By The Banks Of The A350

by Blake

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about

This is probably my favourite album of mine (although it does vary and I may have said this about Solomon's Tump already!) It's one that I don't feel embarrassed about lending to people who haven't heard my music before, so I suppose that's a good thing.
I recorded it at home in Melksham (by the banks of the A350).
The cover photo shoot was hilarious - although not in my wife's eyes. To be fair, she was eight months pregnant at the time and I was dragging her up and down this trunk road in period costume with truckers shouting out things and blasting their horns. She insisted on the mask. She was supposed to be in the back cover photo, too, but she refused to get out of the car in Lacock - which is strange really because that's probably the only place in the country where you look out of place if you're NOT wearing period costume.
Reading back through the news items I posted on my website about the album at the time, I again, hilariously, seemed determined that this would be the last thing I ever put out! Here's the entry for September '07 (apparently the release date was put back due to a postal strike, but surely it was more to do with the fact that my daughter was born on October 24th! - it eventually came out on December 12th):

Gigging a lot with All You Need Is The Beatles - check out the pic below! I've finished 'By The Banks Of The A350' - it's got fifteen new tracks and I'm DEFINITELY not doing another one. I know I said this last time as well, but my wife is due to give birth to our first child on November 5th, so I can't see myself having much time for composing and recording amongst the sleepless nights and nappy changing. Saying that, maybe I'm going to enter my Wings phase and knock out albums from some farm in Scotland surrounded by kids and sheep. Hopefully, it won't involve a similar steep decline in song quality! Only kidding, Paul. Release date: October 9th.

Terrascope Online review by Phil McMullen:
There was a time when we were inundated here at the Terrascope with singer-songwriter albums with a folky, psychedelic pop edge to them, the vast majority of which I confess passed me by although the cream of them (and here the Kitchen Cynics and Todd Dillingham spring to mind immediately) inevitably rose to the top and stayed there. Several claimed inspiration and allegiance to the Bevis Frond; some more obviously than others, it’s fair to say.

It’s been a while, but the Wiltshire-based Blake makes the wait bearable at least. Admirers of the Frond’s earliest bedroom recordings, with squeaky Farfisa bleat, fuzzy guitars and crash-bang drums will find much to admire on his album ‘By the Banks of the A350’, particularly numbers such as ‘Almost Blue’ and ‘I Believe in You’. The opening ‘Soul Agent Pt 1’ sounds for all the world like an outtake from the Fred Bison Five’s ‘Beatroots’ collection, whilst later on in the collection ‘Soul Agent Pt 2’ (arguably the standout number on here) could sit alongside the material on Bevis Frond’s ‘Auntie Winnie’ album quite comfortably.

My favourite moments though are where the guitar explores a more down-home, rural-rock sound not a million miles removed from the likes of 70s acts such as Bronco and Gypsy - ‘Come to Me’ and ‘Goodbye Cruel Pop World’ are perhaps the best examples of this, with the former showing tell-tale signs of being influenced Julian ‘Blake’ Pugsley’s alter-ego as a member of a Beatles covers band, although apparently he’s John rather than Paul.


Overplay review:
Not since the heady days of Adam Ant has a frilly-necked shirt, stockings and shoes with massive buckles on them been essential rock ‘n’ roll attire. But, on the cover of this album, Blake hints at his own peculiar reinvention of the past. Indeed, the Bath-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (AKA Julian Pugsley) likes to spread himself around. Across the 15 tracks on ‘By The Banks Of The A350’, he pops in and out of sweet jangly pop, sweaty Britrock, glam, electronica and a few other bits and bobs besides.

The opening “Soul Agent Pt 1”, for instance, is a fizzy ‘60s organ groove, but it’s quickly supplanted by the Housemartins/Shop Assistants ‘80s indie jangle of the bouncy, melodic “Kiss Of Judas”. Things get melodramatic with the Scott Walker balladry of “Goodbye Cruel Pop World”, but it’s tracks like the Fratellis-esque “Being With You”, the early Beatles “Come With Me” and the smooth acoustics “Falling” that provide the base of this record. Strong, well written and soulful pop music that wraps your ears in a toasty duvet of good vibes.

