Red is re-releasing all 10 Felt albums in their original sleeves. This will
give new listeners a chance to experience Felt just like fans did in the 80s.
The Birmingham band had have a loyal following for many years and finally, we
can experience the albums like the original fans did. The enigmatic leader,
Lawrence (who went on to form Denim and Go-Kart Mozart) teamed up with Maurice
Deebank and created exceptionally beautiful and sad music. While Lawrence mixed
poetry with singing, Deebank added classic guitar melodies over rolling, gothic
drums. Their sophomore album, The Splendour Of Fear was originally released
on CD with their debut LP Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty. Although recorded
a year apart, both albums sounded very similar due to the lack of cymbals, the
classic guitar by Maurice Deebank, Lawrences sad and drowned-out vocals, and
Gary Ainges rolling drums. While Felt was releasing short singles like Something
Sends Me To Sleep and My Face Is On Fire, they were also releasing 30 minute
long albums with long ambient guitar songs. The Splendour Of Fear is a 30 minute
long album consisting of 6 tracks. Only 2 of these tracks have vocals. Produced
by John A. Rivers (Close Lobsters, Xymox, Go-Kart Mozart, etc.), The Spendour
Of Fear is Felts darkest album filled with rolling drums, images of Hell, and
long guitar melodies. In the midst of the darkness, there are also sounds of
intense beauty. The Splendour Of Fear may be the least accessible Felt album
but it is by no means an album that should be overlooked.
The instrumental Red Indians is the first track that opens up the album. The
Indian-like drums and dark, classical guitar work is exceptional. Short and
sweet, it is a perfect lead-in to the following song. (In the original release
of the CD, Red Indians and The World Is As Soft As Lace were put together as
The World Is As Soft As Lace is the most beautiful song on the album. The classical
and guitar work just springs images of beauty to life. The high notes of the
strings along with the female backing vocals make this track magnificent. Lawrences
voice becomes more melodic than the past album tracks from their debut LP. Lawrence
sings the first verse: If I could, I would change the world / But you know my
visions they're absurd / And all my great plans get blurred / By the softest
touch, the gentlest word. Once again, Lawrence has have powerful lyrics for
the chorus: I've said it before and I'll say it again / I will not believe until
it is mine / Until it's mine, all mine, yeah mine This is one Felt track where
everything works perfectly. The mixing, the guitar work, the lyrics, the singing,
the backing vocals, and the drums and bass all come together to form an elegant
song that is not only poetic but deeply moving and gloriously atmospheric.
The Optimist And The Poet is a long instrumental track that is completely under
appreciated. When originally released on CD, this 2-part song was separated
in two separate digital CD tracks. Now, the song is released properly. Elegant
and astute, The Optimist And The Poet (written by Lawrence) is a mid-tempo instrumental
that is approximately 8 minutes long. The rolling of the mid-tempo drums by
Gary Ainge add a timeless quality along with Deebanks and Lawrences guitar work.
It is a very under-appreciated Felt instrumental.
Mexican Bandits is one of my personal favorite Felt instrumentals. Very upbeat
and uplifting, the swirling guitars and the rolling drums give the listener
a feeling of ascension, running, or high-speed driving. You can feel the wind
in your hair. The layers of the swirling guitars create a magnificent feeling
of both pride and preciousness. The timeless quality of both the emotion and
the music add to the elegance. Mexican Bandits can truly be in a film where
the main character is moving fast to achieve some kind of victory. Due to the
upbeat feeling of the song and the different style of guitar work, it is very
catchy and makes an instant impression for an instrumental. Mexican Bandits
is a classic Felt instrumental. (Note: The band Evergreen Dazed made a wonderful
electronic cover version of Mexican Bandits on A Tribute To Felt by Elefant
The Stagnant Pool is probably the most depressing Felt song ever created. Clocking
in around 8 minutes long, this slow-moving track has some excellent guitar work,
eerie drums, along with themes of decay and damnation. Lawrence sings like hes
dying: The stagnant pool / Like a drowned coffin / Still as a deceased heart
/ Haunting the ghost of the noble crusader / Who recalls pellucid ice / clutching
the aching twigs / Never melting / Never a drop to disturb stagnation. / Oh
they say I'll never win / You'll always get beat / And like a drop of blood
from the Devil's tap / I'm dragging the crusader behind / Slips purposely down
the black hole back to hell / Steps purposely down the black hole back to hell
Lawrence repeats the line back to Hell over and over again as a loose chorus.
The 2nd half of the track is mainly just Deebanks and Lawrences guitar work
over the mid-tempo beat. The song is great to play along with on a guitar. It
also yields improvisation. Unfortunately, the replay value of the song is low
due to the length, the theme, and the fact that Lawrence sounds like hes dying.
A Preacher In New England is the albums closing instrumental that has the same
beauty and elegance as Evergreen Dazed from Crumbling The Antiseptic Beauty.
Without drums, Deebanks guitar swirls, glides, and blossoms melodies like infinite
blooming. Written completely by Maurice Deebank, A Preacher In New England is
a dream-like, picturesque piece of supreme elegance. If the listener dies and
goes to Hell in The Stagnant Pool, the listener ascends to heaven when they
meet A Preacher In New England.
The Splendour Of Fear is a much more mature album than the previous Crumbling
The Antiseptic Beauty but it also has less replay value. With the exception
of the beautiful The World Is As Soft As Lace and Mexican Bandits, the LP is
more of an ambient guitar piece of work. Only 2 out of the 6 songs have vocals
by Lawrence. The first song, The World Is As Soft As Lace, is an elegant song
that is both sad and strong. The second, The Stagnant Pool is an 8-minute long
depressing track about Hell where Lawrence sounds like hes dying. The Splendour
Of Fear is the least accessible of all the Felt albums. While there is some
intense beauty and elegance in the LP (The World Is As Soft As Lace, A Preacher
In New England or Mexican Bandits), the 8 minute long The Stagnant Pool is a
depressing nail that is driven in right before the LP closes. Fans of later
Felt material like Me & A Monkey On The Moon or The Pictorial Jackson Review
will be surprised and may even be turned off by such dark yet graceful music.
For a 30-minute album, The Splendour Of Fear has long songs that are mostly
instrumental. If you are a fan of elegant, classic guitar work, The Splendour
Of Fear is a perfect album for you. While only die-hard Felt fans may appreciate
the LP, The Splendour Of Fear is quite a beautiful yet sad work of art.
8 out of 10
Review by Todd E. Jones
SUMMARY: Cherry Red is releases all 10 Felt albums from the 80s in their original
artwork. Todd E. Jones reviews their sophomore album, The Splendour Of Fear.
- 30 Dec 2004 - Genre: Alternative