Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Cardiacs - A Little Man and a House And The Whole World Window

Cardiacs
A Little Man and a House And The Whole World Window


Released 1988 on Alphabet Business Concern
Reviewed by Double De Harrison, 28/01/2006ce


A Little Man and a House and The Whole World Window

Bam - it hits you – an uncompromising entry into what, for many, was their first introduction to the beautiful world known as Cardiacs back in 1988. The opener ‘A Little Man and a House’ is still one of my favourite Cardiacs pieces ever. Brass and Strings mingle here in perfect call and reply. The underlying drones and arpeggios of William D Drake’s formidable keyboard stack do their thing. The industrial hittings of Tim Quy in perfect synchrony with the metal objects he finds around him, as well as Tim Smith’s staccato guitar line, and steamy hisses brings us (neatly announced by that Brass again) into what is one of the most poignant collection of words I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

(My understanding of these words is to see through the absolute pointlesness of earning a living vs. creating something of real value [let’s say music or art, as some obvious examples]. Yet, how we’re all being dragged along with it, when we know it’s stupid anyway. The recurring phrase on this album of ‘That’s the way we all go’ encapsulates that feeling very well, but instead of being despairing, it’s optimistic in it’s approach, a comfort of some sort. Y’know, you’re not the only one.)

Again, there’s that militaryesque banging of the Drum found all over Cardiacs’ works on this track, some more damn fine brass arrangements too. Combine this with some all band singing and some high register noodlings from Tim’s guitar and you’ve entered what you know is gonna be a damn fine 45 minutes of listening. Some people are on their 3rd vinyll copy having worn old one’s out!

Now, there’s been plenty of talk within these pages about ‘Punk’ and ‘Prog’, and how n’er the twain shall meet. Only pigeons and letters belong in pigeonholes, so let’s not bang on about ‘Pronk’, ‘cos it’s just a silly word somebody made up. But, there’s something about Cardiacs that owes as much to ‘Punk’ as it does to ‘Prog’. They are very, very melodic and adventurous in a very ‘Prog’ way, but this also seems to sit side by side with some blistering ‘Punk’ riffs. The Special Garage concerts Volume I and Volume II, which is a compendium of their really early stuff re-done Live many years later, demonstrates what I am trying to say very well. ‘Psychadelia’ is also playing a very large part in Cardiacs sound, but ‘Attention to Detail’ is probably playing the largest part. They are SO tight.

Moving on with your listening pleasure to ‘In a City Lining’, and some speedy-uppey-slowey-downey Cardiacs, genius. You want time changes? You’ve got them here in abundance.

Depending on whether you’ve got a CD or LP you may, or may not, be treated to Eating in Bed’s “Mr Technics’ doing well and he stands around in poses, just like this”. I was thinking of describing this as Zappa influenced, but really, it’s just pure Cardiacs. As tight and melodic as Zappa though.

Now it’s time for..... the anthemic ‘Is This the Life’. For many, many years this was Cardiacs closing piece at gigs, I have bounced up and down to this with my cohort many, many a time. Their last tour included it mid-way through the set. This song is nothing short of genius. I think Tim et al. must have been in a state of grace when this was written. Words are failing me here... BUY IT and LISTEN TO IT! It’s one of the best songs I have ever heard [maybe Thee Best, I don’t think I will ever tire of listening to it]. It’s probably Cardiacs best known single, and at the time of release it received Radio 1 airplay, spawned a whole host of interest [and support] from other bands, and launched them into the public eye. This short lived exposure to ‘The Media’ leaves me wondering why they didn’t rise to become one of the biggest bands in Britain. The video, if you can get hold of it anywhere, is also very good, filmed outside with trees, and featuring the Cardiacs daisy in abundance.

Now, I don’t really like reviews that go on and on and on, so I’m gonna leave it there with Little man and a House and The Whole World Window in the hope that I have inspired at least one person to listen to this fantastic album [There are many others]. Sadly there are no ‘tasters’ on their site [www.cardiacs.com] from this album. There are some fantastic songs available to download, ‘Fiery Gun Hand’ and ‘The Duck and Roger the Horse’ are personal favourites of mine. However, please bear in mind that the songs are “given FREE OF CHARGE as a gesture of GOOD WILL”. To abuse this trust insults The Artists who wrote these pieces, and most of their catalogue is still available.

If your perusing this site and you haven’t heard this album, you simply MUST try and listen to it. Sadly it is currently out of stock from the site [January 2006], but no doubt will be available again soon. I recently discovered that Julian Cope is one of the biggest Gong fans going [though I dunno whether this is true, can’t see any reviews from him here, or by the Seth man]. Well, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if you like Daevid Allen and his cohort, the chances are you’ll like Cardiacs. I might go even further and say, if you’re visiting this website, chances are you’ll like Cardiacs. They truly are the most unsung of unsung bands. Which is silly really, ‘cos if you go and see them, you’ll find lots of people singing along with trip size smiles beaming across their faces. Enjoy them.

Alex


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