Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Oliver: Th' Faith Healers - Reptile Smile (1 December 1991)
In Love version - definitive for me.
Well, first things first. What chutzpah to dispense with the letter e from their name, obviously not caring a fig about the charges of pretension that would come thundering down on their heads. The Beatles, The Sex Pistols et al may have tried to shake things up musically, but on the name issue they were crushingly conservative in comparison to Th' Faith Healers. Did anyone make the joke at the time that had they been a Northern band, it would have been T' Faith Healers? No? Well, that's what I'm here for. Maybe they just really liked sixteenth century poetry.
Having given the public such an open target, Th' Faith Healers did at least provide themselves with a useful shield with tunes like Reptile Smile. It's a bit of a shoegazer stew but that howling riff, coming on like a cat bellowing into a vocoder helps lift it up. The lyrics seem disappointingly banal compared to something like Bleach's Wipe it Away but that playground singalong verse gets into your brain.
There are a couple of different versions available. This version comes from the picture disc 12" only release of Th' Faith Healers second single, In Love. There's another version released through the Mr. Litnanski EP from 1992. I'm not entirely sure which version Peel played, so have gone for the one which appears to be on the EP compilation L', put out by Too Pure Records in 1995. The Mr Litnanski version has a longer opening before the vocal, mixes the vocals right down in the sound and almost completely ignores the "cat on a vocoder" riff.
Update from 4/3/15 - Peel played the In Love version.
Mr Litnanski version - holding back the best bit.
Videos courtesy of MarkTurver1990 and diuriox.