CD

"Eleven lovely tracks of beautiful and varied music... impeccably performed and sung with technical virtuosity." B.B.Skone of Radio Pembrokeshire, writing in the August 2016 Pembrokeshire Life.

 

For the full review, see the bottom of this page

Notes for

Lovers, Soldiers

and the Tramp

The square cardboard sleeve is way too small for any notes. All the lyrics, and some observations on various aspects of our first CD, are here for anybody who might be interested.

 

The player will give you a thirty second preview of each track. Click play to get all of them in order, or click VIEW TRACK LIST to pick individual tracks. Clicking the cart symbol takes you to our online shop where you can download individual tracks or indeed the entire album.

 

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1. Massacre at Béziers: Alan Tunbridge

 

All around the town of Béziers the land was full of fruit

The blessing of the southern sun

Everywhere the everlasting seed was taking root

With the harvest yet to come

 

Down from the north the dusty army moved along

Peasants and princes on parade

Bandits and bishops joined together in a song

Beneath the banners of crusade

 

Oh brother tell your children of this crime

The killers came with fire and sword

Jesus Jesus Jesus they cried

In the name of the lord

 

Put on your snowy coat your cross of bloody red

And take the bible in your hand

Kill kill in the name of god the bishop said

Kill all the evil in this land

 

Oh brother tell...

 

Mother mother there are soldiers in the fields

Their tents are all around the town

My eyes were blinded by the flashing of the steel

Why do they tread the harvest down?

 

Beat your little drum within your breast my love

Now even babies must be brave

Those men outside the walls to save our souls have come

But they kill those they cannot save

 

Oh brother tell... (x2)

 

 

Béziers is a small, ancient town in southern France. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was a centre of Catharism, a version of Christianity strongly at variance with Catholicism. From the beginning of his reign in 1198, Pope Innocent III did his best to suppress Catharism by non-military means. When this failed, and after the murder of one of his legates, he declared the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars.

 

As ever, there were political as well as religious forces in play. The crusade suited the purposes of the northern French powers, who quickly raised an army and marched south. Refugees fled before them. Béziers, its population more than doubled by refugees, was the first major Cathar stronghold that the crusaders reached. On July 22nd 1209 the crusaders attacked, killing everyone and setting fire to the town. That included the cathedral, where many had taken refuge in the mistaken belief that it must surely be spared. They were burnt alive. On that one terrible day, between 7,000 and 20,000 people were massacred, depending on who is telling the story. And all without the benefit of our superior modern techniques of mass destruction.

 

A famous detail is the instruction by one of the commanders of the crusade, Papal Legate Arnaud-Amaury, Bishop of Citeaux. When asked by a crusader how to tell Catholics from Cathars once they had taken the city, he replied, "caedite eos, novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." This is variously translated as "Kill them all, God will know his own" or "Kill everyone and let God sort them out." A firm believer in muscular Christianity, evidently.

 

How fortunate that nothing like this could ever happen these days: believers in one interpretation of a religion engaged in wholesale slaughter of believers in a different interpretation of the same religion simply for the offence of differing. Oh, wait...

 

 

2. Bonny Portmore: traditional, arranged Quarto

 

O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand

And the more I think on you the more I think long

If I had you now as I had once before

All the lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.

 

O bonny Portmore, I am sorry to see

Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree

For it stood on your shore for many's the long day

Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.

 

All the birds in the forest they bitterly weep

Saying, "Where shall we shelter or where shall we sleep?"

For the Oak and the Ash, they are all cutten down

And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground

 

 

Portmore Castle was built in 1664 by Lord Conway. The surrounding estate was 2000 acres, mostly woodland. For over 20 years it provided an economy and a way of life to the local villagers. Then Lord Conway overreached himself when he brought in Dutch engineers in an unsuccessful attempt to drain a lake; the costs bankrupted him and he had to sell to English buyers who had no interest in the locality beyond its cash value. The new owners cut down all the trees for shipbuilding and converted the land to corn and pasture. Even the castle was demolished and the stone used elsewhere. With the passing of the estate, the locals lost their way of life.

