In 1985 a pop group from Liverpool called This Final Frame released a single called "Stories" in Europe through German major Intercord. Somehow in a world before the internet, "Stories" travelled seven thousand miles to DJs and radio stations in the Philippines. The historical context for the music in Manila at that time was the struggle of the people in the Philippines for freedom from the Marcos regime.
The first station to play "Stories" was DZBM Power 105, followed by WXB102. The radio stations played the song over the airways to a generation inspired by music. In the mid-1980s there was fierce competition between the popular radio stations in the Philippines as well as rivalry between Mobile DJs. This rivalry was so fierce that the DJs guarded their music collection from other DJs whilst at the sae time sharing their songs with their favourite radio stations. In order to fulfil the contradiction of 'guard' and 'share', the DJs would use 'creative' names for the songs they played so that rival DJs could not copy them. This act of subterfuge happened with 'Stories' by This Final Frame which became 'Ten Portraits of a Jew' from the album Snakes and Ladders. The band believes this is a corruption of 'The First Picture of You' by their Liverpool compatriots The Lotus Eaters.

WXB 102 Programme Director George Frederick takes up the 'Story'
"WXB102 and its competitors loved getting our hands on some of the best tunes that could move a dance floor and it was mobile DJs who could provide them. These Mobile DJs usually demanded that the song and artists be kept a secret. Some stations played them without ever giving the song a proper introduction. Some of these DJ kids came to the station with blank record sleeves and blacked-out labels! Back in '87, I became aware of "Stories" when a fan came to the station with a cassette of an album he called "Snakes and Ladders". I played it on air, but when I asked for confirmation of the title, he said he wasn't sure. For years, fans of the song went nuts looking for a song called "Ten Portraits of a Jew". in Manila but the radio station still disguised the name. It was only recently that a collector found out the truth and shared this "secret" with me and a friend. Yes we used to dance to "Stories" at parties, but the clever DJs who played them never let us know what they were playing".

Eric Salvador recounts his version of the story
The album title "10 Pictures" bring to mind a "myth". A few years ago, the song "Stories" (its real and proper title), floated around the Filipino New Wave circles. The name used for the song was "Snakes and Ladders" and was performed by a band called 10 Portraits of a Jew.

Turns out that both artist name and song titles were a dud, and it was revealed that the true name of the band was This Final Frame and the song title was 'Stories'. Not sure though why the real identity of both song and artist was shrouded in lies because it made no sense to not to give credit is due. I'm just happy that the truth is out and the band is now onto its 2nd album. I traded emails with Paul Skillen before (thru a good friend, Mikey Sutton), and I recounted this story to him. I think he found it interesting. 10 pictures vs 10 Portraits. Is there a connection? I'm just toying with the idea, but it is most probably meant to describe the brillant songs on the 2nd album (there are 10 of them after all).
The spirit of the time lives on in the memories and the character of those who experienced the revolution and the music that was the backdrop to their lives.
This Final Frame dedicate this album to all those who have loyally supported them ever since. This album really is 'Ten Portraits' by This Final Frame.
Every song paints a picture and every picture tells a story.

When considering writing about the meaning and inspiration of the songs on the new album, I was unsure as to whether this would enhance or detract from the experience of the music. I have always been moved by music and regard it as the most direct route to our emotions. I am still not sure whether explaining the detail is the right thing to do. When I started to expose the stories behind the songs, I became aware of just how dark they may seem to the listener. I am not an outwardly sad or melancholy person, it is just that the three years writing this album have been watersheds and end of era moments. I do not want listeners to feel that we record in a somewhat depressed state. In fact the recordings are filled with laughter, stupidity and tea and cakes. We do not for one minute take ourselves too seriously. We just try to convey the essence of the emotion through the music and hope that it strikes a chord with the listener. Carl is endlessly patient and captures and enhances the emotions from the lyrics with his production, writing, musical contribution and arrangements. The contributions from so many talented musicians have also completely reshaped many of the tracks. To say this album is collaborative and eclectic is an understatement. So for what it is worth, this is the commentary on the tracks on the new album...

