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11 March 2019

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Harvest Home – song deep-dive by Svein and Tom

  • Discussing the Chris Thomas-produced version which became BC’s first single. Released on the 17th of September 1982 – #91 in the UK charts. The 7’’ featured Balcony on the b-side. The 12’’ would also add Flag of Nations.
  • Should we even count this as the first single from The Crossing?
  • Quotes about Harvest Home from Chris Briggs about the nerve-wrecking experience of the failed single, and the pressure he felt when he gave the band one more shot. If they failed, he would fail too.
  • Quotes from Tony (2006) and Stuart (1990) about Harvest Home, showing that it was an early favourite of the band.
  • Looking at song development as chronicled in demos and early versions:
    • Townhall (May 1981)
    • Thomas single version (June 1982)
    • Kid Jensen sessions (Aug 1982)
    • an early Lillywhite play-through (spring 1983).
  • The end of the song – the barnstormer/“hoe-down” section. We compare Thomas vs Lillywhite versions.
  • Changed lyrics: the lyric sheet and demo version includes the lyrics “my home’s on fire/my wife has fled.” They are not to be found in the album version.
  • The story of Stuart’s lyric book, as shown to fans visiting the Balmule events.
  • Looking at the British tradition of singing songs to celebrate the harvest – the wealth of songs there are, how far back they go, and present-day examples of it.
  • An example of another traditional song called Harvest Home – “for why should a blockhead have one in ten?”
  • BC’s version of Harvest Home puts its own spin on this old tradition. It seems to be about harvests and farmers and references to old times, but nothing should be taken at face value.
  • Svein shares a personal anecdote about Harvest Home, his grandparents farm, and how the song became a soundtrack and backdrop to a specific time.
  • The lyrics allude to things not being right – fences falling, thoughts were doubted, future wasting, winter (depression) calling, butter melting and altars creak. Instead of celebrating the end of the harvest, we are contemplating why things may be falling apart, depression and doubt. Who’s to blame for that happening? Why are the bowls empty?
  • One verse mentions King Canute. We recount the story of King Canute and the tide – a reminder that some things are inevitable. No matter how we may want to stop certain things from happening, or change certain things, some things are beyond us to stop, or unchangeable.
  • Work hard, but make sure that you are able to reap enough from your efforts. And in that regard, we are no longer talking about farming specifically, although the song is sung in a farming tradition. It really is about every walk of life, every profession.
  • We should keep in mind the themes he would be exploring on the next album – Steeltown – describing several scenarios where people have a hard time making ends meet. This could be really an early song about that, using farming terminology rather than writing about the steel mill, and writing it in the style of the old British tradition of harvesting songs.
  • A look at the music. The use of keyboards, the chorus structure, the overall feel.
  • The end of the song – the barnstormer/“hoe-down” section. We compare Thomas vs Lillywhite versions yet again and may have a definite favourite.
  • A look at the music videos – both versions that exist, and the location of the hydro power plant.
  • Lyrically, a precursor to Where The Rose Is Sown in the verses with the call and response. Underlines that the song is about class divisions.
  • Is there an angriness to “Just as you sow you shall reap”? Could the working class be considering revenge?
  • Several musical highlights highlighted.

Svein ranking: 4. Tom ranking: 9. Public ranking: 10.
Karate bark countdown: 0.

Speakpipe from Arlin Bartels.

