Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty 9
( 1982 )|
Evergreen Dazed / Fortune / Birdmen / Cathedral / I Worship The Sun / Templeroy
The debut Felt album sounds so delicate and fragile that even a softly caressed blow from loving lips would cause it to fall down and collapse around your ears. We've the guitar sound of Maurice Deebank, classically trained and sounding not at all Rock N Roll. We've the vocals, when they appear, of Lawrence. The lyrics and poetry of Lawrence. He sounds very unsure of his vocal abilities all through this album, so much so, the effect is akin to someone hiding behind a big, stout, stone pillar, in a corner somewhere. Mumbling the words out, words he's not even sure of - but you want to just, love him. You want to hold him and tell him everything will be okay. He sounds like a lost puppy. If i'm painting an unattractive picture of 'Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty' to you, just in that it's not very, well, Rock N Roll, then I apologise. Actually, I don't. Felt weren't Rock N Roll. The playing is fragile yet so beautiful. The drums are full of echo and the entire recording is full of echo, but not production trick echo - just the sound of a band unsure of themselves playing in a basement somewhere. It's okay, it works beautifully. 'Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty' is a lovely painting, a work of art - a movement onto absolutely nothing else and relating to nothing else - standing on its own in a corner somewhere waiting to be held and cherished.
A five minute long instrumental opens the album. Lawrence stums a guitar, Maurice comes out with astonishing, classy, inventive and such beautifully clean guitar lines. This isn't a song - it's a work of art, it's something of the kind i've never quite heard before, I can't think of any debut album anywhere opening with such an unassuming yet truly beautiful piece of work. 'Fortune' sounds a little rough around the edges compared to the re-recorded version they'd release as a b-side a few years on. That version appears on 'Absolute Classic Masterpieces'. This version has muted guitar and a muted lawrence vocal performance. It sounds like a demo, but the charm is there. The drummer sounds like he's playing on carboard, but never mind that! 'Birdmen' opens with another sequence of beautifully clean, artistic and flowing Maurice Deebank guitar, a million miles away from the one-two-three punk ethos, a world away even from other alternative/indie bands any music writers at the time were feeling to compare Felt with. The drums are simple, encased in echo as are the vocals. The guitar goes on and on, subtle variations on the already wonderful melodic theme it's mapped out. The song revolves around this guitar pattern. But we've lawrence, away in the distance with his poetry, beauty and loneliness. There's nothing else quite like this. 'Cathedral' is an all time Felt moment of fragile, poetic beauty. It's addictive yet there is something here to say that, well, you might think that anybody could do this! Only, they couldn't. They didn't! Anybody could drum like this, yet the simplicity of the drums utterly suits this. The guitar goes here and there, gently and beautifully and Lawrence almost makes himself properly heard - and you want to hear him. He's hiding again, yet the words reveal himself at the same time. Beautiful words, such a beautiful feel and song.
There are no pop songs here and it's not until the fifth of the six songs we get anything bouncy and uptempo. 'Worship The Sun' repeats the sound of the rest of the album, only it sounds more urgent and anxious. 'Templeroy' closes the album with more ghostly, perfect Maurice Deebank guitar, more rolling simple drums and more Lawrence hiding behind himself. The album may well be a little too fragile for some peoples tastes - but there is nothing else like this. Nothing, in a good sense of the word, so precious.
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In the court of the Crimson King firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for this review..Without this I would have never known the true musical genius of Lawrence, Howard by the way. I love this site Keep it up man
The Splendour Of Fear 8½
( 1984 )
Red Indians / The World Is As Soft As Lace / The Optimist And The Poet / Mexican Bandits / The Stagnant Pool / A Preacher In New England
Ah, six more Felt songs, six more songs to fall in love with and hold close to your bosom. Just the two vocals tunes here and one of those contains a six minutes instrumental coda, but we don't mind too much. Not too much. Well, Felt sound a little more confident second time out, although Lawrence still wasn't confident singing, perhaps? That's my conclusion, perhaps the lack of vocals was purely for artistic reasons? Whichever way it actually was - it hardly matters. The one vocal tune proper is so gorgeous, so special, so romantic. The singing is good too actually, very affecting. So yes, second song 'The World Is As Soft As Lace' makes me cry all the time. Maurice opens the tune with an utterly distinctive and special guitar pattern. The sound hangs in the air and reaches into your tearducts and gets them moving. Lawrence plays the other guitar, the drums and vocals both sound like they were played in somebodies bathroom. "The softest touch, the gentlest word..." sings lawrence, then the female backing vocals come in and this listeners heart bursts completely. The opening lyrical/vocal section over?? The backing vocals not enough? That guitar pattern that opened the song comes swinging back in to link into the next verse & chorus. The guitar, this guitar! Just repeats and varies and goes straight through the song and the sound of the thing. I can't explain or describe the sound. Just, so elegant. Lawrence sets down the poetic lyrics, the romantic pleading, pouring out emotionally lyric. He sings of course, his vocals are fragile, beautiful. Gorgeous, gorgeous, GORGEOUS song. One of the best.
Ah, so what else is new? Well, 'The World Is As Soft As Lace' is surrounded by two instrumentals that display the sound of early Felt extremely well. Mr Deebank very much to the fore with the guitar. I prefer the short, sad sounding 'Red Indians' to the breezy 'Optimist And The Poet' - that's my personal preference. 'Mexican Bandits' also manages to be breezy, happy sounding. 'Preacher In New England' is a beautiful Deebank guitar showcase, very pretty. Which leaves us with 'The Stagnant Pool'. The lyrics are something else. You could criticize them as 6th form poetry on the surface, but? Well, the lyrics are so hilarilously doomy and sad, so very intelligently doomy and striving for an effect that they more than acheive. The guitars at this stage are Deebank/Lawrence interweaving, gorgeously lonely guitars. Two minutes in, the vocals end. Deebank shines throughout the remaining six minutes, really shines. Ably supported by Lawrence, by drummer Gary Ainge and bass player Mick Lloyd. I'll mention them all, because they all deserve to be mentioned. God, imagine seeing Felt play this thing live?? Well, I don't even want to imagine. You'd go away just floating in the air with your head in the clouds yet your heart remembering every loss, then alternately, every joy. Astonishing doesn't even begin to describe the eight minute plus 'Stagnant Pool'. I wish we'd have another vocal tune on the album, I like the Lawrence vocals. Otherwise, everything here is more than fine.
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"The Stagnant Pool" must be Felt's masterpiece. I've never heard a song anywhere with this sort of atmosphere. What ever happened to Deebank? That guy was simply amazing. Felt rules.
Max Watson email@example.com
Hi,This is indeed amazing music from a tragic genius, jsut been introduced and found your site when looking them up. But have you not also noticed the uncanny similaritiy of 'Red Indians' to 'So close no matter how far', by Metallica? Just sayin. I stopped in my tracks listening to this, and played both next to each other, shocked... try it yourself and tell me I'm wrong. Max
The Strange Idols Pattern And Other Short Stories 9
( 1984 )
Roman Litter / Sempiternal Darkness / Spanish House / Imprint / Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow / Vasco Da Gama / Dismantled King Is Off The Throne / Crystal Ball / Whirlpool Vision Of Shane
Lawrence wanted to write short two or three minute pop songs. Maurice wanted to showcase his classically trained guitar skills over long instrumental tracks. Lawrence was the leader of the group and Maurice ended up writing guitar parts for three minute pop songs. It gives the group something interesting though, at this stage. We open with the glittering jangle guitar pop of 'Roman Litter'. Lawrence puts his lyrical skills to the test, intelligent lyrics, slightly self-depreciating, always poetry. His has a slightly peculiar voice, it's full of character, full of stops and starts and often drifts off at the end of sentences when they are sung. It's all up and down, basically. It's not a
conventionally beautiful singing voice but one thing it is, even with a complete lack of range - is that it's melodic. 'Sempiternal Darkness' is a Maurice Deebank two
minute instrumental showcase. It's totally beautiful, clear and sparse guitar lines, flowing and natural, and he's probably working in a post-office now. 'Spanish House' is a happy guitar pop song! Mentions of debts, tv-sets, staying, going, pestilence, apathy. These, are lyrics! All married to a jaunty, happy Smiths beating jangly guitar line! 'Imprint' is another short but totally gorgeous Deebank guitar instrumental. 'Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow' is one of the greatest pop songs ever written, and
I'll leave it at that.