All tracks written by This Final Frame:
Lyrics by Paul Skillen except 'The Salient' (Words by Gunner David Skillen RHA c1941)
Produced and engineered by Carl Henry at Custard Squad Studios Merseyside
Mastered by Carl Henry
Seen You Before- Fade Lyrics by kind permission of Peter Hamill
CD Booklet ideas by Carl Henry, Dave Williams, Paul Skillen, Jerome Garcia
Cover Technical Layout Design by Chris Hall
Photographs by Dave Williams Photography Chester

Our sincere thanks to all who have helped us:
Colin Howe, Steve Jones, Dave Wood, Steve Meadows, George Frederick, Mike Sutton, Frederico Penaflorida, Alfie Melia, Vlad Stoan, Jesse Cambosa, Billy Butler, Chris Currie, James Zalvadea, Rob at Flashback, Yoz at Maritime, Marcel, Caroline Nickie McKay, Tim Peacock, Andy Jones, Sahinur, Paula, Karen, Hannah, Rachel and all others for help advice and support.

When I Walk Alone

Portrait 1: When I Walk Alone
You are all of my laughter, but none of my pain.
You are all of my sunshine, but none of my rain.
Since you've been gone, I've been trying to make it on my own.
Consequently, I've been walking these streets alone.
When I walk alone, I hear your voice against the rain.
When I walk alone, I see your face and it carries me home.
You are all of my loving, but none of my hate.
You are all of a tender heart, you are all of my faith.
Since you've been gone, I've been trying to make it on my own.
Consequently, I've been walking these streets alone.
When I walk alone, I hear your voice against the rain.
When I walk alone, I see your face and it carries me home.

When I walk alone was written in 2011. My mother Winnie died at the age of 90 just before Christmas in 2009 and my Dad Dave in the November 2010 aged 91. Although they both lived until a ripe old age and their deaths were expected, the world seems a different place when you have lost your parents. They still remain with me in my everyday routines and thoughts even though they are no longer in this physical world. The sentiments of the Liverpool anthem ‘You’ll never walk alone’ really are true. Loved ones are with you in spirit even when you feel alone. They still support you through the difficult times with love and inspiration which does not end just because they have left this mortal coil. Loved ones live along-side us after they have left this life and still influence our thoughts, actions and aspirations.
The song emerged from a set of lyrics I had written to go with a sequence pattern. Carl recorded the pattern with an electronic backbeat. Vocals, keyboards and guitars went down quite simply. Heather Newton then added some dreamy vocal harmonies and the staccato violin. We could always hear a trumpet on the track but the original melody was never used. Rory Ballantine was contacted by Carl and he came up with the line which is played on the final version. It was chosen as the first track on the album because This Final Frame are often identified with the trumpet sound and it provided the link with our past.

I Have Seen You Before

Portrait 2: Seen You Before
Before I sleep, before I dream, when I pray I'll be thinking of you.
You are in my heart, you are in my soul, in every breath I'll be thinking of you.
Feelings like these never end, they make the ties that bind
Open your eyes! What can you see?
I see my father looking at me.
Into the world, you can be sure
That in my heart I have seen you before.
When you smile, when you laugh and when you cry I'll be thinking of you.
In my love in my joy and in my hope I'll be thinking of you.
Hope, Love, Dreams, Inspiration