 

Among the trees was a famous oak, celebrated in song and story. The first branch from the ground was 25 feet long, the trunk 42 feet in circumference. Ornament tree, indeed. It went with the rest.

 

 

3. Aloysius: Jez Lowe

 

I had a dog that wouldn’t bark, his name was Aloysius

I found him silent on the street some years ago

He was wandering around just minding his own business

Which covered him complete from head to toe

Now any new tricks, he was much too old to teach

But he could still reach the parts you wish that you could reach

But he wouldn’t growl, he wouldn’t bark or howl

He wouldn’t move a jowl, but for food and drink and kisses

I said, ‘Stay now, bonny lad, but why stay silent Aloysius?’

 

One night I found him sat towards the TV facing

I couldn’t help but laugh to see him stare

As huntsman, horse and hound across the screen went chasing

A fox that wandered foolish from its lair

I said, ‘Sit down you, you can’t run with the pack’

He just turned around, and to my surprise he answered back

He said, ‘You and your kind, you must be bloody blind

To think that for all time you can treat us as you wishes!’

I said, ‘Stay now, bonny lad, but why stay silent Aloysius?’

 

He said, ‘You call us man’s best friend and then you kick us and beat us

Or train us to hunt our brothers just for sport

If we were in the Orient, they say they’d kill and eat us

And our skins for fashion would be sold and bought

Or else you poison us with your scent and cigarettes

Or else just breed us in cages unto death

And we must obey, we have to sit and stay

And if a dog ever has his day, he’s condemned as being vicious’

I said, ‘Stay now, bonny lad, but why stay silent Aloysius?’

 

So I had a dog and he could talk, his name was Aloysius

But I must admit he never said goodbye

On that day when we came down and found he’d up and left us

For that great big kennel in the sky

And from that day he’d never said another word

And people say it surely was my own voice that I’d heard

But if I greet a stray dog on the street

Like an old friend that you’d meet, don’t look at me suspicious

I'll say, ‘Stay now, bonny lad, but don’t stay silent like Aloysius’

 

 

Jez introduces this as "a protest song, every word of which is true". And that's all there is to say about it.

 

At live gigs, when we have a lot of time to play with, we have sometimes included a 'solo spot' for each band member. We decided to refer to that practice on the CD by including a semi-solo track each. This is the first of them.

 

 

4. High Germany: traditional, arranged Quarto

 

Polly dearest Polly the rout has now begun

And I must march away to the beating of a drum

Go dress yourself all in your best and come along with me

I'll take you to the cruel wars in High Germany

 

Harry dearest Harry now mind what I do say

My feet they are too tender I cannot march away

Besides my dearest Harry I am with child by thee

Not suited for the cruel war in High Germany

 

I'll buy you a horse my love and on it you shall ride

And all of my delight will go marching by your side

We'll stop at every ale house and we'll drink when we are dry

And all along the road my love we'll marry by and by.

 

Cursed be the cruel wars that ever they arise

And out of merry England pressed many a lad likewise

They pressed me dearest Harry and all me brothers three

And sent them to the cruel wars in high Germany.

 

 

This song dates from the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). It is just one of a large number of songs in which sweethearts accompany their men to war, often disguised as men themselves. It's tempting to think of them as wish-fulfilment fantasies, until you remember the fearsome and indisputably real Flora Sandes.

 

The opening and closing tune are our two versions of Prince Rupert's March, a tune from at least fifty years earlier. The opening is a nice positive C major recruiting sergeant's version, the closing a more realistic A minor in the light of experience.

 

A personal note from Paul: the pairing of Prince Rupert's March and High Germany was first done many years ago by a Manchester group with the memorable name of Kitharistai, memorable mainly for the fact that nobody could remember it. One of the band, Sue, was heavily into the whole Civil War thing and had a crush on the long dead Prince Rupert which I always thought a little strange. For me it's personally very satisfying that the two should march to war, side by side, yet again.

