Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The great Guthrie controversy
As we inch closer to a finished fanzine (just this week we got splendid contributions from John Mohan, Sybille Lacroix, Anh Do and Matt Fishbeck), we have been receiving support from some kindred spirits - Simon Goddard, for example, just wrote a lovely post mentioning the zine and recounting his own encounter with Lawrence at, incongruously, the Groucho Club.
In the meantime, however, I have been digressing slightly and delving into a long-dead controversy: Robin Guthrie's production of Ignite The Seven Cannons. While everyone from Alan McGee to Pitchfork seems to agree that Forever Breathes The Lonely Word is the best Felt LP, Ignite often gets cast as the runt of the litter. The reason, as Alistair Fitchett succinctly summarises it, is that the record "made too many concessions to 4AD style for comfort. Guthrie's production seemed to compress the sound, and made on the whole for a muddy, messy Felt." "Muddy" is a word that seems to come up a lot. Other commentators, such as a poster on Adrian Denning's page, are even less sanguine: "Robin Guthrie has caused a complete disaster! A catastrophe!"
I am a fully paid-up partisan for mid-period, just pre-Creation Felt. Let's set aside Primitive Painters, which is a shibboleth even for the devotees; I would still pin my colours to the mast of the Black Ship in the Harbour, I Don't Know Which Way To Turn, Southern State Tapestry et al. I am too much of a dilettante though and so I have been searching for a true Guthrie/Cocteau Twins devotee to make a more spirited, production-minded defence of the album. I've asked around on the Cocteau Twins Forum, but if anyone fancies writing a guest blog entry please get in touch...