Monday, 28 September 2015

The genius of Tim Smith #14

#14: Buds And Spawn by Cardiacs

I was always a little disappointed with the Cardiacs' fifth album 'On Land And In The Sea'. The two records that immediately preceded it contained songs that had not only been around in their canon for some time, but that had been recorded and released before. 'On Land And In The Sea', however, contained only one such song; the rest were all new.

That odd track out - Buds And Spawn can't really be described as old though. Its only previously recorded outing was in a BBC session for the Janice Long show in 1988, released as a 12" in early '89. Later that year the new album came out and I was thrilled to notice that Buds And Spawn was present and correct. It's a typically manic piece of Cardiacs jollity, but also proved to be one of the most melodic and anthemic tracks on the record.

Lyrically - well come on. If you can decipher Tim's lyrics you're a better person than I am. This one really isn't clear, but it seems the song's protagonist is an interesting character. One minute it seems as though he's facing up to is mortality:

  "Waiting to see which way he will jump to find
  Which hole he's to creep into when he's old and tired
  Not expected to carry on."

He's clearly having some problems though, life's struggles getting the better of him:

  "Walking on fire bright
  Something is stealing his feeling again
  Lick wound he heals and still feels there's some pain
  Washing his dirt in the mud and the rain"

But all the while we're told "He's a very special man" in a joyous, celebratory manner. You work it out. All I know is that Buds And Spawn was easily the stand-out track on 'On Land And In The Sea' for me at the time, and so it remains. Fans laud the album as one of the band's best, but I just never properly connected with it in the way I did with 'A Little Man And A House...' and 'Sing To God'.

Buds And Spawn perfectly illustrates Tim's penchant for creating weird shit you can sing along with. Utterly incomprehensible, but with a refrain which makes you want to wave your arms in the air. Which brings us to the unanswered question at the conclusion of the song: what exactly is the point of giving us hands? Answers in the comments section, if you please...


  1. I bet you are a happy boy with the Lush news?

    1. I will be when they announce a date in Bristol, Newport or Cardiff. *sigh* Miki.....

  2. I'm sure you'd travel far to see your Miki!!!