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Raking The Mules (2007)

This August 2007 release is one of the coolest albums by The Mescaline Smugglers. It's maybe more country than the earlier albums, though jugband is still there (barely, the main difference being the lack of heavy blues as Davy was feeling more mellow during this period.) Davy really takes a stronger hold on his role of being the main writer of the band here as his pen produced all the songs apart from two trads and two cover versions (by Neil Young and Tom Waits)

Sad to say, the guys couldn't agree with the "final" mixes. So somewhere out there are two different versions of two of the tracks.

All tracks are recorded in Parola, Finland in Aug 2007
Mixed by Jore Heikkilš
Webdesign by Joonas & Jore Heikkilš


1. Cold Turkey (Mc Gowan)
The little classical piece at the start is taken from one of Joreís Orvot Sekvenssit CDís. Iím swearing at the start because the guitar was originally acoustic - but I didnít think it was powerful enough, so I asked Jore to press the button and make the guitar sound electric - and I liked what I heard! Jore on banjo, Tuomas on piano and bass, me on drums, guitar and harmonica. From the lyrics I guess I was a bit pissed off when I wrote this. --davy
2. When We're Free (Mc Gowan)
Kinda gospel type song telling us how great it will be when weíre dead. Always amazes me that no one is too keen to shrug off this mortal coil in spite of the promise of lands of milk and honey in the hereafter - I guess most of them prefer this land of silk and money! I think all I did was play guitar and sing. Tuomas on deep backing vocals, me on high backing vocal. Jore on banjo, bass and whatever else is there. --davy
3. Country Boy (Mc Gowan)
Archetypal country song tale of women having affairs and their men killing them etcÖ. Me on slide guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica. Jore on bass and mandolin I presume. --davy
4. When Sadness Comes (Mc Gowan)
Iíve forgotten what tunings most of these songs were written in - but this oneís in Open G. Tuomas on piano, Jore on bass. Me on guitar and vocals and bongos I think. A little nod to James Taylorís íYou Got A Friendí at the end. --davy
5. Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young)
We did this because Cindy asked us to. Iím not a HUGE Neil Young fan but I like quite a few of his songs. This is a pretty depressing lyric but Iíve always felt there was a message of hope in chorus - so I try to exaggerate that by going into a Ďwarmí major 7th chord at the end and Tuomas plays a nice meditative solo then too. --davy
6. The Price of Love (Mc Gowan)
Another obscure guitar tuning - canít remember what. The ĎTime is aí lines came from a poem I wrote about umpteen years ago - and I added a few other words to it here. Great bass from Jore - who also does the percussion and the guitar at the end. I really liked the way this turned out. --davy
7. Michelle's Song (Johnson - McGowan)
Michelle sent Jore a very basic guitar melody about 2 years ago and we worked on it and I made a lyric and we sent her a copy - then forgot about it. But Jore remembered it was still there - so I think we added a little percussion and organ and stuck it on the CD this time around. Iím playing guitars, Jore on bass and percussion and Tuomas on organ. We just kept referring to it as ĎMichelleís Songí - so that name stuck. --davy
Actually Michelle sent the guitar chords... Davy added the tune and lyrics to it.. But Michelle is a co-writer, without her this song would've never been born. --jore
8. There Is a Time (Mc Gowan)
Fairly standard blues - but I like it. Me on guitars and harmonica. Tuomas on piano. Jore on drums? Or maybe me - Jore on bass. --davy
Is there a bass? I'm on shaker (I guess...) This just proves how useless/hopeless it is to trying to remember who plays what! Who cares? --jore
9. Atlantic City Blues (Heikkilš - McGowan)
This is a tune lifted straight from one of the tj band CDís. It was called ĎJore Boogieí there - a truly appaling title that made me reach for a sick bag. I told him in 2002 - before I ever met him - it should be called Atlantic City Blues - and this time I wrote some lyrics for it. --davy