 

 

5. Seaside Song: PK

 

CHORUS: Grab your coat and get your hat

Welly boots and plastic mac

Lots of cash for buying tat

We're off down to the seaside

 

Uncle Sid dressed in his best

Knotted hankie, white string vest

Socks and sandals, all the rest,

What a snappy dresser

 

Little Edward loved to play

By the water all the day

When a wave washed him away

No-one really bothered

 

REPEAT CHORUS

 

Aunty Mary thought that she

Would float her lilo on the sea

Drifted out where the wind blows free

Some of her reached Manhattan

 

Uncle Dave stayed in a tent

Wouldn't pay the hotel's rent

When he saw what the weather sent

He wished he'd stayed in Wigan

 

REPEAT CHORUS

 

Same price as a week of rain

You could have a month in Spain

Decent British folk like pain

That's why they go to [ INSERT INSULTEE OF YOUR CHOICE ]

 

Aunty Ethel took a chance

Went off for a week in France

Poor old dear never found romance

But she did come back with herpes

 

REPEAT CHORUS

 

Just a silly one about the British seaside as it was. Think Harry Graham's Ruthless Rhymes. But here's the thing: this took about half an hour to write (plus somewhat longer for the violin introduction). Other 'real' songs took anything up to several months. But when people heard we were making a CD, which original song got the most requests for inclusion? I wonder if other songwriters get this. This song features a guest appearance from our old friend Larus Argentatus.

 

 

6. Cuckoos

 

Part One: Cuckoo, a PK composition

Part Two: our slow version of the English tune The Cuckoo's Nest. We all know cuckoos don't build nests. Apparently it's a euphemism.

Part Three: our quick version of the Welsh tune Nyth y Gog (which means The Cuckoo's Nest. Euphemisms in folk music? Who'd have thought?)

 

Please see 'A note on how we recorded' at the end of this page for a bit more detail on this track.

 

 

7. White Cockade 2009: first verse and melody traditional, other verses PK.

 

One day as I was walking on yonder fields of moss,

I had no thought of enlisting till the soldiers did me cross,

They kindly did invite me to a flowing bowl and down,

They advanced, they advanced some money

A shilling from the crown.

 

And so I was enlisted and I wore the white cockade

I quickly was acquainted with rifle and grenade

I learned who'd try to kill me and who I was to kill

But I never, no I never understood it

And I never will.

 

Then on a chilly morning we shipped out for Iraq

And of the lads who shipped with me there were some did not come back

I don't know why we went there and I don't know why they died

But the one thing, ah the one thing that I do know

Our lords and masters lied.

 

The next job that they gave me was to hunt the Taliban

In a godforgotten corner of far Afghanistan

We shot them and we bombed them and we fought them face to face

But for every, but for every one we killed

Two new ones took his place.

 

From Flanders to the Falklands, Crimea to Dunkirk

The ones who give the orders kill the ones who do the work

It's not their wives who sorrow, it's not their wounds that bleed

And they are not, no they are not fit to govern

They are not fit to lead.

 

 

An updated version of the much-recorded traditional song in which a woman whose man has been tricked into taking the King's shilling roundly curses everyone responsible for taking him away. These days the recruiting methods are more subtle, and the reasons for enlisting more complex, but the outcome is all too often the same. As for our glorious leaders and their fitness for office, well... that's up to you.

 

The play-out is a little mash-up of two related traditional tunes. We leave it to you to untangle them.

 

 

8. The Yorkshire Couple: Mackie/Stone

 

It's of a Yorkshire couple, as I've heard some relate,

Looked forward to retirement with apprehension great.

In a little mill tied cottage said Amos, feeling low,

"We're to leave this place tomorrow, oh wherever shall we go?"

 

Said Martha unto Amos, "Now don't you fret, old lad,

The thought of your retirement, it ought to make you glad.

Since the day that we got married I've saved for a rainy day,

Every time that we made love well I put half a crown away."

 

"You see that row of cottages down by the Dog and Gun,

Well we'd not been married but a year before I'd bought first one,

The next one two years later, the third one brought me tears,

The fourth one took much longer, all of twenty years."

