I think I'd better explain who, and more importantly what the CARDIACS are.
They are a band (mostly) from Surrey, England. They started some time in late 1977, because Tim Smith decided that a "Pop group" would be a good way to spend time. Peter Tagg had seen Tim perform in a makeshift band previously, and convinced him to form another band. Big brother JIM was roped in (even though he allegedly couldn't play any instruments), and songs were thrown together, the first of which was allegedly "Icky Qualms" (which later appeared on the "Toy World" cassette, recorded in June 1980 and March 1981). At this point in time, they were called "CARDIAC ARREST" although their first rehearsals and at least the first gig were played as "The Filth"
Peter Tagg recalls: "Tim & I were friends at school and knew each other for quite some time before I pestered him to form a band with me. That was after I saw him do a one off gig with Adrian Boreland and a drummer called Bruce something or other, under the name Gazunder at Surbiton Assembly Rooms. Tim played bass, and when I found out it was a one off event I really wanted to recreate that kind of group with him. He didn't seem that keen, but I kept on at him and then one day he called me and said that we were forming a band with him on guitar, Jim on Bass and Pugh singing. But, it was going to be nothing like Gazunder it was going to be sort of punk - but not serious punk - Jim was talking about wearing a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce round his neck. How could I say no? ".
The first full lineup of Cardiac Arrest was:
Tim Smith ("Philip Pilf") - guitar
Jim Smith ("Patty Pilf") - bass
Michael Pugh ("Peter Boker") - vocals
Colvin Mayers ("Duncan Doilet", later "Max Cat", "Button Poppet") - keyboards
Peter Tagg ("Richard Targett") - drums
Ralph Cade ("Raphael Cadd") - sax
The first official Cardiac Arrest recording was a 7" single "A Bus For A Bus On The Bus", released in 1979.
Peter Tagg & Ralph Cade left in 1979 to form The Trudy.
Mark Cawthra ("Little Bobby Shattocks") joined on drums, Michael Pugh then left.
Tim Quy recalls: "Dominic Luckman & I were sound/lights/roadies. I was reserve bass player, but not actually in the band - Jim's job at the time meant that he couldn't make every gig. Second reserve bass player, when I couldn't make it either, was Jon Bastable from The Trudy".
Tim Smith took over lead vocals shortly afterwards, and they recorded the "Obvious Identity" album in June 1980.
This was a cassette-only album, consisting of 11 songs:
The Obvious Identity, Visiting Hours, Pip As Uncle Dick but Peter Spoilt It, To Go Off And Things, Rock Around The Clock, Leaf Scrapings, A Game For Berties Party, Cameras, Bite 3/a, Pilf, Let Alone My Plastic Doll, A Balloon For Berties Party.
"Peter Boker" sings the first 2 songs, "Philip Pilf" sang the rest.
Approximately 100 copies were produced, but sadly, the master tapes are long gone, so this little gem is only really available through tape traders, although 3 of these tracks apeared on the "ARCHIVE CARDIACS" tape and CD.
Cardiac Arrest became known as simply "CARDIACS" around late 1980.
At least one gig was played under the name "The Alphabet" (Stonehenge in either 1980 or 81) before the name CARDIACS was settled on. (Tim Quy)
We supported Here & Now In Leeds - I remember it was in the winter, and my girlfriend and I stayed in a bed and breakfast, but Tim & Colvin slept in my Escort van. It was absolutely freezing, and after a comfortable night in a B&B, followed by a filling breakfast I returned to my van to find Tim asleep in it with his feet sticking out of the back door. Apparently he had to sleep like that the best part of the night, as the van wasn't long enough for him to shut the door (poor lamb). Here & Now used to play for free and have a collection - they kindly gave us a sock full of money! (Peter Tagg)
In March 1981, CARDIACS recorded some more songs that would appear on the second album "Toy World", along with a few more songs that were recorded back in June 1980 when they were recording the "Obvious Identity" album. This explains why "Peter Boker" sings some of the songs, although he had already left long before it was released. Toy World went like this:
Aukamacic, Icky Qualms, Over + Over + Over + Over, Dead Mouse, A Big Noise In A Toy World, Trademark, Scratching Crawling Scrawling, As Cold As Can Be In An English Sea, Is This The Life, Nurses Whispering Verses, A Time For Rejoicing.
