This "Blue Piano"

Cemental Health Records EEG22

STEPHEN LAMONT: guitar, vocals
KEN ASHDOWN: bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on Serendip
NORMAN MACKAY: keyboards, guitar

All songs written by Lamont, © control (PRO-Canada), 
except Promises Cahill, © control; Serendip Ashdown/Mackay, © control.
Some tracks first released on original edition of Cut (EEG33).

Recorded at home, 1984–85; Studio 1913, 1984; Silent Sound, 1985.
Produced by This “Blue Piano”.
Ground's Gone and Euphoria first released on 
The John The Baptist EP, Waste Island Records WASTE 002.
When It Rains I Get Wet, Ground's Gone, Sunset Too Soon, Serendip, 
Make You Smile, Then I Saw You restored by Ken Ashdown, 2003 
for the Komrad Communications release Only The Good Live On.
All tracks digitally remastered October 2004.

This title (P) 1985, 2004 Cemental Health Records.


  • Upper Lough Erne And Lower Lough Erne (3:24): A real beaut in structural terms.  Love to get into the studio with this one.  Baggage From The Past: the Irish folk-heritage that turns me into a dangerous romantic fool, a walking, running sore.
  • Angel (3:46): We were talking about George Meredith’s The Egoist and I was just about to say that I thought there was nothing so vile as an author who wrote a book about how bad he was.  Then I thought about Angel.  And kept my mouth shut.  About not living up to expectations.
  • Ckazka (One Out Of Many) (3:57): The next biggie.  Even better than Ground’s Gone.  On the plateau of Aztec Camera’s We Could Send Letters.  The title is Russian for fairy story.  It’s about the way a relationship brings you face to face with your own lack of uniqueness, just making you one out of many.  Ironic, eh?  A different slant on Prefab Sprout’s Couldn’t Bear To Be Special.
  • Ground’s Gone (5:03): Really took our breath away [during the recording]: lyrics about the loss of my gorgeous romantic dream with specific relevance to my treatment at the hands of [name excised], slow Dylanesque music, I gave it three guitars and a classic is born.  Definitely the finest five minutes of my artistic life.  [And] I feel I must point out, John The Bap was recorded and mixed a full month before The Smiths was released.
  • Sunset Too Soon (5:11): How many novels have you read about the decline of the once-great?  Tragedy is often best expressed in financial terms.  This is my first ever really impersonal song.  A clichéd ending, I know, but I rather like that.  Most of the backing vocals are me and Norman warbling away.  [On these sessions] Norman’s playing the dinky guitar, and I’m playing the loud, obnoxious one.
  • Serendip (4:00): This has gone through many a title change since it was written.  It was originally called The View From Serendip, which (I didn’t know) is a book by Arthur C. Clarke.  Then it was shortened to Serendip, particularly since the words weren’t in the song and that was of course a big issue at one point; then it was changed so drastically that we actually did put something in that was in the song, and it was called The Reasons I’m In Love, then it was called just I’m In Love, and now it’s back to being called Serendip, for this week anyway.  Ken sings and wrote the lyrics, and gives me ample opportunity to bounce around playing distorted lead lines.
  • Make You Smile (3:24): It doesn’t matter who this is about, but I think this is still almost a manifesto.  Maybe it’s a little bit over-traditional This “Blue Piano”, but I really like it.  I also like the backing vocals on the chorus; it’s one of those neat ideas you have in the studio – all four Pianos screaming into the microphone.
  • Jerusalem (3:51): This we decided to do a lot slower in the studio than out normal “one-two-three-four” take on it.  The reactions to it at this speed have been mixed.  It used to clock in at under three minutes.  About how people ought to face up to their own selfishness.
  • Then I Saw You (3:37): I’m worried that most people will think that this is really a genuine love song.  The video – which is what I wrote it for: to be a video – will be the best mocking video ever produced, but you’ll have to wait for that for God knows how long.  OK, maybe it’s not terribly clever, just moderately clever, but I still think that the best pop song line ever written is “You’re a Finnegans Wake, you’re the new George Best, you’re like Simply Thrilled Honey made into flesh.”  I don’t think anyone is ever going to equal that.
  • Where Am I To Go? (4:41): Not bad at all, eh?  I still think that knocks the spots off anything else on the [compilation] record [on which an edited version was originally released in Canada], even though we didn’t play it that well and it’s not one of our best songs and the drum sound is pretty weak; I still think there’s at least five absolutely wonderful things happening in that song.
  • Ciné-Royal [S.L.demo] (5:28): Just as bad, probably a bit worse in terms of musical content, but at least it’s a bit more funny, and it’s certainly much more obscure.  It’s about This “Blue Piano”; each verse is about an individual member.  There are all sort of triple-linguistic puns in it, my favourite of which is the title itself, as what most people probably aren’t gonna realise is that “siniy royal” is Russian for “blue piano”.  The first verse is about Ken, the second Colin, the third Norman.
  • When It Rains I Get Wet (3:50): A big book for me this summer [1984] was À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu.  This is a personal recasting of the incident of Swann creeping up to Odette's house to discover absolute proof of her infidelity – raps on the window and finds he has the wrong house.  About the inexorable pressures of jealousy.  Fast and clever.
  • Promises (3:20): Actually, the first time I heard it I was going to gently tell Colin not to write any more songs.  But once we got to grips with it, it developed a bouncy, simplistic little life of its own.  Combine this with the fact that (unlike my own songs) its vocals are in my optimum range (about 3 semitones) and it’s become quite an appreciated number, especially by people who aren’t actually in the band.  Can even be punky, depending on the mood I’m in...
  • Euphoria (2:50)
  • Hang On A Minute [S.L.demo] (3:55): Pretty fierce, bearing a resemblance to Echo And The Bunnymen’s Crocodiles until its quiet ending.  Inspired (believe it or not) by Orange Juice’s The Day I Went Down To Texas and what I see as Edwyn Collins’s attempt to convey the essence of life in a drunken, sunny moment of pure bliss.  Mine could be retitled The Day I Went Down To Pau.
  • I Blinked [S.L.demo] (3:33): Not a very important musical step, maybe only B-side quality.  I like to keep churning them out; it gives you something to do while you’re working.
  • Nuremberg Cathedral [S.L.demo] (5:14)
  • Sunset Too Soon [S.L.demo] (5:07)
  • From The Heart Of Me [S.L.demo] (3:34): The idea of someone writing a song to criticise [my account of my relationships] was just too much of a temptation, and I wrote one right back.  I don’t know if there’s anything really meaningful about it; I hope, though, that you did pick up on the Scott Walkerisms, because I was going out of my way to try and get those in.

—notes by Stephen Lamont