Sunday, June 5, 2011

There's A Place For Abstract....

Listening to some early Cocteau Twins this morning brought to mind the exquisite, shimmering vocal that Elisabeth Fraser delivered for Felt's finest moment, Primitive Painters. With production from fellow Cocteau Twin, Robin Guthrie this is the track that most people think of when Felt are mentioned and quite rightly as it is a gem of a track that has one of Fraser's best ever vocals.

Lawrence formed Felt in the late 70's after being influenced primarily by both Tom Verlaine and Vic Goddard and over the course of the next decade released some of the most idiosyncratic and contrary music of the 80's. They always seemed to be out of step with whatever everyone else was playing at the time. Although they had a loyal core fan base even they sometimes were thrown off balance by the shifting sounds that Lawrence created and released under the moniker of Felt. Since they split it has become somewhat cool to name check Felt with the likes of Belle and Sebastian citing them as an influence.

Lawrence's flat, affected vocals and cultivated, fey, witty lyrics gave the band both a sense of feminity/androgyny and an air of sophistication, assisted by the sinewy, decorative guitar of the classically trained Maurice Deebank. Felt was, however, most definately Lawrence's pet project which had an ever changing lineup.

Deebank left the band in '86 and they then released one of their finest tracks in Ballad of the Band. The song recounts their failed attempts at gaining a wider audience and contains one of Lawrence's best lyrics that admonishes Deebank for his lack of commitment to the group and his hanging out with "all those Jesus freaks". As a final goodbye to Deebank and to rub salt in the wound the track is dominated by the Hammond sound of his replacement in the group, Martin Duffy.

It is now almost 20 years since Felt split up but they remain a vital part of the UK's music scene and a indie pop benchmark.

Stains On A Decade is a great place to start if you don't have any Felt records in your collection being that rare thing of a "best of" that serves both as an introduction to the band and a vital addition to any fan's collection as 11 of the tracks do not appear on the band's albums.

Felt - Ballad Of The Band
Felt - I Didn't Mean To Hurt You

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