10. Going Up To Country (Mc Gowan)
I like to think this is a Ďcheeryí kind of song. Sometimes itís easy to be lethargic and lazy and moan and groan and you just need someone to boot you up the arse to get something done. Me on guitars, Jore on Drums and mandolin and bass. Donít think Tuomas is on this one.. --davy
11. Plastic Jesus (trad.)
I always thought Paul King (of Mungo Jerry) wrote this - but I found out itís traditional when I decided I would like to record it. A bit of a dig at the Ďcommercialí aspects of the Christian story. I wrote a verse of my own about Sacramento because Greg & Lucy live there. I also mixed in the chorus of another traditional song ĎTake Me Backí - in a subliminal message - itís the guy in the confessional wanting back into the faith - but maybe Iím getting too deep here Ha! Ha! It was late and Tuomas and I were pretty drunk when we recorded this - but I think it worked out OK. Me on guitar and vocal, Jore on drums, bass? and banjo - Tuomas on backing vocals. --davy
Afterwards we wanted the drums off, but it was impossible because the session was taped live (on same mic). No one of us would blow zero on alcometer that night --jore
12. The Wench's Tale (Mc Gowan)
A Geoffrey Chaucer title for my idea of what an English ballad should be. Dark, gloomy, death, rape, pregnancy and ghost loversÖ..It took me a while to get Tarja to agree to sing this - but I think the fragility and innocence of her voice is perfect here. Another strange guitar tuning - which I can no longer remember. Great bass from Jore. --davy
13. Zarathustra's Blues (Mc Gowan)
Apologies to old Fred Nietzsche - dunno why I decided it should be called Zarathustraís Blues - though Fredís ĎTHUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRAí is one of my favourites. Iíve no idea what the lyric is about. I stole the ĎJordan River in her hipsí line from an old blues songÖI steal loads of stuff from wherever I can think of - Iím not proud. Jore on bass, percussion and the instrument at the endÖ.mandolin? --davy
14. Blue Valentines (Tom Waits)
One of my favourite Tom Waits songs. Tuomas plays great piano - me on guitar and vocals. Jore on bass. Jore & Tuomas preferred another mix with 2 basses - but I preferred it with just the one. Daresay their copies of the CD have the 2 bass version. --davy
Yeah... well, I'm sorry but this version right here has 2 basses.. It was a tough 2-1 situation... --jore
15. Draw The Line (Mc Gowan)
Hey - I get to play piano! I wrote this on the piano - which is very unusual. Itís just a straightforward blues but somehow it worked out jazzy and different andÖwell, I just love it! Fantastic Hammond organ sound from Tuomas. I played guitars and I think Jore did bass and percussion. I wrote ĎItís snowing in Buenos AiresÖí because Iíd just seen it on the news that it WAS snowing there - for the first time since the 1920ís. --davy
16. Whippin' Boy (Mc Gowan)
I wrote this on the mandolin. Frank at the folk club showed me a new way to play the ĎAí chord - and I ended up writing this. Great funky organ from Tuomas - who also plays accordian at the end. Jore on bass and guitar. I think I played drums. More misogynistic ramblings! --davy
17. Tamp That Thing (trad.)
An old Sleepy John Estes/Hammie Nixon jug band song that I heard John Sebastian doing a few years back. I think we did a pretty good job of it. --davy
18. Ball and Chain (Mc Gowan)
I wrote this on mandolin too - but ended up playing it on guitar. Pretty bleak lyric - but I only pluck them from the air - I donít know what itís all about - itís a bit of a íriddleí song. Again great work from Tuomas on organ and Jore on bass, percussion and mandolin. --davy
This is one of the tracks that exist in two different mixings. I lost the voting 2-1 so here you have the second best mixing. Ha ha! --jore
19. Reflections (Mc Gowan)
A rather meditative title - and a meditative, wistful little song. I guess I must be getting old. Great piano from Tuomas. I was happy with the way this turned out. Jore on bass. Me on nylon string guitar and vocals. --davy


