PLAY FOR TODAY: STUDIO DIARIESThese essays by Doug Murphy, Paul Hamilton and Simon Beacon were written soon after the recording sessions whilst still memory fresh. They first appeared on the band's own website which disappeared somewhere, so they are reprinted here for your pleasure.
THE MURPHY VERSION
by Doug Murphy
After receiving the following message on Farcebook "Is that Dougie Decker from Basingstoke?" in early 2008, the old Murphy-Hamilton friendship was rekindled after a mere 20-something-years dormancy.
It was good to be back.
Plans were made to meet up and head for a studio to see what, if anything, would transpire.
The meeting was set for Thursday 18th September, location; Hamilton Hall, with the studio booked for the following day.
I was wearing my pink 'Selfish Cunt' t-shirt while Paul wore a searching expression.
The reunion went as planned. Alcohol consumed and funny bones well and truly tickled.
The morning of the recording session began early with us taking le cheuff-cheuff to Gillingham. Mrs Ingham was rather surprised to see us.
After purchasing some anti-histamine tablets we waited patiently (at first) for Malcolm [Gayner] to pick us up in his Transit Van. Several phone calls later, Gemma [Gayner] arrived in said van and whisked us off to the back-streets of deepest Gillingham to the extremely yellow Sunshine Community Centre where Malcolm was hard at work setting up the studio and struggling to hide the discomfort of his newly acquired cold.
The plan was simple. Start playing some drums and bass and see if anything could be used.
By noon we were ready.
By 1 past noon we had a groove.
"Press the record button, Malc", Paul politely demanded.
By 5 past noon the backing track for our first song (later to be christened 'Next Door Neighbour') was in the can.
This was hard work!
By quarter past one we felt it was time for a break. Five songs had been dragged screaming into this bright yellow world and were proudly admired by both parents and midwife.
Now to see if they could speak.
Paul instructed Malcolm to play song number 1 while he picked up his sheaf of lyrics and studied the first.
"Yep! That fits!", he announced. "Next!"
The same result was achieved with the following 3, while 2 sets of lyrics were considered for the 5th piece of work.
Amazing! His randomly plucked lyrics fitted perfectly to the music that we had just improvised.
No; just sheer bloody magic!
• Next Door Neighbour
• When I Am
• The Last Post
• Someone Else's Wife
• Old Hat
A short while later we were back behind strings and skins where we continued to belt out song after song.
It just seemed to flow so easily; Paul would start a rhythm on the kit to which I would add bass; sometimes it worked the other way round.
We could have gone on forever had it not been for that bloody clock.
We had to be out by six and we had vocals and guitars to add.
The following tunes were paired off with lyrics in the same manner as our earlier efforts:
• Drinking With Jesus
• Bland Foundation
• The Smiles
while Yellow and Poppies & Daffodils had previously been penned and were recorded purely for nostalgic value.
The vocals were recorded in record time and given the thumbs-up by Malcolm and myself. Paul, ever the pro, didn't need many takes to nail it.
Backing vocals were added where necessary.
Guitar overdubs proved to be slightly challenging when I asked Malcolm where he kept the guitars?
His reply of "Ahhh! Ehmm! Is that not it in that bag there?", lacked a certain confidence.
"Yes. There's an acoustic there. What about the electric guitar?" I asked.
"Try that bag.", he said, pointing to another gig-bag, which on closer inspection revealed a banjo.
So all the guitar tracks were, reluctantly, performed on the acoustic.
A quick stir with Malcolm's wooden spoon; a wave or two of his magic wand and the songs were roughly mixed, money moved from pocket to pocket and we, exhausted after 6 hours of hard slog and too little fresh air, were off down the pub for a celebratory pint or three.
The ensuing months yielded some impressive results. I provided some electric guitar and organ overdubs and Simon showed that he had an even bigger wooden spoon than Malc. His mixing was delayed somewhat by his recovery from a serious back operation. It was worth the wait.
Simon announced plans to visit old Blighty, where he hadn't set foot since his departure to Australia some 17 years earlier. Dates were agreed, flights booked and studio time arranged. This time; 2 whole days. 22nd and 23rd of July
Fortunately Paul and Simon had met up a few days prior to our recording session and had done their catching up then, ensuring that full focus and attention would be on the job at hand. It was great to see Mr B. again and we laughed and laughed and laughed all the way to Mrs Ingham, this time taking a taxi from the station to the Sunshine Community Centre.
