Felt: Me & A Monkey On The Moon (Cherry Red)

And so it was that in 1989 the Great Felt experiment came to an end. Knowing that Me & A Monkey On The Moonwould be their final statement, Lawrence decided to go all out with one big album. Considering the erratic nature of the band’s Creation Records output, it’s almost as if Lawrence had a moment of clarity and realized that there was no way those experimental records were going to bring him the pop stardom he so sorely longed for.  Me & A Monkey On The Moon is the sound of a rejuvenated band, one that is focused and wanting to put its best foot forward, even though it knows its day is done. What’s more, they finally were able to get Adrian Borland of The Sound to produce them, a better late than never move; he had been slated to produce their debut, but I had to bow out at the last minute. (Listening to the fantastic results of his work, one wondering what they might have sounded like had he been able to produce that first record.)

In much the way previous records startled with the first note, Monkey also offers up a stunning surprise: “I Can’t Make Love To You Anymore,” a mellow, country-tinged ballad that borders on Americana. This isn’t the country as heard on poem of the river, though; this is something much more authentic, much more austere, and much more beautiful. It’s also one of the band’s most developed songs, featuring backing vocals both male and female, as well as the always-beautiful pedal steel work of BJ Cole. It is a stunning and beautiful song, one that makes you wonder why Lawrence was farting around for the previous albums. It’s surprisingly modern sounding, too: it’s not hard to think of the soon to arrive Spiritualized.

The rest of the record follows down this amazingly well–written and arranged path, offering nine other songs that will leave you  shaking your head and feeling quite sad that Lawrence was ending the band on a high note. And it is indeed a high note, if not an ironic one; listening to songs such as “Free,” “Never Let You Go,” and “Down An August Path” one hears the bubbling-under sound of Britpop fomenting. What makes that even more ironic is that Creation was unable to release this album because they had run out of money, so Alan McGee allowed Lawrence to take the record to cherry red, where would be released via Mike Alway’s new label El. It’s ironic because those three songs definitely predict and deftly foreshadow the sound of Oasis, the group that would turn around the label’s fortune and be one of the biggest bands of the decade, making the Gallagher brothers the rock stars Lawrence always dreamed of being.

Me & A Monkey On The Moon may have been the band’s final statement, but Lawrence was far from done. He would soon launch a new project, Denim, where he focused his love of pop culture and Britishness into a fine, fun mix that fit nicely within the Britpop scheme of things. Like Felt, that project would come and go with the decade as well. He would start yet another group, Go-Kart Mozart, equally indebted to kitsch culture, as well as being what he called a “b–side band,” which is happily going strong today, having released a critically acclaimed album this year and performing all over Europe to support it. And though Felt is gone, they left behind a fantastic legacy of challenging, interesting, and influential music that still resonates three decades on.

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