Sunday, April 15, 2012

Songs from the Coventry Underground - Trev Teasdel

In 2007 Broadgate Gnome (The Underground magazine of the Coventry Diggers - 1970) created the Gnome Label (an idea they had for an alternative record label in 1970 but which never came was reincarnated in the digital age). It's aim this time around was to published Coventry bands and artists that never got published back in the 70's. "Records we Never Made" was one of the slogans. I (Trev Teasdel) was busy documenting the Coventry Music scene of the 1970's on Vox blogs and also a site for my digital version of my song recorded on old cassettes or a portastudio and telling the song stories which related to the Coventry scene. Hench I was the first artist they published via CD and digitally via Amazon USA and I Tune Europe. The songs, being mostly working version recorded on cassette during the writing process and digitally enhanced, really had a bootleg feel to them - hence the title - Songs from the Coventry Underground. The CD was a limited edition and somewhat of a collectors item potentially, i'm told. The album was originally called Coventry Days.

This blog will tell the stories of the songs and some that never made to the CD.

This is the blurb that the Gnome Label used to promote the album.

"Songs from the Coventry Underground - Is a collection of the earlier songs from poet and performer Trev Teasdel.  It is very apt that he should feature at the very beginning of our Retro-Cov platform.
 This is the guy that played an important role in thedevelopment of  Coventry's musical conciousness. He kept an alternative voice alive with the production of Hobo magazine that continued the trail from where the fading footprints of the Gnome could still be identified. Taking over the booking of live bands at the Arts Umbrella, he continued the policy that allowed many of the new local bands an airing as well as bringing in some excellent but not often seen names from outside of the City.

He also created one of the cornerstones of the Coventry Music scene, with the inception of the open jam sessions at the Holyhead Road Arts centre.

He left Coventry to study and has since been as active as ever, with an impressive workload of teaching new writers, running poetry magazines and venues from his Teesside home while still writing and performing his own material.

But that's not the only reason for choosing his work for this release. He is a master craftsman of his artform. His lyrics are carefully honed with the occasional surprise. The working of the words "under the Speenhamland scheme" into the lyric of Captain Swing, written some 20 years before the arrival of Billy Bragg, is phenomenal and deserves a place in the record books.

Aside from that, his work reverberates with the angst and expectations that many living in Coventry at the that time will have felt. Often written on long walks home up the London Road after the last bus, or in teabreaks while working at the GEC. The collective lyrics paint a picture of youthful exhilaration and myradiacl inspirations with echoes of revolt. Some might suggest that they could have been written in and about any city in those times. No they could only come from one place....Our Coventry.

17 tracks on Songs From the Coventry Underground - Shortly After Midnight / Well I Don't Know / The Phoenix / The Isolate / Mrs Stress and Strain / Just Before Dawn / A Lotta Rain is Fallin' / Throw Down My Pack / Scarf / A Teardrop in the Tees / Tonight (Loneliness Surrounds me Like the Dark of Night / Back in Winter Town / With Someone Nice Like You / Captain Swing / Shortly After Midnight (Early version) / Postcards of China / Visions of a Brighter Day." Digger Dave - Gnome Label

Many of the songs are solo by Trev Teasdel but others include members of a recording band Trev had on Teesside in the 1980's who did some of his songs and whom he called Trev and the Collective Unconscious. This out fit consisted of Trev and Steve Gillgallon (who variously played synth, bass and keyboards and acoustic lead.) / Steve Ingledew who played keyboards and did some of the recordings.

The Gnome label published other Coventry artists too but digitally. These include Dave Pepper (former front man with the X Certs (c 1979), Kristy Gallacher ( a young Coventry singer songwriter), Culture Fuzion (Jim Pryal), The Is (Coventry's Al Docker's Cornish reggae band), Neil O'Connor (Hazel's brother) and more.

The original label back in 1970 was aiming to launch itself with a Live album recorded at the Lanch Poly (Now Coventry University in 1970 by Wandering John - one of the most popular rock and blues bands in Coventry at the time.

Below will be posts with the you tube versions of the songs - other drafts and the lyrics and stories. It will also tell you something about the Coventry music scene of the 70's at the same time.

Shortly After Midnight - Trev and the Collective Unconscious

There are two versions of Shortly After Midnight on the album - this is the earlies version recoded in Middlesbrough 1985 on a Fostex X15. The later version 1986 is more developed but i like Steve Gillgallon's Synth playing on this. Steve palyed bass and lead guitar and this was his first use of my new Yamaha synth (as seen in the video).

Lyrics and song story and second version of the track to follow soon.

Shortly After Midnight (85 demo) Trev and the Holy Grail from Trev Teasdel on Vimeo.


