REVIEW: FELT/THE BOOK
First Third Books, a small Paris (and London) based publishing house – has launched a couple of months ago Felt / the book – exquisitely printed in a (very) limited edition with rare and original photos of the band and annotations from the one and only Lawrence (the band leader “whose surname was never listed in any credits or press”). Along with the 10 albums and 10 singles that the legendary (and criminally underestimated overseas) British Band recorded in its 10 years of existence, the book makes a compelling case for placing Lawrence among the great British “literary frontmen”.
Felt/the book captures the world of Felt – from Lawrence’s early obsession with Tom Verlaine (according to Record Collector, he named his band after the way Verlaine pronounces the word “felt” in the Television song “Venus”) – the almost manic precision of the band’s record titles (Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty ,The Splendour of Fear, Ignite the Seven Cannons, Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death) and his early experiments on creating a “public image” for the band.
Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, who wrote the book’s introduction, describes on his brilliant Croydon Municipal: “Felt had a rare air of mystery. Gigs were infrequent, some were in virtual darkness. As the decade wore on, odd stories about Lawrence snuck out. He was deadpan, dead pale, and once claimed he would become the first person in the world to die of boredom.
The [music] was closer to T.Rex playing Marquee Moon [...] it sounded – and still sounds – uniquely atmospheric.”
As per the backpage of the book: “…as well as writing the most beautiful songs Felt looked beautiful too. For ten consecutive years they had it all.”
P.P.S on the (im)possibility of a Felt reunion etc. here’s Lawrence talking to John Robinson:
“….I’m not going to reform it. …Music’s serious – I want to be that person, that fans can say, you don’t have to worry about Lawrence, he’s not going to reform Felt. Most important, I’m an artist, I want to do new things. Painters don’t go back and paint their first painting again. [...].
Something happens when you get to a certain age, people get married, have kids, and move away from music, their whole artistic vision goes down the drain. I see it all the time, and it saddens me. It always happens, now it’s happening to my generation. I get it, it’s life changing, but they lose the naïve innocence, the seriousness of music – it doesn’t seem serious to them any more. I think I’m trying to prove you can get older and still have the same convictions you had when you were 15 or 16. Maybe that kid I’m talking about is me. I’m fascinated by it. You’ve only got responsibilities to yourself.”