The Cardiacs, the true children of Punishment of Luxury
I actually saw the Cardiacs early on in the career, quite by accident, and only realised much later, when they started to get some attention in the music papers, that it had been them.
Living on post-graduation in Oxford, on the dole, in Jericho in the north of the city, we often would go for a night time wander across Port Meadow. Because it was idyllic but also a little spooky -- water bird sounds carrying eerily across the pitch black dark. One summer night we set out only to find ourselves in the midst of a free festival. We had little idea such things even existed, I don't think. This is 1984, 85, so pre-Battle of the Beanfield. I remember a hippie girl, tripping out of her head and tripping on the guy-ropes of all the tents, as she ran in a panic through the camp ground.
If it had been your typical free festival fare -- Hawkwind/Here and Now type music, Magic Mushroom Band et al - we might have stuck around longer, enjoyed the trippy spacey-ness of it. But no, strangely, it was the Cardiacs, herky-jerky to the power of 10000. To say I was appalled -- grimly mesmerized, too, but mostly appalled -- would be an understatement. It was so not - so the antithesis - of what I was about at that point, which was Husker Du type blur, or The Smiths. We left pretty quick, which I kinda regret. The Cardiacs drove me away from an alternate destiny, of becoming a crusty-traveler. (Unlikely scenario)
I guess below (from a 1984 videotape) is what they would have sounded like when we saw them.
Almost Eastern European... coming from not dissimilar places as that Soviet band Zvuki Mu, maybe.
Are the Cardiacs also a little bit like what pre-New Wave, late-prog Split Enz sounded like?
Sad to hear about the health torments of singer/mainman Tim Smith.