Bill Sykes had a wife..

The Norwood

The Norwood

I’m not sure if it’s just me that gets a bit intrigued by stories that inspire songs.  This one’s a bit convoluted, I was watching Sharpe on some random Freeview channel and rifleman Daniel Hagman was singing a traditional folk song about poachers in Rufford Park.  I googled it, I even messaged Ken about it as it brought Crime and Punishment to mind and well, one Google search leads to another and you end up with this!

Plus I’ve not written anything about Ferocious Dog, my principle subject matter, for quite a while, have I?  I touched on the back story of the song back when I first wrote about the album – the star of the song, Bill Sykes, actually being a relative of Ken’s – and probably would’ve faded into obscurity as a historical figure were it not for the discovery of letters his wife wrote to him after he’d been transported out to Australia.

You see – Bill Sykes did have a wife (children he had four, too!) – and well, it’s pretty safe to assume that he didn’t see them no more as well.  You can read Myra Sykes’ letters in full here thanks to Wikisource – initially sent to Portsmouth prison where he spent a couple of years before being transported aboard the Norwood (Barry, are you reading this? I’m sure we were discussing the name of the ship outside Newbury!).  You can even read Bill’s own diary of the voyage here, too.

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Freeborn Al / 11th July 2016 / Band, Music, Politics, Thoughts / 0 Comments

From Without – it’s finally here!

IMG_0447Facebook has been awash with excited people receiving packages through the post after the Herculean efforts of Gibbo and Hannah in getting everyone’s album packaged and mailed over the weekend.  Despite basically having it already, it was still a bit galling to be stuck at the office periodically spotting a series of delighted people  posting photos and their initial thoughts – all of which have been positive so far (not that I ever doubted it).  I’ve skirted around writing about the album tracks a few times, but now it’s ‘in the wild’ I can do so unabashed at spoiling anything too much.

Biased though I undoubtedly am, I love everything about it – the imagery, the packaging, the slight imperfection in that the lyrics for Gallows Justice are missing from the sleeve notes (Waggy has posted the page online should any perfectionists wish to download them), the signatures, the fact my name is in it, and of course the songs themselves.  The songs, they’re unmistakably Ferocious Dog, they are a mixture of biting political observation, historical accounts, a traditional re-imagining and a love ballad gone sour.

They are unmistakably Ferocious Dog, but they chart some evolution too.  What more could you want?  I described it earlier on Facebook as a plateau of an album rather than a roller-coaster – whilst there’s variation of paces and styles there’s no let up in quality, it peaks early and stays there – I do genuinely love it.  Even though I heard it a lot I still played it all the way home from work, playing pretend that I’d been in in time for the Postman to deliver it to me.

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Freeborn Al / 5th October 2015 / Band, Music / 0 Comments

The waiting is almost over..

IMG_0447.. and boy are you going to think it’s worth it.  From Without has been mastered, and is going into production ready to be sent out to the good folks who made it a possibility by paying up front for it.   Back in April I wrote a review based on some of the rough-cut tracks I’d been privy to, subsequently I’ve been lucky enough to hear a number of the iterations of mixing that occurred and finally the mastered full album this evening.  And wow, what a treat.  I’m not sure if posting this is torturing folk who’ve waited or help with anticipation.

In the recent radio interview Ken talked about From Without and how it was inspired by Karl Marx.  More specifically the inference that revolution can’t be triggered solely by the proletariat but would need help from without their ranks.  Of course all the speculation and misinterpretations were fun – but undoubtedly this is an album that has a strong political underpinning almost throughout – be it contemporary or historical – there’s anger and cutting observation.

Whether it be what sounds like a summary of Iain Duncan-Smith’s assault on the disabled and the farce of the bedroom tax in Living on Thin Air (this is the track, you’ll remember, that was co-written with Nick Burbridge), historical accounts like Ruby Bridges, Crime and Punishment and more recent history in the form of Marikana Massacre or the hauntingly sad-yet-beautiful Slow Motion Suicide charting the demise of a jobless miner in the wake of the pits being closed – there’s clear messages of the disenfranchised ringing through the opening nine tracks of the album.

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Freeborn Al / 1st September 2015 / Band, Music, Photos / 0 Comments