Speakers Push Air

The Chain of Shame Pt 2
February 21, 2008, 4:33 pm
Filed under: MP3

Right, well I can’t put this off any longer. Time for the next 5…

5. The Cardiacs – Too Many Irons In The Fire

I still get confused by my feelings about the Cardiacs. I was never ever one of those scary, obsessive types. But then, I do own upwards of 12 CDs, a bunch of vinyl and, erm, a Cardiacs wristwatch. I first saw them supporting (oh sweet jesus.. ) Marillion in the early 80s, and loved them. The scary Victorian bandleader schtick, the contorted facial expressions, the maniacal self belief (while Marillion fans hurled objects at them, the band acted as if they were getting a standing ovation and Tim Smith was led off James Brown style at the end – coat over shoulders, waving and beaming at the non-existent rapturous reception.

But really, a lot of it is absolute wank.

It always struck me that Smith wrote Is This The Life? to show that, if he wanted to, he could write something approximating a classic rock song. And having done so, never did it again. It’s too late in the day to bang on about the strained ‘progginess’ of the whole thing, but one of the reasons I stuck with them as long as I did was that in many of their songs there would be a moment when the twatting about and the chord changes would stop and a glorious melody or chorus would emerge for a while.

Just not often enough.

A guy I know did the PR for their sort of ‘comeback’ in, I guess, about 1996 (when they did a big reissue campaign and the like) and was planning to send out some ‘Cardiacs As Fuck’ tshirts to ‘out’ journos who were known to be Cardiacs fans but would never admit it for fear of being chucked from the top of Kings Reach Tower (one of the sole exceptions was NME Dance Editor Ben Wilmott, who was an unashamed fan and an all-round fantastic bloke, and therefore a square peg at the NME). Not sure the tshirts ever happened.

The press loathing of them was astonishing: when Blur (deeply in hock to the Cardiacs, especially around the time of Modern Life Is Rubbish*) put them on the bill for their Mile End show, the press simply pretended the Cardiacs didn’t play. They reviewed the bands either side and made no reference to The Cardiacs at all. It was this kind of ‘persecution’ (well, y’know…) that was another factor in my keeping the faith – it was like being in a secret, hated society. That reached its zenith when Chumbawamba got the Cardiacs to support them on a UK tour, with the boldly stated intention to make it easy for the journos – the two most hated bands in the UK on one stage. Great gig, that…

So, yes. I still have a lot of their stuff and still – despite knowing that, really, they’re awful – there’s always a little place in my heart for The Cardiacs. (see what I did there?)

* See also The Kaiser Chiefs

4. Keith West – Excerpt From A Teenage Opera (aka Grocer Jack).

This hails from a similar part of my brain as Simon Smith & His Amazing Dancing Bear – a nostalgia for a certain kind of Sunday morning staple from my childhood. Part of a largely disastrous (aborted, even?) ‘teenage opera’ by bandleader and opportunist Mark Wirtz and fronted by Tomorrow singer Keith West, Grocer Jack is – by any reasonable standads – disgusting. Ersatz psychedelia, a horrible arrangement. And children fucking singing, which is never OK (except on a couple of tunes that might make up a later entry to the blog).

So. Vile. And while part of me is driven to an inchoate rage by this monstrosity, another part wells up, thinks about those Sunday mornings singing this with my dad. Although with hindsight I think he might have been taking the piss.

3. Kiss – I Was Made For Loving You

Kiss were always awful at everything apart from merchadising. Barely competent, even now, and largely free of tunes or anything else to appeal, they failed to impress even when I was bit of a sucker for metal in the early 80s (in my defence, it wasn’t a long relationship, and even then I loathed the hair-farmer end of it all).

But this is inexplicably, unashamedly, unbelievably ace. Kiss doing disco. God knows how much coke got hoovered up at that meeting. But it’s a dancefloor classic.

2. David Soul – Silver Lady

Not the first appearance for Mr Soul in these litanies of self-loathing. My mother had his super-smash-hit album Playing To An Audience Of One (even the title causes a little part of me to curl up and die). Dreadful 70s tosh for the woman who already had all the Demis Roussos stuff, and for whom Julio was a yet-to-be-discovered delight.

She played the bloody thing to death, and even now I’m pretty sure I could have a fair crack at singing – word, if not note, perfect – about 5 of the tracks. David Soul got rightly buried at the back of my brain until a friend of mine (take a bow, Big Bobby T), brought Silver Lady along to People’s Republic of Disco, (complete with stories about Silver Lady replay marathons at his workplace) and I was reminded that it’s an absolute stormer. Perfect, lush, 70s blue eyed soul. Almost Glen Campbell-esque in its greatness.

And – oh, god, I can’t believe I’m posting this – here, finally, is the winner / loser.

The most godforesaken piece of crap in a collection arguably full of it.

1. Joan Osborne – What If God Was One Of Us

“Nobody calling on the phone,
‘Cept for the Pope, maybe, in Rome”.

There is nothing – NOTHING – I can say about this.

I’m so sorry.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

joan osborne… that’s worst than anything in my list.

i’ve already posted seven of my ten, but my top three are

3. toni basil – mickey
2. dogs d’amour – satellite kid
1. chumbawamba – tubthumping

Comment by londoninflames

No it’s not. There’s fuck all worse than Dogs D’amour

Comment by dubversion

re. joan osborne

dear sir,

i am writing to notify you that our friendship has has expired.

mr b. yolk

Comment by mr b. yolk

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