Rui Kalda's (from the Felt Tribute site!) article on FELT
I discovered Felt
in 1988, when they played in Lisbon, Portugal. Some of my friends attending
the concert, reported Lawrence's behavior on stage, as being cold and distant,
holding a jacket in his back. This was my first image of him (not a face, put
an attitude, a posture). I didn't attend the concert due to $$ reasons and back
then, for me, Felt was just another band. I only knew (and badly) Ignite the
7 cannons, specially due to Liz Fraser's duet . "All the people I like
are those that are dead" is the first song I can recall hearing about and
probably listening to. Amazing title, I thoughted. And it made a lot of sense
to me..in fact my favorite artists were dead: Franz Kafka, Jean Cocteau, Sartre,
Felt took a real importance in my life, 'cause the music I played with a friend back then, was very influenced by Felt's stylish guitar riffs and Hammond organ. I started learning guitar with "Declaration" (I still know the solo by heart and specially, my favorite piece "Riding on the equator"). The idiosyncrasy that best describes Felt's music, doesn't concern individual aspects of their music, but the hyper-melodic conjugation of the band, the way everything fells into an harmonic piece of art.
In their early days, the compositions were less resembled with indie or pop format, but more with what I like to call as being: erudite indie. After "Strange idols" they evolved to a classic indie pop format, but always with a special twist.
But what's the
main differences between Felt and the other bands?
Well...first, Felt isn't really a band, It's a project. Made and played by Lawrence and associates.
The other problem is, they weren't really a pop band. Well, conventionally yes, but an alternative pop. It wasn't supposed to sell, or to be appreciated in discotheques, shopping malls or on TV commercials. And that idea pleases me.
Electric guitars, bass, drums, organ, piano and voice in common with the pop style.
But musically, I don't recall many bands with the virtuosism of musicians like Deebank, Marco Thomas, Martin Duffy or Gary Ainge. They aren't simply good musicians, they prove to be very creative. I don't know many bands capable of making constant, different, creative solos while the vocalist is singing in the back. In those days (Madchester was rising), new bands were conquering the indie market: The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, Happy Mondays, etc. Felt always stayed apart from fame and glory. If Lawrence wanted fame, I must say, I'm very grateful he didn't get it. Felt represents mystery, music quality, almost. The message is: I Fell(t) in love with their music. Today I'm a Jazz fan, because of them. I'll never forget hearing some slow passages of "Train above the city", in August 90, returning from vacations while the sun was almost set asleep. Felt is the only band to induce me in this mellow kind of speech....I'm really very pragmatic as a person!! I feel, that a good part of me, musically speaking, I owe to them. So I set this tribute shaped like an altar.
No, every beauty has a spot of his own. I'm not a big fan of their first albums "Splendour of fear" and specially "Crumbling the antiseptic beauty". At least, not today. They are their darkest albums, sounding a lot like Joy Division in a bad day. No harm in that, but the music sounds like a garage recording or the soundtrack of an obscure 70's movie. "Stagnant pool" is the song I mostly dislike..better, like less.
What do I think about Denim and GKM?
Well, I'm not a fan of these bands, but a collector. After all, it's Lawrence legacy we're dealing with. I can listen to all his post-Felt albums, but neither of them can make me forget Felt. Songs like "I saw the glitter in her face" or "Here is a song" can make a real resemblance to old Felt stuff and some GKM tracks sounds like "Me and a monkey on the moon", but all the experimental-electronic or funny-glam tracks takes us into a reality, far away from Felt.
Rendez-vous with Lawrence:
I went to Paris to see Go-Kart Mozart playing a 2 set gig (I think this kind of structure was very popular in the 60's, with the support band playing in between). The gig was organized by a french magazine called Magicrpm, personalized by Christophe Basterra who's contributing a lot to the constant update of this site.
Basically they played the same stuff both times. I have the line-up somewhere. I found it funny some of the Felt fans grabbed one of the line-ups taped to the floor and carefully removed them and handed it over to me. On the second set, the bass player had some health issue, and didn't play. In between, Phil King and Jarvis Cocker (ex-Pulp) were DJing. Denim toured with Pulp in the 90's.
