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SNAKEFINGER

RIO/Avant-Prog • United Kingdom


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Snakefinger biography
Philip Charles Lithman - 17 June 1949 (London, UK) - 1 July 1987

Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman was born on June 17, 1949. In his starting career as a guitarist he formed the band Chilli Willi, which later turned into Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers. Due to poor distribution and few fans their works became rare and sort of forgotten. However, as Philip was in the USA from 1969 to 1972, he met up with avant-crazies The Residents, where he was later given his pseudonym from a picture from a performance with The Residents where his finger looks like a snake attacking the violin. Snakefinger went on to play guitar and violin with The Residents for many years, his guitar had an amazing sound and a distinct tone, with many angular lines and solos. He played on many of the highlights of The Residents' career, early on seeming to be the only real person to be named playing with The Residents. Soon Snakefinger was creating his own albums with the help of The Residents, finding his own style and making very interesting music, mostly setting aside from The Residents' sound he's used to, and focusing on his own writing and guitar. Sadly, with a handful of great albums under his belt, he passed away too soon from a heart attack while on tour with his band The Vestal Virgins. Snakefinger may not be known very well but to those who have found him, hold him in high regard for his style and guitar playing. Snakefinger's style covers a lot of ground, being jazzy, bluesy, but also very dissonant and melodic and with an odd scratching tone. His guitar playing covers a lot of incredibly cool tones and excellent lines and styling. As an avant-garde artist he's hard to compare to other bands, THE RESIDENTS of course being the closest to compare to.

"Night of Desirable Objects" and "Manual of Errors" seem to be the albums held in most high regard by fans, both very solid, covering his style perfectly and being excellent albums as a whole.

Hm, how shall I put this... If the first paragraph was interesting to you, dig in! I personally highly recommend this guy for his playing and overall feel.

Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com : Avant-Prog guitarist cult-icon, worker with The Residents and completely fits the bill for an innovative and unknown avant-rock artist.

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SNAKEFINGER Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy SNAKEFINGER Music


manual of errors LPmanual of errors LP
RALPH
$33.87 (used)
Greener PosturesGreener Postures
Klanggalerie 2017
$12.74
$17.19 (used)
Chewing Hides The SoundChewing Hides The Sound
Klanggalerie 2016
$13.87
$17.19 (used)
Snakefinger's History Of The Blues Live In EuropeSnakefinger's History Of The Blues Live In Europe
Promising Music 2013
$18.90
$22.58 (used)
CollectionCollection
East Side Digital 1990
$50.00
$34.01 (used)
Live In MelbourneLive In Melbourne
Original recording · Special Limited Edition · Double LP
Secret Records
$250.00
$148.99 (used)

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SNAKEFINGER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.82 | 13 ratings
Chewing Hides The Sound
1979
3.68 | 10 ratings
Greener Postures
1980
3.96 | 7 ratings
Manual Of Errors
1982
3.96 | 4 ratings
Snakefinger's Vestal Virgins: ‎Night Of Desirable Objects
1987

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Snakefinger's Vestal Virgins: Live in Chicago
1986

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Against the Grain
1983
4.05 | 3 ratings
A Collection of Songs Written and Produced with The Residents 1978-1980
1988
3.00 | 1 ratings
Philip Charles Lithman aka Snakefinger
1993

SNAKEFINGER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Spot
1978
3.00 | 1 ratings
What Wilbur? / Kill the Great Raven
1979
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Model
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Man in the Dark Sedan
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
There's No Justice in Life
1987

SNAKEFINGER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Snakefinger's Vestal Virgins: ‎Night Of Desirable Objects by SNAKEFINGER album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.96 | 4 ratings

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Snakefinger's Vestal Virgins: ‎Night Of Desirable Objects
Snakefinger RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

4 stars How could there not be any reviews, as of March 2019, of Night of Desirable Objects on Prog Archives?

First, a bit of background (actually, this is almost all of the background I know of). Snakefinger (Philip Lithman) was a British guitarist and singer whom I heard of primarily through his association with the Residents. He guested on a handful of their late-1970s and early-1980s albums, and was signed to their record label. Apparently the Vestal Virgins were a real band, but it also appears as though Snakefinger was the main attraction on the road and the bandleader behind the scenes. Night of Desirable Objects was released about four months before Snakefinger's death while he was on tour.

In terms of its musical atmosphere, Night of Desirable Objects sounds like it was recorded in 1980 or 1981. The sound quality is good, as are the performances, especially Snakefinger's fretwork.

Night of Desirable Objects seems to have been most directly influenced by the Talking Heads, although the drum-machine and synthesizer of "The Golden King" would already be a homage to 1980s Nile Rodgers, even without the call-and-response vocals. There's also some reflection of Frank Zappa and Adrian Belew. The songs vary widely- - or maybe wildly - - from European folk to new-wave to guitar-based jazz and rock.

About half of the original album is comprised of cover songs. "Sawney Bean" is an old, obscure English folk song about the fabled Scotsman cannibal Alexander Bean, while the traditional "Sophia's Playful Pipes" is identified in discogs.com as a Bulgarian tune. "Jesus Gave Me Water" is an early 20th-century African-American hymn popularized by Sam Cooke. "Move" was written by bebop drummer Denzil Best and made famous by Miles Davis on Birth of the Cool. And "8" is based on Rota's score for the Fellini film 8.

The original songs (including the eight bonus tracks on the version I downloaded from emusic.com) are nearly as diverse. As good as "The Golden King" is, the best song here is "There's No Justice in Life."

