Monday, April 7, 2008

Two 7-inch singles from Snakefinger (1978, 1980)

Musician Phillip 'Snakefinger' Lithman
(1949 - 1987) was a cohort and frequent collaborator to The Residents, back in their early years of complete obscurity, and through to the '80's heyday of the Ralph Record label.

Born in South London, Snakefinger had come up through the British Blues scene in his teens before moving to San Francisco at the end of the '60's, where he first met the enigmatic Residents.

Back in London in '72, he formed the pub rock band Chilli Willi & The Red Hot Peppers along with fellow guitarist Martin Stone (of Savoy Brown) and members of Brinsley Schwarz (including
Nick Lowe).

Following the break-up of Chilli Willi and a sojourn to L.A. seeking a record contract, Lithman returned to San Francisco around 1978.

Very soon he was providing many snakey guitar licks as a 'guest performer' on several of The Residents recordings, which led to his own solo releases.

Listen to:
Snakefinger -
The Spot

Ralph Records 45, 1978
(click for audio)

Click here to see the song lyrics on the back cover of the 'Spot' picture sleeve.

After encouraging Snakefinger to go solo, The Residents collaborated on his first Ralph record, released on translucent blue vinyl.
The B-side, 'Smelly Tongues', was a cover version of a song from 1974's 'Meet The Residents', their first LP.

Listen to:
Snakefinger -
Smelly Tongues

Ralph Records 45, 1978
(click for audio)

The first Snakefinger LP, 1979's
'Chewing Hides The Sound' included a brilliant cover version of Kraftwerk's 'The Model'.

The 45 single release soon followed, backed by a track not found on the album.

Listen to:
Snakefinger -
The Model

Ralph Records 45, 1980
(click for audio)

Click here to see the image on the back cover of the 'Model' picture sleeve.

Listen to:
Snakefinger -
Talkin' In The Town

Ralph Records 45, 1980
(click for audio)

A few more LP releases followed, heading into the 1980's.
By 1982 Lithman had established his touring back-up group, The Vestal Virgins, with Eric Drew Feldman, who'd been with Capt. Beefheart's band.

In 1984, the tour and live recording from 'Snakefinger's History of The Blues' showcased his range of playing skills.

Having had a history of heart problems, it was while on tour in Europe with The Vestal Virgins in 1987 that Snakefinger died of a fatal heart attack at age 38.

See also:
- Snakefinger bio page at Residents.Com

- As of this writing, Snakefinger's first 3 full-length solo LPs on the Ralph label are all available for download at The Thing On The Doorstep

- Below, ▼ The classic 'Man In The Dark Sedan'
music video from 1980, directed by Graeme Whifler.


Lex10 said...

Not my snazzy use of italics:

Have you never thrown anything away?!?!

I can only assume you own all my old stuff.

Lex10 said...

Plus what a head on him - a real punim.

Devil Dick said...

i need more snakefinger in my life!

lunadude said...

Mmmm, Snakefinger!

Got to see him live, great show.

I miss his twisted talent.

Donut Duck said...

Great blog you got there. And while i am still a nerdy Residents freak and love some Snakefinger as well, i'd like to note that the What Wilbur/Kill the great raven 45 would also make a great share.


Rob Hurley said...

Thanks for the post! I've been a Snakefinger fan since History of the Blues, and I saw his last American performance at the Berkeley Square in 1987. If you could post "Kill the Great Raven", that would be so cool!

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