Business Controlled

business controlled logoBusiness Controlled is the name I gave myself when I did live performances and recordings. Basically they were my songs performed by me, with some cover songs thrown in to the set list. When I took these songs and played with other musicians it stopped being “Business Controlled” and it became “Frenzy”, or “Nightmares in a Damaged Brain”, or “Havana Affair” etc. When I was not in any band I went back to being Business Controlled.

The name I took because that is what I felt like at the time, we were all controlled by business, from the pen and paper I used to write my songs to the clothes I wore, the leather jackets and the drink I drank, in short Capitalism. The music I wrote was anti-establishment but it was still controlled by businessmen. The punk bands that were anti-system were still going through the system to get their music out through distribution outlets. We could not escape it, it was/is all around us.

It is fair to say the songs I wrote started life not in a band but in this solo project, I wrote them mainly on acoustic guitar and Business Controlled performed with an acoustic guitar, perhaps once or twice I used an electric guitar and harmonica, and in my demo recordings I used a variety of electro-acoustic instruments, and Banjo Ukulele.

Some of the gigs played solo were:
6.2.84 played The Wheel
24.2.84 played The Wheel
1.3.84 played The Wheel
7.3.84 played The Wheel
14.3.84 played The Wheel
25.3.84 got 5 songs recorded in Currock (2 track Demo Recording)
2.5.84 played at The Wheel
24.6.84 played Micks 1

I lost a book of songs on the 27/3/84, in a book called “Bible 2”

Being a solo performer I was unlucky to be around the same time as Billy Bragg, he was doing his solo performances and often I would get calls from the audience “New England”. Once at The Wheel, I started to play it as a skit, to the hecklers amusement, then I stopped after a few seconds and I told them to “fuck off”. It was nerve-racking going out of stage solo, to stand up in front of a critical crowd with an acoustic guitar and sing songs that you have performed only in your bedroom or while busking. The picking was never right, the sound was never right, and the vocals were all over the place.
I performed some “Clash” numbers: “White Man in Hamersmith Palais“, “Stay Free“, “Cheapskates” and a few “Who” numbers “Fiddle About“,”Pinball Wizard“,”Squeeze Box“, “The Kids are All Right” and “Behind Blue Eyes“. I did a few covers by “The Jam”: “Away From the Numbers” and “That’s Entertainment“. I did a few Animals numbers “We’ve Gotta Get Out of this Place“, “I Am Crying

Song Books

The oldest written documentation I have of my songs are 2 songs written on a note pad. They have titles not fitting the content of the song, the first is “Youth Hostel” and the 2nd one is “Post Office”. I think these songs were written in a writing style of “auto suggestion”, I write what comes into my mind, and I just write and write. I had heard that Virginia Wolfe had used this technique in her novels. Also I was inspired by Public Image’s “Metal Box” recordings; Lydon’s lyrics seemed to suggest this to me at the time.
Also written on this notepad is a set list either from a concert or a practice. Some of the titles are familiar in my memory, but I do not have them written down. Here is the set list:

Over 30
Take over
Trinity (this has been crossed out)
Concrete Jungle
Spy in the Sky (I do not remember this title so perhaps it was written by another band member?)
The Biggest Swindle
The Period

In additional to this list there are some titles written underneath the set list, possibly for an encore!
Stepping Stone (The Monkeys)
Belsen was a Gas (The Sex Pistols)
Trinity (my song inserted back into the list)

The fact that I am singing “Trinity” means it must have been an early book of songs written at Trinity School or just after I left. Possibly I played them while rehearsing with Jarrad and Tommy in Carlisle’s Castle? One of my first band practices.
My First song book

The Bible 1
There is a book of songs (written into a pink school text/book) on it there is a figure of a face and a title of “The Bible 1, Old Testament” there was a “Bible 2” but it was lost on 27.3.84. There are 7 songs from other people in this Bible 1, and I have written the music for some of them; all the rest are my compositions, beside the lyrics are written chords. The list of songs is as follows, the dates of the songs are written next to the title

