Lord Abergavenny's Hills

by Darren Black

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about

“It is based solely around tales of the Welsh iron & coal mining industry - mainly factual but with a smidgen of poetic license here and there. I was born and spent the first 10 years of my life in the South Wales valleys, just a few miles from Blaenavon, the heart of that mining industry. My Grandfather spent 25 years under ground as a miner, and it has long held a dormant fascination in the back of my mind.
I bought a lovely old 1966 Gibson archtop guitar early last year, and its warm, smoky tones inspired me to write and record a bunch of songs and tunes with the mining theme in mind. The songs were written very quickly and I wanted the freedom to take my time and experiment with the arrangements, without being tied to snowballing external studio time. Consequently I recorded and produced everything in my small studio at home just outside Winchester. 

I was originally intent on keeping absolutely everything in-house, without guest musicians, using only my own instrumentation on all the tracks. However I soon figured that additional slide guitar could sit well on a couple of songs so I invited Lennie Harvey to contribute his Resonator and Weissenborn guitars, introducing a bluegrassy feel. I worked with Lennie on Naomi Bedford's 2011 album 'Tales from the weeping willow' (along with other guests including Paul Heaton, Justin Currie and Alasdair Roberts). Lennie's previously worked with various artists including Sally Van Meter and Gabe Witcher.

The sound, although very much in the folk/roots story telling tradition, is arguably slightly different to my previous recordings - largely due to tone of the Gibson, but also in the vibe and the layering of guitars & fiddles on some of the songs. It is interspersed with three instrumentals and follows a theme from start to finish. I've also designed and created the artwork - a simple imagery which is intended to reflect the journey of the landscape through the Industrial Revolution and back again.”

credits

released March 14, 2015

Darren Black - vocals/guitars/violin/percussion
Lennie Harvey - Resonator & Weissenborn guitars on tracks 4 & 8

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about

Darren Black Winchester, UK

Darren is a musician & writer who has gained a reputation for his thoughtful and poetic lyrics, often born of an awareness to what is happening around him, both socially and ecologically. Welsh born, but now based in Hampshire UK, he is a guitarist, singer and fiddle player who has headlined his own shows at folk clubs, art centres and other venues & played main stages at notable folk festivals. ... more

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Track Name: The Head Man
No-one sees what the head man sees, the head man sees what nobody sees
Whether you're sick, down at heel, he'll do all that he can for thee
For the head man sees, the head man sees ahead for you and me

No-one knows what the head man knows, the head man knows what nobody knows
A big old house made of stone, fit for an Iron Master's home
For the head man knows, the head man knows all there is to know

He's there for to offer the gift of the cloth
And the name of his workers - this he knows and treats them with respect

No-one hears what the head man hears, the head man hears what nobody hears
Swing the lead or swig the beer, he'll find out and and he'll kick your rear
For the head man hears, the head man hears all there is to hear

He's there for the learning, at tuppence a time
Where wives teach the children - schools at Little Quick and Bunker's Hill

He’s there for the healing, and care for the old
Insane or the bleeding - charity, infirmaries for all

No-one sees what the head man sees, the head man sees what nobody sees
Whether you're sick, down at heel, he'll do all that he can for thee
Track Name: Pig Iron
Seventeen eighty nine
Another world, another time
Forty thousand pounds
Just to get it of the ground

And three hundred men
A hundred to a furnace, three of them
Led by Thomas Hill
Hopkins, Pratt in Witley, with Nevill

There is a sense of the wealth
Influence and gravitas that came
With turning around this backwater town
And making your name
And the name of the game: pig iron

Heaps of ore and coal
Signs of land relieved of its soul
Napoleonic wars,
US Independence made it soar

So demand was high
Iron for the armaments to fight
Other people’s wars
Did they care what they were fighting for

There is a sense of the wealth
Influence and gravitas that came
With turning around this backwater town
And making your name
And the name of the game: pig iron

And as time went by
Profits grew with population rise
And it so became
The Ironworks that led the way
Track Name: Where The Rainbow Meets The Sweet Sunshine
My man rolls in
My man rolls in
I wanna be there to warm his feet
When my man rolls in

Out at six
Yes he’s out at six
Up before the lark and he gets home after dark
Then he’s out again at six

Me I keep good time
Put his clothes out on the line
Keep a tidy house
Put the food into his mouth and mine

Since knee high
Known him since knee high
Born across the roof from each other, that’s the truth
Known him since knee high

And he’s black as pitch
Yes he’s black as pitch
Twelve hours digging coal, stuck inside a dusty hole
Then he’s black as pitch

