A Yard of Ale

by Stuart Forester

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    A Yard of Ale is the second album by Stuart Forester released on Melonstone Records, May 2013. Ten original songs plus an interpretation of the traditional English folk ballad The Factory Girl and a cover of the Mike Waterson ode to the ragged glory and ultimate decline of the UK fishing industry, Cold Coast of Iceland.
    'You feel as though you’ve been listening to these songs and this voice for all your life.' Dai Jeffries, R2 Magazine.
    Comes shrink wrapped in full colour artwork gatefold card digipak with 12 page lyric booklet and full colour artwork on the cd itself.

    Includes unlimited streaming of A Yard of Ale via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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about

A Yard of Ale is the second album by Stuart Forester released on Melonstone Records, May 2013. Ten original songs plus an interpretation of the traditional English folk ballad The Factory Girl and a cover of the Mike Waterson ode to the ragged glory and ultimate decline of the UK fishing industry, Cold Coast of Iceland.
'You feel as though you’ve been listening to these songs and this voice for all your life.' Dai Jeffries, R2 Magazine.

credits

released May 1, 2013

Written, performed, recorded and produced by Stuart Forester
Melodeon & concertina by Jack Burnaby
Fiddle & viola by Phil Martin
Additional guitar by Clayton Marks

Mastered by Pete Maher
Photography by Karen Forester

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about

Stuart Forester London, UK

Stuart Forester is a South London based songwriter in the folk tradition who has quite some stories to tell. And that burning desire to chronicle the passage of life is fully realised on his new album A Yard Of Ale, to to be released 1st May 2013 through Melonstone Records.
'You feel as though you’ve been listening to these songs and this voice for all your life.' Dai Jeffries, R2 Magazine.
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Track Name: Mitcham Fair Green
Mitcham Fair Green 4.32 Stuart Forester

Fair Green is just a short walk from where I live and this story came to me following a visit to the modern carnival on Mitcham Common. A story of a one night liaison between a young fairground worker and a woman of unspecified profession!

It was maybe the beer and the whisky or maybe those lights in my eyes
But I swear she looked like an angel ‘neath the moon that shone from on high
Her hair it was lit like a halo so I took me a drink from the hip
I straightened me jacket and collar, I spied me a chance for to take
I could see straight away she was older, my senior ten years maybe more
But her beauty it burned like a beacon so I strode up to her brass and bold
The carousel spun like a whirlwind and my passion was hot as a flame
And I knew she could teach me some lessons that night on Mitcham Fair Green

We walked and we talked for a while ‘til in shadow we found ourselves there
We stood close and faced one another just behind the penny arcade
I told her some things that I wanted, she told me “I know what you need”
She gave me love to be grateful that night on Mitcham Fair Green
And we rolled and we tumbled together, the leaves and the grass in our hair
Joy and rapture was round us and the glow of the lights of the fair
I could hear the sounds of the big wheel and my head it was spinning the same
And I swear I could see heaven or maybe the stars through the trees
And her beauty it shone like a comet, she gave me good loving for free
And I swear I could see heaven that night on Mitcham Fair Green

In the morning I woke by the embers in the haze and the dew of the dawn
Beside me a ring as a token to remember the bird who had flown
I felt like the king of nothing, her never no more would I see
But with fondness I’ll often remember that night on Mitcham Fair Green
And her beauty it shone like a comet, she taught me a lesson or three
And I swear I could see heaven that night on Mitcham Fair Green
Track Name: Yorkshire Rose
Yorkshire Rose 2.45 Stuart Forester

For Karen. Fiddle played by Phil Martin.

I drank me a river and smoked me a sky, I rambled and gambled from Dover to Tyne
I played the wild rover in Ireland and Wales, in Scotland I’ve rolled them in heather
I spent most me money on women and ‘caine and any left over I squandered away
But of all of those pleasures none can compare to the flower that grows by the Humber

There’s none so grand as me Yorkshire Rose, the pride of all the garland
She’s always in bloom and forever me muse, I thank you me sweet Yorkshire Rose

The grass it grows greener I used to say, I’d pick a wild flower and be on me way
But there is no denying it’s in the East Riding I found the flower most fair

And there’s none so grand as me Yorkshire Rose, the pride of all the garland
She’s always in bloom and forever me muse, I thank you me sweet Yorkshire Rose

Now many’s the good time and lassie I’ve known but me raking is over no longer I’ll roam
‘Cos a straight rolling woman as every man knows, you got to keep hold if you find one

