01 Howth Castle (2:23)
02 Ballad Of Persay O’Earwig (2:29)
03 Irish Ballad (Funeral March) (5:03)
Total time 9:55
7” single released by Headcheese Inc., ca 1985-90
This very curious little yellow single by Head Cheese contains 3 avant-punk songs elaborating on Irish references and influences. The first track is named after James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which takes place in ‘Howth Castle and Environs’ (in Dublin) and involves a main character named Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (both HCE). The song actually starts with James Joyce reading from the last chapter, the famous Anna Livia Plurabelle monologue. Here’s how it goes:
Well you know or kennet or haven’t I told you every telling has a taling and that’s the he and the she of it. Look. Look! The dust is growing. My branch is lofty taken root and my poor chair’s gone ashley. Felour. Feloo. It saon is late. Tis endless now since eye or eyewon last waterhouse’s clogh. I took it asunder I heard them say, when will they reassemble it? Oh, my back, my back! I want to go to Aix-lee Pains.
After the introduction, the song itself starts, a regular punk-rock anthem, though the use of high energy saxophone makes it a killer. The second song on the A side is a straight punk-rock number comparable to Trespassers W’s ‘Macht Kaputt’ e.p. or, for that matter, some The Ex. It ends with an excerpt from a William Burrough’s reading. The flip side is a different beast altogether. Actually an Irish traditional, the song is mostly instrumental after the intitial rendition of the lugubrious song. Instrumentation includes marimba, fifes, horns, mandolin, violin and maracas, for what finally sounds like a plausible Tom Waits number out of Rain Dogs. The song resurfaces at some point, amid a cornucopia of free saxophone blasts and various noises from all players. Totally intoxicating.
There was a Head Cheese band active in Philadelphia at the beginning of the 1980s, but I’m not even sure they are related to the present one. They released a single called ‘Jungle Jam’ in 1981 on their own, short-lived label: Burn Potential Records. The band included Susan Ottaviano, Ted Ottaviano and Jade Lee, among others, mostly students from Philadelphia College of Art. They apparently played the Mudd Club, New York during the 1980s. The band changed name to Book Of Love in 1985.