Thursday 28 February 2013

Butterfly Collector

Q: Why do Butterfly Collector as a single?
A: I've recorded several of The Jam's songs before, Butterfly Collector included. The obvious approach is to play it as an acoustic piece with a solitary guitar/voice. I didn't want to do that. The original (b-side of Strange Town) is quite short and doesn't have time to explore the tune much. This has short instrumental passages. Tales From The Riverbank was also on the shortlist and I've tried to add a bit of the feel of that one in here. The result is still quite sparse, despite being electric. There is a lot of venom in that lyric.


From Russia With Love

Q: So why choose From Russia With Love as a single?
A: Best Bond Book, Best Bond FIlm (closest to the original realistic/convincing plot) and the tune has some great chords, simply it is oozing with unfulfilled-twang. Not tricky to pick as a choice at all. It's darker than the original, but the gypsy belly-dancers are still there.

Q: What can you say about the artwork?
A: I wanted to repcreate the cover the 1st edition hardback of the book; and this is pretty close. The rose (complete with black-spot on the leaves) is a Lili Marlene, a deep red cluster rose. The revolver was loaned for the shot and is a deactivated .38 Colt Police Special, the book has a Smith&Wesson 5-shot .38 but my gun collector chum doesn't have one. If you've seen the bookcover you will recognise the image.

Q: What is that sound:
A: The percussion? There are three overlaid hand-clap tracks in there; they are spread around the stereo in an irregular triangle so they don't quite sound together - it's a bit like castanets. There are also three sleigh-bell tracks (at different points in the compass rose), plus a tambourine and a small Moroccan drum. The feel I after was being at the centre of a circle with people clapping and beating the rhythm around you while you dance.

Hear it here 

Sunday 24 February 2013

mission statement

A bit battered and worn, but still there 25 years on...

Italia Mondial Classic

The Speed Of Sound At Tree Level

The first album.

The CD has a 16page booklet, which is also provided in PDF format with the mp3 download via bandcamp.
The physical CD can be bought from a physical shop by visiting Spiveys'Web on Chestergate Macclesfield, or contact them via 

Also available from:
etc etc etc

Glide On By

The live set always finished with Glide On By and so does the first album, because afterwards "the rest is silence"... The earliest recorded version is a 1989 demo. It was always a good opportunity for the bass to enjoy itself.

The song is about wasting time, frittering it away and not engaging in anything or with anyone - living life as a glide rather than a fully powered flight. It was re-recorded in September 2010.

Lost Memory

Lost Memory includes field recording carried out on two Scottish beaches and - in one of those unplanable events - an Oystercatcher flying past manages to count the guitar in at the beginning correctly at 72bpm.

The song is about recovering something precious that had been lost. 

There are a lot of different influences at work Including J W Waterhouses' Miranda And The Tempest and Meryl Streep in The French Leiutenants' Woman all mixed in with decades of cold weather out of season holidays.

This was a December 1990 demo and was re-recorded in August 2010.


Cherry blossom. Another of the overlay pictures from the video for Love; the opposite of the 'dead' and frightening tree.


This tree is every monster of the forest there has ever been rolled into one, from The Jabberwock to Gredel and all points in between. 
But, a mere two months later the effect is gone. 

As seen in the video for Love, along with this:

Love - the video

The video for Love (from The Speed Of Sound At Tree Level).

Some stills taken during filming and to use as overlays


Love is more cynical than Mr Lennons' song of the same name. It predates The Blood Oranges and was a regular piece in the live set. There are only three chords, but they are not the first three that would normally spring to mind. I listened to a lot of John Coltrane before re-recording this. Re-recorded in May 2010.

Love - Japanese poster

There is something about Japanese script that just 'does it' with film posters.

Keep It Quiet

1990 was an exceptionally hot summer. Roads were clearly visible on reservoir beds - once seen not forgotten. The global warming 'debate' had begun, but there was a sense that it was a very taboo subject. In many ways an assault on mother-nature offers a parallel with domestic violence. Keep It Quiet takes both subjects and rams them together. It was recorded as a December demo in 1990 and rerecorded in November/December 2010  

Ghosts Of Grytviken

The abandoned whaling station at Grytviken (on South Georgia) is an industrial ghost-town. Whale-catchers were abandoned there when commercial whaling ended and they are quietly rusting in front of the tanks used to store the whale oil.

