Here the brute harpies make their nests

by Julian Gaskell & his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

supported by
Tony Gale
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Tony Gale I used to see these guys regularly when I was living in Cornwall. They put on one of the best live shows I've ever seen, and no two shows are alike. Favorite track: No housing benefit, smokers or pets.
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Some reviews:

fRoots Nov/Dec 2009
What's there not to like about this great little quintet? Scurrying out of Falmouth in Cornwall, their bustling, belting, lopsided accordeon-led sound branches somewhere off the same musical family tree that gave us top Belgian faves Jaune Toujours and the long-lost La Cucina, with the rural literary flair of Blyth Power, XTC and Dancing Did chucked in the mix. Bits of hyper-Balkanisation bloody their noses on some crunchy Roma-jazz, and waves of sppedy punkfolk ska crash in the mix on cheesy surf organ and the ghost of Cap'n Beefheart. And a whole exhausting (in a good way) lot more. Exhilarating playing, fab lyrics, energy to spare: if I was running The Modern Day Festival - deservedly excoriated in the song of the same name - I'd be straight on the phone to book these guys for next year. If they're this exciting on record then the live experience is going to be truly extraordinary. Go get, from

24-7 Magazine October 2009
They don’t do demos, JULIAN GASKELL & HIS RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS. They do fully realised works of prole art that eschews the idea of clambering up the music industry ladder only to land on a snake and end up in a heap of disappointment. True to form, ‘Here The Brute Harpies Make Their Nests’ finds Gaskell and Co stepping up a gear and self-releasing an album that oozes confidence, irreverence, independence and brilliance; cementing their reputation as Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello’s defiantly Cornish bastard offspring. Taking us into a tumbledown world of squeezeboxes, fiddles, percussive waywardness and intellectual drinking, these 14 songs will make you swell with underclass pride even if you’re a bourgeois bum, with a lyric booklet that is worth the admission fee alone. Magnificent.

Julian Gaskell once more, assembles his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (also featuring long time associate Kester Jones). Recorded down in Falmouth and St Keverne and then mastered in the New Forest, Julian is firmly at the helm on this album, which seems driven by the sound of drunken sailors, irate country folk and some occasional outright punk rock. Lyrically, this constitutes an imposing and enjoyable collection of words. ‘I never trust a man who says he don’t like Elvis..’ he firmly declares on “Gastro Pubs”.

Musically, there’s the continued measure of protest song and European gypsy bohemia stirred in with Hispanic and Latino influences, captured within the urgent soul of the political new wave movement as espoused by the Clash (check out the up tempo punk / folk / ska attack of “Pushing Up The Weeds” and “Kolomeyke”, both of which almost make a Specials re-union pointless). Moments appear like the extended drum and percussion solo on “Bottle of Luck”, which must be a definite riot live.

Manchester Music
There are also journeys into realms of relative strangeness – “The Old Cow Died” is a traditional piece that was a fairly robust and basic chant to begin with, but with a heavy clatter it all ends up with a fizz of feedback and what could quite possibly be actual fighting, before “Dustbins Amongst Men” delivers an instrumental interlude, constructed from rumbles and in general, the sound of the earth turning. If one thing can help demonstrate what Julian Gaskell is up to (and has previously done in the past), it’s the track “No Housing Benefit Smokers Or Pets” – a brash, word heavy social text, accompanied by the energetic clatter of an electric guitar's hurried rattles and twangs. A Bulgarian traditional tune “Gankino Horo”, is excitedly hacked and brushed up into a fragmented wig-out, in what can only can be described as some kind of gypsy punk prog rock melee, but it’s not before long that there’s a return to their best topic via “Weep In Your Beer”. The album concludes with “The People’s Piano”, the breakneck sound of the band barrelling down a hill, pausing for a drink on the way down, before providing one last energetic cartwheel down the final furlong. Great stuff indeed. MMMM ½


released August 1, 2009

Julian Gaskell - vocals, accordion, guitar, balalaika, violin, washboard
Rory Pugh - drums and percussion
Dan Pye - guitar and vocals
Thomas Sharpe - upright bass, vocals and banjo
Kester Jones - guitar, piano, mandolin and hammond organ

Words and music by Julian Gaskell except 6,7,10,11 trad/arr Julian Gaskell and 8 music by Gaskell/Pugh/Pye/Sharpe ©2009

Recordings produced, engineered and mixed by Julian Gaskell at the Cottage, Falmouth and the Manacles, St Keverne, May-June 2009
Analogue mastering performed by Julian in the New Forest.

