‘The Beast Inside’ – Inspiral Carpets (1991) – Chosen by SWC
I read somewhere last week whilst researching this that Michael Stipe lists this as his ‘favourite Inspiral Carpets album’. Which I am sure you are all delighted to hear. I’ve emailed Stipe to ask him what his favourite Dodgy album is, because frankly I won’t sleep until I find out (Bet its ‘Homegrown’).
It’s also my favourite Inspiral Carpets album. An album which I bought for £4 on cassette from the short lived and barely remembered ‘Rainham Records’ a small shop that graced my local precinct for roughly eight months in 1991. I remember the cassette well because on this album Side Two was much longer than side one. The reason for this was ‘Further Away’ a thirteen minute or so epic that at the time I thought was wonderful, but the constant fast forwarding at the end of side one was annoying. Years later I bought the CD version.
For me, ‘The Beast Inside’ was proof that the Inspiral Carpets were not a band that were going to lumped in the growing mass of uninspiring Manchester bands that had suddenly appeared. ‘The Beast Inside’ is a staggering record one that is as inventive as it is bewildering. It is full of stunning tracks, but it sounds nothing like the Carpets we heard on their debut album ‘Life’. Yes there is the organ sound and the rumbling bass and the vocals but the sound has developed.
For example during ‘Sleep Well Tonight’ the organ sounds almost ambient, it builds through bass into guitar and then finally the vocals burst through. You’ve also got ‘Niagra’ which is pretty much a duet between that quiet little organ and Tom’s vocals which at times borders on heartbreaking. It is stunningly gorgeous regardless.
Of course there are stand out tunes, ‘Caravan’ is classic Carpets and ‘Please Be Cruel’ is as good a piece of psychedelia as you will ever hear.