The Cardiacs are an eccentric British rock group who've been compared to Gentle Giant. Their forte is live music which, if recorded, is fuzzy and of poor quality, but every now and then they'd released incredibly good songs you'd like to put on you iPod.
A lot of music doesn't move me any more. I grew up with music in the 1960s and 1970s and lived through several genres of music. The Beatles, The Who, the whole britpop invasion. Punk. Euro trash, like Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry. Disco. Hip hop. Rap. Ambient. Trance. You get the picture. I've listened to so much music that I've been inured to the new stuff. Much of it is flat, boring, and doesn't challenge me.
What's become important more than anything else is passion. When I look at YouTube videos, I'm still amazed at Jimi Hendrix and how he used to make his guitar sing. I have gained a newfound respect for Freddy Mercury, the lead singer for Queen. He'd sing his heart out with every fiber of his body. If you watch a good version of his duet with David Bowie doing Under Pressure in front of a live audience, you'll know what I mean.
Every now and then I'll get excited about a well-produced studio song, like Madonna's Jump. But few mainstream groups grab me like older music used to.
However, there is the occasional sound that makes my ears perk up. Amnesiac turned me on to The Cardiacs when he provided a link to their bizarre song Dirty Boy. I was compelled to listen to it because of a sentence that used to be on his homenode. It was something about the sustained note at the end of Dirty Boy, that it was held for two minutes. He said something to the effect that listening to it was rapturous, like going to heaven.
I wish I could remember his exact quote, because it truly did sound like that. I played Dirty Boy over and over again for weeks after first listening to it.
Recently, I found another song of theirs. It's similarly anthemic. Tim Smith, the crazy lead guitarist and vocalist, has an amazing guitar solo. If you see the YouTube video of the Cardiacs playing Is This The Life?, you'll know what I mean. It's played with feeling. He grimaces and tortures his guitar to extract what I can only call some of the most beautiful, sad, wailing sounds I've ever heard a guitar make. It's not Hendrix, not even close, but it's a different kind of beauty.
The Cardiacs did this in 1988, almost twenty years ago. It's hard to believe how fresh they sound, how far ahead of their time they were. It's also sad to think how good they could have been if they'd been properly produced and marketed even a little bit outside of the cult audience in the U.K. I would have given anything to have seen them in their prime.
Listen for yourself:
Tell me what you think. After you've seen the video and want to listen to a cleaner version on your headphones, listen here: