Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

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Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 22 Apr 2015, 16:44

I expect most of what you think about Felt is wrong.

I should qualify that. If you have never bothered to seek out their music I expect most of what you think about Felt is wrong. That’s if you’ve ever bothered to think about them at all which I fully expect you haven’t.

With ten LPs that spanned the ten years of the eighties they hardly made a dent in the popular culture of the time. Even in the then pre-eminent alternative, underground ‘scene’ they didn’t really cross over until Liz Fraser's vocals on the Robin Guthrie produced single Primitive Painters got them some traction in the indie charts and a high placing (No 5) in 1985’s Festive Fifty. Peel was never a fan which could have been the kiss of death if they hadn’t drummed up a hardcore following of their own.

But not even the (not that high) high water mark of Primitive Painters was typical of the band. In fact there really is no typical Felt LP or sound so radical was their evolution over the decade.

A good example of the Deebank era however is Fortune:



Early LPs often feature singer/guitarist/songwriter Lawrence in partnership with classically-trained guitarist Maurice Deebank. But the fact that Deebank didn’t feature on a few of their early singles – his commitment to the project seems to have wavered often, a state of affairs lamented on the late-era single Ballad Of The Band – reflects the often chaotic state of the line-up.

The band produced four LPs with Deebank’s signature baroque meandering guitar lines before he finally left the group. His swansong, Ignite The Seven Cannons, is the point at which Lawrence had two maestros within the organisation having recruited young Brummie organist Martin Duffy as a replacement for the reluctant but still just about on-board axe hero. In fact Deebank wrote many of the best tracks including Primitive Painters and The Day The Rain Came Down, while Duffy seems to be struggling to find room in the tunes for his Hammond (Korg CX3).



Following Deebank’s departure the band moved to Creation from Cherry Red and continued on their idiosyncratic path with a short LP of instrumentals, Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death. I remember picking this up at the Jubilee Shopping Hall in Brighton (where Alan McGee used to unload lots of Creation stuff presumably for beer money). The first time I listened to it with (occasional poster and recent returnee) Chuck_Bot, we were both in hysterics (we may have been stoned). It took a while for the oddness of the tracks to grow on me and to realise that it was all done in deadly earnest.



Song For William S Harvey, whom I later found out designed the cover of MC5’s Kick Out The Jams.

The line up stabilised and with the help of John A Rivers and Mayo Thompson they went on to produce two of their finest LPs, Forever Breathes the Lonely Word (1986) and Poem of the River (1987)



Rain Of Crystal Spires – Duffy front and centre and finding his feet.



Stained Glass Windows In The Sky

There followed a transition from whatever it was they had been before, to the more retro nostalgic themes that Denim would inhabit. On the way they would produce an album of modern jazz instrumentals (Train Above The City) though.

Their Final LP Me & A Monkey On The Moon was more in the Denim camp than Felt in my opinion .



The autobiographical Mobile Shack. Most of Primal Scream played on this I think.

Denim came as a bit of a shock to me having never heard the last two proper Felt LPs which paved the way for this plunge into 70s glam and glitter stomp. But Back In Denim is truly one of the best collections of songs of the ’90s. A formative influence on the ‘britpop’ that was to coalesce – but don’t hold that against it.



“You wouldn’t know style if it ran you up the aisle, you couldn’t spot a star if you came within in a mile… of the eighties”

Following Back In Denim they went down hill but both Denim On Ice and Novelty Rock have things to recommend them. Their final outing was to have been Denim Take Over (some of the songs from this were recycled on Lawrence’s latest outing, Go Kart Mozart’s On The Hotdog Streets). Summer Smash, the lead off single was destroyed no less by EMI – the irony! To have finally fulfilled his dream of getting off an indie and on to a major label and to have it snatched away at the point of completion – because it coincided with the death of Princess Di!

Go Kart Mozart are Lawrence’s current ‘outfit’. A fully-fledged novelty rock band with a penchant for mashing up Mungo Jerry and Roger Whittacker. While they seldom attain the height of Felt or Denim’s epochal Back In Denim, they are good fun. Get in touch and they’ll play your local apparently…



Of course Lawrence has also been the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary.



Long may he continue to plough his own odd little furrow.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby dgs » 22 Apr 2015, 17:17

I don't think that Go Kart Mozart are a novelty band, more the next evolution of Lawrence.

I think he is great and along with Luke Haines wish there were more eccentric pop stars like them still in the business.

Back in Denim is a classic of it's time and the lead singles still have a good pop sensibility to them.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 22 Apr 2015, 17:32

dgs wrote:I don't think that Go Kart Mozart are a novelty band, more the next evolution of Lawrence.

I think he is great and along with Luke Haines wish there were more eccentric pop stars like them still in the business.

Back in Denim is a classic of it's time and the lead singles still have a good pop sensibility to them.


'Novelty' is not meant as an insult! Not in this case anyway.

You know Luke Haines used to regularly dream of (and indeed hallucinate about) Lawrence? Or so he said in his memoirs. Lawrence represented Haines's guilty conscience and a 'no sell out' attitude. Of course Lawrence would have loved to have sold out :)
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Rayge » 22 Apr 2015, 18:21

Deebank wrote:Of course Lawrence would have loved to have sold out :)

Maybe then he could have afforded a square meal or several.

Nice write-up shall return.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby dgs » 22 Apr 2015, 18:40

Rayge wrote:
Deebank wrote:Of course Lawrence would have loved to have sold out :)

Maybe then he could have afforded a square meal or several.

Nice write-up shall return.


I know/knew a guy who works for Cherry Red and he got to know Lawrence quite well. He relates tales of when Lawrence was at his lowest point and it truly is a tragedy.

Still didn't impact his ability to write good pop songs..
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 22 Apr 2015, 20:55

dgs wrote:
Rayge wrote:
Deebank wrote:Of course Lawrence would have loved to have sold out :)

Maybe then he could have afforded a square meal or several.

Nice write-up shall return.


I know/knew a guy who works for Cherry Red and he got to know Lawrence quite well. He relates tales of when Lawrence was at his lowest point and it truly is a tragedy.

Still didn't impact his ability to write good pop songs..


I think that's the era covered in the doc.

Connections to Lawrence...

I think myself and L may have gone out with the same girl - I base this on something he wrote in the photo book that came out a couple of years ago (someone here knew someone involved in the project iirc). I knew she went out with one of Primal Scream, so it's not impossible.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Ranking Ted » 22 Apr 2015, 21:29

I absolutely love Primitive Painters and The Osmonds, which are supremely good songs, but haven't heard anything else by him in their league despite owning a few LPs. The Luke Haines comparison is apt but Haines, and while equally ornery, may not reach the same giddy heights I reckon he managed a better consistency of good to very good songs over his career (and New Wave remains a belting debut).

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Eddie Shah environment » 22 Apr 2015, 21:35

Ted Maul wrote:I absolutely love Primitive Painters and The Osmonds, which are supremely good songs, but haven't heard anything else by him in their league despite owning a few LPs.


And I absolutely love 'Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow' and 'I'm Against The Eighties', and haven't heard anything else by him in their league! And I own about five LPs.

Oh, and 'Primitive Painters' too, I suppose. I think there's one or two more.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby billy » 22 Apr 2015, 23:53

Are you referring to "Ruth", deebank?
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Beno » 23 Apr 2015, 00:05

Lawrence is clearly a huge talent with a great breadth of work. Strangely perhaps, it's the Denim stuff that I like best.

I can see the comparison with Luke Haines, but for me it's Neil Halstead who I think best replicates the quality songwriting across different genres. In fact I probably prefer NH, but as with Lawrence, it's his second group that I like most.

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 23 Apr 2015, 09:11

billy wrote:Are you referring to "Ruth", deebank?


No her name was Vikki.
A couple of other poster here - by coincidence - probably knew her I reckon.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 23 Apr 2015, 09:29

Ted Maul wrote:I absolutely love Primitive Painters and The Osmonds, which are supremely good songs, but haven't heard anything else by him in their league despite owning a few LPs. The Luke Haines comparison is apt but Haines, and while equally ornery, may not reach the same giddy heights I reckon he managed a better consistency of good to very good songs over his career (and New Wave remains a belting debut).


If you like The Osmonds I would expect you'd like the rest of BID and probably M&AMOTM.

One thing has always bothered me about Primitive Painters era and that's the production.

I love Robin Guthrie and Cocteau Twins (see my other Beyond The 130 posting) but his muddy chorussed and flanged production just isn't Felt to my ears. Lawrence had enforced a 'no-pedals' policy on the band, much to Maurice Deebank's chagrin apparently, and their sound had always been clean , almost pristine and uncomplicated. Guthrie changed all that and stuck the guitars, keyboards and bass through his trademark FX. While the results gave Felt their biggest 'hits' I would love to hear a John Leckie or John A Rivers production of the same songs.

Guthrie redeemed himself by sorting out the production on later Felt releases - an uncredited rescuing of Poem Of The River after a Mayo Thompson (or perhaps Lawrence) meltdown as well as a more 'natural production of some of the Ballad Of The Band single and Final Resting Place Of The Ark.

Ferdinand Magellan off the Ballad single:



Lovely Duffy effort puts me in mind of the theme to aussie wartime soap The Sullivans

Ballad...



A bit of the old FX box creeping in here maybe, but apparently not produced by RG.

Funnily enough there's live footage of Maurice Deebank playing Ballad, aa song about his lack of commitment:

Where you been? ain't you for weeks
You been hanging out with all those jesus freaks*
Oh yeah and I feel like giving in
And where were you, when I wanted to work? you were still in bed
You're a total jerk

There's a place for abstract and there's a place for noise and there's a place for every kind of sound so come on now and tell me why there's a void
It's all my fault, yes I'm to blame
Ain't got no money, ain't got no fame
And that's why, I feel like giving in
And all those songs, like crystal ball, dismantled king
You know I love them all
But oh, I still feel like giving in.

Give in to this... (guitar 'solo')

:)

I almost forgot that more recently Lawrence has released this oblique tribute to his erstwhile mate:



* I think MD is a buddhist.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 23 Apr 2015, 09:41

This has a lot of charm.



Lawrence gets aboard the '90s reggae toasting fad twenty years after the fact :)

I couldn't work out why Manfred Mann's Blinded By The Light came on after playing this track on YouTube, but of course 'Go Kart Mozart' is a steal from the lyrics. I did't know YouTube was that 'clever'.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 24 Jul 2015, 08:57

Deebank wrote:
Ted Maul wrote:I absolutely love Primitive Painters and The Osmonds, which are supremely good songs, but haven't heard anything else by him in their league despite owning a few LPs. The Luke Haines comparison is apt but Haines, and while equally ornery, may not reach the same giddy heights I reckon he managed a better consistency of good to very good songs over his career (and New Wave remains a belting debut).


If you like The Osmonds I would expect you'd like the rest of BID and probably M&AMOTM.

One thing has always bothered me about Primitive Painters era and that's the production.

I love Robin Guthrie and Cocteau Twins (see my other Beyond The 130 posting) but his muddy chorussed and flanged production just isn't Felt to my ears. Lawrence had enforced a 'no-pedals' policy on the band, much to Maurice Deebank's chagrin apparently, and their sound had always been clean , almost pristine and uncomplicated. Guthrie changed all that and stuck the guitars, keyboards and bass through his trademark FX. While the results gave Felt their biggest 'hits' I would love to hear a John Leckie or John A Rivers production of the same songs.

Guthrie redeemed himself by sorting out the production on later Felt releases - an uncredited rescuing of Poem Of The River after a Mayo Thompson (or perhaps Lawrence) meltdown as well as a more 'natural production of some of the Ballad Of The Band single and Final Resting Place Of The Ark.

Ferdinand Magellan off the Ballad single:



Lovely Duffy effort puts me in mind of the theme to aussie wartime soap The Sullivans

Ballad...



A bit of the old FX box creeping in here maybe, but apparently not produced by RG.

Funnily enough there's live footage of Maurice Deebank playing Ballad, aa song about his lack of commitment:

Where you been? ain't you for weeks
You been hanging out with all those jesus freaks*
Oh yeah and I feel like giving in
And where were you, when I wanted to work? you were still in bed
You're a total jerk

There's a place for abstract and there's a place for noise and there's a place for every kind of sound so come on now and tell me why there's a void
It's all my fault, yes I'm to blame
Ain't got no money, ain't got no fame
And that's why, I feel like giving in
And all those songs, like crystal ball, dismantled king
You know I love them all
But oh, I still feel like giving in.

Give in to this... (guitar 'solo')

:)

I almost forgot that more recently Lawrence has released this oblique tribute to his erstwhile mate:



* I think MD is a buddhist.


There was an interview with Lawrence in Uncut in June, mainly about Primitive Painters - he goes on at some length about RG and how much he hates the production on Ignite The Seven Cannons:

What was Robin like in the studio as a producer?
While I was there, he was capturing it all with the engineer. He didn’t make any arrangement suggestions because it was all set in stone before we got there. I was very pedantic like that. But he put effects to tape, which is something you don’t do.

Could you explain what you mean?
You should record everything dry, and then you decide what effects to put on afterwards so you have the choice. That’s why that album sounds so impenetrable and dense because all the effects went down, so by the time of the mixing there was nothing to change. I suppose that was the way he recorded the Cocteau Twins. It was a massive mistake, and I’m sure he would never do that now. Over the years I’ve collected some of the master tapes and on the reissues that are coming out, I’ve tried to extract the Cocteau Twins from my record. You can’t really hear Maurice’s guitar leads. Okay, skip forward to the end of the mixing when I finally got my tape. I was horrified, I would never have made a record like that. I was like beside myself with anguish. The thing was in those days, you couldn’t remix an album. But Robin quite rightly said “Primitive Painters” has to be the single. He went on and on about it, and he went to Cherry Red and he told them, he persuaded everyone. I didn’t think it was a single, I thought it was too long. I went with him to a studio in London and we remixed it together. And that’s why that’s the best song, ‘cause I was there in that mixing. I went with him to Barry Blue’s studio in Camden. Remember that guy Barry Blue? He had some hits in the ‘70’s? He was like a teenybopper. His studio in Camden was by the Roundhouse. We spent an afternoon there and we remixed “Primitive Painters”. I think we should’ve done an EP with Robin; that would’ve been the best outcome. It would’ve been a different story. But, anyway, we were lumbered with a whole album. And it was 11 tracks as well. That’s something I could never get my head around because I like everything symmetrical. That hurt me a bit, straight away, before I’d even listened to it.


