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Clinic
Albums

  • Clinic,
  • Internal Wrangler,
  • Walking With Thee,
  • Winchester Cathedral,
  • Visitations,
  • Funf,
  • Do It!,
  • Bubblegum,
  • Free Reign,
  • Free Reign 2,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Clinic

    do it! walking with thee winchester cathedral internal wranger funf

    Clinic 7 ( 1999 )
    I.P.C Subeditors Dictate Our Youth / Porno / D.P. / Monkey On Your Back / D.T. / Evil Bill / Cement Mixer / Kimberley / Voot

    This collects together Clinics first three singles in full. Nine songs, one of which was a dig at the guys who run N.M.E magazine. The NME loved it! They love this more than any other Clinic release! True, its a storming, rollercoaster, punk/garage ride whilst at the same time sounding like nothing else on earth. Clinic have a sound. They possess their own little world and yes, that's a good thing! It may be purely because the singer has such an unusual voice, but still, as I said, that's a good thing! He sounds like a much slimmed down Black Francis from the Pixies if he'd married Kim Deal and had children and one of those children had become the lead singer of Clinic and been born and brought up in Liverpool, England! Sort of. Listen, buy this! It'll make sense! Second song 'Porno' contains the requisite amount of suitable strange noises but once again, possesses its own world. It sounds like nothing else being produced by modern groups. 'D.P.' is nothing more than a short thrash, it makes no sense whatsoever but it does make you smile.

    The highlight of this particular set of songs arrives with 'Monkey On Your Back'. 'Get in the sling boys' indeed! Its fabulous! Its packed full of melody! It sounds like nothing else on earth whilst still being grounded by past influences, so? It sounds great! Its accessible and exciting and wonderful and other words that temporarily elude me. 'D.T.' is another brief thrash of noise, though fairly pointless this time. 'Evil Bill' contains some surf type guitar. Its an instrumental and nothing especially exiciting. Hey, its a b-side! Whatdoyouwant? 'Cement Mixer' which was the next single, sounds great! You can imagine riding a motorbike across inner city blues whilst the wind blows in your hair. Its fantastic! The b-sides once again, are probably inessential. By its very nature, this is a mixed release. But, once you fall under Clincs spell, you'll buy it. Well, I for one say you should!

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    Readers Comments

    Chris Handforth Derbyshire
    I heard the first Shadows LP in about 1962. It belonged to a relative and I used to play it at every opportunity. The power and clarity of the sound on those tracks was astonishing for its time as well as the variety of the music. It leaped out of the speakers and sounded as if the group was actually in the room with me. I would love to know more about the recording techniques instruments used and how many takes each track required. There is something on the original sleeve notes by Cliff suggesting that the arrangements for the various numbers were the subject of heated debate between the Shadows at the time.


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    Internal Wrangler 8 ( 2000 )
    Voodoo wop / Return of Evil Bill / Internal wrangler / DJ Shangri La / Second line / CQ / TK / Earth angel / Distortions / Hippy death stomp / 2nd foot stomp / 2/4 / Goodnight Georgie

    Whilst there is nothing else that sounds like this, there is a whole load of things that sound like this. I realise that's contradictory. You can spot the influences, shall we say. The Velvet Underground, one for. The Pixies, maybe. I won't list them all. Thing is, it really doesn't matter. There isn't another album that sounds like this. It's short, being just over thirty minutes long. The opener 'Voodoo Wop' is nothing more than atmospherics. A weird little instrumental. 'Return Of Evil Bill' is simply stupendous. The guitar sound is refreshing. It's like a surf guitar player has stumbled into an alternative rock group. The whole thing sounds like it was recorded in a hall somewhere. A nice effect, actually. The title tune is one of the more melodic moments here and follows on from 'Return Of Evil Bill'. The vocals! I should at least try to describe them. The very first time I heard Clinic I could have sworn it was female vocals I heard. The second time I sat down and listened to them it was apparent it was a male singer. It's hardly Bruce Springsteen 'Born In The USA' type vocals though, you know?! It is vaguely reminiscent of Black Francis of The Pixies in his softer moments. Vaguely. The lyrics are interesting, weird. Probably don't mean a whole great deal but they keep you listening and entertained. Which is what's important, really.

    'DJ Shangri-La' is another atmospheric instrumental, organ led. 'The Second Line' is the sound of Clinic all over. A pulsating bass underpins this one. Other highlights, interspersed between the instrumental linking tracks include 'TK' the Velvet Underground esque 'Distortions' and the sweet closer 'Goodnight Georgie'. 'Distortions' I love actually. It's very affecting in an odd sort of way. Effective keyboard/organ sound again. A good debut set, this. Very promising. It is hoped they come back with an even stronger follow up. A band with a future hopefully. So many groups of this type simply fade and disappear. I hope Clinic are not one of those groups. Keep an eye out for them.

