Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Genius of... Tim Smith #10

As I mentioned last week the Genius series is going on hiatus for a while. The Tim Smith chapter is going to be rounded off with the song that gives this blog its name. I originally wrote this piece for JC aka The Vinyl Villain for his Cult Classics series back in January 2014. I've only tweaked it everso slightly for this post.

#10: Is This The Life by Cardiacs

When I started getting into indie music back in the mid-late 80s, I bought some of those Indie Top 20 compilation albums. One of them included Is This The Life by Cardiacs. It stood out as a highlight of that particular record and got me interested enough to buy their album.

I had no idea who they were, that they had been going for a decade, or that Is This The Life had already been released twice before – on the cassette-only albums ‘Toy World’ and ‘The Seaside’. All I knew was that I loved their sound, and it was one of the coolest songs I’d heard with a sax in it!

The album intrigued me and it was a fixture on my record deck for months. This was one very strange band, clearly touched by genius but far too odd to ever really gain any support or credibility from the media (as evidenced by the NME banning the very mention of their name).

Is This The Life was probably the most accessible track on that album; arguably it is one of the most accessible songs in their entire canon. It’s still a really bloody good track to this day. Is This The Life was the closest they ever came to a hit (it still didn’t make the top 75) and it was the one that introduced me to Tim Smith’s brilliantly bizarre mind.


  1. Didn't listen to this song for a long time and it's still goddamn good.

    Btw: If John Cale appears on Welsh Wednesday I would be pleased to see 'Set Me Free' from his 1996 album 'Hobosapiens'. And some stuff from the Welsh rocker MAN would also be nice.
    Have a great weekend Robster

    1. The Man piece is all written up and scheduled. Expect to see it in the next few weeks. As for Cale, thanks for the recommendation. He's done so much great stuff, it's difficult to choose.

      And you're right - Is This The Life is goddamn good!

  2. I bet this track was many people's introduction to Cardiacs; it was mine and in the same way as you via a indie compilation. It is one of the 3 or 4 tracks I always use when introducing people to Cardiacs; accessible enough to be familiar but strange enough to warrant further investigation.