The Bricklayer's Arms

by Blyth Power

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about

By the time Jessie Adams and Bambi joined the band, the old Wicked Women recordings were mouldering in their graves, and were no longer of interest to any but the most ardent collectors of old vinyl and antique religious artifacts. 'Let's re-record them,' we said. 'Bigger, better, and with keyboards.' And so we did. The cunning ploy of offering a Geri Halliwell CD as a reward to the person recording the most 'first takes' ensured that the CD was recorded in record time. Annie would have won it, but Jessie kept inventing tiny guitar overdubs purely to notch up his total. Rotten cheat. Thanks to Tom Savage at Jigsaw studio, who engineered and produced it, and to his dad for the Marsh Marigolds, which, we are happy to report, survived the trip and are thriving.

credits

released April 23, 1999

Songs by Joseph Porter
Arrangements by Blyth Power

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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: The Bricklayer's Arms
Flower of England to the Netherlands came
To assay his wit on Phillip's claim
With sweating palms he gripped the reins
Nothing ventured nothing gained

Bricklayer bricklayer you're a man of means a man of wit and charm
What draws you then nor sword nor pen now the bricklayer takes up arms

This world has so many windows
Looking out on every side
I have not been satisfied
With my single narrow view
So I've done my best
Took the colours across the sea
Let them do their worst to me
I'll see what I can do

Sitting slick upon a big boned cavalry charger now
I can bow to the gentlemen and turn my pockets out
Bow to the gentlemen touch my cap and turn my pockets out

Impassionate and impartial
Don't paint my soul in black and white
I went there to feel and not to fight
But I had to go
The Devil took underneath my soul
And had to be mollified
Now I'm qualified
To speak of things I know

Give me leave to bid you please I need not your leave to go
Nor a cat nor a dove nor a white kid glove
Make the bricklayer's arms a crow
Not a cat nor a dove nor a white kid glove
But the bricklayer's arms a crow shall be
Cat nor dove nor a white kid glove
Make the bricklayer's arms a crow
Track Name: Blow The Man Down
Pipe the man aboard, my pleasure
Make him feel at home
Show him to his quarters
Give him hairspray and a comb
Give him tar and feathers
To anoint his skin and bone

You know the one that I mean he speaks in cryptics
Loves his sorrows helps them grow
The scars on his arms are self-inflicted
Blood let horror painted prose
Is it better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

Show him to the flag, my pleasure
Show him to the Lord
Bid him touch his forehead
To the varnished wooden floor
If he asks you questions
Tell him this and nothing more

Are you invested with supernatural power
Are you the mortar or the stone
Should we send you the bill or send you the flowers
Keep you here or send you home
Is it better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness

Make your needle sharp, my pleasure
Sharper than a thorn
Stick it underneath my skin, my pleasure
Ram the plunger home
When I fall asleep
I'll tell you all you want to know

Up my back runs my central nervous system
Unconnected unrestrained
Interlocking with vacuum pipes and cisterns
Making pleasure out of pain
In my mind is a scintillating scripture
Not a word of which is true
Illustrated with watercolour pictures
Is it me or is it you
That's invested with supernatural power
Are you the mortar or the stone
Should we send you the bill or send you the flowers
Keep you here or send you home

And is it better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness
Track Name: It's Probably Going To Rain
It's probably going to rain
Tomorrow's going to be the same
It'll probably always be that way
And probably never change
Mr Porter won't you take me to excess
Won't you take down my particulars
And take down my address


Did you tune into it last night
Did you see it once again
Did you wince and pray to the Lord did you know
It's probably going to rain today
It's probably going to rain

No screech of tortured couplings
No grinding squeal of brakes
Just the hiss of poisonous gases
Through the ventilator intakes
I've got Jesus on the mainline
A 45 on the spur
Stage managing disasters
Under test conditions

Deep throat South Atlantic
Sonar will not reach
Radar will not penetrate
I'm like a whale upon the beach
When thirty seconds later
The movie reached its end
You're probably feeling stupid now
You've probably lost a friend
Track Name: Coriolanus
Coriolanus, the window sill upon which he leans
The iron and steel of the city built on seven hills
No Tiber was its friend
Your factories and railway yards breed broken limbs and broken hearts
We send you greetings cards to make amends
But next on our agenda where the flesh and bone surrendered
Before we just pretended now we're on the mend
Jacknife mad impatience station after station
In their shadow he's been waiting for the jackboot to descend
Since mediaeval times perpetuating nameless crimes
We turn them into nursery rhymes to make amends
But Jack was nimble and Jack was quick
Jack jumped over the candle stick
We made the charges stick onto him in the end