 

Said Amos unto Martha, "You know I love you so,

And now I see the wisdom of reaping what you sow.

But one thing still it vexes me, why did you never tell,

If I hadn't played away from home, we'd have had Dog and Gun as well."

 

Said Martha unto Amos, "You know I love you dear,

But when you said you were working late, I knew exactly where you were.

You remember our old milkman, the one so full of fun,

Well I did the same wi' him, and I bought him Dog and Gun."

 

 

From a poem by Jim Mackie, set to music by Pam and Peter Stone of Keystone Music and learnt from the singing of Kate Rusby. The second quasi-solo spot.

 

 

9. Morfa'r Frenhines: traditional, arranged Quarto

 

A beautiful traditional Welsh melody, with extra bits of Holly's devising. The title means "The Queen's Marsh". The third 'solo' spot, this time exactly as we do it live.

 

 

10. The Water is Wide: traditional, arranged Quarto

 

The water is wide, I can not cross over,

And neither have I wings to fly.

Build me a boat that can carry two

And both shall row, my love and I.

There is a ship and she sails the sea.

She's loaded deep as deep can be.

But not so deep as the love I'm in,

I know not how I sink or swim.

 

Oh love is handsome and love is fine,

The sweetest flower when first it's new

But love grows old and waxes cold

And fades away like morning dew.

 

The sun that rose upon my joy

Is fading now into the west

The stars that light my cold way home

Bring me no peace, bring me no rest.

 

I leaned my back against an oak

I thought it was a trusty tree

But first it bent and then it broke

So did my love prove false to me

 

The water is wide, I can not cross over,

And neither have I wings to fly.

Build me a boat that can carry two

And both shall row, my love and I.

 

 

A very well-known traditional song on the classic theme of love betrayed. The fourth semi-solo.

 

 

11. The Jonas Trilogy: PK

 

Jonas travels through the land,

Without a map, without a plan

And all he carries with him is

The few poor things he needs to live

A rucksack, faded, worn and old

A coat for when the year turns cold

But carried safest, wrapped away

The violin he loves to play

 

Jonas bears the scars of time

Punishment without a crime

A face no lover ever kissed

A face no child has ever missed

But looks that make him stand apart

Conceal a gentle loving heart

And ugliness is washed away

When Jonas sits him down to play

 

A little rosin on the bow

Check the tuning is just so

A moment's pause. He bows his head

Already hearing what's ahead

And then he smiles and starts to play

And all the world just fades away

As Jonas lets his fiddle sing

The beauty that a tune can bring

 

First a rippling little jig

Spinning like a whirligig

A reel with crafty harmony

Following it perfectly

And then he slows into an air

That everybody listening there

Seems to feel deep in the bone

Never learned but always known

 

So they start to sing along

Humming low then singing strong

Harmonies and counterparts

Music from their deepest hearts

Wordless joy that soars and dips

Spilling from their baffled lips

Song they did not know they knew

Old as time but always new

 

When it ends they stand amazed

A little shocked, a little dazed

To know that in the hearts they own

Magic has a hidden home

And no-one means to be unkind

But no-one pays him any mind

As Jonas wraps his fiddle tight

And walks away into the night

 

 

Part One introduces Jonas, maybe at a session like one near you. Part Two is a gentle tune on melodeon to represent Jonas's post-session melancholy as he walks away into the night. But he is The Tramp, so where is he going? The answer is in Part Three: to a deserted beach where, at midnight, he will dance wildly to the inescapable music in his poor, poor head.