As to the gig, Paul Kelly (ex-East Village) was recording it to included in a documentary about Lawrence. As I expected, the gig was very short (about 10 short songs) with no encore on the first set. On the second we got a chance to see/hear two encores (I think a replay of some of the songs played before). Lawrence was very static on stage, while Terry Milles, the keyboard player (an Austin Powers look-a-like and, by the way Duffy's brother), was plugged in the power unit. The rest of the guys were very discreet...
Finally I got a chance to meet Lawrence, Gary Ainge and Phil King, and talk to them. The will to be a nerd-fan was too strong and I confess I took some pictures with them, although I'm not a real fan of adulation and stuff like that. I love Felt's songs and Lawrence's imagination, but besides that I see these guys as an important part of my growing up process, and my musical culture.
Atending the gig, some of the fans like Paul Woods, Steven or Bahamang told me they went backstage to meet Lawrence. In the beginning I wasn't in the mood to do that fan tribute act, 'cause I believe Lawrence is not into that. But Marta Vilar, who was selling Denim merchandise told me to go on and introduce myself, told me Lawrence was real nice and stuff like that. So I went and presented myself as the guy behind the Felt tribute site. Lawrence said I had some great pics and inquired were I got them. He also noticed my Felt pin was upside down. I told him that I put that on purpose, 'cause Felt's dead, and like a dead bird, when it dies he's upside down. Lawrence laughed and told me to sit next to him and we started talking about the gig, and he told me he didn't want to play, he was not into it. If you read the review on Declaration by Todd E. Jones (Review section) , you'll find out that Lawrence's not a big fan of live gigs.
I don't really know at what extend Lawrence's not into performing, if he suffers from a social phobic/aversion disorder. Old stories points to cleaning rituals at his apartment, but by his appearence (stained shirt and hat), careless look (like a bump, really), he seem to have lost some of his self-esteem. First he doesn't seem to care for his audience, them he seem to neglect to promote himself (a Felt period heritage), now, he doesn't seem to care how he looks in the mirror.
I don't know what to expect from the future, but I hope to support Lawrence and keep up the work with this site.
.Crumbling the antiseptic beauty - I don't have many comments on this one, perhaps, it's the album that less pleases me. Deebank is brilliant, the constant drumming is very early 80's, the voice is dark, the sun is yellow, the sky is blue. It's a good beginning for a poem. Do you hear any cymbals in here?
.Spendour of fear - Starts brilliantly with "Red indians". This is a fresher album compared to Crumbling. Instrumental, excepting for "Stagnant pool", the dark track of the album. If you want to learn how to play guitar and want to test your creativity, listen to this album. Another highlight is "Mexican bandits". Like in conceptual music, each instrumental suites his theme. If you can't match Deebank, throw your guitar into the trashcan and learn how to play the violin. Like Kafka said when you're looking for something: "Give up!"
Strange Idols Pattern...- Sounding like a pop band, playing in a pop format:
3-4 minutes songs, shifting between instrumental and vocal pieces. Highlited
da Gama" a portuguese sailor who discovered the sea trail to India,
introducing Asian culture and spices, to Europe. It was the beginnig of Globalization.
Like "Ferdinand Magellan", this was the first reference to portuguese
sailors. By the way, his portuguese name is Fernão de Magalhães.
Not being bad, this album doesn't have a five star track, although has beautiful instrumentals like "Imprint" and a different version of "Sunlight bathed the golden glow", but lacks geniality.
The Seven Cannons - Produced by Robin Guthrie (Cocteau twins), this album
stands as a turning point, exiting Deebank and introducing Martin Duffy in keyboards.
They brought not only their creativity, but made the band sound in a more complete,
more cool way. Some chorus lines were added, as some fx's pedals, filling in,
in perfection. This is Felt's first big album, with had their first big hit
"Primitive painters", a hymn to music, added by great tender songs
like "Elegance" or "Serpent shade" (first appearance of
a piano, I believe). It was expected that after this lp, Felt could make the
turning point and start tearing up the charts. Fortunally, that didn't happened
and Felt remained a mystery.
To some, the best Felt lp, to me, an excellent restart. Very high recommended!
