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paul roland - masque (1990)

dr syn is riding again

Jack O' The Lantern and Will O' the Wisp,
the Devil's legion riding out of the mist,
Dr Syn is riding again.

Ask me no questions and I tell 'e no lies,
We've rum and we've brandy and damn the excise,
Dr Syn is riding again.



There's a note pinned to the chapel "Service is at eight"
But all the pews are empty and the organist is late
He's watching for the redcoats by the cemetery gates
For Dr Syn is riding again.

There's no trace of the parson and the sexton can't be found
Yet their footprints ring the pulpit, steps leading underground,
and there lie his Bible, his collar and his gown,
For Dr Syn is riding again.

Where's the militia, the revenue men?
A merry chase left them lost on the fen
For Dr Syn is riding again.

"X" marks the grave that will never be blessed,
for only spirits are laid here to rest,
Dr Syn is riding again.

Chords:
Verse Am G Dm x2    c. [F C G] x2
heavier verse [Am C G] x4

 

 

 

When I was young my head was full of cobwebs and dark secret passageways inhabited by hideous creatures as I used to read American horror comics at night in bed under the blankets so that my parents wouldn’t see that my light was on after dark. It was quite a precarious pastime as I only had candlelight to read by! So when I came to write my first songs at the age of 14, I naturally drew on supernatural themes. This early song was directly inspired by a story I read in ‘Ghosts’, my favourite comic which made a lasting impression on me due to the lurid artwork (by Berni Wrightson) and the deliciously nasty twist in the tale which often saw grisly justice meted out to the villain. It was only years later when I read about Miss Haversham in ‘Great Expectations’ that I realised that Charles Dickens must have been reading the same comics as me!

Note: Blades were rakish young gentlemen in the 18th century who lived for pleasure, gambling, wenching and drinking to excess.

pharaoh

Once I ruled this land as Pharaoh,
I held Egypt in my hand
And though my days they passed in splendour,
they ran through like grains of sand.

In my right hand the scourge of Horus,
blessed lord with falcon's head,
and in my left the seal of Isis
who raised Osiris from the dead.

And when I died the Priests prepared me
With scented oils and fragrant spice,
before they bound me in white linen
for passage to the afterlife.

Then they bore me in procession
On a barge of burnished gold
To the hill of Seven Jackals,
beyond the Well Of Souls.

When they sealed the sinner chamber
I heard the Gods of Egypt weep
O Amon Ra awake me!
For now one dares disturb my sleep.

 

 

 

Egypt has always held a morbid fascination for me, as it has for many, particularly because at its centre is the cult of the dead. I imagined what it might be like for the soul of a pharaoh to be trapped between worlds inside the bandages and witness to the grave robbers who came to steal his treasures. This was a difficult one to sing as I hadn’t the gravitas in my voice back then, hence the double tracked vocal on the re-issue.

candy says

Candy says “I’ve a friend that no one can see”
Candy says “No one can see her but me”
Candy says “She kept my secrets
As shimmering voices in a silver locket”
Candy says “I’ve a friend that no one can see”
Candy says “no one can see her but me.”

”Candy it’s time you told your friend there goodbye”,
”Candy don’t you know little girls shouldn’t lie”
But Candy says that her friend is lonely,
Come the night she wants Candy only,
”Candy it’s time you told your friend there goodbye,
Candy don’t you know little girls shouldn’t lie”

Candy needs no one but the friend she has found,
Candy needs no one and no one comes round,
”Candy why don’t you play today?
”Says Candy “Make the world go away”
Candy needs no one but the friend she has found,
Candy needs no one and no one comes round.


Chords:

v. [Am C E7 Am] x2    c. [F Dm] x2    C F Am  C F Dm

 

 

 

It was a bit cheeky of me to borrow a song title from the Velvet Underground, but sometimes when I am using a ‘working title’ when writing a song it just sticks and I can’t think of another when it comes to recording it. It just wouldn’t have been the same if I’d re-named it ‘Lucy Says’ or ‘Mary says’. It was Candy from the start and that is the name that it had to remain. This was always a difficult one to play live as the chords and lyrics in each verse were very similar to those in preceding lines and it often tripped me up. I just hope no one noticed!

triumphs of a taxidermist

I've been up to no good, as Mother would say,
indulge me awhile for I've quite a display,
a remarkable likeness, I'm sure you'll agree,
my figures a triumph of a rare artistry.

I've a footman I'd lured from the servants hall,
in a pose to delight all who call,
and a charming old lady who was collecting for Scouts,
and the vicar who enquired if I'd seen her about.

I've a tableau to please the discerning eye,
a Harem, for one must diversify,
enchanting believe me, and taken from life,
I was almost reluctant to take up the knife.

I've a salesman to whom I couldn't say no,
Whom I had to subdue as his attitude shows,
and my piece de resistance, the last word in art,
my first wife Ophelia from whom I couldn't part.

Note: collecting for scouts refers to collecting money donations for charities in this instance the Boy Scout organisation.

 

 

 

 

grantchester fields

As I climbed Lynden Hill I came upon the cricket ground
in evening's gilded hour,
The sun like honey ran so I sought shade beneath the arms of a low embracing bower,
The grounds man tipped his hat, bid me 'good day'.

Like as wraiths they came to walk upon the velvet green, to play the noble game,
The grounds man tipped his hat, bid me 'good day'.
The grounds man tipped his hat and bid me 'stay'.

