side effects of random neural activity

Company 4 by Derek Bailey & Steve Lacy

I am fond of Steve Lacy’s playing, and I’m also very fond of Derek Bailey, but they don’t seem as though they would necessarily be a natural fit together. But their duets on the album “Company 4” (1977 on the Incus label) are a dream.

Steve Lacy is a very thoughtful musician, he chooses his notes very carefully, one or two at a time, gives them room to speak, then has a think. He seems to make Derek Bailey more fastidious than usual, his ragged tremolos, clusters & harmonics become increasingly considered and communicative. It feels as though he’s engaging with his companion a trifle more than he sometimes had a mind to in Company.

I particularly like “Abandoned 2”, Steve Lacy sounds as though he’s decided to start by systematically probing a series of intervals:

On other tracks he explores the sonic ground between breathing and pitched notes, not particularly tuneful, but an interesting auditory experience. It elicits from Derek Bailey some sustained ringing & clanging sounds, which makes for a pleasing combination. (Plus, it’s the first Derek Bailey album I bought, which probably affects my high opinion)

Videos part 2: my tunes

I have written a number of tunes (about a million) over the past few months. Some are mighty works of wonder, some are feeble wisps of banality. I hope one day they might be brought to plump & colourful 4-dimensional life by the live alchemical spirits of drummers, bassists, sax etc. Until then I can only dream wistfully.

I recorded these on my mobile phone, & mostly with the aid of a looper, the Ditto X2. One downside is there’s no way of altering relative volumes between parts, other than doing it all again.

Joy of Dave

  • parts: two guitars
  • duration: 34 seconds
  • date of recording: 25/1/2021
  • comments: Dave is one of the nicest people I know, and a fantastic musician (alto sax). I was also thinking of Ornette.


  • parts: bass + three guitars
  • duration: 1:11
  • date of recording: 25/1/2021
  • comments: A gloomy diminished canon, with its mechanisms exposed.

Erstwhile Toast

  • parts: solo guitar
  • duration: 27 seconds
  • date of recording: 25/1/2021
  • comments: This was meant to be two interacting melodies (ie it doesn’t sound like this here in my head). I was thinking of tap-dancing.

Faves & Thrones

  • parts: bass + three guitars
  • duration: 1:33
  • date of recording: 1/2/2021
  • comments: This one’s an epic (at 1 minute 30 secs). I don’t know how these symphony people do it.


  • parts: two guitars
  • duration: 56 seconds
  • date of recording: 25/1/2021
  • comments: On two guitars. I was thinking of a tractor, starting in the cold weather, diesel. This is the only one of these tunes I’ve ever played with another being, namely bassist Graeme Owen. (Completing a sudoku gives me little pleasure – feels pointless)

Decoding the Chain

  • parts: bass + two guitars
  • duration: 1:05
  • date of recording: 27/1/2021
  • comments: I was thinking about a swaying giant slug and a an overconfident mouse

Videos of me playing guitar

A list of videos of me playing guitar.
posted on Facebook
also on Youtube
Recorded on laptop/phone (audio & video)

The Carpetbaggers theme by Lalo Schifrin

  • guitar: electric (with quartet)
  • duration: 5:15
  • date of composition: 1964
  • date of recording: 26/5/2019
  • comments: I did a gig with a hastily assembled quartet at Imperial Hotel Stroud in May 2019, with no rehearsal. Brilliant musicians Dave Wright (alto sax), Andy Rushton (bass) & Paul Boniface (drums) gamely agreed to play. I remembered the Jimmy Smith version of this tune as the theme from the BBC programme “The Money Programme”. I can be heard shouting “1 2 3” occasionally, to cue in the 2-bar phrase that is different from the rest of the tune.

Evidence by Thelonious Monk (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 1:06
  • date of composition: 1948
  • date of recording: 5/6/2019
  • comments: I did a gig with a hastily assembled quartet at Imperial Hotel Stroud in May 2019, with no rehearsal. Evidence was on my mind, I was thinking about two versions of the tune: one from a Steve Lacy solo album, the other from Monk’s quartet in Japan. However Dave, who was on alto sax, claimed not to know the tune, so we didn’t play it.