Quiet in the town
Darkness creeps around
Silence is a menace
Sleep cannot be found.

Tension in the town
Your heart begins to pound
Feet begin to itch
Toss and turn around

Feel you wanna cry
Burning of the eye
Explosion of the soul
Helplessly you lie

Feel the tension rise
Fear is in your eyes
Seems you want to scream
Then the feeling dies

Shortly after midnight, shortly after midnight
Shortly after midnight, shortly after midnight
Stranger in the cold light, standing in the moonlight

There a knocking at the door
A feeling not quite right
That robbed the purse of hope
And left you naked in the night

It crept upon you unawares
Teased and tore you like a cat
‘Til you screamed out inside
“What the hell is that!”

Shortly after midnight, shortly after midnight
Shortly after midnight, shortly after midnight
Stranger in the cold light, standing in the moonlight

Emptiness was floodlit by the moon
As it crept through window into the room
Hand in hand with the darkness in the soul
Ushered in by the sound of a silent drum roll – oll etc.

Quiet in the town
Not a single sound
Moon turned out its light
In the darkest deep of night

The wind it made no sound
Sleep could not be found
Darkness did surround

Midnight in the town

Well I Don't Know - Trev and the Collective Unconscious

The original lyrics 1970 by Trev Teasdel. Music by Johnny Adams (1973) for original version, Trev Teasdel, Steve Gillgallon, Steve Ingledew (1986) for the version below.

Well I Don't Know - Trev and the Collective Unconscious 1986 from Trev Teasdel on Vimeo.

Well I Don't Know - Song Story
The days of OMD, Kraftwerk, Human League, the 80's. 1986, Palm Street, Middlesbrough, armed with keyboards, synths and an X15 portastudio, we spent our weekends creating music. This track featured, Steve Gillgallon bass / keys. Steve Ingledew keys, drum-machine programming. Trev Teasdel - guitar (hidden in the mix as a guide) & keys, began as a lyric in Cov 1970 after reading the 'Story of the Blues' and walking home from the GEC observing kids out of school throwing stones and kicking balls around! "Well I don't know, I got no stone throw, Well I don't know, I got no ball to catch. My friend the sun, fled to Australia, Oh please come back and dawn on me!". In 1973 Johnny Adams - who later was in the punk band Squad after Terry Hall left to join the Specials, put music to it on guitar, in a Ralph McTell picking style. It became folk not blues. In 1986, Middlesbrough, I played the song to my Middlesbrough musician friends. We began to redevelop it as a keyboard track, adding a new bridge and changing the melodic structure. After multi-tracking, there wasn't room for the vocals (bad planning) but i found it difficult to sing over as the melodies were too strong so I left it as an instrumental. I think it works. It appeared in 2007 on my Gnome album Songs from the Coventry Underground.

I don't know
I got no stone to throw
Well I don't know
I Got no ball to catch.
My friend the sun
Fled to Australia
Oh please come back
And dawn on me.
I don't know
Perhaps I'll leave here
Perhaps I'll go
Far far away ..ay.
I don't know
My soul's a star
Trapped in a jar
It all seems so far ..
The road is calling but I
Can't go on
This restless feeling calls
Me on and on
The lake she sings to me
Says I have no fish to give.
The tree he watches me
With no place to live.
I don't know
I got no place to be
Oh I don't know

Oh I don't know
It doesn't worry me.
I don't know
I'm so alone now
Along ways from home.
I don't know
perhaps I'll lose my way
Well I don't know
why should I stay
but then again
I got no way to lose
All I possess
Is the blues.
The road is calling but I
Can't go on
This restless feeling is calling
Me on and on
The lake she sings to me
Says I have no fish to give.
The tree he watches me
With no place to live.
I don't know
Guess I'll write a song
Oh I don't know
It all seems so wrong.
Lyrics by Trev Teasdel 1970

The Phoenix - Trev and the Collective Unconscious

Video and song story to come to this

THE PHOENIX Middlesbrough 1986

After the planes came
With bombs for our city.
After the night-raid’s
Nightmare intensity.

In the wake of the heartbreak-
Sorrow in the heart-shocked

You – must carry on – Rise from the ashes – Soar in the sky
You – mustn’t give in – have faith in your future – pride in your past
You – must carry on – Rise from the ashes – Soar in the sky
You – mustn’t give in – Just like the phoenix – Never say die.

The Sirens sounded
The scramble for shelter.
Survival in crisis
Fear jammed the senses.
The drone of the bombers
Descending like demons
Menacing our skyways,
Our streets are exploding
Sudden cadence of brick-fall
Operation – Moonlight Sonata.

This is for those who fell in the moonlight
While the bombers raged and the ….