Malcolm had arranged for an alto sax to be available for Simon to squeal on, Paul had borrowed a mandolin for me and this time an electric guitar was waiting to be strangled.
We had planned one or two songs this time but were still intent on winging it as much as possible.
We started with Beyond, with Paul explaining to Simon how he wanted it sung. Paul and myself found a rhythm and bass line and we were off, this time with vocals being recorded simultaneously. An instant success.
Next up, if my memory serves me well, was The List of Mr. Pfister, requiring some alto warbling from Beex; a song in which he also provided the drumming to my thumping bass line. While he was recording the sax, Paul and myself were in the chill-out room planning the next song. For me, this was one of the defining moments of the whole project. While sitting watching Simon blowing his cheeks out from our elevated position, Paul and I were busy going through the lyrics. I had a guitar with me and was offering suggestions for a riff to Mr. Hamilton. By the time the sax was recorded, some ten minutes later, Paul and I were ready to record Black Box Recorder, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole session. Simon's vocals having just the right amount of nastiness in them, the excellent sax solos with the interestingly punchy rhythm guitar in the background, the I Fought The Law drum intro, the wash of cymbals and the triumphant triangle towards the end. Paul provided just the right amount of physical abuse while I recorded the guitar tracks lending the song that extra special energy that can only be achieved by having someone pogoing in your face. A masterpiece of Hamiltonian improvisation.
‘What Happened?’ was a song that had been arranged in advance between Paul and myself, a little out of character for a band that had relied mostly on spur of the moment creations. But hey, if other groups could write and arrange songs prior to going to the studio then why-oh-why couldn't we?
The words meant a lot to Paul and it was important for him that Simon sang the first 2 verses before Paul finished off the tale on the third verse. The emotions are there for all to hear. The way Paul sings some of the lines brings tears to my eyes and joy to my ears.
During the overdubbing session the following day, Paul suggested that we could maybe do with some piano on the track.
"Good idea", I proclaimed heading for the piano.
"Ehm, I was actually thinking of Nick here.". He nodded towards Malcolm's assistant Nick, a keen pianist.
I had no problems with this whatsoever and stood there with my jaw on the floor as he tickled the ivories. We had to rein him in a bit here and there but it undoubtedly gave the song an extra dimension.
'Starecase' was another song that was partially written before we started, courtesy of Simon. A little beaut in which there is not a trace of bass. Usually a bad thing.
There was a lot of discussion on day 2 as to the extent of the necessary percussion. I remember wanting a shaker all the way through, while Malcolm suggested a simple tambourine beat every so often. Paul obliged with hand and tamb and I happily admitted that I had been wrong.
"Is that melody all right, Paul? That's sort of what you're thinking-ish? Lovely!", says Beex as the ska-folk-punk Tender comes to life. Not really a ska song to begin with but it just ended up like that. Lovely indeed.
Whips Of Enthusiasm was a song that came about as a result of Malcolm recording some of Paul's warm ups and looping one of the intricate bits. Paul felt it best to add some stick-clicks to lend a certain authenticity to the drum track and his guitar suggestions ("Try and play it like a rhinoceros is chasing you through a French village" and other such surreal situations) were of immeasurable importance.
However, if I were forced to pluck out one single song from the whole session it would have to be ‘This Is’. Paul had brought his xylophone with him with the intention of getting Simon (or anyone really) to play some simple but precise tones. These ended up being played by Simon on the piano while Paul sang the text and I plucked an improvised bass line. There ensued a hypnotic trance-like experience with us all in our own little worlds, not wanting it to end. It never did end in fact, it is still going now; we just had to pull the plug to give the impression of an ending. Paul's "FAR!!!" was recorded at various distances until we found the correct one. Sparse bass drums were added the following day, as were the guitar noises in the background that Malc managed to turn into something atmospheric and wonderful.
The journey home again after day 1 was a roar, with silly jokes being swapped back and forth. The threesome had to split up upon arrival at Victoria and we said a lump-in-the-throat goodbye to Mr B.
Day 2 was spent by Paul and myself recording guitar and percussion overdubs and although we never did get time to attack my little Irish ditty, we did complete the ultimate version of I Hate Blues, another of my old songs but a joy to have recorded with Mr H. No one hits a cymbal like this man, man.
None of this would have been possible without the understanding and help of Malcolm. He really was on the same wavelength, discouraging most attempts by us to go for a second take and rightly deserves his role as the fifth* Bisonic member.
I can safely say without fear of contradiction that this has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable projects/bands, call it what you like, that I have ever taken part in. Paul's lyrics are always a joy to read and his production skills cannot be praised enough. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get it. I'm just glad he chose me to help.