I have seen you before was written for my daughter Hannah. When my wife Karen was pregnant I would talk to her bump and sing silly songs. As soon as our daughter Hannah was born she looked around in my direction trying to locate where my voice was coming from. It was such an exhilarating experience when our eyes met because it was as if we already knew each other. We recognised each other straight away as if we had seen each other before. Hannah has lived away at University for the past few years and when I was missing her I wrote the lyrics. I had a vague idea for the tune but there seemed to be a disjointed feeling on the rhythm between the verse and chorus. Carl assembled a rhythm that would bridge the two sections. At the time of recording, Heather Newton who played piano, violin and sang on the album was leaving the Wirral for London. This was her last session before she left and 'Seen You Before' was only a sketchy idea. However at the end of recording 'The Salient', late on into the evening, Carl persuaded us to record something to work on. Heather improvised on piano to accompany the basic chords. We ended up keeping it all. The song had the feel of a hymn and certainly could work on that level with the set of lyrics. The old fashioned upright piano sound made us think about church halls and choirs. Coincidently one of my students, Lauren Faulkner from University of Chester, was running a choir. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so Carl and I went out to Saltney to record the Saltney Choir and add them to the track.
Peter Hammill

I thought that would be the end of the track but when Ian Jackson put down his base line, Carl heard another melody at the end of the track which was from a Van der Graaf Generator track 'You stare out in yellow eyes, larger than my mind'. Carl asked the legendary Peter Hammill for his permission to use his lyrics and he kindly agreed. Sax was added by Nick Wootton as it has such a lonely sound.

Broken Strings

Portrait 3: Broken Strings
If looks could kill then you would probably be dead
I wish I knew what went on inside your head.
You say it's true, when you know that it's a lie.
What do you want, and how will you survive.
I'll tell you why I think that they should know
I'll tell you how I think that you could go.
I hear violins, not broken strings that grate on your heart.
On angels' wings, those wicked things, that keep us apart.
You can't explain the marks around your eyes
You can't explain all the reasons why.
You think it's the guilt, I think that it's the fear
You must protect the people you hold dear.

This song was the first track written for this album back in 2010. I had just had a knee operation which had not gone well. This Final Frame were due to do some support dates on the China Crisis tour that summer and the band were rehearsed to play. Unfortunately I was laid up for months in a leg brace and was unable to do the concerts. Whilst incapacitated, I suffered the indignity of day time TV watching Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle with couples fighting and being generally dysfunctional. Many of the stories were about fighting couples who just did not understand each other. The features were about selfishness and duplicity. This song takes the form of a two-sided conversation between a deluded young lady, who was the subject of domestic violence and yet still defended the actions of her thuggish partner, and the chat show host trying to persuade her to leave him. I avoid day time TV at all costs now.
The track is guitar based and was recorded to a click track. Carl then put his drum track over the guitars and vocals. Ian then added his lead bass line which really uplifted the track. The track was sounding quite rocky at this point. Heather then added violins and some harmony vocals which lifted the chorus.


Portrait 4: Scattered
If I tried to be strong
If I said I was wrong
If I didn't waste my time with things that don't belong
If I work through the day
If I drive through the night
If I miss those little things that make the world seem right
So people drift apart and things just slip away
Now we are ships all lost at sea, scattered by the wind
Come sail back home to me and we can start again.
If your heart drifts away
If it leaves from this shore
If you go out of sight
And I don't see you anymore.
When the sun comes around and I look out to sea,
When your ship reaches shore
Will you come back home to me?

Scattered was written in 2011. I had an unpleasant fortnight when I attended four funerals one after another. At a couple of the services a poem written by Bishop Brent called 'What is Dying' was read out. It is a comforting poem which makes an analogy of death being like a ship leaving one shore and sailing to another. Friends wave the ship off as it goes out of sight. The ship leaves only to reappear in another place and is welcomed by those on the other shore. I decided to research the poem and found that Bishop Brent was an American who became Bishop of the Philippines.


The song was built around a chord progression and was recorded with a click track, guitar and vocal. Carl emailed the track to Sean Pugh who put the strings and piano on the track. This made all the difference and the emotion from the piano and strings really changed the dynamics of the song. We thought that the track needed something to drive it along so we put on a sequencer and a chugging electric guitar. Heather again provided some breathy vocals and Ian wrote the second male harmony vocal as well as the bass. Carl decided to put some big drum sounds on the track and add to the dynamics with percussion and high siren string sounds. It sounds like such an intimate and harmonious track. Amazing to think that the five musicians and writers of this track, were never in the same room to record it. Sean Ian and Heather have never met each other.