Read more at http://www.uncut.co.uk/blog/the-view-fr ... CV7E8sj.99


Nice of them to add the link in - saves me the bother. Interestting story for Felt fans.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby soundchaser » 24 Jul 2015, 09:32

I'd not heard Felt before, but browsing through these tracks, I can see why.

They sound like a poor man's Lloyd Cole and The Commotions.

Rattlesnakes, pisses over anything here.

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 24 Jul 2015, 09:39

soundchaser wrote:I'd not heard Felt before, but browsing through these tracks, I can see why.

They sound like a poor man's Lloyd Cole and The Commotions.

Rattlesnakes, pisses over anything here.


You say tomato...

I have no beef with Lloyd Cole, but he was way more mainstream (no pun intended). They may have shared a couple of influences (Reed, Verlaine) but otherwise there's not a lot to link them.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Graham Murakami » 24 Jul 2015, 11:12

Since joining the board, it has been great to know there is another Felt fan in the world. For years, I thought it was just me, a girl called Rebecca I once worked with at ICI and nobody else. There is tremendous pleasure in having something that is your own to cherish that nobody else knows about, but not for 30 years.

This is possibly my favourite:

It's the final song of their best album, perhaps and that era, with the Ballad of the Band single and the Poem of the River album was probably the closest they ever came to being a conventional group. The albums that followed were wilfully uncommercial, but I do love the Pictorial Jackson Review: one side brief pop songs; the other long instrumentals. Be careful if you buy the 2003 CD remaster as it was cut wrong and plays the vocal tracks twice or something.

If you are a Felt fan, patronise Starbucks - the cd they are forced to play in the shop has Primitive Painters on at the moment. I was staggered to hear it earlier in the week.

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Rayge » 24 Jul 2015, 11:17

Deebank wrote:
soundchaser wrote:I'd not heard Felt before, but browsing through these tracks, I can see why.

They sound like a poor man's Lloyd Cole and The Commotions.

Rattlesnakes, pisses over anything here.


You say tomato...

I have no beef with Lloyd Cole, but he was way more mainstream (no pun intended).

I do. He was a dull pile of worthy shite, much like Graham Parker and the Rumour for the pub rock generation.
Felt, on the other hand, were an always inventive and entertaining – if sometimes a bit frustrating. Even their worst track (and I admit there are a few contenders), would blow dull-boy Cole out of the puddle of brown stuff he was wallowing in.
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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby soundchaser » 24 Jul 2015, 11:28

Rayge wrote:
Deebank wrote:I have no beef with Lloyd Cole, but he was way more mainstream (no pun intended).

I do. He was a dull pile of worthy shite, much like Graham Parker and the Rumour for the pub rock generation.
Felt, on the other hand, were an always inventive and entertaining – if sometimes a bit frustrating. Even their worst track (and I admit there are a few contenders), would blow dull-boy Cole out of the puddle of brown stuff he was wallowing in.


Complete bullshit. Felt have no tunes, and a piss poor vocalist.

Lloyd Cole, is better in every respect.

These sub-Johnny Marr arpeggios, are woefully lightweight.

You like this sort of stuff? You're welcome to it.

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Re: Beyond the 130 - Felt, Denim, Go Kart Mozart

Postby Deebank » 24 Jul 2015, 11:56

soundchaser wrote:
Rayge wrote:
Deebank wrote:I have no beef with Lloyd Cole, but he was way more mainstream (no pun intended).

I do. He was a dull pile of worthy shite, much like Graham Parker and the Rumour for the pub rock generation.
Felt, on the other hand, were an always inventive and entertaining – if sometimes a bit frustrating. Even their worst track (and I admit there are a few contenders), would blow dull-boy Cole out of the puddle of brown stuff he was wallowing in.


Complete bullshit. Felt have no tunes, and a piss poor vocalist.

Lloyd Cole, is better in every respect.

These sub-Johnny Marr arpeggios, are woefully lightweight.

You like this sort of stuff? You're welcome to it.


If you can't see the beauty, off-kilter brilliance and downright catchiness it's your loss. Stained Glass Windows In the Sky (posted above) outclasses anything Lloyd ever attempted - and I quite like some of his stuff.
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