(c) 1994 by Lewis D'Aubin and Kirk Madison
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In the squalor of the latter half of the tenth century, pestilence once again ravaged the land. No-one was safe! Not king, baron, knight, nor even the ignorant peasants toiling in the fields. It was a time of death, as the vile affliction struck them down, one by one. It was a time of... the Black Plague
On a throne sits the king
Not afraid of any living thing
Contentedly munching on a hard boiled egg
Suddenly, he catches the plague
Across the battlefield I crawl
My balls are against the wall
Do I have to scream and beg
OhMyGawd, it's crawling up my leg
From city to city, the Black Plague spread it's tendrils of doom... Luxembourg to Hamburg, London to Paris, millions fell dead in its path. Spread by the vile rats, which even now are creeping up behind each and every one of you, to eviscerate you with sharp claws and devour you with long pointed teeth
Breathe deep, the festering air
First thing to go will be your hair
Soon your brain begins to rot;
Then your arms fall off! You know what you've got?
All the signs say the end is near
The dread comet has reappeared
Headless corpses roam the land
Cancel your vacation plan!
You've got the plague!
The origin of this energetic fave was a cut on a 4-track tape called 'Lost In Austin' that Kirk made shortly after moving to Austin for college 1991. The song was called 'The Knights' and was done as a tribute to all the jamming we used to do in his poolside cabana, which we used as a practice room for a couple years. On his tape, the song lacked lyrics and a bridge. I soon rectified that!
The year was 1992. At this time I was in the process of trying to 'upgrade' a lot of our old songs, as C.O.G. had yet to gel as a 'band'. This was one of three songs I was working on at the time; the others have yet to see the light of day. I made up a facsimile of the drum part on my ESQ-1's sequencer and put stub keyboard parts in for the instruments. Then I made up a bridge section, drawing parodical inspiration from the metal band 'Dead Rebecca' (which I used to do sound for). I also came up with some awful lyrics, which flashed into my mind while driving at night on Clearview Parkway. I jotted them down at a red light, giggling maniacally. When Kirk visited New Orleans that summer, this track cracked him up and I knew we had a winner. I striped an 8 track cassette with time code and synced it to my sequencer. Kirk then laid down a guitar track with his Flying 'K' guitar and a Rockman. Lenny Masacuso, Dead Rebecca's ex bassist (who at this point was playing in Chris Flattman's band 'Fiend'), was enlisted to provide the bass track, and he performed it with aplomb. Finally, Jimmy Tancill, guitarist for Garaj Mahal, was asked to provide an insane sounding guitar solo in the style of John Maracich, guitarist from Dead Rebecca. He contributed what sounded like a rabid cat attack.
My lyrics were intended as a sequel to the song 'Krazed Archer', and consequently I enlisted the aid of the lead vocalist from that track - Charlie Tumminello, who later played the Archer onstage. I also got some friends to audition for a skit that was to precede the track, in the same manner as the 'Court of the King' sketch preceded 'Krazed Archer'. Rebecca Smith won the part with her amazing reading. Sadly, this entire sketch would be discarded in the 'Free Brains & Dead Bodies' edition of this song. Everybody who tried out for the part of the Royal Astrologer also got to join me in shouting 'Black Plague!' for the gang vocal background part.
Years later, when we were working on the 'Free Brains' CD, I decided to freshen up this track for inclusion. I began by transferring all the contents of the original 8-track tape to the computer, then spent some time re-syncing the bass and guitar parts, and the vocals. Charlie and I decided pretty quickly to re-record the vocals. New guitar parts were recorded by Jeff, but the original parts were retained and mixed way under for more texture (despite being quite out of tune.) We retained the bass track, which I retuned and re-aligned in Cakewalk.
Another new development was the guitar solo. John Maracich enthusiastically volunteered to contribute a guitar solo, and a couple days later emailed me an amazing speed solo with stacked harmonies. There was one other embellishment to be added before mixdown. The Metallica 'S&M' album had just come out, with Metallica performing accompanied by a full orchestra. I decided to parody that and scored a full orchestral backing part, recorded with my Turtle Beach sampler, and mixed it in with the rest. I based the horn lines on parts from James Horner's 'Star Trek' and 'Aliens' film scores, but to date have not heard from his attorney!
When this track was chosen for inclusion in the 2006 '10th Anniversary' compilation, we elected to use the original recording, with the 'court scene' opening. It nicely bookends the recording of 'Krazed Archer'...
Guitars.........Jeff King, Keith Casebonne
Guitar solo.....Jimmy Tancill/John Maracich
Lead vocal......Charlie Tumminello
Backing vocals..Lewis D'Aubin
Recorded and mixed 1994 at Lewis's studio, completed 1999 at C.O.G. Secret Lab, Kenner LA