Oska T by Thelonious Monk (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 1:06
  • date of composition: 1963
  • date of recording: 22/6/2019
  • comments: I was introduced to this tune a few years ago by tenor sax player John Lawrence. And I’d recently been listening to and marvelling at NY guitarist Mike Okazaki’s solo rendition of Thelonious Monk’s entire catalogue of compositions. Okazaki uses a strange guitar tuning to be able to generate those crunchy chords, so I had to determine or approximate this: it’s something like (low to high) Eb/Ab/Bb/F/C/E. I read somewhere that the title came from the British English phrase “ask for a cup of tea”.

Criss-Cross by Thelonious Monk (tune only)

(with silly singing beforehand)

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 1:13
  • date of composition: 1944
  • date of recording: 26/6/2019
  • comments: This one I learnt from Pete Rosser in the 1990’s.

Work by Thelonious Monk (tune only)

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 1:04
  • date of composition: 1954
  • date of recording: 27/6/2019
  • comments: I found this going through his complete compositions, and really like it.

Coming On The Hudson by Thelonious Monk (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 1:01
  • date of composition: 1958
  • date of recording: 10/7/2019
  • comments: Rather beautiful, and easier to play than the last one.

Brilliant Corners by Thelonious Monk (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 1:39
  • date of composition: 1956
  • date of recording: 18/7/2019
  • comments: It starts slow & then goes round again fast. Then slow… Apparently when Monk recorded it in the studio they had about 1000 failed takes, half the band fell out, the other half had a nervous breakdown, and the producer had to stitch a version of the track together note by note. But when I was in a sextet with Richard Pond (& Dave Wright, Rob Wills, Simon Day, Tony Knight) in about 2010, I wrote the tune out for the band, we used to play it and it was fine – so there.

WRU by Ornette Coleman (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:38
  • date of composition: 1961
  • date of recording: c. Feb 2020
  • comments: I first heard this tune on John Zorn’s 1989 album Spy vs Spy – I found the performance very exciting, far more so than the 1961 original which seemed to me at the time a bit dated. In fact they’re both excellent performances.

Freedom Jazz Dance by Eddie Harris (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • date of composition: 1966
  • date of recording: 21/2/2020
  • duration: 0:22
  • comments: This tune was mooted in advance for the Stroud Jazz Jam in February, and I learnt it, and then we didn’t play it as there were plenty of other tunes to be played that evening. So here it is.

Venezuelan Waltz number 3 (I think) by Antonio Lauro

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 1:46
  • date of composition: c. 1940?
  • date of recording: 7/4/2020
  • comments: first lockdown recording. This rendition is fairly abysmal, but I was driven to it by covid-related circumstances.

The Nun by Chris Cundy (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 1:29
  • date of composition: 2016
  • date of recording: 9/4/2020
  • comments: From Chris Cundy’s album Gustav Lost. I’ve known a few nuns in my time, not all so benevolent as this stately sister.

Frosty Sharp & Free by Pete Rosser (tune only)

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 0:47
  • date of composition: 1991
  • date of recording: 14/4/2020
  • comments: This is more difficult to play than you might think (or at least to improvise on – which I don’t attempt here).

Art (Lorca) by Pete Rosser (tune only)

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 1:27
  • date of composition: 2011
  • date of recording: 20/4/2020
  • comments: Part of an evocative suite composed by Emma Ordonez and Pete Rosser to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the death of poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Tune sounds a bit foreign to me.

Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield (precis only)

  • guitar: electric + looper pedal
  • duration: 1:37
  • date of composition: 1973
  • date of recording: 28/4/2020
  • comments: My Dad disliked this piece, so this is in his memory. It’s a trifle too long, just like the original version. I’ve used a thing called a looper, which is cheating, but we’re all driven to such lengths by covid-related circumstances.

Look of Love by Burt Bacharach (tune only)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 1:07
  • date of composition: 1967
  • date of recording: 20/5/2020
  • comments: I listened to the breathey Dusty Springfield version, and the Burt Bacharach version with the cheesy trumpets, then did this.

My Funny Valentine sped up

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 0:35
  • date of composition: 1937
  • date of recording: 21/6/2020
  • comments: I’ve had a long-standing desire to speed up My Funny Valentine, which is generally far too slow. We could get the whole thing done a bit sharpish & save time all round.  (Under 30 seconds – beat that!)

Playing with a drummer without his consent

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 0:54
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 3/9/2020
  • comments: Not playing with real live musicians is driving me to dubious practices: ie accompanying people without their knowledge. (The drumming here is a post by Dan Weiss (, he’s demoing an exercise where he plays a steady rhythm with one hand while moving a second phrase around the bar with the other. As you can hear I ignore this completely.)

