Wednesday, 12 February 2014

ETIQUETTE - Song By Song

So, 6 months after it's release (well, half release) on Bandcamp it is timely to have a look at the 3rd Silvery album track by track. Like we did for the previous two, you'll probably find nothing of interest here. Move along sir. P.S. after many questions about it, I can exclusively reveal the cover photograph is a Mr Fish shirt I found for next to nothing in a second hand shop. It's a bit rough, innit? A conscious move away from the pomp of our previous sleeves. Literally, sleeves.
 
The Ronald Opus - Nope, not an opus about Ronald Mael, or an ode to McDonalds. This one tackles the amazing death of Ronald Opus. It might be worth Googling it if you're not familiar. The fact it's not true ties in with the main theme of the album, a cry to the good Lord to send a sign and not let his son die again. Or something. Thou in these hardened of times no mortal shall bear a crown, but still there is one to whom the people flock. Etc etc. Started life the same afternoon as 'Warship Class' which ended up on the first album and tried out with that line up of the band but lost out to the other 6 songs at that time which had marching drums as the hook. Contains my favourite lyric to date - "I never needed a guide, just someone to cherish and stand right beside. But if he asks me to think - I still have trouble with the whole dinosaur thing". Well it tickled me. And the quotes from Nietzsche continue the long run of philosophy riffing in the Silvery catalogue. Oh, and the beautiful intro was originally intended for, but discarded from, that super soundtrack I did for Gelato Go Home. Got to use up these bits and pieces innit? Like the washing machine spin cycle leading into the verse. So essentially, we've set the album up as another stab at the great Silvery musical. And to be honest, got pretty close this time.

You Answered Your Own Question - When the powers that be rolled their eyes when this went into another Ska verse it sealed their fate. A gag in a song, or a song in a gag? Either way a perfect second track thematically. Like so many good bits on Silvery songs, the keyboard hook is a half remembered computer game theme tune played wrong and kept. Lewis does an amazing job on the drums - to the point where the King Crimson instrumental passage near the end is a nice rest for him. Pop prog? Backing vocals on the bridge heartily nicked off Arnold Corns and some 'banana banana' backing vocals during the verse worthy of almost every previous Silvery song. There would be a very big dance routine when the story of the band is taken to the West End stage. Or even first on at the Hope & Anchor.

Aokigahara Jive - More super Japanese Bowie pop from Silvery. In our few live rehearsals while recording this sounded BRUTAL. Gave it a more electronic feel when recorded, trying to justify Silvery to the dickheads sat with their laptops open on stage so we get a Mercury Music Prize nod. A dance craze about a famous forest over there full of spirits of suicides and abandoned elderly family members. A mother snaps the branches so her son will find his way back safely after dumping her there to die. 2 chords, awkward key change, repeating chorus outro = radio play slaying super hit. Except we didn't release it properly. Doh. 'Two Halves Of The Same Boy' deluxe? Maybe. And yes, there would be a very big dance routine when the story of the band is taken to the West End stage. Can't remember if the melody is nicked off The Rubettes or Suzi Quatro. But I do remember thinking the outro was a bit 'Watch That Man'. Had a good idea for a video for this featuring the dancing corpses of the band hanging from trees in a spooky forest.
 
Adventure Band - In it's earliest guise as 'Uncatchables' this little tune was the first song played at the first proper Silvery gig. A new chorus was grafted from an early discarded song (that also gave it's verses to 'The Nod' - I think that was called 'Footsoldier'? Or maybe just 'Adventure Band' too) and one of my favourite tracks on the LP was born. Glam Rock as I think it sound sound now - complete with Glitter Band tunings on the guitar and some HEY!-ing. Also see track 1 for the same tricks. Yep, it's a concept album complete with reoccurring themes. I also envisaged a video for this, but featuring the band as astronauts preparing for a journey in a huge guitar shaped space ship. I even bought the outfits and painted an old guitar silver. Almost an actual single. As it stands, haven't bothered.
 
