This is the 2nd in the series of repeated songs. The 1st entry on this subject is here. This song is called Men of War. The 1st version which is on Whose Last Trickle was recorded close to the writing of the song in about 1980. I don’t remember where, why and how I wrote it. I embraced surrealism from an early age. The subversion of reality and breaking through into the world of dream seemed more exciting than anything else in the world of art, film and literature back in the 60s when I was a teenager. I wrote surrealist poems at first then maybe some songs but not all the songs. It was something I could do, but I wanted to try other things as well. Often those other songs might have an element of surrealism lurking there all the same. But it was in 1979 that I deliberately decided to write a song that was purely surrealistic and it was called Squeaky Macaws. I’ve got a couple of demo recordings of this track that didn’t make it on to Whose Last Trickle. I’ll load them up sometime. Men of War moved onto another level. For a start it was half in French, which is probably the most of I’ve ever made of the degree I have in the language. But also there’s a nautical theme.
Here’s the first version. It was recorded in Endell Street, Covent Garden, London. It features me on guitar and vocals, Lindsay Lancaster on bass guitar, Ray Kent on drums. It’s the recording of a live performance and consequently is a bit rough. It wasn’t meant to be for general consumption but that’s what’s happened.
1980 men of war
I wanted to re-record this song, because I like it and although the earlier recording has a certain naive charm (if you like that sort of thing) and the right spirit, it wasn’t a brilliant recording of the song technically. This 2nd version was recorded at J&J Studio , Easton, Bristol in late 2007. I play guitar and sing, Paul Wigens on drums, Jeff Spencer on bass. I overdubbed a lead guitar part and also doubled up on the vocals, but apart from that, the guitar, drums and bass are all played live, though Jeff probably touched up his bass part as he’d never played any of the tracks before.
2007 men of war
A little bit more about surrealism. Firstly a quotation from Walter Benjamin,
…it is as magical experiments with words, not as artistic dabbling, that we must understand the passionate phonetic and graphical transformational games that have run through the whole literature of the avant-garde for the past fifteen years, whether it is called Futurism, Dadaism, or Surrealism.
Actually that’s probably it for now. Except here’s 2 youtube links for anyone interested. Firstly one of the seminal works of the movement, produced in 1929, 10 years after the setting up of the surrealist group and apparently as a means to join the group on the behalf of its creators, Buñuel and Dali. Funnily enough that’s the same year Benjamin’s essay on Surrealism from which the quotation above comes was first published.
and finally an episode of an old children’s tv show called Buccaneers from the 60s starring Robert Shaw which gave me some early sailing craft images back in the day