Woolly Wolstenholme and Maestoso


WOOLLY'S guide to Songs From The Black Box

(for song lyrics, please see the Black Box Recovered Album Portfolio)

Songs From The Black Box CD

CD Voiceprint VP 174 CD, June 1994
CD Blueprint BP 174 CD, 1997
Cassette (promo-only), 1994

Songs From The Black Box promotional cassette

Has To Be A Reason
("Road Life")

This, and the two other songs recorded at my final studio session ("Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late" and "Deceivers All") gradually came to have sub-titles reflecting my feelings: "Road Life" on touring, "Studio Life" buried alive! and "Low Life" an oblique comment on Polydor and their broken promises, lies and lack of support.

Down The Line

Simple guitar-based song about San Francisco/Los Angeles and living on the San Andreas fault, where life is lived at a frantic pace because of the threat of sudden annihilation - rather like Berlin before the Wall came down. (Weird bass drum sound!).

All Get Burned

Hippy philosophy. The sort of observations you might make lying under a tree in high summer (!?!)

Too Much, Too Loud, Too Late
("Studio Life")

Energy-packed tour-de-force. Mainly in E minor but the chorus (in a 7 time base) is in E flat & F. The chordal centre section "interlude" is a remnant of an earlier arrangement. Play it loud!

Even The Night

The end of the affair? Exquisite torture.

Deceivers All
("Low Life")

Perhaps the song that most reveals my BJH roots. A good big 'un for live shows.

The Will To Fly

My personal damnation of blood sports. (Is that Eric Clapton on lead guitar? No.)

Sunday Bells

Remembrance Day in Greenfield, Saddleworth. The Cenotaph there is an obelisk built in a relatively inaccessible place and, certainly in November, a cold one. Alphin and Alderman are local hills that legend has hurled rocks at each other across Chew Valley. Musically, the simple "folk song" could be easily developed into other styles, and the second part gives a taste of one of my over-the-top finishes. Betjeman meets Quasimodo!


A touch of the Procols here. At best a prayer - at worst a load of cant.

Sail Away

An all-purpose leaving (it or her!), getting out, jacking in, packing up, clearing off-type song. (The break between this and the next song should have been the sound of "a great iron door closing" (L.Durrell), but sounds more like a face-slap!).

Quiet Islands

I don't know if this one is about the environment, tourism or whales! But the results are probably the same. The overbearing reggae clamour is there to imply a polluting force drowning out the real with the ersatz.

A Prospect Of Whitby

A winter break for Jill and me on the north coast. Great waves clawing at the sea wall and eventually ripping it apart. The hotel had been turned off - along with the water. Steve Broomhead's "thousand mandolins" paint the picture of our chattering teeth. Images of The French Lieutenant's Woman with fish and chips.

Lives On The Line

A bit of bizarre in 6/8.


I always wanted to write something Elgarian, and this is as close as I got. Generally I was pleased with the outcome, save for a few manic drum breaks!

Gates Of Heaven (14/18)

"Heroes led by donkeys". Long-standing song about the futility of the First Big One, rejected on several occasions for BJH albums.

American Excess

Have a nice day! Arrrghh!

Mæstoso - A Hymn In the Roof Of The World

My Magnum Opus. In incubation for 11 years and changing a little in every year. The original concept of the pointlessness of national endeavour and the ultimate triumph of humanity now sounds naive and idealistic - but it fits the music! Perhaps the most tempting to re-mix, but of course only as an experiment!


Sometimes you have to shoot the drummer and do something distinctly un-Rock & Roll. As usual I wrote a song that was impossible for me to sing, and the final chord, with the bass in the dominant, ended things with a comma rather than a full stop.

Thank Yous

Thanks to:
Chris Clover for the original Black Box artwork; Paula Southern for the CD certificate calligraphy and the entire management and staff of Swallowtail and IBJHFC for their unstintingness...

Now, where's that corkscrew?


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