Holyground Records - one of the most collectable labels in the world
track by track

this page is to accompany HOLYGROUND : THE WORKS CD VOLUME 9
the contents of this page includes opinion, memories and recollections which may not be completely accurate
the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Holyground

OOHS & AHHS corrections, amendments and omissions
please send other corrections to : mike@holyground
  • none noticed so far!



TEARS was recorded one lovely summer month in mid 1975, the last Holyground recording until 1990. Mike was joining another studio: this CD was to be Holyground’s swan song. Before the first day of recording Steve hadn’t even met the band, Lazy Days. The songs were originally acoustic; new rock arrangements were worked out in the studio. The tracks are in the order they were recorded, except NO POINT AT ALL. Unfinished in 1975, this had Steve’s vocals, lead guitar & Chris Coombs’ organ added later. Tears was recorded on 4 track and remixed in 2005.


All the tracks on the original album had nearly the same line up, see below. Where there were any changes they are noted under the name of the songs following.

Steve Channing vocals, acoustic guitar
Dave Wilson guitar, lead guitar, backing vocals
Alan Robinson bass, guitar, backing vocals
Mick Spurr Hammond organ
John Shepard drums
with Chris Coombs backing vocals


(Steve Channing)

haven’t got the time said the spider to the fly
but I’ll let you dance on my web man
if you just bring your sister by
haven’t got the time said the reader to his page
so you turn over your new leaf & I can start to act my age

like ice cream sundaes on a winter’s night
you need my wrongs, I feel you’re right

haven’t got the time the wolf said to his sheep
so let’s just lay it down natural & I’ll swear I’ll go to sleep
cannot spare the cash said the monkey to the tree
but I’ll let you swing on my naked boughs
if you’ll bend a bit for me

This track, and the next were recorded on the first day - the same day that Steve and Lazy Days actually MET; the same day Lazy Days learned the song; the same day all the equipment (including a Hammond Organ) were lugged up the two twisty staircases to the studio; the same day the gear was set up; the same day Mike Levon set up the mikes for recording!


(Mike Levon)

Mick Spurr
Moog synthesizer

you can see me standing down by Carter’s Lane
you can see me standing close by Croxton Main
if you see me turning, call me, I’ll come back again

just like a boomerang in summer
sliding through the air
like a boomerang in summer momma
slicing through the air

take care of the clouds maybe
that threaten me with rain
take care of the clouds maybe baby
that threaten me with rain
if you see me falling, hold on, I’ll come up again

upright in the heatwave, laid back into the gale
upright in the heatwave, lay back into the gale
cover me in cornflowers if I should look too pale

got a fine brown woman living close to me
got a fine brown woman living close to me
tied down to the 'Ground so tight
wish I could break free

Mike says: "For a while I had felt stuck - either I stopped recording and moved to a house we could have children in, or I just carried on . . . When the offer to join a studio project in Doncaster was made I jumped at it - this song is about the earlier feelings of being trapped. Croxton is a reference to a village near where I grew up - Croxton Kerrial, and Carter's garage was on the road to it. The line "Tied down to the 'Ground so tight, wish I could break free" was heartfelt. The band did the song proud!"


(Mike Levon and
Steve Channing)

pictures of pyramids gracing the walls of your home
session musicians on tap at the end of your phone
the drummer’s playing for love, the bass player’s nine miles above
and the man at the desk sings
tears on the console, sweat on the strings

amplifier’s steaming, manager’s leaving
and it’s seeming like all’s nearly lost
the agent is frantic, this last great romantic
is working out how much it costs
the fiddler has scraped his last jig, the synth player’s losing his wig
and the man at the desk sings
tears on the console, sweat on the strings

84th track, roadie’s on the mat with the engineer’s wife upstairs
some keyboard fella, fortune teller is down to his underwear
the producer has drowned in pink gin
the guitarist is blank, he just grins
and the man at the desk sings
tears on the console, sweat on the strings

held up on the fold-back, fell back on the du-lap
struck by the build-up, something must crack

van’s broken down the milkman has come with the sun
48 hours and it seems like nothing’s been done
the drummer’s still playing for love, the bass player’s 9 miles above
and the man at the desk sings
tears on the console, sweat on the strings