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    Walking With Thee ( 2002 )
    Harmony / The Equaliser / Welcome / Walking With Thee / Pet Eunuch / Mr. Moonlight / Come Into Our Room / The Vulture / The Bridge / Sunlight Bathes Our Home / For The Wars

    If a debut works to introduce who you are, some of your ideas and influences and perhaps contains one or two real highpoints, where do you go for the follow up set? One idea is that to show signs of progression, you need to suddenly move in half a dozen different directions. The alternative, trying to make basically the same album all over again, but better, is often fraught with danger. People may get bored. But, you know. That's exactly what The Kinks did for example. The Beatles? Clinic have managed it. They've begun picking up a fanbase and positive press in the U.S. In their native UK they've received a mixed press from the start, And, its a bit rich for a certain 'biggest selling rock weekly' to call this an inferior follow up when they also criticised the album this follows up! No, the album isn't a radical departure from 'Internal Wrangler' but it does less obviously display clinics influences by being altogether more confident and assured. The rockier, heavier songs are no longer just brief garage rock thrashes but are genuinely exciting rock songs, if 'rock' is even a word that can still be applied here.

    The title song is a deserved single release, a step beyond anything from the debut and a sheer work of pounding, hypnotic brilliance. This album is relatively short by todays standards ( being just under 40 minutes length ) but this actually works to its own advantages. There is little pointless filler, everything works, everything is at least slightly enjoyable. And, in the case of 'walking with thee' or the beautiful 'for the wars', highly enjoyable! 'Harmony', 'Welcome', 'The Bridge' and 'Come Into Our Room' are also highlights. Together, these six songs make up over half the album. So, do Clinic make themselves clearer? Better than before? More of the same? It's a close call, but actually, yes. To all of these, happily.

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    Readers Comments

    Karolina_Jędrzejewska Krln@poczta.onet.pl
    I fall in love with 'Come into my room;

    James james_leicester@hotmail.com
    For the Wars is a thing of great beauty. I first heard it while on a train journet through the frost-bitten fields of the fens one winters afternoon. It was an amazing moment! I like the way the songs have repetetive riffs and rhythms, almost like dance music. It definately has an atmosphere all of its own.


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    Winchester Cathedral ( 2004 )
    Country Mile / Circle Of Fiths / Anne / The Magician / Vertical Takeoff / Home / WDYYB / The Majestic / Falstaff / August / Thank You / Finger

    The phrase "always different, always the same" was coined by legendary bbc radio broadcaster John Peel, to describe the 35yr plus career of The Fall. The Fall are a group who have always wilfully resisted any kind of move towards mainstream acceptance, or any kind of commercial breakthrough. With this release of the third Clinic album proper, it becomes clear that these lads from Liverpool are following the same kind of path. The Fall are favourites of mine, Stereolab fit into the same mould, a band releasing albums that are more variations on the same theme, different aspects, rather than a continued progression, or any single leap of startling evolution. So, Clinic appear to have moved sideways for 'Winchester Cathedral', rather than moving forwards. The advantage of this is they remain 'pure', and it's this purity that's one of the most appealing aspects of Clinic. They are as 'indie' as indie bands come, they seem to have a little bit of an old-school 80s indie-attitude to their art, building up a loyal cult following that adore them, rather than courting wider appeal or courting musical journalists. Clinic are so very distinctive. We love them for this. 'Winchester Cathedral' contains some gorgeous monents along the way, weird instrumental backing tracks, the usual semi-mysterious weird pleading, half mumbled and strangely pitched vocals.

    Highlights along the way, and there are no low-lights as such, include the stomping 'The Magician' - the rattling cavernous sound of Clinic in full-effect. The sweet melody and lullaby feel of 'Falstaff' ranks amongst the groups most lovely moments, those softer moments Clinic do provide us with from time to time. 'Vertical Takeoff' is an astonishing mess of controlled noise, a really aggressive variation on the usual Clinic sound, and 'The Majestic' is the nearest this album approaches to a sing-a-long hit song. In actual fact, it's not very near to anything approaching sing-a-long or commercial at all, but it does have a nice rolling melody that will stick in your brain. A couple of songs here add piano prominently into the clinic mix. Overall, Clinic sound more assured of themselves without having produced an assured and relaxed sounding album! One of the delights about 'Winchester Cathedral' is the very fact Clinic have seemingly ignored absolutely everything else happening in the music scene at the moment, apart from themselves.

