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The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years



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DIONE7DB012 The Wild Swans The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years

Falling To Bits - A simple Tambour keeps time while I channel Guy Fawkes (via Derek Nimmo). For me this calls to mind that famous scene in cult 70s film Network, where newsreader Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch), sick of the endless litany of death and destruction and propaganda he has to report each night, freaks out on live TV and shouts ‘I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore’. Plaintive piano courtesy of young Swan Richard Turvey.

Liquid Mercury – Chronicling the birth of the band and the golden days of living on packet soup and cough syrup in Liverpool’s Rodney Street in the early 1980s. Definitive twin-guitar Wild Swans. A re-mixed version of the single with reinstated, elongated and beautiful slide-guitar middle-section courtesy of Mike Mooney.

Chloroform – When a WW2 Red Ensign flag bought online as set dressing for a Swans gig turned up covered in bloodstains, it made me rethink my relationship with all the vintage stage props and clothing I own.This track was the very last addition to the album, written on a drive to Southport hospital to visit my dying mother, demoed at home that night and recorded in a day shortly afterward with Ricky and Richard in Parr Street Studios Liverpool. I think this track works because its not overworked. Monumental/war monument guitars from Ricky Maymi.

In Secret – Paraphrasing Bukowski’s ‘Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead’. If we’ve all done something risky, ill-advised and borderline insane at some time in our lives, then I’ve done it twice. I particularly like the almost glam guitar riff.

English Electric Lightning – My original demo working title of ‘Punk Jerusalem’ pretty much sums up this Blakean epic of the best and worst of not-so Great Britain. Remixed from the single so ex-Wild Swan and album cover artist Ged Quinn’s original piano can finally be heard. There are eleven (count ‘em) stacked electric guitars in that final guitar maelstrom.

When Time Stood Still – Driving home from North Wales in the early hours of the morning with the petrol warning gauge flashing, my old Ford running on my willpower alone, I was listening to some favourite albums from my adolescence and fell to thinking about a time when music still mattered. The first verse features four pre-punk albums that inspired me, the second, the four post-punk albums and singles that informed me as a musician. Incredible one-take E-bow guitar from Ricky Rene Maymi running throughout that he recorded in the study of my dilapidated mansion ‘Bleak House’.

Underwater –‘Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul;– then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.’ Herman Melville –Moby Dick. Another in my aquatic song series (Whirlpool/Mind Lagoons etc.) Post-punk bass from Les Pattinson and fantastic multi-layered guitars from Ricky and Mike.

Intravenous - ‘I was fighting demons in the circles of hell’ – Dante’s Inferno goes pop.

Glow In The Dark – This psychedelic pocket pulsar started life on my home computer and went through a several versions in the studio before we stripped away 50% of the vocals and let the music do the work. I like the way Steve Beswick keeps the drums heavy while Ricky gets all Brian Eno on us with the knob-twiddling treatments to Richard’s Autoharp.

My Town – ‘My town used to draw me like a magnet, what attracted now repels’. A wordy list song illustrating all that was once great about my Mersey hometown before it morphed into one enormous, soulless shopping mall peopled with McDonalds/Subway eating branded sportswear wearing ‘sheeples’. I can already see the local radio phone-lines jamming with irate callers disagreeing. This one nearly didn't make the album but I’m so glad it did. I’m hoping that, like Be Bop Deluxe’s Ships In The Night and Genesis’s I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), it’ll be the band’s atypical novelty ‘hit’.

Lost At Sea - Dedicated to The Wild Swans’ first bass player James Weston, a gentle soul who was killed by a speeding motorcycle while crossing the road near Marble Arch in the late 1980s.

The Bluebell Wood – So dense were Great Britain’s forests in medieval times they say that you could cross this entire country coast-to-coast by climbing from tree to tree. If we don’t stop the high street supermarket chains obsessive takeover, they’ll buy and tarmac over our last green spaces and charge our chip 'n’ pins for doing it. This is my favourite Wild Swans song of the new incarnation and I must admit to getting a bit of a thrill from paraphrasing the dying words of Queen Elizabeth I and inserting Walt Whitman’s ‘quintillions’ into the chorus of a rock song.

Outro - The coda from Falling To Bits as played by a WW1 soldier (performed by young keyboard Swan Richard Turvey) on a broken upright piano in the smoking ruins of a village hall.

Paul Simpson