Felt - Train Above The City - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Felt - Train Above The City

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2018-09-21
Felt - Train Above The City
Felt - Train Above The City

This is a wacky one from a band whose picture is under “Wacky” in the musical dictionary. For a band known for its eclectic idiosyncrasies, even this was a major headscratcher back upon initial release 30 years ago. By the time you get through the first couple of songs, you begin to realise this is not a Felt album at all, but a jazzy cocktail lounge space age bachelor pad groovathon (on vibes, no less!) that’s basically a side project of drummer Gary Ainge and keyboardist Martin Duffy trading under the Felt banner. Oh, they may tell you that Lawrence was involved throughout, but don’t believe them – he just came up with the song titles! So as an addition to the “Felt” discography, it was universally panned as their weakest album; understandably, since it is not a Felt album. Why Creation even released it becomes apparent when you check out who’s in the Producer’s chair – why, it’s none other than Creation co-founder Slaughter Joe Foster!

But taken at face value, it is a rather snappy, finger poppin’ daddio groove with vibes (aka the xylophone) to the fore tinkling away with reckless abandon on Lawrence-supplied titles like the frolicking title track that’s sure to get you up and on your feet in the morning, the smoky, late night headnodder ‘On Weegee’s Sidewalk’, and the vaudevillian ‘Press Softly On The Brakes, Holly’, which would fit perfect in Maria Muldaur’s songbook if Lawrence added lyrics (cf., ‘Don’t You Feel My Leg (Don’t You Get Me High)’).

The tender ‘Spectral Morning’ is a childlike lullaby that lives up to Lawrence’s title, as does the weeping navelgazer ‘Teargardens’, ‘Book of Swords’ is so swooningly romantic it could be a wedding song, and the positively epic, 7-minute closer, ‘Seahorses on Broadway’ is more ephemeral, experimental and hesitant than Lawrence’s title suggests, even if you could imagine what a seahorse doing the boogaloo down Broadway might look like!

As with the other reissues, Cherry Red are tossing in a 7" single and other contemporary ephemera if you buy the CD box edition and this time they’ve coupled two tracks from the  “Final Resting of The Ark” EP: (the title track is Lawrence’s paean to 1920s Paris and the ‘60s New York Underground, featuring the spookily disarming sax work of Richard Thomas (Dif Juz, Hope Blister, Butterfly Child)) and ‘There’s No Such Thing As Victory’, a whispered rumination on resolved acceptance of loss, a failed life that seem to occupy much of Lawrence’s lyrics during these latter stages of the band’s existence.

If you enjoyed their earlier instrumental album Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death (aka The Seventeenth Century), you’ll love this even more – it’s sexier, nostalgic, and heartbreaking all at once and while, all in all, it’s a wonderful album, I’m deducting a point for false advertising!


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