Black Pigs
Master Race
Over 30
Job Prospects
Death to Disco
The User
I Said No
Death Child
Take It or Leave It
Britain for All
Fools or Heroes
Sit and Think
Y.O.P. (Youth Training Programme)
Something New
Solidarnosc (Polish Trade Unions)
Career Officer
A Thing I have got to Stop
God or Politicians (2.5.82)
See Reality (3.5.82)
Business Controlled (10.5.82)
Spiritual Relief (tune written on 24.6.82)
Time for Action (tune written on 12.7.82)
When you are Away (29.7.82)
Genocide (4.8.82)
Old soldier
Down These Days
Mr. Old

Songs written by other people in Bible 1:

Nuclear Threat (words: Dung, music: Trotsky)
N.A.T.O. (words Paul Holden, music: Trotsky)
War Criminals (words: Dung, music: Trotsky)
Hiroshima (words: Roso, music: Brains)
Abuse (words: Roso)
Democracy (words: Dung, music: Trotsky)
County Store (words: Pod, music: Trotsky)
At the back of the book written (between lots of scribble, chords and telephone numbers) in big letters, is a title of one of my songs “Britain for All”

The recordings below were not done until the 1990s, and they are recorded with electric guitars and a d rum machine, I guess I was trying to recapture the Frenzy sound, but I include them here as it is still a solo project.
Solitude 1 & 2 : an instrumental followed by some depressive lyrics (depressions and self harm). I was speaking to Kev Stables about this the other day how self harming was there, in my case a knife on the arms. Not a pleasant topic, but if we don’t talk about it, it stays hidden doesn’t it? Writing lyrics helped me release a lot of anxiety and frustration, being in a band did also, Writing and performing was cathartic and positive, better than any pills. The bass/guitar riff in Solitude 2 embedded itself in my brain for years.
Pravda a Russian word meaning “Truth” this was my “Anarchy in the UK” type song, one of the first songs I ever wrote 77/78.
Bristol written after the Bristol riots, there was a lot of inner city riots back then, and after a day trip to Birmingham and being hasseled by the Rastas in my punk clothes, I could feel the tension. This is my attempt at “White Reggae”.
The Master Race I saw an advertisement in the EVening News in 1978 about joining the National Front, and a telephone number to ring for more information. So I wrote about (one of many) anti-Nazi songs.
Black Pigs as a child I used to hear constantly about how great the british police were, but I think we know now that is not true.
Over 30 a song about old folk telling young folk what to do. does it ring a bell?”

The next book of songs are also written in an exercise book but one which has lost its front cover, they are a collection of songs and poems. These writings must stretch from 1982 until 1991. Some have dates, places and times written next to the pages. Most do not have titles so I have written the first line or a segment from the 1st line to give them a title. I never liked titles when I wrote and I deliberately missed them out (as well as choruses and instrumentals, but I included a “middle 8” in my songs almost religiously).

Rock Opera
I started writing a Rock Opera on the 3/9/82 it was inspired by The Who’s “Tommy” and Sham 69 LP “That’s Life“. It was based on the life of a boy of 16 years old growing up in Carlisle. The libretto follows his life within 24 hours: girlfriend trouble, getting in trouble with the police, the boredom of life, trouble at home, confusion with-in himself. The music was written on acoustic guitar, a lot of these songs were written for this Opera, but some of Business Controlled songs were inserted into the list (Something New, When You Are Away, Job Opportunities). Musically it should of been called a “Folk Opera” as it was written on a 6 string guitar and the chords were standard chords with no instrumental breaks written in, although there were plenty of Middle 8’s written into the chord structure! Musically it was never completed, I finished the libretto, and 90% of the music, but I just never finished it off or recorded any of it. I still have it, written on a large note pad.

Most of my recordings I did in my bedroom on a normal cassette player, with a small in-built microphone. It was “Lo-Fi” or “No-Fi” but it is what we had then. I did demos to try things out.

2 Track Demo
One of my early recordings (25.3.84) I did on a 2 track “Reel to Reel” player; it was recorded by a man I did not really know, he was the boy friend of girl from Trinity (called Julie Thwaite). We did the recording at their home, I played the acoustic guitar/harmonica on one track and then sang over it on a different track. I recorded 5 songs. On the first track there is a break in the guitar/recording and the vocals is left floating in mid air…don’t ask me why? It was my first experience with multi-tracking, even though there were only 2 tracks, over-dubbing can be tricky especially when there is a family in the room making noises and listening in. I am out of sync a lot of the time, but without a click-track it is difficult to keep in time however much you try.

