Pastor Skull

by Blyth Power

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06:03
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02:46
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03:22
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about

The recording that was released on Downwarde Spiral records as 'Pastor Skull' was not the first, or even the second time many of the songs involved had been recorded together. Some of them had initially been recorded by Joseph and a gentleman called Nick Lacey, who Joseph wanted to become the band's second guitarist. Owing to a bizarre loss of control over the band's direction, Nick was axed and some of the material became tainted by association. The same creeping fungus of democracy ultimately found expression in the artwork for Pastor Skull, but that's another story. Firstly, though, there was the 'Karpov' debacle. Castle Cary was not the last recording Blyth made at Berry Street. A dozen songs were recorded over an extended period, with a working title of Karpov Crosses the Border. All have since emerged on subsequent recordings, but the collapse of Midnight saw the tapes sold to Cherry Red, who presumably have no intention of doing anything with them. The project, due to creeping ennui and the dawning realisation that it would never be released, turned into an over-produced mess, and no one has heard it since it was mixed. End fair enough. So we made Pastor Skull, and the production was completely fouled up, largely because Joseph expressed concerns over the lack of brightness on 'Castle Cary'. Thus the entire bottom end of 'Pastor Skull' got mixed out. Whoops. Having lost ground with the politburo over the Nick Lacey affair, Mr Porter found himself allowing mugshots on the CD artwork for the first time, and has regretted it ever since. Presumably if Khruschev had recorded a collection of ballads in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, he too would have been cowed into compromise. Thus we have Pastor Skull, pulled in several directions by a lack of team spirit, and messed up in the mix by inexpert meddling. It's a shame, because it has its moments.

credits

released September 1, 1993

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about

Blyth Power UK

Since 1984 Blyth Power have been playing and recording original music, which although regarded by many as fitting into the folk rock catergory goes so much further. Based around the lyrics of songwriter Joseph Porter, the band's sound is unique, and there is an atmosphere to Blyth Power that adds a depth to the music, and makes them more than just another pop group. ... more

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Track Name: Royal George
Stag broke cover and the coursers brayed
We met out hunting on Boxing Day
Beneath the dripping trees a tryst arranged
And while we spoke our passion led the bloodhounds astray

She has two sisters is the eldest of three
Their names are wit and beauty and diplomacy
She's rich as Croesus with a legacy
Worth more in land and money than I will ever need

Jackdaws rise in clouds among the rooves
To the distant sound of horsemen in the stables and the mews
But it's the chamber music fading down the hall
That calls me back for more
But I'm not sure what I am looking for

Her brothers are Lieutenants in the Guard's brigade
With great dexterity they practice their trade
They're fighting Bonaparte and far away
So of their fraternal jealousy I'm not afraid

Her mother knows the Regent a courtier she
Tends his royal needs to an intimate degree
In quiet rooms in Mayfair meets him regularly
For cocktails bridge and coffee and for afternoon tea

Her father is a captain and an East-Indiaman
From the Solent to the Orient and Ankara commands
I'll risk his anger for his daughter's hand
And while he's round Cape Lonely I will post the banns

From their narrowed eyes the family portraits glare
Each receding generation marks my passage down the stair
As the muted hum of conversation flows
From the drawing-room below
But what their faces show
Won't make me stay or go

Now the black buck's stalking down the royal ride
How much more than merely mystery
The looking glass provides
I can't decide
Which card to play
I can pay my way
But if the stakes are raised
I have no hidden ace
Track Name: Pastor Skull
Still save the stallion's hesitant peace
Through the wandering valley and the fumbling fleece
Came a long cold knight and a saint I'm told
With shining armour bright as beaten gold

Sage soul-strong in the firelight stood
At the shore of the mere in the darkening wood
Mother of winter's long lost hold
Stirred in the deep of the bottomless waters cold

Sullen and sick in the waters waking
Spurs the worm to the surface breaking
Ring like the clappers on a leper's-bell toll
But the warning peal too late cold comfort holds

Through all the stained-glass windows
Red gold burns in the black of the night
Plucked me a rose and off to his bed he bore me
On his bloody sword Saint George
Stands on the Stour at Wormingford
Pastor Skull came stumbling down
Gave thanks for the new day born in the morning's glory

Hard by the heat I the whirling water
The knight with the cross and the holy orders
Kneels in a prayer for the victor's crown
Then spits on his sword and throws the gauntlet down