Old men watched from the pavilion reproached by ghosts of summers past and aching to be called,
Recalling those who bowled with casual ease, whose honest crack would clear the boundaries.
A summons brought the outfield bowler, advised from every quarter as the batsman stalked his crease.

So Bob was bowled in his last innings, he started for the pavilion, turned, and sadly waved goodbye.
As blazered boys dared each to shake his hand their master asked "How does the scoring stand?"
Then all too soon the stumps were gathered,
The grounds man claimed his bicycle and set off home for tea.

 

 

 

An Englishman’s idea of heaven.

meet mr scratch

I was an incredulous young man
'till I chanced to meet the Devil in the Strand,
He offered me snuff, "It's the best, my own blend,
Don't be a dullard, take a pinch my young friend".

He took me to dine in Seven Dials, all that he does he does in style,
he chose partridge and quail, for 'twas the season for game.
And I feigning indifference, I ordered the same.

Over brandy and smokes he drew a contract of sorts
It seemed quite in order and he'd been such a sport.

Then to an address in Bluegate Fields
"An incentive," he smiled, "to seal the deal,
it's favoured by swells and other men of the world,
why, Madame Magenta is like Ma to the girls".
He staked me at cards and then girls by the score
Come morning we parted then I sneaked back for more.

Meet my friend Mr Scratch, meet my friend Mr Scratch.

The Devil he tempted me, " A fair exchange is no crime,
what's a soul my friend for the guarantee of a hell of a time?"

 

 

I’m not in the habit of listening to my own albums once I have finished them, but on the rare occasions when I do play them I reserve a particular fondness for this track (I say track and not song as it is the recording I like especially the quality, character and phrasing of the vocal.) it also encapsulated the dissolute regency dandy character that I wanted to portray.

masque

When I dance I breathe again when I dance I ease the pain
‘Sweet boy you have far to go’ purrs the drag queen impresario.
I masquerade as Harlequin and so again the dance begins
But like Petrushka I am made of straw. I wear the mask that Pagliacci wore.

And if I rage and tear the air, will madness be awaiting there?
And if I break my strings will I fall? Am I Pulcinella after all?
Courting the light like a butterfly Coppelia
enchanting as the mannequin she plays in this ballet,
And as we dance for the toymaker Coppelius
I find in mime the voice that she had stilled and locked away
But when they bring the curtain down
I find I am alone I am God’s clown.

And as we danced I saw him watching from the wings
Charlatan the showman with a blood red rose bouquet
And you, you were won by the wooing oh so sweetly done
Cruelly cast unto the last as the cast-off protege
But when they bring the curtain down find I am alone I am God’s clown.

And now the dance is done and the play so soon begun
‘Darling you were too divine,’ sighs Judas from the chorus line.

 

 

Every so often I become gripped by a new obsession. One time it was opera, another ballet, next it might be formula 1 motoracing (!) and for some weeks or more I watch and read everything I can find until I’ve satiated my curiosity, then I move on. When I wrote this song I was captivated by the elegance and theatre that is ballet. Little did I know then that one day I would write one of my own.

the mind of william gaines

I'm calling in behalf of Dr Feather for the head of William Gaines
Tell the Warden I've a hatbox and I'll take it on the train
My friend expounds a theory on the workings of the mind
And will chart the cranial contours of the criminally inclined.

Now we'll surely find what is on his mind.

This node denotes a tendency towards profligacy and crime
Note the heightened membrane of the cerefenal line.
Pulsing in its clouded tank and very much alive
Soaking up the voltage its faculties survive.

It seems at last that our research has taken a new twist
The brain has furnished us with schemes which we simply can't resist.

 

 

 

EC horror comics meets the B-Movie ‘Donovan’s Brain’ in this song which has two scientists falling under the influence of a criminal brain whose deceased owner I named after the publisher of the notoriously graphic EC horror comics William Gaines. A touch of poetic justice you might say.

cocoon

Step inside, so good of you to come, step inside and see what I've become
My friend I have much to relate, so little time now remaining
Even now it may be too late, for I feel my faculties fading.

Your recall in what I was engaged, you recall the experiments I made?
The results were quite unforeseen, the developments were disarming
The fungus when fed grew apace, the consequences alarming.

My friend you ask why I despair, my friend raise the lamp if you're prepared
To look on the face you had known and see my features deforming
The spores I am host to have grown, within this cocoon that is forming.

And now I fear the time has come, an end to that which I've become
Tell my wife of the work I've begun, that I'm ashamed for the pain
I have caused her
Board up the house when I'm done and put my affairs in good order.
 

 

Ironically, my old headmistress used to lecture me repeatedly on writing violent short stories when I was in infants school (5-7 years old) and told me that I would never amount to anything if I persisted in this deplorable habit, but I have had the last laugh!
I like the bitter sweet melancholy of this song and the poor chaps’ fate which I imagined as being something between Swamp Thing and one of H G Wells’ more whimsical stories. I remember writing it and being desperate to find a way to fit in that final line as sometimes a particular phrase held a special attraction or appeal to the writer in me. I found the ‘trick’ was to write the lyrics backwards, starting with the line I wanted to end with (the line that had come to me first).

i dreamt i stood upon the scaffold

Last night I dreamt I stood upon the scaffold there to die
Dressed in all my finery to bid this world goodbye.
The hangman stood before me in the black hood of his trade
Commended by the magistrate for the stout noose that he'd made.

His eager young apprentice then stepped back to bind my wrists
Urged on by the restless mob who jeered and shook their fists.
Hawkers cried of hot meat pies, of gibbets and of gin
As ladies strained for a better view, all anxious to begin.

