China Life

from Run V​.​T. by Ian Evans

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about

I’m happy with this tune, as I’d never made a straight jazz one before. I was plucking some finger-style chords (also rare for me) and I found this. Usually, I think you should take songs in the way they "want" to go and this song was obviously straining to have a loungey, jazz arrangement… Another thing I love is that this tune benefited from being minimal, and so was hardly any work to record. I’m actually very lazy and find it hard to go through the slow process of making all my lyrical references fit a tune (often having to drop phrases that I love!), fiddling with EQ etc... I love generating ideas, but getting them onto tape takes me ages! After finishing this song, it reminded me a little of Reckoner by Radiohead, which I guess is good.

lyrics

Before Tobes came to life, I bought a Hammer box set
And used to watch them some nights before bed
Wheatley’s quite right wing - No Barbara Steele
The Devil Rides Out is exceptionally cool

They often end with the villain plunged to earth
And heroes affected, as they watch above

A striking set peace in Plague and Reptile
Quatermass has a truly real devil…
Not as great as telly, when the beast dropped for real
The Witches had a screen play by that Mr. Kneale

After Toby appeared, we couldn’t watch films
So instead put on digibox recordings…
Always missing the ends, when he woke up for a change
A doc on Peter Green and I’d doze off each view
They were like déjà vu

A doc on Television Centre
I wish I could see Think Again, with Johnny Ball’s compartments, again
Like Acid Witch, Bongripper and Beelzebong…
The doc mentioned a lot of being stoned

Then I recorded Joe Meek’s Telstar film
And I became a bit obsessed with him…
The young Chas Hodges and Albert Lee
Joe being from Gloucester
His brothers’ hilarity
Heinz and Geoff Goddard, conjuring with he

“The good thing about living in London is that you can see places for real on a whim… I went and stood outside Joe Meek’s old flat, one lunchtime. There’s an amazing pub called the Coronet, which is like a cathedral sized cinema. Holloway women’s prison and a walk up to Dick Whittington’s cat statue, which is protected in an iron cage. Emirates Stadium and the Garage.”

References:

* China Life – The name of a shop on Camden High Street, which sells Chinese goods. I’d always thought it would make a good song title and this tune immediately seemed to fit it. It’s a metaphor for my weird life as a new parent, when everything seemed fragile and unsettled. I also like to take influences from my environment and naming songs after local shops is a noble tradition of the Monsoon Bassoon and Gorgops.

* Tobes – My new baby son, Toby

* Hammer – A British horror film company

* Dennis Wheatley – A, quite right-wing thriller writer, who had two of his Satanism books made into Hammer films

* Barbara Steele – An actress from 1960’s horror films, who was quite Bohemian and certainly not right wing

* The Devil Rides Out – Perhaps the best Hammer film, based on the Wheatley book

* “They often end with the villain plunged to earth” – I noticed this cliché, after watching 20 or so films. It works well

* The Plague (of Zombies) – A lesser-known Hammer film, but excellent in parts. It has one particularly striking scene, where a zombie suddenly appears

* The Reptile – Another Hammer film about a woman turning into a lizard monster

* Quatermass – A wonderful sci-fi drama from the 1960’s, remade as a film by Hammer. The film version has a strikingly real depiction of the devil at the end (or the alien that inspired the devil at least)

* “The beast drops for real”- The classic scene in Quatermass and the Pit is when the alien corpse drops! Everyone jumps

* The Witches – Another Hammer film, which the Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale actually wrote the screen play for

* Mr. Kneale – Nigel Kneale is one of the most influential television writers of all time

* Digibox – A device in the 2000’s, which first allowed live TV to be paused and recorded

* A change – A nappy change!

* Peter Green – The original guitarist in Fleetwood Mac, who did a few genius tunes. This song is mostly about the TV programmes and films that I tried to watch in bits during my baby duties. One of them was about him

* Déjà vu – I was so tired as a new Dad – I couldn’t really tell what I had and hadn’t watched already

* Television Centre – This is described more fully in my song “W12 7RJ.” One of the TV shows I struggled to watch was a wonderful tribute to this building

* Think Again – A science show for kids, presented by Johnny Ball in the 1980’s. I really loved his manner and the secret compartments on the set

* Acid Witch – At the time of writing this song I discovered a few, “stoner,” bands, who are largely American, light hearted tributes to other bands. For example, Cannabis Corpse write Cannibal Corpse-themed songs, but all about weed! Weirdly, a lot of them are really good bands in their own right, especially Acid Wich, Beelzebong and Bongripper (off the top of my head)

* Beelzebong – A cannabis themed doom metal band who I really like

* Being stoned – The documentary about Television Centre mentioned several stories about kids TV presents being stoned on set

* Telstar – The first British number one single in the U.S., recorded by Joe Meek. It’s wonderful and named after a 1960’s satellite

* Joe Meek – Another of the videos I’m referencing in this song was the Joe Meek Biopic film, “Telstar.” I loved it! I became a bit obsessed with his story, which is well worth reading about

* Chas Hodges – A musician from Chas and Dave, who was one of the most famous session musicians in the 1960’s. He’s played in the Telstar film by Ralf Little

* Albert Lee – One of the world’s best guitarists, who played with Chas Hodges in the band “Hands, Heads and Feet”

* Gloucester – Joe Meek’s hometown. He looks very suave in photos and I was surprised to find out that he had quite a rural accent

* Heinz – Joe Meek’s ingénue and lover

* Geoff Goddard – Joe Meek’s regular songwriting partner, who also joined him in spiritualism and séances

* Joe’s hilarious brothers – In another doc about Joe Meek that I tracked down, his brothers do an odd report on his favourite foods, including sausages. It’s odd!

* Joe Meek’s old flat – This can be seen on Holloway Road in London. I always go for a walk to a new bit of London on my lunch breaks

* The Coronet – A nice pub on Holloway Road, which is built in an old cinema. It’s almost next to Joe’s old flat

* Holloway Prison – A women’s prison nearby

* Dick Whittington’s cat statue – This is quite cool. It’s on Holloway Road and marks the supposed point where Dick Whittington heard the bells of London, calling him back with his pet cat

* Emirates Stadium – A giant football stadium off Holloway Road, owned by Arsenal FC

* The Garage – A music venue in Highbury; close to Joe Meek’s old home

credits

from Run V​.​T., released August 4, 2015

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Ian Evans UK

Pop/experimental/rock musician and songwriter from London

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