The Post Office Tower

by Ian Evans

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about

This is an album of all the music I wrote between 2005 and 2006. It was recorded at home, but has some magical bits I think. I was reading lots about 70's and 80's culture at the time, which is probably its main theme.

The download comes with complete pdf artwork and a booklet of lyrics and references.

This album is free, but donations always help. Cheers, Ian E x

credits

released January 6, 2006

Ian Evans: Everything, except the female vocals by Karen

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Ian Evans UK

Pop/experimental/rock musician and songwriter from London

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Track Name: Rats and Delicious
Moulding it's galloping up pig hill
Six pints of breaker and yell bromide at each girl
The Uffington Horse (we used to call him Dobbin in those days)
Rats and Delicious, waiting by the side of the stage

They've been on strike for five years and now they're craving curry
A phase switch like a mantis on parole
He's brought back things - a wife from Australia

Red brick dreaming town
The warmth of cider
Stray Blues and the Maravishnu Orchestra
Dave's Beatles and Byrds and fleeting fingers
Might choose to sell the van to buy more guitars
Holly Partridge the stars won't steal you
There is no finer band in this whole world

References

* Moulding - Colin Moulding is the bass player of XTC
* Galloping - Before XTC went on stage, they used to play an intro tape of sampled voices. When the word "galloping" was mentioned, it was their cue to go on
* Pig Hill - A slang name for Swindon, the home town of XTC. It comes from the Roman words, "Swine Dun," meaning a hill for keeping pigs
* Six pints of breaker - A brand of beer from the 1970's
* Bromide - For some reason, a fan of XTC would often shout this during their early gigs
* The Uffington Horse - An ancient chalk drawing of a horse, close to Swindon. When I was a toddler, I saw a band on Top of the Pops and became fascinated by their mysterious horse logo. Years later, I became obsessed with XTC and suddenly realised that they were the same band that I'd seen as a child. They used the Uffington Horse as their logo
* Dobbin - XTC used to call their horse logo Dobbin
* Rats and Delicious - The nick names of two groupies, who met the band on tour
* They've been on strike for five years - During the 1990's, XTC refused to record any music as a protest against their recording contract
* Curry - After the strike ended, Dave Gregory of XTC said that he felt as if they'd been starving themselves and he now wanted a curry
* Phase switch - Andy Partridge made regular use of the phase switch on his Ibinez Artist guitar, which made a scratchy insect noise. He described this as sounding like a mantis playing guitar.
* Mantis on Parole - The name of an XTC B Side
* A wife from Australia - XTC drummer, Terry Chambers, met an Australian wife during their tour there
* Red brick dreaming - "Red Brick Dream," is the name of an XTC song, about Swindon's railway museum
* The warmth of cider - Andy Partridge was once in a band called Pink Warmth. Cider is popular in the West Country and beloved of XTC
* Stray blues - One of Andy Partridge's early bands
* The Maravishnu Orchestra - An exotic jazz band, who revived Dave Gregory's passion for music
* Dave - Dave Gregory, the lead guitarist of XTC
* Beatles and Byrds - Dave Gregory admires the 12 string guitar sounds of these bands
* Might sell the band to buy more guitars - In fact, Dave Gregory nearly did the opposite of this, but was later encouraged to continue with his musical talent
* Holly Partridge - Andy Partridge's daughter. She is now in a band called the She Beats and (it has to be said) is gorgeous
* The stars won't steal you - Andy Partridge suffers from Astrophobia and once mentioned his fear of being swallowed up by the stars
Track Name: Leave Us Not Little Nor Yet Dark
Trouble in the town hall
Making love as bomb’s fall onto buildings and bridges and hillsides
Playing with the town larks
Making love now it’s dark
Over railways and sailors and dales

Outside the land girls are mowing hay
Over the mountains and far away
Leave Us Not Little Nor Yet Dark
Over and out
Three cheers ring out

Carrots in the grass dales
Railing iron ships sail onto mountains and NAAFI’s and schoolyards
Turning into dogfights
Shooting up into the lights of the pilots
In Spitfires and trails

Inside there’s butter and powdered egg
For twenty shillings an evening dress
Leave Us Not Little Nor Yet Dark
Over and out
With me Emily
Three cheers for her majesty