AMcK Lesson 1: Jazz endings

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:15
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 21/6/2020
  • comments: Endings: The best bit of any jazz tune is the end. Here’s how to end a jazz tune.

AMcK Lesson 2: Jazz scale

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:16
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 21/6/2020
  • comments: Scales: In jazz you have to play the right notes. These ones.

AMcK Lesson 3: Funk: how to be funky.

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:12
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 21/6/2020
  • comments: People ask: what is jazz funk? It’s this.

AMcK Lesson 4: Jazz “playing out”

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:34
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 21/6/2020
  • comments: For variety and interest include abstract sounds into your playing. (inspired by Emma Holbrook’s cymbal scrape tutorial)

AMcK Lesson 5: Jazz in odd time signatures

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 0:52
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 15/10/2020
  • comments: Jazz in 33/4 – 23/4: Demonstrating James Chadwick’s arrangement of Giant Steps in 33/4 – 23/4. (Don’t tell him I nicked it, he’s a big cheese in the Cardiff jazz mafia)

AMcK Lesson 6: Jazz “playing out” (part 2)

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:15
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 21/6/2020
  • comments: Extend your musical vocabulary for your solos by including some more abstract sounds. (inspired by Keith Rowe who blew my mind when I caught his Duchampian antics in Bracknell in 1980.)

Ru-pu pum pum

  • guitar: acoustic
  • duration: 0:44
  • date of composition: 2020
  • date of recording: 20/12/2020
  • comments: Happy xmas everybody. Here’s a festive tune. (I meant to shout “happy xmas”, forgot.)

In The Mood Redux by Zenya Strigalev (tune only)

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 53 seconds
  • date of composition: 2016
  • date of recording: 11/3/2021
  • comments: Struggling to play this one. Trying to imitate Zenya Strigalev’s eccentric version of In The Mood. I will never achieve his fine control & articulation using my own fingers, but it’s good to try! (The original can be found here:

AMcK Lesson 7: Playing fast

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 51 seconds
  • date of composition: 2021
  • date of recording: 16/3/2021
  • comments: How to play fast. Just start playing at an easy moderate pace, then gradually increase… (PS – this is actually what Bill Frisell does, and nobody calls him out on it.)

DadRock1: Guitar bit from Bomian Rapsti.

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 30 seconds
  • date of composition: 1975
  • date of recording: 30/3/2021
  • comments: A request from my daughter: the guitar bit by Brian May out of Queen. (Note: I can’t do the string-bend technique, that’s probably the main difference between Brian May & me.)

DadRock2: Guitar bit from GunsARoses.

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 23 seconds
  • date of composition: 1988
  • date of recording: 14/4/2021
  • comments: A request from my daughter: the guitar bit by Slash out of GunsARoses. (Note: mine’s a bit more bouncy.)

DadRock3: Guitar bit from Angus.

  • guitar: electric
  • duration: 26 seconds
  • date of composition: 1980
  • date of recording: 14/4/2021
  • comments: Daughter’s requests have dried up, but I imagine the next one would have been the guitar bit by Angus out of ACDC.


  • Electric: Gordon Smith, bought at Cheltenham guitar shop Aroundabout Sound in early 1990s. I just tried every guitar in the shop and chose the smoothest and easiest to play.
  • Acoustic: Hofner steel strings, I found this under my Dad’s stairs after he passed away a few years ago. I find it almost unplayable, but if I grit my teeth I can wrench some sound out of the thing.

Short stories from 2017

Short stories I wrote in 2017 and posted on facebook.

10/9/2017 – A short story

A woman is cross when the council paints a cycle lane on the pavement.
Cyclists now zoom along the pavement in what she considers to be manner dangerous to pedestrians such as herself.
Her many anti-cycle-lane letters to the council, MPs, newspapers etc bring her no joy.
She takes to walking in the cycle lane & haranguing any cyclist who remonstrates with her.

Eventually she decides to acquire a bicycle & ride it in a manner designed to deliberately annoy pedestrians,
in order to turn them against cyclists in general, in the hope that they will join her cause.

(Needs an ending…)

15/9/2017 – Short story number 2

A woman is waiting for a train, or a bus, at any rate she’s in a public place.
A nearby man is on his mobile phone, communicating volubly and energetically.
Some might judge him to be shouting, perhaps he’s emotional, or perhaps he always speaks in this manner.
The woman goes and stands next to the man, and starts talking very loudly too.
She does not have a mobile phone. And she is not speaking to the man. She speaks into the air.
She is reciting a classic poem from her youth (many years ago), very loudly & clearly.