With special guests

Pete Dangerfield – Tuba on 'Weep in your beer'

Paul 'Mole' Walker - Saw on 'Weep in your beer'



all rights reserved


Julian Gaskell UK

a tumbledown world of gypsy-punk accordion, surf klezmer, speak-easy ragtime, intellectual drinking and protest songs, romantic piano torch ballads, sweet musette waltzes, violent tangos and stomping balkan skiffle beats played by Julian and his supporting cast of Ragged Trousered Philanthropists ... more

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Track Name: Mills and Boon
Barbed wire and sleaze is all that I've known

Where the rosebuds and romance used to roam

Free as the covers allowed us to be

A ring made of coal and a bed made of ash

Is all that survived where the hearts used to crash

When life's simpler pleasures have bitten the dust

Need a zimmer frame to lean on...

mills and boon, mills and boon

read one today, I'll read another one quite soon

I'll be content to sit alone here in a room

with a bottle of lambrini and some mills and boon

Mills and boon, mills and boon

It's hardly started but the end is coming soon

I'd give it some more thought but I just ain't got the room

For hearing the things that I don't want to hear

ripe with this nonsense it beckons to me

Down moonlit paths where subscription is free

Am I going to do something that we'll all regret

Strangers at weddings without invitations

Offending the neighbours, friends and relations

When life's simpler pleasures have bitten the dust

Need a zimmer frame to lean on...

mills and boon, mills and boon...

Mrs Mills, Mrs Mills

One tinkle on your ivories could cure all of life's ills

I'll be content to be alone here with my fill

Of babysham and records by the late great Mrs Mills

Mrs Mills, Mrs Mills

They've all forgotten but I love you still

They never got it, so I've got no time

For hearing these things that I don't want to hear
Track Name: Bottle of luck
I've heard enough about going to town, there's nothing for us there

Just a queue of pissed stuffed animals who've not seen facial hair before

I'd love to point and stare some more but I can't pretend to care

So spare me this going into town

I'm getting too long in the tooth while I'm waiting for this pint

And my thoughts will all be sewage by the end of the night

Though it might save me from the details without turning out the lights

Spare me this queuing for a pint

Cos I used all tomorrow's good luck today

What was I gonna do with it anyway?

Put it in a bottle, piss it all away

We used all tomorrow's good luck today

I'm not having remixes and balkan beats

But I'd send them all to remedies just to keep them off the streets

Though they might keep the DJ in new mirrors and satin sheets

Spare me the remixes and beats

Cos I used all tomorrow's good luck today...

I've had enough of hearing about things and stuff

So many many fine words but the actions not enough

Are we living in a time that has to look so rough

Spare me the things and stuff

Since I used all tomorrow's good luck today...
Track Name: Pushing up the weeds
Put the music in a coffin, bury it at midnight

I'll save a plot beside it just for you

When your complaining days are over and you're lying down beside the racket

Feigned your death to get a mention in the packet

But your work round here is done

I'll be pushing up the weeds

Cos everywhere I go there's nothing

And everything we know means nothing

Where there's too much silence to be broken

Pushing up the weeds

Cos every seed we sow gets nothing

And nothing ever grows from nothing

But it'll take this place down, stone by stone

When the whole town is quiet and the billboards are all clean

And curfews been placed on everyone and everything

You can sit over there safe in the knowledge the struggle's over

no scratches on your bumper, your chicken tonight charm boiling over

pushing up the weeds...