References

* Leave Us Not Little Nor Yet Dark – A chapter title from the brilliant book, “The Box of Delights,” by John Masefield
* N.A.A.F.I.’s – The Navy, Army and Air force Institutes
* Larks – “Larking about,” means to have fun, but a lot of wartime songs also see to mention birds
* Dales – Grassy hill areas of northern England
* Carrots – Carrots were planted a lot during the war, as they were said to improve eyesight
* Railing Iron Ships – Iron fences were often pulled down during the war, so that the metal could be used for ships, guns etc.
* Powdered egg – A form of instant food, available under rationing
* Shillings – Pre-decimilisation British money
* Spitfire – The coolest plane in the world I guess
* “Over and Out” – Phrase used to sign off, at the end of a radio conversation
Track Name: Manic Miner
Gold, jewels and everything, I brought back today
Whilst out prospecting, down Surbiton way
Poisonous blossomings block my path above
Can I climb telegraph poles, back to the place that I love?

Some stranger deity mapped out this cold room
Before he's vanishing to a Dutch commune
Eugene is blocking me, as I plan my route
Can I get home a rich man? Or end up crushed under boot

Solar Power Generators burn in my eyes
Rats, mice and telephone beasts block every try
How to get out, when your oxygen's tight?
There's still a poke, which I can type to bring up extra lives...
T.Y.P.E.W.R.I.T.E.R.

References

* Prospecting - The game featured a character called Miner Willy, who discovered a treasure mine under Surbiton
* Surbiton - A commuter town in Surrey
* Poisonous blossomings - The game featured a lot of these plants, which Miner Willy had to jump over
* Telegraph poles - Another feature of the game
* Some strange deity - The game's creator was a famously eccentric and reclusive man called Matthew Smith. He wrote the whole game on his own at the age of 17 and (briefly) became very rich. The game featured a continuous soundtrack, which had previously been thought impossible
* The cold room - The game's second level
* Dutch commune - Matthew Smith did indeed go to live on a hippy commune in Holland
* Eugene - An enemy in one of the game's many levels. He looked a lot like my Dad and had square glasses, however he was apparantly based on a friend of Matthew Smith
* Crushed under boot - When you lost all of your lives, a Monty Python-esque video of Willy being crushed by a boot was shown
* Solar Power Generators - One of the levels featured these psychedelic flashing lights, which made it impossible to see where you were... I never reached the level, but saw it in the run through
* Rats, mice and telephone beasts - These were all types of enemy, encountered in the game. The telephone monster was the most popular and was shown on the game's box. However, it took me a while to recognise what it was
* Oxygen's tight - The time allowed for each level was shown by Miner Willy's oxygen gauge
* "Pokes" - In the 1980's, cheat codes for Sinclair Spectrum games were always referred to as pokes
* T.Y.P.E.W.R.I.T.E.R. - Spelling out this word on the keyboard was the poke for Manic Miner. It gave you unlimited lives
Track Name: Egypt (instrumental version)
Instrumental
Track Name: Practical Pie
Riding the Fairbanks to fly (pulling up the scenes)
Tights in the washing machine (struggling to get by)
Cracking the Monica bell (R.A.D.A. course engaged)
Steps on the Charring Cross Road (no work on the stage)
We dream in concert – What should an actress do?
Now their robots hunt down men on the streets of Waterloo

Short hair and in Lincoln Green (the punters’ drinks won’t annoy)
Fishnets and silvery screens (you’re our principal boy)
Robots are stuntmen of course (in Alexandra Park)
Struggle for my rent in frost (after it gets dark)
No jobs to speak of now - How can a girl survive?
With a practical pie laid out and a wine glass in act five

On every wall (in every hall) the symbols of a rising star
We never said that we’d let you make up your own mind