In between all that, though, is the weird stuff that makes things really interesting. “Yuri Searches For God” is a massive synth-off with all the powder-faced romance of Japan or Bowie. “Baby Don’t Be Down” cocks a cream-coloured Trilby to The Style Council’s café jazz. Meanwhile, the brilliant “Sevens & Nines” is a Technicolor Restoration glam stomp with the swagger of Goldfrapp and the pretension of The Doors. Finally, we get to the Morris-dancing-friendly “Banks Of The Sweet Primroses” – a bouncy acoustic number that sounds like you think the whole album might be like if you’ve only glanced at the cover. In fact, there are a hundred things going on in Blake’s head and the grassy verge of an arterial road in Wiltshire is as good a place to start as any.


2007 CD Baby notes:
'By The Banks Of The A350' is the latest release from Blake – 'The thinking woman's James Blunt'. This prolific songwriter from the west of England has recorded and released five albums in two years – over three and a half hours of music, most of which was made in his two bedroom cottage just off the A350 in Wiltshire. Of this latest project, Blake says: “I never meant to record an entire album so quickly after 'Carruthers Gets Bashed', I was just going to release an E.P. I'd written this song called 'Hope You Know', basically an ode to my wife, and I had a few other things kicking about which I thought I might as well put out. One of those things was an instrumental version of the traditional English folk song 'Banks Of The Sweet Primroses' which I'd recorded a la Mike Oldfield overdubbing various instruments playing the same melody again and again. Then the album title sprang to mind and suddenly a load of songs came pouring out. 'Soul Agent Parts 1 & 2' I wrote after listening to Mark Lamarr's alternative 60s show on Radio 2 one evening. 'Kiss of Judas' is a bitter song about a betrayal by a close friend – it wrote itself. 'Goodbye Cruel Pop World' is a tongue-in-cheek valedictory song and fairly self-explanatory. Mr Dawkins should be titled Dr Dawkins really, but my brother-in-law has a PhD and he never uses Dr unless he's booking a table in a fancy restaurant. Anyway, it's about Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous atheist... well, after Stalin and Hitler, of course. 'Being With You' is a song I wrote about six years ago but I'd never recorded. It takes me back to that time when my life was completely different. 'Yuri Searches For God' came about after a jam between myself and the Tascam. I love instrumentals and I was actually trying to write something really relaxing but it took a different course. I'd recorded 'Falling' for 'Final Whistle' but for some reason I held it back from that project and also 'Carruthers Gets Bashed'. I'm glad because it fits in perfectly here and is maybe the best song. 'You've Got To Give It Up, Baby' was quickly tossed off, as it were. I suppose I was aiming for a basic Velvets-y thing. It's a staple in my live electric set, although I was far happier with 'Almost Blue' – it took no time to record - not that my stuff generally does, obviously - but it just all slotted together naturally. Actually, this may be the best one. 'Baby Don't Be Down' is another one from a few years back. Karmatruffle played it a few times at acoustic nights. I never liked it much but my mate Paul (Karmatruffle guitarist who still plays with me) says it's one of his favourites. 'Sevens & Nines' was my attempt at Goldfrapp-style electro-pop, except it's more electro-blues - a reject from 'Carruthers'. It's the only thing I've ever recorded with a complete absence of guitars. I wrote 'I Believe In You' on holiday in Cornwall this summer. Finally, 'Come To Me' didn't really record well – it was better as an acoustic demo, but despite this I preferred it to the other four songs I ended up leaving off the album. They will no doubt appear on next year's rarities project “Antheology” along with other unreleased songs from my archives dating back to 2000.”

credits

released December 12, 2007

All songs written by Julian Pugsley, except 'Banks of the Sweet Primroses' Trad. Arr. Blake, and © Rockhopper Records 2007.
Produced by Blake. Recorded entirely at home.
Photography by AJ Bennetts on location by the banks of the A350 and in The Red Lion, Lacock, Wiltshire.
Thanks to Andrew, Jacqueline, Carolyn and The Bargain Beatles.
Very special thanks to Lady Sarah Pugsley, benefactor and cover model.
This record is dedicated to Mandi & Dean.

