Friday, July 18, 2008

FDF Vol 2 Issue 101: The Farm - Spartacus

Album - Spartacus
Artist - The Farm
Key Players - Ben Leach - keyboards,programming. Roy Boulter - drums. Carl Hunter - bass. Keith Mullin - lead guitars. Steve Grimes - Rhythm guitar, keybords. Peter Hooten - vocals.
Produced By - Graham McPherson (Paul Heaton and Stan Cullimore on "Tell the Story")

Release Date - April 17, 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust? - A long stare at the cd collection..scanning saying "When is the last time I listened to you?" There you have it.

Overview - The debut album from the Liverpool based "The Farm" rolled out two quick, fun and quirky singles. The album would go to #1 in the UK and lump the band in with other "Madchester" bands like Stone Rose, In spiral Carpets, Happy Mondays etc. Once signed to a major label the band would find the success short lived. Two other albums would follow before the band dissolved in 1996, but have reformed in recent years.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Some keyboards and samples bring up the drum track heavy "Hearts and Minds". It has a pulsing beat but an infections groove to it. The track has heavy samples from "Taxi Driver" but keeps a simple tempo that will keep your toes tapping along. The backing vocals are subtle but still pushed up at times. The even more uptempo, almost dancy "How Long" follows. To keep it in the bounds of a "rock band" there are few breakdowns on the guitar and drum parts. The click of the electric drum is used, but doesn't pull from the overall feel. "Sweet Inspiration" continues with the same sort of poppy, yet trippy feel. The drums have a sort of delay and phase on them as single guitar riffs wash over the top. A back up singer named Paula David adds some real strong backing vocals. They might user her sparingly, but when she is used she is brought right up in the mix and sings harmonies with Hooten. The song that admittedly had many of the folks to get this record in the first place follows. The overly delayed swirling guitar of "Groovy Train" swirls around the listener. The second guitar punches quick chords while the bottom is held down. If you are looking for a song to add to your "Manchester sound" compilation then look no further. A real gem. (I actually played it twice on my re listen). A single guitar and drum machine start off the intro to "Higher and Higher". Keyboard flashes in some fills before the vocals begin. David returns with some strong soulful backing vocals. The song sort of plods along at times, but has sort of catchy back beat to it all. Keyboards have a very retro sound as "Don't Let Me Down" begins. The drum track has its rare time to show on this track. Most of the record the drum work just does what it needs to, but here it seems to have more punch. The chorus of the song is one of there more "anthem" sing along type chorus' on the record. The keyboard fill in the middle sort of tosses off the flow of the track, but it regains momentum quickly. "Family of Man" continues with the same feel as the prior track. The guitar has a little more crunch on it, but again, overall we keep the lightheartedness about it all. Harmonica and a tabla sounding instrument bring up the acoustic driven "Tell the Story". The song retains the sort of "Indian" feel throughout. In a sample that has yet to be lifed (at least to these ears) "Very Emotional" is quickly over your ears. The lavish guitars chime as a keyboard bops under. The drum tempo clips along nice and the samples keep the track very light and easy to tap along to. Closing out with their most successful song "All Together Now" the sample of Pachabel's "Canon" are sampled before a guitar swirls and then the bass and drums come in. The band locks in to a perfect loop flashing only and occasional guitar riff over the canned drums. When Hooten sings "We're all together now" the band stops and lets him repeat the line before folding back in. Its close to 6 minutes of bouncy bubblegum deliciousness...see for yourself in the download.

Where are they now? - The Farm are now back together as a touring a recording act. All the members from this record are currently in the fold. The band is currently playing shows in Europe.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the Farm live.

FDF Overall Take -Perhaps victims of their own success. The band had two "bigger" singles on this record and then failed to live up to the hype in the press and in the industry. The album is currently out of print but used copies are easy enough to find and for 2 or 3 bucks you'd get the money songs and perhaps a few others you might like. An effort that might be held along side the "Manchester Bands" but there are other, stronger releases from that time/genre that are an overall more rewarding listen.

Links -
The band on myspace

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***mp3's have been removed***

The tracks were taken from Spartacus, which you can buy here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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