CULT CLASSICS : IS THIS THE LIFE by THE CARDIACS

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Joy of joys……………this week’s contribution is from The Robster – the man who, together with Echorich, makes an incredible number of very welcome and worthwhile ┬ácontributions to the blog via the comment section.

When I started getting into indie music back in the mid-late 80s, I bought some of those Indie Top 20 compilation albums. One of them included ‘Is This The Life’ by Cardiacs. It stood out as a highlight of that particular record and got me interested enough to buy their album.

I had no idea who they were, that they had been going for a decade, or that ‘Is This The Life’ had already been released twice before – on the cassette-only albums ‘Toy World’ and ‘The Seaside’. All I knew was that I loved their sound, and it was one of the coolest songs I’d heard with a sax in it!

The album intrigued me and it was a fixture on my record deck for months. This was one very strange band, clearly touched by genius but far too odd to ever really gain any support or credibility from the media (as evidenced by the NME banning the very mention of their name).

‘Is This The Life’ was probably the most accessible track on that album; arguably it is one of the most accessible songs in their entire canon. It’s still a really bloody good track to this day, though I did have to wrestle between this one and ‘Dirty Boy’ (from their 1996 masterpiece ‘Sing To God’). ‘Is This The Life’ was the closest they ever came to a hit (it still didn’t make the top 75) and it was the one that introduced me to Tim Smith’s brilliantly bizarre mind.

Sadly, Tim’s illness (he suffered a heart attack and two strokes in 2008) probably means Cardiacs will never work again. At least they have a legacy though. Even if ‘Is This The Life’ had been the only record they ever cut, it would still have been worth it.

mp3 : The Cardiacs – Is This The Life (1981, from the ‘Toy World cassette’)
mp3 : The Cardiacs – Is This The Life (1988. single version)
mp3 : The Cardiacs – Is This The Life (1995. live version from ‘All That Glitters’)

Video available to view right here.

The Robster

JC adds

First time I’ve ever heard this…….and it comes highly recommended. ┬áThe single version reminds me in places of The Cure…