A few years ago my wife and I were watching a TV programme about Sting’s ‘The Last Ship Sails’ project. When they played a track called (I think) ‘Sky Hooks & Tartan Paint’, she said “That’s your song!” It wasn’t of course, but the first verse did have a startling resemblance to the first verse of ‘Long Stand’, both starting off with the ‘hazing‘ of a lad on his first day at work, though mine went on to make a political point. However, mine was written back in the early 80s for a revue directed by Margaret Ford, and subsequently released on a cassette album, so I’m pretty sure it came first…
This version was remastered – as best I could – from a damaged master tape, and while there’s still some noise, it’s made the transfer better than most of my tracks from CentreSound. All rights reserved.
One of several tracks recorded (mostly) at CentreSound in Camden in the 1980s and released on cassette at the time. The mastertapes were seriously unwell with ‘sticky-shed syndrome’ when I had them transferred to CD – an issue that affected a number of tape brands from that era. Baking the tape helped more with some tracks than others. This is rougher than most, but I have a lot of trouble wrapping my fingers round this guitar piece nowadays, and I keep trying to tweak it into something bearable because I think there’s a decent scrap of music in there somewhere. I think this is as good as it’s likely to get now. Maybe I need to keep trying to relearn it…
As the title suggests, it was me trying to sound like Dav(e)y Graham in jazz mode. He never told me what he thought of it, which I suspect meant that he wasn’t impressed. 😀
Another track from the ‘Diverse Brew’ sessions. This is a song co-written with Don MacLeod (who wrote the melody), and the mix is actually pretty good. But again, I don’t have the mix tapes or master to work from. Still, I’ve tweaked it as best I can.
Lead and backing vocal, acoustic and electric lead guitars: David Harley
Another from the ‘Diverse Brew’ sessions. Not much I’ve been able to do to improve sound quality on this, but perhaps it’s a little better than previous posted versions, with headphones at any rate. Sounds awful through my laptop’s speakers… 😦
I really must re-record it, perhaps without the penultimate verse. I do think it’s one of my better songs.
Not literal historical fact, but a series of pictures reacting to the urban paranoia that was London when I lived there – Broadwater Farm and other riots, the ‘sus’ law, homelessness… – and I didn’t even get round to mentioning IRA bombings.
Vocal, acoustic and electric guitars, banjo: David Harley
If you’re unfortunate enough to have heard a lot of me in the last 30 years or so, the chances are you’ve heard this song. This is the version we recorded in the 1980s for an album that was never released. I’ve put it up here and there before, but this is a cleaner version. Unfortunately, I only had an imperfect cassette recording to work from, so there’s more noise than I’d like. But the mix is reasonably good, and I’ve remastered it here as best I could, given my unreliable hearing and unimpressive engineering skills.
Vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar: David Harley
My setting of the poem ‘My Boy Jack’ by Rudyard Kipling: I was looking at a couple of projects to coincide with the centenary of the ending of the Great War, but this is the only one that’s actually been heard in public.
It’s often assumed that the poem refers to the loss of Kipling’s son John, presumed killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. The confusion was probably increased by the TV adaptation of David Craig’s play, which missed out the 3rd Act and finished with Kipling reciting the poem. However, while Kipling’s own grief did, no doubt, contribute to the overall tone of the poem, it was first published at the top of a series of articles on the Battle of Jutland, in which the British fleet sustained heavy losses, and it seems to me (and others) that, given the importance of ‘the tide’ in the poem, that the name Jack probably reflects the more generic ‘Jack Tar’. (While the earlier ‘Tommy’ has a very different tone, it does use the generic name ‘Tommy Atkins’ in a somewhat similar way.)
The guitar is a Nashville-strung Baby Taylor. I think the final version of this might have include some double- or triple-tracked vocals. Even if it doesn’t, the vocal needs work.
‘My Boy Jack’
“HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ” Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?” Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?” Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?” None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.