As Rare A Pair Of Preacher Boy Tracks As You’re Ever Likely To Find

CROW

After decamping to England to sign with Manchester-based indie WahTup Records, the whole Preacher Boy carnival underwent a fairly radical sonic transfiguration, emerging as Preacher Boy and The Backyard Funeral Band, and featuring the multi-instrumental talents of Danny Uzilevsky, Paul Johnson, Dan Andrews, and Brendan Rush Dance.

Crow was the album born of the change. It was the result of months of rehearsal, and a progressive whittling down from some 60+ songs rehearsed, nearly 50 basic tracked, over 20 songs completed, and 14 songs mixed and mastered.

The album was a sort of glorious disaster, a kind of Captain Beefheart folk opera, as if Nick Cave had produced the Captain recording his own version of Neil Young’s Harvest, with lyrics by Carson McCullers. The reviews were priceless:

“Country blues that marry Nick Cave, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits, honeymoon in the barroom with accordions and banjos and line the wedding bed with sheets of mutant folk, deviant campfire country and beatnik jazz.” –Melody Maker

“Preacher Boy is a songwriter of startling originality.” – MOJO

In retrospect, it could have been a lot of different albums. With so many songs to choose from, it could have been a blues record, a folk record, a gypsy record, a rock record, a cabaret record. Gothic acoustic chamber blues. Ultimately, it was all of that.

The point being, a lot of great performances were left on the cutting room floor. I’d like to share two of those with you here today. I discovered them recently on an old cassette that was hastily run down at the end of a long day’s session (the sound quality is not great, but the songs are there!). The cassette has been sitting in storage for nearly a decade-and-a-half, and the songs have never been heard publicly before; they were never played live, and never re-done on any other projects. The first is “Cold Trials Of The Dispossessed” and it features outstanding horn from Brendan Rush Dance. The second is “Veleaux.” Check out the outro (don’t be fooled by the long pause!) for some classic Telecaster work from Danny Uzilevsky. The rhythm section (Paul Johnson on drums and Dan Andrews on bass) is exemplary throughout.

Cold Trials Of The Dispossessed

Veleaux

How rare is Crow today? Well, there is a brand-new copy of it currently available on Amazon. Only $75!

 

It’s worth noting, that despite never having been released stateside, the album had an amazing impact on my career. Among other things, it earned the band a spot at Glastonbury, sharing stage space with the likes of Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, and Portishead. And it was the album that led Eagle-Eye Cherry to invite me on tour.

Anyhow, lyrics below, should you wish them …

veleaux

like the fingers of an alchemist
her bony fog hands twist
as they weave a sinister spell
of mystery and myth
her knuckles nudge the bellies
of the balconies, defined
by their wrought-iron fences
stained chickory, rust, and wine

drowsy like she’s just made love
she spreads across her bed
full of muted colored lights
a mardi gras for the dead
she tries to pull her lovers to her
and to them, softly sing
but they’re too lost in their own frenzy
and they cannot hear a thing

wait, don’t you walk off
there’s someone you should meet
she’s a woman named veleaux
and she lives right on this street
for a five, she can help you, see
she knows a thing or two
i wouldn’t walk off into the fog
if you know what’s good for you
don’t you see?
you better believe
you’re in new orleans now
and if you’re not careful you won’t leave
i don’t lie
i’m not you’re dog
i’d just hate to see you get lost out in the fog

all the night is wailing
with a heart she can’t refute
but she will dampen it and strangle it
like a stubborn trumpet mute
and you can hear her nails rattle
across the concrete as she comes
like a metal finger pick
upon a white banjo drum

serpentine, she slithers through
the dead city paths
flicks her gray tongue in and out
of the graves that have collapsed
she may hover above the ground
but when she touches down she stomps
be it in the alleys of the downtown
or the canals in the swamps

wait, don’t you walk off
there’s someone you should meet
she’s a woman named veleaux
and she lives right on this street
for a five, she can help you, see
she knows a thing or two
i wouldn’t walk off into the fog
if you know what’s good for you
don’t you see?
you better believe
you’re in new orleans now
and if you’re not careful you won’t leave
i don’t lie
i’m not you’re dog
i’d just hate to see you get lost out in the fog

cold trials of the dispossessed

damn you, eight-to-one
that’s eight i haven’t won
my last two on the three
i shoulda been lucky
i shoulda boxed up
alongside the better stuff
but i got set up
it’s just a setup…

for the child, the whore, and the father
the mother and the man
they all sing the sucker’s song of the damned
what came before, doesn’t matter
any more than what comes next
cold trials of the dispossessed

didn’t someone say
the five would run today?
guess you can’t outrun the past
when you’re runnin’ dead last
so who’s victorious?
man, it ain’t any one of us
we all got set up
it’s just a setup…

for the child, the whore, and the father
the mother and the man
they all sing the sucker’s song of the damned
what came before, doesn’t matter
any more than what comes next
cold trials of the dispossessed

crumpled tickets tossed in puddles, all wet
like the last washed-up chances we could ever hope to get
not even the crumpled old men pick them up
cuz every last one reeks of another’s bad luck

i’ve always stood behind
my instincts every time
so just this once, tonight
could ya let ’em be right?
and to prove i’m really in
i’ll bet all i got to win
don’t set me up again
don’t set me up again
man, you let me down again…


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