The Charge Of The Light Brigade - Very much loved by all the people who have been through the revolving door of the Silvery ranks over the years, but for some reason never played live more than a handful of times - usually at the many disastrous acoustic sets. Really needed to do this justice in the studio and we were very pleased with the results, and the recreation of the original 2 step marching drums present on the demo when my fingers got tired on the snare button way back in 2003. The middle 8 is up there with my favourite passages of Silvery music. Which I think the entire 38 bus agreed with when a fledgling Silvery played it on the top deck of the 38 riding home from a gig one night. As you did in those days, pretending to be tatterdemalion junketers. The local yoofs joined in with some freestyle rapping and Silvery suddenly never sounded so... er... contemporary. Originally called 'The Britpop Wars' and a companion piece to '1994' from the debut album, it even featured a long call and response passage similar to 'England' by Sparks but name checking those also ran mid nineties bands and my learn'd verdict on each. Even Swimmer.
 
The Round Tail - This recording started life during the 'Railway Architecture' sessions, but lost out on a place on that album due to the loveliness of 'Hook Woods' but I think this ended up nicer. Written back in 1999 when I was trading under a slightly different guise (A half arsed acoustic guitar and xylophone led combo - more on them in a posting later). Originally called 'Hyypia', this one seems to be about Medieval farming methods and lost love, juxtaposed with the same rock n roll journey portrayed on 'Star Of The Sea'. Yeah, I know. Richard plays some beautiful piano here. Well done dude! The pedal steel was fun to do. Originally a bit more 'electric', in this newer more acoustic state it was demoed instrumentally in 2007 above the Pillars Of Hercules in Soho (where we were basically living at the time) complete with noisy afternoon drinkers outside. Its inclusion ensured the lovely 'Television Tree' was bumped of the record on to the 'Christmas Is Easy' EP. So, side one ends - the hero has left home after questioning everything, formed an adventure band in the big smoke and is awaiting his big break. First, a fast montage of some amazing gigs....
 
Triforium & Roof - A filler that features a recording of an argument between two cunt neighbours from about 10 years ago. Things have got worse since. incidentally, the name is from a sign pointing up some stairs in Westminster Abbey, and was hoped would be the album title originally. But the confusion with 'and' and '&' on tagging on Last FM put pay to that. Got hundreds of these little tunes. Dunno why this one was used, but nice to flip the tape over.
 
Gang Show - Well this is fun. And the concert begins! Originally from an old discarded song called 'We Are Sound' which never got further than the rehearsal room despite a super chorus. In a break in recording some ace lalalaing on the outro and a Viking middle 8 was added (pictured) and we had a song which was slated early on to open the album. Would have liked to open and close every single Silvery gig with this. Although that said, the constantly modulating verses and choruses are almost impossible for me to remember. If you listen carefully, you can hear a swanny whistle being fed through a Leslie cabinet. An experiment in the studio which nearly wiped most of East London off the map and is probably responsible for the current floods and storms. Seems to be about a half remembered old Scout group Gang Show performance of 'Riding Along On The Crest Of A Wave', with some amusing po-faced vamping from a fellow Hampshire Scout. No, not me. The connection to Gary Glitter's Gang Show shouldn't be forgotten too.
 
Thunderer & Excelsior - Probably the song that has had the most names over the years. Started as 'An Untidy Saint' back in the original modern day Silvery demoing frenzy in 2002, and then by the first full band demo became 'A Man Has Disappeared In The Sky' (UN HOMME A DISPARU DANS LE CIEL) a year later, then Waterframe by 2005, then 'SS Watertown' (look it up) while selecting songs for this album (basically whatever was on the TV when we tried it out). Bringing the song full circe it became 'Thunderer & Excelsior' when finally recorded for 'Etiqutte'. Making Silvery join the ranks of forgetful bands who are too stupid to include the title tracks on the correct albums. Indeed, it was tempting to add the unused 'Railway Architecture' title track too, just to become the ultimate pub quiz answer. Played live in its early form at several gig around 2005 with it's original and nearly unplayable upward modulating middle 8. We ditched that for a brief attempt at some  'Prophet Song' larking about for the middle 8. I particularly remember a very unimpressed Pipettes watching from the side of the stage once. Luckily Rose didn't remember that when giving 'A Deconstruction Of Roles' top marks on Lamacq's Round Table a couple of years ago. might add a couple of the older demo versions to the Soundcloud page along with the other 'Etiquette' outtakes you'll find there.
 
