Kent-based Irish exile David Cunningham specialised in conceptual excavations of pop hits. His Flying Lizards group was a loose collective of avant-garde and free improvising musicians (such as David Toop and Steve Beresford) with Deborah Evans, Patti Palladin and Vivien Goldman as main vocalists.
The one that really sold – both in the UK and the US – was The Flying Lizards’ version of the Barrett Strong/Motown hit, Money.
The noise was unique: barrelhouse piano offset with a subsonic disco pulse and what sounded like tea-trays crashing upon the heads of anyone who didn’t get the point, all barely in time with each other.
The blank debutante spoken tones of Deborah Evans recited a passionless version of the need for filthy lucre in a shadowy echo of Margaret Thatcher (who had been elected three months before the single was released) at her most sanctimonious.
The backing vocals sounded like muzzled dogs, and a ridiculous guitar solo fizzled and crackled before Evans ended up talking the old soul ad libs with hilarious lack of soul, musical or otherwise.
A disembodied bleep finished off a record so cold and brittle you could only marvel at its unashamed contempt for everything and wonder how Cunningham and Co. made it so catchy and infectious.
But then, soul-less greed was about to be the Next Big Thing, so The Flying Lizards were only warning of the coming infection.
The 1980 self-titled album presented Money and nine other minimalist tracks featuring a musician who couldn’t play accompanying a singer who couldn’t sing.
Guitar, piano, producer