I've got a heart
And it sometimes fails to start
When it's cold in the morning
I've got a mind
It's sometimes hard to find
And it sometimes lets me down without warning
I've got a cause
It isn't yours
And it's far too hard to talk about without yawning

Coriolanus, the window sill upon which he leans
The flower mill
Bread shall be my standard now and bread shall be my gun
Take the grain that's been denied us let it germinate inside us
There's a place up here beside us now for each and everyone
So with Coriolanus befriended our broken limbs are mended
Our revels now have ended but our work has just begun
Track Name: Smoke From Cromwell's Time
This afternoon at half past four
Charlie Chaplin was admitted to the morgue
The undertaker breathed a prayer
Rolled up his sleeves and hung his coat upon a chair
It was Charles, Charles the papers rave
He was bold he was committed I tell you he was brave
We put a cross to mark the spot where we laid his grave
Because Jesus saves

There are people into anarchy and peace
And others who don't practice what they preach
Some people fabricate the truth with ease
They will convince you that the moon is made of cheese
And when the message is received
Some need a name a cult and then there's some just content to believe
But the ones who are never deceived
Are never believed

I believe I believe okay
I believe I've never seen anything look so grey
I believe some people fight and people pray
I don't believe you need believe the things they say
Do you believe in high ideals
Or in a white chalk horse upon a distant hill
Do you place your trust in paramilitary skills
Or powder and pills

This afternoon at half past four
Charlie Chaplin was admitted to the morgue
The undertaker breathed a prayer
Rolled up his sleeves and hung his coat upon a chair
And though the man is dead and gone
Although the turf is laid and the mourners have all gone home
We will continue while his memories linger on
To pick Charlie Chaplin's bones
Track Name: John O'Gaunt
My master is a huntsman he's the finest in the land
His stock is made of silkworms and his tactics underhand
Of habitat his destrier his clothes of christian aid
He leans towards the obvious with his verbal cannonade

What's gone wrong what's the matter John
Pick up your shield and pull your beaver down
What's gone wrong what's the matter John
Me and the lads are fighting for the crown

My master fights a conflict which he does not understand
It's five parts Mary Magdelane and five parts Vietnam
His jacket leather bristles studs and slogans painted zeal
Though his hat is made of puffballs his boots are made of seals

My master speaks in ignorance of colour creed and class
The hand that tilts at windmills would rather tilt a glass
He tells us man made power, tells us man created pain
And Christie made elastoplast to make them whole agaln
Don't give me swimming pools and telephones
Just give me power eaten cold and off the bone

My masters Bedford ambulance is at the apex of his heart
It's red and green and yellow and it hardly ever starts
He drove it up to Gloucestershire in wild torrential rain
Parked it in a quagmire and it never moved again

What's gone wrong what's the matter John
Pull out the clutch and keep your left hand down
What's gone wrong what's the matter John
Me and the lads are fighting for the crown
Track Name: Hurling Time
Hearts in my hand reading seven and ace
And my hand's on my heart when I'm saying my grace
And I'm thanking the saviour for stuffing my face
With my pigs and my fishes and wine
Here on the land it gets harder to thrive
What with every new law that our masters contrive
We pay through the nose when we're paying the tithe
To the Baron the Priest and the King
He bids good day to the sun and then next to my gold
First to the ones I'll unleash and the ones I withold
But it's to the ones that increase and come back to the fold
I'll give my blessing and all of my love

I'll go back to Shire someday
Where the fields are green and the people are grey
You won't see me for the dust of my heels I swear when I go there

Now here in my hand is the seven of spades
To dig up the land where the cattle once grazed
Where rebellion was fostered an army was raised
Deep in the bowels of the past
With Walter the Tyler lying dead at our feet
We drew back our bows and advanced down the street
When up came the King with his tongue waxing sweet
And he duped us with honey and bile
Then how great were my hopes meteorical rise
I could hardly believe with my very own eyes
Then the kings men came riding cut us back down to size
Without even the farce of a trial

But I'm terribly terribly terribly terribly proud
Of the arms I bore and the crest they'll sew on my shroud
Though my name is engraved on the arm of the gallows at Tyburn gate
Thanks ever so much for the trouble you took
I would have kissed your most neighbourly hand if I'd known where to look
But I was never so blind as the times I was searching for truth so hard
Andromeda you mustered your children away from their ploughs
Some are in prison some are still free to tell how
Beneath the earth that you promised them rashly
Some are pushing up daisies for you now
Track Name: Goodbye General
Goodbye General to lose
Your armies march on bread and water
I have stood in awe before your strategy
But now I bow before a different altar

