Worse Things

by Penny Orchids

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    Gatefold sleeve with poster and limited edition sperm whale 78 print CD.

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released July 7, 2014

Tom Harrison: drums, percussion, keg, box, backing vocals
Sam Astley: lead vocals, guitars, mandolin, backing vocals, percussion
Kate Dornan: piano, lead vocal (Shell Beach), mandolin, harmonium, hammond, accordion, backing vocals, percussion, tuba
Dom Green: bass, double bass, baritone guitar, harmonica, guitar (The New World), backing vocals, percussion, rum
Phil Whaite: saxophone, backing vocals, whistling, percussion

Melissa Reardon: trumpet
The Ha’penny Orchids: (Ciaran McNamee, Emmeline May and Kate Whaite): chorus, percussion
Dave Draper, Pete Adams & Basil Green: shouting
The Stillhouse Orchestra (Maria Cork and Jake Evans): lead vocals on Atlantic City
Introducing Jerry Sass as the voice of Atlantic City

Arranged by Penny Orchids with words and music by Dominic Green, except:
One More Drink: words and music by Sam Astley
Your Vacant Eyes: words by Dominic Green, music by Sam Astley and Dominic Green
The New World: music by Kate Dornan
Atlantic City: written and arranged by Dominic Green
Shell Beach: words by Dominic Green, music by Kate Dornan

Recorded by Dave Draper at Tower Studios, Worcs and by Sam Astley & Dominic Green at various locations in London
Lead vocals (except Atlantic CIty and Shell Beach) recorded by Mark Allaway at Miloco
Waves on Crosby Beach sample courtesy of Chris Roche
Mixed by Dave Draper
Produced by Sam Astley and Dominic Green with Penny Orchids

Cover design by Phil Whaite with Penny Orchids
Cover photograph © Coney Island History Society
Band photographs by Rachel Freire



all rights reserved


Penny Orchids UK

tall tales, tragedies, cheap sideshow distractions

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Track Name: One More Drink
We packed the Claire Celeste on a Friday
Left harbour on December 31st
With our cargo of gold, tobacco and rum
Headed home with enough for our thirst

We didn’t see the stranger til the island
Was a speck flung back far behind the wind
With his shock of blood red hair and immutable stare
He didn’t speak as the dark clouds gathered in

And as the waves tore up the sides like a tonne of dynamite
And tore a grin through the side of the hull
The crew hung on for life while the stranger took his knife
And he strode the deck while whistling low

He struck the captain right beneath the jawbone
Who twisted as he fell to the floor
Bloodied, limp, rolled off the side as we heard the masts collide
As sailor followed cargo followed oar

“Throw the bastard in after the captain”
Hollered crewmen as the water upped and sprayed
“Take a whip to his hide and a spear for his side
So he’s a handhold as he’s thrown amongst the waves’”

But no sooner had we spoke, the stranger jumped up on the bow
Pulled an hourglass from under his coat
And slammed it on the deck of that bloodied, splintered wreck
And as we lay dumb he spoke

“Carve my initials on a grain of sand
And throw me out onto the wave
Then watch my shadow crawl ashore like a miracle cure
Has pulled me back from a watery grave

"I told your captain he would have his cargo
I swore to god that he would never drown
But he was dead upon the deck with my knife in his neck
You see my good side’s from the antlers down."

And as the ship went down
We were hypnotised (hypnotised)
We were hypnotised (hypnotised)
We were hypnotised (hypnotised)
We were hypnotised (hypnotised)

One more drink and I’ll be gone…
Track Name: Your Vacant Eyes
There was a man who crossed a line
He was once your Valentine
Now he's nothing of the kind
You could see him after dark
Waiting in your local park
On the train as you disembark

He's a sodium light in an underpass
A worm-eaten corpse under wood and grass
A husk of a thing with vacant eyes
Missing you with evil on his mind

There was once a man who had been wronged
A man who thought that he belonged
Until a pain became prolonged
You see, he answered to a call
Now he's just a wrecking ball
For a spirit that you can't forestall

He's a sodium light in an underpass
A worm-eaten corpse under wood and grass
A husk of a thing with vacant eyes
Missing you with evil on his mind
Track Name: Eliza Battle
Mighty steamer on the Tombigbee
On its maiden pleasure cruise
The brand new calliope
And the classiest revues
All the people of the valley
The fashions of the day
Now they're resting at Odd Fellows
Souls a'restless, so they say

Figures on fire
Figures on fire
Cling to the trees
All the way home

Some years later I saw Eliza
On the river still in flames
Now I'm looking for survivors
Calling out their names
James McCrory is a'roaming
Captain Stone's greeting guests
Emmet Calhoun's at the tables
Placing hundred year old bets

Far away
Far away
Waves up in flames
All the way home

Ghostly steamer on the Tombigbee
On its maiden pleasure jaunt
You can still hear the calliope
On the river that it haunts
Eliza Battle on the river
Oh the river's on fire
Now they're calling it an omen
On the telegraph wire
Track Name: Trinidad
Commandeered a ship today
Sometimes life works out that way
Found myself a hired crew
Sailed off into the blue
I learned to sing that old refrain
I learned to use another name
Sailed out to Port of Spain
On the seven seas again

