A guide to ‘Secret Holiday/ Victory Blues’

George D. Henderson of The Puddle provides the following track-by-track guide to the latest album by The Puddle:

Secret Holiday (Side One)

Decline to Fall.

Descending bass-lines are very “now” right now, and the Puddle have
yet to play one. Try it in a minor key. The lovely thing about
chromatic melody is that resolving it leads one to modulate.
Modulation, if it can be justified (“your Honour, I was resolving a
chromatic bass line”), is the bee’s knees.
I am less sure about this second-person voice, put-down and mockery
may be very rock’n’roll but one tries to be more sympathetic, and
hopefully this poor imaginary soul feels no offense. The lyric took a
year to complete, then reading Richard Ellmann’s Oscar Wilde
biography, by a form of retrospective influence, helped me to approve
of it.
Very proud of the synth solo and think Al’s playing makes sure the
exceedingly great length of this song is not excessive. Also dig the
minimalist outro.

Secret Holiday

A throw-away light-hearted summer piece. There’s a mood in the chorus
I think owes something to Bobby Darin’s “We Didn’t Ask to be Brought
Here”, as well as Purple‘s “Black Night”. If I could actually describe
the percussion instrument Ian plays, I would.

[Ian notes the percussion instrument providing the steam train chuff rhythm was a vintage duck caller – a “Scotch Call” Duck No. 1401 manufactured in Oakenfield, NY to be precise]

Didn’t Even Notice You were Gone

The result of an intoxicated jam during a visit to Wellington some
years back, this song survived by being relaxing to play. This
staggered minor chord change (like Mack the Knife) has Eastern
European overtones but I wanted to pretend I was Hank Williams.

The Vitalist

Vitalism is (among other things) the view of evolution held by G. B.
Shaw and expressed best in the preface to Back to Methusela. Vitalism
can be reconciled with neo-Darwinism by positing that sexual selection
may be responsible for deciding more than matters of display. If
sexual selection is the initial driving force in evolutionary change,
and natural selection then edits the results, well, what then? Ponder
well also the doctrine of emergent properties in biochemistry. If life
evolves from inorganic matter, that is because it is in its nature to
do so.
I would rather be wrong with Rupert Sheldrake than right with
Professor Dawkins, I’m afraid.
See above comment about the second person voice. This lyric is really
just a collection of stuff I wrote.
Nifty guitar-viola part was written by Gavin and overdubbed by Gavin and Al.
At about this point I realise we are making a “cruisy” record.

Hydrogen 6

Hydrogen 6 is the highest level of ordinary human consciousness in
George Gurdjieff’s esoteric system. I just took the name for a song
that required an esoteric title. I believe this is the only waltz on
any of the Puddle records.
We play this song last at Puddle gigs to send the audience off to
sleep and stop them demanding another encore.

Victory Blues (Side Two)
Tender Validation

This is one of my favorites, Bob Frisbee managed to catch just the
right vocal after a long day of diverse takes. The song was written
late one Valentine’s day. Almost too late.
The heart of the lyric is in the lazy repetitions of little words.
There’s a nod to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s cover of “Cheek to
Cheek” (also a little word repetition) in there. The title came to me
in a supermarket check out line. Lovely burbles by guest keys, Graeme
Humphries, lift this even further above the mundane.


Time for the grand statement. The lyric is interlarded with lardoons
from all over the artisphere, so for once I will not give a helping
hand. Nifty chord change is an evolution of Hudibras via Jefferson
Airplane, with instrumental break perhaps inspired by the one in Sneaky
Feeling’s Husband House (except it sounds more like The Verlaines – go
figure). If you can hear any of that now, you’re a better man than I,
but that’s what went through my head in the throes of composition.
The word “elaborate” comes to mind.

Oh Hayley (you’re right)

I’m just pleased to have completed two firsts here: first Puddle song
with a girl’s name in the title, and first English language song ever
to mention Napoleon’s murder of the Duc d’Enghein.
(note to reviewers: Girl in title NOT the ex-flame. A man
may joke about the wife, it doesn’t mean he’s serving papers.)
Rollicking is the word for this sort of thing, isn’t it?

Little Red Coat

Great art comes, so they say, from even greater unpleasantness. This
is why I love this side of the LP; every song came from some
experience of hardship, and none more so than this soothing lullaby.
Gangs of crazies, one after another, were baying after our blood, and
it was essential to calm and reassure the troops. Another Eastern
European chord change, with Gavin’s weird werewolf chorale to help out
my jazz guitar impressions (how to play jazz guitar in The Puddle – a)
turn tone pot right down, b) fluff around a lot). The guitar part was
actually inspired by Andrew Jamieson’s lead playing on the demo for
this song.

Walrus Arabia

Title by Gavin. We chose to record this as an instrumental, though I
did in fact write words;
“you lost it when I said caustic(ly), you’re apolaustic, but later on,
there was Walrus Arabia, lipstick and labia, you see baby I’m never
wrong, about you, boo boo boo boo”.

In case you wondered why it’s an instrumental.


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