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    Visitations 7 ( 2006 )
    Family / Animal Human / Gideon / Harvest / Tusk / Paradise / Children Of Kellog / If You Could Read Your Mind / Jigsaw Man / Interlude / The Seeker / Visitations

    Clinic retreat from the frontline and retreat from ambitious arrangements of any kind to try and recapture the apparent freshness of their earlier recordings. They do well in places, too. This is a decent thirty two minute listen, a modest affair that's probably sold around ten copies. It also sounds exactly the same as any other Clinic album in style and tone, just not quite as good as the previous couple of LPs. Sure, 'Harvest' is haunting and sure, 'If You Could Read Your Mind' is the best song here. Sure it is, it contains at least some of the pounding swagger that characterises the best Clinic tunes. It's a kind of self-confident swagger too often absent from many of these recordings here. For all the apparent unfocused meanderings that turned off so many listeners and destroyed any chance Clinic may have had of a commercial audience that 'Winchester Catherdral' presented us with, at least it demonstrated a Clinic at least moving, if not exactly forwards. 'Visitations' is the first Clinic album that's utterly disposable if you have any of the previous ones. Lukewarm to positive reviews when 'Winchester Catherdral' was all but ignored by the critics let alone the public may seem to prove this listener wrong, but despite the enjoyable stomp and noise of opener 'Family', easily one of the best tracks here, there's nothing that makes you stop, pause for thought and go 'wow'. 2006 model Clinic seem to have settled comfortably into a groove that goes nowhere in particular. They never were a band that made great strides forwards, but at least every other Clinic album tried to make steps towards some places previously unknown.

    The two minute thrash of 'Tusk' sounds for all the world like Clinic circa 2000. The only song on this album that sounds interestingly different to previous Clinic is the acoustic 'Jigsaw Man'. Finding it hard to hear an acoustic ( semi? ) Clinic? Believe that their songs can have substance behind the noise. 'Jigsaw Man' is the definite proof. Elsewhere, beyond the EPs worth of good tunes that comprises 'Family', 'Animal Human', 'If You Could Read My Mind' and 'Harvest' we have little that gets the pulses racing beyond admiration Clinic haven't simply folded in disinterest.

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    Funf 8 ( 2007 )
    The Majestic / Nicht / Christmas / The Castle / You Can't Hurt You Anymore / Dissolution / Magic Boots / The Scythe / Lee Shan / J.O - Love Is Just A Tool / Circle I / Golden Rectangle

    Ten years worth ( has it really been that long? ) of Scousers Clinic's b-sides, released in part to satisfy loyal fans demand. Whilst their last LP set did little for me, the late John Peel was a stalwart fan, as many have been. Clinic may have missed the chance that minor ad-assisted hit 'The Second Line' seemed to present to them, but they're still here presenting the weird and wonderful in turn. The oddly titled 'Funf' is 30 minutes of the groups b-sides and assorted strangeness that presents a succint overview of what the band are all about. Velvet Underground crossed with Sixties girl groups married with walls of white noise. 'Christmas' is the sweet, melodic yet haunted b-side of 'Come Into Our Room' and certainly deserved better, although Clinic have always been one of those bands whoose b-sides weren't just rejects or inferior material. Although taken from a ten-year time-span, 'Funf' comes across as well as any other album of theirs and doesn't sound too disjointed when moving track to track. Indeed, this can be put down as one of the more enjoyable Clinic releases, without question. Back to 'Christmas', which if you're quick enough you'll be able to hear on the Jukebox ( see below ) follows the minute of demented distortion that is 'Nicht'. 'Christmas' is one of those songs you can swear you've heard before. The lyrics are economic yet striking and the tune, bare yet containing just enough to give your kids a treat/nightmare, delete as appropriate. The squelching stomp of 'The Castle' is a very fine tune and certainly a winner in our house.

    Some of Clinic's more out there instrumentals remind me of 'Telstar' man Joe Meek's instro's - he would have liked Clinic, I feel. 'Lee Shan' is another highlight here though of the songs 'proper', containing a typically twisted Ade Blackburn vocal. 'Magic Boots' is the kind of parent displeasing, brief...... well, 'racket' that Clinic do so very well, it sounds thrilling and too few bands these days do sound thrilling. Here's to another ten years of Clinic, that's what I say.