* There is no fourth member, but some space between Malcolm and us was deemed necessary.
THE HAMILTON VARIATIONS
by Paul Hamilton
The Bisonics are partly a product of my insecurity, I suppose.
In late 2007, Doug Murphy found me on the Facebook website. I hadn't seen him for over 20 years. The last time I was in his company was, I think, onstage at what was then Portsmouth Polytechnic with his group The Frog Children, joining in enthusiastically on their percussive number 'The Crockery Song', where a table of cups and saucers were rhythmically smashed by us wielding a variety of hammers and clubs. One chap in the audience ran to the lip of the stage yelling, "This is absolutely BRILLIANT! This is ART!' but he was in the minority, and I was banned from further appearances by the big-shirts and stuffed-wigs of the Students Union. But this was 1984 - quite apt, really.
Fast forward and Doug and I are on Fartback, catching up with what had happened in the oh-so-meantime. He was now married with kids and golf clubs in Norway - a lifestyle beyond my ken - and when he said he was coming to London and perhaps we should meet up, I was as pleased as I was perplexed. Pleased to see a grand friend again but perplexed about the extent to which we had changed in each others' eyes. (I was deeply unsettled by the golf clubs.) So, rather than the standard two-old-farts-talking-about-their-glory-days-in-a-pub scenario, which may have been fun (if a little redundant if we couldn't actually remember anything), I asked, 'Shall I book a studio so we can make an album in a day?' Without a second's hesitation, he responded, 'Yeah, that'll be fun!'
So, on Friday 19th of September, 2008, a day after his arriving in London, Doug and I went to the Sunlight Centre in Gillingham to make an album. Malcolm Gayner was the man at the mouse. He had engineered and co-produced three worst-selling albums by my group Reticents and is blessed by a Zen-like calm and indestructible good humour that can guide the most Titanic groups through the icebergs of musical disaster and safely into the dock of Good Dope.
I knew Malcolm would be just the ticket for this kind of wing-ding. However, I had no idea what Doug's musical tastes were, or what he would be like in a studio - it's an alien environment where the nicest people suddenly become Robert Mugabe, or the greatest musical furious-fingered hotshot freeze in panic - or even what our songs would be like, since there were none. I hadn't played the drums since February and Doug said that his playing days were more or less over - 'My boys do that kind of thing now.'
The only preparation I made was collating some 15 sets of lyrics, some only half-written (one, 'wheniam', lacked a chorus which I wrote at the studio, about not writing a chorus; 'Drinking With Jesus' needed a closing verse - that, too, was scribbled out during a playback; another, 'Bland Foundation', was basically notes arranged before the vocal take). The strategy we agreed on was to jam a series of instrumentals on bass and drums, then see if any words fitted the riffs.
Doug made a note of the time we began playing; a couple of minutes after midday, I fuzzily recall. We grooved for a couple of minutes and came to a natural stop. 'Hmm, not bad,' opined Doug. 'Go for another?' With no time for discussion about tempo or arrangement, we started again. And again. And again.
'Any ideas about the next one?' he asked.
'Two in the morning jazz.'
So began another instrumental.
At around 1pm we agreed to go and listen to what we've come up with. Malcolm was looking a little startled but happy. 'Are you sure you've not rehearsed any of this?' he asked.
He played back what we had made up and I consulted the scad of words. The lyrics to 'Next Door Neighbours' moved in comfortably to the first improvisation, 'wheniam' became more than the wimpy love poem it actually was when put to the second jam, as indeed the third riff became more potent with the words to 'The Last Post' growled over it. 'Someone Else's Wife' made herself at home to the 'two-in-the-morning jazz' track. Amazingly, the instrumental lasted as long it took to sing the lyric.
After a sarnie and a cuppa, we played a few more bass-and-drums songs, the only one that required a little bit of discussion being 'Mercenary', the first song Simon Beacon and I wrote, way back in 1981. We had read about David Bowie using the cut-up method so we went about snipping lines out of the Radio Times and arranging them in a song-like order. Back then we only had a Waltham cassette tape recorder so, in order to overdub, we would record ourselves playing tin-cans and saucepans, then play that through a hi-fi and record that again with us playing metal detectors and so on over the top, steadily building extremely hissy layers of sound. Halfway through that song all the instruments halted for a multi-vocal verse shouting, 'GIVE ME REPRESENTATIVES NOW!!!!!!' Basically, Doug and me had to agree to stop playing altogether for the time it would take to sing that verse and then come crashing in again. As it transpired, we enjoyed grooving so much that another verse was required, so I took a couple of phrases from whatever newspapers or magazines were laying around and built a new one in the old style.
