They swam in the streets through air
Car crash Peruvian pills
Eyes of a dead paramedic
And waistcoats unbuttoned.
Factory of vultures;
The killing ceiling is.
I smell their incontinent fear,
Is it any wonder?
There is murder here.
Spiral Bound Hymns:
Notes On The Making Of The 21/22 Trilogy.
The 21/22 Trilogy were the first albums I made that I was happy with. (21/22 refers to my age during the recording of the albums). They were the first albums I made that I felt sounded like me. Even though they don’t sound like me now and didn’t sound like me then. Together, along with their accompanying ep’s of out-takes (‘Looking To Oaxaca’,’Crossfingered For The Change’ and ‘Daggers For Leaves’) they stand apart from everything else I have recorded.
I recorded and compiled them over half a year in 2004. I never questioned what I was doing, I just wrote and sung in desperation, awe and disbelief. They were my visions.
I saw angels in alleyways, diamonds in back seats of cars, drug paraphernalia-paranoia, ghosts killing themselves over and over, poisoning of the pure heart, Buddha weeping in the chapels of Christ as Mozart’s Requiem Mass blared.
All the songs lyrics were based on an ink spill of poetic outpourings. All or almost all were chorus-less, maybe even verse-less. Born of despair and candle light, red eyed in the midnight supernaturalness.
I was working a morning shift at the time and would be home by 12.30 pm. In the afternoons I would write and record until the beers and everything had ruined me. Poetry was always good to write in this state but singing and playing guitar soon became a chore. And thus the albums were made in swirls of smoke and the mirage of bedroom vastness.
I filled notebook after notebook. Dropped ash and spilt beer on the pages.
I was hung up on a girl at work, of course, unreciprocated. I was deeply unhappy around this time but i played the martyr well, with a broken guitar as a makeshift crucifix and old strings for my crown of thorns.
Occasionally I’d be away for a long weekend or a week on tour with The Inbreds (The UK heavy rock band; we recorded and released our debut album that year, 2004) and I always longed to be back in the introverted introspection of my childhood bedroom where my cacti waited, green and growing.
All the songs were recorded on a Fostex 4-track, which I used to record around 1000 songs between late 1998 and 2006.
To my memory none of the trilogy’s songs are in standard tuning on the guitar. I had long been fixated on making up strange open tunings or borrowing cool ones from songs I liked. This gives the songs a strange dream like quality, a drone note building in reverb and all the notes and scuffs echoing into one pulse.
When I came to transferring The original C-90 tape cassettes to digital in 2008, I found they had warped slightly; They play slower than they should. This means my vocals and guitars are a lower key than when I sang them. It sounds strange, though I think better than the originals. They are much more ghostly wounded and oddball.
The albums are built upon hypnotic acoustic trance riffs in cyclic repetition and mostly non-rhyming free form poetry that began with what would become the bulk of ‘Crossing The Shadowline’, a reference to Joseph Conrad’s book. This first album is probably the most straight forwardly normal of the three and has more of a standard song flow.
Although the albums weren’t planned out, a form emerged as I wrote and recorded and tracklists fell into place. The 2nd, ‘Cognac Prayers’ focuses on the place between the dream world and reality and highlights an indignant fed up attitude of wanting the reality AND the dream. But really wanting neither and actually getting neither.
The 3rd album in the trilogy ‘Victoria In A Bad Liver’ is about unrequited love and self-medication-abuse but in an abstract language that doesn’t tell you this is what the album is about. - The hieroglyph as song.
When I listen to the albums now I feel like something is pushing down on my shoulders. Some spirit aura. Neither friend nor enemy, an inquisitive visitor who may or may not be a threat.
All those years ago at night when I listened back to the songs I had recorded in the afternoon, I would be washed in the blood of a lamb that represented my rebirth and resurrection from this day to the next, to begin again the time loop through the holy drug and the shamanic mantra of song in spectral Bexleyheath.
I was gone.
And so was the music…..
In a good way.
Paul Francis Relf
The link below takes you to The 21-22 Trilogy playlist in which there is one song from each album and each accompanying e.p.
The petrol pump.
Coffee coffee coffee coffee.
Record company backstabbing.
The cash machine in reverse.
'What is it?'
'Is that mine?'
Marijuana Marijuana Marijuana.
