Your Round: Unreleased &
Silver River Turning
Ian describes here is what has happened in
many small towns in 'written off' parts of
Scotland and Cornwall e.g. during the
seventies and the Thatcher era. Note the
double entendre in "the
silver river turning blue".
'Blue' might refer to the pollution of the
river and to a feeling of sadness about what
has been lost.
* Jan Voorbij
song depicts the stressful and hazardous life
on the road as led by the roadies, who have
to make sure that everything works well and
the band can make it's gig into a success. I
take this song as a kind of tribute to 'the
underrated, anonymous men in the background
who make it all work'. The ingenuity of this
song lies in the tempo and variety of images:
both underline the fast lives roadies are
living. Ian must have known by experience
what he was talking about, for in the
'Production Manual' issued for the Broadsword
tour, he describes how life was when the band
couldn't afford a professional crew and "trundled
up and down the motorways and trunk roads of
Britain in a rusting Ford Transit van (...)
with one roadie-cum-driver to aid and abet,
we did a great deal of the humping ourselves,
struggling manfully with 4x12 cabinets
upstairs and down cellars and setting up and
wiring everything in a blind panic before the
* Jan Voorbij
down in double quick time to get the "A" truck
shifted 'bout midnight."
comment in the 'Production Manual': "Six 40-foot trailers
were needed to ship the equipment by road and certain items,
like the P.A. cradles for 'flying' the system and lighting
trusses, were duplicated in order that the riggers and crews
could 'leap-frog' each other, playing alternate shows, while
the 'A' trucks containing the P.A., lights and stage gear and
instruments worked every show, along with the stage crew
itself." So, after each show, there was a huge rush to
get the key equipment packed into the 'A' truck and off to the
next venue, but once that had gone, there was far less urgency,
as the rest of the gear wasn't needed until the show after
is an off-day, be in Baltimore by Thursday is the only law.').
This meant the crew could relax a bit; they'd done the
essential part of their job, and could pack the rest of the
equipment (mainly scaffolding) in the morning.
- "Crew nights,
no bar fights or 'Reader's Wives'...".
'Reader's Wives' is a
porn magazine, the sort of thing roadies
might 'read' on tour, being away from their
wives and girlfriends. There is no need for
porn magazines on this occcasion, since there
are real women around!
* Neil R. Thomason
"The Curse", Ian sings "Went down to the local
disco, In what used to be the
"one-and-nines" referred to are the
cheap front seats in a UK cinema, referred to
in pre-decimal UK currency, which was
introduced in 1971. They invariably cost one
(shilling) and nine (pence). In the 1970's a
lot of cinemas in the UK closed down and were
turned into discos, bingo halls and the like.
Another similar reference is to be found in
"Taxi Grab", with the line "Teatime
calls, the bingo halls, Open at seven in the
old front stalls".
* March the Mad Scientist
A Small Cigar
in the early 1970's, many people assumed Ian
was a regular user of 'mind-expanding' drugs.
As he said in an article he wrote for Trouser
Press Magazine, in October 1982: "Of
course, people who saw me jumping about
on-stage thought I was taking every drug
under the sun. No matter how many times I
would say politely, "No, thank you, I
would not like a joint ", they'd say,
"Aw, C'MON, man, HEY... " Rather
than be rude or get angry bottled it up, all
these feelings of growing up among a
generation I felt I didn't belong with
surfaced on Benefit". This attitude to
drugs is apparent in the second verse of 'A
"If you ask me
they're on their way
to upper-middle-class oblivion.
The stupid twits, they roll their only one
cigarette between them".
The other people at the party are sharing a
cigar's redundant now
in the haze of smoking pleasure.
Call it a day, Get the hell away".
The smell of cannabis fills the room, so Ian
"Go down the
cafe, For a cup of real tea."
'Tea' being a slang term for
cannabis, of course, as distinct from 'real'
tea, the drink!
* Neil R. Thomason
UK Parliament is split into two 'houses': the
House of Commons and
the House of Lords. The House of
Commons consists of 540 democratically
elected members from constituencies in
England and Northern Ireland. The House of
Lords is an unelected group of both
hereditary peers (those members of the
aristocracy who have inherited their title by
accident of birth) and lifetime peers (those
who have been granted a position in the Lords
by the Prime Minister of the day).
Legislation is made by the House of
Commons. However, before it can become
law, it must be passed to the House of Lords.
Therefore it is the undemocratic House which
has the final powers to either pass or amend
or reject UK legislation. At the present
moment (1999) the ruling Labour Party are
seeking to abolish the House of Lords . . .
so this aristocratic anachronism may soon be
a thing of the past.
- "All right and
honourable gentlemen, and lady too...". The
lady in question would be Margaret Thatcher,
Prime Minister from 1979 - 1991. Her
government was much prone to division,
particularly over the matter of Europe. "One member":
'Member' as in MP (Member of Parliament).
this brief": I'm
not sure 'brief' is the word commonly used in
Parliament; it's usually a 'bill'. But the
idea is the same, i.e.a preliminary draft of
proposed legislation to be put before
"... poor Guy
went to the wall ..." stands
for Guy Fawkes was born in York in
1570. His parents were Protestant, but
Guy became a zealous Catholic in his late
teens, and went on to serve in the Spanish
army in the Netherlands from 1593 to 1604.