'Vasco Da Gama' is one very special type of Felt song that marries Deebanks guitar skills fully to Lawrence's pop melodies and eloquent depreciating lyrics. The guitar is just
wondrous, the vocals are packed with little twists and melodies and the lyrics are stupendous. It's a wonderful song, and that guitar really is beautiful. It's a trick repeated to even better effect with 'Dismantled King Is Off The Throne' which is just a pure wonder, and I don't even know what
I'm saying. This music, this group are so very close to me, it's a hard thing to review or describe. Especially THIS era of the group, although any music Lawrence has ever been involved in is at the very least interesting. 'Crystal Ball' is SO GREAT! And,
I'm feeling stupid now. I'm feeling like I'm losing the thread, that I can't review for a fuck, and that I should shut myself away in a dark cupboard somewhere. But, hey! I'm reviewing Felt! There are more popular review sites than mine, which only seems appropriate when
I'm reviewing Felt, one of the great lost groups of the era. 'Whirlpool Vision Of Shane' is track number nine, and makes me doubt the claim that Lawrence 'insisted all albums had an even number of tracks' which I included in this pages introduction simply because reliable information about this group is so hard to come by. Besides, it fits the group! 'Whirlpool Vision Of Shane' is another jaunty guitar led pop song with more intelligent, self-depreciating - lack of vocal range - vocals! It's indie, it's alternative guitar pop, it's everything a lot of people find very easy to dismiss, but this is different. If you can, buy it. Simple as that.
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The original release of this LP did indeed have an even number of tracks. For some reason, track two, side two - "Crucifix Heaven" - was missed off
the re-issue. The track, a very dramatic spanish guitar based instrumental, is a highlight of not only this LP, but also of Felt's entire career. I don't know why this was missed off the re-issue, unless it was to ensure that the total number of tracks for the combined CD (with
"Ignite the Seven Cannons") was even?!?! Whatever the reason, it is very frustrating not to have this track on CD! Anyway, glad that you love the LP!
Ben P firstname.lastname@example.org
You said "Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow is one of the best pop songs ever written." I totally agree with that sentiment.
The best part of this album, IMO, is the way it shifts between beautiful pop songs
and even more gorgeous instrumentals. It's really the ultimate album for a rainy
day. And that's a compliment by the way. Excellent review! Keep up the good work.
Rui H email@example.com
Hi. I'm the proud ownwe of a Felt tribute site at http://felt.planetaclix.pt Acording to Cherry Red, the reason why Crucifix heaven was not included in the cd reissue, was because Lawrence disliked this song (it's a deebank track).That's all. Congrats Adrian, keep me posted on new updates!
Frank - NY, USA,
Some copies contain Crucifix Heaven, evening out track listing. Still trying to find out where and why. Thanx for your webpage
Sorry, I'm "so french"...
I'm so glad to read something like that about one of my favourites recordings (the strange idols pattern and other short stories). I have discovered it in 1984 (I was seventeen) and I'm still shivering with exictement when Iisten or only think of this remarquable work of art.
I think you're unfair in your argument of metal being "speed over substance". Lots of people have said that about Yes, for example, and that's not true. Bruford and Hackett have got together with death metal musicians and made a band of prog-metal! Sure, Cradle of Filth sucks, but you picked up one of the worst metal bands I've ever heard. You're being as unfair as the metal head.
I've heard "strange idols patterns" and was kinda unimpressed. I have to listen to it more (though I've listened to it far more times than some reviewers in the net think is the minimun amount of listens, 3 or 4!?), but I thought it was very monotonous (with 2 styles of songs, fast pop and pure guitar). 'Sunlight' and the guitar songs are very good tho'
re: Crucifix Heaven. Here's a download link for anyone who doesn't have it. It's a great instrumental. But then did Felt ever make bad ones? Certainly not with Maurice in the band. http://www.mediafire.com/?zomh2kqwguy
Ignite The Seven Canons 8
( 1985 )
My Darkest Light Will Shine / The Day The Rain Came Down / Scarlet Servants / I Don't Know Which Way To Turn / Primitive Painters / Textile Ranch / Black Ship In The Harbour / Elegance / Serpent Shade / Caspian See / Southern State Tapestry
Produced by Robin Guthrie of The Cocteau Twins, no less. It reached number one on the Indie charts! That's about as close to 'success' commercially as Felt ever came. Contains eleven tracks, which is perhaps why one song was knocked off from the original vinyl issue of 'Strange Idol Patterns' when it came to issuing the Felt catalogue on CD! 9 and 11 makes 20, an even number! 'Strange Idol Patterns' originally had 10 songs!! Ah, forget it :) This album saw the introduction of Martin Duffy on keyboards, although at this stage his role was merely to flesh out the sound. Maurice Deebank still shines in places, not least with opening song 'My Darkest Light Will Shine' where you get 'pop'
Lawrence, albeit pop music with terribly impressive poetic depreciating lyrics! And, you get Maurice Deebank, with all those lovely distinctive flowing guitar lines. The combination alone is enough to send a chill through your spine. 'The Day The Rain Came Down' opens with another wonderful guitar part - wonderful sounding, this isn't Steve Vai technique or anything, this isn't a player obviously 'wow' - it's the sound he creates, and the melody. 'The Day The Rain Came Down' goes along very quickly, a very happy
sounding song. 'Scarlet Servants' slows things down and brings the keyboards to the fore, a sign of things to come once Deebank had departed. Another classic arrives with 'I Don't Know Which Way To Turn' - a classic Lawrence lyric and vocal performance and a good balance between the keyboard and guitar work.
'Primitive Painters' is by far the best 'known' Felt song, featuring as it does Elizabeth Frazer of The Cocteau Twins on additional vocals. Now, previous Felt songs had music written by Lawrence and executed by Maurice. Here we have music written wholly by
Maurice, and it gives this song a different structure than the more poppy Felt songs. The vocals alternate between Lawrence and Elizabeth - and very nice they are too. The guitar sounds wonderful all through this song - the vocals sends chills through parts of your body you previously didn't realise existed. Yes, they do! This is marvellous stuff. Following this high-light, the album rather drifts away from what it might have been. 'Textile Ranch' is a group instrumental - very well executed but fairly pointless ultimately. 'Black Ship In The Harbour' is more the sound of classic Felt, and pretty nice because of it. 'Elegance' almost lives upto it's name. More guitar lines, more keyboards, another instrumental though, ultimately - and a five minute long one at that. 'Serpent Shade' is utterly beautiful however - absolutely lovely keyboard lines, part of the reason following the departure of Deebank that the group focused more on Martin Duffy and less on guitar. 'Caspian See' is a jaunty little guitar jangle of a semi-pop song, the closing 'Southern State Tapestry' showcasing the guitar lines of Deebank very well, although not the finest thing they'd ever done. A shame the second half of this album is slightly patchy. People picking up on Felt because of 'Primitive Painters' will have been disappointed perhaps? Anyway, it's still a damn fine album. Besides, on CD it's paired with 'Strange Idol Patterns' - so you get this, and that. A bargain in anyone's book!
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I love Felt and Lawrence with all of my heart since 1987 but this album... I really don't understand all the excitation it gets since it's so transparent to me that Robin Guthrie has caused a complete disaster! A catastrophe! He didn't understand Felt aesthetics at all and mudded the sound in an indefinite blob which is very distant from any other Felt release. It sounds psychic/foggy like the Cocteaus but Lawrence's song don't need/have that quality (if not in the use of the voice on Splendour of Fear; even a totally psychic record like Crumbling.. is spare and dry).
Every sound/dynamic on this album is wrong and if just That Guth(rie) had spared any effect on the guitar and created a proper breathing space, it would have been another amazing Felt album for the songs are top quality as usual, and Maurice's guitar is magic as ever. This record makes me so sad and furious every time I listen to it, because I think of how good it could have been with a much simpler (and mo! re respectful) John Leckie production. SIGH! :-((((
No conspiracy about the number of tracks. Quite simply, it was an artistic error. Lawrence opined after the band had split that he was most annoyed about ITSC having an odd number of tracks.
Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death 9
( 1986 )
Song For William S Harvey / Ancient City Where I Lived / The Seventeenth Century / The Palace / Indian Scriptures / The Nazca Plain / Jewel Sky / Viking Dress / Voyage To Illumination / Sapphire Mansions
Who needs lyrics, when you've got an album title like that, that's what I say. Felt follow up a near commercial success ( in their own modest terms ) with an instrumental album by a line-up missing their most impressive instrumentalist, departed guitarist Maurice Deebank. Lawrence obviously went all out for GOLD COMMERCIAL POPSTARS HIT PAGE THREE TABLOID GOSSIP CHART TOPPING CRAP SHITTING WANK! Yes, he did! Um....... Releasing an album with neglible commercial appeal after being on the brink of a breakthrough can be seen as being a difficult bugger, or you can simply sit back and admire the guy. A few of the songs here feature keyboard player Martin Duffy heavily, the more beautiful songs are in the old Felt style, and the lack of the tone and magic of Maurice Deebank is overcome, because the songs are fragile, the songs are delicate and just so special, that words are difficult to come by when thinking about describing them. Third song 'The Seventeenth Century' is just SO special, with lilting, fragile and quiet guitar, but lots of melody. The air sounds ancient around the song. 'The Palace' is so sweet and beautiful, and I find it hard to believe that it can even exist. It doesn't scream, it doesn't shout. The guitar is a figure and pattern as simple as can be, so simple that even my clumsy fingers could learn to play. But then, this organ sound comes in. Another simple melody, but it sounds like you're dreaming of an everlasting sadness with the girl you love the most in the entire world - so you don't mind that sadness. The guitar weeps, and simply weeps - honestly weeps.
'Indian Scriptures' is led by Martin Duffy with his organ sound and simply gorgeous. Did I mention the fact that this album is less than twenty five minutes long? I have now. It's perfect length, absolutely beautiful from beginning to end and poetry from beginning to end.... without a single word having ever been uttered. The couple of more cheesy organ led songs that appear provide variety, but stop this being perfect. The lack of words and the lack of complexity is both a huge bonus and a source of complaint - because this isn't a complete Felt. Add Maurice, add a vocal tune or two - and we're talking a '10'. As it is, the one minute twenty six second long 'The Nazca Plain' is more than enough for me, and then it slips into a jaunty dinner party cheap restaurant elevator music song - just so very funny and so very Felt.
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Ben Knight Los Angeles
It's so nice to see someone write nice things about this album. I'm preparing a Felt article and I'm reading quite a bit online to make sure I don't repeat what someone else has already written. In much of that reading, I've encountered so many negative or indifferent opinions about this little treasure. I've read so many different complaints about the name of the record, the length, the lack of any singing....get over it people, it's perfect. Sometimes folks just need to accept art for what it is...like the record or don't like the record, it really is that easy. It amazes me that people will actually take time out of their day to write bad things about good records. There is no other record like this by Felt or any other group, it is very special.
Forever Breathes The Lonely Word 9
( 1986 )
Rain Of Crystal Spires / Down But Not Yet Out / Semptember Lady / Grey Streets / All The People I Like Are Those That Are Dead / Gather Up Your Wings And Fly / A Wave Crashed On Rocks / Hours Of Darkness Have Changed My Mind
Felt produce their first album 'proper' since Deebank left the guitar duties. The instrumental based 'Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death' was lovely enough to indicate that Felt had a future post Deebank, but here was the real proof. Lawrence rose to the occasion and wrote some of the greatest songs of his life. The opening 'Rain Of Crystal Spires'. It was a single. It never charted, when really, this should have been the song to finally provide Felt with a hit single. In a word, it's glorious. Name an eighties band. The Smiths? New Order? Whatever band you name, chances are they never made a song as gloriously deliriously brilliant as 'Rain Of Crystal Spires'. If you want to argue with me about this, feel free. I'll be in 'The Old Windmill', near Spon End, Coventry. I'll argue all you like, heatedly, over a beer or three. Okay?? OKAY?! And, the silly thing is, the album continues to be consistently astonishingly brilliant indie pop of the highest order it's possible to even imagine, from beginning to end. Everything works, these are songs sent down from the heavens. Well, if not the heavens, then at least from the impeccably clean home of Lawrence Hayward. Arggh! Let's just call him Lawrence. That sounds better, doesn't it? Martin Duffy with his Hammond Organ makes up a lot for the loss of Deebank. Martin Duffy ( now a member of Primal Scream ) is a virtuoso on his instrument, very full of melodies. On top of this, the guitars chime and jangle, as they should. Lawrence provides some of his finest writing and lyrics, and there you have it. 'Forever Breathes The Lonely Word', by Felt. Have you heard it? You should!
'September Lady' starts with delicate guitar then bursts into the most impossibly lovely 'ahhhh' backing vocals section. 'Grey Streets' grows and grows upon you and again, Martin Duffy does stellar things with his organ. I got into this argument with a guy in a pub the other day. This is an aside, but its important! This guy was a heavy metal freak. A guitar player, 19 years old. Thought that he looked kind of tough, but even though i'm lovely and one of the least tough people imaginable, I could have easily had him in a fight. He was all hot air, oh yes! Anyway. He was going on. Laying into indie music and saying heavy metal 'players' were clearly the best musicians out there. I said that he was talking utter bollocks and used the example of Chris Squire from progressive rock band Yes, as a guy who could out-play any metal player. I could have easily have chosen Steve Howe from Yes. I mention Yes? They are very different from Felt, but I love them equally as dearly. Ok? Good. Well, I could mention lots of indie players that could do that metal stuff in their sleep. Metal is a lot of style and speed, over substance. You ask Bill Bruford ( drummer from Yes! ) how good he thinks whomever the drummer from Cradle Of Filth is, and listen to his response. He'd probably punch you in the face! Oh, was there a point to this rant? Oh, yes! Martin Duffy is a tremendous musician. Maurice Deebank had an astonishing sound and style - and Lawrence can write better songs and melodies than a dozen metal bands thrown into a room for all eternity. As I said, if you want to argue with me about this ( and its not just metal, it applies to funk, soul, pop - whatever ) - you can. Just meet me in a pub over a few beers. I will not relent. You will not win!
Ah, 'All The People I Like Are Those That Are Dead' is so good, I almost faint every time I listen to it. It's better than half of The Smiths entire career. Getting back into indie terms, getting back to indie fans - that's a statement that should make you prick up your eyebrows, or whatever part of your anatomy you want to prick up. The final two songs, ah! 'Wave Crashed On Rocks' is so lovely, the final 'Hours Of Darkness Have Changed My Mind' equally as lovely, with its little piano opening, then delicate, sad, lilting vocals and melodies. I dock the album a point for the needless and not so good 'Gather Up Your Wings And Fly', but this wouldn't be Felt if it was perfect now, would it? No.
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like what you've written. i'm still trying to bet my hands on a digital copy of the
'ballad of the band' ep - my vinyl copy is well worn. the first track on the flip,
'candles in a church' is so beautiful. i've never worked out why it wasn't on the
compilations, especially the creation 'absolute classic masterpieces vol 2'.