In the silence
Of heart-stopped
From shelters
The seeking of loved ones
In rubble hid carnage.
A spirit was rising
Hardened by hammers
That called forth the flames
In the shape of a future.
From the embers of darkness

The Isolate - Trev and the Collective Unconscious

Holding Place - info and audio to come to this.

Mrs Stress and Strain - Trev Teasdel

Mrs Stress and Strain - Trev Teasdel from Trev Teasdel on Vimeo.

When the sun is out shining
Are you always ironing?
Does your Steven need new shoes?
And Mary have the lover’s blues?
As life all around gets tense
Do you ask yourself
‘where is the sense?’

Maybe the milkman hasn’t been
And your rooms aren’t very clean.
So many bills to be paid
On your mind they’re all weighed
Prices rising so much higher
And your state is getting dire.

Mrs Stress and Strain, 
To the kitchen sink you’re chained.  
Worry haunts your life, 
I see you are the wife
of Mr Toil and Strife.

They say “A women’s works is never done
and the housework isn’t fun
Who else would work as hard as you
Such long hours, no rest due.
The stresses and the strains you bear,
The children and the mothercare!

And the beat goes on, day by day,
The isolation wears your soul away.
There’s nothing to show for all your work
Because you can’t stop a room from gathering dirt!
Do you feel you’ve got no life left of your own,
A permanent fixture, a doorpost in your home.


And though you’ll never make ends meet,
The adverts entice you to compete
With an image of an ‘all-mod-con
Trendy space age super mom.’
Should profiteers always hold the trump cards?
You’ve been dealt a hand of jokers –
Oh What a fa├žade!

Sometimes slave means the same as mom.
Who does everyone fall back upon.
They don’t think there can be another side of you
Only see what they expect of you.
Locked into the family situation
With the pills to ease your aggravation.

Sit down, sit back, light up and sigh,
Does your position in society make you cry?
How hard’s the fortune of all women kind,                   
Always in fetters, always confined.
Bound down by parents until made wives
Slaves to their husbands the rest of their lives.

The lyric was first written in Coventry, January 1969 and re-written or extended c 1976.
Song Story
This has an interesting song history! : I wrote the first version of the lyric when I was 17, & used magazines like New Society with its sociological articles or Psychology magazines with articles like "The nervy young housewife!" for inspiration. Those kind of articles inspired "The Ups and Downs in the life of Mr Toil and Strife" which Nigel Clarke of Coventry duo Cardinal covered and wrote this counter part - "Mrs Stress and Strain!" to go with it. In the mid 70's, with things becoming more political in Coventry, I  read a number of feminist books, Juliet Mitchell, Sheila Rowbothem etc. & articles like "To pay her is not to free her" which discussed the dicotomy between the "socialist and bourgoise feminists" on housework perspectives. After which I extended the lyric and set it music. In 1980 we had a little acoustic band with Andy Cairns on lead guitar, who had played in a jazz rock band with Horace Panter long before The Specials and the upright string bass player was also a roadie / Van driver with The Selecter at the time and we had a female singer. We were acoustic not Ska but Andy skanked this one up a bit. However this version is my original humble cassette demo version before it got rearranged. The band split up when Andy and I went separate ways to do degrees so we never got to gig.

Just Before Dawn - Trev Teasdel

Just Before Dawn - Trev Teasdel from Trev Teasdel on Vimeo.

Just Before Dawn (1970) by Trev Teasdel
- Recorded on Cassette Player 1979

Breeze blowing through the trees,

Squirrels squatting on their knees

Breeze blowing through the trees,

Squirrels squatting on their knees

Trying not to freeze

In amongst the trees

Searching for acorns

Just before dawn - Just before Dawn

Just before Dawn - Just before dawn

And the wind blows free

of the ripples of the city

Just before dawn, just before dawn

Just before dawn, just before dawn.

Then silence vomits an almighty roar

A thousand vehicles and maybe more

Stampede the main arterial lanes

To face their daily stresses and strains

and engines sing to morning faces

bustling off to their work places.

Oh Oh City light - Oh oh City light.

Refresh your lungs in the morning smog

Find a patch of grass to walk your dog

Wander by in an urban dream

'long the banks of a traffic stream

Black birds nesting in the branches

of the local factories.

Oh oh City light - oh oh City light

Listen to cockcrow in the clock tower

announcing the arrival of another rush hour

(another rush hour, another rush hour.)

Oh oh City light - Oh oh city light.

Wrote the lyrics about the morning rush hour while working at the GEC in Coventry 1970 and set it to a fast paced picking tune later in the 70's. The lyrics were compressed from a Moody Blues inspired concept album I had planned, looking at the working day and alienation and the environment.