Thud is the sound one's head makes as it hits the table. - Kevin Gilbert
Thud is Kevin Gilbert's first solo album. It was released on March 28, 1995, a little over a year before he died.
Thud is somewhat anomalous amongst Kevin's work in that the production is generally very low-key, in an attempt to let the instruments speak for themselves. Giraffe and Toy Matinee, his earlier projects, both utilized synthesizers and significant production efforts. Kevin was known for having an innate ability for doing mixing and production, but his perfectionism could work against him; as a result, he deliberately chose to stick to simple sounds on Thud, though All Fall Down and especially Shadow Self reveal his proclivities in the booth. In general, the songs are mostly acoustic rock, with electric guitars thrown in for effect in places.
As with The Shaming of the True, Thud does contain some reworkings of Giraffe songs, in this case All Fall Down and Because of You, though these are heavily modified and basically only share the lyrics.
- 1. When You Give Your Love to Me
One of Kevin's best efforts, this song has reasonable ambitions and meets them easily. When You Give Your Love to Me works well as a love song, but its lyrics are written tongue in cheek, allowing for a somewhat more fulfilling experience than the usual fluff that exists in love songs.
- 2. Goodness Gracious
Goodness Gracious highlights Kevin's indignation with a society that has stuck him with the bill for its past excesses. In line with its aggressive tone, this song also has the most rocking tune of the album, with the possible exception of Shadow Self.
- 3. Joytown
Joytown is a whimsical song of an idyllic place where all of our fallen heroes live the lives they deserve to lead. Another strong effort, this song represents well the more optimistic side of Thud.
- 4. Waiting
As Kevin put it on the Live at the Troubador album, this is a "list of all the shit that I'm waiting for." Another fine simple song, with the fantastic line, "I'm waiting for the Mafia to make this song a hit."
- 5. Tea for One
Tea for One is one of the sadder songs on the album, telling the story of a man named Duncan whose infatuation with a woman goes unfulfilled due to his hesitance to make an advance. The vocals on this ring very true, with the perfect aspect of forlorn wailing while still singing words to music. The version of this on Live at the Troubador is particularly good.
- 6. Shadow Self
According to an interview Kevin did, this song was actually supposed to be called "Late for Dinner", but it got the less subtle title of Shadow Self due to a mixup with the publisher. This is the big one-off on the album, an elaborate, almost progressive rock-styled piece, with lots of distortion, filters and different vocal tracks. As far as the lyrics go, it's not unlike Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones, except that instead of being spoken by a specific being, the words are those of the evil within each person, trying to gain influence over the person's actions.
- 7. The Tears of Audrey
This song describes a woman who, following the death of her husband, bottles up her feelings and isolates herself from the world. The tone of the song is actually unusual when contrasted against Tea for One and Song for a Dead Friend, which both deal with loss, because The Tears of Audrey is written from the perspective of a gentle third party.
- 8. Shrug (Because of Me and You)
There is absolutely nothing that better demonstrates Kevin's personal growth over the years than the difference in title between this song and Because of You, from Giraffe's album The Power of Suggestion. The lyrics are almost exactly the same, with a few minor changes in the order of the lyrics and a few turns of phrase that work better in Shrug. As far as music goes, Shrug is worlds apart from Because of You; Shrug has a much more casual and organic tone to it, as befits its title and Kevin's change in musical style, whereas Because of You has Giraffe's signature thick synth sound and heavy engineering making it a more driving, aggressive song.
- 9. All Fall Down
This song completely and utterly kicks the ass of the corresponding Giraffe version, available on The View from Here. The order of the lyrics here versus the Giraffe version really highlight Kevin's increased confidence in his writing. The Giraffe version relied much more strongly on repetition, particularly repetition of the chorus, which ends up diminishing the power of the lyrics in the verses; inversely, the Thud version allows the lyrics to tell a story and paint a picture with a better (and less frequent) chorus. As far as the music goes, the Thud version goes out on a limb slightly from the rest of the album, incorporating muted brass and more elaborate orchestration, as well as backup singers, which are less evident on the rest of the album. However, it works very effectively in creating a musical tone that represents a wake for the world.
- 10. Song for a Dead Friend
Kevin wrote this song for a friend who committed suicide. In the lyrics, Kevin addresses his friend directly about the suicide and laments his failure to measure up to his friend in terms of friendship. The only musical accompaniment is a simple piano sequence with some sparse guitar work in the chorus.
As for the cover photo, the liner notes have this to say:
That's the Baron George Hoyningen-Huene having "A Vision at Glyphada". Photographer Herbert List captured his head hitting the table on the plains of Glyphada, Greece in 1937 and Max Scheier with his estate was very gracious about letting us reprint its goodness here.
Some versions of Thud shipped with a cardboard sleeve attached to the front of the jewel case, containing a 4 song EP that has Kevin's cover of Kashmir, by Led Zeppelin on it. If you find a copy of Thud like this, buy it. If you don't like it, I'll buy it from you. No, I'm not kidding.