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Cardiacs Heaven Born and Ever Bright album cover
4.00 | 95 ratings | 5 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Alphabet Business Concern (Home of Fadeless Splendour) (3:58)
2. She Is Hiding Behind the Shed (4:19)
3. March (3:17)
4. Goodbye Grace (3:56)
5. Anything I Can't Eat (3:24)
6. Helen and Heaven (3:08)
7. Bodysbad (4:06)
8. For Good and All (4:42)
9. Core (2:31)
10. Day Is Gone (3:17)
11. Snakes-a-Sleeping (8:25)

Total Time 45:03

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Smith / guitar, lead vocals, producer
- John Poole / guitar, vocals
- Jim Smith / bass, vocals
- Dominic Luckman / drums

- Christian Hayes / guitar
- William D. Drake / organ (6)
- Sarah Smith / saxophone (1,3,4,6-8)

Releases information

LP Alphabet ‎- ALPHLP 017 (1992, UK)

CD Alphabet ‎- ALPHCD 017 (1991, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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CARDIACS Heaven Born and Ever Bright ratings distribution

(95 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

CARDIACS Heaven Born and Ever Bright reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by russellk
3 stars Well, yanno, even a great band doesn't always produce masterpieces. 'Heaven Born and Ever Bright' isn't regarded as CARDIACS' best album, and I fully support that view. It's a retrograde step from everything that went before.

Still good, though. It's hard to judge, however, because of thr sweeping personnel changes. Gone is the musical heart of the band: WILLIAM D DRAKE, the brilliant keyboardist and the glue that kept the CARDIACS sound at its effervescent best, left the band, as did SARAH SMITH and TIM QUY. This is now TIM SMITH's band, and they are somewhat reduced to say the least. We've lost that joyful abandonment. There's far fewer silly moments, and the music is far more monolithical, more serious, studious.

This doesn't mean there's nothing to like. The musicianship is still exemplary, and the band still plays around with your perceptions of where a song might be heading. But there's nothing here that truly startles, nothing that sticks a meaty paw around your throat and demands you pay attention. None of that up-yer-bum cheekiness. The highlight is probably 'Anything I Can't Eat', which would be a good track on any other CARDIACS album, but is great here.

A nice little ruby in a field of diamonds, that's what this is.

Review by Dobermensch
4 stars The Cardiacs can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. Other than the first two tape recordings as shown at the start of this discography, their albums are without parallel.

'The Alphabet Business Concern' which opens the album sounds like the drunken National Anthem to a completely blootered middle England, being really loud and bombastic throughout with big booming drums and massed vocals.

As other reviewers have hinted at, this is a bit more straightforward than all their other albums but blimey, it still rocks like a daddy and jumps about like a jack-in-the-box. If you took away the manic vocals of Tim Smith it may sound to some listeners like a more pumped up testosterone injected, 'Madness' starring Suggs circa 1981.

On hearing this again, I'm really surprised by the low score. 'Goodbye Grace' is pure bonkers - with all of what's best in the Cardiacs - manic drums, thrashing guitars, weird time signatures, old fashioned keyboards which now, in 2013 sound undated, and a crazy front man spitting bullets out of his mouth at 100mph.

'Anything I Can't Eat' is pretty much like above but doubled in intensity. Man - I love these guys! The more I hear this album the better it gets. I've never before heard a band that sounds so crazy to be able to hold a beat and tune together despite the random sudden changes in tempo.

If you've not heard the Cardiacs before - this is a good entry point as some of their later material - 'Sing to God' in particular, is completely off the wall and totally crazy. 'Heaven Born And Ever Bright ' isn't particularly easy on the ear - it thrashes about wildly, kicking, spitting and thrashing out at all who are willing to listen.

Great fun!

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars I have liked the punk ! Even being a Pink Floyd and Yes addict I didn't feel the need to separate the two things and choosing just one. Punk was not mainstream as well as Tales from Topographic Oceans. Then the post-punk came bringing some actually good things. The best of them for me are the DEVO.

What makes me enjoy the Cardiacs a lot is that they are the only inheriters of that crazy band in a musical sense. This album is full of punk rhythms with post-punk sounds and absoulutely non-trivial and unusual sequences of chords. For my pleasure there are songs like "Goodbye Grace" and "Everything I Can't Eat" which sound both punk but together with more avant-prog things like She Is Hiding Behind The Shed" and the excellent "Helen And Heaven" which is not punk but it's for me the best album's track.

The sequence of the tracks has been chosen very carefully, I think. The fact that a song like Helen And Heaven is followed by "Bodysbad" which is very close to the DEVO of 15 years before means that the listener can't relax thinking to listen to a numebr of songs of the same kind. The change is big but not too much. There's a good balance in the list.

Of course the Cardiacs are better player than most of the artists of the punk era and even when they use rhythms and sounds from the punk age they are arranged very skillfully and some passages are light years over the technical possibilities of any punk rocker.