References

* Fairbanks – A theatrical pulley system used to move scenery. It’s often ridden by stage hands, as a short cut into the rafters
* Tights in the washing machine – Tights are the English word for nylons/stockings. Would an actress wash her tights, or just throw them away and buy new ones, I wondered… I now know that girls do wash their tights
* Cracking the Monica bell – In Victorian music halls, a bell called the Monica was rung between acts
* R.A.D.A. – The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London
* Steps on the Charring Cross Road – In the film Withnail and I, Uncle Monty complains about his acting agent on the Charring Cross Road, who had a huge staircase with never a job waiting at the top of them
* Dream in concert – An unused title for the second Elevenses album
* “Robots hunting men” – The original lyric to this song featured a War of the Worlds-esque story about sinister robots. I decided that I didn’t like the idea enough for a full lyric, but that it could be the play that my actress character was working on. The song was originally called, “Crescent Horns,” (which would have been the sinister symbol painted on the robots’ chests)
* Waterloo – An area of south London, featuring a large train station. It’s the train station I use when visiting my parents in Poole (and on my childhood day trips to London)
* Lincoln Green – The shade of green used for Robin Hood’s costume (and so potentially worn by an actress in a pantomime)
* Punters’ drinks – A, “punter,” is English slang for anyone paying money for a show or product. Actors routinely hang around theatre bars, to see if the punters offer to buy them drinks
* Fishnets – A type of tights, which resemble a fishnet. Presumably they don’t require much washing!
* Silvery – a good band from London (circa 2007) and also the name of a brilliant, unreleased Cardiacs song
* Principal boy – In English pantomimes the, “principal boy,” is the main, male character (always played ironically by a pretty girl)
* Alexandra Park – A park in London
* Practical pie – The name of a pie, when used as a stage prop
Track Name: Free Fiona
Sharing a house is awkward to arrange
You need somewhere when you're not ready
Contracts end on different work days
And you can't move in, before the last tennants move out

Landlords can be angry
License to print money
So why aren't they friends?
Give the girl a home and free Fiona

Always end up with strangers or alone
And so do your friends, because the timing is wrong
Someone is left out and hurt
and you're stuck in a house, not a home

You can afford somewhere that's good, with a best friend
Depends on jobs, money and time, hanging around
Don't want to see you left alone
But homeless if you move along
Track Name: Mixed Doubles
There's no easy way out (as far as I can see it)
And you're hardly just right (but you do something to me)
There's no easy walk out (if only you'd stop charming)
When you're dashing about (if only you could see it)
My hormones jump me up and down

When we're out on the town (or knocking back the tennis ball)
My synapses jump me up and down
I've never had any doubts (from the first time I saw you)
You're like a chemical surge to me
My heart is beating flat out (as I look to the umpire)
He gives romantic advice to me
Track Name: Crescent Horns
Everywhere we go, we grow a bit so... it isn't as hard when it comes back
Everything you learn, gives the spell a turn... Increasingly a less fearful life

Mistletoe for a kiss
A raised thumb to make the bus come
Carrying a folder to ward off bosses
Practice to avoid fear

There is no spell to make someone love you...

Confidence to seem right
Phrygian scales sound metal or Spanish
I bought this guitar to right a broken heart

This house casts a spell of light, comfort and shelter
There is no spell to get what you want

References

* Crescent Horns - This refers to a magical symbol in Egyptology (and was inspired by a similar song title by the band Nile). I really love them
* Mistletoe - A parasitic plant, hung up at Christmas for people to kiss under
* A raised thumb to summon buses - My Mum always holds up her thumb, when she wants bus drivers to stop for her. This was also mentioned in a comical book about witches, that I owned as a child.... In the book, raising your thumb is described as a magic spell to summon buses. Perfect for this song!
* Carrying a folder to ward off bosses - My Grandad once told me that you should always carry a folder at work, to make yourself look busy :-) It's served me well
* There is no spell to make someone love you - Sadly this is true
* Confidence to seem right - My Dad once told me that, if you say something confidently, people will tend to believe it. Sadly for truth and society, this is usually true. (I'm generally too tied up by trying to see other peoples' opinions)
* Phrygian scales - The Phrygian mode is used a lot in Flamenco music and in heavy metal
* "I bought this guitar to right a broken heart" - This refers to a purple Squire Stagemaster guitar, which I bought in London after confessing to a friend that I had feelings for her
* "This house casts a spell of light" - My house at the time was in Stoke Newington and I liked it
Track Name: Liche Queen / Iron de Havilland (medley)
I've got my bass and my Oyster card and the clippers if we need to change strings
But I'm sure there's something else to remember. What could it be?
Mr. Gladstone addressed here more like an audience row that a Queen
But I'm sure there's something else to remember. What could it be?

Iron was made by De Havilland for the first time in 1603
But I'm sure there's something else to remember. What could it be?

E.F. Schumacher worked for the Coal Board and the New Soil Committee
But I'm sure there's something else to remember. What could it be?

Wilhelm Reich was the Orgone guy, whilst his son Peter wrote Book of Dreams
Well I love Kate (but will stay open minded about Orgone). What could it be?

Dawn and Tim got together and it lifted such spirits for me
Well I'd love the other Tim and Daisy to work it out...