Test tubes crushed
Miles miles miles miles.
Vocal cords torn
Kitchens kitchens kitchens kitchens.
Motorway motorway motorway
Waiting waiting waiting waiting.
Backstage backstage backstage.
Exhaust pipe falling
Tripping on stage.
Cymbals cymbals cymbals cymbals.
Beers beers beers beers.
Merch table selling.
Echo echo echo.
Soundcheck Soundcheck soundcheck soundcheck.
Line up changes
Snare snare snare snare.
Hotels hotels hotels hotels.
I am Merlin,
Distortion and feedback.
Written by Paul Francis Relf (November 2013)
Holy Shots For The C-90 Tape Cassette Junkies;
The story of The Earp Tapes and the birth of Those Gin Soaked Rags.
Matthew Froud and me had played together in various bands and he had always been my lead guitarist/co-songwriter/drinking buddy. At this point none of the bands I had been in had ever recorded a single song, apart from the odd handheld or tripod camera footage. I, on the other hand, was already an extremely prolific songwriter and had recorded around 200 of the 300 odd songs I had written between 1997 and 2000. These were all recorded on C-90 tape cassettes straight into a small tape player that I believe was actually my sisters. I wish I still had that thing….
Here or somewhere thereabouts in 2001 is where the story of T.G.S.R really begins. I was an awful singer back then and my songwriting was occasionally questionable too. When I was good I was great, when I was bad then it could be laughable, but I’m still very fond of those bad ones.
Stoned and drunk, 18 years old, nerdy, grungy, awkward and shy, lost in a world of spinning cassette wheels, poetry, note books, depression and self harm. Making music with a friend was very good for me, I could be sociable but still introverted, I could be a stadium selling rock star and an award winning songwriter without leaving my own bedroom and that was enough and fine by me.
It was music night in my bedroom with Matt, high, we decide to make, under the moniker Wyatt Earp (AKA The Earps) a loose concept album called ‘Coffee, fags, booze and blues’ by The Drunken Blues Players. We would write the best songs we could and record them to 4-track cassette. 12 songs was the target. Somehow we ended up 6 years later with 8 C-90 tape cassettes full on both sides with hundreds of songs. There is even more still, uncompiled, that are lost in the shoeboxes of original master tapes in the cupboard upstairs in my old bedroom in my parents house.
The songwriting and jam sessions got out of control. We had fun. We laughed and cried. We got angry, we got happy. We got lost. We got found.
The original concept album idea was never actually dropped, we just kept writing new songs for it. We aimed high in artistic endeavour, bombed on weed and alcohol, we slowly, over the months and years added extras to the original slimline 12 song idea.
We had a loose spoken word, guitar accompaniment story song collection called The Ballad of Buttmunch and Skiffle Henry.
Also the Tears In My Coffee Cup jams that ranged from 2 to 25 minutes, these alone could fill a triple album. Some of the original early songs for the album were going to be ‘Soon’ ‘Carpet Burn’ ‘Legend Of Love’ ‘Firebird’ ‘A Lesson Learned’ ‘A Little Bad Advice’ ‘Can’t Get Out’ and ‘Fools Of Freedom’ (‘fools’ becoming a recurring theme, for no known reason, throughout T.G.S.R history)
The introduction of James Holloway to The Earps was a wonderful ride. The drunken nights with candles and incense burning continued but now we had a third songwriter and singer who shared the same vision of indie country rock with a punk attitude and Beat Generation angel geniuses knowing.
We played songs with more purpose now, songs written by me, songs written by James, songs written by the three of us. The wild rambling spontaneous off the cuff jams where we started playing and then sung in turn whatever came to our heads was something Matt and me had done in earlier years but now with James became a satori. (We would later reach an early apotheosis of this in our 2008 debut album ‘Roulette Father Son’ where virtually every song was spontaneously written and recorded from scratch once the record button was pressed.) It was the pure brain in motion, the dream world car crashing into reality, a meditation mantra, the infinite being vibrating, in those moments we were and are one. It was and is transcendent.