From the tallest ship I surveyed your ivory towers

Loaded up with gifts of out of date ales and flyers

A tribute act was playing but I heard a different sound

Of a root in a crack in a hole in the ground

pushing up the weeds...
Track Name: Castro pubs
I never trust a man who says he don't like Elvis

It's down to ignorance or he can't say what he means

But why the coca cola, why the bacardi

And the california white and the exxon anti-freeze

Now I don't want to get judgemental

But it might be said that it

Sounded like a revolution was happening down the watering hole, but it

Turned out it was just another

Prole display of capital

Though it sounded just identical

What did you expect?

I'd bring my donkeys in to chew on the carrots

Graze my mules on the dance floor, drive the stick through the swill

But the door policy don't extend to my livestock

This place will make us peasants though it came by our free will

I don't want to...

There's no head on the block, no US blockade

Just a different dry white wine in the same lemonade

For all the che guevara prints and the exposed bricks

When we put them on a plate they serve a menu of our dicks

I don't want to...
Track Name: The modern day festival
The modern day festival, spectacular but lame

It started with the best intentions, now I wonder why I came

For the modern day music? I don't much care for it

Though it wound up on my hard drive, I'd never pay for this

The modern day festival, so the sunday papers say

Will be coated in tarmac but pack your wellies anyway

For to be seen in a floral print is the order of the day

We may be standing in the queue but, hey man, we've lost our way

How did we let it get like this?

Where did it go wrong

Always slightly worse than before

That's what progress means

The modern day festival, the organisers try

But health and safety took the joy and now we don't know why

We ever came here, for the touts and the tourbus

And the piles of shit all in the country to be cleared up for us

The modern day festival – I blame the mobile phone

For turning anonymity to communication zone

Just a modern day weekend, a night on the piss

No observer's book or usborne guide prepared me for this

How did we let it get like this?...

The moral of this story, the moral of this fable

Is that one should always pitch one's tent far from this as one is able

To afford, for this home in the country may be alright for some

But with the ID photos and debit charges, it seems we've all been done

The modern day festival, is a long way you see

From a banjo in the backyard and a squeezebox on the knee

But if that's the way it's going to stay and how it's got to be

Farewell ye modern festivals, and come back here when you're free

How did we let it get like this?...
Track Name: The old cow died
The old cow died, sail around

The old cow died, sail around ladies

Did you get her any water? Yes maam

Did you get her any soda? Yes maam

Did you call for the doctor? Yes maam

Did the doctor come? Yes maam

The old cow died, sail around

The old cow died, sail around ladies

Were the seagulls flying high? Yes maam

Were the seagulls swooping low? Yes maam

Did you call the methodists round? Yes maam

Did you make them tea and cakes?

The old cow died, sail around

The old cow died, sail around ladies
Track Name: No housing benefit, smokers or pets
The country I live in is called the UK

Nice enough to live in if you got a place to stay

But until the day I know where I'm gonna be keeping

This same old dull programme just keeps on repeating

The landlords must have too much money

cos it's offered up to them but all the can say is

No housing benefit, smokers no pets

No children no sharing no DSS

If you want to rent it you better forget it

No housing benefit smokers or pets, no.

In the place that I live it's a crying shame

they turned the whole thing over to one great board game

If you can raise a deposit you can ride the boom

And sulk through the bust though you've still got a room

But their bedsit's too small for the cash to fit in

cos when it's offered up to them, all they can think is

No housing benefit, smokers no pets...

..Put yourself on a plate but they'll turn you away

I ain't big or clever, just trying to put in song

The way we got it in this country, we got it all wrong

And while it's given away before the works even done

There's still some of us with two homes, some of us with none

Maybe we're too good for their poxy holes

And they're just saving the guilt from burying their souls by saying

No housing benefit, smokers no pets...
Track Name: A ja taka Dzivocka
A ja taká dzivočka cingilingi bom

rada vijem pirečka, cingilingi bom

rada vijem, rada dám, cingilingi bom bom bom

aj za kalap zakladám,cingilingi bom

A ja taká jak i mac, cingilingi bom

čarné oči mušim mac, cingilingi bom

čarné oči mac mala, cingilingi bom bom bom

ja še na ňu podala , cingilingi bom

A ty cigán šumne hraj, cingilingi bom

na dzivčata nežmurkaj, cingilingi bom

na dzivčata , na šumné, cingilingi bom bom bom

naj nechodza po humne, cingilingi bom
Track Name: Grown men don't just drop down dead in the street like that
What with the distance and the tv

