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Ez Jon Erikson
Ramshackle World
 
Ez Comments

After the part acoustic 'Summers Of My Life' I wanted to record a fuller sounding album, with a more electric and rock feel, bigger sounding drums, and more electric guitar solos. I always have many lyrically dark songs knocking around, as I am always more naturally moved to write about negativity, which is probably why I decided on 'Ramshackle World' as the next album title before 'Summers' was even completed. The overall content of the original list of songs was very serious, with a feeling of depression and negativity. I jettisoned some very strong songs to gain a lighter side. In doing so, I think I gained a much better balance. This is a ramshackle world in which we live, but besides there being an awful lot wrong with the world, there is also a lot of beauty and love. Although we should recognise suffering, we should also really try to focus on what is right, and try to remain positive. Above all, love and unity hopefully shine through, and that is why the album contains a balance between rock and pop, angst and tenderness, negativity and positivity.

The album artwork was put together by one of my friends, Ged Casserley, an excellent graphic designer, who is also a talented singer, guitarist and magician. Ged had the idea for the album cover whilst we were walking along Shudehill in Manchester. The row of buildings looked very animated, and there was an ironic statement. What struck Ged was that 'Luxury Apartments' was surrounded by a tattooist, a cafe, a pub that had been boarded up, and a run down house with trees growing from broken windows. Ged decided that this said it all to him, 'Ramshackle World', and then set about creating an incredible cover, that actually looks as though it is a genuine photo. I also loved the idea of using the area as an inspiration for the cover, as many of my favourite Asian cafes that I frequent are nearby, in particular 'Yadgar Cafe'. It is a cafe that I, and many mates of mine, find irrezistible (including Christian Eyre -  there you are Cuzza, I promised I'd give you a mention). The food has a definite home cooked taste to it, not too dissimilar to that my mother in law prepares. Anyhow, I could write a whole chapter on the subject of Asian cuisine! I guess I am addicted! Beautiful!

I feel that the CD cover compliments the opening moments of the album, where I appear to be busking in a busy city centre. This was great fun, as I kind of fulfilled a strange ambition....to be a newspaper seller shouting something totally incomprehensible. I got the intro idea from a line in the title track, "the man on the street shouts evening news, optimistic headlines are overdue, grievance of those who are long denied, justice in a ramshackle world has died."

All in all, I am delighted with, and very proud of this album, and had a truly great time planning and recording it. On 'Summers' I re-recorded 'Otiose' acoustically, a song previously on 'Eztravaganza', as it suited the theme of the album. Similarly, I re-recorded five other 'Eztravaganza' songs for this album in arrangements that I felt suited the songs better. The reason for this was because they are such strong songs and previous versions suffered with analogue tape, poor mixing, or not the strongest of performances. Also the songs add a lot to the theme and feel of the album, or bring in new dimensions. It is also great to record with Ju again, as he was absent from the 'Summers' album, even though he co-wrote several of the songs.

 
FEAR OF THE WORLD
I wrote this on 30/04/99 and 01/05/99, which I recall being soon after Jill Dando's murder. My car had been stolen on 27th, I was nearly run over by someone going the wrong way down a one way street, three stones in three journeys came through the train window, many headlines in the paper were getting to me, and I saw a guy that I'd shaken hands with leaving the gents' doing his fly up! I had to flush it all out of me, no pun intended, but some of it is actually very tongue in cheek. All in all, I feel that I created the very lyrically and melodically strong rock song that I was after as the album opener. Paul Adshead's guitar work is great, as always, and I like the vocal effect, which is ezactly what I was after. However, I much prefer to perform this song acoustically. Then again, I prefer to perform most songs acoustically.
 
 
RAMSHACKLE WORLD
This song was originally written in 1995 as 'Fill Of It' just after I'd completed 'Eztravaganza'. I had definitely had my fill of it at the time, pretty much in the same way as with 'Fear Of The World'. The two songs compliment each other nicely, although the former has more of a personal feel to it, whereas the latter is more observational. Both are, however, songs of and for the people.
 