Again, a few of these ended up on the "ARCHIVE CARDIACS" compilation. The "Piffol x Times" tunes were previously unreleased Tim Smith compositions. The "ARCHIVE CARDIACS" album is the only time these were properly released.
Marc Cawthra recalls: Tracks like "As Cold As Can Be In An English Sea" etc were all done 8-track in a shitty little basement studio in Surbiton (Crow studios was its name), owned by this nutter called Pete Kunzler. I used to engineer sessions for Pete in exchange for free time which we used to do all sorts of stuff. Graham Simmonds used to work there too when not being a milkman. The first stuff we ever did there Kunzler engineered, and while I was drumming, this friggin' milkman shows up - strange I thought.
Tim Quys first gig with Cardiac Arrest (playing Bass) was also Sarah
Cutts first gig (Snoopies, Richmond, 1980)
Things are a bit of a blur after this point: Colvin Mayers left to join The Sound in 1981. Sarah took over keyboards as well as sax.
Dominic Luckman joined (on drums), then Mark Cawthra moved to keyboards and vocals. Tim Quy joined full time on percussion. Bill Drake joined as keyboard god, replacing Mark Cawthra. Graham Simmonds (previously the sound engineer) joined on guitar, and Marguerite Johnson on alto sax. (Marguerite can be seen on an early promo clip for "Little Man And A House")
For a short time in 1983, CARDIACS were an 8 piece band, quite fun on a small stage, especially with Bill Drake and Tim Quys instruments. Graham, and then Marguerite left in late 1983. This left the familiar lineup for the rest of the 80s:
Tim Smith - guitar / vocals
Jim Smith - bass / vocals
William D Drake - keyboards / vocals
Dominic Luckman - drums
Sarah Smith - sax
Tim Quy - percussion
This period between 1981-83 was a bit sketchy, the band were shuffling members around and finding their feet on the live circuit around Surrey, playing with bands like Here And Now, The Dangerous Girls etc, although something must have clicked, as the next release "The Seaside" in 1984 was an absolute cracker, although Tim once claimed the recordings were just "Crappy demo's I did at home"
Also, Tim Smith and Sarah Cutts got married in July 1983, she was now Sarah Smith :-)
A 12" EP "Seaside Treats" and a video of the same name appeared in 1985, these consisted of tracks taken from "The Seaside". The video however, started with a 10 minute segment entitled "The Consultants Flower Garden" This was a piece on the "life and character" of the band which served to screw peoples heads up. This footage is completely insane, pure vintage CARDIACS, even down to the tantrums and thumb sucking!. This is a classic bit of CARDIACS history, and well worth seeing IF you can find someone with a copy.
Their first big step into the public eye was an ill fated British tour supporting Marillion in 1984. Hordes of Marillion fans hurled abuse at the band, and even phoned up others in the next town to warn them about "the crap band" that was coming. This was ironic as CARDIACS had been invited on the tour by Fish himself! He had apparently gone to great lengths to get CARDIACS on the bill, and even came on stage at the Hammersmith show and had a go at the crowd. At the Manchester show, someone allegedly tried setting fire to the stage curtain.
The next two 12" EP's "Big Ship", and "Too Many Irons" pushed the CARDIACS much further into the public eye, with a video shoot of "Tarred and Feathered" from the Big Ship 12" for Channel 4's groundbreaking music show "The Tube". This showed CARDIACS in their full childish glory, and gave them their first exposure on national T.V.
Then came the first LP "A Little Man, A House And The Whole World Window". This epic LP spawned a single "Is This The Life". Perhaps their best known song, it even charted as far as the independant Top 10.
Around this time, there was a media outcry concerning the band.
"Shock Horror...Rock band in Incest probe"
Someone had got it into their heads that Tim and Sarahs relationship was none too healthy, probably illegal. This was based on the assumption that as Tim Smith and Jim Smith were brothers, then Sarah Smith MUST (by definition) be the sister. This was later proven to be crap, as Tim and Sarah Smith were in fact married.
A live LP was recorded at the Paradiso in Amsterdam in 1988. This is probably the definitive CARDIACS LP, solely due to the insight into Tims' on-stage ranting and the utter chaos that ensued at the concerts. Having said that, there are some bootlegs from the period which beat it hands down! 1989 saw the "On Land and In The Sea" LP. By now, CARDIACS were in overdrive, attracting hundreds of people to their chaotic live appearances.
