Son of Shameless Self-Promotion

©2021 Michael Raven

I have mentioned several times how I have played a wide variety of music over the years, from more old-school goth to post-punk alternative to garage punk to straight rock to ambient to dance music. I even loaned my keyboard skills to a friend’s Christian pop band at one time as the token pagan musician for about 5-6 songs in the 20+ song set (every band should have one in the spirit of being fair).

Well, now’s your opportunity to see what I might have sounded like as a folk musician.

Two Penny Dreadful was a folk band inspired by drunken Irish Pub hopping. Except, I had never wanted to be an “Irish” band. I had wanted to play in a folksy equivalent to The Wonder Stuff, poking fun at everyone (and most especially at myself). The other musician, Tucker, wanted something a little more Irish inspired and notably less silly, which is why I we ended up calling ourselves Two Penny Dreadful when I really wanted to be known as Half Penny Dreadful, declaring that I’d be surprised if anyone would pay half a copper coin for us, forget about two whole ones. But, he was insistent that a duo should have the word “two” and then he pushed for more serious folk music — with Irish influences (hence, “Carlow”).

Our first song as a duo was “Whiskey Tonight”, which gives you an idea of the themes I had preferred to pursue: a drunken loser of a fuckwad (e.g., me) who was only going downward in life (pretty much a true story by that time). I wrote a chunk of the lyrics on that one; and most definitely the chorus. I had low hopes for us, and that song basically scratched all the itches I wanted to scratch.

“Exiles Jig/Follow Me Down to Carlow” is a traditional Irish set, arranged in a manner more punk than traditional. Live, it was even more rowdy and, honestly better than this recording. Of the four tracks I am sharing from that time, it is probably my least favorite. I would have preferred if we had recorded “Black is the Colour” or “The Blacksmith” for our “Irish tune”, but it was not meant to be. I think we rushed production on it, which is why some of the levels are off.

“Don’t Turn Away” was a song I had written before we became a duo and it was deemed acceptably serious enough and the lyrics “folksy” enough to be added. There were some modifications to the lyrics afterwards, but the general theme stayed the same and the bulk was mine.

“Re: Saturday (Let It Shine)” was a song that I wrote between rehearsals and brought to see if it would go over, which it did — without many lyrics aside from the chorus. It was one of the more collaborative pieces we recorded. The song was originally inspired by faint wisps of what I could recall of a Sugar Ray song (yes, that song), but ended up sounding nothing at all like the original through the fog of faulty memory. It was deemed suitably not-stupid (I wrote a ton of stupid songs on purpose, some got approval for play, many did not).

Luck for everyone, you don’t even have to pay a half-penny for this cassette 4-track, 4-song demo that garnered zero gigs, although we had a steady biweekly gig at a café which was always well-attended. I swear it was because I would interrupt Tucker’s banter with “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “About a Girl”, songs that would drive Tucker to scream. But it might have been the old children’s tune without an end, “Rattlin Bog“, at least how we played it (it went on for a full 45 minutes one session before we tired of it).

Anyway… All apologies.

[EDIT: the title of the playlist is the same as the cassette and comes from “The Virginian”, and old western novel. The main character, a gunslinger, says it as he’s being insulted in one scene.]

12 thoughts on “Son of Shameless Self-Promotion

  1. Great fun, Michael, I enjoyed listening to these and felt a foot tap or two! A little Pogue-ish in parts (which is cool) but I would love to hear some of your more Gothy music.
    You mentioned The Wonder Stuff. Bizarrely (?) I live just up the road from where they started out ( this being the UK ‘up the road’ literally means a mile or two).
    Have you heard of/listened to The Diamond Underground ( he’s from your neck of the woods (which I know is a really crude generalisation but what the heck)). You might like his stuff. You can find him via Spotify but probably nowhere else. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being as this was just before the rise of Dropkick Murphy’s and the Flogging Molly, the Pogues would be probably the closest band you might know of that drove the sound. We covered “Fairytale of New York” without the back and forth elements of dialog, for example. Again, I was more interested in Shane’s loser element than the Irish, but they did play a role in the sound.

      I’ve thought about going back to the one bad recording I have of one of the early shows from the Shadowspawn days to see if I can clean up with digital tools. It still sounded more punk than goth in that early recording and we never did and rehearsal recordings that survived of the more CDeath, Bauhaus, Love & Rockets, and Joy Division influenced music as we got more comfortable as a trio. I’ll play around with those tools to see if there is anything to salvage, but “For Ever More” in the last playlist was closer to the final sound (guitar/bass/drums, minimal keys) before we broke up.

      I’ve often felt like the only real Stuffie in my area for years, so it’s amusing you live near where Miles and the gang got started. Granted, after about the third or fourth album, I didn’t care for their sound, but I did love them in their heyday.

      I have not heard of that act. I’ll see if I can find something. Don’t worry about generalisation, I still have people asking me if I knew Prince… Sometimes I’m mean and say he went to my high school (truth, for one semester or something), but it’s amazing how often I have people think that the city is so small that we’d just know each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha, I totally get that! I am sincere about hearing more of your punk/goth style music, but don’t lose any sleep worrying about whether or not you can clean up any old tapes. About a hundred years ago I recorded quite a bit of stuff (both with my sister and as part of a band) but only on tape…and for over dubs we simply played back the backing track on one recorder and played over it. I listened to one a few months back and it sounded pretty rough, although I still think that some of what we wrote was quite good. Sort of moved between experimental/punk/post-punk (before it existed) and folk-rock! Who knows!?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds like a similar journey, but I was silly and dropped cash on a 4-track cassette recorder for some of it. We just never got around to it with the goth band, which was actually pretty odd.

          As far as cleaning up the live recordings, I mean to do it anyway — it’s just a matter of enthusiasm and time coinciding to create the perfect storm.

          Liked by 1 person

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