Mike Levon recording 'Tears On The Console'



(Steve Channing)

vocal harmonies

Jackie and Jenny were lovers, they were pretty in an ordinary way
and they met at school, part of the teenage pool
ecstatic on their wedding day
& it was alright while it lasted but it finally turned out sad
so they split themselves and she took down the shelves
when their peach of a love went bad

Jackie and Jenny were lovers, but they couldn’t get along on his pay
so the stage it was set and her mother won the bet
yes she usually had her say

he had a job at the steel mill, she got a rise from her boss
walking out neath the stars, Jackie found her in his car
and he knew that his treasure was lost
she knew he was living on a tight-rope, the original balancing man
so she wrote him a letter to make him feel better
she’s as sensitive as Desperate Dan

his doctor’s face was most understanding
when the lawyers met to settle the estate
but all the tiny tablets to cure nervous habits
came twenty-four hours too late

all in all doesn’t it make you burn
to see so many standing still
when there’s so much reason to turn



(Steve Channing)

Mick Spurr jammed a matchstick into the organ keys to play the high Hammond note right through the song.

Mick Spurr

yes you seem to have it made, you’re a princess
you’re a rich man’s jade
and yet you have to hide away behind a ballerina’s smile
they say you eat off plates of gold
that your eyes are like fire but your body’s cold
that you poison your blood so you won’t get old
cos love’s been so elusive

your car turned over on an alpine pass
and death caught up with you at last
you shouldn’t have tried to live so fast
you should have lived more slowly with me
but did you have to be so mean
to always occupy my dreams
and by your soft embracing schemes
you steal my heart away at the start of a brand new day

This song has no drums - this was not a planned omission though. Leeds United football club were playing a match that evening, and although he was there, nothing could tear John. the drummer, away from the television!



(Steve Channing)

Steve Channing
(only actually heard fully in the intro!)

you see that young girl over there, she’s the one I wrote you about
I’d like to leave to seek and achieve but I know they’d kick me out

isn’t that a shame, isn’t that a pity
that’s what happens to a lonely girl, living in the city

she doesn’t need those fancy clothes
or that marzipan spray in her hair
and if you put your arms around her
she wouldn’t notice you were there

she’d like to ride on the morning tide but the subways are her shores
she wonders is it wise to advertise when the men come to her door

her hardest sell must hurt like hell
but you’ll never be with her on the sands
she cooks the best, throws back the rest ignoring your open hands

in an earlier age we could’ve turned the page
of the bible beside her bed
but she’s too advanced to leave to chance
the thoughts inside her head

this track features Mick Spurr's brilliant
Hammond organ


At the end of the sessions Mick decided he wasn't going to try getting the organ back down the
stairs; he'd 'split' it - a common process. Mick arranged for an expert to come and split the wiring. When the body was marked up, Mick couln't bring himself to cut the organ in two. Mike Levon readily volunteered - and cut the polished wood right away!


(Mike Levon and
Steve Channing)

pictures of pyramids gracing the walls of your home
session musicians on tap
at the end of your phone, hang ‘em up, hang ‘em up
the drummer’s playing for love, bass player’s 9 miles above
and the man at the desk sings
tears on the console, sweat on the strings

eighty fourth track, roadie’s on the mat
with the engineer’s wife upstairs
some keyboard fella, fortune teller is down to his underwear
the producer has drowned in pink gin
the guitarist is blank, he just grins
and the man at the desk just sings
tears on the console, sweat on the strings

This track was a warm up blues at the second session.

There is an original vocal overdub of Steve noodling with 'Dust My Broom' - see the additional track "Dust Blues" below, and this version of Steve singing the LP's title track over the
jam at Mike's suggestion.

The cryptic title was Mike's.