Hangman, hangman ten gold crowns gladly will I give thee,
hangman, hangman ten gold crowns if you will only spare me.

The undertaker and the judge hunched like two black crows
Sat aside my coffin as they gambled for my clothes.

And when at last I did awake and shook myself from sleep
I lay in rusted prison chains with the Chaplain at my feet
"Arise my son" he said at length "and walk awhile with me,
the hour it grows late I fear and the hangman waits for thee".
 

 

I used to have a morbid obsession with hanging (as a core image of the Regency period I hasten to add, not because I had a macabre fetish). Then one day while drying my hair with a towel over my head I had a vivid image of a hooded figure hanging from a city wall as a warning to others not to pursue the life of a highwayman or thief. Not only the image but also the very uncomfortable and emotional sense of a life ended violently and tragically (I later learned from a psychic friend that I had been hung in a previous life for a petty crime I had been falsely accused of committing). Thereafter I lost my morbid obsession in hanging and the image did not appear in my songs again.

the ratcatcher's daughter

As I walked out through Highgate to take the evening air
I came upon a beggar in the crowded thoroughfare
He leant upon the railings by Gray’s Emporium
And he played upon a fiddle and his monkey upon a drum

The air he turned burned sweetly, ‘The Dancing Cockatoo’
“A penny sir, for porter”, said he, “For I’m not long from Waterloo”.

“I enlisted not for glory, nor medals on my chest,
For my girl she loved a uniform and a French ball did the rest.
If she had been a colonel’s lady, I could not have loved her more,
But she was the Ratcatcher’s daughter and I not long for shore.

No more will she go dancing in her lace and finery,
for I did for the Ratcatcher’s daughter as the Frenchies did for me.”

Chords:
Verse Bm Dm A X3 + F#m Bm X2
Chorus D A D Bm F#m Bm
Middle 8 A B A B A F#m Bm

 

 

I rarely think about or listen to my old songs, but this one play in my mind from time to time as it appeals to the folky in me. Since I heard The Lennon’s raucous cover version I’m inclined to have a go at it again in that fashion. Perhaps we’ll try it live.

The Sea Captain

I am a sea captain, far from the ocean and on a still night I dream of the sea
Of morning departures, of waterfront taverns and of the tall ships
which wait down by the Quay
I captained a schooner the ‘Lady Morella’, with a cargo of cotton, spices and tea
And I raced her from Falmouth, through the straits of Formoza
in fine and foul weather to the South China sea

I still wait in the Dog Watch and hear the call of the bosun,
‘Let go the lanyards and steady the spars’
And I peer through the darkness for the lines of my cabin,
but the lamplight falls pale on the dormitory bars

For I sleep in the mission, where the old men play chequers
waiting for letters from their families in vain
But I’ve still my sea chest, my charts and my sextant
and I will go down to the sea once again.

Chords:
Verse: Em D Em
Chorus: G A Em G A Dm Bb G A Em

 

 

As part of my ‘research’ for the folk-rock album I listened to Fairport Convention’s ‘Liege and Lief’ every day for a week and then went to a folk club where I heard someone play ‘Old Admirals’ by Al Stewart which I hadn’t heard before. When I returned home I wrote ‘The Sea Captain’ in the same vein although I couldn’t remember anything about the Al Stewart song other than its tile, but that was enough to set me off. This song always reminds me of Greece where I played it in the early 90s to very appreciative crowds (11,000 at one particular festival) a time, place and people I will always have a special feeling for.

sporting life

I lived the life of a sporting gent,
the gaming tables and the fights
But when the toppers were abroad
in blone’s twigs did I take to flight
But when I saw a ripe young fop,
well budged with a lill to tease
I picked his suck, a kittle job and
then off easy as you please.

And though I’ll hang from the gallows tree,
the sporting life is the life for me

In Durham I fixed a wealthy gent
and ‘fore long touched him of his scrieve
The neatest snib I ever pulled,
‘Good day,’ says I and took my leave.

At Wickham Fayre my luck rang soft
I fleeced a gent who pulled a pop,
‘Surrender sir,’ says he to me,
‘or damn your eyes you’re for the drop’.

And now I’m sure for the gallows tree,
the sporting life was the life for me

I thrust my hand into my suck,
drew my pop and cut him down
And now I’ll lead a merry chase
for Jack Ketch and his keen blood hounds

 

 

(note: This song is written in Regency slang and some terms need explanation.
Toppers = police, blones twigs = girl’s clothes, well budged = drunk, suck = pocket, lill = wallet, kittle = easy, fixed = chose, touched = stole, scrieve = money, snib= theft,
pop = pistol, Jack Ketch = common name for a hangman)

 
 

paul roland - roaring boys (1992)

Paul Roland - Burnt Orchids

roaring boys

The devil take you all, we're bound for Bedlam,
you'll find no finer boys to take you with them.
I'm running with the roaring Boys.

Some think us rakes and rogues, all high born fellows.
Some swear they'll see us swing upon the gallows.

The mobs' upon our heels, fine sport they'll give us,
if we get buckled boys we'll take some with us.

A good times' guaranteed at Brooks or Billys,
there a flash girls' company for seven guineas.

Note: The roaring boys were street hooligans. Brooks and Billy’s were gentlemen’s clubs in the Regency era. Getting buckled meant being arrested (having your arms and legs in restraints).


resurrection joe

Creeping through the kirkyard after dark,
a charnel sack and a pick upon the cart,
He hangs his coat on a stone, his lamp and lunch nearby.
Takes a dram from the jug and a bite from the ha'penny pie.
He rolls his sleeves and takes a last look round the kirk,
pulls a pick from the cart and with a will he sets to work.