The titles of the songs were:
My Head is Pounding;
Something New
Dreams of Stardom;
A Glow of Yellow Lights

Another recording I made is a more typical “bedroom recording” (cassette tape recorder in front of me). Some of these songs I performed with other bands. The tracks are:
A Day in A Million – A song I later did with Nightmares in a Damaged Brain and Havana Affair.
Behind Blue Eyes – a song by The Who
A Guitar Instrumental Break – this is an snippet of a riff, I later used this in a longer instrumental piece (see later in the recordings)
Here We Go – a song I wrote after doing a lot of travelling around Europe. We did this later in the group “The International Dole Cheques”
I Am lost – a song also about wandering around Europe as a tourist/traveller
Guitar and Harmonica Instrumental – I played harmonica quite a bit and did a bit on stage too, I was not into Bob Dylan, I just liked the harmonies I could create and I needed more instrumentation for the guitar. This was a musical idea that did not develop into anything more. I stopped the recording due to a coughing fit !

Another group of “bedroom recordings” are:
Here We Go – a song that was incorporated into the International Dole cheques repertoire. The little vocal sing in the beginning is from a Dutch folk song.
I Wanna Go Home – written when I was ill with amoebic-dysentery and cholera in India, a possible entry into the Dole Cheques repertoire
I Have Found a Dream – a Londoner once described this song to me as a “pagan song”, not really, but the love of nature.
Acoustic Guitar Instrumental – played on the Classical guitar, I was getting used to a new scale (I can not remember which one)

These Bedroom Recordings are as follows:
Here We Go – another version of the travelling song
I Am Lost – another example of this travellers song
A slow One – I was not into titles that much! a slow song about the frustrations of composing. This song was covered in Nightmares in a Damaged Brain/Havana Affair
I Wanna go home – another version of the travellers song
The Hitch-hiking Song – written on the Autobahn while hitching over to Czechoslovensko. I got a lift off a German in a BMW who took it to “220 km/s per hour”
Mentor – written after seeing the film “The Elephant Man”

The next batch of recordings are:
The Love of a Woman . a song exploring the relationship between sex and love, in this case a man for a woman. The music I was pleased with as I used Gm6 chords, a buggar to play live though.
Trust a Friend – a cynical look at friendship
Fag-ends in the Grate – written in Raffles while trying to get a band together with Dung and Smoo, I have just found this recording (I never knew I had it), the chords show 2 ideas joined together, obviously written for electric guitar.
A Man of Your Screams – a song looking at depression and mental illness; and why a person is attracted one moment to someone then not attracted moments later
Acoustic Guitar Instrumental – workings of a song (never completed), based on a 12 bar blues format, there is a guitar “riff/break”. I used the idea from the 1st group of recordings (1:3) and I joined that riff to these chords. I never put any lyrics to this idea.

I have compiled all the songs I wrote from the various books and scraps of paper I could find and I have assembled them into a list. I will be adding some recordings to the titles. I intend to record anew some of the songs to fill in the gaps, some other songs are from demo recordings in did on my 4-track recorder.

Songs written between 1982 and 1987

Escape from Reality [original title “Escape from Life”] (14.10.82)
Metamorphose [poem] (31.10.82)
Sons and Daughters (15.11.82)

Vive La Resistance: A song I wrote after watching too many films about the French Resistance in WWII, but also with the thought of other resistance movements in different wars. I borrowed a drum machine, which I could work with my foot, and I recorded it in my bedroom. The song was later done in the band Masters of Middle Earth (see that section for a recording)