Malcolm had to be elsewhere by 6 so we had just enough time for sing and extemporise guitar parts on the backing tracks. What I found pleasingly odd was how ferocious and urgent some of the songs sounded, even though I had played the drums with brushes and Doug's guitar was a manky, puny acoustic model.
I was delirious and shocked that we went into the studio with scraps of paper and came out five hours later with half an hour of music. How could it be so easy?
Doug and I agreed that there was some substance in what had happened that day and was worthy of developing. We had to get Simon Beacon involved. We needed a pair of outside ears, and his were definitely outside.
Beacon, as if you didn't know, has been a friend since 1977, and a great singer and front man for many a rockin' combo in the '80s and '90s. Although we kept in touch after he emigrated to Australia in 1991, via post and telephone, I hadn't seen him since I visited (and - of course! - made a one-day mini-album with) him in Godzone in 1994. He had been out of the music game for a few years, was seriously ill and not a happy bunny. Rather than sit around feeling sorry for himself, I reasoned, why can't he sit around and feel sorry for us? He could produce our record, add keyboards, vocals, metal detectors and egg slice rhythms, take it to a place where Doug and me - being too close to it - couldn't see, regain his creativity, get back on his feet and become the Joe Dolce for the Noughties.
A CD of aif files of the recording session was duly despatched and, slowly but surely, his productions were returned to us. He had created a sound unlike any other record I'd ever heard. I thought, 'This album will be short but oh, so sweet.'
And then things started to get even better. Simon said he was coming back to England in July for a quick holiday. 'Shall I book the studio?' I naturally inquired.
Malcolm made the studio available for the 22nd and 23rd of July, 2009, Doug booked his flight from RyanAir and we were off again. Simon's initial proposal - 'Let's just do some covers. Alice Cooper or something' - was instantly dismissed by me as a manifestation of nerves. Perhaps Simon feared he'd be stifled creatively by having to act as the mouthpiece for my lyrics. Had he got any songs prepared? 'A couple. They're safely stored in my head.'
It was Doug's turn to consider pre-planning: 'We've got to have some back-up in case lightning doesn't strike again.' He sent me three fully-arranged instrumentals to me to write lyrics for. In the end, only one of these ('What Happened??') was recorded.
I read that Japanese calligraphers would spend hours setting up their ink bottles, cleaning their brushes, laying the paper down just so, and, when everything was perfect, would make their mark in a single stroke. It's about mental and physical preparation, about reaching a state where anything is possible. Not wishing to blast your ears off with my ego trumpet, but the Bisonics appear to have that mindset. I've seen great musicians crumble just because they've gone from one room where they are comfortable playing to another, unfamiliar, environment. Likewise, singers can lose their powers of expression because something's upset their equilibrium. Sometimes they overly worry, they're aware that they have too much to lose if they fail - so they fail. With the Bisonics, we go into a studio and make things up and, if something goes wrong, it doesn't matter, we can make up something else. We're going in with nothing so we've got nothing to lose.
Simon could only attend the first of the two days booked so we tried to get him to sing as much as possible, him singing live to me and Doug on drums and bass. The first song we tried was 'Beyond' and, as usual, there was no arrangement other than for Simon to wave at Doug when he got to the word 'Nothing' - our cue to go into the chorus. There was a bit of a fumble at that point, so we started again. Our first Take Two!
'Tender' was the next attempt and I think we got that in one, but 'The List Of Mr Pfister' was too much of a tongue-twister for Beacon so I said, 'Don't worry, I'll do it'. 'Well, what shall I do, then?' he asked.
'Oh, just play drums.'
'I've never played a drumkit in my life!'
'Come on, get on with it, no shilly-shallying here, dear.'
Simon's cack-handed rhythm brings the track to cranky life. I would have played it too smoothly. And his alto sax work - the first time he'd played in years - absolutely makes it. (On the second day, when it was just me and Doug adding overdubs, we left 'Mr Pfister' to his own devices, reasoning that it's perfectly imbalanced. A 'straight' guitar part would even it out and make it boring, and a demented performance would send it hurtling over the precipice. Sometimes doing nothing is enough.)