The secret of being good in bed is to be with the right girl or boy
It's just that and good communication

References

* Bass - At the time of writing this song, I played bass in Elevenses, instead of guitar, and so often had to carry one on the tube
* Oyster cards - Cards used in London to pay for public transport
* Clippers for changing strings - I always carry these in my guitar case
* Gladstone - The Victorian Prime Minister, William Gladstone. Queen Victoria accused him of talking down to her
* Iron de Havilland - In the comedy series Look Around You, Iron de Havilland is the imaginary scientist who, "invented," iron. He has one eye and a ridiculously tall head
* E.F. Schumacher - The 1960's social theorist who wrote Small is Beautiful. A good guy
* Wilhelm Reich - A scientist who believed that harnessing sexual or, "Orgone," energy could control the weather
* Peter Reich - The son of the above scientist, who wrote a book about his father's persecution by the government
* Kate - Kate Bush. Genius! Her song, "Cloud Busting," is about Peter and Wilhelm Reich's relationship
* Dawn and Tim - The romantic couple in the comedy series The Office
* Tim and Daisy - A couple in the comedy series Spaced, who definitely *should* get together and probably do. (In the DVD of extras, in the Spaced boxed set, they're shown holding a baby in a scene of their future lives)
Track Name: Pan's People
Sew patches on jean pockets. And fish fingers for tea
Dread LWT power cuts. Pan’s People on TV
The thinking schoolboy’s crumpet
And for sure Eldrad must live
This one’s for every good Dad, designing toys in sheds

The sacred cluttered boxes, of dinosaur remains
And Waterhouse’s archways make us feel less alone
The Post Office Tower generates each children’s TV show
It’s good that people care about each minute hobby world

Because I am separate from my girl…. I need reasons not to destroy the world

References

* Patches on jean pockets – In the 1970’s, it was common for Mum’s to sew brightly coloured patches onto their children’s jeans
* Fish fingers – A type of frozen food popular with kids (and me)
* Tea – In this case, tea refers to the afternoon meal, held in England at approximately 6pm
* LWT – The London Weekend Television company
* Power cuts – When I was young, it was common for TV shows to loose sound or be cancelled due to power cuts, which I used to hate
* Pan’s People – A 1970’s dance troupe, who appeared on the British music show Top of the Pops. They were a favourite of Dads and looked incredibly sexy and, “girl next door-like,” at the same time. They look ridiculously old fashioned now, but are lovely
* Crumpet – English slang for a pretty girl (or occasionally any attractive person). It was also common to use the phrase, “the thinking man’s crumpet,” to describe a classy/intelligent girl. I believe it was first used to describe Joan Bakewell
* “Eldrad must live” – A phrase from the 1970’s Dr Who episode The Hand of Fear, which I’d just bought on DVD
* “This one’s for every good Dad” – This is a tribute to a similar line in an Auters song. I listened to their After Murder Park album a lot, in my last year at university
* Dinosaur remains – As a child, I used to find museums literally spiritual places. Like churches to something better than religion. I still find them really emotional and happiness inducing
* Waterhouse – The architect of the Natural History Museum in London
* The Post Office Tower – At the time I wrote this song, I hadn’t realised that the Post Office Tower actually *was* used to broadcast British TV. It’s a perfect name for this album, as it really was a central generator of pop culture
* “I need reasons not to destroy the world” – After Ariana had to move back to America, I felt that the world had no inherent goodness

NB. The false ending of this song (in which the guitar solo stops suddenly and then fades back up again) was inspired by a similar trick in the song Love Circles by Squeeze
Track Name: Toasted Seeds
Instrumental
Track Name: Doing Pinks
You’re in yourself, safe as houses we say
Mean it at least. Anyway…
How does it feel when you wake up at night and stretch out unto the next day?
Under a cover it’s still cold outside
Curled up you feel slightly safe
You’re being brave (in your life you’re flat out)
Sometimes we get like today

How does it feel, when I sit with my arms next to your chair?
If we don’t talk it through… It’s okay if you cope that way
You’re not by yourself (in your life you’re flat out)
But I worry how to behave

How does it feel, when I sit with my arms next to your chair?
While I can keep them hitting me, they’ll be leaving her alone

Over the rooftops and houses our city is standing still
Oh to hold on to the good things and love here in your world

How does it feel?
Track Name: Junction Box (aka It's So Wrong That We're Not Together)
I’m getting older and need to rush in (I’m off to war, so we’ll be apart)
I’m still recovering from a big break up (which really changed your heart)