King Ink Brighton
the passion you put into describing felt convinced to try them out and this was the first album i heard and although it took awhile felt have finally clicked into place, so many thanks
Poem Of The River 9
( 1987 )
Declaration / Silver Plane / She Lives By The Castle / Stained Glass Windows In The Sky / Riding On The Equator / Dark Red Birds
The Beach Boys were supposed to be my favourite band of all time, weren't they? Felt run them pretty close. Felt are like a caressing soft breeze on a summers day. They are also the comforting friend when you're at your absolute lowest. When misery is abound and nothing else can even enter your mind. They're comedians able to make you burst out loud, laughing. They aren't virtuoso musicians and never have been. Never were. They are often delicate, often obtuse. The pop side of Felt shines through eighties indie at its purest. Indie was at its peak, during the 80s. Felt were the purest and best of the lot. Six songs on this album. The album lasts a whole twenty six minutes, three seconds. You know the trouble with a lot of albums these days by much hyped indie artists? That's if true indie/alternative even exists these days.... Well, ignoring that, you know what the problem is? Too much filler. Who wants to listen to an album sixty minutes long, if two-thirds of it is rubbish? Why not get rid of that filler and just present the listener with 30 minutes of music they can listen to in one sitting? Well, I suppose few bands are able to fill a mere 30 minutes and make it so important to the listener that it becomes their entire life. Felt could. Felt do that here. 'Poem Of The River' is a more restrained, less poppy album that 'Forever Breathes The Lonely Word'. Yet, it almost means more. Two songs dominate, 'She Lives By The Castle' and 'Riding On The Equator'. Between them, they make up over half of the albums running time.
The opening 'Declaration' is just that, guitars and a lyric spoken or semi sung, full of intent and purpose. It's suitable. Second song 'Silver Plane' makes good use of the cheesy keyboard sound of Martin Duffy, yet the melodies and organ sounds are so very melodic, so ridiculously full of melody. The lyrics and vocals are another song in themselves, brilliant. The two blend, a stupendous duet. The lyrics are things to admire, to read out loud to yourself as poety. To smile at, to raise your spirits when you're feeling down. To celebrate when you're feeling happy. Felt had the knack of sometimes creating songs that suited whatever mood or feeling the listener was experiencing. That's some kind of genius. 'She Lives By The Castle' beautifully stretches out, it's such a wonderfully lovely and affecting romantic love song. The other extended song here, 'Riding On The Equator', just blissfully sends out guitar and keyboard chills during an extended instrumental coda. I say 'just'. It's something you want to take to bed with you and hold close. 'Dark Red Birds' is a melancholic Felt indie guitar pop ballad, the type they do so well. 'Stained Glass Windows In The Sky' is the kind of thing that even as the biggest Smiths fan in the world, makes you think that The Smiths were just 'Simply Red' or 'Wet Wet Wet' in comparison to Felt.
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Poem of the River is the most atonishing Felt album. And Dark Red Birds is just flat out beautiful. You never want this album to end. It's a masterpiece.
Riding on the Equator is my favourite song ever. The guitar solos during the last 5 minutes are heaven-sent. I wish it could be the National Anthem.
Train Above The City 5
( 1988 )
Train Above The City / On Weegee's Sidewalk / Run Chico Run / Press Softly On The Brakes Holly / Spectral Morning / Teargardens / Book Of Swords / Seahorses On Broadway
A curious artefact, this. Long serving Felt drummer Gary Ainge and keyboard man Martin Duffy get to perform the whole album in it's entirety, Lawrence did nothing at all bar provide the song titles. So, what do we get? Do we get anything that sounds remotely like Felt? In a word, no. This is an instrumental album featuring a load of songs that are all Coctail Jazz. Absolutely no guitar on this album, no vocals as I already stated, and bar providing the song titles, no Lawrence. As, I've already stated! So, let's 'state' something else whilst we at this damn thing? 'Train Above The City' is all vibes and electronic Piano replicating a real, proper jazz quartet. It sounds so incredibly cheesy, even if Mr Martin Duffy does all sorts of impressive things with his Piano. 'On Weegee's Sidewalk' opens all sad and mournful, but still the little fills come in, the little bit of showing off. But, since when were Felt ever about 'showing off'? Instrumentally, I mean? Well, old guitarist Maurice Deebank could be said to have showed off, I suppose, but it didn't really come across that way, so naturally integrated into the songs of Lawrence as his guitar parts were. On the other-hand, on this record, Lawrence has no songs. It's an entirely self-indulgent project that Lawrence saw as 'showing another side' of the group. It wasn't 'meant' to be about individual songs, or albums - but rather this ten albums and ten singles in ten years project of his, which he entitled Felt.
And, to be honest, even though nearly all the remaining tracks here have something instrumentally to recommend about them within this particular Jazz style, I can't bear to listen to yet more electronic Piano Jazz with a huge helping of 'cheese' sat around it all. This is a horrible album, typical of the perversity of the man called Lawrence, typical of Felt in a way, although obviously, not at all a typical Felt album. Even by the furthest stretch of the imagination. Yeah, it's crap. Well, no, it's not. It's played well, and 'Book Of Swords' is actually quite beautiful.
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C. A. Polk
You're nuts, man. This is a fantastic album. The only true gripe one could make about it is a tangential, related one - namely, that Martin Duffy subsequently joining Primal Scream has to rank as one of the greatest wastes of musical talent in history.
The Pictorial Jackson Review 8½
( 1988 )
Sending Lady Load / The Darkest Ending / Apple Boutique / Ivory Past / Until The Fools Get Wise / Bitter End / How Spook Got Her Man / Christopher St / Under A Pale Light / Don't Die On My Doorstep
Apart from the rarely heard or seen 'Me And A Monkey On The Moon', this was the last Felt album before Lawrence re-invented himself as 'Denim'. The opening track here is more Jazz Piano instrumental aka 'Train Above The City, beautifully done, if hideously overlong. The second song, 'The Darkest Ending' ( on the CD, at least ) is a little better, incorporating some spooky deep notes into a sparse Jazz influenced atmosphere. But, still no Felt! Luckily, salvation was at hand. We do get an entire side of eight short but nearly always completely wonderful proper Felt songs to enjoy. Some of Lawrence's best lyrics are here, not least on closing 'Don't Die On My Doorstep' but also on the opening 'Apple Boutique'. The keyboards go everywhere, the guitar is simple but melodic jangle, and the vocals are rich in 'up and down' melody. 'Ivory Past' opens with a guitar figure that sounds like the sound of summer - a bass part comes in, Lawrence opens his mouth and poetry comes out. It's such a happy song, and at just over two minutes in length, harking back to The Sixties in terms of pop song structure. 'Until The Fools Get Wise' is slightly less happy and bouncy than the opening two pop songs, but the lyrics are just as well constructed and Lawrence sings as well as he can.
'Bitter End' has a well put together, if incredibly simple guitar part, another guitar going all Sixties jangle, and then an organ comes in. So, this album serves another purpose in the grand Felt scheme? Yeah, the simple pop song part of the ten year plan! What other decade are you going to base the structure of pop songs upon, other than The Sixties? The lyrics and vocals are totally Felt however, and place this groups character all over the whole enterprise. 'How Spook Got Her Man' is more simple but enjoyable melodies and a vocal melody sounding both like Felt and Bob Dylan at the same time. 'Christopher Street' is a perfect mix of guitar and keyboards, a fast song with quickly sung lyrics. Another happy, summery sounding song,
incidentally. 'Under A Pale Light' shockingly for this side of 'Pictorial Jackson Review' tops four minutes! The vocals are very much to the fore here, focusing your attention on the lyrical content, which is as poetic as ever, and very 'Lawrence'. As is the lyrical content of the closing 'Don't Die On My Doorstep' - one of the finest, happiest sounding songs Felt ever wrote, with one of the most depreciating set of lyrics Lawrence ever wrote into the bargain. I really dig the organ sounds here - the little silly cheesy, quickly played organ parts. Apart from that, Lawrence and some guitar, there is nothing else. But, the tune is superb, hugely enjoyable in this listeners opinion and an absolute classic masterpiece of a simple, but hugely enjoyable pop song! Sigh.
Even with this album being ridiculously daft in its structure - two instrumentals occupying one side, eight pop songs on the other - that 'other' side, the simple pop song side, is perhaps the best 'side' Felt ever released. Gone were the startling guitar parts. Gone was any semblance of art or ambition. This was just solid, impeccably crafted pop with absolutely riveting poetic and funny lyrics to match.
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Frank - NY, USA,
just wondering if Felt fans on your side of the pond were aware of all the references to bars and streets located in Greenwich Village section of NYC. It seems to be part of a subtext or undercurrent I'm still trying to figure out. I live
upstate(Syracuse), and haven't spent enough time in the village to get a clear
picture. Oh well-back to my old Lou Reed albums Dylan? Phil Ochs?