Matt and me had dropped the band name Wyatt Earp and then dropped the name The Earps. We had instead just referred to what we did as ‘The Earp Tapes’ almost more like a project than a band. In a way it was more performance art. We were at once the performer and the audience. We had assassinated the middleman in cold blood. We had no need of promoter, talent scout, record producer, record company, critics. audience or fan base. We were everything ourselves. With James joining the rumpus we slowly started throwing around band name ideas. I don’t recall any of the suggestions but we talked about using The Earps again. In the end somehow we fell upon Those Gin Soaked Rags. Were we drinking gin? I don’t remember. I know we talked about London and the gin epidemic. Anyway, there it was.
The eighth and last Earp tape was a mix of songs written apart and songs written together. The end of the Earp Tapes can be attributed to a few things: the addition of James; The naming of the band and moving onto gigging; Actually finishing an ep with the choosing of three songs and artwork by me for the first TGSR release ‘Ragtime Ghosts’ in 2007.
But, as with a lot of modern age extinction, the actual nail in the coffin was, simply, technology. In late 2007 I had bought a digital 8track and found a new freedom of recording and that the sound was a multiverse compared to the 4track tape’s universe. So the tape stopped rolling………..The physical cassette tape at least but the heart and mind as one, what the Japanese call Kokoro, well, that’s still rolling like the eternal waters of the ocean of infinity, rolling rolling rolling rolling rolling rolling rolling on and on and on……………………….
Post-script- The Earp Tapes are unreleased in their complete form. Plans for a cd box set and mp3 format ‘Revealing The Secrets Of The Master Magicians - The Earp Tapes’ has been planned for a while but I can’t say if or when it will see the light of day.
I compiled a two volume best of The Earp Tapes, released in 2009 on CD-R as part of The Inverted Smile Series, ‘The Pitfalls Of Being Strange; The best Of The Earp Tapes vol. 1’ and ‘Heroic Endeavours In Unheroic Times; The Best Of The Earp Tapes vol. 2’. Both of these are extremely rare.
Thanks for reading. I’m popping out for a beer….and a couple of gins……………..
God Bless The Gin Club Boys.
Paul Francis Relf
could move my head again without
My song from 2011. I actually recorded myself write the lyrics off the cuff spontaneously first though best thought poetry mind waves and then wrote and recorded the music and all afterwards. I then used the footage for the music video.
\Music video for the 2011 Paul Relf song Miss You Doll. Written, performed and recorded by Paul Francis Relf (poorlypaulymusic2011)./
A song I wrote in 2009 after looking at a horrible flat to rent in Belvedere, Kent, UK. It was in an unpleasant area to say the least. I got away as fast as the bus would take me back to Bexleyheath. and no, I didn’t rent it.
I believe Noam Chomsky to be the real true life superhero of our times.
He is Superman.
Knowledge Is Love
By Paul Francis Relf (2013)
It wasn’t that I made a fool of myself
Not quite that much
Or that I laughed in the middle of that serious talk
Or the flowers I bought,
Or the mix cd with songs from the year of your birth
It wasn’t that good!
No, I think it was when I said I believed in magic and ghosts
It’s not that I believe in
life after death
More that I believe we don’t die,
I mean our bodies do but
I mean what we were before we were born
I mean that.
It was at that moment
When those words left my lips
In a sing song smile
That you knew you knew me.
By Paul Francis Relf
Naked trees shorn of green
A twig by any other sap
The winter onslaught
Not yet ravaged
Not yet draped the white
A desert dust landscape
Not yet hung the chocolates
Not yet stuffed the socks
Not yet stuffed the face
We have not yet choked
On the fat of starvation
Nor the skin and bone
That we gave 10 pence to charity
That we turned the newspaper page
To sport and the list of A
We have not yet swallowed
that greasy mess of succulence
To wipe the drool
And sneer at tears
And flagellate ourselves with money
In copious sugar
And the rich mans drug.
The water we drank
was as pure as shit
But cleaner than the mud filth
Mothers, fathers, sons daughters grandmothers grandfathers
Uncles aunties nephews nieces cousins friends and acquaintances
Sick from it,
We have not raised the ugly word
The sordid truth of shame
We have not called out the politicians to act on those vows
To lay in the blood of the lamb
With a crown of thorns
Upon their manes.
We have not yet bought our tickets
And boarded trains
Where queues are just nonsense
And impatience rules
We have not yet masticated on
In slave labour
Rubbed spit into the leather shoes
And raped the housemaid shuddering
Grunting raw and bruised.