 

 

Instruments

 

On this recording you are hearing these instruments:

 

Guitars by Fylde, Goodall and Martin

Violins by Tim Phillips (5-string and octave) and an unknown 19th century German maker

A D/G melodeon by Saltarelle

Mandolins by National and Seagull

A Cirrus octave mandolin by Oakwood

Djembe, tambourine and bass drum, all unknown makes

 

Larus Argentatus appears by courtesy of the British Library

 

The cover photo

 

The background photo is the interior of The Round Tower, Copenhagen. It was built on the orders of King Christian IV as an observatory. It took five years to build (1637-42), and features a spiral ramp large enough to allow access for a horse and carriage. It's a very odd feeling when you walk up it; along the outer wall the corridor has a length of 257.5 m and a gradient of 10%, while along the inner wall the corridor is only 85.5 m long but has a gradient of 33%. An ascent feels simultaneously very physical and very symbolic. Apparently somebody holds a world record for riding up and down it on a unicycle. More of a Copenhagen record, surely? I mean, where else could you do it?

 

Copyright

 

The cardboard sleeve says that we 'sought permission' from copyright holders. We worded it like that because at time of printing we had not actually had replies from all of them. I am happy to record here that they have all now been in touch and agreed to our use of their material. So it's a big thank you to all of them for entrusting their work to us. We hope they like what we have done with it.

 

Looking at it the other way round, we have the copyright in this CD. We can't stop you copying it and giving it away, but we'd rather you didn't. There is no big record company behind it (pretty obviously, I would have thought), we paid for all of it ourselves, and our only hope of recouping our costs is sales.

 

Any musician who wants to use tracks 5, 7 or 11 in his or her live act, good luck, go for it. If you record it, or it does well for you in some way, let us know. We like to hear how our children are doing out there in the big wide world.

 

A note on how we recorded

 

The first thing to say is that we recorded the CD ourselves, in our homes, using modest equipment. We are our own recording engineers, producers, and everything else involved in the process. That has inevitably influenced the way we recorded. If we had recorded in a professional studio we would almost certainly have ended up with a better sound (though we're not ashamed of the quality we have achieved, not at all), but on the other hand we would all have been bankrupt if we had spent as much time in a studio as we did in our various recording rooms. Swings, roundabouts.

 

An 'as live' recording is not a live event and never can be. A live gig is a total, five-senses experience for the audience, in which the sound of the band is just one element. It follows that however much we may want to record 'as live' the listener is not going to hear us 'as live'. We don't play live gigs in cars, for example.

 

So, in addition to 'as live', we therefore used three other sorts of recording on this CD. The first is 'as live, slightly enhanced'. On these tracks our live set-up is lifted just a little by, for example, double-tracking the harmonies. It's the same people doing the same things; the sound is improved but the arrangement is unchanged. Many of the tracks are like this.

 

The second sort of recording involves overdubbing a new sound in a way that we can't do live on the reasonable grounds that one person can't play two instruments at the same time. We have used this technique where it really seems to be a good idea.

 

And then there is Cuckoos, our entry for the Eurovision Song Contest of 1547. When you listen to Parts One and Two of this track, you are hearing the massed forces of three violins, a guitar, a mandolin and an octave mandolin all playing together. It's a studio creation, made possible by technology. Why record something that we could never do live? Because we're trying to make a thing that exists in its own right as (we hope) three minutes and twenty seconds of musical pleasure. Think of it as a sculpture - what counts here is the finished product rather than the process.

 

Part Three of Cuckoos, by the way, the last two minutes and fifteen seconds of the track, is exactly as we play it live.

 

Quarto are Chris Kay, Peter Kay, Holly Robinson and Paul Sharp.

 

Here is our review from Pembrokeshire Life in full. Click a page to see it full size.

Béziers now
The unironically named Innocent III
Where it was
The role of Aloysius is taken by Arthur
Battle of Denain

The Battle of Denain by Jean Alaux

A proper holiday. None of this 'pleasure' nonsense
Our lords and masters
The rewards of extracurricular activities
CDF often painted Jonas without realising it

Winter by Caspar David Friedrich

Quarto, the Pembrokeshire folk band, sing and play contemporary and traditional songs and tunes. Our repertoire includes everything from old favourites to our own material and from rousing singalongs to delicate ballads. We can play for your concert, for your wedding, your banquet or any other special occasion. We can be the focus of attention or the background music. Our instruments are fiddles, guitars, melodeon (diatonic button accordion), mandolins and whistle.

 

contact [@] quartofolk.com