1. Cold Turkey

Cracks in the window, rain poring through
Wondering what the hell in the world to do
You can take it from me, you can take it as read
That if I had the choice, well Iíd be better off dead
Someoneís walking the floor, someoneís ringing the bell
I heard thereís old men dying by the wishing well
Itís a hot little number but itís cold turkey for me

Sign of the Cross painted on the locked door
Iím howling at the moon but I ainít crying for more
You know I walk on hot coals on the razorís edge
Been nothing but a sinner since Iíve taken the pledge
Rats in the basement, bugs in my bed
A- bombs exploding right inside my head
Itís a hot little number but itís cold turkey for me.

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

2. When We're Free

Well Iíve done most things in life
Mortgage, kids and a jet set wife
Made mistakes along the way
Almost every day
Iíve been where the saints have trod
Spoke to Satan and to God
And I ainít learned but one thing
Thatís the reason why I sing

When weíre free, when weíre free
Weíll all be given the golden key
Free, when weíre free, when weíre free
Satisfaction is a guarantee
Free, when weíre free, when weíre free

So many live from hand to mouth
East and West and Noth and South
Ainít no Paradise found down here
Just us crying in our beer
Thereíve been times I rolled a joint
And lay there wondering whatís the point
Of getting out of my bed
Thatís the reason why I said

When weíre free, when weíre free
Weíll all be given the golden key
Free, when weíre free, when weíre free
Satisfaction is a guarantee
Free, when weíre free, when weíre free

Davy McGowan 2007

3. Country Boy

Troubles come and troubles go
Troubles melt like the driftiní snow
But the drifiní snow can drift for days
Trouble sure find you in different ways
Iím a country boy
Just pickiní away these blues

I got home and I found my wife
Living a lie and a secret life
A Secret life and a life of sin
God only knows the shape Iím in
Iím a country boy
Just pickiní away these blues

At four a.m. I heard the front door slam
She ran away with another man
Another mule kicking in my stall
I got a 38 Special, gonna watch him fall.
Iím a country boy
Just pickiní away these blues

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

4. When Sadness Comes

When sadness comes
God knows youíre gonna need a helping hand
And sadness comes in oh so many ways
But keep on keeping on
Keep some laughter in your heart
And time will melt the sadness all away

And love will come
In many shapes and forms
And fill your heart with the words it will say
And friends are always there
To help you make it through the night
Until the sunrise brings a bright new day

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

8. There Is a Time

The woman that I love, she found another man
Left me here with a pile of blues to carry if I can
Thereís a time

If I found religion I tell you what Iíd do
Iíd cuss the Good Lord every night for making me love you
Thereís a time

Ainít nothing to lose, ainít no soul to save
Cigarettes and whisky gonna put me in my grave
Thereís a time

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

10. Going Up To Country

You might find youíre living in a one room run down shack
And you might find your baby has cut out and wonít be back
You might find religion in an empty whisky glass
And you might what you need is a friend to come and kick you up the ass

Iím going up the country, Iím going where the eagles soar
Iím going up the country and I may not be back no more
Iím going up the country, Iím going where the clouds are high
Iím going up the country, gonna reach up and touch the sky

You might find youíre living on junk food and TV
And you might pass the mirror saying, ĎChrist - can that be me?í
And you might sit in solitude pondering your disgrace
When all you need is a friend to come and slap you in your face.