(Steve Channing)

I don’t feel like loving on a Friday night, been working a year overtime
you’ve been dancing nightly by candle light
with that back-stabbing friend of mine

you get down, turn around
get down to the rhythm and the sound
get down, turn around, get down to the rhythm

turn on the TV or the radio, it’s like listening to a history of the blues
you know which notes are coming and how many get the breaks
so what’ve you got to lose?
gave up my learning for a life of crime
then society showed me the way
five years prison and five years straight
punched my papers at the end of the day

sky turns darker when I turn off the light
water stops dropping when I’m dry
if I look at your lover I might lose my sight
how can I separate the truth from your lies?

she’s a pearl diver, can’t satisfy her
she set a trap and I fell in
how she flowers in the shades while I shower
is anyone’s guess or someone’s sin
just a girl with her lovers, cheap affairs under covers
diving beneath those seas of care
could have wrecked her, might have checked her
wish I could wish she was not there

I don’t feel like loving on a Friday night
been working a year overtime
you’ve been dancing nightly by candle light
with that back-stabbing friend of mine

Alan Robinson

Dave Wilson


(Steve Channing)

in the gin house she deals the cards
and in the morning I work her hard
and when the night-time comes around
she gets ‘em out, we set ‘em up, I knock ‘em down

1 lost, 2 bad, 4 sure, she’s sad
we 8 our fill, she’s 16, I’m 32, I love her still

if I get jealous she walks the streets
if I stood up I’d lose my seat
and if you’re dicing with her heart
I’ll see you finished long before you get to start

she feeds me fishes, she feeds me loaves
she keeps her coffee boiling on the stove
sometimes we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong
sometimes we fight but come the night we get along

and when we’re cruising in the automobile
she says she could, I say I would and it’s for real
we find a nice quiet spot and settle down
and leave the honky tonking folks in town

John Shepard,

Although he can play really tough or flambuoyant drums, John was really pleased with this track - in which he plays a straight part throughout - no fills, just the same bar by bar!


(Mike Levon and Steve Channing)

listen to a song with every ear, play a tune with every hand
dance round on every leg, play like a band

rock and roll has many spies, smooth faced men tell many lies
have you watched their fingers glide in this sand, this salty sand?

satisfied man he hangs on still, traps golden fingers in the circuit till
says he can’t stay but you know he will
is this just out of hand, is it out of hand?

listen to the boy with big ideas, play his tape of simple tunes
file away for future plans, this contraband, your contraband

can’t seem to see the right road out
don’t seem to laugh and joke no more
cockney fags in plastic bags can you ignore it, can you ignore?

saving shillings, saving pence, buried in a bag by the back-yard fence
is this really making sense or is it out of hand, out of hand?
this life’s a human sacrifice, no home to call my own
no offence to this audience but honey this show’s been shown

what he knows about this grind has been enough to split his mind
I could say more but that would be unkind
you’ll understand, you little man

Ginner, the lead guitarist in Thundermother provided the spark for this song. He asked the piano player to "Play it like me" - "How's that" the pianist asked. " Ginner's reply? - "Like a band . . . "


NO POINT AT ALL (Channing)
This was an unfinished out-take from the Tears sessions. With Chris Coombs on additional vocals and Multiman organ, Steve completed it a few years later.

DUST BLUES (Levon - Channing)
This is the original warm up jam which, with different vocals, appeared on the album as "Number 5 Along From Reds". These busked vocals were found on a spare track of the original 4 track tape.


The strings on White Knight, one of Mike's favourites (and one of his daughter Rose's favourites too!) were composed and played by Chris Coombs, (with a bit of a nudge by Mike to add to the ending - to cover some tape bleed! Mike loves the result, as do others, Steve included, (phew)!


(Steve Channing)

Steve vocals, guitar, bass, mandolin

Liam Robinson melodeons

Andy Wells
Wurlitzer piano

Chris Coombs brass

Steve Channing in the studio, 2005
a recording of a
new Steve Channing
song, recorded in
2004/5, specially
remixed for this CD.

not previously released

echoes of Holyground

(by Mike Levon from the original recording by Kevin Slater and others)


and still I live in hopes to see
the Holyground once more . . .

echoes of holyground (traditional)




In association with Kissing Spell Records, Holyground has released all the recordings from the '60s and '70's, except for Skybird's Summer Of 73, and Bill Nelson's Northern Dream.