(Also in need of an ending.)

(unpublished) Short story number 3

A woman goes about the town alone, but speaking aloud.
She describes the world around her, as a form of verbal narration.
She says things like “a man in a blue baseball cap gazes into space with all the enthusiasm of a half-wit”,
“small children are worse than terrorists”
and “this bloke with big ears is waddling like a jelly duck”

This story might end badly.

24/9/2017 – Short story number 4

A guitarist with little or nothing to say, insists on saying it at great length.

Eventually either (a) the audience leaves, bored beyond all endurance,
or (b) the guitarist becomes fabulously wealthy, certainly more wealthy than you (you with your dreary mundane life) will ever be.

22/10/2017 – Short story number 5

Someone who has been plying their obscure technical craft (eg jazz, or latin grammar) for a number of years or even decades,
and has become quite proficient, meets a dodgy character who is obstinate & aggressive,
and who has been engaged in borderline (or downright) criminal activity in a largely incompetent fashion
and with a lack of any great success.

The two of them form an unlikely emotional bond, and proceed to go out and between them conquer the world.

26/10/2017 – Short story number 6

A person is jealous, filled with envy and spite. Their remarks are generally tinged with sarcasm & bitterness.

Another person is cheerful, always has a ready smile and a kind word, you know the type.

Eventually one of these turns into a horrid troll. Urgh!
The other is transformed into a kaleidoscope of butterflies. Aah. (not sure which is which)

You’re thinking that this is a fairy tale, but wait, it could be metaphorical. Think on.

3/11/2017 – Short story number 7

Elsewhere in the galaxy, or possibly even in another galaxy, two people fall in love.
They are not humans (this is sci-fi) but we can empathise with their condition.
Theirs is a universal tale.
There are several obstacles in the path of their relationship, but eventually with some difficulty these are overcome,
and the couple achieve contentment in togetherness.

Their romance plays out against a backdrop of galactic warfare between two great civilisations.
These are really big wars, and billions perish just like that.
Prog rock may be involved, also artificial intelligence.

Only obsessives can be bothered to read the whole thing, it is extremely long,
but in the end both civilisations decline and fade away. There is no-one left to remember them.
Makes you think and stroke your chin.

9/11/2017 – Short story number 8

The black paper between a mirror breaks my heart.
The moon frayed thru dark velvet.
Energy flies through a field, and the sun softly melts a nothing wheel.
The swan their feathers don’t grow.
Grain grows rainbows up straw hill.
etc (Beefheart)

15/11/2017 – Short story number 9

Something about a fiery dragon and a chivalrous knight.
I’ve also got an emotionally reserved butler character but he doesn’t really fit in.

(unpublished) Short story number 10

The characters are all named after colours, or possibly after authors.
They all spend their time observing the other characters,
speculating about their actions, imagining their histories and intentions.
It’s post modern, it’s a reflection on the activities of authoring and reading texts.
Look, I don’t have time to explain it all now, but it’s clever and will definitely become a classic of its kind.

(unpublished) Short story number 11 (an erotic tale)

No details as yet, but there’s a picture of an octopus wielding a whip.

(unpublished) Short story number 12

A prosperous and well-regarded author
becomes disillusioned with his craft, his books, and his supposed talent.

He embarks on a series of ill-advised and undignified affairs with impressionable younger people. Sad!

Many amusing or embarrassing episodes take place to entertain the reader. He writes them all down, a new novel.
The story has no real plot as such, but the style is cynical & amusing.
And technically self-referential, some people do like that sort of thing.
The result is yet another successful title.
The author is praised & lauded yet further despite his contempt for his readers and critics,
and his fortune grows.

Shame about all the steamy affairs though.

(unpublished) Short stories 13 to …
A series of irritable spasmodic eruptions.

unsolicited testimonial:
I read your stories to my son at bedtime, he loves them and goes to sleep with a smile on his face.
BTW my son is 28 years of age.

Technically it’s all about plot, tension & release, character development, the narrative arc, and so forth and so on.
But at a deeper level it’s about emotions: love, hate, grief & joy, and irritation. Particularly irritation.
I take my readers on a journey.

WW by Muhal Richard Abrams and Malachi Favors

This is about the track “W.W. (dedicated to Wilbur Ware)” from Sightsong, the 1976 LP on Black Saint, performed by a duo of Muhal Richard Abrams on piano and Malachi Favors on bass. (The whole album is on YouTube at, this is the first tune on the album.)