Yes, the Greenwich Village references are obvious to many British ears. Lawrence packed up his things and went to live in NYC for a time after Felt finished. Most obviously, his biggest American influence is Dylan (although Kerouac runs a close second, from whom he got the title for the album).
A minor error in your Felt -- Pictorial Jackson Review, err, review:"Apart from the rarely heard or seen 'Me And A Monkey On The Moon', this was the last Felt album before Lawrence re-invented himself as 'Denim'."Train Above the City was Felt's penultimate album.PJR: Mar 88TATC: Jul 88Great reviews on your site BTW!
Me And A Monkey On The Moon 8½
( 1989 )
I Can't Make Love To You Anymore / Mobile Shack / Free / Budgie Jacket / Cartoon Sky / New Day Dawning / Down An August Path / Never Let You Go / She Deals In Crosses / Get Out Of My Mirror
A different line-up, different record label. Creation were going to be too slow in releasing the record to keep up with the ten albums and ten singles in ten years lawrence idea. So, they joined a new label. A pretty inept label, as this album sold nowt and has been unavailiable for years, until very recently. Still, we're pleased to have it now. It's a bit mellow for a Felt album, a bit, um, normal even. Pleasent listening that should have heralded a new commercial dawn for the group. But, for awful promotion and distribution! Song titles such as 'Budgie Jacket' reveal Lawrence love for the 70's, soon to come out in Denim, his next outfit. All I know is that several of the songs here are gorgeous, the first especially. It arrives all so mellow, almost American with the almost slide country guitar, only it isn't, I think. The vocal is spot on, the entire musical backing just oh so dreamy! 'Mobile Shack' shares melodies from the previous album, although the lyric is fun and tongue in cheek. The song is just lots of fun. 'Free' switches moods again, opening with a lovely keyboard pattern and other absolutely gorgeous melodies. 'Budgie Jacket' has non-felt guitars, like normal guitars. It's not the oh so delicate amateur and oh so charming felt guitars of yore. It's like, professional! Whether that is a good thing would normally be open for debate. Yet, lovely keyboards shine through and the whole song is so very Lawrence.
Ah, I adore 'Cartoon Sky', classic Felt, brilliant uplifting song of the type so very few other bands are capable of. So very few other bands can sound proper and amateur and vital all at the same time. Felt could and they did. The melodies! The vocal melodies, although his range wasn't great, are just oh so charming. Everybody should love Felt. It's really that simple. 'New Day Dawning' keeps you interested, 'Down An August Path' contains many special moments. I would give this album a nine, but for a couple of songs that don't quite hold me as well as the others. It's a minor quibble, the difference between a classic album and a merley excellent one. The closing track is sheer joy, for example. Felt. You can live in them.
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After several years I accidentally discovered the guitar solo on New Day Dawning is taken note-for-note from a Carpenters live LP!
David Owens firstname.lastname@example.org
This album is the only one I own by Felt. Their stuff is so hard to come by here in Dublin. But, boy, was this worth the search I undertook to find a Felt album! It's pleasing fare all the way through - you just can't get away from the pleasant, melancholic vibe of it. Impossible to dislike. I would be interested in purchasing other material by this group, especially seeing the ratings most of their discography gets from your good, trustworthy self (though I hope it is not just a fetish on your part!). I first stumbled upon them in Uncut magazine in the spring of this year. There was a small piece about Lawrence, a sort of "Where are they now?" piece. Shame to see he's living on the fringes these days. This album is special. I particularly love "New Day Dawning", especially the part halfway through, when it bursts into a wondrous guitar solo, somewhat reminiscent of "Don't Look Back in Anger" by Oasis (so that's where Noel stole THAT one!). If they're all as good ! as this, I'll have to get busy on Amazon and Ebay!
Absolute Classic Masterpieces 10
( 1992 )
Primitive Painters / The Day The Rain Came Down / My Darkest Light Will Shine / Textile Ranch / Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow / Crystal Ball / Dismantled King Is Off The Throne / Fortune / Dance Of Deliverance / The Stagnant Pool / Red Indians / The World Is As Soft As Lace / Penelope Tree / Trails Of Colour Dissolve / Evergreen Dazed / Templeroy / Something Sends Me To Sleep / Index
A modestly titled little gem of a compilation, this. If we are talking Eighties alternative indie guitar bands such as The Cocteau Twins or The Smiths, or whoever you regard as an all time great of the genre, then listen up! Felt were a genuinely fantastic band, and I don't care if that's a very subjective thing to say. I don't care if you've never heard a single Felt song in your life, or not. I don't care if your attitude is one particular kind of attitude that really irritates me. Basically it's this. Quotation marks included for a purpose. "If I've never heard of them, they can't be very good". You may have heard a similar phrase spoken or written before, perhaps? Does the good and the great always rise to the top? Well, if not the top, then at least to some kind of prominent position within their particular field of vision, so to speak? Felt answer the question, no they don't. Was it down to Lawrence being an awkward bugger, releasing instrumental albums for example right after albums that looked like achieving some sort of breakthrough for the group? Was it down to the lack of 'dumbness' in the music and lyrics? Was it that Felt simply don't really ROCK? Well, that last question is something of a moot point. Good guitar music doesn't always have to ROCK. Capital letters deliberate.
I've already covered many of the opening songs here of course. This compilation covers the years 1985 to 1979, actually that's one year before the group even existed, but I persist. 'Index' is the song in question from 1979, an incredibly badly recorded lo-fi guitar instrumental track played by Lawrence that sounds like the brainchild of a deaf man who has just this minute learned how to play guitar. That doesn't sound too positive does it, for a compilation I've just given a perfect ten? Well, of course the other songs, even the two classically tinged eight minute long guitar instrumentals, more than make up for it. Those two instrumentals are exquisite, by the way. Well, 'The
Stagnant Pool' isn't entirely an instrumental, I lied. It includes vocals for a couple of minutes before Maurice Deebank does one of his flowing, enchanting guitar things for the rest of the song. Early single 'Penelope Tree' is bouncier than the bounciest thing you can imagine, even if the lyrics do mention 'disease', 'heartache' and the like. The chorus is gorgeous, and that's official. Oh, before I sign off. 'The World Is As Soft As Lace' is one of the most ravishing, intelligent and romantic guitar ballads ever written. The lyrics and harmonies are little gems begging to be discovered by future generations. That may be overstating things slightly. I may be disappearing rapidly into the depths of my own pleasure and nostalgia. But then, nostalgia? I still listen to Felt regularly, this particular compilation more than anything else they put out.
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On Adrian's advice alone I bought the Absolute Classic masterpieces album, and I hadnt heard of Felt before. I know compilations are never great. Anyway I think the first 6 or so songs are amazing, truely cool. Great music. I then detest the slow 80's guitar solos and cry about the fact this cd has suddenly changed directions. Where can I find the pure fun side to Felt?
Absolute Classic Masterpieces II 9½
( 1993 )
Ballad Of The Band / I Didn't Mean To Hurt You / Magellan / I Will Die With My Head In Flames / Sandman's On The Rise Again / The Final Resting Of The Ark / Autumn / There's No Such Thing As Victory / Space Blues / Be Still / Song For William S Harvey / Indian Scriptures / Jewel Sky / Voyage To Illumination / Grey Streets / Wave Crashed On Rocks / Hours Of Darkness Have Changed My Mind / She Lives By The Castle / Stained Glass Windows In The Sky / Dark Red Birds / Bitter End / Don't Die On My Doorstep / The Darkest Ending / Train Above The City / On Weegee's Sidewalk / Run Chico Run
This second volume of 'Absolute Classic Masterpieces' collects together material Felt recorded for the creation label between 1986 and 1988. So, three years? Yeah, but during that time they recorded four singles and five albums, that's a work-rate! Maurice Deebank had departed, thus Felt lost the most distinctive aspect of their sound. To compensate, Martin Duffy was pushed forward, the songwriting was closely focused upon and everything ultimately turned out ok, even if the sound of the material was no longer as striking as before. The first ten songs here comprise single A Sides and B Sides. 'Ballad Of The Band' contains lyrics directly related to events in Felt land mentioning song titles and the lyric "oh, and I feel like giving in...." Lucky for us, he didn't hey? 'I Didn't Mean To Hurt You' is a gorgeous ballad, strummed guitars, beautiful keyboard parts and a beautifully poetic set of lyrics. Martin Duffy goes solo for 'Magellan', an astounding two minute Piano instrumental that sounds like it's right in the room with you. The pop side of Felt has been covered by 'I Will Die With My Head In Flames' and it's flip, 'Sandmans On The Rise'. 'The Final Resting Of The Ark' is very quiet and restrained, but contains a haunting vocal quality. The likes of 'Autumn' and 'There's No Such Thing As Victory' are similarly quiet and restrained, much focus on the lyrical content. 'Be Still' is a cover of a Dennis Wilson Beach Boys song and as beautiful as it ever was. 'Space Blues' is strikingly different from anything else here and hinted at a Felt future in a different guise that eventually became a group called Denim. 'Space Blues' is fantastic by the way.