He put a hammer-lock grip to her left front paw
And an elbow strike to the drooling jaw
Made the worm fall backward tooth and claw
And lean on the scales which tipped to the warrior's score

We heard her scream we heard her die
We heard the knight's triumphant cry
Our hearts beat faster we locked our doors
Blind eyes turned let the battle take its course

Pastor Skull rode up the hill
In the half-light borne to the site of the kill
Stiff to the glebe then picked his way
Where the knight stood still and the bloodstained body-count lay


Pastor Skull threw up his hands
Wept for the worm on the silver sands
Turned to the knight and cursed him through
May God forgive for I will never do

Gallows-bait sneer in his bully-boy's eye
We watched the knight go riding by
In shame at his sport was the village renamed
Wormingford t'was called and so remains

King's pawn has opened
Rookery rings to his ragged cry
Ask me the time by Shrewsbury clock in the morning
Knight takes pawn Bishop looks on
Front rank kneels in the rising corn
Enter rumour racked and torn
No time to rehearse his lines for the first performance
Track Name: The Man Who Came In Third
Glazed yellow in the steamheats early mourning
Flashing silver from the rails
Our people are waiting at the barrier
To hear the whistles and the bells
When the sleeping car attendant checked my ticket
He introduced me to the guard
I've seen your picture in the Telegraph
But I've never read the Morning Star

Then the man who came in third
Said I am speaking and you will listen
Mark my words
I saw the coloured rose he wore
Was the arms of the man who was going to change the world

Rolling under to the wheelbeats counting numbers
And later on the midnight mail
They dimmed the lamplight in the corridors
And the scarlet lantern at the tail
I went to meet him at the station in the morning
Took a cab to the conference hotel
And waiting later for the delegates
I shook his hand and wished him well

Clenched fist salutes in anger on the barricades
Through all the speeches and the pleas
Are empty words in marble palaces
And empty vessels on the quay
I sank your ferry in the Mersey broke your palisade
And cast your scarlet statues down
Then all the bleeding hearts of Liverpool
I wore as rubies in my crown
Track Name: Gabriel The Angel
My brother Gabriel the Angel stands among the cornfields looking round
At the blue hills in the distance beyond the river valley and the town
With a hunch about his shoulders that the footfall in the new-made furrow found
And the broken bow-shards on the hillside
Will show him where the killer went to ground
Then replacing his receiver and returning to his solemn duty bound
He told me anything you say may be taken down

Then Cain took the stand took The Bible in his hand and turned the page
He said I was hoeing out the turnip rows working just a couple of fields away
When I heard his shout behind me
I came running back to where my brother lay
Face down among the poppies an arrow shaft between his shoulder blades
That's how the watchmen came to find me there all in his life blood stained
But as God will be my witness I am not afraid

They called the Jackal and the Serpent Judas was a witness standing by
But Gabriel the Angel wasn't called to testify
Their defence was torn asunder
With all objections cast aside
Because with proof enough to hang him all the court was satisfied
But Gabriel the Angel cleared his locker out and bade the farce goodbye
He said the prosecution's case is all a pack of lies

When Adam delved and Eve yet span who was then to blame?
Who left the body in the cornfield lying broken by whose bloody fingers slain?
And was it Gabriel the Angel with his chainsaw and loaded rifle aimed
Saying Cain was Abel's only joy and Abel so was Cain's?
Track Name: In The Lines Of Graves
Marching skyward banners raised
Down the high street winds the annual masquerade
Salutes and standards flags and flames
Decry our penitence and shame

And in the lines of Graves
The poppies and the pansies look the same

Old campaigners on parade
Coloured ribbons on their uniforms displayed
Bow their silver heads and pray
While the solemn bugles bray

And in the lines of Graves
On brisker feet the nimble meters play

In the first row lay the Colonel and his lady
So we clip the grass and trim the weeds away
In the second and the third
They had the General Staff interred
On the fourth row lay the Captain's pretty flowers every day
In the fifth and sixth and seventh
Sergeant Majors and non-commissioned souls are on parade
In eight eleven nine and ten
Cheek to cheek and end to end
All the conscripts and enlisted men were laid

Past the lectern down the nave
Carved initials in the varnish black with age
Hear the whispers turn the page
From the plates of brass erased