 
ESCAPE (IN THE NIGHT)
There was very little wrong with the original version on 'Eztravaganza', but a new, more professional sounding, digital version was EZsential to me. Again, the lyrical subject sits well on this album. In this ramshackle world we all act out a role during the day in our jobs, then at night as we strip away our clothing, we strip away our daytime roles, and escape in the night as our true selves with our lovers. The build up in the arrangement to a crescendo or climax, and then the decrescendo is intentional, representing the act of love making. I like this song, oh baby, I like it, and wonderful real sax too from Phil Chapman!!!
 
 
FOR YOU AND YOU ALONE
A song that I have revisited Gawd knows how many times since Ju and I wrote it. The reason being is because I have always believed that it is a very strong, catchy melody, as many people have also commented. I feel that I have never quite got it right, as the song is in two octaves. A singer with a greater range would make a belting job of this, such as my brother Sam, but this is my best version, and I am quite happy with it and am now happy with the lyrics since I changed the second verse. The arrangement works well, with great alto sax from Phil Chapman, reminiscent of 'Half The World' on the 'Summers Of My Life' album. A cracking pop song, which developed from a riff that Ju made up on the way home from school one day, quite a few years ago!!!! My brother Jonny has always believed that this would make a good title for a Bond movie, and he also believes that 'A Run For Your Money' would too, which was the first ever song that Ju and I wrote together that never got beyond the first demo stages.
 
 
MIRAGE
I wrote the lyrics to this on Sunday 29/03/87, and the melody in 2000. Wow, thirteen years in the writing stage! The idea behind the lyrics to this song is that it is a dream with desert imagery. The woman in this vivid dream is like a mirage, because of course she disappears as the guy in the song awakens. Oh the pain, baby doll, come back to me, honey child!!!!! Another really catchy pop song, if I may be so immodest. I like Paul's idea of my double tracked vocal, one taking the harmony, and again, great sax from Phil. I am honoured to work with these guys. Again, though, the acoustic mix on the forthcoming 'Ezposure' album is more to my liking.
 
 
BEST THING
One of my personal favourites of songs that Ju and I have written, which is also my pappy's favourite. This song works so much better as a stripped down folk rock ballad as opposed to a pop rock song. Sam's brass is beautiful and haunting, giving the arrangement a spaghetti western feel. The lower key is not only kinder on the voice, but allows me to be more tender and sincere in my delivery of the lyrics, which are probably my favourite of any I have written. Then again I am such a big fan of myself.....!!!!!! Whilst growing up you search and search for something, never really knowing when you have already found it, and then it can pass you by, and it can be too late once you realise what you had. Many young people are afraid of commitment, and reject security. They do not always listen to their heart, but instead do what they think they should, to be seen to be cool. This song deals with the realisation of love and maturing. Whoops, I had better give credit to Ju here for his lyrical input, as the song developed from a chorus that he originally wrote, which I altered slightly. So, yes, Ju did write some of the words! Damn!
 
 
EXTRAVAGANZA
I had to re-record this song, as many people tell me that it is very catchy and infectious. Although I prefer the rawness and rock approach to my original version on 'Eztravaganza', this is a much more polished and commercially acceptable affair. It has been trimmed down in length, and arranged as a soulful pop number, in a lower key. The brass is more of a feature, with Sam Johnson on trumpet and Phil Chapman on sax, and the guitars are very subtle and not of a rock nature. Instead of guitar solos there is a sax solo, and in this lower key I am able to achieve what I want vocally. I wanted to include the song on this album anyhow, because of its anti-racist theme. I have always believed in the song, and it is another personal favourite of songs written by Ju and I.
 