What ya' don't know'll never hurt ya'
So settle up lads with the body snatcher.

He takes a penn'orth o' porter and a side n' slice of meat,
Soon the stiffs on the cart will be carved up just as neat

Fresh 'n' firm that's how we like them,
it's a pleasure doing business with the doctor's boys
you fine young gentlemen.

There they go, there they go again
There go the resurrection man.

 

 

 

It may sound strange to say so, but this was my attempt to write a more ‘commercial’ album. I had several labels at the time and we were touring and attracting sizable audiences, but I felt we were still seen as ‘indie’ and needed to appeal to a wider audience. I had hopes of securing a release on an American label (I’d only had one release in the States, ‘Danse Macabre’ on Revolver USA), but it was not to be. Ironically, shortly afterward I had a release on a Japanese label but that was for my mini album of cover versions!

Note: Resurrection Men refers to bodysnatchers.

christine

Christine there is much I can't forget,
Christine you are so alike and yet...
Sisters, aye its sisters you could be,
Could it be that she returns to me?

Christine don't we make a handsome pair,
Christine, you in the clothes she used to wear,
Her look, her voice, her pride - the very same,
Could it be in you she walks again?

Christine you have her carriage and her grace,
Christine, come my dear let us embrace,
You think my fancy strange, it may be so,
But rare's the love like that I used to know.

Chords:
[Em-Am C E7 Am] x2    C G Am    F C F C F C F Am Em Am

 

 

 

If I remember rightly, the idea for this song came from the Vincent Price movie ‘The Tomb of Ligeia’ (1965) which is one of the reasons why Price is on the cover of the album

executioner's song

He removes the sign over the door "Public Executioner",
His services are not required, "It's time my friend that you retired."

His eyes have dulled, as for his hands...."The post calls for a younger man".
He takes one last look round the square and the scaffold he erected there.

Thirteen years have turned their back on you,
Thirteen years and this life is all he knew.

The axe he proudly ground so fine, the gibbet built to his design,
The mirrored blade in which he'd shave, the kindest cut he ever gave.

 

 

 

 

thunderbird

I know no lover like this car of mine.
Black beetle body shell, the devil's own design.
The engines' straining like a hound at heel,
you're in my headlights or you're underneath the wheels
of my Thunderbird.

I've never known a love like this before,
Hell is the highway with my foot hard to floor
I like her perfume and the way it clings,
the burning rubber and the wheels' squeal as she spins.

There's no knowing when I take the wheel,
I only know that I like the way she feels,
So you'd like to burn me, well I bet you would,
Seven souls screaming underneath the hood
Of my Thunderbird

She's not the kind of car I imagined,
Her allure is so hard to define,
I only know I can't live without her
And her fuel is this hunger of mine.

She'll make you jealous.

 

 

 

I realise now that just because I like George Thorogood, it doesn’t mean that I can be George Thorogood, or anyone else for that matter. Better to stick with what you do best. He’s not going to cover ‘The Poets and The Painters’ or ‘Walter The Occultist’, so why did I imagine that I could trespass on his territory? A misfire (replaced on the reissue by the more suitable ‘Fairies’.

fairies

Mama has had one of her turns. “Why is it child you never learn?
This time you’ve gone too far. Think of your dear papa.”

There is play and there’s pretend. Where one begins the other ends.
It is not done to deceive, those who only ask that we believe.

They’re much too shy to brave the light, but if we’re ever so polite.
They might just leave their picture books and might not mind their picture took.

Fairies! Please, why it’s simply too absurd. Fairies! Please, I won’t hear another word,
Fairies! Please, it’s simply too absurd, little girls should be seen and not heard.

Chords:
(Capo on 2nd fret)
Verse: Em G D Am Em
Chorus: Am G Am

 

 

 

A song about the Cottingley fairies which captured the imagination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1920. Doyle desperately wanted to believe in the existence of the fairie realm partly because he had lost his son in the Great War and hoped that such phenomena would prove the existence of worlds beyond our own. Sadly, the photographs taken by two Edwardian sisters were exposed as a fake. But some of us still believe…

 

sad sweet smile

I'm thinking about a girl that I used to know
And her sad sweet smile,
I can't help thinking that I miss her so
And her sad sweet smile.

I'm thinking about her, can't help thinking about her

How could I have known there was no one home
behind that smile,
How could I have known that she lived alone
behind that smile.

How can I pretend that I never knew
that sad sweet smile?
I couldn't have held back if I wanted to
From that sad sweet smile

Each time I fear I'll find that all my loves' in vain.
And each time I say I'm through, yet here I go again.

I'm searching for a girl and one day I'll find
a sad sweet smile,
for I know what I'm looking for lies behind
a sad sweet smile.

 

 

Another misfire, to exorcise the memory of an ill-fated love affair, but I still like it. In a parallel universe I might have had a hit with this – and Orson Welles might have been allowed to release ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’ the way he wanted without studio interference and Marc Bolan would have taken a taxi home that fateful night in September 1977.

tarot

Where the houses are hunched like a beggar
In the quarter known as Armand Germain,
I ascended the stairs to the garret
To call on the widow of fortune once again.

The first card foretelling of fortune,
a monkey, it's hand at the wheel,
the next told only that fate lies
with the fool and the hound that is tearing at his heel.