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about

Blake Bath and North East Somerset

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the UK. My new album 'Holy Roller' was released on 15th April 2017. Sign up to my mailing list and receive a free download of my track 'Vinyl Junkie': eepurl.com/dV04f

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Track Name: Soul Agent Part 1
Double 0 seven (repeat)
Track Name: Kiss of Judas
Something that you told me has thrown me and I can't find the words
And even if you hit me or kissed me I'd be far less disturbed
Than to know all those years ago he'd stolen the best thing in your world
Now tell me how could he do it after all you did for him
Betrayed with the kiss of Judas

Was it really wicked or stupid or something in between
Does it really matter the facts are so easily seen
Now it seems all your hopes and dreams lie broken and it's all down to him
Now tell me how could he do it after all you did for him
Betrayed with the kiss of Judas

Judas fled with the gold
The devil's wage for the care of his immortal soul
Judas hung from the tree
The most hated man in all of history

Did he ever think through the pain you'd inevitably meet
And did he give a toss for your loss or did he think that to cheat
On his mate somehow made him great when we all know he's not got much to brag about oh
How could he do it after all you did for him
Betrayed with the kiss of Judas
Track Name: Goodbye Cruel Pop World
You can make it if you reach for the stars
You can be someone much better by far
But for most of us it's back to the grind
Twenty years is such a bloody long time so I'm sorry

Goodbye cruel pop world I'm leaving today
You won't miss me at all I'm embarrassed to say
You don't even know my name

You take a chance you know that someone must win
You put your money down and you give it a spin
You play your heart out take the rough with the smooth
You send your demo out but it's always refused so I'm sorry

Goodbye cruel pop world I'm leaving today
You won't miss me at all though it hurts me to say
You don't even know my name

In the Welcome Break about 3am
You decide you don't wanna be here again
You thought you couldn't lose if just had a shot
But that gig at the 100 Club was the best that it got so I'm sorry

Goodbye cruel pop world I'm leaving today
You won't miss me at all but I'm delighted to say
That I'll be OK
Track Name: Mr. Dawkins
He's got credentials, he's academically strong
He's fundamental, he's fundamentally wrong

Mr Dawkins when you die, when you wave this world goodbye
Will you ask the question why why why?
Mr Dawkins when you sit at the bottom of the pit
Will you still claim this is it?

He's a believer, he's a believer in himself
He's a deceiver, and he's better than anyone else

Mr Dawkins when you die, when you wave this world goodbye
Will you ask the question why why why?
Mr Dawkins can you aspire to be elevated higher
Than the burning lake of fire?

He is a winner, he's the champion of the world
He's not a sinner, he knows that sin's for little girls
He is a teacher, he's got the answers in his book
He wants to teach you, and he wants you to take the hook

Mr Dawkins when you die, when you wave this world goodbye
Will you ask the question why why why?
Mr Dawkins when you sit at the bottom of the pit
Will you still claim this is it?
Mr Dawkins
Track Name: Being With You
I'd like to say something to you today
About the way I feel when you're away
Everyday I'm OK
Cos I know that you're here to stay

I'd like to show you what you mean to me
Want you to know just how you've set me free
Help me be who I can be
Help me see what you see

Being with you, being with you
I could never find no more peace of mind
Being with you, being with you
I could never find no more peace of mind

I'd like to give something back to you
For all the times I've ever made you blue
The things you do are something new
You are so true and I love being with you

Being with you, being with you
I could never find no more peace of mind
Being with you, being with you
I could never find no more peace of mind

And so I sing this song to you to say
How great you make me feel in every way
Every day I'm OK
And I love your way

Being with you, being with you
I could never find no more peace of mind
Being with you, being with you
I could never find no more peace of mind
Track Name: Falling
I've been climbing up the walls
I've been feeling two foot small
I've been down upon my knees
I've been drowning in your seas
I've been walking in the park
I've been sleeping til it’s dark
I've been writing you a song
I've been waiting here too long

I climbed up tried to see
I climbed up but now I'm falling

Like a room without a door
Like a song without a score
Like a boat upon the sand
Like a gig without a band
Like a tree without a bird
Like a letter without words
Like a race without a start
Like a man without a heart

I climbed up tried to see
I climbed up but now I'm falling
Track Name: You've Got To Give It Up, Baby
Memories of golden days
All the songs we used to play
Blue Suede Shoes, Runaway
Take your time look around
Keep your feet on the ground
What goes up must come down

You've got to give it up, baby

Growing up at my high school
On the bus we'd stare at you
Just to watch the things you'd do
We were all hypnotised
When we looked in your eyes
Something else was there besides

You've got to give it up, baby

Take me back from where I came
Things can never be the same
I don't care it's such a shame
Never thought I'd hear me say
I'm getting used to shades of grey
But things just turned out that way

