Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Genius Of... Tim Smith #13

#13: A Thousand Strokes And A Rolling Suck by The Sea Nymphs

Between Cardiacs' fifth and sixth albums (1989's 'On Land And In The Sea' and 'Heaven Born And Ever Bright' in 1991), the band underwent a tremendous upheaval when four of the seven members quit. Among them, keyboard player William D. Drake, and saxophonist (and wife of Tim) Sarah Smith. Tim, Bill and Sarah had made a record together as a folk trio in 1984 under the name of Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Drake. Before the final split, they reconvened for a follow-up.

In a similar vein to their first effort, this album stripped things right back. The songs were a collaborative effort, composed by each member separately and together. Vocals were shared. While lighter in feel than the full-blown Cardiacs sound, they still contained enough oddness and obtuse meanderings to keep the listener in little doubt who was behind this little bundle of delights.

A single - credited to The Sea Nymphs - featuring two tracks from the album was bundled with the first single from the new trimmed down Cardiacs in 1991. The self-titled album was initially only available through the fan club and at Cardiacs shows, but saw a CD release a year later. Since then it has been in and out of print, like most of the Cardiacs catalogue.

The tune I've chosen could be classed as 'Cardiacs-lite' I suppose. It's based around Bill's piano and he shares lead vocals with Tim. Sarah contributes sax and recorder. It shows how, even when restricted by personnel and instrumentation, Tim and his mates could still make curious, intriguing sounds that are far from unpleasant yet leaves the untrained ear a bit miffed.

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