A stay at home protest I thought was best for me

Though this apathy's a vote for all the things I don't agree with

For extinction at some point between the cockroaches and bees


Theres never any witness where there ought to be

Don't want any trouble, don't want to start

But theres a mute dark canyon between the voice and the heart

It was like I wasn't there

Like he wasn't there

Like no one was there

Don't need a high vis vest, steel toe or hard hat

To know that grown men don't just drop down dead in the street like that

Spare me the worry and unpleasantness

Keep your sins to yourself theres no need to confess

Get to the punchline without waiting for it

Swimming for the cockles without wading in through shit


How many acronyms will it take to set us free?

Don't want any trouble, don't want to start

But theres a mute dark canyon between my voice and my heart

It was like I wasn't there...

Hit by a car, trod underfoot,

picking up the roadkill, put in the boot

half a million reasons to get an umbrella

so when they look at me they see the other feller


But somebody turned a blind eye to the one that could see

Don't want any trouble, don't want to start

But theres a mute dark canyon between my voice and my heart

It was like I wasn't there...
Track Name: Weep in your beer
The weather's all gone funny, water's on the rise

They said that this would happen but we didn't realise

That the flowers would wilt and die

Before our very eyes

And the words we quoted only seem to over-emphasis

That the world's gone down the toilet

We flushed it round the bend

The era that we thought we knew is coming to an end

But before the last bell toll upon us

Listen up my friends

We have but little time before us and so much to mend so..

Weep in your beer with me my friends

Weep in your beer with me

The world is full of things that I'd rather forget

Got my eyes set on the glory but I ain't seen it yet

So weep in your beer, weep in your beer

Weep in your beer with me

Laugh and be content with the court summonses and rent

And wee in your beer with me

But if I had my time back over, it wouldn't be like that, it'd be like this

I'd be looking down over happy days all overcome with bliss

And I'd dance a merry tango through the situations there

Instead of terminating everything that made us what we dare to be and

Flushed it down the toilet, send it round the bend

The misery I've caused for you is never going to end

But before the last boat leaves

Listen up my friends

We have but little time before us and so much to mend so

Weep in your beer with me my friends...
Track Name: The people's piano
Trying to get a lie in in a basement cave in bedlam

what is the racket going on upstairs?

I could spare some silence from the landlord's piano-playing daughter

hasn't learned that much this week, but who cares?

Oh but I wish they'd use some of my hard-earned dough

To buy that little brat a casio

But when they fall beneath the hammer of the people's piano

These things won't matter any more

There's a deposit on this cup and the rent is going up

And what is that scuffling going on next door

Next door's an overstatement, more a cupboard than a bedsit

Where our tight fisted masters store the heirlooms and the shit

But I tell you the one thing I know is true

That archive of rubbish is worth more than me and you

But when they fall beneath the hammer of the people's piano

Their values won't matter any more

And all the years we spend making do and mending

To get another tune out of this thing

I wore out my shoes between the office and the boozer

But this piano will play for evermore

There's a sofa on my bed and a tune inside my head

How can a poor man sleep through times like these?

Count the ticking of the meter, though I've turned off every heater

Watch the cash flow through every hole in every wall

But though they always seem to have their share

Long after they're gone the tune will still be there

And when they fall beneath the hammer of the people's piano

These things won't matter any more

all the years we spend making do and mending....

Found a fiver on the floor to keep it going for some more

But the iron frames all wonky from the damp

To invest it in the future would be wise but I'm too used to seeing

All I have in someone else's hands

So lets have three cheers for bailing out the banks and to the landlords and the harpies give our thanks

Maybe when they fall beneath the hammer of the people's piano

These things won't matter any more

all the years we spend making do and mending...