Iím going up the country, Iím going where the eagles soar
Iím going up the country and I may not be back no more
Iím going up the country, Iím going where the clouds are high
Iím going up the country, gonna reach up and touch the sky

(c) Davy McGowan 2007

12. The Wench's Tale

As I roved out on a fine warm summerís day
And to the market hastened on my way
I saw a man in uniform
Come through the fields of corn

He bid me stop and talk with him awhile
And somewhere in his face I saw a smile
We sat us down beneath a tree
Twas only him and me

He gently spoke and had a kindly eye
And took my hand in his hand by and by
And as the sun rose oíer the tree
His hand was on my knee

The linnetís song was no sweeter than his
But nothing was as sweet as loveís sweet kiss
He laid me down, his lips on mine
Sweeter than any wine

And soon his tunic he had opened wide
His uniform and mine lay cast aside
Twas then upon his body bare
I saw the blood run there

The gaping wound passed straight into his heart
ĎOh sir,í I cried Ďof this I want no partí
He gave a laugh that chilled my core
I swooned and knew no more

When I awoke I found myself alone
With stars above and flesh as cold as stone
And sick at heart in that green dell
I cursed his soul to Hell

Now three months found me growing pale and wan
And six months found my apron strings undone
I know not what my babe will be
Nor shall I live to see

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

13. Zarathustra's Blues

Walk on thin ice
Pay whatever is the price
Sing a few songs
Bout paying the price for righting wrongs
Heroís might be
Part of my philosophy
I need some woman to come and rescue me

Stoking it up
Drinking from the loving cup
Whisky and wine
Never tasted half as fine
Heroís be damned
Letís go find the Promised Land
I need some woman to come and rescue me

Iíve been living hard, going down slow
Trapped in a corner, nowhere to go
Itís a crazy world, I never realised
Jordan riverís in her hips and Iíve been baptised

Later that night
Out of mind and out of sight
Thoughts of the past
Speeding through my mind so fast
Heroís we are
Donít know how I got this far
I need some woman to come and rescue me

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

16. Whippin' Boy

She pawned my soul, sold me the blues
Took my money on a riverboat cruise
Left me here with no way home
And not one goddamn thing to call my own

Well I ainít gonna be your whippiní boy no more

She took my silver, took my gold
Gave me a smile then she cut me cold
Left me naked in the pouring rain
With the sound of darkness pounding in my brain

Well I ainít gonna be your whippiní boy no more

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

18. Ball and Chain

What ainít right must be wrong
If you canít sing it canít be no song
Happy ainít happy if it makes you sad
Time donít ask, time will tell
Ainít no heaven if there ainít no hell
Heart to heart, itís all the same
Whole wordís joined by the ball and chain

One to the left, one to the right
One in the middle and out of sight
The good die young, or so they say
But my old man donít see it that way
Thereís so much gone, so much to be
Like oranges growing on an apple tree
Thereís so much change, itís all the same
Whole worldís joined by the ball and chain

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

19. Reflections

The sun pours down
Like honey from a never ending sky
As I sit here
In bittersweet reflections of my life
A cigarette in my hand
Music From Big Pink playing by The Band

And time goes by
The music stops and silence fills the space
Between the world of sound
And worlds inside my head
As I lie down upon the bed
And sigh for the life I wish I could have led

How did we lose our way?
And where can we find the road back home again?

And as the sun
Moves slowly through the sky I wonder why
Should I be melancholy on this lovely day
When everythingís going my way
And nothing has changed but you and me and life.

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007


Good old Greg decided to give us a review

The album is delightful for its breadth of music, the increasing sophistication of the bandís vocal harmonies, the musical instrumentation which has gone off the charts and the amazing production values.

COLD TURKEY - Great start to the CD. The listener is startled first by the sound of classical music rudely interrupted by the needle scratch across the vinyl, the profane language and the 'take no prisoners' rusty rock tears right into you. This sure ainít gonna be no folk album. What sounds like someone hammering on a steam radiator adds to the wonderful cacophony of sounds, great bluesy lyrics and the music as Tuomas' piano drives the guitar like a two fisted whiskey drinker driving an aqua velva Cadillac down the streets of Memphis. Great harmonies by all. More of this, please!

