O'Connor is on the Mark!
Friday afternoon I was looking at music books in the Towson Barnes & Noble when a voice behind me said something like "This ain't a library you know!" Turning around I saw my long-time-no-see friend Mark O'Connor (pictured at left). Mark is one of the few legitimate musical geniuses I have known in my lifetime. Though he now toils for Social Services, I knew Mark from undergrad days at Towson State University (the Mason-Dixon's College of Knowledge - perhaps you've heard of it?) - where he was a Philosophy Major (like me at one point) - and from Marble Bar band days. The former songwriter/keyboardist for Oho, Dark Side, Trixy & The Testones, The Beaters, Food for Worms and, most recently, BLAMMO, always had great taste in music (just today we agreed on how awesome the first two John Foxx-era Ultravox albums were) and an unerring sense of humor. The Food for Worms songs that didn't make me wanna dance made me want to laugh out loud. In a word, he's a most clever fellow. So when he recommends something to me, I listen.
So when I asked him what music he was listening to of late and he elatedly effused "Cardiacs!", well, I had to take notice. And I have to say: good call!
According to Wikipedia, "Cardiacs are an English band formed in 1977. Their broad combination of styles is sometimes referred to as pronk (progressive punk), although singer Tim Smith prefers the description Psychedelic or simply Pop. Fusing the excitement and 'raw energy' of punk rock with the intricacies and technical cleverness of early British progressive rock, their sound is unique, varied, complex, and intense."
Unfortunately, other than a few downloads from their website and a few videos on YouTube, their work is only available as VERY EXPENSIVE IMPORTS from the UK - like $50 to $90 dollars per album on Amazon! But I can see why Mark loves them so much - they're funny!
In a follow-up e-mail, Mark raved:
I am the official Cardiacs apostle for the Eastern seaboard. Say the word and I’ll send you a cd or two. I’m in the process of collecting them all and am up to 10 or so. You should go to their website (cardiacs.com) for some interesting history and general bizarre prose. Read some of their journal, for example, which is hilarious. Tim Smith is my new hero. And the Cardiacs are the band I’ve been waiting for all my life - a punky proggy band that sounds like everyone and no one simultaneously. It’s become customary for me to have hour-long exegetical conversations about them with Joe, Gyro or Bob. What can you say about a band with song titles like “The Duck and Roger the Horse” or “Pip as Uncle Dick But Peter Spoilt It”? Incidentally, most of their YouTube videos have been uploaded by just a few people, like TallBastard and especially GehennatheHorse. Check out the latter’s own video under “Message from Gehenna”. Careful though as there’s a sludgy heavy metal group with the same name. You’ll know you have the right one if you see violent black and white nature footage (mostly water) over which is superimposed a cheesy, undulating picture of a horse. OK, gotta go and order “The Sea Nymphs”, which was a Cardiacs side project involving three members recorded in the woods somewhere.
Thanks for the tip and for the links, Mark! And for fans of clever Brit punk-pop, I advise: check 'em out!
Cardiacs Website (www.cardiacs.com)
Cardiacs at Wikipedia
Cardiacs Museum (Fan Site)
Tarred and Feathered
R.E.S. Music Video
Is This the Life?
Suzannah's Still Alive (cover of the Dave Davies/Kinks song)
The Duck and Roger the Horse
Firey Gun Hand