Twelve is the Hanged Man, his debt is paid,
Mute as the march wind and the flute on which he played.

Thirteen was death on a pale horse, his is the card without name,
fifteen the Horned Goat of Mendes - the Devil and the forms
by which he came.

She then drew the card of the magus
And her breath came faltering and hard,
"Death comes disguised as a young man,
Death for me at the turn of the next card"

 

 

One of several tracks that benefitted considerably from the additions I made for the reissue and which hadn’t occurred to me to add at the time of the original recording. On a personal note, I wrote the lyrics after reading Dennis Wheatley’s survey of the occult ‘The Devil and All His Works’ (1971) but when I studied the tarot seriously many years later I found it a remarkably useful tool for psychic exploration though not for divination, which is what many people use it for. I then created my own oracle pack, ‘The Kabbalah Cards’ and wrote a feature for the UK paper ‘Psychic News’ in which I reinterpreted the tarot as a means of psychological insight and re-allocated the cards to different paths, which made a lot more sense to me.

the poets and the painters

She met him on the staircase as the gallery was closing,
noting as she passed him that tears welled in his eyes,
and turning she called softly "Why sir, you are the painter.
Why then are you grieving, are your dreams not realised?"

And she said "God will be kind to the poets and the painters,
God will be kind to those who used his mind,
God will be kind to the poets and the painters,
God will be kind to thee."

"Madam" he proceeded "it's indeed my exhibition.
The pictures you admire I have painted through the years.
Yet only now I see that as I look upon their faces
The promise of my youth it does hold me insincere."

"Once I was enamoured of the muse that he had sent me,
I delighted in her courting and worked unceasingly.
I was feted and I was flattered, but by degrees unfaithful.
I didn't even notice when she deserted me."

"But God looks down and laughs at me,
Still God looks down and laughs at me."

Chords:
(Capo on 2nd fret)
Verse: Am Am7 C E7
Chorus: F G Am F G Em M8: G A Em

 

 

I had been reading about the pre-Raphaelites when I wrote this song which was based on the experience of John Everett Millais who apparently regarded himself as a failure, and was ashamed of having betrayed his talent by painting sentimental portraits that were used in advertising. And so he should be!

doctor rocque

Doctor Rocque Doctor Rocque
He's coming with dreams for sale
He's coming with dreams for sale
Doctor Rocque Doctor Rocque
He's bringing me dreams for sale.

What would I do without you?

Doctor Rocque Doctor Rocque
He waits behind the wall of sleep
Where the dreams of the poppy are sweet.

I'm calling Doctor Rocque

 

 

Another of those ‘pop’ songs that never should have seen the light of day! Fortunately, someone up there was kind to the poet and the painter and gave me a second chance to redeem myself. On the reissue this track is replaced by the more suitable ‘Faerie Ring’.

The Minstrel's Song (Is all our love in vain?)

The jester stays to play the fool
Marooned high on the judge's stool,
With naught but loons for him to rule,
Bewails his heart betrayed him cruel.

The object of his jaundiced eye
Having wept a sea is quite wrung dry
But promises that by and by
Her grief demands another try.

Could it be that all our loves' in vain?

In deference to this sad affair
The minstrel deigns to woo the pair,
He sets his mask of mock despair,
And turns his melancholy air.

In sympathy the minstrel sighs
Of lovers who now love despise,
Who swore in spite if spurned they'd die
To this melancholy lullaby.

 

 

A warning to myself not to take anything so seriously that you lose your sense of humour or perspective.

come to the sabbath

Thirteen I summon in sight of the altar,
Thirteen I summon on the eve of Beltane,
Thirteen I summon to the womb of our coven
And we'll worship the old gods again.

Thirteen will welcome the bride of the altar,
Thirteen will welcome the bride of Beltane,
Thirteen will welcome the bride of our coven,
And we'll worship the horned god again.

Come into the circle with me,
Daughters of darkness and daughters of light,
Come into the circle with me,
Come o the Sabbat this night.

Prepare ye the feast for the bride of the altar,
Prepare ye the feast for the bride of Beltane,
Prepare ye the feast for the bride of our coven,
And we'll worship the old gods again.

 

 

This was a thrilling track to record. I remember Simon my drummer ripping into the solo and getting it right first take then adding Jenny’s electric violin through fx pedals and finally samples from my favourite Hammer films and wondering how it was all going to sound when we’d finished. The only time we’ve ever performed this live was at the Metal Magic festival in Denmark in July 2018 and it provided the perfect climax to our set. Looking forward to doing it again whenever the opportunity arises.

 
 

paul roland - sarabande (1993)

Paul Roland - Sarabande

the king will come

When the sleeping Lord bestirs from sleep on the isle of Avalon
He'll drive the dark hordes from this blighted realm as foretold when the King will come

In the circle of the standing stones he'll raise the horn up to his lips
And sound it thrice to wake his sleeping knights as foretold when the King will come

Say it's so, and know that the King will come

One King shall wield Excalibur forged when the world was young
One King shall reign in Albion that day when the King will come

 

‘Sarabande’ was a difficult album to make as I was living in Cheltenham at the time, far from my beloved Roland Towers and working with a new band. Inspiration didn’t come as readily as before. Consequently, two of the songs were very weak and I included a couple of cover versions which were also poorly executed. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to reissue the album many years later so I was able to substitute much stronger songs (‘The Late Mr Evesham’, ‘Anne Bonney’, ‘Allah’s Curse’ and ‘Journey To The Centre of the Mind’) for the weaker ones and also re-record the two covers to my satisfaction (Marc Bolan’s unreleased song ‘Meadows of the Sea’ and the Kinks’ ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Else’ appeared in their new forms on ‘Professor Moriarty’s Jukebox’)s.