The Streets you walk
My Head is Pounding
A Glow of Yellow Lights
Who Cares Anyway
Kidding Yourself
Naivety (poem)
A Day in a Million
A Slow One
I’ve Just Seen a Film
Birds and Animals (poem)
Hans Sur Lesse (poem)
Champlion (poem)
Eternacht (poem)
Pleasures of the Flesh
Eastern Delight
A Look from a Distance
All Pigeons Have Flown Away (poem)
Which Side of the Fence
I have found a Dream
Trust a Friend
The Love of a Woman
I Smelt the Stench
Who is Loving Who?
Mr. Time
The Hole
I Am Lost
Here We Go
I Wish I Was a Bicycle Seat
Delhi Belly
I Want to Go Home
The Atmospheric Pressure (poem written when I was 18 years old)
What the Features Hold
When I look into your eyes
You are me
Cleaning Up the Streets
Weather the Cold
I knew the Girl
It’s the Evil of Drink
Well I Am Back (December 1987 poem)
A Letter to Kev
My Unwelcome Friend

these are recordings done on my 4 track, trying out ideas. There is a mixture of acoustic and electric sounds, repetative phrases and blues ideas. “Business Controlled” is the track I named my solo project after. “Cleaning Up the Streets” was written after I watched a Canadian film of a simialr name, how a sweet teenager can go from prostitution to drug addiction and death. I have tried to find this film on line but only clips of it are available. “I Have Found a Dream” a song about the love of nature and the hatred of the city. “I Wanna Go Home” is about being ill with dysentry and Cholera in India. “I am Lost” is about being lost in Europe in the major cities and not finding anyone to help. “It’s Too Late” is about loosing a lover to someone else. “The Island” is a decription of depression, a poetical writing full of symbolism when my mind lost it, bad dreams and hallucinations, this is an early demo recording of Hardian’s Ward song. “The Streets You Walk” an early song written about being on the dole and going up town everyday, nothing to do with little future vision. “Time for Action” the futility of passive protesting. “Who Cares Anyway?” spending so much time learning and writing music when do one gives a dam. “You Can See Why” I wanted a happy tune to go with depressing lyrics of peole’s brutality towards people.

There are a miss-mash of songs jotted down in various books from various locations:

1988 Songs

Society [July1988]
Yes too you [may 1988]
As the drinks go down [1988 London]
Splendid thing [1988]
My Babies Head to the Wall (6.3.88)
You’ve changed (1988)

1989 Songs

Love is a splendid Thing (1989 poem)
Me, Me, Me (18.1.89)
What to Think? (31.1.89)
Happening So Fast (september 1989)
I Am So Sick and Tired (november 1989)
Was I right?
America, America

1990 Songs

Why Am I so Down? (August 1990)
Just Because I am a Hitcher (August 1990)
Too Much Pressure (23.11.90)
Father Hangover (23.12.90 poem)
Is She Washing (30.12.90)
I can’t describe how I feel (august 1990)
I am going backwards (1.9.90)
Here We Go (1987), was a standard song in the International Dole cheques repertoire, and the original title to the Hitch-Hicking song was “Just Because I am a Hitcher”, the chords were taken from Elvis Presley’s “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine”.

1991 Songs

Underneath the Surface (9.2.91)
Hate Eyes, Blurred Vision (12.2.91)
Distant Hills (9.2.91)
Am I the Problem? (28.1.91)
The Island
The Vacuum (poem, and an idea for a performance/theatre play)
Now the Borders Are Open
Who Cares Anyway?
It’s too Late
A Man of your Screams
Getting off a Plane (15.1.91)
My Unwelcome Friend (27.1.91)
What is life [Crofton 91]
On my own [31.3.91]
You Want to be free [Sept 1991]
Sounds Wake Me [August 1991]
I feel down [December 1991]
Enlistment (Carlisle 91)
Fag ends
lonely man
I am about to explode [28.10.91]

1992 Songs

Winds have changed [june 1992]
Surround yourself in beauty [July 1992]
My salvation [June 1992]
I left the streets [July 1992]
I looked to the East [April 1992]
My eyes filled [October 1992]
Now the borders [December 1992]
To give up [November 1992]
Bracken water [19.11.92]
Brotherhood in arms [December 1992]

1993 Songs

careful what you read [5.1.93]
there is no god [February 1993]
He is Waiting for You (1993)

1994 Songs

each night they perform [December 1994]
in the darkness [1994]

Then I seemed to have stopped writing! No more bands to play in perhaps? or I was busy writing other type of things?


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