Time for a bit of rock'n'roll so I suggested we blast through 'Black Box Recorder'. 'How do you want this to go?' asked Doug. 'DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH-DAH!' 'OK', he said, and blasted away. This one actually took three takes - me dropping drumsticks and Simon fumbling a line screwed up the first two goes. (On Day 2, whilst Doug was adding the guitar track, I went in and grabbed his nipples and attacked him to get that 'live' performance feel.) Again, the only arrangement we had was for Simon to leave a space after one of the choruses for a solo of some sort. He filled that hole splendidly with masses of saxes. I wanted that Andy Mackay stonkin' honkin' so kept exhorting, 'Whistling kettles! Whistling kettles!'
Then it was Simon's song. He opened his head and let it out. Doug strummed a guitar up in the control room as me and Simon, shoulder to shoulder, he at the electric piano and me brushing the drums, played soft and slow. After he taped his vocal, I asked, 'What's the song called?'
'Ugh! Oh no. Can't have that. Since the recurring line is "Look at me", I suggest you call it "Starecase".' ('Suggest'? More like 'insist'!)
'Oh, all right then.'
The next song, 'This Is...', was a contender for the September 2008 session. I had in mind a xylophone riff, looped, spaced and insistent, a bed for Doug to add layers of dreamy bass meanderings in a Jah Wobble mode, but what Simon at the piano and Doug on bass achieved exceeded all my expectations. There is a beautiful moment where I had finished intoning a section and they both veered off in another direction for a few bars then returned as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. There was no way they could have known I was going to stop at that precise point. That is one of the wonders of these recordings: What seems pre-arranged - the way the music responds to a vocal - is anything but. Ninety-per-cent of what we've made is off-the-cuff, first take, in-the-moment.
'W.O.E.' - or 'Whips Of Enthusiasm' - was written for Reticents but they never got around to tackling it. I couldn't see a way that Bisonics could do it until I noticed that Malcolm had kept a recording of me testing out the drums at the beginning of the session. There was a rather magnificent drum roll, a soundtrack to eternal Doom Nation if ever I heard one, so I asked Malcolm to loop it and, as it pounded away, Simon blew his spine out on the sax and Doug turned bass metal into gold as I groaned into the mike. (Day 2 had me whacking sticks together, in a semblance of dancing skeletons head-banging, and then taking a belt to a leather box. Doug put the surprise icing on the cake with a merry guitar performance that put me in mind of Marco Pirroni's inspired work with Adam & The Ants.)
The only problem we encountered with 'What Happened??' was Simon's difficulty in phrasing the line about staying up for three days running setting up your website and MySpace page. Instead of 'MySpace page', it kept coming out as 'My space page', so, after mucho mulling between Malcolm and ourselves about what to do, we substituted MySpace for Facebook - which is nice in a way, since that's how this story started.
When I told Dave, the bassist for Reticents, about how Bisonics had taped eight songs from scratch in a day, he groaned, 'Well, you can't expect that with this band. We're just amateurs. Those blokes you worked with are probably genius musicians.' He's missing a vital point, and that is the positive attitude with Doug and Simon. They simply can't see a problem. Put Simon on a drumkit and he'll come up with a pattern no 'serious' drummer could play. An example was on the second day, when Doug and I were adding bits and pieces. Doug was playing electric guitar on the choruses on 'What Happened??' and I was in the control room with Malcolm and his trainee assistant, Nick Shaikh. I said, 'Wouldn't it really give the proceedings a lift if there was a piano coming in on the second verse?'
Malcolm agreed: 'Nick's a really good pianist. Nick, do you fancy playing piano on this?'
Nick sits upright and says, 'Yeah, that'd be cool', and begins working on the fingering on the table.
Doug, by now, had just finished recording his guitar track and is entering the control room when I say, 'How do you feel about a piano on the second verse?'
'OK, I'll give it a go.' He turns back round, heads into the studio and begins tinkering at the keyboard, one finger style. I rush in after him.
'No, I meant let Nick do it. He's a professional pianist.'
'Oh, just as well, really, 'cause I can't play keyboards.'
You can't buy that kind of enthusiasm and optimism. Doug's sunniness and Simon's soulfulness shine out from these songs. I'm lucky to have been there and, hopefully, not get in the way.
THE BEACON REVELATION
by Simon Beacon/Si Beex
All them office bargins* had the seats** and I didn't have the heart to tell 'em that half me back was titanium***, so a squeezy stand-up ride into the city (tonite!) was in order. I finally got to Victoria**** via the tube and desperately needed coffee and muffins to wake up. Mid chompers I looked up to see Dearest Mr Aitch and Wee Doogie carrying instrument cases like they were sawn-offs. "Them's the blokes", I thought and after much manly huggage and silly jolkes***** we got on the train to Gillingham for the hour or so trip to Sunshine Studios.