And in the lines of Graves
Are the faces and the half-forgotten names

Through the lychgate down the lane
Beneath the jackdaw choir the music's gentle strain
Frees our hearts and soothes our pain
Sends us marching home again

And in the lines of Graves
The cannon fire has faded into rain

Over here lie the Colonel and his lady
Arm and arm these luckless lovers lay
See here he steals a kiss
From her cracked and crumbling lips
Underneath the poppies in the cold cold clay
March me off to heaven Sergeant Major
Show me how a soldier should behave
Tip me over end and as we kiss and kiss again
Will you remember all the promises you made
Or will you leave me with the mourning
Where all the conscripts and enlisted men were laid

Now the white horse on the hill begins to fade
The sexton's carved his figures in the clay
And though the armistice is over
In the lines of Graves
The faces and the half-forgotten names still remain
Track Name: Breitenfeld
I'd never learned about Alexander
I never knew what Marius says
I never read about the Revelations
Or the Knights that fought the first crusade

I fell in love with a monk in armour
The sweet fist of the catholic lay
Took out my sword and the scarlet amour
From the trunk where they were packed away

I didn't march for the Romans' splendour
I didn't follow for a penny a day
I didn't fall for the strumpet Glory
But to march behind him all the way

We marched south through the ragged country
And as we marched south through the mud and the rain
I kept my eyes on the distant standard
That he bore throughout the long campaign

We fought round to the clash of armour
And when we had to fight without provision and pay
We cut them down 'til the sole survivors
Watched the river Elbe wash the bodies away

In taking stock of the situation
It took all my nerve not to throw it away
I travelled on as the Primal Oeuvre
Made me march behind him all the way

He'll be rounding the horn in the morning and I'll come following by
With the smoke of the campfires borne on a wasting wind
To batter and blind the skies
And the powder and corn we burnt in passing left
Blackened and useless to lie

Put up your sword drop your scarlet painted armour now
What endeavour won't bring the Lord will not provide

I had to fight with my Christian conscience
I had to fight it every step of the way
I had to fight through the rival armies
Just to march behind him all the way

We found him smashed where his horse had foundered
In the mud and offal on his belly he lay
We dragged him off under cover of darkness
Then we quit the field and ran away

We rode west through the heat and confusion
And as he spewed blood through the visions and shame
I cast aside all my fine illusions
And was never the half a fool again
Track Name: General Winter
The death-watch drone from the steeple creeps
And drowns the murmur of the highbrowed parish priest
Drowsing children switch their feet
And fall asleep

The plaster virgin bends her knee
As the congregation choir for evensong convenes
Fat tallow candles and lattice screens
Fill their dreams

Then General Winter takes command
Swings me round again to the cavalry band
He snaps his heels as he proffers his hand
White-jacketed waiters line the walls
With sherry wine subdue the officer corps
As we circle slowly round the shadowy hall

And while the organ sweetly hymns
The sleeping children heed a different voice within
That whispers oaths and secrets sings
And spread their wings

When the night birds shriek at the dawn patrol
And wake me sleeping with their clamouring cold
With a crack of branches from the riverbank blown
General Winter makes it known
That everywhere he bids his regiments go
The morning frostbite takes and holds
Track Name: The Sunne In Splendour
The Sun in splendour rose too soon
From her deep sea fever pitched at four o'clock in the afternoon
Until four in the morning as the moon climbed by
With the night mail crossed the border through

And in turning asked me why
Why won't you give a beggar a chance
But I told her no
Who plays the pipe must lead the dance
I'm sorry I bore you, sorry you were carried away

Then The Sun in splendour howled with rage
Stitched our leaders up with a photo-spread on the centre page
With four-score torpedoes primed and aimed
She turned her readers round

But isn't she a fool to be afraid
When Shelley had nothing to tell, they told him
How time stands still in Reading Gaol
I'm sorry they bought you
Sorry you were mine to sell

With The Sun in splendour lost and found
Born strong in the morning blocked by a passing thunder cloud
I called forth the darkness to run and hide
From her single candle cursing

But still the sun is always on my mind
Keep a weather eye on the glass
But I tell you
She won't answer when you ask
Nothing will make her nothing's going to change her mind
When if of herself she will not shine
Track Name: Stonehaven
A thirsty noon breaks through your curtain call
The clock-face winks a weary eye
Empty letters to your dreamscape shatter through
And I'm the stone and the statue standing by

