Tuesday, 9 August 2011

From the Top Drawer XXI - Cardiacs

'A bit like Zappa...' was the answer I received when I asked a friend how he would describe the music of the Cardiacs just before we climbed the stairs to watch them at the Hammersmith Clarendon sometime in December 1985. I think they may have been supporting Inner City Unit, I'm not sure. My memories of their performance that night are a bit hazy, but I seem to remember not thinking that much of them, a bit too hectic to take in all at once. I didn't know the songs, was a bit thrown by the madcap approach and the weird make-up, thought it was all a bit disturbing, even a bit pretentious...

I didn't really think about them much afterwards either, sorta filed them away in the 'mmm, not too sure' wardrobe of my brain, but after getting hold of this tape sometime later, gave it a listen or two (or three...) and found that the little cartoon light bulb went on in my head and before I knew it I was recognising the tunes and even knowing 'what bit comes next', etc.

Various influences became evident - Zappa yes, VDGG yes, maybe a bit of Gong & Genesis, a dose of punk and no doubt loads of other stuff that I'd never even heard of at that stage. I liked it.

I rode the rollercoaster for a couple of years, went to quite a few of their gigs, but after a while (heresy for die-hard fans I know) sorta lost interest as they started to get more well-known and even got a video or two on TV. My musical tastes wandered elsewhere and after buying some of their vinyl found that I didn't dig them as much as I had on 'The Seaside'. For me this is still the 'one', IMHO probably the best thing they've ever done. But what do I know, they are the undisputed originators and champions of Pronk and I doubt that anyone will surpass them. (Get well soon, Tim.)

Side One: Jibber and Twitch/Gina Lollabrigida/Hello Mr Sparrow/It's a Lovely Day/A Wooden Fish on Wheels/Nurses Whispering Verses
Side Two: Is This the Life?/A Little Man and a House/Hope Day/Dinner Time/Ice a Spot and a Dot on the Dog/R.E.S./To Go Off and Things

This tape contains the original (now lost) versions of "Nurses Whispering Verses", "Is This the Life?", "A Little Man and a House" and "Dinner Time" which don't appear on the CD re-issue.     (so there...)

Ripped from an original cassette as two side-long tracks @320kbps
Take the train to the Seaside HERE

Some pictures from Croydon Underground club on 5th of May 1987

Getting under way...


    Tim Q & Jim


Getting near the end...

 ...and the finale with the Consultant et al.


  1. WONDERFUL POST... Cheers mate :))) xx

  2. You're very welcome as usual DH.

  3. i love this band so much it hurts :)) thanks for a great rip with artwork and all

  4. where is the download link? cheers

  5. First anon - you're very welcome.

    A clue for the econd anon - 'Take the train to the Seaside HERE'

  6. gobbledeygook... doesn't exactly jump out of the page, does it?!!! (thanks btw... don't normally like smart arses, but i'll let you off for posting some top sounds!)

  7. hey that was the first time i saw cardiacs too (except for very far away at stonehenge the year earlier)it was indeedy supporting icu and with frank sidebottom as well - it still makes me chuckle to remember him admonishing the fellow who threw a plastic at his head with 'now cut that out, you!' and waggling his finger at them

  8. Hey ltj, wow you've got a great memory!
    I seem to have missed out on the Cardiacs at 'Henge, but I think you're right about (the late) Frank Sidebottom being one of the turns at the Clarendon, I remember him at the gig now - pretty bizarre night out all round...

  9. Gobbledygook,
    Many thanks for your fantastic uploads. i've derived much joy from them!
    I gotta say though that this particular one is the best thing i have heard in years... so fucking addictive.
    i must have listened to it, ermmm... loads of times since downloading it.
    was familiar with cardiacs before, but this was a real challenge for me at first, but is now one of my 10 desert island discs.


  10. Glad to be able to shine a ray of vintage pronk onto your desert island, Anon.

  11. yeh thanks again for this - its a really nice quality rip - i played this cassette to death - and the annoyance of many friends - way back when

  12. Yer welcome ltjb. I can imagine that not everyone 'gets it' with the Cardiacs, I know I didn't at first.

    I'm surprised that some of the tapes here are still playable considering their age and the problems that you get with the surface oxide degrading over time.

  13. Terrific blog, have been enjoying the music and memories, but for me this one has to be the jewel in the crown.. despite being a big Cardiacs fan I had never heard this before, and I entirely agree that it's significantly better than the later CD release. Many thanks for sharing it.

    You might find my blog The Haunted Shoreline of interest, there's no music there but there is alchemy, surrealism, synchronicity, and beachcombing...


    1. Many thanks THS (if I may call you that) for the feedback, and I'll certainly check out your blog.

      Overall this Cardiacs tape has attracted the most downloads of all the posts, glad that I could offer an alternative version to the CD.

  14. thanks chap...great to have the extra bits not on cd version....appreciate the effort that goes into rippin tapes...nowt but benevolence on your part...thankyou!...:)...

  15. Cheers joe23, yes ripping tapes is a bit of chore, but I download so much music from others that it's the least I can do to return the favour in some small way.

  16. Thanks for taking the effort to rip this. Truly a treat :)