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    Do It! 9 ( 2008 )
    Memories / Tomorrow / The Witch / Free Not Free / Shopping Bag / Corpus Christi / Emotions / High Coin / Mary & Eddie / Winged Wheel / Coda

    Clinic may just have released their best album. What is it now, a good six or seven albums they’ve done? Not many bands I can instantly recall ( that aren't The Fall ) are able to do such things. Clinic have done it by steadfastly refusing to bow to pressure to change their style for potential commercial gain. They've stuck to their weird and wonderful ways and therefore remain one of the best underground/alternative bands operating right now. Clinic themselves have described ‘Do It!’ as their 'summer' album although it's hard to tell why that might be. 'Free Not Free' is indeed gorgeous in the sunshine, though. It's a lovely Clinic ballad with typically mysterious Clinic lyrics. It sounds like a fifties rock n roll love song played by Velvet Underground and produced by Joe Meek only with a stray punk rock guitarist in there too for good measure. It's one of the very finest Clinic songs and five out of five in our house.'Tomorrow' opens with some hard acoustic guitar strings being bashed stridently before Ade Blackburn comes in with a sequence of literate words of simple construction forming what could be described as poetry without meaning – although it does seem intelligent and mysterious and really rather great, anyway.

    'The Witch' has been released as a single and it's the best Clinic single since 'Walking With Thee'. It thumps, it's got a monster crazy sound and some of the coolest ‘non-backing’ vocals known to man. 'Shopping Bag' is one of the nosiest and more demented Clinic songs since their early EPs. The hits just keep on coming, 'High Coin' containing sinister sounding keyboard lines, all deliciously unwell. Good news then for all lapsed Clinic fans? Why yes. 'Do It!' can be said to be nothing less than a perfect compendium of everything Clinic have ever been good at. Hooray!

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    Bubblegum ( 2010 )
    I'm Aware / Bubblegum / Baby / Lion Tamer / Linda / Milk & Honey / The Radio Story / Forever (Demis' Blues) / Another Way of Giving / Evelyn / Un Astronauta En Cielo / Freemasons Waltz / Orangutan

    An acoustic led foray into the softer side of Clinic.

    Clinic are often at their best when they are at their most ferocious, eg, the title track from 'Walking With Thee'. They do though have a few beautiful softer moments in their back-catalogue too and it's in that direction they move towards for their latest LP. With all this talk of the record industry dying and musicians unable to make money unless they're Lady Gaga it's good to know bands like Clinic are still around, some thirteen years after inception. True, they've never really had any big success but they must make enough money to eat, presumably?

    'Bubblegum' hasn't been an album to trouble the end of year polls, so out of fasion have Clinic fallen. Clinic also sound much the same as they always have done, so why do I love this album so much? I didn't straight away, I think it's just now i've lived with it awhile I appreciate how out of step with the rest of the music industry this album is, how lovingly the songs are put together and how genuinely affecting and wonderful they are, quite frankly. Right from the start with 'I'm Aware' you should, by all accounts, love this record. Violins decorate Ade Blackburns weirdly affecting voice and we plunge straight into the title track, an even better tune. It's something if you heard it late at night in 1982, long-wave on Radio Luxemburg, complete with static and bad reception you'd think you'd died and gone to heaven.

    True, Clinic show no new songwriting tricks, demonstrate no new revelations throughout this, their sixth studio LP, yet they don't really have to when the songs come across this well. Truly independant and truly out of step with the usual stuff we hear. Are 'The Script' really indie? Do we have to go all the way to America to find a band to love? No, we don't. We also don't have to be obscure for the sake of it. Clinic actually aren't obscure in terms of willfull experimentation for the sake of it. Take the ballad 'Baby' for example. It's not really cool, it's not weird, it's very simple bass and drums and somehow determindly old fashioned. It's also very affecting and sweet, a little night-time lullaby.

    'Lion Tamer' is the monster crunching thing here, 'Milk And Honey' ensures we get equal quality through the second half of the record as the first in the affecting quiet tune stakes, 'Radiostory' pinches a trick from both Tindersticks and Pulp in being spoken word over satisfyingly cheesy/weird/wonderful instrumental.... sigh. There's so much more to talk about, 'Forever (Denis Blues)', 'Evelyn' and I make no bones in declaring this record another slam-dunk from Clinic. Slam-dunk of course being a very un-clinic like phrase but it'll do for now.

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    Readers Comments

    Christian Ewen Cheshire
    Hi Adrian - been a massive fan of your site now for some time. I've been looking forward to your review of this album as it was your reviews of Clinic's previous work that convinced me into getting into this brilliant band in the first place - so cheers for that! I think 8.5 is a fair score. 'Baby' is - as Alan Partridge would say - 'Lovely stuff'. Keep up the good work!PS - Do you take requests? I'd love to read your reviews of The Chameleons' back catalogue!