The musicians were connected with the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) in Chicago since the 1960s.

The LP is one of Muhal Richard Abrams more accessible and down-to-earth albums. I recorded it onto a reel-to-reel tape recorder from Charles Fox’s jazz program on Radio 3 as a teenager, and listened to it many times.

The short tune was composed by Muhal Richard Abrams, and is stated at the start & end, plus a bit of an intro & outro. The bulk of the piece for soloing is a loop of 7 bars of waltz time:

| Bbm / / | Db / / | B / / | Ab/C / / |
| B / / | Gb / / | F7 / / |

(which would surely be more convenient to notate and play a semitone lower in A minor. I can imagine the composer playing it in Am, and thinking no, that’s too obvious – we need more of a challenge here, more sharps and flats!). The piece is 5 minutes long, 2 minutes of which is a bass solo.

There is a casual attitude to tuning, which I came to associate with an aesthetic common to a few jazz record labels featured on the programme at the time. The piano is slightly out of tune with itself and the bass is definitely out of tune with the piano.

The playing is not slick or polished. The piano lines are irregular and sometimes trip over themselves. The bass lines seems to struggle to keep up with the pace of the tune. The transition to the outro is out of synch.

I really enjoy the bass solo, it seems to possess a good deal of energy, enthusiasm and excitement. I get the impression it takes Malachi Favors a lot of effort to cope with the changes and the tempo. At one point (about 2:05) he seems to miss the strings completely, producing a clunk instead of a note. It’s ambiguous I think whether this is frustration or just an expressive gesture, but I like to think he’s enjoying himself. I sense he’s keen to race off into free improvisation territory, occasionally bursting out for a fleeting moment, barely managing to restrain himself and return within the rigid confines of the 7 bar sequence.

Anyway, I feel this performance for me points the way to what is important in music, and what is important is not necessarily being in tune or being slick & polished.

Like This by The Work

I heard the LP Slow Crimes by the band The Work in the 1990s when it came out on CD, but they recorded it in 1981 after Henry Cow broke up and Tim Hodgkinson got all punky. Some of the sounds remind me of Western Culture, but the pieces tend to be about 3 minutes long rather than expanding into operatic durations.

The record is great, all odd time signatures and grating guitars, weirdly keening vocals and episodes of apparently random nonsense. The overall effect is angry and chaotic, but there’s some clever musicianship going on.

Track 5, Like This, starts with the lyrics being alternately yelled and gabbled, both the rhythms and melody darting about in jagged directions. Then it launches into a funky beat with a sustained guitar over the top. Finally the lyrics return but matched with a jerky beat, which makes you think there’s more to the melody than originally met the ear.

It can be found here (along with the rest of the album):

And the lyrics are below.

What does it all mean? I don’t know. But splendid stuff.

Like this you can be strong in your heart
Take power my dears
Better strong on earth than in heaven
Carry me down where old people die
I'll be there
Time's passed by us all
Everyone as fast as each other
Only the world stays after the food's gone
And the talk's dry
Leave me to die
I'll forget

Like this you can be strong in your heart
Take power my dears
Better strong on earth than in heaven
Carry me down where crowds are betrayed
I'll be there
Time's passed by us all
Dagger green
Our generals were dressed in garlands
And red wires named after dogs
Caught us all
Died face to the wall
We forgot


Law and Order: Word Market by Leon Rosselson (2/2)

OK – I’ve written out the lyrics: I just listened to the song at, which sounds similar but not identical to what I remember from his first solo album – but mind you it was several decades ago that I used to listen to it!

Law and Order: Word Market
Leon Rosselson

I went down to the word market, the word market in the vaults of the city,
because I wanted to by a pre-packed frozen slab of ready-mixed democracy,
to fill the hungry heart-shaped space floating inside of me,
where the anguished murmers, helpless cries, disturb my privacy.

So I joined the queue at the front of the hall
for the paperweight man on the democracy stall.
I wrote down my name, age, height and weight,
and placed my order in triplicate.
The paperweight man overruled my fears,
fitted me with soundproof ears.
The heart-shaped ache began to fade,
and I was as happy as the hit parade.

"God bless democracy" was my prayer
as I joined the peaceful demonstration in Trafalgar Square.
Obeyed the maze of one-way signs,
wrote my usual letter to the Times.
Cast my vote for the pantomime dame,
and took my partner for the no-change game.

