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Breakdown (1982): soundtrack to a multi-media show
It was long ago and far away when I first conceived of creating a tape-slide show with three huge screens (garnered from the cinema that used to be at the clock tower in Brighton, where now stands Boots the Chemist), three hi-tech slide projectors and a powerful PA system with fully synchronised triggering. Inspired by Shame, which 'borrowed' famous tracks from various albums, and preceeded by a second show of poetry, duelling acoustic guitars and the wonderful pictures of the late Adrian Luck, Breakdown was fully self-contained, with my songs, pictures and technical efforts, too.
The show ran itself (after a monumental amount of setting-up) and posed a series of questions about a bleak future where respect, family life and employment were all becoming more corrupt. Sounds a bit heavy going, but when you find lots of pictures of grafitti, broken windows, piles of garbage bags and some story-telling photojournalism shots of an unemployed person wasting his boring day, and a family in the middle of turmoil, the whole thing was really rather gloomy.
But then there was the soundtrack. Recorded at ICC with the assistance of a band called District 6, the songs I wrote explored the themes in a variety of 80's styles: Undertones punk, California funk, new wave, Bruce Hornsby melodies and Stranglers rock. The line up included drums, bass, keys, and two guitars, featuring Doug Scarrat (more recently of Saxon) and of course myself on vocals. Engineer Mike Newbon did the clapping and played jawbone, triangle and other percussive toys.
Lyrics follow, and the CD version is finally available. Please leave your details here and I'll try to send a copy. They are a bit expensive to make, and I'd prefer to order them in batches, so be patient, please. But if you want one, say so.
1 I can’t take the pace; this farce makes me puke. Who wants to win the rat race just to get a nuke (in the ear’ole)? • Oh yeah I just wanna be allowed to make my own mind up about what happens to me, about what happens to me, about what happens to me. • And another thing; I don’t like the way pop stars never sing like they did in my Dad’s day (you said it!). • I’d like to make it clear that if you got in free to see this thing in ‘ere, it’s a blinkin’ liberty (too right mate!).
2 The writing’s on the wall; the writing’s on the wall. • Political slogans and clever rhymes; graffitti is a sign of the times. The writing’s on the wall; the writing’s on the wall. • Smash the window and break down the door - does anyone know what we’re doing this for? The writing’s on the wall; the writing’s on the wall. • Vandalism is a social scar. Felt-tip pens just take it too far. The writing’s on the wall; the writing’s on the wall.
3 The family is breaking up, coming apart at the seams. There’s no security in life anymore; what happened to those happy Sunday lunch scenes? • My parents don’t understand me; they want me to fit in and be good. But I’m not prepared to be moulded like that. I feel rejected and misunderstood. • My wife doesn’t understand me; she can’t believe in me anymore, so I go to the girl who will give me sweet love. Hope it won’t take long to get a divorce. • My children don’t understand me. They’re problem kids, there’s no doubt. They’re wrecking my home and my planning. I’ve had enough; they’ve got to get out. • The family is breaking up as an institution, coming apart at the seams. There’s no security in life anymore; what happened to those happy Sunday lunch scenes?
4 Watery sunlight struggles its way through the grime on the window and the thin curtains, into the ill-kempt bedsit prison. The alarm rings at ten-thirty and is ignored without a murmur from the huddled body beneath the tossed brown blankets. The polish-free table is covered with papers, application forms and a saucer of butts, while the thin furnished flat carpet is strewn with discarded clothes. He eventually rises to the roar of a passing bus and another empty packet of JPS. His passage to the door, donning yesterday’s crumpled trousers and shirt as he goes, is full of sleep, like his eyes. He sees no needs to shave, waiting for Godot, any Godot; waiting. The DLT timecheck announces time to go to the SS, and he walks slowly, head bowed, through the dull, colourless streets, with cobwebs in his mind. He grudgingly counts the notes, pausing on his way back, only to compare hifis and shoes with his chosen brand: the cheapest available. An evening of brown and mild and telly in the snug, laughing with his mates, who are talking of high scores on the Space Invaders, and low scores on the dartboard, and other scores at other games. His day ends with John Peel & John Player, and fantasies over page three and troubled sleep, blocking out thoughts of tomorrow, which will be much the same, except that he won’t have to bother to go to the dole.
5 You might have thought that you would see churches as dead as dead could be - dusty halls and hard-backed chairs; new black hats and old grey hairs; Charles & Di carrier bags, badly-duplicated mags - but you’d be wrong! • But it’s right before your eyes, don’t need no angel in the skies, it may come as a surprise, there’s no need to criticise, it’s not a pack of ancient lies, you may be foolish, may be wise, but it’s Jesus in disguise. • The church today is not so old, not so friendless, not so cold; ‘cause Christians aren’t like that today (well, a lot of them anyway). Jesus has come and changed their life, cut through this rubbish like a knife, and made the difference. • People praising everywhere, enjoying Jesus their saviour. Truth is truth and can’t keep mum - don’t be part of the problem! You can find the right answer; invite him in and you will learn to understand: • That it’s right before your eyes, don’t need no angel in the skies, it may come as a surprise, there’s no need to criticise, it’s not a pack of ancient lies, you may be foolish, may be wise, but it’s Jesus in disguise. They’re all Jesus in disguise (it’s not a very thin disguise)