This felt good right from the start. We all got on great and there was a distinct lack of ego tripping from anyone. Not that this had been a problem before, more like what I expected from musos but I s'pose I was forgetting that first and foremost we were friends. We hardly talked about the studio or what we were gonna do there. I had a feeling Paul wanted to keep things as fresh as possible, which was good. I must admit I was nervous at first, more from the fact of being out of practice than anything else, but by the time we arrived at the studio it was just like 1983 (yes, it was a time travelling train!). ******
"Unkle" Malcolm greeted us at the studio with a smiley face and an alto sax for me. Fuct if I can remember how to play it! Twill******* do me best.
OK, we're off!
Beyond was first. Aitch******** told me how he'd like it to be sung and then he and Dug had created a rhythm on drums and bass. Done (after 2nd take?)
Fings were speedin' along. I was on drums for the next track, The List of Mr Pfister, cos I couldn't get me choppers around Paul's lyrics. He mastered them brilliantly with a magnificent sneering performance over a thunderous Murphoid bassline. I just tried to hang-in there on this one as I'm no drummer. Sax was fun as I just tried to squeal the fucker. It all seemed to work - HUZZAH!
Black Box Recorder was next. A straight-up, no-nonsense rocker which had a great live feel. Aitch was screaming for "kettles"********* from me on the sax whilst pulverising the drums and smashing the cymbals. Dougie, once again providing power drills on the bass frittane.**********Wonderful. Pardon?
What Happened? was a beautiful moment for me. Gorgeous Smiffs-like melodic guitars underpinning a heartfelt refrain of, "What Happened? To The Friend I Had ?" Paul and I shared vocals on this, Mr H nailing the emotional ending. A real gem, this one.
Paul has asked me to bring some lyrics along and I had decided to offer Together Alone, an old song I'd performed back in 1990-ish when still in a band in the UK. It had never sounded right to me then as I had always had the song sounding more slow and less aggressive in my head. Aitch suggested Starecase as an alternative name for the song, which sounded better to me. I couldn't have asked for a better treatment for the song, sparse and intimate, perfect. Lucky we all brought our skanking trousers cause Tender was next. Blindin'.
Having been born on a Wensdee***********, I know all about W.O.E. Furious drum loops, whips, clicks, antleg gittanez************ and sacks of brix************* react violently, causing pungent choking fumes************** and a corking chewn (72/10, see me). This is found us as one. The threads of telepathic creativity - united.
Same wavelength. Same heartbeat. Beautiful.
I waved goodbye and felt sad to be leaving but immensely proud of what we had all produced. Many thanks to Malcolm (the 4th Bison) for his unwavering support and to the cafeteria for the wonderful cheese sarnies.
Paul's lyrics, vocals and drumming and Doug's guitars had kick-started my musical heart. Thanks, friends xxx
* Vyne School slang for 'bastards'.
** on the train from Basingstoke to London.
*** following a spine operation.
**** Victoria Railway Station.
***** Vyne School tradition of adding a few 'L's after an O. (Reason obscure.)
****** 1983 was the last time Beacon, Murphy & Hamilton had played music together.
******* Beaconsian argot for 'I shall endeavour'.
********* 'Kettles' - synonym for the sound sax player Andy Mackay produced on such songs as Mott The Hoople's All The Way From Memphis and Godley & Creme's Foreign Accents.
********** Bisonic code-name for 'guitar' (becoming 'gittane' and then 'frittane', of course. Keep up!)
*********** Reference to the poem: "Monday's child is fair of face/Tuesday's child is full of grace/Wednesday's child is full of woe/Thursday's child has far to go/Friday's child is loving and giving/Saturday's child works hard for his living/And the child that is born on the Sabbath day/Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay".
************See note**********. 'Antleg' is reference to style of guitar sound used on 1982 recording by Beacon & Hamilton (release withheld by public demand).
************* Reference to B & H song from '83. An a cappella piece, the lyric was 'Loneliness is the worst sickness/ Hits you when you least expect it/Loneliness is the worst sickness/ Hits you like a sack of bricks', and finishing with a sack of bricks being dropped on the ground.
************** 'Pungent, choking fumes' and '72/10, see me' are references to Vyne School Chemistry teacher F. Radford who saw said fumes as a sign of a successful experiment, and would mark homework in an eccentric fashion (12 out of 10 being an average grade).