Morgan Le fey

Her black ship sails gliding over the misty waters to Avalon
Her handmaids veiled
Beat black wings bearing my sovereign lord over to Avalon
Darkness brings Morgan Le Fay

Come Morgan Le Fay
O'er the waters from the high woods of Avalon

Who will reign with Arthur slain by the hand of Mordred his only son
O'er this dark domain but Morgan Le Fay

 

 

 

Much of this album was like drawing blood out of a stone, to borrow the old expression. I had a great new band and a nice studio, but I was out of sorts, as Nanny used to say. The lyrics didn’t come so easily as before and I fell back on some tired themes (King Arthur) which I had tackled more imaginatively on ‘Duel’ (though not set in Camelot, that album featured knights, kings, Queens and castles, so it was a fair criticism). The opening track sounded epic when we recorded it but ended up sounding weak partially because of the light drum sound. For that reason I might be tempted to introduce these songs into our set (particularly if we play any more metal festivals) and see what we can make of them with the more muscular drumming of Violet the Cannibal and heavy rock guitarist Marco Colombo.

beyond the realm of sleep

Beyond the realm of sleep I passed
And tore the veil of dreams
And rose cocooned in silver threads
Upon a silver stream

I found myself on that distant shore
Where the White Ship waits
I set a course for the city of souls
And soon I stood before its gates

I came to the garden where the Buddha sat
And a myriad candles burned
From which each soul would take a flame
And to the world return

Chorus:
On and on and on and on and on I flew
On and on and on and on and on I grew

 

The idea behind ‘Beyond The Realm of Sleep’ stemmed from my fascination with astral travel which began with my own out of body experiences at the age of six. When I wrote this song I was just starting to get seriously involved in practical magic, meditation and psychic development which spawned a dozen or so non-fiction books and numerous insightful experiences.

allah's curse

I am the man who Allah cursed, who dared the gods “do thy worst”
And now I walk the Earth in chains
I mocked the prophet and the priest. I lay with harlots, lay with beasts
For which he took my shadow and my name

I am the man who Allah cursed, who dared the gods “do thy worst”
I sneered at the fawning faith of fools
I mocked the prophet and the priest who prayed like the braying beasts
and bowed before the lord of their misrule.

He dimmed the light of my eyes and stilled my tongue lest I cry
“dare ye to doubt lest you too be cast out”
He sealed my ears lest I hear the cries of the damned drawing near
Who weep and for shame, yea they suffer in vain.

I am the man whom Allah damned. He filled my mouth with burning sand
He scourged my skin with boils and with sores.
The misery of leprosy with this he afflicted me
And turned his face away from me once more.

 

In retrospect this track should have replaced on of the weaker ones on this album, but it wasn’t finished at the time so I had to wait until the re-issue to make amends.

ophelia

Where the willow trails its widow's weeds in water
There doth she lie thy wan, benighted daughter
No one must weep

Cold is her bed and hard is her pillow
Garlands for her hair entwined with braids of willow
No one must weep

Lily white her gown which billows in the water
And bears her downstream
Till the dark glass closes o'er her
No one must weep for she but sleeps.

 

When lacking inspiration, who better to turn to for ideas than the Bard.

anne bonny

Anne Bonny - WikipediaBold Anne Bonny went to sea aboard the good ship ‘Modesty.’

The swell of the waves and the call of the salty sea
And seven scurvy rats for company
A deadman’s map and a chest of Blackbeard’s gold
And a cowardly crew who’ll do just what they’re told.

She sold her dress and cut her curls for a pirate’s life is no life for girls
She’d no use for scent nor handkerchief. Her cutlass clamped between her teeth
She stood on the poop deck bold as brass. And said King James could kiss her arse

Feared was she by one and all. She’d swear and spit and drink and brawl
But as pirates never change their clothes her secret’s safe so no one knows!

 

When stumped for ideas, what better than to whip up a jolly pirate song – and preferably a funny one.

gabrielle

In old Baghdad the djinns draw near
And whisper in the Sultan's ear:
'None of the treasures that you guard
compare with fair Scheherazade'

Come now, sit by my side
And take a magic carpet ride
Join my desert caravan
And sail the burning riven sands

Acrobats will entertain
While leopards strain bejewelled chains
But each would still their breath to hear
The daughter of the Grand Vizir

Beneath an awning fringed with gold
We'll sit until your tale is told
A thousand tales you'll tell and then
I pray you will begin again

 

The ‘difficult’ 9th album was saved in large part thanks to the timely appearance of Nick Saloman (aka Bevis Frond) whose twisted psych guitar laced this song with the exotic Eastern essence it was crying out for.

the late mr evesham

He approached me one night with a queer proposition
One which he said would improve my position
I was young and ambitious, there was much I desired
And this he would furnish, yes, all I required.
If I would fulfil certain minor conditions
I’d have the means to pursue my ambitions
It never entered my mind for a minute
That there might be anything untoward in it.

So we drank to our pact by the by, the late Mr Evesham and I

I returned to my rooms in some agitation
And there was beset with the strangest sensations
My mind was awhirl with curious impressions
Places of which I had no recollection
It was then that I gave in to a troubling notion
That he must have slipped me some compound or potion
Only now I know what a fool I have been
What an ingenuous young gentleman I must have seemed

This is surely a dream, for if not, then what can it mean?