The five albums Felt recorded through the years 86, 87 and 88 comprised three 'regular' studio albums and two albums of instrumentals. The first four songs on the second CD of this package ( 'Song For William S Harvey' onwards ) are from the first instrumental album. Full band performances but with emphasis on the keyboard work of Martin Duffy. A more regular Felt arrives with the jaunty 'Grey Streets', the keyboard playing melodies and lines all over the place, guitar less important although still audible and filling out the overall sound. The first great stupendous gem of a song on the second CD arrives with the beautifully poetic and heartbreaking 'A Wave Crashed On Rocks'. Lovely vocals, delicate instrumentation - a work of care, dedication and art. 'She Lives By The Castle' is another highlight, a genuine absolute classic masterpiece, if you will! A lovely guitar part appears after two and half minutes and the lyrics are mysterious story telling fantasy romance. 'Stained Glass Windows In The Sky' is a wonderfully simple slice of Felt pop lasting two minutes, 'Don't Die On My Doorstep' - a highlight of the groups 'Pictorial Jackson Review' set sounding as happy as it ever did, grin provoking! And, I guess it's a matter of personal taste wether you prefer Maurice Deebank or Martin Duffy if you prefer this second compilation to the first, or not. I prefer the first, but there are a bunch of damn fine songs on this one, too. The songs deserve to be heard.
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Michael Korchia email@example.com
hi, i read your felt review & i absolutly agree with everything! except that i'd give 8.5 to the 1st denim lp eveything else, you said it! particularly the fact that the b side of pictorial.. is probably the best felt side! thanks for the reviews ,it made me smile to find someone sharing the
same feelings about felt
Britt Sorensen firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Adrian! I'm writing you because I love Felt! You gotta keep up the reviews for Lawrence, man! His fans are too few and far between! Now, you do know you're missing "Forever Breathes the Lonely Word" and somewhat less importantly, "Gold Mine Trash"
right? You really need to get on that ;o) as you're basically the only comprehensive
review site for Felt albums. Did you get the new DVD? What'd you think? Yey for
Felt. I will continue to deny that Lawrence ever recorded anything after Felt. Did you know "She Lives by the Castle" is written about Sarah Cracknell of St. Etienne because she dumped Lawrence? It's true! Phil King told me. Keep the Felt Faith!!!
Chris burt email@example.com
felt were simply the greatest pop band of all time BUT
how can you rate their albums higher than the Cocteau's - the apex of popular music to date?
Stephen Friedman firstname.lastname@example.org
I pulled off digital copies from my Ballad of the Band EP for one side, only. I have Candles in a Church (I agree, just beautiful!) and Ferdinand Magellan in WAV format if anyone wants em. I also have MP3s if those are more reasonably transmitted.
Adrian Turner email@example.com
I came across your site looking for info on Felt, and just wanted to confirm first hand the Felt/Tony Race/curly hair story, as Tony's an old mate and yes, it's all true! The adjuncts to the story are that Tony's also a mad football fan and talked about it all the time, much to Lawrence's disgust, and in addition Lawrence absolutely hates cymbals on drumkits, and forcibly removed them from Tony's kit, which went down as well as you'd imagine... not that it's ever likely to come up on Rock Family Trees, but Tony still plays drums, and followed-up his time in Felt with stints in lots of never-got-anywhere Birmingham bands including Strap-On-Jack and Fact Is. Similarly, all the Lawrence folk tales (won't eat cheese, won't use anyone else's toilet etc.) are all true too.
Denim : Back In Denim 9½
( 1992 ) |
Back in Denim / Fish and Chips / Bubblehead / Middle of the Road / The Osmonds / I Saw the Glitter on Your Face / American Rock / Livin' on the Streets / Here Is My Song for Europe / I'm Against the Eighties
Felt become Denim! Lawrence had a load of 'Back In Denim' badges made up to give to 'the kids' in the event of selling lots of records and becoming famous. He's probably still got a drawer fill of them now, sadly. But, but, BUT! 'Back In Denim' is a triumph from beginning to end. The lack of sales somewhat sapped the enthusiasm of Lawrence, who although went on to produce two further 'Denim' albums, neither came anywhere close to matching the glory of this record. It's a concept album - a tribute to the early Seventies, if you will. A celebration of cheese, of Glam. It works as a touching document, a personal tribute from Lawrence matched to great tunes with added hand-claps for good measure. "Denim put the soul in your Rock n Roll - here I am back again, with a bang!" - the title song kicks things off, all swirling tinkling keyboards, handclaps and a stomping glam rhythm. It's hugely entertaining, nothing serious and a funny kind of statement of intent, but it makes me laugh and grin. 'Fish And Chips' continues with a Glam rhythm and adds typically Lawrence lyrics over the top, albeit happy Lawrence lyrics rather than the soul searching poetry that was a feature of Felt lyrics. "I wanna go there!" go the harmonies, the handclaps come in, Lawrence continues on, and this reviewer starts to grin wider than a bridge. 'Bubblehead' takes things mid-tempo and is actually beautiful. Glam as beauty? It can happen! Well, the only other person who could ever make it happen was Marc Bolan with something like 'Cosmic Dancer'. Not that 'Bubblehead' is anything like 'Cosmic Dancer' - but you do get the feeling had Lawrence been born in 1950 he'd have been a huge star come 1972! 'Middle Of The Road' is perfect pop to go, a wonderful performance and set of melodies. The lyrics are stupendous, but then, that's only to be expected.
'The Osmonds' defies description, eight minutes plus of ballad and keyboards and the best lyrics, ever! 'I Saw The Glitter On Your Face' is a touching ballad with soft guitar and keyboards and quite beautiful singing, actually. It sends a chill up my spine, 'American Rock' does as well, mixing ROCK guitar, funny lyrics and another inventive, gorgeous melody. The only two songs on the entire album that are even slightly less than brilliant arrive next. 'Livin On The Streets' has a for once misguided lyric and 'Here Is My Song For Europe' strays too far into the area marked 'Novelty - do not pass'. Sadly, following this album, Lawrence has seemed to live permenantly in the land marked 'novelty' to his own detriment. 'Back In Denim' is novel, but it's certainly not novelty music of any description. Yeah, we've got this Seventies Glam concept thing, but the fact is, this is the best music the man ever produced! Just to reinforce the concept well and truly, the closing song is called 'I'm Against The Eighties'. That may strike you as being a strange thing for him to sing, considering he released ten albums and ten singles in the Eighties.... but, it certainly reinforced the switch from Felt to Denim. Does this all sound like a weird backwards step? Perhaps, but it was a backwards step forwards. I realise that makes no sense whatsoever, but I don't care. This is a masterpiece of an album that deserves to be in every single home.
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Tim Singleton firstname.lastname@example.org
Couldn't agree more with your review. First heard "The Osmonds" on release then once more on 6music about a year ago. Finally managed to secure a copy via e-bay. Still a desert Island Disc. A special song.
They just reissued this in the UK, and it was low on my shopping list for $30 in the US, but I got it half price at Tower Records (US music chain) going out of business sale. Lets just say it's worth the full $30 and then some. Never thought Lawerence had this kind of dry wit in him--Reminds me of my favorite band Pulp in all the best ways possible. Thanks for encouraging me to track this gem down!