Well I’ve always liked you, but I just don’t see it… (You’re still a romantic and feeling blue)
You’re leaving to go backpacking in three months (and I can’t believe it’s true)

We’re surfing on a wave of awkward timings and I’d never have believed it true…
I still love you (in parts I do) but in such difficult/bad circumstances, nobody but you will do
I do love you…. It might be cool, if there weren’t mitigating circumstances
I could see you as a friend, if only you could play it cool
I’m off to school in the next town in two weeks, so it just can’t be…

I think that you’re handsome, but also reckless (I’ve got these exams and an awkward time)
You believe in marriage and I’m not so sure (I wish that you were mine)

Well you’re only 20 and I’m 25 (I had a bad experience in my prime)
Having a career is your priority (romance is now mine)
Track Name: Pears
Instrumental
Track Name: Upstairs Downstairs
My cat sleeps on the stairs
My boyfriend sails at sea
It’s a lie that you get paid more if you pass a degree
All Royalty and Empire’s saints are in no doubt
All small but I am happy and that’s what life is about

Nonsense about their weight is worried by each girl
I’m savouring the cool underneath of my pillow
Some clothes will take two people to rightly put them on
Ian smiled at the party but didn’t see her again

Cash = just useful to have, upstairs and downstairs

Limehouse and Sutton, Finchley and into port the ship
Mine is the cry of every woman at the colour changing strip

References

* Upstairs Downstairs – A 1970’s drama about servants and their employers. It’s also the type of song title that Stars in Battledress might use. They’re an excellent band
* Royalty and Empire – An exhibition of English royalty, which was once based in Windsor and run by Madam Tussaud's. I visited it on a great school trip. I loved all my school trips
* “Nonsense about their weight is worried by each girl” – I agonised about this line, as I worried that it might be seen as an insult to women’s attitudes. All I’m trying to say is that my female friends often seem to worry about their weight when, to my mind they look nice or even very beautiful
* Savouring the cool underneath my pillow – I do this a lot
* Some clothes take two people to put them on – For example corsets. It was common for Victorian ladies to require a maid’s help when dressing
* Ian smiled at the party but didn’t see her again – This refers to a postdoc, who I met at my first UCL Christmas party. I asked her if she was free for lunch and she said that I should meet her in the lunch room with the rest of her lab. I didn’t quite know how to handle it, as I would have been very outnumbered by people, who would all realise that I was hoping to ask her out properly. It eventually became clearer that she didn’t fancy me, so we just became casual acquaintances and I didn’t have to go to the awkward lunch
* Limehouse – An area of east London, featured a lot in Victorian literature due to its high Chinese population at the time
* Sutton – Karen’s hometown in Surrey
* Finchley – I lived in Finchley when I first moved to London in 2002. It’s a long way from Sutton!
* Mine is the cry of every woman – This Jungian idea comes from a book called Seahorses by Bidisha
* Colour changing strip – This refers to a pregnancy tester
Track Name: Evil Prefects
Morning, I woke up
Somewhere, I don’t know
A clinic, somewhere
I’ve lost memories

I don’t know myself
I’m strange in my clothes
I got put in this school
I think I’m about 17

Don’t turn your back on me
I’ll give you both barrels
I’ll make you famous
I’ll dust you up and down

And now it seems that governments, should represent and not control
But what if those in charge (all like me) were evil

Now I try to be kind
But I find that I don’t care, just who I cut down
I’m finding out who I really am

I haunt these corridors
With the master’s daughter
Now on a pile of opera cloaks…
Prefect and orator

Your pain gives me such a wonderful life

References

* I’m strange in my clothes – This phrase came from a song on the True Colours album by Split Enz
* I’ll make you famous – This was a quote from something, but I’m not sure what…. In this context, it means to kill someone (hence causing them to be in the news). Perhaps it also refers to the devilish charm of a svengali manager
* I’ll dust you up and down – This phrase means to beat someone in a fight. It was inspired by a similar line in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore, which I love to bits. It was made into a really terrible film!
* The master’s daughter – It’s a commonly held myth (amongst romantic men like me) that being nasty is more attractive to women than being nice. This song is partly about whether it would be fun to be evil and (of course) the character in the song would have to be devilishly attractive
* On a pile of opera cloaks – This quote came from a Viz cartoon called, “Raffles the Gentleman Thug.” His character is similar to the schoolboy character in my song and he has some excellent turns of phrase. A pile of opera cloaks refers to an elicit location for a sexual liaison, in a theatre cloak room