Exposé Online banner

Snakefinger — Chewing Hides the Sound
(East Side Digital ESD 81392, 1979/1999, CD)

Snakefinger — Greener Postures
(East Side Digital ESD 81402, 1980/1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01

Chewing Hides the Sound Cover artGreener Postures Cover art

Here we have the welcome reissue of two great albums by Residents’ cohort and collaborator guitarist Snakefinger (AKA Philip Charles Lithman). Many of the songs on these albums were cowritten with the Residents, and there is much stylistic similarity with that group’s recordings of the same period (not surprising since Snakefinger contributed guitar to Duck Stab and others). The dominant sounds are wild, unusual guitar playing (mostly electric) and processed vocals. Backing is provided mostly by primitive drum machine and quivering keyboards. The lyrics are on the cryptic side, so while the words are often decipherable, you’ll be left confused as to what they’re about (“Jesus was a leprechaun / His name Tidy Tom / He tried to have a little fun / Jesus: But my hands and feet are so numb!”). A quirky sense of humor prevails throughout. Between the two discs I have trouble picking a favorite – each has some great tunes. “The Model” and “The Vivian Girls” off Chewing are wonderful. And I’ve always loved “The Man in the Black Sedan” and “Trashing All the Great Loves of History” from Postures.

A good reference for Snakefinger’s sound, strangely enough, could be Eno’s first few solo albums, only a bit wackier. The same freshness of discovery is in evidence, of creative people playing around in a studio, not worrying if they are great musicians, just putting together tunes that make sense to them. And in the same way Fripp’s inventive guitar colors Eno’s albums, Snakefinger leaves his stamp on these. Snakefinger only produced two other studio albums before his 1987 death: Manual of Errors (1982) and Night of Desirable Objects (1986). Let’s hope reissues of those are in the works.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 18, 1999 releases, 1979 recordings, 1980 recordings

Related artist(s): Philip Charles Lithman (Snakefinger)

Latest news

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Asgard - Imago Mundi – This, Asgard's fourth album, covers plenty of new territory, recaptures some of the lost ground from their original sound, and offers a quite a bit more accessibility - while maintaining a generally...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues