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The Queen of Fools (2009)

is the 15th album of this group - who would have thought this band would get this far? After 'Too Black Bad' it wasn't easy to start another project, because everything had already been said on that album. But because making music is always fun (if it's a hobby!) and because it seems to be a habit to make a CD or two when Davy is around - well, why not?

No more jugband or psychedelic feelings this time, no heavy blues or country. This may well be the jazziest album of the group.

Jore and Tuomas shine with a total lack of their own compositions. It's hard to get good muses these days!

This lovely art cover was painted by Melissa Silva


The band look somewhat meditative on the back cover of this CD - and I suppose that was my state of mind about the songs contained within it. After TOO BLACK BAD I felt that I was repeating myself and I realise that there’s a certain degree of that in the new CD - but what can I do but follow the muse as she leads me by the nose! I have a sneaking suspicion that THE QUEEN OF FOOLS will sound better to my ears after a year or two - that’s not to say I don’t like it now, because I do, but I feel this album will be a bit of a ‘sleeper’ with me. It’s a ‘late night pour-myself-a-drink’ album


The tracklist - and Davy's comments about the tracks:

All tracks (except #11) by Davy McGowan

My lyrics seems to be becoming more and more minimalist. I like the sound of the guitar here and the way it grooves along. Nice piano from Tuomas giving it a late night jazz feel. Guitar is tuned DF#BEAD

There’s not a lot to this. I seem to always give women a bad press - but I really do like them - honest! Jore’s nylon string guitar adds an exotic feel at the end. Guitar is tuned DFDDGD

As I was writing this it struck me that it was the type of lyric I wrote when I was 20. Regression during recession maybe? I like the ‘warm’ way this turned out - and it has more lyrics than my usual fare these days. The guitar is in standard tuning with a capo covering only the top 4 strings at the fifth fret. I think the chords are A, G D C and Em

More lyrics suggesting a man is better off without a wife. Maybe I’m just piqued because I never had one! Guitar set up is the same as SMILE AWHILE. Chords are E, A and B7.…all simple stuff. Tuomas’s piano adds to the 1930’s depression era feel.

Pertti’s electric guitar adds a rockier sound to the mix and although the lyric won’t win the Nobel Prize for Literature I’m happy enough with it. My guitar in tuned EGDGCE

This is another song where my ‘regression during recession’ comment applies. I remember writing a lot of lyrics similar to this one when I was young. I like this - there’s something about it that I can’t explain, maybe the way it’s been mixed or maybe it‘s the drums and bass - it sounds rainy and streetlight dark. Guitar is tuned DF#BEAD

There’s a J J Cale influence here but I think it has a bit of originality too. This is one of my favourites. Jore’s Cosmic Wheels ‘string’ section adds menace and threat. Tuomas wanted the ‘strings’ taken off - but Jore and I out-voted him. Pertti’s guitar at the end is great. My guitar is tuned DADDAC - and most of this is played without touching the fretboard.

I don’t like going back and re-recording old material - but when I wrote this 20 years ago I always heard a violin in it - and having Ilona in the studio was the ideal time to finally get a violin into it. The lyrics are nonsense - I remember getting some of them from a French translation of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes’ so maybe this is the only Conan Doyle/McGowan song on record. I like Cajun & Zydeco - but only in small doses. Jore played accordion and did a fine job on bass too. Poor Tuomas didn’t get onto this track. My guitar is tuned to an open C chord CGCGCE

Tuomas may have missed out on the last track but he made this one what it is. His piano takes it to a smoky jazz club in 1959 and I think this is my favourite track on the CD. My guitar is tuned DF#BEAD Great mixing job from Jore - and a great bass from him too.

An even bigger J J Cale influence on this one - and why not? If he can influence Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler then I’m sure as hell not too proud to say I love his laid back style. Pertti’s obviously heard of him as well……My guitar is tuned EADEAD

11. BABY PLEASE DON’T GO (Big Joe Williams)
I’m not too sure why I decided I’d like to do this. I think I did it on a CD a long time ago but this is a different arrangement - loosely based on Van Morrison & Them’s 1965 version. I love that - and of course I love any version by Big Joe Williams. This one has a Georgie Fame jazz vibe about it and sounds quite bohemian.

A weird ‘song’. I don’t know where this came from - it’s a weird song with weird lyrics, a weird rhythm and weird chords. For all that - I like it. The harmonica at the end is supposed to represent Woody Woodpecker’s ’whoop’ of Pure Wild Joy - but don’t tell anyone that in case they think I’m being pretentious. Guitar is tuned DGDEAD

I picked up my old Ibanez guitar from the cupboard one day and found it was in standard tuning. It had been so long since I’d played in standard tuning it was quite a surprise to me - and I ended up with this ‘pop’ song. I suppose the lyrics could apply to any amount of towns. I think the chords are G, Bm C & D and there’s an Em somewhere too


All lyrics by Davy McGowan (c)

It’s my life, my trouble and strife now
It’s my life I’m living every day
It’s my life, even when rumours are rife now
It’s my life, ain’t nothing more to say

Nothing to see but blue sky
Nothing to see but blue sky day


She’s hot, looking’ for some action,
She’s the sweetest little angel you have seen all day
She’s cool, that’s part of the attraction
But the only thing that’s on her mind
Is having her own way

You ease in close, another sucker for her sweet talk
She knows it’s Friday and you just got your pay,
She’ll flash her smile and make you feel so special
But the only thing that’s on her mind
Is having her own way.


Some have said the age old art of conversation
Must be dying on its feet
Though there’s always someone talking, seems there’s
No one really listening when they meet
So here’s a thought for you my dear,
And it’s heartfelt and sincere,
Nothing really happens here in May

There’s an old man down the road selling chestnuts
From a brazier in the snow
Gaslight heightens winter shadows as I read
From ‘Hazlett’s Essays’ ‘fore I go
And here’s a dream for you my dear
A dream of music far and near
And blue and sunlit skies, not grey

Somewhere down the road there’s always something
Better to beware of - so they say
There’ll be time enough for putting your resistance
To the test, come what may
So here’s a wish for you my dear
And should that wish come true you’ll hear
Someone shed a silent tear someday


When I was single I never had a worry
Do what I like, never in a hurry
When I was single, yeah a single man
I could do what I liked, when I liked
Anywhere in the land

When I was single I stayed out all night long
Wherever I hung my hat’s where I belonged
When I was single, yeah a single man
I was smokin’ and drinkin’ and makin’ out much as I can

When I was single I always had some money
I had me a ball, all my days were sunny
When I was single, yeah a single man
But that was before I met my Mary Anne

And now I’m married I’m livin’ with the blues
Wish I’d never changed my single shoes
Now I’m married, yeah a married man
I got worries and troubles since that day began


She don’t take no lip,
She don’t take no sass
You mess her around,
She gonna kick your ass
She don’t want your love
She just wants your bread
And she knows she’s gonna get it
Cause she got inside your head

She got a souped up Ford
Got a deuce coupe too
Got a Chevy and a Cadillac
With love from you
It’s in the way she moves
It’s in the way she walks
It’s in the way she pouts
And the was she baby talks

Time is money where the red light glows
The more you pay the more she shows
Time is money and you know I’ll bet
The more you give the more you get

She got a black cat bone
Got a mojo too
Got a hold on your heart
With her ways and her sexy voodoo
She don’t lose no sleep
Though you surely will
You’ve loved her so long
And you know you love her still


Champs Elysees moonlight
Passion Street café
Rain that drips from lovers’ lips
With kisses in the way
Love’s a gypsy lady
Never out of style
Chill you with a single glance
Burn you with a smile

What compares when love is young
With Paris in the spring?
April showers, café au lait
And a golden ring
Love’s a gypsy rover
Moves from town to town
Kiss you when you’re up
Kick you when you’re down


A silent road on a silent night
Pale moon shining making black and white
Blue jean drifter on the Red Rock train
Got a dread bad feelin’ in my heart again

I tried to fix the wrong, tried to make it right
You know I saw every hour till the morning light
Cold blue steel at my window pane
Got a dread bad feelin’ in my heart again


Alors, c’est la vie, c’est la guerre mais je crois
Voyons, tout les vagabonds au mileau, un, deux, trios
Alors, je me sais pas ce qu’il y avait sur la tete
Voyons, je serais bein surpris, belle et la bete

Elle etait mariee, elle me tirait par la manche
Tout le meme je me retourner, et voila, carte blanche
Alors, je me trouvais dans une bateau sur la mer
Voyons, vous me desirez consulter avec mon pere


Like the mist at dawn
While worlds still sleep
Like the scent of youth
Within your mind
Like a memory
Faded, cracked and torn
Like a kiss we shared
Within a dream

Like an autumn day
Rich red and gold
Like a past life
That you call your own
Like a clock
That’s lost all track of time
Like a love we shared
Within a dream


Love ain’t nothin’ but a parlour game tonight
Time is pressin’ and the dresses sure look tight
Move it up, shake it down
Hear the music way ‘cross town
Love ain’t nothin’ but a parlour game
Love ain’t nothing, baby what’s your name?
Love ain’t nothing’ but a parlour game tonight

Love ain’t nothin’ but a re-run this time round
May be lost, may be just the thing you found
Hot times in the old town there
See her standin’ on the stair
Love ain’t nothin’ but a re-run this
Love ain’t nothing’ but a lingering kiss
Love ain’t nothing’ but a re-run this time round


Out of the red and into the black
Out of your mind and into the flak
Pure wild joy to you

Out of the night and into the day
Out of the blue with something to say
Pure wild joy to you


This is as good as it gets
Drinking beer and making bets in my town
Holidays are heaven sent
Working just to pay the rent in my town

And though they say they’ve heard it all before
You meet it each time you walk out the door
And though they say you’re just like all the rest
You still feel like an uninvited guest

Something’s lost that once was found
Factories toppled to the ground in my town
Everything’s black market deals
Booze, tobacco and high heels in my town

And though you’ve never thought about it much
You realise this town in out of touch
And though you’ve never given up the fight
There’s nothing you can do to make it right

Overworked and underpaid
No one seems to have it made in my town
Oversexed and underage
Teenage love is all the rage in my town

And though they say they’ve heard it all before
You meet it each time you walk out the door
And though they say you’re just like all the rest
You still feel like an uninvited guest

Down at heel and out of luck
No one gives a flying fuck in my town
Histrionics from the wife
Slapped across the face by life in my town


Mescaline Smugglers – Queen of Fools (a review by Greg)

Beautiful cover by Melissa, a gorgeous rendering of the Queen of Fools. First Impressions of the CD—quiet, reflective, unpretentious, simple, yet much more here than you can grasp on first listen—quite a walk down the yard from the last few CD’s–first three songs are so quiet that they seem like they should be on a jazz album from 1960’s before the beatnik crew overwhelmed the scene. Then the music opens up a bit more to familiar territory, but there are plenty of loops and whirls left on the mad coaster ride in the carnival of the Queen of Fools. Masterfully mixed and tracked by the man behind the board.

1. IT’S MY LIFE –Nice Jazzy, Bossa Nova beat overrides the simple lyrics here. This is a great moody piece, juxtaposing the separatist pronouncements in the lyrics with the upbeat swing of the guitar, piano, bass and drums. The vocal is particularly good here, nice to hear Davy stretching out. Well worth listening to several times to catch the subtleties.

2. HAVING HER OWN WAY - Not sure whether this is about a gold digger or one of those girls who live off their looks, but it’s the music that’s important here. Love the way the bass overrides the instrumentation from the top and then the great nylon string guitar and drums come in at the end and make this a kind of psychedelic fusion—maybe Spanish/Moorish or an Indian raga--- it’s all good.

3. SMILE AWHILE - another great introspective piece, wonderful lyrics and near perfect instrumentation. This is not a dance song, it’s a thoughtful observational monologue, set to a nice rolling musical ramble; spoken perhaps to a lover or a friend at the point of leaving. The symbology of the seasons passing is really wonderful and the plug for William Hazlitt’s “Essays” is great. Hazlitt was one of the only people writing in the 19th Century who wrote beautifully without artifice or the annoying double negative that was so popular at the time. I thought only English majors read Hazlitt.

4. WHEN I WAS SINGLE— Great, wonderfully slow country blues—actually A-D and E7, but who’s checking? Thank God for the blues, we all recognize it and we can all sing along--sweet rambling piano from Tuomas perfectly compliments the worn out shoes and 1930’s country feel, you can almost see Tuomas in a bowler hat pitched over one eye and sleeve garters, cigar clenched in his teeth and a schooner of beer on the old upright piano as he taps the keys right along with Davy’s lazy, warm guitar shuffle in some dusty roadside joint off Highway 65 in the sticky summer heat. Excellent!

5. HOLD ON YOUR HEART -- things are starting to cook now; great little down home country rocker. Pertti’s guitar opens up a dialogue window in the corner of the instrumentation in an unusual way, but absolutely delightful. Not sure whether this is about a prostitute or a very assertive woman, not likely to win a prize from NOW, but the last verse has real punch. Album favorite so far.

6. LOVEBOUND –Love the harmonics that start this off. Very bouncy Jazzy feel, nice bass, drums and piano and interesting guitar throughout. This song really moves, a real toe tapper. Lyrics are great, balancing between the excited feel of first love in spring to the cold chill of being left alone in the rain.

7. DREAD BAD FEELIN’ -- another album favorite—the marriage of the lyrics and instrumentation couldn’t have been finer. Somewhere between the menace of a western when the killer is coming to town on the 2:15 pm train and a horror story where you know that just beyond those trees there is something lurking in the shadows that you can’t quite see. Slide guitar with lots of echo for the open spaces, open tuned guitar, drums, electric guitar whaling like a dire wolf in the distance, Jesus, this is great.

8. LES TROIS VAGABONDS – I translate “Then it is the life, it is the war”—what in hell? Who cares, Louisiana Zydeco meets Sherlock Holmes! The Accordion rocks this song hard and the violin just rocks it again. This is certainly an unexpected pleasure, even the high pitched vocal styling is great as well as the outrageous French accents! This is a kick in the pants and I’m dancing in my chair as I write this.

9. WITHIN A DREAM – Fantastic jazzy number , love the way the styling’s change from song to song on this album. The lyric is real poetry, delightfully observational similes that paint wonderful word pictures that evoke sights, smells, sounds and feelings, romanticism without the sugar. The instrumental accompaniment is smoky jazz club black and white with a blue spotlight and shadowy corners where lovers sip drinks and dreams. Let’s listen again.

10. LOVE AIN’T NOTHIN’ - Good rocking observational number from the perspective of the cynical, world weary, “seen love come and go too many times” narrator. Stylish rhythm guitar throughout, joined at the halfway point by a great bouncing bass and Pertti’s smooth electric guitar riffs lighting up the dump like an electric chair turned to eleven.

11. BABY PLEASE DON’T GO (Big Joe Williams) – Fantastic interpretation of a favorite. Starts out pretty mellow, but then the superb organ starts to take off and then the blues harp, guitar and organ trade a couple of riffs and you feel like a trucker whose been asked if he wants gravy on his grits and his biscuits, Hell yes, keep it coming! And then it gets dialed up another notch. Really superb, guys!

12. PURE WILD JOY - Another unexpected pleasure. Very experimental, very jazzy, lots of fun instrumentation in here, that noodles around in a kind of free form dance at the edge of a psychedelic dawn. Is that a backwards harmonica at the end or has it been processed?—really great sound. The lyrics express exactly what the title says.

13. IN MY TOWN – A deliciously wicked observational song with a great piano, guitar and drums trio rollicking happily along to the lyrics about all that we have lost in just about any modern town; while accepting this brave new world that is darker and dirtier and faster and less inviting and less like a community than any of us would wish. Talk about cognitive dissonance! The tune does sound like it owes a bit to the chorus of Mrs. Robinson but you can tell Paul Simon I said "bite me", definitely a macabre masterpiece!

As usual, the extended Mescaline Smugglers have gifted us with an excellent album with unexpected twists and turns and different styling’s. I do miss hearing vocals by Jore and more banjo is always appreciated and finally, to misquote Hazlitt “Food, warmth, sleep, good music and a book, these are all I at present ask”