Lost Patrol – song deep-dive by Tom and Svein

  • Other uses of the phrase “Lost Patrol” – the 1929 and 1934 movies, as well as an incident in 1910 where four men from the North West Mounted Police got lost on winter patrol, and became referred to in newspapers as “The Lost Patrol”. This is the earliest recorded use of the phrase.
  • Quotes from Stuart on this song are very few, save his Smash Hit quote “Straight adventure. A foreign legion story.” We also mention a quote that was discussed on the BC mailing list in the 1990s where Stuart allegedly said that the song was about the British (read London) fashion industry and its attempts to invade the music industry. We don’t try to force this point as we have nothing to go by.
  • Tom’s theory: he sees the song as a ghost story – possibly soldiers, and going with Stuart’s ‘foreign legion’ comment, possibly having been sent out on a mission in Africa or some exotic location many years ago.
  • Comparison between “Lost Patrol” and old, classic country song “Ghost Riders In the Sky”, both songs containing the “yippee-yi-yo, yippee-yi-yo” section. Coincidence?
  • The lyrics pointing to someone being stuck, unable to move forward. If the song is about ghosts, the lyrics may find themselves stuck where they died rather than being able to enter the afterlife. More comparison with “Ghost Riders In the Sky” contains interesting lyrics about ghosts being stuck in a situation forever, unable to move beyond.
  • Danny Kaye’s appearance in the song.
  • Musically, the song establish a lovely mood of exotic lands, mysterious goings-on, and foreboding. The e-bow sections on the album were played with guitars on the demos as well as live afterwards. Was it Lillywhite who pushed for it on the album, with the band immediately going back to their preference afterwards?
  • Examples of interesting sounds in the song – tribal, ominous, unusual sounds.
  • Another example of the bizarre arrangements many songs on this album has – they may do a verse, they may do a chorus, but they may just as often just do an instrumental break, a different and new part of the song, or unusual instrumentation. Highly interesting.
  • The “western” aspects of the main rhythm riff in the song.
  • Tony is playing 8-notes on bass in this song. This adds to the intensity of the song. This is a leftover from the early Townhall demos, which had that part exactly the same way by way of keyboards. Going further back, the Eurosect song where this music came from also had that part played similarly.
  • Svein talks about why he thinks the quick quotes from Stuart given to pop magazines like “Smash Hits” may not be the best place to look for insights into what the songs are about, and how they may even be misleading.
  • The story of Stuart’s lyric book, shown to fans at a previous Balmule fan event. A photograph of the page with the Lost Patrol lyric dates it to 1981, very likely before Stuart started working with Bruce – as this was one of the songs they started working on at that time.
  • “Lost Patrol” is one of two songs on the album where the title of the song does not show up even once in the lyrics. In other words, we can learn something new from the title itself.
  • Svein’s theory: the song is a reflection on his experiences with the music industry as part of Skids. It may even have nuggets pointing to the end of Skids.
  • We take a detour to explore a piece Stuart wrote and published in Record Mirror in March 1979, which can be seen as an open resignation letter to the music business. He seem very disillusioned and frustrated with the state of things there. The band continued, but he no doubt carried these feelings with him. This is another big backdrop to any interpretation that Lost Patrol is about these frustrations.
  • We look at the original ‘glint in the milkman’s eye’-genesis of the song: a song from Bruce Watson’s first band (with Allan Glen and Derek Coll) called Eurosect, called “Blurred And Faded”.
  • We explore early versions of Lost Patrol
    • Eurosect’s “Blurred And Faded” (April 1981)
    • Stuart and Bruce Townhall demo (May 1981)
    • Adam Seef demo (fall 1981)
    • John Brandt demo (May 1982)
    • Chris Thomas version (June 1982)
    • Lillywhite work-in-progress versions (spring 1983)
  • The song exists in a studio form and a live form. The band never played it live with the same e-bow intro as on the album. Even the demos never had e-bow. Did Lillywhite make them do it, but the band didn’t like it so they never played it that way again?
  • We do love that e-bow part. Digital delay, reverb, e-bow effects (‘whale sound’), etc. Bruce’s lovely guitar with the delayed echo over the e-bow.
  • Also a lot of love for the double instrumental middle part after the first verse and chorus, followed by sever musical break-downs.
  • Is the song’s ending problematic? Svein feels that the song ends very suddenly after the last verse and a short chorus. Tom also points at how it ends on a major key, which isn’t natural (or at lest expected) after the mood that the song has set.
  • The public participation aspects of the song.

Svein ranking: 5. Tom ranking: 10. Public ranking: 5.
Karate bark countdown: 0.