Christian "Bic" Hayes (ex Panixphere) joined as second guitarist shortly after, and appeared on the first "Real" live video "All That Glitters Is A Maresnest" (a previous attempt at a live video in 1985 had not proved successful).
This was to be Tim Quys' last performance with CARDIACS.
On the end of the video, a message flashes up saying...
This film is dedicated to Tim Quy
who left our world 30/6/90
This had a lot of people fooled into thinking he'd died, when in fact this was his last gig with CARDIACS, and he'd left THEIR world, not the world at large. This video is the ESSENTIAL CARDIACS PURCHASE. A "Greatest Hits" song list, and an amazing performance by CARDIACS at the height of their live career.
After this point, things changed pretty rapidly. Bic, Sarah and finally Bill left to persue other things. Without them, especially Bill, it seemed that CARDIACS would never be the same again. You just cannot replace a keyboard player of that standard and expect things to be the same.
Why did potty keyboard genius Bill Drake leave?
A fan asked him this at a gig a while ago. Bill said something to the
effect of "Oh well, I was in them for 8 years, and
I just felt it was time to move on and do something else". He had nothing but praise for Cardiacs and Tim Smith in particular, saying Sing To God was the best album they had ever produced (including the ones Bill played on), and that Dirty Boy was his favourite Cardiacs song of all time.
A PLOT WAS HATCHED...
The remaining members found themselves reasoning thus...
If we cant continue as a fully live band, why cant we do it semi-live with a backing tape?
The gigs that ensued with the backing tape, and new guitarist Jon Poole (ex-Ad Nauseum) were a little strange to the following, but after a few gigs, things seemed to be back on course, albeit a slightly different one.
Work had already begun on a new LP with Bic on guitar, but as he was no longer part of the band, it was decided that Jon would re-record the guitar parts. This delayed the release of the LP, and the 12" "Day Is Gone" for a while, but when they were finally released, it seemed worth the wait. However, due to some bad business with a well known record company, the album bombed, and was almost impossible to get hold of until it was re-released on the Alphabet label in 1995.
CARDIACS played a couple of tours, but it was then announced that Dominic was leaving the band. He had been busy with other projects, including a stint with festival veterans "Here And Now". Many people thought this was the end, but a new drummer Bob Leith (also ex-Ad Nauseum) was recruited. Work progressed on a new album. Rumours were flying around as to all sort of unlikely ideas and concepts behind the current line-up, including Tims ever changing attitude towards whether to split the band up for good. He decided not to, and when the all-new DOUBLE album "Sing To God" was released, many people breathed a sigh of relief, and then went apeshit when they heard it.
"SING TO GOD is utterly incredible! The sheer range of textures, influences, songwriting and the overall production are nothing short of brilliant. Tim really did it this time."
After "Sing To God", there was another hiatus in the CARDIACS story, things were going off in all directions, band members either working on other bands material (Dark Star, Sidi Bou Said etc), or just getting on with daily life.
In January 1999, CARDIACS played 3 nights at the notorious CAMDEN FALCON, a well known toilet in North London, usually inhabited by small bands trying to make a name for themselves. The venue was stacked 12 deep with sweaty bodies those 3 nights, and the lucky ones who made it were witness to possibly the best shows CARDIACS had done since they changed over to the backing tapes. It was an absolute riot! Each night, the crowd were treated to support slots featuring ex-CARDIACS members, Bill Drakes unique piano playing and vocals, Sarah Smiths torrents of raw sax, both at the same time on the last night, when they took the stage at the end of the show to do some old favourites from the times when they were still CARDIACS members, "I Hold My Love In My Arms", "Arnald", "To Go Off And Things", it was pure magic.
June 1999, and CARDIACS were back on the road for a short tour to promote the forthcoming "GUNS" album. Many of the gigs were a little subdued, but the first (Bristol) and the last (Reading) were excellent shows with plenty crowd participation, especially the Reading show, which was absolutely rammed full of fans enjoying themselves like it was the end of the world!
"GUNS" was released a few days after the end of the tour, and has been described as possibly the most accessible album CARDIACS have released to date, but this isn't "CARDIACS LITE!" by any stretch of the imagination, if anything, its become more focused, the songs are a little shorter and more to the point, it flows beautifully, its a work of art. Initial reactions were mixed, but as all seasoned CARDIACS fans know by now, every new offering needs a little "warming up" period, and after a week or so, nobody had a bad word to say about it.
It's strange how this always seems to happen, isn't it!
Webmaster, July 1999
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