Night of Desirable Objects falls short of masterpiece status in my opinion, mainly due to the compositions, which are good, but not great. Nonetheless, this is an excellent album, with or without the bonus tracks. While Snakefinger is listed here as "avant-prog," Night of Desirable Objects is something closer to eclectic. Even if the Residents are too far out for you - - much of their work is to me also - - I'd give this disk a try.

 A Collection of Songs Written and Produced with The Residents 1978-1980 by SNAKEFINGER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1988
4.05 | 3 ratings

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A Collection of Songs Written and Produced with The Residents 1978-1980
Snakefinger RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars This so-called collection is actually Philip "Snakefinger" Lithman's first two albums, "Chewing Hides The Sound" (minus for some reason The Vivian Girls) and Greener Postures. Both albums are in the exact order as the original LP releases. Added on at the beginning are two singles Snakefinger recorded with The Residents, The Spot and Smelly Tongues.

The albums feature Lithman's bizarre but amazing guitar style, along with his off the wall compositional style (somewhere between The Residents and Captain Beefheart). His guitar is almost beyond description, using a lot of slide and effects, to give it an unearthly sound.

The best tracks, in my opinion, are Magic And Ecstacy (an Ennio Morricone piece), The Vultures Of Bombay, The Man In The Dark Sedan and the proggiest song on the album, The Picture Maker Vs. Children Of The Sea.

I was lucky enough to see Snakefinger and his band, The Vestal Virgins on his final tour, shortly before his untimely death. He was nice enough to come out and meet the crowd after the show. He seemed to be a nice person.

Buy his albums.

 Manual Of Errors by SNAKEFINGER album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.96 | 7 ratings

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Manual Of Errors
Snakefinger RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by MartyX

5 stars This is the first album SNAKEFINGER released with the band that later became known as the VESTAL VIRGINS, and it is interesting to note just how much of the otherworldly atmosphere that permeates his earlier recordings with THE RESIDENTS carries over into this new combo's sound. It makes one wonder how much SNAKEFINGER himself was responsible for that SAN MATEO SOUND? That said, this record is more accessible than his collaborations with THE RESIDENTS overall, partly because it is less dischordant. It's also probably fair to say that the VESTAL VIRGINS' level of musicianship is higher than that of THE RESIDENTS. One listen to BEATNIK PARTY for example confirms that this band can really cook! Most of the songs lyrically explore darkly paranoid themes that will be familiar to followers of his earlier work, but the music is surprisingly eclectic, and includes some curious covers. THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS, originally recorded by THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, is a brilliant choice. Its hallucinogenic imagery melds seamlessly with SNAKEFINGER's originals, but NINO ROTA's instrumental, SHINING FACES, seems to be a mischievous inclusion. Musically, the album goes from dark and haunting avante garde to slick jazz to Hendrixesque electric blues and explores a few odd cul-de-sacs along the way before wrapping up with the psychodelic grande finale of PRIVATE UNIVERSE/THE LIFE ON NEBULOV (there are five extra tracks included on the CD re- release, not reviewed here). This is one of my all time favourite albums, recorded by a wiked guitarist at the height of his creativity. It's Jimmy Hendrix meets William S Burroughs, so it's not for everybody, but hey, that leaves more for us! Outstanding. Five stars.
 Manual Of Errors by SNAKEFINGER album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.96 | 7 ratings

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Manual Of Errors
Snakefinger RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by bob x

3 stars This is the first outing for SNAKEFINGER without the RESIDENTS as a backup band. The result is surprisingly good,considering that SNAKEFINGER & RESIDENTS music are almost automaticly linked in most people (who listen to these guys) minds.This line up of musicans on this release included a couple of CAPTAIN BEEFHEART's former backup men.The sound on this one is distinctly SNAKEFINGER,only trippier in places and a bit more structured in other spots. While not as good to my ears as GREENER POSTURES or CHEWING HIDES THE SOUND,the music is still very listenable for this type of artist.Sound is crystal clear and recording quality is flawless!Standout cuts include BEATNIK PARTY and BRING BACK REALITY.At least 3 and one half stars for this effort!
 Greener Postures by SNAKEFINGER album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.68 | 10 ratings

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Greener Postures
Snakefinger RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by bob x

4 stars This is the second actual studio solo release by SNAKEFINGER.Much darker and more sinister than CHEWING HIDES THE SOUND,this one sounds like it could be the soundtrack to some obscure horror movie!With it's post punk modern sensibilty it is a perfect example of what RALPH RECORDS later became famous(infamous?) for.Each cut is a mini trip into the inner workings of the SNAKEFINGER/RESIDENTS sound.A sound unique to itself and no other.This is by far the most experimental of the SNAKEFINGER solo releases.With a couple of ex CAPT. BEEFHEART band members SNAKEFINGER creates a surrealistic soundscape that will rival any created anywhere,anyplace,anytime.Standout cuts includes:THE MAN IN THE DARK SEDAN,SAVE ME FROM DALI and LIVING IN VAIN.Recommended.
 Chewing Hides The Sound by SNAKEFINGER album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.82 | 13 ratings

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Chewing Hides The Sound
Snakefinger RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by bob x

4 stars This is my personal favorite of all of the solo albums by the late RESIDENTS side kick and sometimes guitarist SNAKEFINGER.The lp starts off stong with a great version of KRAFTWERK's classic tune The Model. The pace never lessens as SNAKEFINGER prods,manipulates and squeezes some amazing sounds from his ax!The only other SNAKEFINGER release which comes close to this one as far as sound quality and energy go is the 1980 release GREENER POSTURES.So if you are into RESIDENTS music or any of the 1980's releases on the RALPH RECORDS label, then this one is well worth a listen.
Thanks to Retrovertigo for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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