Report this review (#1866464) | Posted by mlkpad14 | Saturday, January 13, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Eventually, there comes the time in one's life when one must hear something by Cardiacs. There's nothing like it. It's an entirely new experience. And this album delivers their uniqueness on a platter, although I assure you that if this platter were in a diner, you would have no need for Tabasco sau ... (read more)

Report this review (#755677) | Posted by HURBRET | Sunday, May 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Let us start with the first song, "A Little Man And a House". There is no singing in this song, just yelling and I try to listen, but it can make one get easily infuriated to the point where he/she feels the need to destroy something with a sledgehammer. The vocals are furthermore, unbearably w ... (read more)

Report this review (#423200) | Posted by dubovsky | Saturday, March 26, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is truly a genuine classic! Great lyrics combined with a brilliant musicianship. It's a very complex music that has stuff from many different genres, such as: punk- jazz- and symphonic rock music. In my opinion one of the few records that deserve to be called a real masterpiece. Sometimes ... (read more)

Report this review (#33722) | Posted by | Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The best entry album for new listeners. You may need a strong stomach to fully appreciate the genius of the Cardiacs high-octane brainscrew psychosis, but the rewards are enormous. Perhaps best described as Gentle Giant meets The Clash, or Genesis meets Primus, Cardiacs are characterised by fe ... (read more)

Report this review (#33721) | Posted by Moribund | Sunday, January 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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