French Frith Kaiser Thompson
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1987)
- John French (aka Drumbo) -- drums, percussion
- Fred Frith -- vocals, bass, guitar, violin
- Henry Kaiser -- guitar
- Richard Thompson -- vocals, guitar
- The Art Bears (Fred Frith)
- The Bunch (Richard Thompson)
- Captain Beefheart (John French)
- Tom Cora (Fred Frith)
- Cosa Bravo (Fred Frith)
- Crazy Backward Alaphabet (Henry Kaiser)
- Chris Cutler and Fred Frith
- Death Ambient
- Duck and Cover (Fred Frith)
- Fairport Convention (Richard Thompson)
- John French (solo efforts)
- Fred Frith (solo efforts)
- Fred Frith et al
- The GPs (Richard Thompson)
- The Guitar Party Band (Henry Kaiser)
- Henry Cow (Fred Frith)
- Henry Kaiser (solo efforts)
- Henry Kaiser and
- Henry Kaiser and David Lindley
- Heny Kaiser and Wadada Leo Smith
- Henry Kaiers Obsequious Cheeselog
- The Henry Kaiser Band
- Keep the Dog (Fred Frith)
- The Magic Band (John French)
- Massacre (Fred Frith)
- Maybe Monday (Fred Frith)
- The Mistakes (Henry Kaiser)
- MMM Quartet (Fred Frith)
- Monster Island (Henry Kaiser)
- Morris On (Richard Thompson)
- Naked City (Fred Frith)
- Name (Henry Kaiser)
- Obsequious Cheesecake (Henry Kaiser)
- Second Sight (Henry Kaiser)
- The Siamese Stepbrothers (Henry Kaiser)
- Skeleton Crew (Fred Frith)
- Thompson (Richard Thompson)
- Richard Thompson (solo efforts)
- Three Mile Pilot (John French)
- Toy Killers (Henry Kaiser)
- The Valentines (Henry Kaiser)
- Weasel Walter Septet (Henry Kaiser)
- Whisperings (Fred Frith)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Live, Love, Larf & Loaf
Country/State: US and UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 1
Geez, I remember buying this one at a Kemp Mill Record store and the clerk asking me who these guys were ... I think I tried to describe them as a super group of unknown musicians whom ever music fan should know. Needles to say, the response was sheer indifference. LOL
And that unknown super group description still seems pretty apt. Former Captain Beefheart drummer John French, Henry Cow founder/bassist Fred Frith, and guitarist Henry Kaiser were all well known to the experimental/avant garde music audience. Singer/guitarist Richard Thompson had a wider, but still small audience as a result of his work with Fairport Convention and as a solo act. The perfect cast for a massive commercial breakthrough right ?
Produced by Kaiser, 1987's "Live, Love, Larf & Loaf" was suitably quirky, but in an intriguing and occasionally fun, fashion. With a couple of exceptions including the goofy Okinawan drinking song 'Hai Sai Oji-San' and 'the strangest Beach Boy cover you'll ever heard 'Surfin' U.S.A., the collection didn't feel much like a collaboration, rather reminded me a bit of "The White Album" where each member took the spotlight with support from the others. With the exception of 'Killerman Gold Passe', Thompson's material didn't seem all that different than his solo catalog. In fact, the dark, ominous 'Drowned Dog Black Night' would not have sounded out of place on one of his solo albums. That left the non-Thompson material as the most interesting stuff to me. The opener 'Wings a la Mode' was best described as spastic funk. Penned by French, the instrumental 'Disposable Thoughts' would not have sounded out of place on a Captain Beefheart album. In contrast, never in a million years would I have expected French and Frith to come up with a tune as commercial as 'The Second Time'.
Summary - It's one of those album's I find fascinating, though I can't really explain the appeal and many friends have questioned my hearing and musical tastes on this one..
Love, Larf & Loaf" track listing:
1.) Wings a la Mode (Adams - John French) - 2:38 rating:*** stars
Hum, imagine a funk musician having some sort of spasm ... Not meant as a criticism, but that's what the opener 'Wings a la Mode' sounded like. You also got a taste of Henry Kaiser's jarring, angular lead guitar stylings. The interesting thing on this one was what a nice, commercial voice John French had.
2.) Killerman Gold Posse (Richard Thompson) - 1:42 rating:*** stars
So 'Killerman Gold Posse' was a performance where the other band members actually seemed to have an impact on Thompson. It remained an instantly recognizable Thompson performance, but the song's jerky composition and Kaiser's spastic drumming gave it a weird edge.
3.) Where's the Money? (Fred Frith) - 3:49 rating:*** stars
Every wondered what a rock band populated by a bunch of psycho killers might sound like ? Probably not, but if the thought's ever cross your mind, check out the wild, rollicking 'Where's the Money'. Darn if this track wasn't jarring.
4.) Hai Sai Oji-San (Shoukichi Kina) - 2:37 rating: **** stars
I love 'Hai Sai Oji-San' if for no other reason that it was so bizarre ... Who would have ever imagined Thompson singing in Okinawan with the rest of the band following along in a fun, drunken stupor. Actually it kind of made sense given the song had a lyric that centered around sake.
5.) Drowned Dog Black Night (Richard Thompson) - 6:45 rating: **** stars
As mentioned, Thompson's unique sound doesn't seem to have been all that influenced by his fellow band members. Certainly one of his heaviest tracks, with the exception of Kaiser's manic guitar solo, 'Drowned Dog Black Night' would easily have fit on a Thompson solo album.
6.) Surfin' U.S.A. (Brian Wilson - Churck Berry) - 2:18 rating: **** stars
One of the strangest Beach Boy covers you'll ever hear ... Musically this one started out as a note-for-note copy of the original and seemed pretty normal until the storm trooper backing vocals kicked in. And then it got real weird. Simply dripping with dark, biting cynicism French's lead vocal was downright scary. Every Beach Boy fan should hear this tune just to be aware of the fact it exists.
1.) A Blind Step Away (Richard Thompson) - 5:38 rating: **** stars
Always liked the Oriental touches on this one (Kaiser on sanshin), but after all these years, the pretty ballad 'A Blind Step' remains a lyrical mystery to me. The harmonies are too-die-for pretty.
3.) The Second Time (John French - Fred Frith) - 2:58 rating: **** stars
Kicked along by some lovely Thompson lead guitar (and Kaiser's angular licks), one of the album biggest surprises came in the form of how pop-oriented 'The Second Time' sounded. Personally I wouldn't have thought these guys had a top-40 melody in their collective souls. I was obviously wrong.
4.) Tir-Nan-Darag (Henry Kaiser - Richard Thompson) - 5:17 rating: **** stars
Opening up with French's martial drumming, you had a momentary feeling that you were heading for a funeral, or execution. That was underscored by Thompson's mournful vocal. Best way I can describe this one is as the kind of anthem Bono and company can only dream about writing. Always wondered what language the words were - Celtic ?
5.) Disposable Thoughts (instrumental) (John French) - 2:55 rating: ** stars
Funny that the instrumental 'Disposable Thoughts' was more along the lines of what I expected to hear on this album. Even though French wrote it, Kaiser's discordant guitar opening reminded me of something out of the Captain Beefheart catalog.
6.) Bird In God's Garden / Lost and Found (Archuletta / Fred Frith) - 5:40 rating: **** stars
Based on a Sufi poem, the medley 'Bird In God's Garden / Lost and Found' started out sounding like incidental music to a Celtic slasher film. Thompson's dry vocals underscored the feeling. For hardcore fans, Thompson included the track on his 1993 "Watching the Dark" anthology.
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