And there’s none so grand as me Yorkshire Rose, the pride of all the garland
She’s always in bloom and forever me muse, I thank you me sweet Yorkshire Rose
No there’s none so grand as me Yorkshire Rose, the pride of all the garland
She’s always in bloom and forever me muse, I thank you me sweet Yorkshire Rose
Track Name: The Factory Girl
The Factory Girl (Trad arr. Forester) 3.48

A declaration of independence, in that the girl, no matter how poor or humble, is still her own master and not ashamed of her poverty nor afraid to resist the advances of a young gallant. Learnt from a great version by Peta Webb and Alison McMoorland. Jack Burnaby plays melodeon and harmonium.

As I went a walking one fine summer’s morning, the birds on yon brambles they sweetly did sing
The lads and the lasses together were sporting, going down to the factory their work to begin

I spied one amongst them more fairer than Venus, her skin like the lily her none could excel
Her eyes like two diamonds they shone o so brightly, she’s my own bonnie lassie my factory girl

I boldly stepped to her all seeming to view her when on me she cast a proud look of disdain
Saying “young man stand from me and do not insult me, for it’s though I am a poor girl I think it no shame”

“It isn’t to scorn you fair maid I adore you but grant me one favour say where do you dwell?”
She answered me “Kind sir I fear I must leave you for there goes the sound of our factory bell”

“But I have fine houses adorned all with ivory and gold in my pockets and silver as well
And if you’ll come with me I’ll make you a lady and no more will you heed yon poor factory bell”

“It’s love and temptation are our ruination, to marry a lady perhaps you’d do well
For I’m a poor orphan without friends or relations and besides I’m a hard working factory girl”
Track Name: Star of the West
Star of the West 5.31 Stuart Forester

Inspired by the recollections of the drinking and brawling years of a good friend of mine from Hull and a particular favourite pub of his, long since demolished to make way for a shopping centre.

I packed up me troubles and headed for more when I got out of borstal in late ‘64
Everthorpe prison never taught me no lessons, those old stone cold walls never did me no good
There was a place that I would go when I was a free man with coppers to spend
There was tar on the ceiling and blood on the floor, it was like coming home when you walked through the door

The Star of the West shines bright in my mind
The things I could tell you I was hard in me time
I’ve got scars I could show you and some that I can’t
The Star of the West still shines in my mind

Monochrome memories of Saturday nights, black and blue brawls in Henry’s at midnight
I loved every minute and I drank to them all, those sailors and squaddies and dockers and whores
We’d go out on Friday with a fiver and smokes and come round on Sunday battered and broke
But I was a free man at least for a while and while I was free I was drunk all the time

The Star of the West shines bright in my mind
The things I could tell you I was hard in me time
I’ve got scars I could show you and some that I can’t
The Star of the West still shines in my mind

There was a woman back in those days, a mother and lover she worked for her pay
They said I was mental they said I was mad, but she was the best woman I ever had
And these faded old pictures all over my skin remind me of people and places I’ve been
And I’ve been round a few times and I’ve mended me ways, but the best times that I had were those nights and days

The Star of the West shines bright in my mind
The things I could tell you I was hard in me time
I’ve got scars I could show you and some that I can’t
The Star of the West still shines in my mind
Track Name: Bramblefoot
Bramblefoot 2.45 Stuart Forester

A song of nature and a celebration of the bountiful seasons. Bramblefoot is the life, the industry in the undergrowth, the bringer and sustainer. Melodeon by Jack Burnaby.

Come del a derry o hear the bluebells ringing, May dew on the willow, daisies in the meadow
Down dale in the valley o a sunny song he’s singing, come now Bramblefoot fears not time nor shadow

Sunlight on the laurel moonlight on the hazel, songbird on the berry, food is on the table

Old man Bramblefoot older than the mountains, come bring a happy tune clearer than the fountain
Down where the Ramson grows beasties in the burrows, come now Bramblefoot seed is in the furrows

Sunlight on the laurel moonlight on the hazel, songbird on the berry babies in the cradle

Step light Bramblefoot a rustle in the rushes, fresh like the morning silver river running
Sing a song a happy song ever may you wander, come long Bramblefoot the harvest and the giver

Sunlight on the laurel moonlight on the hazel, songbird on the berry, food is on the table
Track Name: Cold Coast of Iceland
Cold Coast of Iceland 3.13 Mike Waterson

Coming from Hull and with a history of trawler fishing in my family, this powerful song resonates with me. It speaks of the ragged glory and ultimate decline of the this once mighty industry of the east coast and of the UK in general. Written by the late great Mike Waterson, I‘ve given the song a guitar arrangement.