I freely confess I couldn’t take anymore
So I rushed to the mirror and ’twas there that I saw
Someone I didn’t at first recognise
I swear it was Evesham looking out of my eyes
I cried aloud like a child for its mother
But the cry that came forth belonged to another
I gazed and I stared and beheld with a shudder
That Evesham and I had become one another.

 

This was a home demo and so didn’t make the cut, but it was preferable to those leaden cover versions that weighed down the original version of ‘Sarabande’. Inspired by yet another H.G.Wells short story, this took the place of one of those covers on the reissue. I think the lyrics are good, but the music could have been more interesting. It might be worth revisiting if we do an acoustic radio session or a live in the studio album, as has been mooted. Exotic instrumentation and a more confident performance could bring this back to life.

waltzing the square ring again

I dared fortune to make my name. In sawdust and the ring of pain
The fancy for to entertain. Waltzing the square ring again
When first I fought 'twas eighteen rounds in bare knuckle booths in provincial towns
For a purse, a pie and some renown. Waltzing the square ring again
'No quarter' asked, 'no quarter' shown. The bruise tattoos are all I own
For the ring of pain is all I've known. Waltzing the square ring again

Chords:
Verse Am Dm Am Dm Am Dm Em Dm Am
Chorus C G Am X3 + Em Dm Am

 

This and ‘Ophelia’ are among the few songs on this album that worked out right. If in doubt, keep it simple, sad and acoustic Mr Roland and don’t get ambitious!

Journey to the centre of the mind

Journey to the centre of the mind
When one door opens another waits behind

 

A home demo that turned out very nicely and benefitted from minimal lyrics.

I Dared The Devil (from ‘The Devil In Love’ compilation)

The gaming tables and the whores they entertained me no more
For mischief I would pull the devil’s ears
Impetuousness is my curse. I dared the devil “do thy worst”
And so I summoned spirits to appear.

I called the four winds to my aid and with them a bargain I made
I swore I’d atone, but not if I languished alone.

I scratched signs into the sand, bid spirits come at my command
Stood fast though my heart was fit to burst.
The phantom took a comely form, its wanton wiles to perform
and ‘fore long I knew I was accursed

Its figure was fashioned to please, its features put one at one’s ease
How could I resist? How could I desist?

I lie awake all through the night tormented by such strange delights
A longing I cannot express.
The face of a vain young man, the figure of a courtesan
A bitter sweet affliction, I confess

 

One of the few times I have written a song to order. I later wrote new words and re-recorded it as ‘Allah’s Curse’. Another solo home demo.

 
 

paul roland - gargoyles (1997)

Paul Roland - Gargoyles

 

the world of jonathan waverly

He claimed he called on me to discuss a distinct possibility
‘What if there proved to be a parallel reality?’
He knows he’s not insane, but he says that he’s noticed a subtle change
Some things he can’t explain, they seem the same, but then again…

What once could be are the worlds of Jonathan Waverley

Quite how he came to be on the other side of eternity
He’d not confide to me, whether serum, science or sorcery

 

The unlikely inspiration for this song about a man who moves between parallel worlds and plays a different role in each, was the 1971 film ‘Quest For Love’ starring Tom Bell. It was based on a story by English science fantasy writer John Wyndham (from whom I took the name for ‘Wyndham Hill’ – although there was also a Wyndham Road near where I was then living in Kent).


the gathering man

It's cold in the dark here where we sleep,
in the company of those whose secrets we keep.

We'll wait for the gathering man,
The grim, gaunt gathering man,
we'll wait for the gathering man to come.

We who must mark the dread measure of time,
hunger for life and for those left behind.

Pity us friend for we are the dead;
'tis better we're mute, that much is unsaid.

No comfort have we at eternity's breast.
Only angels of stone watch over our rest.

If there is sun no warmth does it bring,
if there are birds we have not heard them sing,
if there's a god, take us under thy wing.

 

 

 

I was back in Roland Towers and working with my old band when I recorded the ‘Gargoyles’ album. I had also found a superb 24 track professional studio in the Kent countryside and so we had a great sound and the pleasure of creating new music together in a beautiful environment. I also had my old arranger to transcribe the parts I had worked out just before leaving Cheltenham which was the first time that I had written specific parts for the other musicians including guitar riffs, violin lines and keyboard parts. For the first time I felt like a musician and not a songwriter who had hired others to play his music.

alistair crowley

He lives alone with the curtains drawn,
this defrocked priest of the golden dawn.

He takes his gin with mescaline
To bring a bloom to his slug-white skin.

Here comes the boogeyman
He'll get you if he can.

Now each evening when the sun goes down
He dreads to find demons in his dressing gown.

 

 

 

As a practitioner of the occult, I had a very low opinion of Crowley, particularly his nasty habit of laying traps in his rituals for the unwary and his sadistic abuse of his slavishly devoted disciples. But I recently had cause to reassess my views to a degree while writing a foreword to ‘Diary of A Drug Fiend and Other Works’ (Sirius/Arcturus 2018) and as a result of a conversation I had with a Crowley devotee. I still think he was an obnoxious individual and in some respects a tragic figure and for that reason he remains fair game for mockery.

culloden

When Bonny Charlie sailed o’er frae France
His skirling pipes struck up a merry dance

Bonny’s the coarse highland heather
Worn with the white cockade feather

He marched the clans to the walls of Derby town
And there the young pretender wheeled them round

In the rout of Culloden the English unleashed their hounds
The red coated butchers – to harry the stag to ground.

