Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Cardiac Arrest

Oh the joys of a USB turntable! Since my acquisition of one of these little devils, I have been rifling through my old vinyl collection like it was ooh...1972. Despite having a turntable still set up and operational, I rarely play vinyl records these days and so many gems from pre-CD days have remained hidden and forgotten. Until now.

Just to sidetrack for a minute, one thing I have noticed is how good MP3 files sound when they have been processed from an old vinyl analogue source. There is a warmth and detail about them which just re-ignites all those arguments about whether digital recording is really the nirvana it was cooked up to be. With modern editing software it is possible to remove the worst of the inherent surface noise of a record and even to remove scratches if you are very careful. Hence MP3s from vinyl can sound just like new and it has spurred me on to move a load more stuff into the digital domain.

My latest vinyl rediscovery has been a very strange album by the Cardiacs entitled ‘A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window’ which was originally released in 1988 and must have been almost the last vinyl record I ever bought before succumbing to the shiny silver disc. The Cardiacs arty progrock style is difficult to describe but a cross between Split Enz and the Cure with a splash of Sparks wouldn’t be too far from the mark. Its content is almost wilfully perverse and takes some listening to but it is one of those albums that repay you if you stick with it.

The crowning glory of this album is the monumental ‘Is This the Life’, something I would play regularly once upon a time but have almost forgotten about of late. I have attached a link to the promo video for the single version of this song to the bottom of this post as it is utterly bats in the style of all truly great rock stars. The single version of the song is, regrettably, the result of cutting about one and a half minutes off its length but it is still magnificent. You’ll just have to imagine the final minute plus as it continues its bonkers way to a surprisingly poignant finish. They don’t make stuff like this anymore – it is what music is all about, warm and enveloping yet strangely anarchic at the same time.

I wonder how many more gems there are awaiting me in my dog-eared record collection?

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