Me name is Jim Parkinson, Hull’s where I’m from, some call me a hero some call me a bum
But I’ll sing you a song the way songs should be sung of them heroes that fished off of Iceland

You can talk of your soldiers your sailors so fine, your men in the steel works your lads down the mine
But there’s many the hero wasted his prime catching cod off the cold coast of Iceland

Now I’ve three fingers missing well ain’t that a shame and me left leg is gammy that means that I’m lame
It’s a small price to pay to be part of the game catching cod off the cold coast of Iceland

And it’s bye-bye St. Andrews as we head for the ground where the cod and the haddock and them red fish are found
And it’s out with the gear and we work the clock round catching cod off the cold coast of Iceland

And your wage is a gamble so you earn all you can, there’s rules to be broken so you break every one
And you stand and you freeze and kid on you’re a man, catching cod off the cold coast of Iceland

When the trip’s over and Sinbad’s ashore he’ll have a few pints and then he’ll have a few more
Then it’s home to the missus or else visit some whore to forget about fishing off Iceland

Then came the cod war and we lost every round and the fishing was over ‘cos we’d lost the best ground
And a cloud of despondency fell on the town, no more fishing for cod off of Iceland

Now on the docks where them trawlers were seen, in cold glass and concrete a brand new museum
It’s called Trawling Deep Water GB PLC and all of my heroes are memories
Track Name: Gitonyossie
Instrumental. Written by Stuart Forester.
Track Name: Duke & Little Renie
Duke and Little Renie 4.15 Stuart Forester

A while ago I was asked to write a song relating to the Walworth area of London. After unsuccesfully toying with a couple of ideas relating to the history and famous characters of the area I happened to be driving down Old Kent Road when I passed a skinhead dustman’s wedding. Although I saw them for only a brief moment this is my imagining of that couple’s life together. Viola played by Phil Martin.

Hammerduke Harrington king of the bins, fists like cannon balls and a brick for a chin
Two forty pounds built like a bull, a head tough as rock he could knock off your block
Bare knuckle hero disputed it was not, but the Duke had a heart and his heart was soft
For a sweet little dolly on Longley Street that he saw on his round once a week

Renie Drew five foot two, feather cut fringe and monkey boots
A real firecracker hard and cute, skinhead girl with jet black roots
He said “Oh little queenie I love you girl, I’ll be your king if you’ll be my pearl
‘Cos love isn’t hard it’s just hard to find so will you marry me in the summer”

Now Renie didn’t wait or hesitate for she loved the Duke and her love was great
She said yes in a heartbeat oh and they got married down the Old Kent Road
She came down the aisle to the wedding march played in the style of blue beat ska
She said “yes” and he said “I do” and the sharp dressed band came in on cue

They fell out the church a real good start, tin cans tied to the back of the dust cart
With a ragged crew and the band in tow they drove that cart down the Old Kent Road
The reception was a riot the coppers were called, Duke was in the middle of a seven-man brawl
They were all carted off in a paddy wagon and had a good laugh in the morning

Now Hammerduke quit his street fighting ways, he give up the bevy for peaceful days
In married bliss years those rolled by and Renie she give him five apples of his eye
For twenty five years he worked on the bins and those nippers grew up like a flash in the pan
Forty-nine summers they came and they went and Renie and the Duke got old and bent

The kids they had kids of their own, seasons changed and the river roamed
Now Hammerduke Harrington king of the bins is pushing up daisies with Renie beside him
No words in a book or a plaque on the wall to Hammerduke Harrington, hardest of all
But they planted a garden and watched it grow strong, the Duke and little Renie of SE1
Track Name: The Roving Labourer
The Roving Labourer 2.36 Stuart Forester

A British rewriting of the American traditional song The Roving Gambler and incorporating a variation of the old Yorkshire saying “From Hell, Hull, and Halifax may the Good Lord deliver us”, which is most commonly known from the Thieves’, Beggars’ or Dalesman’s Litany.