Once he said to me
We’re lucky just to be
We don’t need for much
Just each other that’s enough for me

And he loves me so
Says he loves me so
Does it all for me, and why should I disagree
Coz I love him so

I would live a lie
If I said I wouldn’t like
Just a little piece
Where the rainbow meets the sweet sunshine
Track Name: Lord Abergavenny's Hills
Instrumental track
Track Name: Monoglot The Dinosaur
They came from far and yonder
To blackened fields and skies
Some left and some absconded
Looking for a steady life

A wage is what they came for
The draw of work to do
Arriving in their thousands
Many hands and willing to

Get on, choose your words and run
Change has begun

They came from Abergele
Brymawr and Harlech too
Native pronounciation
That was all they ever knew

A language old as mountains
Befits the mother tongue
But soon like oil on water
Separation came as one

Get on, choose your words and run
Change has begun

And so then came the railway
And written English news
And more in poured the workers
Using words the Queen would choose

From London to Glamorgan
Word spread and with it spawned
A whole new way of speaking
Monoglot the dinosaur

Get on, choose your words and run
Change has begun
Track Name: The Pit Wheel
Instrumental
Track Name: Tell It To The Cow
Ode to the farm, four buildings in the yard, in the brow of a hill
Cattle in the shed, a barn where they hid from the cold winter chill
When the miners came, work was plentiful to gain
Money there to earn, and land to turn

Tell it to me now, I won’t listen anyhow
Calm you down, calm you down

Labour to give, they need somewhere to live, so the farm becomes a row of homes
Small but you could spit the short walk to the pit - dry and warm, a haven from the storm
Families of ten, crammed like fish into a tin
Mother stays at home, father brings in the dough

Tell it to me now, I won’t listen anyhow
Calm you down, calm you down

So to the tale of the farmer and his ale - he was fond, rather fond of a drop
Lived in number four, often found upon all fours, crawling home, beaten by the hop

Then one night he burst through the door after a thirst
Mrs farmer sighs and begins to ask him why
Soon she starts to jeer but it’s falling on deaf ears
So he leads a cow into the kitchen and pronounced

Tell it to the cow, she might listen to you now
Calm you down, calm you down
Track Name: Hats Off To The Rest
Call a tribute to the ones who got away
Up until now whose names have never seen the light of day
From the ordinary death to the bizarre
There’s a list as long as your arm

Richard Phillips when he fell right off the furnace wall
Billy Lewis fell into the pit after a brawl
And Jones his hat blew off he chased it and he fell
Pulled and drawn right through the mill

And so to the rest, hats off to the rest
They are gone forever more
And so to the rest, hats off to the rest
Those whose names are lost forever more

Little Lewis Edmunds bless his heart was only ten
Circular saws were never meant for boys as young as him
Stephen Garret cut in two, a similar fate
An oven door for Sarah James

And so to the rest, hats off to the rest
They are gone forever more
And so to the rest, hats off to the rest
Those whose names are lost forever more

Joseph Davies caught the wrong side of the boiler tin
Got him while asleep, the workhouse saw the end of him
Quinn was drunk he passed out on the cinder tips
Dawkins met a tram, the better of him

And so to the rest, hats off to the rest
They are gone forever more
And so to the rest, hats off to the rest
Those whose names are lost forever more
Track Name: The Hills Breathe Again
When the dust settles, the line stands still
The wheel stops turning, there’s peace on the hill
And a cold winter bears heavy and long
The last of the pits has gone

The planes pitted with quarries and mines
Blackened by tips of the colliery spoil
Tram roads and railways weaved a long line
And the forgotten landscape recoiled

The hills breathe again
The hills breathe again
The hills breathe, the lungs blow free
And the hills breathe again

Clear as morning the day begins
So starts the healing, the nightingale sings
Back grows the heather, and dresses the land
And the Blackcap is seen once again

The hills breathe again
The hills breathe again
The hills breathe, the lungs blow free
And the hills breathe again

Warm summer evening, a blood orange glow
Lights up the lake where the spoil tips flowed
Flickers and ripples like plasticine sun
And the Sand Martin heads for home

The hills breathe again
The hills breathe again
The hills breathe, the lungs blow free
And the hills breathe again
Track Name: The Enemy Within
The end is near, intent is clear
The order comes to close them down
The Lady speaks, the Unions weep
Emotion’s high and over-ripe
Many thrown and cast like broken glass
Empty mouths to feed, but still she sees ‘the enemy within’

The whistle blows through every soul
And every heart that played a part
Were they owed as much as they gave in trust
Was it all in vein, nor the lion tamed
And they say farewell to the final bell
But burrow deep, there’s still reward left to reap