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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 4 August 2007
This sampler appeared in the mid 1990s when the Alphabet Business Concern reissued all the Cardiacs albums, as well as the wonderful Sea Nymphs side-project. The 13 tracks here come from each of those reissues, so pretty much represent a track a-piece from each album (Sea Nymphs included) - there are loads of great songs that aren't here and might make a best of. However, 'Sampler' does work as a kind of best of, since all 13 tracks are fantastic - this works as an excellent primer of The Cardiacs (if you can find a copy - Cardiacs albums are deleted again and hard to find...perhaps that will change since The Cardiacs have recently returned for a Radio 2 session with Maconie & Radcliffe and have a tour later this year?).

The Cardiacs have been around in several versions since 1977, the thirteen tracks here stem from the following albums: A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window, the mid 1990s Cardiacs LP then known as The Forthcoming Cardiacs Album Which Isn't Finished Yet & Hasn't Got a Title Either, Songs for Ships and Irons, Heaven Born and Ever Bright, Archive Cardiacs, All That Glitters in a Mare's Nest, Rude Bootleg, Songs for Ships and Irons (again), Cardiacs Live, Tim Smith's Extra Special Ocealand World, The Sea Nymphs, On Land and In the Sea & The Seaside.

Sampler opens, appropriately, with the most well known Cardiacs song, the near hit 'Is This The Life', which I first heard on a lovely Beechwood Indie compilation. This even sounds like a hit with its relentless riff - though the conclusion veers off into twiddly prog territory, which today I think is a good thing. From the off you can hear their influence on some bands that followed, notably early Blur/Seymour, Levitation and World of Twist. I'm not sure why The Cardiacs are so underappreciated and resolutely cult, perhaps it's the way the songs veer off into seemingly random directions, the sound all over the shop, though generally skirting someone between psychedelia and punk. Imagine a whole band of Syd Barrett's, maybe?

Other highlights for me include 'Burn Your House Brown' (which descends into a fantastic chant), the live version of 'Tarred & Feathered' (apparently a You Tube fave, from their appearance on The Tube), the gorgeous Sea Nymphs track 'Christ Alive' (Barrett/Wyatt colliding with Cocteau Twins?), the live version of 'Big Ship'(showcasing their tight-as sound), and 'Goodbye Grace' - probably the one song that seems to capture The Cardiacs completely ('Is This...' would probably get Jeremy Clarkson air-guitaring). 'Goodbye Grace' has a typically fantastic lead vocal from Tim Smith, though the song shifts off into several different parts that might throw some people, from a deep voiced backing vocal, shouted "Heys!" and a high-pitched "Do what you did...didn't you?"- shifting into overload before a gorgeous mellotron sound descends, as charming as something on Julian Cope's 1983 album World Shut Your Mouth. Oh yes...

Anyway...The Cardiacs. Love them. When is some new stuff coming out, or at the very least, some new versions of the old stuff - the world might have caught up with them by now. Possibly...
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on 24 February 2002
Basically I'd heard about the Cardiacs but I didn't know which album to buy. So this Sampler was ideal for me. And its amazing! 3 top live tracks (including my favourite Cardiacs song - "the big ship") the magnificent "is this the life" and "piffol 4 times" and a track from the then unavailable "sing to god" lp. plus a track from spin-off band the sea nymphs. i'm off to buy some more cardiacs stuff now thanks to this!
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