Several of the albums have only ever been released in small vinyl runs : volumes 1, 5, 9, 10 and 11. All have a considerable number of additional tracks. The average running time of each CD is over 60 minutes and often more than 70 minutes.

Mike has scoured his archive and made several surprising finds, especially the
songs "hidden" on the bottom track or other side of the tape - tracks even he didn't know he'd got!

Each CD in the series has:

  • from 60 to 74 minutes of music
  • full colour eight page booklets and inlays
  • renovated and previously unseen photographs and original artwork
  • words to all original songs
  • additional tracks, out-takes, and contemporary tracks (covering just about everything Holyground recorded!)
  • several previously unreleased recordings, and some remixes
  • a special silver label and logo, in a rainbow of colours!
  • background and recording information
  • a special webpage with more information, recollections, photographs and news
  • info, and anecdotes  . . .   the works!

ASTRAL NAVIGATIONS and A TO AUSTR are the most well known albums on the label during its early days from 1966 to 1975. These and nine others make up the "Works" released through KISSING SPELL:

series volume
release date
LAST THING ON MY MIND has never been released since the original 99 vinyl copies made by Mike Levon when he recorded it in 1966. It is an album of folk and early folk rock - the roots from which Holyground grew. There are standout performances from Chris Coombs and others. It's an album of great beauty: if you close your eyes you can see the candles, and feel the dark . . . There are also several out-takes and contemporary recordings never previously released at all!
The first LP to carry the 'Holyground' label. The name comes from an Irish folk song, and was used by Mike to name his flat in Cyprus Street - doesn't everyone name their homes? Recorded partly in Bretton Hall, partly in Jacobswell Lane - Mike's later flat, shared by Norfolk Jim, Brian Wilson and Derby Dick, most of the tracks were made in Moodies Bar. Moodies was a real old-fashioned pub in 1966 - 67. Women had only just been allowed in! - although they were still excluded from the small back room where the recordings were made. In fact, Shirley Levon may have been one of the first women to drink in there during the recording sessions! A mixture of traditional folk and new acoustic songs, with a nod towards early folk-rock, Bread Street sold 243 out of 250 copies made, and still made a loss!
In 1967 Mike Levon moved into his own flat in Cass Yard half-way down Kirkgate. There were two large bedrooms, and one quickly became a studio, allowing Mike to start recording drums and electric guitars. His first electric recording was of Bill Nelson's group 'Global Village' - a good omen for the future! From late 1967, through 1968 and 1969 Mike recorded a variety of people including several commercial records of clubland artistes such as Winston Smith, Joanna Starr, The Method, and even an LP of mood music for a local bingo chain. During this time he started working closely with Chris Coombs, and with existing musicians such as Brian Wilson, augmented by other new people like Al Green, George Mabon, Brian Calvert and Ted Hepworth. The results was the album A to Austr. This dealt with many current themes: from drugs to sex, wisdom to wonder, and resulted in a very varied album of what has become know as psych-rock. It was Holyground's best work to date, and set the scene for the 1970-71 period: a busy, creative time which saw the making of albums like Jumble Lane, Bill Nelson's Northern Dream, Gagalactyca, and above all the seminal 'Astral Navigations'. Austr itself was viewed by some as their favourite album from England: 'they do it all,' said American dealer Greg Breth who was l;ucky enough to find one copy from the 99 made.

Described by one collector as a “deeply evocative and enchanting album which really touches me”, ASTRAL is seminal Holyground. The album has two complementary sides: side one features songs by Mike Levon and Brian Calvert, and by Chris Coombs: acoustic rock with Holyground’s psych edge. The three Chris Coombs tracks also feature Bill Nelson on lead guitar. Side 2 showcases Thundermother, searing guitars in a progressive, acid-rock band featuring David John who had earlier recorded with Joe Meek as David John and the Mood.

