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BELL BOTTOM BLUES

Bell Bottom Blues
  1. 1: Countdown
  2. 2: Nightaway
  3. 3: Good Morning
  4. 4: Soft
  5. 5: Orchids
  6. 6: Girls
  7. 7: Cut on Out [after Donovan]
  8. 8: Sad
  9. 9: Baby
  10. 10: Lap
  11. 11: Decide
  12. 12: Rose
  13. 13: Bell Bottom Blues

Way back in the days before digital tuners, when the Blackshadow was first learning how to strangle a melody out of a guitar, he borrowed the sheet music to Layla, and Other Love Songs by Derek and the Dominoes. Not because he thought Clapton was the almighty Fudd or any of that bollocks, and wanted to learn all the solos some schmuck in a parker had committed to sheet music. But because all the songs had nifty diagrams of chords he wanted to try out and use for his own ends.

One song - ‘Bell Bottom Blues’ - had a very tricky chord change, with which the Blackshadow couldn’t quite come to grips. In fact, it was so tricky his fingers went on the wrong strings on the right frets or the right strings on the wrong frets, sometimes the wrong strings on the wrong frets, but never the right strings on the right frets. It was enough to make a lamppost droop and squeal ‘Percy!’ But the Blackshadow persevered and before long he’d not only mastered the changes in this piece of Claptonamentation, but had also come up with a few chord changes of his own, some using chords he’d discovered by accident, chords which didn’t exist in any of the books he’d thumbed through during his apprenticeship. One of these changes the Blackshadow was quite taken with, and after a few more chords were added to give a progression not too far removed from the Clapton original, he had the basis of a song. Lyrics were added by Israel Hands, who cut up an article from The Sunday Times Magazine about the daughters of film stars, and arranged the words into verses and choruses, adding rhymes along the way. When finished, the song was called ‘Whose Little Girl Are You?’

Over the years, the song underwent many changes, with bridges being added and taken away, lyrics changed and then changed again, until the original had been transformed from a song about the innocence of daughters into one about innocence betrayed, and subsequent loneliness and alcoholism. Around about the time the Blackshadow and Hands joined The Compact Pussycats, the song, now called ‘Baby’, was put into a drawer and forgotten, never having been recorded and only performed in public a handful of times by Rex Bland and the Recessions.

The magical chord-change, on the other hand, gained a new lease of life when Hands conjured up another progression containing the beauty, and with Jonny Deadpan providing lyrics, produced ‘Countdown’, a celebration of sex and drugs and northern soul at the end of the world. Always a crowd-pleaser in the kitchen at parties, the song was used by The Compact Pussycats to close sets, more than once being met with such positive yodelling, the band would simply stay plugged in and play the set again - on one famous occasion, all night long.

When THE SPECTRAL PRiDE were fishing for an idea for their second project for Bollockbrain Productions, Bland remembered ‘Baby’ and suggested something to do with the betrayal of innocence. At almost the same moment, Hands remembered ‘Countdown’ and suggested something to do with depravity at the end of the world. The Blackshadow looked at Bland, then Hands, then Bland, then Hands again, and said: ‘That’s it: a story of depravity, degradation and the betrayal of innocence at the end of time!’

And so the idea for the second project for Bollockbrain Productions was born: a cycle of songs which would tell an everyday story of romance, betrayal, sex, obsession, despair, resignation and death. An ordinary story made poignant by the end of the world being only a handful of haircuts away.

And once the idea had been born, THE SPECTRAL PRiDE threw themselves into the project with more energy than a pillowcase full of kittens: writing and rewriting lyrics, creating fresh chord sequences incorporating the magical chord-change, and bouncing arrangement after arrangement off one another’s heads like rocks, until they had 13 tracks in all. Influences, from Donovan to Iggy Pop, were worn quite openly on sleeves, so the referential jokes are there to be deconstructed.

Quite early on in the process, the subject of a title for the project came up, and Hands, recognising an outstanding debt when he saw one, came up with the answer: ‘What else? Bell Bottom Blues.’

1 written by Deadpan/Hands, ©2004 Deep Coma/Bollockbrain Productions. All other songs written by THE SPECTRAL PRiDE, ©2004 Bollockbrain Productions.

All tracks arranged and played by THE SPECTRAL PRiDE.

Recorded by Zblotnik at the Bollockbrain Bunker.

Engineered and mixed by The Knobster.

Produced by Mr Reindeer.

℗2004 Bollockbrain Productions. Some rights reserved.

Bell Bottom Blues is no longer available for downloading.