Stump: A Fierce Pancake US CD 
- Living It Down
- In The Green
- Roll The Bodies Over
- Charlton Heston
- Doctor (A Visit To The)
- A Fierce Pancake
- Boggy Home
I first heard Cork’s amazing Stump when The Tube was imported to a monthly MTV slot in the mid-80s. The band performed a song entitled “Censorship Stripper” and I kept the tape. Interesting. I thought that was a great title for a song, but little did I know at the time that it was Channel Four nixing the actual title of the song; “Tupperware Stripper.” In England you couldn’t use a brand name in a song as constituted advertising. Of course, I only found this out ages later. I next encountered the band when I happened to catch their arresting video for the song “Charlton Heston” on MTV’s 120 Minutes.
I thought at the time that the song was highly eccentric, but that was before I heard the whole album! “Charlton Heston” was a deliberately odd song; built upon tree frog samples and a percussion block with a touch of jazzy bass for rhythm. It almost had the kind of skewed sound that “Time Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” had! Mick Lynch carried the vocals and his freeform lyrics adapted references from the film “The Ten Commandments” into a gleeful, if irreverent, rubber biscuit of a song. If that makes any sense…
The instrumentation was almost folk music with a thin, twangy hoedown guitar and light shadings of organ chords. On the face of it, it was not all that eccentric… except for that tree frog rhythm that the entire song was built upon. The Tim Pope directed video, was of course, ideally suited to the sounds. With Lynch emoting grandly, the rest of the band kept things toned down. Very down as I recall that some of the band members sported theatrical looking age makeup. Duran Duran, this most definitely was not. Still, the almost novelty aspect of the song warned me off as much as I was drawn to it. I can’t honestly say that I recall seeing it in stores of the time, but suffice to say that I did not run out and buy the album.
< insert twenty year span…>
It was in 2008 that I was in Victoria, British Columbia visiting with chasinvictoria and his wife. Of course, we went music shopping! It was at a great store called Lyle’s Place, that I ran across the CD of “A Fierce Pancake.” Naturally, I snapped it up without hesitation when I saw it in the used bins for C$10.00. What greeted me on playback was a lot more challenging than “Charlton Heston.”
The opening salvo, “Living It Down” dumped the listener in the deep end right up front so that there was no sidestepping the issue. This was almost berserk sounding music that featured the various instruments playing to their own, odd meters; coalescing in ways that made early DEVO really sound like The Rolling Stones in comparison. The guitar was twanged and plucked with what might have been odd, acrobatic fingering. Was that the alien uptwang of a musical saw I noticed? The notes sounded pitch bent as often as not. Stuttering rhythmic tattoos of the drums would intermittently interject sometimes motorik energy while around them and the vocals, the music bed sounded as if it had been ripped apart and stapled back together.
Bassist Kevin Hopper was also responsible for samples and much of this music was so dense with alien sounds that it formed a sonic miasma where little was discernible as one instrument or another. It could sound like a crate of furniture being dumped down a stairwell, in all honesty. That said, it did reach out and grab me by the lapels; stopping short of delivering a head-butt.
Next: …Into The Rabbit Hole