GAGALACTYCA has only been released on vinyl. It is a sister album to Astral Navigations. There are two "sets" of music : Chris Coombs and others (Lightyears Away), and Thundermother. Chris and Mike Levon wrote songs for the Light Years Away "side" of the album. Standout tracks are the short though beautiful "That Is What We Need", and "Cold Tired and Hungry" a storming track featuring Bill Nelson on guitar. Thundermother come up with five brilliant tracks, four of them their own songs. Standout tracks are a version of "Woman" by the group, an acid guitar epic in "Come On Home", and the beautiful "Woman In My Life".  
Described accurately by one reviewer as “going through so many unexpected and bizarre changes as to be completely un-categorisable”, JUMBLE LANE was recorded by friends and local students in the summer of 1971. From the delicacy of “The Gallery” and “Blues for Joanne” to the rock of “Frustration: Ends Away” it’s psych rock of the highest calibre. Bonus tracks include songs by Steve Channing who made his debut on JUMBLE LANE.
JUMBLE LANE’s success meant new students at the nearby college would turn to Holyground to record their own albums. Pete Howells and Jim Gordon, as BLUE EPITAPH, made the acoustic, psychedelic whimsy that is ODE - another highly collectable Holyground album. The third group to do this, in 1974, recorded the album “JUNCTION 32”. As an album it was not a success, but there were some fine tracks, and these are included as bonus tracks on this CD. Bonus tracks are the best of the 1974 album “JUNCTION 32” : Third Take / Whiskey In The Jar / Bill Bailey / Prickety Bush / Bold Princess Royal / Ropegate Rag.
During 1972 and 1973 local band GYGAFO recorded a variety of tracks at Holyground. Rock with a psych edge, recorded in true Holyground tradition, the band featured Charlie Speed on lead guitar. Charlie’s lead, with Eddie’s keyboards, makes the album glow. Standout tracks are “Solid Man Song”, and the long, pastoral title track. One bonus track is by a contemporary of the band, Ark; another guitar led band stretching out over a long song.
In 1975 Mike closed down Holyground (temporarily as it turned out) to start a new studio venture in Doncaster. In the last few midsummer weeks he suggested to Steve Channing that some of his songs, plus some Mike and Steve would write later on, should be recorded. Mike asked the members of 'Lazy Days' to join in giving (as he thought before the recording sessions) a line up of Steve on vocal / acoustic guitar; Dave Wilson on electric guitar; Alan Robinson on bass; and John Shepard on drums. None of the band had met Steve on the first day of recording, and to Mike's surprise Lazy Days turned up with a Hammond organ player, Mick Spurr, who also added an early Moog synth to the line-up. The results, even on the first day, were magic - a lively set of songs driven by Steve's vocals and skills on guitar, and backed by a tight and fluid group. The songs, often blued based, were lovely. The atmosphere was electric, and pushed along by the knowledge that Holyground was ending. Steve and Lazy Days had been regulars since the 70's - Steve appearing first on Jumble Lane and Lazy Days had recorded there on several occasions and in different line-ups. This CD captures the end of an era.
volume one
The original Loose Routes double vinyl LP with a large format booklet consisted of many tracks which have been included with other "The Works" reissues, and in the case of Bill Nelson, on "Electrotype". This two CD release is largely unissued material and, with the other "Works" CDs, completes the Holyground recordings. Volume one covers the start of Holyground and the period upto the making of Astral Navigations in 1970/1971.
volume two
Volume two starts with Thundermother and carries Holyground through to the (temporary) end in 1975. The final track is from new Holyground recordings from 1990.
All the Holyground recordings made by Bill Nelson from 1968 to 1972, (excepting Northern Dream - separately available, and Teenage Archangel). The CD has 21 tracks, and covers the period from the start of Global Village up to the early Be Bop De Luxe. 68 minutes from Bill's first ever recording to the days just before signing to EMI to make Axe Victim - all the Global Village and Be Bop De Luxe recordings still in existence.