We have not yet held to account
We have not yet smothered spirituality with science
Draining the last vestiges
And the intricate meaning of now
Of you and me and us and we
All one in the cosmos
Turning with the tides
A holographic telepathy
Burning yet not burning,
For we have not yet tasted
the bitter defeat
And revenge coiled
Into hatred unforgiving.
We can stop it happening,
All we need is to stand together
And look in to the distance
And fix our eyes
On the exact
Tom Thumb On A Hairpin
……and then the magician
saw the woman in half,
the audience in whole applauded.
A child gave birth to a giraffe,
Backstage the rituals are sordid.
Some were contrived Victorian
And cherry cola Korean,
Quirky up and coming chameleons,
Assorted criminals too.
London summers poll taxed,
Gertrude Stein piggy back race,
Imperialistic moustache hair
Like oceans of rope intertwined.
Moved into chasm candy
Known in England sweet.
Joust my ghost on the Internet,
Kill the X-ray, shoot the moon.
Shower gouged in etiquette.
Pigeon vehicle made the zenith,
Harlem sonnets bull ball blues,
Grated melon fast track go!
Passports shat from a mojo joe.
Deeper sounds of bass
Have cropped the fringe,
Aghast at almost anything
And through the weekly thin.
Blunder blow bleed blare Blair,
Votes into the mosquito net.
Mephedrone Supped the milk,
Milk into the bow,
Bow of bowing rendered crow,
Feet can’t stand the ground.
Lop off a finger in spite of its hand,
Look who’s cursing now.
Favourite pubs juggled our eyes,
Took the bait and fucked it.
Trusted Tokyo to be Russian,
Trusted fixing to stay broken.
Spoken and spat and buggered.
First to the border dies,
Last to the border dies,
Middleman gets the goose.
Operation buy out bonanza,
Buy one get one free of emotion.
Speaking of which a witches hat,
A witches bones pestle and mortar.
We got representative governments,
Fax your silent condolences,
See you at the funeral of fun.
Orange seas, Timbuktu,
Aloha fanny, cape canaveral,
Carnival my iris blue.
Kip on the kite string,
Apron April apricot baloo.
Kipling made a grab for it,
He got Groucho Marx for a song.
His tongue was Julia Roberts,
His mask was Tutenkahmun.
I hope you make a sweating good job of it,
Out on a limb barking at a dog,
Princess Beatrice got me hot.
Graffiti for your Yayoi art.
Nurse the nearest drink,
Losing light, tight lipped leather,
Counting candles, years are lost.
Beauty marks are burning sparks,
Catherine wheels cut the cake.
Pose the question unposing,
Monday meant its starting,
Lose the train in a tunnel.
Paint each signal with a heartache,
Coin the term terminal.
Alligator or Allison run for your ID.
Perestroika themed birthday party,
Vladimir Putin eyes,
Hurry up! take a picture of his neck,
Kodak are killing all the vampires,
Blood will be extinct.
If labour is work then what’s in labour,
Who’s got the golden egg?
Rainbows smog, black n blue,
You’ve been thatchered,
They butchered you like swine.
Qwerty Cunt cashed in Crazy,
Crash a footballers Mercedes,
Dolly Partons prize.
Bare cotching and the like.
Slang slung mud wrestling,
Words can be a fight.
Out in Falmouth they’re sailing
Home to where the fish is fried.
Chocolate for Jesus Christ,
Four forty four man is five.
Lucifer or a Lucy Lui,
Lasso me a winning horse,
Off to the races, claim a headstone,
Bill me chips and ketchup
And catch up with me in time.
X marks the bald spot, tie it in a knot,
A present for the ribbon,
A typewriter for the bow.
Orchestras a chorus of swans
Shooting us an evil eye, even I deny.
How’s about a tea of cup?
How’s about a water of glass?
I can’t tell the difference
Between the future and the past.
It’s barely present anyway
A shotgun couldn’t tell them apart.
Hearse us a reward for war,
Medals recycled, torch relayed,
Olympic gimp, sooner the worse,
Better off a belt on the arm.
A wrist on the slap of a hand in bird,
Sender to return.
One can be three and six can be six,
Stepping on cracks apparently a jinx,
Here curiosity murdered the sphinx.