Along with eight others, Guy was a
conspirator in the 'Gunpowder Plot', their
intention being to blow up the House of Lords
and King James I in one fell swoop at the
opening of parliament on 5th Nov
1605. On the 4th November the plot was
discovered, and Guy Fawkes was hanged for
treason on 31st January 1606.
party firmly did divide". When
there's a formal vote in the Commons, the
Division Bell (c.f. Pink Floyd's 1994 album!)
is rung, and the MPs file into the division
lobbies (i.e. a 'yes' lobby, and a 'no'
lobby), where they're counted and the vote
decided. The Party authorities try hard to
make all their MPs vote the same way on key
issues, so when MPs don't enter the division
lobby the Party wants them to, it's quite a
major issue, certainly newsworthy. There's a
key point about all this that particularly
reinforces the theme of the song. When an MP
'rebels', and votes the 'wrong' way, the
focus of the newspaper reports is that the MP
disobeyed his/her leader - the procedures and
conventions of the Commons overshadow the
actual subject of what the vote was about,
which should really be the central issue.
* Neil Thomason
is a small town on Skye, with a ferry
terminal (presumably the one mentioned in
'Ears Of Tin' ). It's quite a chaotic place,
with tourists wandering about, locals getting
on with their daily business, and far more
traffic than the road system was designed to
cope with. Hence the image of a bustling
Middle Eastern bazaar. In addition to the
usual shops of any Scottish market town,
there are plenty of gift shops and
opportunities to separate tourists from their
money. It's the nearest town to Ian's old
estate at Strathaird. The implication of the
song is that there's a market in Broadford -
not just livestock, groceries and souvenirs,
but homes, jobs, heritage and land -
everything is for sale.
- "Dirty white
caravans down narrow roads sailing.
Vivas, Cortinas, weaving in their wake."
The song begins with the image of
holidaymakers driving around Skye, towing
caravans. The Vauxhall Viva and Ford Cortina
were models of cars common in Britain in
1978. More to the point, they were
family-saloon type cars, ill-suited to the
narrow rural roads of Skye.
red-faced drivers, horns' flattened fifths
Putting trust in blind corners as they
The drivers are struggling to
manoeuvre their unwieldy vehicles on the
narrow, twisting minor roads, complicating
matters by their arrogance and poor knowledge
of the roads. A situation I've frequently
seen in rural Wales is where a queue of
traffic builds up behind a tractor or
slow-moving car towing a caravan. Invariably,
someone gets impatient and attempts to
overtake. However, the road is also
invariably inappropriate for overtaking -
blind corners, the brows of hills, etc.
suspect Ian had frequently turned a corner to
be confronted by a tourist hurtling towards
him on the wrong side of the road!
- "All kinds of
people come down for the opening
Crofters and cottars, white settlers
A croft is simply a small farm,
the traditional unit of agriculture in the
Scottish Highlands. 'Cottier' is the Irish
version, with different implications in law.
A cottar is a Scottish peasant
occupying a cottage in exchange for labour;
i.e. an agricultural worker who gets a
cottage as part of his employment - his
employer owns the cottage, and if the worker
leaves his job, he has to vacate the cottage.
A cottier is an Irish tenant holding land as
the highest bidder. As understand it,
residence is for a fixed period, then the
bidding process is repeated, for the tenant
to renew the lease or for someone else to
take over the tenancy. However, I suspect Ian
was thinking of cottierism in this case,
where rich outsiders are able to outbid the
poorer locals, so the Skye locals become
displaced from their own homes. "'White
settlers" is a
term evoking colonialism in Britain's
imperialist past, where British people moved
to live in foreign countries, particularly
India and South Africa, generally taking the
best properties and reorganising social life
to their preferences. In this case, it's
outsiders taking over the small Skye
- "We'll take
pounds, francs and dollars from the
And stamps from the Green Shield".
Green Shield stamps: a system whereby people
could save money a little at a time, to spend
on groceries, etc.; a way of spreading
everyday expenses. Also mentioned in Genesis'
"Selling England By The Pound"
(1973). Note that this was a saving scheme,
not US-style Food Stamps. The hypothetical
shopkeepers in the song will happily charge
premium prices to foreign (including
English!) tourists, but will support poorer
locals by accepting the trading stamps
instead of cash.
* Neil R. Thomason
Man Of Principle
This is a song about
the Public schools of England who by breeding and money produce
Men of Principle who enter into the House of Commons or mostly
the House of Lords in Englands Parliament or become captains of
He leaves school
having been on the rugby team ..three cheers..and has had the
complete schollong to fill his dads shoes..his dad being also a
peer of the realm.
Even when he has the
chance to bed this girl ..he remembers his background and
schooling and responsibility...he is a man of principle
He wants to do all
the things he would love to do but his old school tie is
dragging him back...he cannot free himself. Out
of school now its hard to keep up that dedication.
* John Taylor