Cardiacs – A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window (1988)

Donna Frankcom-Ball

Senior Accounts Assistant, aged 56

I count myself lucky that the first Cardiacs songs I heard were live. A truly mad experience that I treasure. Back in the 1980’s the Kingston music scene was buzzing, with so many bands playing at Surbiton Assembly Rooms, the Swan, the Grove, Grey Horse, Malden Manor Pavilion etc. 

But I lost touch with the Kingston crowd and music scene for a while. 

In 2009 I connected with some old friends and bands on social media, and rediscovered Cardiacs! It was so sad to hear about Tim Smiths ill health following a stroke, but I was excited to hear some old Cardiacs tunes and find a wealth of other music influenced by them. Memories from the 1980’s scene came flooding back: meeting up with the band in the Albion pub in Kingston for drinks, sneaking backstage at the Hammersmith Odeon when they supported Marillion, seeing them at the Marquee. And remembering some other bands we went to see: The Trudy, Here and Now, GNI, Liquid Hedgehog, Private Patience etc. 

That was when I purchased the album ALMAAHATWWW, some 20 years after its release. I was instantly transported back in time when I played it. The songs that had stuck in my head for so long were: A Little Man and a House and RES. The lyric “that’s the way we all go”, duplicated in both, was equally macabre and enlightening to me. Plus, RES is just mental. I mean, have you listened to it! Dancing to it at gigs was hilarious with all those crazy random stoppy bits. You felt like you were at a circus or fairground.

Is This the Life is a lovely emotive song. The single never quite made it into the top 50 (not sure why!), but my ears like it & I find it quite moving.

The Whole World Window has one of the nicest melodies I’ve ever heard. And growing up is an interesting thing to do.

Tim’s vocals are different & can be an acquired taste to new listeners but stick with it. And read the lyrics too. The songs are catchy & will get stuck in your head.

This album is unique, creative & memorable and I never get bored of it. The album cover is simple yet beautifully designed. A daisy that is instantly recognised by those who know it, perhaps representing a burst of love, creativity, friendship or whatever you want it to be. But mostly love.

RIP Tim Smith, genius, and genuinely nice man. 

RIP Tim Quy, legend, and genuinely humble man.

Kingston link:

Cardiacs were founded in Kingston under the name ‘Cardiac Arrest’ in 1977. Their first gig was at The Kaleidoscope, a drug rehabilitation centre.

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