Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Castle Rock

First of all to explain the tags I've given this, I would consider "Castle Rock" as a B-side but it was also technically a double A-side with "Cut Some Rug", the third single from Expecting To Fly, probably explaining its fetching sandcastle cover. Although, pleasing The Enemy, it's not literally a song about a castle. Duh.

Working out the reason behind its naming is tricky as with many early songs (A beer? A Stephen King newsletter? Lord Of The Flies?) so I think I'll go for the castle standing in for Mark's emotional defenses. The first verse's 'you're rushing through my head, you're seeping through my skin' certainly has an air of being under siege, and he's already said that he's got a place to hide. What and who he's defenfing himself from is a little mysterious even before a 'she' is added to the main 'you' but he's got betrayal nagging at his mind, both his own (the play on words pun 'lying in your arms/lying to your face' put to great use) and that of whoever has 'turned and walked away'. The scratchy, hesitantly stop-start guitar/drum riff that opens the song and underpins the rest of it is like an itch that won't go away, just like his unwanted feelings for whichever of the sort-of-implied two girls it is. Maybe both. It's also the first step along the way to the harder sound of their second album, a lot more so than later stopgap single "Marblehead Johnson". For now, they still kept the ultra-sweet harmonies and emphasis on looser, flowing song structure that was later to fall away somewhat too, though.

"Castle Rock" is really intriguing both in complicating their sound and complicating the narrative compared to Expecting To Fly's songs (I remember reading someone saying that every single one was about being dumped, and thinking ever since that they had quite a point - we'll get back to that one later) but a little too slight and unclear to be one of their very best. Still, the fact that songs as good as or better than this were very common as B-sides at the time says a lot about the

mp3: Castle Rock and Castle Rock (Peel Session Version)

2 comments:

Chris Brown said...

There seemed to be a bit of a trend at that time for nominal double-A sides, in that other than the cover no serious effort seems to have been made to promote this side of the single - no video and of course it's not on the Singles album (although I think it's treated as an A-side on A Rough Outline)

It's not an obviously commercial track (I remember thinking the other track on the CD sounded more like a hit, but we'll presumably come to that in time) and it's not very glossily produced but there is something rather intriguing about it. In retrospect I can see how it prefigures the second album, but doesn't really sound like that either - a bit of an oddity in the discography. But a good one.

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