Okay, here's at least one tune from all the albums I know:The Seaside:
"A Wooden Fish on Wheels." I like the ska here even better than everybody's fave "In a City Lining." The mode shifts in the 8th-note sax chorus over a minor VI VII I cadence suggest to me Genesis' "Selling England by the Pound." Helps that both are in 7, too (7 on the floor vs 3+3+3+3+2). Agree with everyone about "Hope Day" and will note that it took me longer than most on that record (heh, a weekend) to fully get into "It's a Lovely Day"; quoting the lyrics of "Wild Thing" over a pogo-ing tritone is about as subversive as it gets, honoring our influences-wise ...A Little Man, A House & The WWW:
Of course "Victory Egg" is a sleeper because, though the lyrics are fantastic and it's a serious earworm -- the whole tune is only a single folk riff. Have to give a shout-out (along with everybody) to "I'm Eating in Bed" -- a song as well-structured as "Buds and Spawn," with a different route from chorus to "middle 8" (heh) each time. But my nominee for undersung is "The Breakfast Line." As a song It's a little scattered until that deliriously demented whole-tone jig of an outchorus. What are semitone movements doing in that melody, anyway?Songs For Ships & Irons:
That's a truly tough one, because everything on that record is standout in its own way. So I'll punt and simply mention the one tune everybody forgot: "All Spectacular." Those two decending guitar chords in the verse remind us all once again that Tim Smith has one of, if not the,
most tastily imaginative harmonic vocabular(ies) in rock music.
Another deliciously unexpected shift from a major/mixolydian area to a minor/phrygian one ...On Land and in the Sea:
Another tough one, because this was my first favorite Cardiacs disc. I'll resist the temptation to talk up the rarely-mentioned "Leader of the Starry Skies" because that's one of the very few Cardiacs tunes I don't particularly like. Instead, I'll risk redundancy and throw my support to "The Stench of Honey." Anyone else notice how the 12/8 sax-guitar riff after the first verse bears a striking resemblance in overall feel to the 12/8 violin-guitar riff before
the first verse of Gentle Giant's "Mister Class and Quality?" from Three Friends?Heaven Born and Ever Bright:
Personally, I love "Core" to death -- its only flaw is that it needs another section (or two or three). That strobing 9/4 synth riff almost singlehandedly redeems the whole notion of club music. But since that one has already been mentioned, I'll throw my support here to "Bodysbad." The sax/guitar/drum breaks in the verses are not only mind-numbingly tight -- but they're one of the few moments anywhere on disc where Cardiacs get a little ... erm ... funky
And who can't
love a slammin' 19-on-the-floor second chorus which quotes ("Cherish is the word I use to describe ... ") David Cassidy of the Partridge Family?
:):)Sing to God, Pts I & II:
So much of those discs are so good (and this post is getting so long) that I'll combine them, squint hard and think ... it's all been mentioned, hasn't it? How could "Manhoo" or "Bellyeye" -- let alone "Insect Hooves" or "Dog-Like Sparky" -- be considered "underrated" songs? And the easy marks -- "A Horses' Tail," "Bell Clinks" -- have already been taken I think. I'd have to at least give honorable mention to "Eat 'Em Up Worms Hero," just for the Schoenbergian near-atonality of the chord progression at the end (and I have to give props to the critic who called "Dirty Boy" in truth a vast Mahler choral symphonic movement masquerading as a rock song). Okay, lemme be all sentimental and conventional and nominate the deceptively straightforward "Flap Off You Beak" whether it's been mentioned or not, just because the middle 8 is one of the most glorious moments in music anywhere. When the key changes and it starts syncopating in 3s up to "... the famous London fog / There is no God ... " oh my goodness -- I just completely melt/cream at the chords and choice of melody notes. Guns:
I will stand with Tim and at least one other critic and call Guns a genuine progression forward and one of their finest albums. As an archetypically underrated tune, though, I'd have to nominate "Come Back Clammy Lammy"; the relentlessly slamming 5-on-the-floor android dance beat drove my cousin bats the other day ("What are you listening to? Is that punk rock? It's horrible!"),
and honestly, at first, you're wondering where the structure is. Transpositions (not even bona-fide modulatory key changes) at verse and chorus points -- is that it? Is that sax riff going to develop or just keep going daaa ... dat dat da dat da the whole song? But man, what an earworm it becomes if you let it! When I finally got the tune I became Pavlov's poster boy playing that damn thing over and over and over. The 5/8 chord changes syncopated over 5/4 is the first thing I noticed. Then, the sharply articulated vocal quickness of "World War One / the Somme / stinky bum / great big bomb" And after the first key change ... my gods, what's up with Tim's voice? He's singing through a ... harmonizer? And what's he doing bending notes like that, at that speed? This melisma off the written pitches isn't remotely
"blue-eyed soul" ... more like ... good grief, Jon Anderson on a combination of crystal meth and salvia divinorum ...