Thursday, 16 January 2020

Mashing Mole: The Best of Richard Davies [featuring The Moles & Cardinal)

How to describe the genius that is Richard Davies...? I'll try to keep it brief!
I've been a fan of his work ever since picking up the 12" single by his first band The Moles, "Tendrils and Paracetamol" back in 1991. To say I was stunned with the inventiveness of this 4 track EP would be an understatement. Keen to hear more, soon after they released on CD the album "Untune the Sky", which was originally released on vinyl as a mini-album. The CD included the 4 tracks from that EP, but tracks available on the vinyl and CD versions differed somewhat, which was frustrating. Thankfully the CD reissue of the album in 1999 included tracks from both releases of the album plus the "Tendrils" EP and 3 tracks from a self-titled EP released in 1992.

After recording a Peel session (which apparently Peel didn't like!) in 1992, everything went a bit pear shaped and apart from Davies the rest of the band relocated back to Australia. Davies kept the band name to release in 1994 the rather interesting (and completely different sounding) "Instinct" album. The same year also saw him collaborate with Eric Matthews under the name of Cardinal, releasing their outstanding self-titled album which received much critical acclaim. Cardinal then split, it seemed Davies didn't have much luck regarding longevity of any band he was involved in. After this he released 3 excellent solo albums between 1996 and 2000, and then silence... 

Silence for several years and I thought that was it, we'd never hear from him again. But, in the year 2009 he teamed up with Robert Pollard to record the album "Jar of Jam Ton of Bricks" under the name of Cosmos, though the majority of the album Pollard sang lead vocals. This was a short-lived affair, but thankfully we didn't have to wait too long as Davies got back together with Eric Matthews in 2012 to record a second Cardinal album, "Hymns". While this album wasn't celebrated as much as their debut, it's still full of fine songs of which many would have sat comfortably on that first album. Again this collaboration was a short-lived affair, and we had more silence from Davies until in 2016 he 'reformed' The Moles to record the album "Tonight's Music". This was met with indifference by many who wanted to hear The Moles of old, but even though the album is a bit of a mess as a whole (plus way too long), there is an excellent album hiding in there! 2 years later saw another Moles album, "Code Word", which was rather more consistent than the previous release, I'd go as far as saying it's amongst his best work.

I didn't mean to go on so much about Davies but he's had quite a varied and complicated musical career over the years! For the purpose of this anthology I decided to include 2 tracks from each of the albums mentioned above, apart from Cosmos which I see more as a Pollard album, plus a rare solo single (track 19). It was really tough debating which songs to include, but I felt I had to start and end the mix with 2 tracks from the "Tendrils" EP, my introduction to his work. 

Hopefully you'll enjoy his songs as much as I have the past (almost) 30 years. I recommend every album he has recorded, but for beginners I believe you should seek out the fine collection of early Moles recordings titled "Flashbacks and Dream Sequences", released in 2014.

Finally, a big thanks yet again to Manerg who provided the rather excellent title for this mix, plus his help with the cover artwork.

  1. The Moles - This Is a Happy Garden (4:56)
  2. Richard Davies - Cantina (4:18)
  3. The Moles - Already in Black (2:11)
  4. Cardinal - If You Believe in Christmas Trees (3:56)
  5. Richard Davies - Why Not Bomb the Movies? (2:51)
  6. The Moles - Beauty Queen of Watts (2:24)
  7. The Moles - What If? (4:15)
  8. The Moles - Surf's Up (4:02)
  9. Richard Davies - Coldest Day (3:36)
10. Cardinal - Carbolic Smoke Ball (3:27)
11. Richard Davies - Main Street Electrical Parade (3:21)
12. The Moles - Raymond, Did You See the Red Queen? (3:31)
13. The Moles - Going Down (2:26)
14. Richard Davies - Chips Rafferty (3:17)
15. Cardinal - Silver Machines (3:53)
16. The Moles - Bury Me Happy (3:02)
17. The Moles - Damien Lovelock (1:06)
18. Richard Davies - Stars (3:10)
19. Richard Davies - Cooper Rediscovered Radials (3:30)
20. Cardinal - Kal (4:52)
21. The Moles - Richard Davies 6.0 (4:05)
22. The Moles - Tendrils and Paracetamol (6:41)