The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death - First non-Deebank album, replaced
by Lawrence himself in the lead guitar. A jazzy-pop, fresh n' sad mini-album
written by Lawrence and Duffy. Very cool to hear in the summer, in the beach
or in a Jean-Luc Godard film (what's the connection?). With "Nazca plain"
they almost returned to Crumbling...
The album is great, all songs are great, but it'aint got the "force".
"Jewel sky" is my favorite.
Breathes the Lonely Word - Another great album. This was my first Felt album.
First all non-instrumental album, superbly produced by John A. Rivers. Check
out our lyrics depot. Highlighted by "A
Wave Crashed on Rocks" and "Hours of Darkness Have Changed My Mind",
this lp gave more maturity to the group and probably they reached their peak,
with some melancholical themes but beautifull and tender at the same time.
Well-balanced album with no faults, like Ignite, it's a must. Almost everybodies favorite!
.Poem of the River - A mini-album, often disregarded by the critics. It's a powerful album and contains in my opinion, Felt's best song "Riding on the equator". The fusion between the organ, guitar, drums and voice is perfect. Starts with the strange, but excellent "Declaration" (actually, this track is still a demo), reaches the top with "She lives by the castle" and touches perfection with "Riding on the equator": a real masterpiece. Are 6 stars acceptable?
.Final Resting of the Ark - Like other EPs, the Ark has been disregarded by Felt fans. Another Robin Guthrie production, I found this album to be a perfect masterpiece (the talking keeps repeating, doesn't it?). Everything seems perfect and we also have a saxophone to colour up. In my opinion, this album closes the band "belle époque".
.Gold Mine Trash - a best of their EP's with new versions and demos. A must. The cassette version has rare tracks like "Now Summer's Spread its Wings Again". This is a Cherry Red compilation.
.The Pictorial Jackson Review - a soft album, soft pop, without dephtness, very light, consisting mainly in 2 minute songs. Best songs: "Until the Fools get Wise", "Don't Die on My Doorstep" and specially "Bitter end". Great mini-guitar solos. I love the Duffy side, only instrumental tracks...very consistent with:
.Train Above the City - two musicians - a masterpiece. Very cool and intimate jazzy album. I never took too much interest in Jazz, untill I discovered the fantasy of the vibraphone. An album with a very unusual and creative tunes, at least in pop. They'll never reach top 10 with this one, but who really cares about that?! Fame isn't all, and this album equals many Modern Jazz Quartet stuff.(Note: just for curiosity, check Adrian Denning review on this one. You'll love the contrast!)
.Space Blues - like the "ark", a very spacey and magical EP. I can draw a parallel between the two of them. I was very surprised when I first looked at the credits and saw Rose McDowall's name. She's best known for her inclusion in Strawberry Switchblade, Current 93, Spell (and Death in June, I believe). It was really a surprise when I discovered she played live with Felt. Oh, about the Ep: I can't really recomend a track, it's all too much beautiful and day-dreamin'!
. Me and a Monkey on the Moon - nobodies favorite, this is the most symbolic and maybe, the most romantic Felt album. It was a great departure for the band. This album sounds very modern, more mainstream, less Felt. Ok. Again Rose and Richard Left on lead guitar doing a remarkable solo on "New day dawning". They'll be back with Denim (some Denim songs sound a lot like "Me and a monkey...")
. Bubblegum Perfume - I usually tend to pay no attention to compilations, but this one is a good reference, 'cause has some nice rarities (b-sides, eps). Some songs tastes really like bubblegum, very soft, short and poppy, like "sandman's.." or "Don't die on my doorstep". All in all, this is a nice compilation (Creation records only) for those who are interested in Felt's late history. If you want to hear the all story, buy each and every single album, if not, you can buy the Classic Masterpieces, Vol 1&2, or the Felt Box set.