Denim : Denim On Ice 8½
( 1996 )
The Great Pub Rock Revival / It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry / Romeo Jones Is In Love Again / Brumburger / The Supermodels / Shut Up Sidney / Mrs Mills / Best Song In The World / Synthesisers In The Rain / Job Centre / Council Houses / Glue & Smack / Jane Suck Died In 77 / Grandad's False Teeth
Gone is the organic, real band approach that characterized the marvellous 'Back In Denim'. 'Back In Denim' didn't sell though, so back to the drawing board. With Britpop all the rage in 1996, if Lawrence was ever going to sell records, now was the time. That he didn't sell records remains one of lifes great mysteries, fantastic artists don't always sell loads of records, or even modest amounts. Denim/Felt and Lawrence remain a cult. Still, forget all of that for a moment. We know what didn't happen, how about what did happen? Well, I remember the day I bought this album. I remember my initial disappointment at the music contained herein, the plastic nature of the backing, the seemingly childish lyrics. I remember being overwhelmed by the massive 18 songs on offer. In short, I didn't like this album very much at all and stupidly sold it, circa 1998, when I was short of money. It's taken me eight years to find another copy and I rebought it for a lot more than I sold it for, suffice to say. Well, that's something I shall have to live with. I'm very pleased to have the album back, anyway. I like it loads more now i've had chance to listen properly without expectations, because I really did and do love 'Back In Denim' and Lawrence/Felt in general. Opening tune 'Great Pub Rock Revival' comes across as the kind of song that might have slotted into 'side two' on 'Back In Denim'. 'It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry' is a faintly ridiculous pop tune, complete with children singing parts of the faintly ridiculous lyrics. It's got a tune though. Not as much of one as album highlight number one though, 'Romeo Jones Is In Love Again'. A proper, spanking pop tune that contains the immortal line, Hey, what's your name? Mine's that too! When the chorus arrives, all is more than very well, the synths sparkle. Ah, I love the little outro. I'll spin around for a moment. Right, i'll pick a song i'll rank alongside 'It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry'. With retrospect, 'Job Centre' and 'It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry' point towards the next Lawrence project, 'Go Kart Mozart'. I don't entirely like this direction, but he still has a way with a tune with these kinds of examples of Lawrence 'kiddie-pop'
The poorly titled 'Brumburger' ( does a Brumburger taste of Birmingham? ) is actually another excellent pop tune with witty and clever lyrics and once it arrives, a great chorus. The quality of the album, the odd mis-step here and there included, is kept up throughout, which is impressive for an 18 track album. 'Silly Rabbit' for example has a wonderful, deliriously great chorus, proper Lawrence singing and by now classic Denim 'yeah, yeah, yeah' parts. 'Don't Bite Too Much Out Of The Apple' sounds like a late period Felt tune, heartfelt and easy to imagine this being soul-searching and autobiographical. 'Myriad Of Hoops' is a song of a similar quality, a very well constructed ballad. Lawrence still couldn't shift any of his 'Back In Denim' badges and still didn't have a proper pop hit, though. He still made great records, so the fans ( that's me and you! ) were happy enough, I think.
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Go Kart Mozart : Instant Wigwam And Igloo Mixture 3 ( 1999 )
Mandrax For Minx Cats / We're Selfish And Lazy And Greedy / Here Is A Song / Sailor Boy / City Synthesis / Drinkin Um Bongo / Mrs Back To Front And The Bull Ring Thing / Hip Op / Plead With The Man / Wendy James / Plug In City / Depleted Soul / She Tore It Up And Walked Away / Today / Wear Your Foghat With Pride / Fluff On The Mallow
I hadn't the faintest idea Lawrence had a new album project out, it hadn't been written about or promoted, anything of the sort. I happened across it one day, the CD helpfully having a sticker on the front saying 'Lawrence of Felt / Denim presents his new group Go-Kart Mozart'. I was excited, even though the track-listing in itself told me this was likely to be Denim, part four - rather than any kind of return to the sound of Felt. Actually listening to the album when I got it home, I was totally horrified, and bar one or two songs, have remained so to this day. There is something else to consider before I describe some of the music itself. Creation Records ( one time home of Felt ) wanted to re-sign Lawrence on the condition his new music wouldn't be anything like Denim's recent work. Creation folded in the event, and this album appears on West Midland Records, Lawrence's own label imprint. And, does the music sound like 'Denim On Ice' or 'Novelty Rock', those two 'mixed' Denim album projects following the masterful 'Back In Denim'? In places it does, but none of the half dozen Denim type songs are particularly good. Most of the rest of this short, thirty minute project is taken up with Lawrence dabbling in Techno of all things, and doing it very, very badly. It sounds tossed off, basic, very amateurish. 'Depleted Soul' is an example, all very standard Techno stuff, sounds like how i'd imagine an Underworld demo to sound, quite frankly. Yes, that bad. 'City Synthesis' is a bizarre 'Novelty-Techno' piece consisting of weird, 'humorous' electronic noises and nothing else. These are just two examples. There is more where this comes from, elsewhere on this record. 'Drinkin Um Bongo', 'Wendy James', 'Hip Op' all feature lyrics that sound like they were written by a ten year old, quite frankly. 'Hip Op' goes like this. "The Queen-Mum she is top, the Queen-Mum she is great...." and so on. Actually reading that back to myself on this page, that sounds really funny! But, combined with the music it's sad and tragic, rather than funny, knowing the majesty of the material Lawrence was producing all through the Eighties.
So, is Lawrence just taking the piss? Quite possibly, and the jokes on us, the joke is on me for buying this piece of toss in the first place. A terrible album, but it does have two saving graces in particular, which actually only go to re-inforce how bad the rest of it is, but yes, two saving graces all the same. 'We're Selfish, Lazy And Greedy' is glorious. This is a good Denim song, no more, no less - but it's very melodic, clever lyrically, almost touching with its depiction of ordinary folk, basically. A good pop-song, it even got played by Chris Moyles a couple of times on his Radio One daytime slot. The other reason to even begin considering adding this album to your Lawrence collection is the quite frankly fantastic 'She Tore It Up And Walked Away', where suddenly Felt are miraculously re-born. A touching, sub-two minute ballad, the kind of thing that might have appeared on Felt's 86-88 era singles as a b-side. Poetic, genuine. Makes the rest of this album all the more frustrating! Lawrence could reform Felt and make a great album tomorrow. I really do get that impression. As it is, he made 'Instant Wigwam and Igloo Mixture' instead.
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I was really dissapointed when I first heard 'Instant Wigwam...', and similiarly to you, I wanted to hear the 3rd Denim album proper. But it's a bloody classic, honestly... I mean it's incredibly nihilistic and screwed up and it is a new
direction for him to go in. Don't you like Sailor Boy? I mean... GENIUS! It's not Denim On Ice, I'll give you that, but I love the album. More, Lawrence, more!
LOUIS SALOME LOUISALOME@HOTMAIL.COM
WELL I DON T REALLY LIKE GO K MOZART EITHER BUT I HOPE THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER ALBUM OF FELT, THAT WILL BREAK THE MAGIC, 10 ALBUMS AND 10 SINGLES IN 10 YEARS, AND I DON T THINK MARTIN DUFFY AND MAURICE DEEBANK WILL BE UP TO IT, WHEN WILL U WRITE THE REVIEWS OF the splendour of fear, POSSIBLY MY FAVORITE WITH me and a monkey on
the moon. OTHERWISE GREAT JOB, I TOTALLY ADORE IT!
Ralph Pordzik RPordzik@aol.com
I fully agree with your review, being a fan of 1980s Felt myself and having reviewed the "Go kart"-crap on the Amazon-homepage. I bought the record and was angry and disappointed to have to listen to this. It seems as if Lawrence really wanted to frustrate his former listeners / fans. Sad but true!