WHEN WEíRE FREE - I dunno when the Scots and the Finnish learned Gospel so well, but itís evident in this song. Great lead banjo and steel drum sounds. The beginning instrumental is great, reminds me of our visit to the Music Museum in Carlsbad and the 200 Ukuleles exhibit.

COUNTRY BOY - Now if Country music sounded more like this foot tapper, Iíd listen to more than Hank Williams IIIís country punk. The two harmonicas and two guitars adds enough layers to be a whole country band. Too short by at least a minute!

WHEN SADNESS COMES - Nice Brazilian feel to this, jazzy, light, like a warm breeze and a Cuban sunset, Mojitos all around. The piano is absolutely beautiful on this.

DONíT LET IT BRING YOU DOWN - Very nice interpretation of this great Neil Young song, love the instrumental at the end. The piano solo raises the bar and takes the song to a whole nother level. Thanks to Cindy for the request.

THE PRICE OF LOVE - This feels like an old style shamanistic instruction song, rolling back the mists of time to when elders instructed youth by chanting stories and tales. The bass has a wonderful quality to it, connecting to the drum beats below the surface of the melody.

MICHELLEíS SONG - Great melody, with that delicious Brazilian feel again, fine keyboards with a wonderful guitar instrumental. Charming love lyrics.

THEREíS A TIME - The jams are being kicked out again. Roadhouse blues taken to another level by the guys, great jamming guitar and piano in this. I think I may steal this for my band.

ATLANTIC CITY BLUES - Lovely old timey song. You can tell itís a Jore song right off, with that nostalgic, wistful dreamy feelÖkind of like a dance hall still playing music in late September after all of the summer folks have left and gone.

GOING UP THE COUNTRY- I like this one, with that grab anything thatís not nailed down and hit the road for God knows where- you just gotta go sometime Besides bad women and cheap whiskey (or is it the other way around) one of my favorite themes in acoustic music.

PLASTIC JESUS - What a fantastic song! I didnít realize how many people had covered this song was until I goggled it, looking for the lyrics Paul Newman sings it in COOL HAND LUKE with a banjo. This a great version with a very nice banjo lead which knocks me out. Us fans in the Sacramento area are beaming at the additional verse. I couldnít help myself, I had to a drawing.

THE WENCHíS TALE - Just when I thought we werenít going to hear any ďtraditionalĒ type songs on MS albums, along comes this great little treasure. Itís a little bit of a bardic tale, true to the spirit of real folk music. Great vocals.

ZARATHUSTRAíS BLUES - I think I would have called this ďRescue MeĒ and then been sued by somebody. I love the theme in this, half arrogant Celtic bluesman and one half romantic love. Another one of those great traveling man songs, part of the longing thatís inside us on a molecular level, to hit the road when things get too hot in town for us, kind of like an anti-Lone Ranger. One of the best on the CD.

BLUE VALENTINE - Oh Gawd, do I love this! - Smokey Piano, soft strummed jazzy guitar, itís 3:00 am again in a dark bar somewhere on the other side of the tracks. Itís hard to pull off a Tom Waits song, but Davy does an excellent job on this one.

DRAW THE LINE - Great little jazzy blues number. Love the way the instruments are added one by one. Tuomas on the Hammond Organ is outstanding on the instrumental. The lyrics are great but, actually, the whole song could have been great as an instrumental.

WHIPPING BOY -This is the very definition of a ďfoot tapperĒ And any song that starts out with mandolin is going to be all right with me. Could be a traditional song, but itís a McGowan and it sounds damn fine!

TAMP THAT THING - This is traditional and gets back to wonderful, wonderful jug band sounds. Lord a-mighty this is great!

BALL AND CHAIN- The timing on this is amazing, organ is fantastic, guitar great and the vocal jumping and jiving all over. Really excellent.

REFLECTIONS - Nice mellow piece rounding out the album. A nice jazzy reflection song, with a really great lyric, carried off with two piano tracks and guitar weaving in and out of the fabric.