Slipping along sorrels left bank
You'd stride with me in perfect meter
Had I been half the paragon I claim to be
You would not have been my teacher

Slipping along sorrels left bank
No logic could have made it easier
You gladly gave to me all that was my due
But what was Caesar's due you gladly gave to Caesar
Track Name: God Has Gone Wrong Again
One made the air cold cut like a knife
And at the same time you put him together again
Cut the tongue deep scarred for life
And with the same breath you put him together again
Cut his hands off left and right
And then you burned him Vulcan put him together again
Jack Point mad jealous spite
This house moves we put him together again

God has gone wrong again
He's taken my money and run
I lost control of him I turned the switch and none of the lights came on
God has gone wrong again
He's taken my money and run
I lost control of him I turned the switch and none of the lights came on

There was a little drummer and he loved a one-eyed cook
He loved her yes he loved her though she had a cock-eyed look
With her one eye on the pot and with the other up the chimney
Give a bow wow wow

Then enter rumour red with rage
Painted with tongues he's been hitting the bottle again
Transcend the loathed stage
In your triple tun townhouse hitting the bottle again
Cut his hands off left and right
Then you burned him Vulcan hitting the bottle again
Jack Point mad jealous spite
This house moves we should be hitting the bottle again
Track Name: Bind Their King In Chains
Carisbrooke's bolted and locked from within His Majesty's ill at ease
Closeted with his advisors
Stir up the land with the root and the branch if His Majesty is displeased
We'll put him before the assizes
He's never been here before my Lord
Silence in court

Bind their Kings in chains
Teach them a lesson they shan't forget
Shall the house abstain
Or will the elderly gentlemen settle the debt
While the court adjourns
You can drink me under the table
Bind their Kings in chains

The blood on the hands of the man in the chair is plain for all to see
And it's mingling with his saliva
Humbly petition the clerk of the court to take acknowledgement please
Of the prisoner's arrival
He's never been here before my Lord
Silence in court

My heart was a lion an army I stand over seventy thousand strong
I am ready unwilling but able
But my heart wasn't trying I followed the script and the words all came out wrong
And I crawled under the table
I'd never been there before my Lord
Silence in court
Track Name: Stand Into Danger
Keep the watch to windward boys
Our enemies are growing bolder
Stand to arms and use your sense of smell
By the way his speech was cracked and halting I could tell
Trouble was brewing and all was not well

When the Captain said stand fast my boys
And I wish you all the best
He was red eyed from the morning
And he was not fully dressed
Then they kicked us stem to stern
I'd expected nothing less

He who fights and runs away
Will live to be thrashed on another day
Empty threats are all the arms we bear
And the blood that we left on the deck to mark the slaughter
Was tainted with rum
It was thinner than water and lighter than air

Oxfam and Christian Aid
And the licensed victualler's trade
And when it all comes down to dust again
The ferryman must be paid
And the barbershop quintet's expenses cannot be defrayed

With your hands together softly so
Your little fists clenched tight in anger
Impotence becomes you very well
By the way you stood before the altar
I could tell You had nothing to offer nothing to say

As we're standing into danger now
I'm hanging on for life and laughter
Heart of oak in gallant company
But a heart of oak will burn when touched with fire
It crumbles to ashes to dust it expires and ceases to be
Track Name: The Junction Signal
I was born unabridged and unappealing
But I was not born to raise the sons of earth
No bright star shone beyond the plaster ceiling
To honour the occasion of my birth
From graphite core I wrought an education
Eleven years I served before the mast
In humility I cowed my indignation
Schooled in honours forms I let the moment pass

And I learned to quote from writing on the wall
From books which don't have any pictures
In which the print is far too small
They taught me how to set my lower jaw
And they taught me nothing more

Some people put on armour to protect them
Some people are not frightened by the rain
Though some people try their hardest to correct them
Some still seek their chilhood days again

And now the Junction Signal stands beside the line
It's a far far better master than many others I have tried
It simply tells me when to stop and when to go
And that's all that I need to be told

From your day's work done in the downside marshalling yard
To where the temple bells are calling from it's not so very far
Who locked the door who holds the key who speaks the charms
Who gives His orders through the Junction Signal's arms