Ben Knight Los Angeles
This album gets better and better with age. Do you think Lawrence should just repeat himself over and over until the world catches up with him? The world is only now "getting" Felt, Denim's positive re-assessment will come in a few years, then, like clockwork, this album will be spoken of in glowing tones on sites just like this forever. This is the reason we like his music to begin with. Anyone out there that thinks this album is not good, I challenge you to make a better album. Unless you are Lawrence or Dan Bejar, you can't.
Go Kart Mozart : Tearing Up The Album Charts 7½ ( 2005 )
Glorious Chorus / Summer Is Here / Electric Rock & ROll / Listening To Marmalade / At The DDU / On A Building Site / Fuzzy Duck / Transgressions / Delta Echo Echo Beta Alpha Neon Kettle / Donna & The Dopefiends / England And Wales / City Centre
What a huge sigh of relief, what a huge improvement. For this latest project of his, a second Go Kart Mozart album, if that's really what any of us wanted, Lawrence has produced a mix of Felt and Denim. And indeed, Go Kart Mozart. So, silliness still abounds, but there are far more moments of beauty present on this album than any Lawrence album since 'Back In Denim'. For example, check out the opening two tracks. 'Glorious Chorus' has a wistful, lonely and lovely vocal and melody. The song is just Lawrence and various snatches of soft programmed beats that enhance Lawrence. In a similar vein is 'Summer Is Here'. 'Summer Is Here' is the poppier of the two tracks, here we get the golden chorus! Neither track, quality wise, would be out of place on one of the latter Felt albums, and that's saying quite something. So, that's the felt side covered then? Lots of Denim, some of the song titles give it away. 'Listening To Marmalade' anyone? It's actually another top tune, infinitely better than nearly anything from that half-formed, not even songs for your tots... that was 'Wigwam And Igloo Mixture'. Opening with a ROCK guitar line is 'At The DDU' and its promising. The plastic bouncy fake programmed beats enter the fray, those happy novelty seventies plastic beats Lawrence seems so fond of these days. Then, this silly 70s Keyboard sound comes in and a huge massive pop hook. Much like this album as a whole, Lawrence never quite escapes his worst recent excesses, but always remembers to save himself half-way through. Ultimately, we forgive him. I end up loving the silly piece that is 'At The DDU'.
How do you describe 'On A Building Site' when it comes across as Lawrence seemingly advertising himself to do a new theme tune for 'Bob The Builder', or some other similar childrens programme that may involve cartoons and building? So utterly ludicrous, like bringing back Chas n Dave, or something. Then we get the deeply strange 'Fuzzy Duck' and you really do start to wonder what is going on in that brain of his. I really like 'Fuzzy Duck' though, I do. No mentions of the Queen Mum or drinking 'Um-Bongo' this time out. Instead, a really strange sounding backing track and very good, funny lyrics delivered in something approaching, but not quite, deadpan. A couple or three tracks on this album are recent Lawrence by numbers, but only a couple or three. Even the shiny, bouncy and plastic likes of 'Donna & Dopefiends' has a shining melody running all the way through it you see, like a stick of the finest blackpool rock. By the time the closing 'City Centre' arrives, which is in line, quality wise, with the better half of the previous Go Kart Mozart album, kind of average Lawrence but still very very silly, you draw a breath of relief. 'Tearing Up The Album Charts' has a bunch of ingredients that thrown together, shouldn't work at all. That this time around they actually do work isn't something I can quite explain. Just that Lawrence has walked the right side of the line marked 'too daft' this time around to approach the area marked 'sublime'. Just approach it, mind you. He's still some way off his best yet, but this is getting there. Moving in the right direction, at last. Yes!
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Ali Macduff email@example.com
Hi there. Great site. I too am a massive Felt fan. I've loved them for more years than I would care to remember. They are a band whose records I find myself returning to again and again. If I were to pick two albums out the pack, I may go for 'The Splendour of Fear' and 'Forever Breathes the Lonely Word'. They each perfectly represent two different phases of the band I feel. Again though, my favourites change all the time. Anyway, just had to share what follows. I am originally from Glasgow, but moved to Gothenburg in Sweden last year. I have just found out that last month (Oct 12th), Go-Kart Mozart played here in Gothenburg. A terribly badly publicised show at a small venue, never heard anything about it. I am absolutely gutted! You go to see all these crappy groups that you couldn't give a toss about (in comparison), and then miss an utter legend whose music you adore playing on your own doorstep! This will bug me for some time....
Anyway, really enjoyed the revie! ws, keep up the good work etc.
Regards, Ali Macduff.
Hi, you've got this album all wrong, if you look at the dystopian themes about rape it's as funny as Curb Your Enthusiasm and the sort of album that makes you want to strip off nude. I'm a sailoy boy i'm, a sailor boy
Sweetbeats TM Midlands
Your reviews seem like your expecting something that will never happen "moving in the right direction","it's promising" get over it Lawrence moved on,like he really needs to aspire to your warped yardstick. Keep it stupid I say.
Go Kart Mozart : On The Hot-Dog Streets 8½ ( 2012 )
Lawrence Takes Over / West Brom Blues / The Sun / Retro-Glancing / Come On You Lot / Blowin' In A Secular Breeze / Mickie Made The Most / White Stilettos In The Sand / I Talk With Robot Voice / Synth Wizard / Spunky Axe / Ollie Ollie Get Your Collie / As Long As You Come Home Tonight / Robot Rock / Electrosex / Queen Of The Scene / Men Look At Women
This album is two-thirds of the rejected 'Denim Take Over', a few new songs and that's about it. It seems it's drawing a line under the Denim/Go Kart Mozart era for Lawrence, but knowing Lawrence, absolutely anything, or absolutely nothing - could actually be the future. His band is good at the moment, good on record and good live. Talking of Denim, I only really consider the very first Denim album, Denim. Everything else had entirely different people, apart from Lawrence himself, of course. 'On The Hot Dog Streets' then is very familiar post-felt fare from Lawrence stylistically, cheap keyboards and glam references - yet done spectacularly well. The songs are great, the lyrics are funny and the entire thing has probably sold ten copies whilst being illegally downloaded about 100,000 times, enough to give Lawrence that long desired, hit record. So, 'Denim Takes Over' becomes 'Lawrence Takes Over' - we're a novelty band. The direction Lawrence took after Felt was brave, daft and stupid in many respects, yet he did create music nobody else was creating. Funny music, funny lyrics, not only nodding back to the early Seventies - but nodding back to one-hit wonders from the Seventies. 'West Brom Blues' for instance, instantly recognizable to football fans in the West-Midlands, but not a song lyrically you would think that would travel well elsewhere. Elsewhere of course, we get 'Denim Take Over' cut 'The Sun', a shining pop song with melodies the size of a medium universe, keyboards abound and classic Lawrence vocal curls - as much pop as Denim or Felt ever were at their poppiest. Some people complain about the bloke shouting over the songs ending, but without that shouting we would have slightly less reason for grinning.
'Cum On You Lot' is another football infused chant of a cheap keyboard backed type number whilst 'Blowing In A Secular Breeze' is enough to earn the nod of my wife, her approval an unlikely type of backing for this novelty-pop, but it does prove more than Lawrence fanatics are capable of loving this. 'Mickie Made The Most' is a tribute to some of Lawrence's heroes, musical and non musical - and rather lovely it is too, even those cheap keyboards manage to shine majestically. 'I Talk With Robot Voice', 'Synth Wizard' and 'Spunky Axe' are Denim b-side quality, so thank god for the glorious pop of 'Ollie Ollie Get Your Collie', a daft tale written years before Ian Holloway became such a popular public character. Daft bass lines, daft backing vocals, daft lyrics - these all combine to become pop gold. In these recessions some guy sounding like Elvis going 'uh-huh' and then a high falsetto vocal going 'oooh, ollie!' is surely what the planet needs - not just this record? 'As Long As You Come Home Tonight' is a Lawrence delicacy, although with silly glam drums disrupting the loveliness, as Lawrence is won't to do. All in all, if this record sold, Lawrence promised us a further eight song vinyl only present to his fans. That hasn't materialised, so Lawrence continues not to sell records, sadly. As for 'On The Hot Dog Streets', this recession and austerity buster is enough for me, it could be for you too.
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this page last updated 23/06/13
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