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    Free Reign 8 ( 2012 )
    Misty / See Saw / Seamless Boogie Woogie / Cosmic Radiation / Miss You / For the Season / King Kong / You / Sun and the Moon

    Liverpool's Clinic are now seven albums in and have yet to put a foot wrong critically, although commercially their art-rock nostalgic futurism remains stubbornly at the distant margins of crossover appeal. 'Free Reign' produced by the band themselves, ditches the lovely, quieter twisted pop gems of 'Bubblegum' to go for another tweaking of the Clinic formula, the surgeon masks they still wear to this day seem to suit this drugged out, occasionally spaced and isolated excercise in darkness and light. 'Misty' is mid-tempo if being generous to mid-tempo but it's slightly spooky and washes over you with bass and weirdness before 'See Saw' arrives in more typical Clinic fashion, all wide-eyed vocals and a harder musical approach, if not quite approaching the rawness of the first couple of Clinic records. 'Seamless Boogie Woogie' has distorted bass, synths and clever lyrics and three songs in, one of the key Clinic elements becomes clear, their ability to structure an album, often a lost art these days. Three songs in, all different yet seamlessly fitting together. You're not quite sure what picture the band are putting in place, yet it fascinates you, makes you admire the intelligence of the artist in question.

    'Cosmic Radiation' is a highlight with its 'Radiation, radiation, radiation' refrain and 60s garage rock/psychedelic atmosphere. Essentially a guitar band, Clinic made records where the guitar is almost akin to percussion and the percussion and bass pick out the melodies, along with assorted other instrumentation, mainly flute and clarinet. The electronic led 'Miss You' was released as a single and gives little sign of what to expect from the album . It also is the kind of song even alternative music stations will likely give a wide-berth - it sounds like an excellent album track, has no real chorus but lots of repetition, all the same. 'Miss You' is excellently produced, Ade Blackburn's vocals are back in the mix, the synths and programming dominate, yet no more so than real bass guitar, percussion and a wonderful moment two and a half minutes in where nearly all the instruments drop out to highlight a softer Ade Blackburn vocals full of seeming emotion, before the rest of the musicians drop back in as if nothing has happened. Five minutes and 40 seconds later, slap bang in the middle of the album running order, this misleadingly wonderful song has done its work, you've been drawn truly in, more and more by each passing song. 'For The Season' then takes you back down into slumber land, into a comfortable Saturday morning lazing in bed, you stretch out and curl back in again and feel bliss.

    When Clinic first started they were Jesus and Mary Chain, Velvet Underground or The Stooges or elements of all combined. Fifteen years into a career, they are now firmly and only ever will be, Clinic. They draw you into their own world, it's not a political world but it's a dark romantic kind of place, a black pencilled drawing with lots of scribblings and mis-direction, but a pop sense and touches of genuine beauty.

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    Free Reign 2 7 ( 2013 )
    Misty / See Saw / Seamless Boogie Woogie / Cosmic Radiation / Miss You / For the Season / King Kong / You / Sun and the Moon

    This re-mixed version of Clinic's 'Free Reign' was produced by Daniel Lopatin before the band settled on their own, alternative mixes for the main album release. Mixing to emphasize the inherent strangeness of Clinic's music by giving prominence to the echo alongside more overtly psychedelic effects, a sense of immense claustrophobia is given, alongside the same songs as the first release, albeit in reverse order. 'Sun And The Moon' kicks off, and not finishes the set and is one of the most disturbing pieces of Clinic music in its revised form, four minutes of painful exhilaration and blackness. 'You' now sounds more like Krautrock than Clinic ever have done before, throbbing bass to the fore and a the previously emotionally detached Ade Blackburn vocals and lyrics taking on a somewhat sinister tone. The beautiful 'For The Season' fares pretty well, although apart from the vocal having more echo and a synth or two that wasn't there before, it's much the same sort of piece as the original version. 'Miss You' seems to have hip-hop style beats added to the mix for no real reason other than the producer needing to make his presence felt.

    'See Saw' has effects over Ade Blackburn's vocals, they cut in and out and they vibrate and it's done, well, I don't know why it's been done. At one stage, psychedelic effects come in whilst the drums sound like cardboard boxes. Clinic's music is never wide, it often seems compressed, particularly on a song like 'See Saw' where they go for a louder, more energetic approach. The essence of Clinic seems to get a little lost during 'See Saw' which is a shame. Ultimately, by rejecting Daniel Lopatin's mixes, then releasing them like this Clinic have watered themselves down and muddied the waters - unfortunate when the original album is good to excellent and when there was no real need for a 2nd, 're-mixed' (original mixes?) volume.

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    this page last updated 26/01/14


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