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Great Britain / UK

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Rock: Psychedelic Rock: Classic Rock Moods: Type: Lyrical
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Genre: Rock: Psychedelic
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Witchfinder General
3:42 $0.99
2. Madame Guillotine
2:43 $0.99
3. The Great Edwardian Air-raid
3:16 $0.99
4. The Hanging Judge
2:02 $0.99
5. Still Falls The Snow
3:13 $0.99
6. Mathilda Mother
2:55 $0.99
7. Gabrielle
2:27 $0.99
8. Requiem
2:08 $0.99
9. Buccaneers
5:38 $0.99
10. In The Opium Den
3:16 $0.99
11. Twilight Of The Gods
1:46 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes



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Marc Berger

The Masterpiece
Being an avid reader of the magazine, Bucketful of Brains, I was very fortunate to read and hear (thankfully for their flexi's as well as compilation LP/CD "time will show the wiser") Paul Roland's material. I bought this on vinyl back in the day, and then ended up buying at least 3 different editions (all seemed to have slightly different mixes?) on cd. In my opinion, this is the most consistent release and the one where all the songs are strong. The beginning "witchfinder general" has a galloping bassline and entices the listener to imagine a Victorian past with Paul as the narrator. The themes continue throughout and Paul helms each of the tracks with his storytelling best. The final track "twilight of the gods" is the right song to end this album.....has a guitar riff a heavy metal fan would love....adds a mean edge to the soft and eerie vocal delivery from Paul wonderfully. Despite a cover version (which Paul makes his own), this is his finest hour. Many of these tracks get reworkings (via radio sessions), this is where you can hear them as they were meant to be in a long player and in original form. High recommendation!

John Scharpen

The Pleasures of the Past
This release was my introduction to Paul Roland. I bought it from a cassette tape bargain bin at Tower Records sometime in the late eighties or early nineties, my purchase based purely on the cover image and the song titles. Thankfully, my gamble paid off. At the time, this release was sort of an anomaly for me – it didn’t seem to fit into any of the musical genres I had explored. Terms like “psych pop” (as his music is sometimes called), were unknown to me. Looking at his music from my vantage point at the beginning of 2008, I must say that it still doesn’t fit solidly in any one genre. He still stands out as an individual in an art form littered with followers. I guess the closest comparison I could make would be to someone like Robyn Hitchcock (who actually makes an appearance on one of Roland’s records), although he seems to have found somewhat of a home amongst the goths and neofolkies. The first song, Witchfinder General, is an upbeat one, with some violin embellishment and a driving beat. This is followed by Madame Guillotine, which plays out like a lively march towards the blade. Madame Guillotine herself seems like a rather horrific character (“cadaverous, obscene”) and is in keeping with the subjects of most of Roland’s other songs. Despite his almost uniformly grim subject matter, Roland’s phrasing and delivery suggest the relative innocence of a simpler era. Of course, a closer listen to the lyrics reveals that the past is no more innocent than the present. Roland excels at presenting the songs in a way that a contemporary of, say… Jack the Ripper, might have if said person had had access to rock instrumentation. Okay – back to the songs now. The Great Edwardian Air Raid, one of my favorite songs on the album, is evocative of a slowly unfolding attack, as any Edwardian Air Raid would have had to have been, of course. The song itself is haunting and hummable at the same time. The next song, The Hanging Judge, is upbeat, with well-placed violin embellishments. Sort of like an Edwardian rock song. This is followed by Still Falls the Snow, which slows things down again to haunting effect. Matilda Mother comes next, sounding like an uneasy bedtime story, with the line, “Oh mother, tell me more…” sticking in my head with its implied sense of wonder. Gabrielle, which is the start of side two on the vinyl version, is an upbeat, albeit haunting, love song with a chorus that I occasionally find myself singing as I walk around the house. The elegiac Requiem, up next, slows things down just long enough to provide a sonic backdrop to the artwork on the cover of this release (a horse-drawn hearse). Buccaneers follows this with the album’s most “rocking” moment. It’s a story of a poor unfortunate waylaid by a press-gang and taken to sea. Penny whistle and a thunderous beat drive it along to its conclusion. The strains of a sitar usher in (and out again) In the Opium Den, where “ecstasy waits/coiled like a snake/draw from the hookah/the serpent will awake”. Roland knows just how to create an atmosphere with just a few well-placed notes (in much the same way that authors like Algernon Blackwood or Arthur Machen could create atmosphere with a few well-placed words). The album ends with a trip to the frozen north, where we meet Norse gods in The Twilight of the Gods. All in all, this release (and most of Roland’s other releases) are the audio equivalent of reading nineteenth century ghost stories by candlelight. The scares are more poetic, less in-your-face, but no less effective. Some might say they’re more effective. I just might have to agree. We live in an age of overkill, so it’s nice to be able to step away from it once in awhile. Paul Roland provides the staircase.

Rasmus Wittsell

Very difficult to find and well worth looking for!
This, the first Paul Roland CD album is well worth buying, should you be able to find it! Several of the tracks have been re-released on later albums, but these early versions reveal the works of an already accomplished artist. There is little cohesion in the album as the songs are quite varied in style, but each one is a small gem in itself. My personal favourite Roland song: Gabrielle is here too!