Another band whose I can hear some influences is the CARS. Don't get me wrong, I know that they were an electronic mainstream rock band, but some of their more "experimental" songs, especially those in wich they were produced by Andy Warhol, are not too distant from "Core" even if Cardiacs are clearly a British band with a British sound.

This album in particular is less experimental than its great predecessors but very far from being mainstream. In any case it's not too difficult and is approachable by everybody, unless one is used to listen to Charles Aznavour only.

A special mention to the album closer which is also the longest track. It contains a bit of everything, starting from the keyboard after the initial crescendo which can remind even to YES and the vocals coming just after which remind me the WHO of Tommy without losing the band's identity. This is Cardiacs! A great song which values the price for the whole album.


Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars Tim Smith's CARDIACS had a lineup as volatile as the music performed but the band had a nice run of the so-called classic lineup that lasted from 1984 to 1989 and produced some of the band's wackiest and most revered material beginning with the zolo pronk freakfeast titlted "The Seaside" and lasted up to the band's second full-length album "On Land And In The Sea," but much like the musical cadences of any given CARDIACS tune that jitters around all over the place, so too did this particular phase of the band's career. Change was afoot but Tim Smith was all about that and sallied forth to reinvent the CARDIACS sound after keyboardist William Drake, saxophonist Sarah Smith and drummer Tim Quy jumped ship and left the new version of CARDIACS a mere quartet. Despite this trimmer grouping, Tim Smith rose to the challenge and focused on heavier guitar oriented prog + punk = pronk attacks.

The result of this leaner band lineup was the third album HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT which originally was released in May 1992 but quickly become a rarity due to the Rough Trade label which released it going broke soon after. The album didn't become readily available again until Alphabet Business Concern picked it up and re-released it in 1995. Long deemed by fans as one of the weaker releases between the more highly esteemed "On Land And In The Sea" and "Sing To God," HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT has been cited by Tim Smith himself as one of his favorites and the one he is most proud of and while it's true that this one may take a little more time to get under your skin, the fact is that HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT measures up as an extremely strong CARDIACS release that captures all those manic chord changes, frenzied time signatures, punk infused energy and zolo art rock taken to ultimate extremes.

Described as a mix of hardcore punk in the vein of Dead Kennedys with the prog highbrow sophistication of eclectic bands like Gentle Giant, HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT tamps down the keyboard wizardry and focuses on beefier double guitar attacks courtesy of Tim Smith and newbie Jon Poole along with the bombastic bass grooves of Jim Smith and drumming heft of Dominic Luckman. Given that some of the tracks were recorded before the former band members jumped ship, a few feature Sarah Smith's saxophone playing and there's even a William Drake cameo on "Helen And Heaven." Tim Smith's vocal style seems to have grown even more agitated and unhinged as he traversed much louder soundscapes over the booming banter of the guitar distortion. The songwriting is as sharp as ever with instantly infectious melodious twisted and contorted in some sort of musical Cirque du Soleil but the brilliance of the CARDIACS albums is that they intermingle so many musical elements extremely efficiently.

While just as complex and unpredictable as ever, HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT sounds like the ultimate schizoid sessions come to fruition with bouncy marchcore beats jerked around the musical scale like a school of fish fleeing a hungry predator. In the absence of a talented keyboard taking the lead, the twin guitar nuances become the canvas upon which Tim Smith allows his frenetic vocal style to unleash its idiosyncratic neuroses. The opening "The Alphabet Business Concern (Home of Fadeless Splendour)" starts with what sounds like a music box that releases a psychotic school choir of some sort that quickly becomes self-aware and releases its discontent in a fit of punk infused rage and then commences to force the complexities of Henry Cow into the art form of the Sex Pistols. Eleven tracks of these late 20th century schizoid men crafting some of the most intense CARDIACS tunes ever heard.

While HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT very well be a pubic hair shy of the mastery of the previous and following albums, this album is absolutely no slouch and is nearly as perfect in every way if taken on its own terms. Perhaps more focused on songwriting rather than the flashy solos of William Drake or the future psychedelic accoutrements as heard on "Sing To God," the album doesn't fail to please the hardened CARDIACS fan who has already digested the masterful madness that is unparalleled. Like any other album by this eclectic and eccentric band, this one is literally unclassifiable as the band continues its ability to disregard conventions by fusing everything from ska and punk to hymns and school marching band music. Sure this one took a bit longer to really sink in but in reality, HEAVEN BORN AND EVER BRIGHT has really elevated itself on my playlist as a worthy equal of the Tim Drake years. After all, it's still ? Smith, the musical mastermind's baby and he didn't slouch off for one little bit and when all is said and done the CARDIACS project never produced even a single bad song in its entire existence. For me, this is another masterpiece.

4.5 but rounded up!

Latest members reviews

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 album ... (read more)

Report this review (#2577831) | Posted by Gorgut Muncher | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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