And there above behind it all
came a voice from the law and order stall
where the man with velvet gloves declaimed
"Law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
that's right, that's right,
law and order must be maintained,
and we'll smash the slob
who can't be trained."

I went down to the word market, the word market in the vaults of the city,
to purchase a giant-sized economy pack of wonder-working, white-washing liberty
to wash away the solidified slime left by the senile delinquents in their centrally heated suits
who'd been trampling all over my moon-green visions with their skyscraper boots.

So I joined the throng at the centre of the hall
for the fibreglass man on the liberty stall.
Filled in the usual questionnaire,
who, what, why, when, how and where.
The fibreglass man removed my eyes,
plugged in two of standard size.
My visions darkened into dust,
and I was as happy as a unit trust.

"Long live liberty" was my battle cry
as I took out shares in ICI,
mortgaged my future at 10 percent,
learned to love the Observer colour supplement.
Bought a winning smile for my get-ahead face,
and took my partner for the jackpot race.

And there above behind it all
came the voice from the law and order stall
where the armour plated man declaimed
"Law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
that's right, that's right,
law and order must be maintained,
and we'll break the thug
who can't be trained."

I went down to the word market, the word market in the vaults of the city,
to exchange my collection of green-eyed gnomes for a free-gift sample of germ killing, double-quick-acting efficiency
to disinfect the elusive illusory odour of ambrosia
rising from the mouldering remains of my forbidden dreams where they lay dying of indecent exposure.

So I pushed my way to the back of the hall
for the polythene man on the efficiency stall.
I clocked in at the electronic gate,
the robot controller found me ten seconds late.
The polythene man injected me
with super-dynamic vitality.
Deodorised for all my dreams,
and I was as happy as a fruit machine.

Efficiency for ever was my campaign
as I disciplined my wayward brain,
kept one eye and eye on the market trends,
gathered in my dividends.
Increased my productivity,
and took my partner for the murder spree.

And still, above, behind it all
came the voice from the law and order stall
where the man with death-ray eyes declaimed
"Law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
that's right, that's right,
law and order must be maintained,
and we'll crush the creep
who can't be trained."

I went down to the word market, the word market in the vaults of the city,
to see if they'd sell me a jail full or two of law and order
to deter the little bat-faced men whose flame-throwing eyes were corroding
the deep shelters of my mind where the cracks were exploding.

So I climbed the stairs around the hall
for the infra-red man on the law and order stall,
passed with honours the obedience test,
and humbly begged permission to make my request.
The infra-red man cut out my mind,
inserted one of an orderly kind.
The cracks became a wilderness
and I was as happy as a nervous gas.

Law and order was my crusade,
and rules are made to be obeyed.
Bring back the noose. Protect our rights.
God bless our rocket launching sites.
I made my will, I dressed to kill,
I took my partner for the doomsday quadrille.I felt myself go slowly sane,
the holes were pouring from my brain,
my tongue tapped out this proud refrain:
"Law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
law and order must be maintained,
that's right, that's right,
law and order must be maintained,
and we'll smash the slob,
and we'll break the thug,
and we'll crush the creep,
but we'll cure the freak
who won't behave,
who disobeys,
who won't be saved,
who can't be trained."

Law and Order: Word Market by Leon Rosselson (1/2)

My dad had an LP record by Leon Rosselson the folk singer, recorded in 1971. I now perceive Rosselson as an angry man, a protest singer, but his voice was open and transparent, and as a young lad I just liked the music. For instance “Law and Order: Word Market” – I wasn’t sure what was going on in this song, perhaps I vaguely sensed its satirical intent, but I was definitely affected by the nightmarish imagary.

The confused protagonist, disturbed by his thoughts, emotions, inner voices and dreams, turns (ill-advisedly) for help to a series of scary individuals who seem to deal largely in abstract nouns. In turn he has his ears, eyes, odour and mind replaced, and finally becomes the creature who has been heard ominously chanting at the back of the hall throughout, I imagined him to be a dalek, insistently and viciously delivering an inhuman message to the world.

The song is a bit dated by its references to ICI, the hit parade, etc, but I still enjoy it. It has an ambitious verse structure, and some great guitar playing by the brilliant guitarist Martin Carthy. The whole thing has an almost orchestral scope, and the repetition cranks up the tension and creates a sense of inevitability as the song moves towards its bitter conclusion.

tongue twister

Imagine an imaginary manager managing an imaginary menagerie.

Also: Eleven benevolent elephants.