I am a roving labourer and I’ve laboured all around
From Hull to Hell and Halifax I’ve laid the blackstuff down
From Hull to Hell and Halifax I’ve laid the blackstuff down
I’ve worked the farms all summer I’ve lugged me share of hods
From Aberdeen to Truro town I’ve worked all kinds of jobs
From Aberdeen to Truro town I’ve worked all kinds of jobs

I’ll shovel coals up the Tyne and I’ll graft for cash in hand
I’ll break me back for ale and snap
But I’ll take no shit from the ganger man
I am a roving labourer and I’ve laboured all the land

I had not been in Liverpool not many weeks than three
When I fell in love with Maggie Mae and she fell in love with me
Yes I fell in love with Maggie Mae and she fell in love with me
She took me to the dockside house and she bought me black and tan
She whispered sweet and low in me ear “I love me a labouring man”
She whispered sweet and low in me ear “I love me a labouring man”

I’ll shovel coals up the Tyne and I’ll graft for cash in hand
I’ll break me back for ale and snap
But I’ll take no shit from the ganger man

On highways and the railways on scaffolds and in mills
I’ve roamed this land with a shovel in my hand made from Sheffield steel
I’ve roamed this land with a shovel in my hand made from Sheffield steel
Cos I am a roving labourer and I’ve laboured all around
From Hull to Hell and Halifax I’ve laid the blackstuff down
From Hull to Hell and Halifax I’ve laid the blackstuff down
Track Name: The Bowerbird
The Bowerbird 3.03 Stuart Forester

Another song of the wonders of nature. The bowerbird is renowned for it’s unique courtship behaviour, where the males build a bower and decorate it with sticks and brightly coloured objects in an attempt to attract a mate. A real smooth operator!

Lady o lady come to my garden, treasures I’ll lay at your feet
Feathers and berries, ferns and wild flowers and bright coloured shells from the sea
Sweet fair and lovely creature of wonder I will fulfil your desire
Lady o lady come to my bower and lay down with me for a while

O sir you are gracious your voice it is soothing, your treasury fit for a queen
Soft on the lawn your courtship is tempting ‘neath silvery green dappled sunbeams
If you give me the greatest of all of your gifts I’ll walk in your hall so enchanting and fine
Lady o lady then come to my bower and lay down with me for a while

Lady I give you this seed of creation here in the shade of the vine
So go on your way and tend to your garden, take care of your riches so rare and sublime
Yours is the bounty I’ll gather my love if ever you should return to my shire
I’ll welcome you lady into my bower to lay down with me for a while
I’ll welcome you lady into my bower to lay down with me for a while
Track Name: We Love You
We Love You 3.17 Stuart Forester

Inspired by London’s Soho and the Reeperbahn in Hamburg. Melodeon by Jack Burnaby.

Ladies and gentlemen step this way please to this den so immoral of vice and of sleaze
Our trade it is wicked our repute it is lowly, we take in all waifs and all strays from the street
My name it is John and they call me Jack Murphy, they come here for pleasure the world all around
Strippers and dippers of pockets and poets and lost souls who don’t ever want to be found
The bad girls of Soho and the wild Irish rovers mix with the police and men of the cloth
So come in my lovelies and lay down your money and all of your morals if any you’ve got

Oh we love you
So bad to the bone
Yes yes yes we’ll show you a good time
And you’ll never ever want to go home

We’re open on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays and the rest of the week as a matter of fact
Twenty four hours the clock’s always running and the girls all keep working flat on their backs
So take a walk with me there’s business for sale just up the alley they’re shaking their tails
Feathers and fetish and leather and chains and more things beyond to land you in jail

Oh we love you
So bad to the bone
Yes yes yes we’ll show you a good time
And you’ll never ever want to go home
Track Name: Valhalla
Valhalla 4.27 Stuart Forester

These are the final moments and thoughts of a young soldier in the first world war trying to make sense of the nightmare around him and find some kind of comfort in a hopeless situation.

Fiddle played by Phil Martin.
Sombre run the hellish trenches, boys and men in regiments
Long for sweethearts, cry for mothers, oh farewell my band of brothers
Death beneath a mustard sky, mother earth is scarred and why?
The angels sing sweet and low, lift me up take me home

I will see you over the border
Bound for glory in Valhalla

No more chaos no more pain, not forgotten not in vain?
But father I don’t want to die, scared and much too young am I

But I will see you over the border
Bound for glory in Valhalla

A hero to my kin I dreamed, I never thought it would be like this
Mud and blood and hate and fear, all I see is madness here
And fire in the hearts of men, crimson fields where once was green
The bullets cut down foes and friends left stranded on barbed wire fences

So I will see you over the border
Bound for glory in Valhalla
I can see you over the border
Bound for glory