Long before we'd reached the isle
We were living life in style
Drunk on gold and fat on rum
Dancing to the steel drum
But then the moon tide turned on me
I saw impossibility
And through a salty stinging haze
I prayed for better days

In Trinidad when shit turned bad
We'd only been ashore for hours
They left me as a severed head
And passed me on to greater powers
Then put me in a wooden box
And sold me to a merchant ship
Placed me on a funeral pyre
Smoked me to the filter tip

Commandeered a ship today
Sometimes life works out that way
I once was a major port
Now I'm just a shallow bay
Track Name: Maloney Does New York
Under the shadow of Liberty's gaze
A ship full of men, strange alien ways
Maloney arrived, he was fresh off the boat
With a head full of dreams and a rock in this throat
A hope in his heart for a brand new start
To leave the Old Country behind him

Out on the esplenade at Brooklyn Heights
With a view of the bridge and the city of lights
Maloney worked hard at making his name
So far from the docks and the furnace's flame
And the barrowman's stall and the union call
To leave the old country behind him

in the dead of the night on the Williamsburg Bridge
A meeting arranged at Canal & Eldridge
Maloney conspired with men in the cold
They spoke in a language 3,000 years old
Of the chances they'd take and the money they'd make
They would leave the old country behind them

From the edge of the Bowery to Union Square
Errands were run of a dubious air
Maloney looked sharp in his tailor-made suit
A neighbourhood hero of honest repute

Out in the sun and the snow and grit
He promised again that he'd make it legit
He thought of those days when he'd traded in schmutter
With his brains and his chutzpah he'd avoided the gutter
From ambitions to wealth, raise a glass to good health
We will leave the old country behind us
Track Name: Maloney Has A Change Of Heart
There were men making buildings that reached to the sky
The world was rebuilt in chrome, black and white
The cars and the guns and the women were quicker
There was all kinds of money in prohibited liquor
Maloney was prospering running the stills
Picking up packets of 10 dollar bills
But fortune and heads can turn like a mill
Look away boy and see what you get

In a deli near ludlow & avenue A
He noticed his hair in the spoon, turning grey
He thought of the hopes of his youth back in Cork
And the distance between that and life in New York
The ends of a fortune are built on the means
The sons of misfortune inherit the dreams
Look away for a second, life splits at the seams
Look away boy and see what you get

So he jacked it all in on a wing and a prayer
Packed up his things and walked out of there
Said goodbye to his mistress who took the news well
And he started from scratch in the Morningside hell
The ends of a fortune are built on the means
The sons of misfortune inherit the dreams
Look away for a second, life splits at the seams
Look away boy and see what you get
Track Name: Radio Advert For Atlantic City
Oh Atlantic City, it's the future you bet
You can throw it away on the craps and roulette
If you didn't have much, you can leave with much less
But it sure beats the day job for dealing with stress

Oh Atlantic City, you can find it all here
The smell of the ocean, the lights of the pier
Oh the boardwalk, the promise is waiting for you
Atlantic City, all your dreams will come true
Track Name: Maloney Is Rolling High Again
When we last met Maloney he'd begun a decline
Moved his family west to the jersey state line
He was down on his luck
He was holed up in tenements
He was hiding in Harlem
And falling like elephants

Maloney grew bored of the pity & fuss
Bought up a seat on the coast city bus
Straight down the boardwalk, like a slug from a gun
He bet all he had on '31

He was haggard & jaded, he was handsome and free
He took a lover from down by the sea
He wasted no time rebuilding his premises
For old habits die hard and so can a nemesis

Maloney read Genesis but Numbers was favoured
He played the percentages, he schemed and he laboured
His lover gave birth to a son he named Atticus
An heir to the empire, a sword and an abacus

Maloney grew wealthy, Maloney filled vaults
Maloney grew fat again, skimming the schmaltz
Maloney grew weary, Maloney grew reticent
Maloney's thoughts turned to his last will and testament

Maloney grew bloated, Maloney grew thin
Maloney grew cracked like an old violin
Maloney grew grey and Maloney passed over
Maloney's heart danced one last bossa nova
Track Name: Shell Beach
The elevator stops at the 58th floor
You can buy it all there for a dollar and more
I'm off to the ocean, the spray and the roar
I'm dreaming of Shell Beach
A needed vacation for a hell of a year
A tattered old postcard, a last souvenir
Get on the bus to the end of the pier
I'm dreaming of Shell Beach

My Anna, my Emma
I found you, forever
Your face in my mind like suspicious endeavour
With change in my pocket, I'm a hell of a guy
Your name on the sand, your name in the sky

Down at the automat, drink lemonade
Down on the corner, a penny arcade
The sound of the organ, the pact that we made
I'll meet you at Shell Beach
The sun in the summer, the smell of the sea
A brand new pavilion for afternoon tea
I know that my baby is waiting for me
I'll see her at Shell Beach

My Anna, my Emma
I found you, forever
Your face in my mind like suspicious endeavour
With change in my pocket, I'm a hell of a guy
Your name on the sand, your name in the sky
Your name on my lips, on the tip of my speech
Your name on the postcard I sent from Shell Beach