My Felt collection:
- Index 7" (second reissue, with yellow label and a black square on the back)
- Something Sends Me to Sleep 7"
- Crumbling the antiseptic beauty/Splendour of fear cd
- Crumbling the antiseptic beauty lp (with both covers)
- Crumbling the antiseptic beauty cd (2003 reissue)
- My Face is On Fire 7"
- Penelope tree 7" promo
- Penelope tree 7"/12"
- Splendour of fear lp
- Splendour of fear/ Crumbling the antiseptic beauty cass
- Splendour of fear cd (2003 reissue)
- Mexican bandits 7"
- Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow 7"/12"
- The strange idols pattern... lp
- The strange idols pattern... cd (2003 reissue)
- My face in on fire 10"
- Primitive painters 12" (both 1985 & 1992 release)/cds (1992)
- Ignite the 7 cannons lp
- Ignite the 7 cannons cd (2003 reissue)
- The strange idols.../ Ignite the 7 cannons cd
- Ignite the 7 cannons/ The strange idols... cass
- Ballad of the Band 7"/12"
- Let the snakes crinkle... lp/cd
- Rain of Crystal Spires 7"/12"
- Forever breathes the lonely word lp/cd
- Forever breathes the lonely word/ Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death cass
- Poem of the river cd/lp/cass (2003 reissue)
- Final resting of the ark ep
- Goldmine trash cd/ lp (2006 reissue)
- Train above the city/ Pictorial jackson review cd
- Space blues 7"/12"/cdr
- Pictorial jackson review lp/cass
- Train above the city lp
- Get out of my mirror flexidisc
- Me and a monkey on the moon lp/cd/cass
- Bubblegum perfume cd/lp/cass
- Absolute Classic Masterpieces cass
- Felt Box cd 4 cdr
- Stains on a decade cd
- Pillows & Prayers: Cherry Red 1982-1983 lp/pic disc
- Doing It For The Kids lp/cd
- Ambitious? cd
- Purveyors of Taste lp
- Patron Saints Of Teenage cd
- Creation purple cd
- Creation Records: International Guardians of Rock & Roll 1983-1999 cd
- A declaration dvd
My bootleg collection:
- The Absolute Felt cd
- Moonlight club, London, England (cassette)
- Moonlight club, London, England
- Lyceum, London, England
- London Venue
- Parkzicht, Amsterdam, Holland/ Parkzicht, Rotterdam, Holland
- University Of London, England
- Bristol Tropic, England
- Janice Long session
- Sala Zeleste, Barcelona, Spain
- Splash One Program, Glasgow, Scotland
- MA Arms Club, Boston, London, England
- Janice Long Session II
- Chelmsford Chancellor's
- BBC Radio 1, Andy Kershaw Session
- Poem of the river Demos
- Venue, Edinburgh
- Manchester boardwalk, England
- Huddersfield Poly
- Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany
- Camden Black Horse
- King's College, London, England
- LSE (London School of Economics) Old Theatre
- Loft, Berlin, Germany
- Hamburg, Germany
- Track from Stampida II, a compilation tape released by the spanish fanzine - STAMP
- Teatro Rivoli, Porto, Portugal
- Dingwall's Camden Panic Station, London
- Town & Country, London, England
- Birmingham, England
My Felt related collection:
- Denim - Demos from "Back in Denim"
- Denim - Later with Jools Holland cdr/DVD
- Denim - Radio 1 (1996) cdr
- Denim - Denim take over cdr
- A tribute to Felt cd
- Denim - Middle of the road cds/cass/7"/12"
- Denim - It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry 7"/cds
- Denim - Back in Denim cd/lp/cass (2006 reissue)
- Denim - Denim on ice cd/cass/lp
- Denim - Novelty rock cd
- Denim - Novelty rock promo cdr (Gracias Trino)
- Denim - Summer smash promo1 cds/7"/cass
- Supermarket - Supermarket cd
- Go-Kart Mozart - Instant wigwam & igloo mixture cd/lp
- Go-Kart Mozart - We're selfish & lazy & greedy cds
- Go-Kart Mozart - Tearing up the album chart cd
- Go-kart Mozart - Brixton , England cdr
- Go-kart Mozart - Hammersmith Appollo, England cdr
- Go-kart Mozart - Paris, France cdr
- Go-kart Mozart - Co Co Club, London cdr
- Fly - Motorway 12"
- Fly - Put the needle down and fly lp/cd (Thanks Martin Davies from Fly for the gift!!)
In the future,
I'd like to buy more Felt stuff.
Writen by Rui K.:10 October 2001 & updated: 20 April 2010