The legendary band Felt, fronted by the mysterious, mononymic and prolific Lawrence, released 10 albums and 10 singles during the 1980s, on both the Cherry Red and Creation labels, and once they released their 10th album in 1989, they had fulfilled their plan and split up.

Since then, many indie-pop bands have cited them as a major influence, both lyrically and musically, and these are far from the first re-releases of Felt's albums since their initial release. So, do we really need another round of Felt reissues? Well, yes and no. Please allow me to develop that thought a bit further...

The five albums being reissued, remastered by Cherry Red this time, are the band's first five LPs, 'Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty' (1982), 'The Splendour of Fear' (1984), 'The Strange Idol's Pattern and Other Short Stories' (1984), 'Ignite the Seven Cannons' (1985) and 'The Seventeenth Century' (originally released under the name 'Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death' in 1986), and the big difference here from the previous re-releases is that these new ones have been overseen by Lawrence himself, and that they are being delivered in a 7" special packaging that also includes a re-pressed vinyl single from each album's period (CD version only). For example, with the 'Strange Idols' CD you will also get the classic 'Penelope Tree' single, and with 'The Splendour of Fear' you will get a 7" single containing one of the band's best songs - if you ask me - 'My Face Is One Fire'.

In a review like this, of remastered and reissued classic albums, it always feels redundant to review the music itself, as this is not the important thing here. Most of you reading are probably already familiar with the songs on these discs, and more curious to know how the newly remastered music sounds and how the packaging is. Sadly, I won't be able to tell you a lot about the packaging, as I have only been able to listen to the albums digitally, but according to the images I have seen, it looks amazing, with reproduced gig flyers posters and pins, plus the aforementioned 7" singles. The vinyl versions are being reissued in lovely gatefold sleeves, but for some reason, these do not include the 7" singles. And the remastering - well, the albums sound great. If you're a Felt fan, you should definitely own these, even though you probably already have all the songs in your collection.

With that said, I thought that I might as well tell you a little about the music as well, as you, dear reader, might not be very familiar with Felt and their influential music.

When recording the debut, 'Crumbling', Lawrence said that he aimed to record the best British debut album of all time, but I can't say that he succeeded. It's a bit unfocused, and it sounds as though the band doesn't really know what they want to do yet. I have never really got used to Lawrence's deadpan, bored voice, so most of the time I listen I think the instrumental tracks are the best (with some major exceptions, of course), and the opener on the debut, 'Evergreen Dazed', is my favourite track here.

It took one more album, 'Splendour', before Felt found the sound that became so influential for many indie-pop bands during the decades to come. On the 'Strange Idols' album, they brought in well-known producer John Leckie (XTC, Radiohead, Magazine and The Fall, to name a few) to bring the aforementioned focus to their recordings, and voila – suddenly Lawrence and his bandmates managed to combine classically trained guitarist Maurice Deebank's shimmering and swirling guitars with Lawrence's pop melodies and often quite abstract lyrics to form some quite beautiful pop songs, such as 'Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow' and 'Whirlpool Vision of Shame'.

The following album, 'Ignite the Seven Cannons', is often considered to be too influenced by new producer Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins fame), but I don't really agree with that. Sure, it sounds a bit like the Twins at times, but you can also find some of Felt's best songs on this record, like 'The Day the Rain Came Down' and the classic 'Primitive Painters' (which features Robin's bandmate Elisabeth Fraser on vocals). The last album featured here is the instrumental 'The Seventeenth Century', previously known as 'Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads Forever', and, well, I could easily do without this one, really. Sure, I told you earlier that I sometimes prefer the instrumental songs on the Felt albums, but then the instrumental songs have to be good and sadly these aren't. Someone once said that they sound like backing tracks awaiting the vocals, and I fully agree with that.

So, all in all, these reissues look great, at least from the photos, and they sound great. But I would recommend starting with 'Strange Idols' and 'Ignite', and then see where to go from there. Welcome to the weird and sometimes wonderful world of Felt!

Related Links:

Commenting On: Profile - Felt

ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment

First Previous Next Last