In Manor House there lived a lady once
From the broken bank she made her plea
For all Stonehaven knows my fortunes I will share
With the one who'll mend my broken wings for me

To her Manor House door there came a travelling man
Close your eyes and count to three
In the wind and the rain to walk and the southern moon to ride
And that's the last of her we'll ever see

The North Sea heaved when it heard your wedding bells
The grey skies wept upon the beach
But who am I to tell the waves which way to turn
And who are you to tell me what I can see

How came you then this sad song to tell?
How bore you children then that never could conceive
How narrow minded and malicious I can be
And how came you here tonight without his leave?
Track Name: Vane Tempest
Grey thunder clouds were out the water was high
Between the burdocks I saw you go by
To morning service called so eager followed I

I sat in silence rapt from nine until noon
My knuckles whitened on the back of the pew
You turned your face away the whole long morning through

Sunlight and shadows round your fingertips played
I nudged the parson and asked him your name
How far you'd travelled and how long you were staying

Far beyond the dull horizon the colliers curse and call
The water spills from the peaks and hills and down to the North Sea pours
On the stacks and staithes and the dockyard cranes and the railway yards it falls
And it's cold as the stones of the Roman wall

The leaves were yellow and the season had turned
Bedecked the altar boys in garlands and ferns
And wicker women in the blackened stubble burned

But I'd been watching I waited I bided my time
Bit off my fingernails and sharpened my scythe
So that when you called your harvest home I could gather mine

I filled the chapel from the vaults to the weather vane
With bribes and promises burned candles all day
But smiling sweetly still you sent me on my way

Like three great blisters on the skyline sit
Three grey sisters as the morning lifts
And in the black sky the spiral-climbing steams change shape and shift

And to those three grey sisters as the morning lifts
Vane Tempest blows a parting kiss
As over Kellingley Colliery and Ferrybridge
And in the black sky the spiral-climbing steams change shape and shift
Track Name: Pandora's People
I hear your sirens calling
Howling like a priest
As I crept in through your barbed-wire crawling
To steal your Golden Fleece

Like Michaelangelo the scars upon your brow
Engraved stone angels by your side
Red letters burning in the newsprint wonder now
How far the sun will sink tonight

I raised my glass to drink to your victory
As I watched your winter palace fall
So many eager hands assisted me
To take your picture off the wall

Wash your hands now it's starting to rain
Pandora's people are rising again
When someone rattled their bars they broke open the door
When you won't have to carry your card anymore then you can go to the ball

Judas hanged to please the shepherd boy
When the scarlet sunrise made him frown
To pay his party dues he slipped in the silver seed
Then bade us smiling cut him down

I learned your language rewrote your history
I read my fortune in the files
Where I found the key to unlock the mystery
That made your secret servants smile

Carrion corporations
Catch me if you can
Crashing in on the Yankee reservation
Powerglass in my hand
I see you in three dimensions
Smiling like a sphinx
When you take me to the water
Kick me until I drink
Then something within me
Demands that I lay down my arms
To give up the gun and the ghost
And to give up my magical charms

Wash your hands wash your hands of it all
From Beechangar Abbey to Cardigan Hall
Wash your hands of the helpless the homeless the hungry and poor
Now you won't have to answer to chapter and law
Then you can go to the ball
Track Name: Stitching In Time
On a fly-speckled summer's eve
In the tenth long year of the siege
To the campfire gathered round we took our ease
And there were songs from better days
Back-slapping and glasses raised
The same old worn out stories told of the odysseys
Of Achilles and of Heracles

Then Eohippus outlined a plan
For such a bold design and grand
That it seemed like a miracle or a masquerade
With a hand picked volunteer force
In a giant sized wooden horse
Through the gates of the yellow-walled city we'd find a way
It was a wild card to play

Great silence then replied
To the mocking seabird's cry
It seemed like time stood still for a minute then
As the zephyrs swished in the sand around
Until someone groaned aloud
And the thin veneer of our gay camaraderie slipped away
What could we say?

I remember when I was young
Each swift sure javelin flung
Could take me right to the heart of the matter then
But now I'm older I'm not so sure
I've grown used to the pace of the war
And the flesh that was muscle once has grown hard to squeeze
Into breastplates and greaves

In story now and song
Scamander flows along
Though the walls of the siegebound city have fallen down
And though our arms are red with rust
Still in a patient God we trust
So for a cause long forgotten until Kingdom comes around
We'll stand our ground