Where once the heather grew upon the glen
It does not grow and will not grow again

In the roads from Culloden the English unleashed their hounds
The red coated butchers – to harry the stag to ground.

 

 

 

(note: harry = to harass)

gargoyles

High above the city throng the asylum choir bay their mad song,
they feast their eyes on the streets below
and lick their lips like carrion crow.

It's the age of the beast, the vile carrion feast. It's the age of the beast.

And you know that the beast must die,
You know that the beast will die.

While old men sleep they perch outside
Waiting on the boneyard bride
Who'll stitch the sacks with hemp and
hair and hail the hearse that will take them there.

They lurk outside old people's homes and
etch their names on their headstones,
these eldritch creatures of the night who
feed on old and young alike.

Once the primal earth they trod these
hounds of dark and nameless gods,
soon they'll break free of their chains
and stalk the feeding grounds again.

 

 

 

Though the imagery is influenced by EC horror comics, they sentiment is real; the feeling that we were living in the age of primal fears, random violence and the return of the dark gods who demand blood sacrifice. A practising magician once told me that a tragic fire on the London Underground had been a deliberate act by black magicians who wanted to make an offering to one of the elder gods and that the number of victims was exactly that required by that entity according to occult lore. Whether there was any truth in this or not, it remained with me and must have been a subliminal inspiration for this song.

atlantis

I still recall the wondrous stories that my father told to me
Of the fair isle of Atlantis, the city beneath the sea
But in the autumn years the mind deceives
The tales he once regaled me with he now believes.

Far from the realm of the immortals stands the pillars of Hercules
And here arising from the waters a jewel set in an azure sea
The mythical lost continent of kings
The isle of which the poet wrote and of which the siren sings

There sailors crossed the seven oceans in ships with painted sails
Manned by scholars and philosophers and a poet to tell the tale.

Its splendours not confined to wealth alone
Its academies and libraries held all that was known.
It’s fate recorded in the chronicles of great antiquity
How the spurned, capricious gods cast the city beneath the sea
But father insists it will rise again
And why should I delude him that he lives in vain.

 

 

 

I used to like Donovan, though I found much of his lyrics rather twee. While looking for suitable themes for this song I remembered his song of the same name which I felt had not explored the idea in much depth and so I tried to do something a bit less sentimental and more melancholic. Mine is about a son who had been entertained by his father’s stories of the lost city as a child, but who now as an adult realised that his father was deluded and yet, could not bring himself to destroy the old man’s dreams.

 

luther

Luther stands, bible in hand, the mediator between God and Man
Understand, a righteous man must have the gospel truth at his command

Oh Praise the lord! The Lamb and the Sword,
Give what you can \afford.

A servile streak six days a week but on the seventh he’s a salvation freak
He’ll damn the geek and praise the meek
Heaven help him turn the other cheek.

Luther has tattoos on his knuckles,
L-o-v-e is just a word on his right,
E-v-i-l is inscribed on the other
impelling him to ‘fight the good fight’.

He swears its true, the word came through,
‘the Good Lord gave me a good talking to,
The state we’re in is a state of sin
Cast Satan out and let the Good Lord in.’

 

 

Another swipe at religious bigotry and self-righteousness.

The Grey Cock [traditional]

 

 

last coach to the borgo pass

I took my last winter vacation in the
wild, unspoilt Carpathians
In a rugged, remote region where the
white haired wolves are legion
And, from where, I was to learn, few travellers return.

The locals have quaint tradition, bordering on superstition
Garlic garlands ring their beds to warn away the undead,
and they fear what darkness brings,
It brings the beating of black wings.

My host, the count, sent word to me
That he craves convivial company;
And if, perchance, I'd care to dine,
He would surely favour mine.
Besides, his coach now stood outside.
"Son, won't you take a ride?"

Coachman, spare the whip.
Why must you drive so fast?
Is this the road to hell, through the Borgo Pass?

 

 

 

white lightning

Warden, sit and talk awhile before we walk that last mile
You know I’m going out in style
Warden, take me there,
Take me to the chair.

I was convicted, I was tried,
And they sentenced me to die
But in no grave will I lie
Warden, take me there
Take me to the chair.

White lightning flows through my veins
And it’s not electricity
A little secret, I can’t share
And that’s what’s killing me.

White lightning flows through my veins
No, they won’t burn me
A little secret, I can’t share
And that’s what’s killing me.

 

 

This was to be a homage to the black and white Boris Karloff films of the 1930s and 40s in which he would often play a condemned man who returns from the grave to seek revenge after being wrongly convicted and executed. But sadly there are too many keyboards on this recording to evoke the atmosphere I was trying to create.

down to the bone

I don’t need the nightmares that you give to me
I don’t need to be what you want me to be
I don’t need blackmail or the third degree
I don’t want you around me no more.

I don’t like the friends you bring back home with you
I don’t want to wear in these dead men’s shoes
I don’t want to live alone inside the blues
I don’t want you around me no more.

You’re going to bring me to my knees
I can’t do anything to please
Your grinding me down to the bone.

I don’t need the ghost who looks out from your eyes
I don’t need you coming back to say goodbye
I don’t need you following me in disguise
I don’t want you around me no more.

 

 

This outtake was the one and only time I have ever deliberately mimicked another artists’ song (Marc Bolan’s ‘Black and White Incident’) because I loved the lurching blues-rock feeling of the original. But it was so close to that song that I couldn’t include it on the album, so I added it as a bonus track.

 

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