The lyrics:

The Italia Modial Classic six string is the guitar on this, the introduction and coda are sound-scapes, bowed guitar and a volume pedal replicate whale song, and a ships bell strikes eight-bells at the end. This was another of the 1990 December Demo recordings and was re-recorded appropriately on Halloween 2010.

The images were captured from the South Georgia Webcam (see previous post - This Winterland)

This Winterland

This Winterland is about the Antarctic Treaty - preventing exploitation of the natural resources of Antarctica for fifty years - which was not fully ratified until 1998.

This song dates from 1989 when the discussions were yet again stalled. The wolves seemed to be gathering. it was a December 1989 demo. Re-reorded in October 2010.

The South Georgia webcam: Great fun. I found it while doing a websearch for Grytviken in 2007. It is fascinating. Some captured images are below - no filters, straight off the webcam which is  here look down their navigation bar on the right til you find webcam. 

Time Will Tell

As heard on Lord Litter's Magic Music Box (April 2011)

Time Will Tell is another song largely inspired by a painting. There was a temporary exhibition at Oldham Art Gallery in 1988, one painting was 'Truth Emerging From The Well'. She is of course naked - as truth should be, but she is bent on retribution against those that cast her down, She is clutching a birch branch to beat her tormentors and has a very crazed and menacing expression. It is an exceptionally powerful (if ridiculous) image.

Another element in the lyric is the Parliamentary 100 Years Rule; allowing some documents to be published eventually, but long after those involved are no longer concerned with their reputations.

Time Will Tell was a regular live piece from May 1990 (when it was written). It was re-recorded in October 2010. The faint feedback-like howl in the chorus is three notes picked with an awful lot of sustain and a touch on the tremolo bar.

The break? The song is about the passage of time. GMT may be measured from London, but Scotland owns the rights to New Year; Hence the Caledonian tinge.  

Going back to the painting, I can't remember the artist and it does not seem to have an internet presence. Oldham Art Gallery (which has moved to a new building since then & no current staff have been there that long) tried, but they do not have a catalogue for the exhibition. Here is one they did find - 

Edouard Debant Ponsan, Truth Leaving The Well (1898). She is only holding up a mirror - exposing the truth, but without any means of punishment - and I suspect that Religeon and Armed Force will have no problem shoving her back down again. That was not going to happen with 'my' Truth, which looked a lot more like this one that started doing the re-blogging rounds on Tumblr in June 2012. I saw it at 

Jean-Leon Gerome - Truth Rising From The Well (1895). She is Very Cross, the whip will sting and it will not be easy to get her back down again. Dark Classics pointed me at this one painted a year earlier - same subject, same bucket, same model, different approach. Truth paintings were a whole sub-genre and this model does look very familiar, I suspect the one in Oldham may well have been by the same artist.


There is something deeply annoying about TV car adverts, they have no relation to the real and frustrating experience of driving. 

All advertising is fantasy; but car adverts are the pinnacle (or the pits) of the form. If only we could drive right out of the real world into Advertland everything would be fine...

Drive was at a very early stage of Work-In-Progress in 1991 and was put aside until recording for The Speed Of Sound At Tree Level; so this May 2010 recording was its first airing.

Drive is also the last recording featuring my 1986 Vox White Shadow. She has now gracefully retired after 25years of service as my general purpose six string. 
Voxy Lady (xxx).

The lyrics:

Q: Why pictures of the Trabant 601? 
A: It is often ridiculed, but a lot of them made it as far as Manchester after the Berlin Wall came down. It may be a car made out of cotton waste with a two-stroke engine, but it became as much a symbol of freedom-to-roam as the motor-car is in general. It was highly desired in the DDR and other soviet satellite countries - with a crazily long waiting list. A true icon. But, I've not seen one in the wild for a long time. 

The Video for Drive found its was onto the NME website and can be viewed here. (Sorry about the advert on the front; that is the NME not me, but it is quite funny they did that given what the song is about.) Filmed early on a Sunday (5th March 2011) to avoid the standing traffic at the TFGM metrolink extention roadworks on Ashton Road, which star throughout the video.