You've got to give it up, baby
Track Name: Almost Blue
And they say she's got such elegance
And they say that she's the best
And they say she's got an inner strength
And they say she must be blessed

Cos she's always good and she's always true
And she's always kind but she's almost blue

And they say that she's everybody's friend
And they say that she's so calm
And they say they wish that it was them
And they say she must be charmed

Cos she's always good and she's always true
And she's always kind but she's almost blue
And she's always fun if they only knew
That she's always fine but she's almost blue
Track Name: Baby Don't Be Down
I'm getting closer, I'm getting closer to your heart
Though you don't show it, I know you know it that's a start
Cos everything you're saying is noted for my files
And every night I'm playing I'm looking for your smile
I can't be wrong cos I've known you far too long
So baby don't be down

You don't believe it, you don't believe I love you best
One day you'll get it, you can forget about the rest
Cos everything you're saying is noted for my files
And every night I'm playing I'm looking for your smile
I can't be wrong cos I've known you far too long
So baby don't be down, baby don't be down

You got a lot of living to do
You got a lot of loving to do now
You got a lot of living to do
So baby don't be down, baby don't be down

Woke up this morning, woke up to find you on my mind
The day was dawning, I felt like dropping you a line
Cos everything you're saying is noted for my files
And every night I'm playing I'm looking for your smile
I can't be wrong cos I've known you far too long
So baby don't be down, baby don't be down
Track Name: Sevens & Nines
You gotta raise on sevens & nines
You gotta raise on sevens & nines
The Devil’s running sixes high
You gotta raise on sevens & nines
You gotta go all in when you see the sign
You can take my hand cos you’ll beat him with mine

You gotta stop the killing now
You gotta stop the killing now
You gotta do it anyhow
You gotta stop the killing now
You gotta stop it now whatever it takes
Cos when I come back it’s gonna be too late

You gotta set my people free
You gotta set my people free
Send them back to me
Set my children free
You gotta set my captive people free
Or when I come back you’re gonna answer to me

You gotta raise on sevens & nines
Track Name: I Believe In You
Can we make it to the other side
Can we make it through the rain
Didn't have much time to say goodbye
Will we make it home again

I've been over everything
I've studied what's been happening
Is anybody listening out there

Yes I believe, yes I believe
Though my heart is broken and my mind don't see
Yes I believe, yes I believe
Though my body's aching and I'm down on my knees
Yes I believe, yes I believe
Though my soul is shattered still my spirit screams
Yes I believe, yes I believe in you

Now I see that there's no turning back
It's no use to just pretend
Cos the day is turning into black
Will we make it to the end

I've been over everything
I've waited for my phone to ring
Is anybody answering my prayers

Yes I believe, yes I believe
Though my heart is broken and my mind don't see
Yes I believe, yes I believe
Though my body's aching and I'm down on my knees
Yes I believe, yes I believe
Though my soul is shattered still my spirit screams
Yes I believe, yes I believe in you
Track Name: Come To Me
She likes to sit amid the flowers
And read Virginia Wolff's The Hours
She wants to finish it one day
She wants to throw it all away anyway

Come to me all ye broken hearted lovers
Come to me and I will give you rest
Come to me all you broken hearted lovers
Your broken hearted souls I'll rest

He likes to walk along the railway line
He likes to think of their first valentine
He knows she must be far away
He couldn't find the words to say anyway

They like to stand among the poplar trees
And feel the sun and watch the dancing leaves
The earth that in a mound is laid
The earth that teaches us we're clay anyway
Track Name: Banks of the Sweet Primroses
As I walked out on a midsummer's morning
For to view the fields and to take the air
Down by the banks of the sweet primroses
There I beheld a most love-lie fair.

Three short steps, I stepped up to her
Not knowing her as she passed me by
I stepped up to her, thinking for to view her
She appeared to be like some virtuous bride

I says "Fair maid, where are you going?
And what's the occasion of all your grief?
I will make you as happy as any lady
If you will grant to me one small relief"

"Stand off, stand off, you're a false deceiver
You are a false deceitful man, I know
'Tis you that has caused my poor heart to wander
And in your comfort lies no refrain"

So I'll go down to some lonesome valley
Where no man on earth shall there me find
Where the pretty little small birds do change their voices
And every moment blows blusterous wind

So come all young men who go a-sailing
Pray pay attention to what I say
For there's many a dark and a cloudy morning
Turns out to be a sunshiny day