 
CADAVEROUS LULLABY
I actually wrote the lyrics to this on Monday 19th September 1988, but wrote the melody in recent years. With certain songs I sometimes look back and think to myself "I wonder what I was on when I wrote this?" As I have never taken drugs, do not smoke, and don't drink too EZcessively (not half, as I sit typing this next to a bottle of red wine!!!), I guess for this one I must have overeaten too much Indian food which is my favourite cuisine. I could eat curries for breakfast, in fact I have on several occasions. The arrangement for this song was always intended to be very Eastern. I chose ethnic instrumentation to create a "tripped out, slowed down" feel, which was required for this song. Obviously people will think of a later Beatles influence here, but although I do acknowledge this, part of my family is actually Indian and I have always wanted to dabble with such sounds. The message in this song is that we are all heading for death from the moment we are born, it cannot be prevented, so slow down and live for the moment and enjoy life. This is an arrangement that I feel is far superior to its acoustic version.
 
 
THAT'S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES
Good time rock 'n' roll 'n' blues. I originally introduced this song in its infancy to Ju not long after we first met whilst at school, but we did not pursue it, and so I finished writing it just after the 'Summers' album. I had a great time recording the original, very rough demo in my home studio, Ezecutive Suite, with my cousin Anthony on harmonica. Anthony played four bars of harp on 'Mama' on the 'Summers' album, but I decided to feature a very long ass kicking guitar solo from Paul on this version instead. One of those humorous rockers, that gave me a good EZcuse to sing with big bruv Sam again. Great fun.
 
 
HIS BARK IS WORSE THAN HIS BITE
Talking of great fun, this much talked about novelty song about me being bitten by a dog on my paper round was always a great chuckle in its original version, but I had even more of a hoot recording this new version. 'Bark' was always intended to sound like a jazz combo, so this arrangement gets it right. I think it works much better, and adds further welcome humour to the album straight after 'Cookie'. Our Sam pestered me to re-record the song with him on brass ever since the first version, so here he gets his wish. Nice work too, Sam.
 
 
LIVE TO DIE
I originally wrote this song when I was 12, then re-wrote it when I met Ju, but left it alone. I then re-wrote it again on 23rd January 2000, thinking very seriously of the new Millennium (which of course actually began at 2001, but let's not be too clever!). It is now very much an analysis or vision of the possible future. Scientists continually look to prevent ageing and gain immortality for the human race. Several documentaries have suggested that men and women in the future will be able to decide whether to choose a particular mate or not after a computer has determined what their off springs would be like, i.e. what IQ they would have, or possible inadequacies. Also they predicted that people would be able to download their brain patterns and personalities into a computer so that when the body dies, they could be uploaded into a fresh body and live on. I find all of this scary and sick. We all live to die as nature intended, and that's what this country/folk rock song is about. Again, this topic sits well on this album.
 
 
CHANGING WORLD
I originally intended 'Live To Die' to finish the album, but then opted for a more positive message to conclude. This song was originally written after the dreadful Manchester bombing in the late 1990's, which had a huge effect on me and many of those closest to me. It was then and still is a song that is about a community - possibly a company, a city or a country having suffered dreadfully, rising again to embrace a new beginning in this changing world. I have recently amended some of the lyrics in response to the 11th September 2001 terrorism atrocities, and the War On Terrorism, and feel that the song has more dramatic effect because of it.

 

I consider this to be my strongest album. All involved did a great job with it, so thanks to Sam, Ju, Phil, Ged, and also Nealm, but most of all thanks to Paul Adshead for his hard work and genius. He is indeed Merlin.

I'd also like to mention and thank my mate Stuart Wild (Stu) for designing the EJE and Ezstatic Music logos for me. "How cool is that?"

Someone has mentioned to me, I'm sorry that I cannot recall their name, that they think it is interEZting that three of the songs on this album include "world" in the title, as did 'Half The World' on 'Summers'. They said that they believe I write songs for, or about the world. You decide.

Ez  (EJE)    January 2002

 

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