Simple Harmonic Motion - I like this one. I like the orchestration. I like the words. I like how the title is placed in the context of a conversation. Back n forth and yaaaaaaawn. Another from back in 2003 ish and fits in perfectly with the 'Etiquette' theme. Spent the last few years playing this one every time I picked up a guitar and decided to try it out properly for the album. Hardly a party piece, but fun to play. Like a couple of other tunes in the distant past, I wonder where I'd stand legally if I said this was originally pinched off Bowie's EXTREME rarity 'April's Tooth Of Gold'? Oh and here's the original 8 track tape version of the album, mocked up for yet another unmade video. Splice redone, plays fine.
 
The Resurrection Of The Dead Ships - A real favourite of mine, primarily for the outro and the kitchen sink drama of the words. Oh, and the real ship horn on the intro. Written almost entirely at a tram stop in Amsterdam (fill in the blanks, man) and has the position of being the only song to be demoed on a camera phone. I was pleased to find the original video the other day. Boy, what was I smoking? Good Beatley harmonies and suitable 60s mixing of the drums. Good sax on this too. Kind of like Mott The Hoople if they forgot how to write songs. Utilises a discarded guitar solo from 'A Penny Dreadful', and, typically, pre-empts the next song by using the backing vocals from that too. Just to ram home that this is another CONCEPT ALBUM. Sing it loud. I seem to recall the title comes from an episode of the old Sega game Comix Zone.
 
Shimmy Shimmy - Did this live a few times at the tail end of the Railway Architecture campaign when everyone was getting fucked off with it all. Generally, people who don't like Silvery love this one and vice versa. So, typically the most widely travelled track on the record, even making onto a free CD with retro rock rag Vive Le Rock (pictured - checkout the wonderful cover pastiche). Name checks both 'Addicted To Love' and 'R.E.S.' (...'she said it was missing '..P.E.C.T'" GENIUS!!!) which is weird in itself. Recorded essentially live in the studio with both Lewis and Richard confused and dazed by the end. Me? I was nearly out cold by the second chorus. Spent a whole afternoon convinced this would make us millionaires. Or at least get us on the GT6 soundtrack. Or at least, that we'd finish a video for it.
 
Light Engines - A super companion piece to 'Warship Class' on the first album, but this time relating to a brief glimpse of Diesel Electric Bo-Bo number 73119 'The Kentish Mercury' at Clapham Junction as a small boy back in '87 and then forwarding to a couple of years ago and having an argument with girl at the same spot. I guess harking back to the Psycho Geography of the first album again. Demoed along with most of albums one and two back in 2005ish as 'Hello!' and then finally finished for 'Etiquette'. I guess too many long tube journeys staring into space listening to Queen II. The line 'I know what you find attractive I know you too well' was thought for years to be nicked from a Smiths song, but I think it was just me being a dick and fancying my lady friends and making excuses to cover my tracks. So, success has been found, and the perils that entails. What does our hero find more important? I think a long song is in order to tie up the loose ends. 
 
Life & Non Life - Ah! He finds love. Or at least, the idea of love that he had as a thirteen year old. This one has it's roots way back in the first musical dabbling of Silvery. Essentially 2 songs in 1 - the middle section was called 'Tub's Driver's Dream' which was an exercise in scoring out music properly back in 1997 (that stopped there and then) and the main body has been known under various names all the way back to 1998 (yes, it's positively new). Possibly an attempt at Bernard Butlering, possibly an attempt at doing a Suede slowie just to see. Either way, this is a monster and by far the longest song in the catalogue - and it still has about 2 minutes cut out of it. The piano at the end is a recording I made of some local kiddiewinks smashing up an upright piano outside my flat (that I was going to nick - bastards) and is so 'Suede' it is ridiculous. A nice juxtaposition with the rather heavy mix which under the weight of strings and pedal steel even drowns out the drums at points. Must get around to remixing this one properly for you. The outro contains a reading of the 17th Century Nun's Prayer, bringing the whole song cycle (eh?) to a nice end.