Buffalo Buddha made me moan,
Starstruck by Starbucks,
The young bucks were tipped over,
Each to his own gulp,
Bleached in the light of the moon.
Be Geisha, Be sad, Be Sunny side up,
I was joyful in my teens.
Miserable in my mid to late twenties,
Found love for real in the late twos.
I don’t blame the rock n roll
As much as I blame art college.
Mascara the bacon, it is it,
Zero just because it’s a million,
Devalue every coin.
poor is in, Make peace with sin,
Not the Operater.
The doctor doesn’t know you
But he knows you well and unwell,
God loves you but which one?
Hangover on a cliff edge,
Soap operas don’t make you clean.
It’s the snowman smiling puddle white,
Riffing about in the undergrowth,
Taking it as it goes with clothes.
Black metal corpse paint
Quoting what no one knows,
Try this feeling on for size.
Understatement of the century
Has not come into focus fading,
Bleary booze goggles light of my life,
Claws of course a clause for sangria.
Santa had Nazareth enthralled.
Holocaust of plague skipping ropes,
Locust me a whore sipping ventricle
And make everything alright again
With your words of wisdom weeping
On bbc documentaries and ovaries.
Blessed be sir David Attenborough.
kick down the alley behind Alers road,
Goddess have mercy on trinity place.
Memories like butter melting
Wouldn’t melt in your arsehole,
Just saying that im saying nothing
the contrary fairy light bulb strobe
To be undone, Colombus on coke.
MDMA MI5 MI6, do a survey,
Sign this petition for a vision.
Muhammed wing a planting pony,
True but utterly deppressingly false.
Antidote ordered on amazon sold out
PayPal didn’t return my funds,
Glands like an elephant monkey,
The trees grew dominoes for kicks,
Goofy was a what what now, now for jokes,
Here comes another dose of virus;
Seahorse comatose Jekyll and Clyde
Don’t sssshhh me now you shouldn’t,
You see vultures are rectangling
And found cannot be answers.
Houdini out to Arizona may as well
Be bexleyheath like a tooth nerve.
To be unhonest my version is best,
Skewed warped and awesome.
Commiserations to your understudy
Underdog just got the carpet fluff,
Next door are Australian spidermen.
I stretch elastic chewing gum soul,
Counter clockwise wizard of oz,
Halos on a dilido, Vaseline and cuffs.
King illuminati my name is Merle,
Poltergeist my coat hanger hero,
Apocalypse for hire,get some now.
Kerosene Crap game
torch your skin a relay.
Mug faced oblivion
Obligated to a dear stamp
Queen Mother guillotine
Fashion a suicide from Gucci rope
Happy with an earth braid
Harness the power of a hosepipe ban
Gold tooth nasal passage
Up the prairie without an oyster card
How’s the family and the single life?
What is a ghost still breathing?
A ghost still breathing is you on the pavement of deptford with a jaw in a thousand pieces.
Fattened up for wi-fi snipers
Tightrope handstands über myth
Kill the killer with a kilo of crack
The aneashatists broken back
Get one gratis here
Cut off your hand to save the arm
Peering through periscopes
world bank of pricks
Dead lay the dead like a pile of dead.
Washing in the wetting valleys
I hope you don’t get caught in this rain.
The new Gestapo gentry made entry
You cannot find a cold ice cream
I scrape my car on your keys
I keep a scrapbook from your toe clippings
That’s a horror of the Internet age
Stab me in the 2nd rib
Cain in an hourglass sand timer
Drown the days in too much grain.
First of all I will not listen
And I will have the last say
In the middle was a fairground
Dancing lights from the skulls of day
Excessive tramadol hearing aid
Blood red black battery cables
Put your arse to the moon
Depth is a virtue of character
Those with short pockets can ill afford.
Rest in the gen set holed up at the bridge, gimp mask ventriloquist,
How did you handle it?
Like adults on a bouncy castle.
Welcome to the circus of horrors,
Welcome to the lions den,
Step inside the magicians hat
You won’t come out again.
Look at the fear in the rabbits eyes
And walk the tightest rope,
Behold the room of mirrors
Abandon all your hope.
Backstage the rituals are sordid,
A child gives birth to a giraffe.
The audience in whole applauded
………And the magician saw the woman in half………
Paul Francis Relf
London May - August 2012