Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Snakefinger: "Man in the Dark Sedan"

My brother used to love this song. He just got back from Jamaica. It's sort of a faux-reggae tune, so I thought this would be a good time to share it. Great guitar solos and percussion (by the Residents) on this song.

Snakefinger (born Phil Lithman) played with Nick Lowe (in the British pub-rock band Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers), the Residents, the Club Foot Orchestra, and Eric Drew Feldman (from Captain Beefheart's Magic Band). You can see the video for "Man in the Dark Sedan" on YouTube.

My favorite Snakefinger song (from the same album, 1980's Greener Postures) was "Living in Vain". It has a watery guitar line similar to Killing Joke's "Eighties", which is often cited as the source for Nirvana's "Come As You Are". By the way, there's a great new music blog called Armrest that cites incidents of apparent plagiarism in indie music.

Snakefinger plays some sharp-edged and slithery slide on "Living in Vain". As a guitarist, he had a unique ability to play just slightly off-key (most notably on his version of the Residents' "Smelly Tongues"). He was also able to bring out the more commercial side of the Residents. Snakefinger's musical background was in the blues and psychedelia, and he enjoyed performing the film music of Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota. Snakefinger died of a heart attack on stage in 1987.

The lyrics to Snakefinger originals often described strange visions of abduction and entrapment. With his slightly nasal British singing voice, he sounds a bit like Robyn Hitchcock, especially with lyrics like this:

I used to have a grandma
She always called me "Dear"
I never knew her purpose
I only knew her atmosphere ("Living in Vain")

These songs are vinyl rips of less than perfect fidelity. If you want to hear more (and better) Snakefinger music, buy the CD reissue of his first two solo albums from Midheaven or Forced Exposure.

Snakefinger: Man in the Dark Sedan
Snakefinger: Living in Vain

9 Comments:

At 5/03/2006 1:32 PM , Anonymous piehammer said...

Man, your brother is a huge geek.

bang poo poo.

 
At 5/03/2006 1:39 PM , Anonymous Andrea said...

Wow, Snakefinger. I went through this huge Residential period but I never got around to listening to his solo stuff. Thank for posting these!

 
At 5/05/2006 10:33 AM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Andrea, you're welcome. Snakefinger played on a lot of the early Residents albums, all the way through the Commercial Album. His first two solo records are very Residential. He later formed his own band, the Vestal Virgins, and played live around the US and Europe for most of the 1980's. I wonder if any of the Residents were members of the Vestal Virgins (or the Club Foot Orchestra).

 
At 5/05/2006 11:09 AM , Blogger Niclas said...

Ever heard their song "Golden Goat"? Very odd and in it's own way rather cool (and different).

 
At 5/08/2006 1:51 PM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Yeah! "Golden Goat" is the first song on the album Greener Postures.

Niclas, is that a picture of the Sneetches' album cover?

 
At 5/08/2006 1:56 PM , Anonymous Paula said...

whose "Hammer Horror" is my current favorite song

Not a cover, I take it, of the Kate Bush song?

 
At 5/10/2006 12:30 PM , Blogger Niclas said...

jon manyjars-> That's right:-)

 
At 5/10/2006 1:09 PM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Maximo Park's "Hammer Horror" is not a cover of the Kate Bush song. Two points to Paula. I award myself one point for recognizing the Sneeeeetches cover.

 
At 5/10/2006 1:10 PM , Blogger jon manyjars said...

Piehammer, my brother will kick your ass. If you're feeling froggy, you better jump.

 

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