Hannah's Dream

Portrait 5: Hannah's Dream
Three years since we spoke
In dreams when I awoke
You were standing there.
Though it made me realise
How much hurt there was inside and how much you cared.
I believe when we sail away that one day we'll meet again
I believe that everyone will have the time to talk again.
We spoke there for a while and you made me smile about places we used to go.
Much of life is still the same
like Chester in the rain but I miss you so.

Hannah's Dream was written in the summer of 2012 in Valencia. My daughter Hannah was at University in Spain during 2011-2012. The song refers to a dream in which Hannah had a conversation with my late mother Winnie. She dreamt she had a catch-up chat about all the things that had been happening in her life since her Gran had died. When we visited Hannah in Valencia we talked about her dream. The idea grew from there as a song. It needed to have a dream like quality and a feel of Spain. Whilst in Valencia, Hannah took Karen and I to the town square to see traditional Valencian dancers. I felt that the song needed a traditional baroque string sound to express the feel of Spain.


Carl and I recorded some drums keyboards and vocals but the baroque sound was still missing. Carl contacted the amazing Julio Bravo a violinist from the Basque region of Northern Spain. He recorded all of the strings in Spain and emailed them over to be assembled at Custard Squad studios. We felt that the top register of the chorus needed some female vocals. Heather Newton was now living in London so we drafted in Hannah Katherine Moore another amazingly talented musician and vocalist to provide the top end vocals on the chorus.


Portrait 6: Attachments
So Look at us now,
Love takes your heart, it shakes your heart, it breaks your heart.
Now what is left undone,
A box of dreams, an empty room, a silent house.
So the story is often told
Of love that has grown old.
Still what we have we hold,
Attachments have been sold,
When lovers have grown old.
Though we are ragged and we are torn,
Our love will still go on,
When all just seems forlorn.
Time changes the world,
Where the day to day, and children's play, just fades away So this hollow shell
Once life was full and everyday was made of love.

Attachments was the last track on the album to be written. It is about the way that over the years we all accumulate so many material possessions. We attach so must importance to our belongings. We spend so much time and money on their acquisition. The DH Lawrence short story 'Things' relates to how we form our identities through our possessions. It is a story which has stayed with me over the years. I was not sure how I was going to use the idea in a song. In the 1980s The Icicle Works excellent track 'Hollow Horse' contained the line 'Things I choose to value I no longer have a use for' another great line from Ian McNabb which puts the things we strive to possess in to context. This song is about my experience of packing up my Dad’s possessions after he died. It is a sobering experience and puts in perspective the notion that we reveal our identity through our things when really it is just stuff which loses its worth with time. All that is left is the emotion of the time we spent with people and how that impacted on us as people.
When recording the track we had concerns about the length and structure as the basic recording was put down quite quickly. The track needed some embellishment and so some lead guitars were put down by Steve Jones. Hannah Katherine Moore also provided the haunting Piano intro and the backing vocals.


Portrait 7: The Veil
If you could live a moment longer
Would you see this heart of mine?
If I could feel a little stronger
Would this moment hang still in time?
My heart is in a million tiny pieces.
Your heart knows.
When you lifted the veil then I could see just what life means to me
If you could smile a moment longer
Would the pain ever go away?
Now is the time, to walk in the sunshine
Until we meet another day.

The idea for the veil was based on a remark which Father Simon the local parish priest from Woodchurch made to me when I was organising my Mum's funeral in 2009. He described my mother's faith as lifting a veil on the mystery of our afterlife. Winnie was a woman of immense faith and to leave tangible evidence of her faith has proved to be immense support in my life after she died.
I had an idea for an orchestral arrangement for the song but was not sure how this would work. Heather Newton's vast musical knowledge was again invaluable as she arranged altered and wrote parts to move the original idea in to something more coherent. Carl compiled the arrangement and added a dynamic which was missing. Ian’s mellow bass completed the range of frequencies.

Climbing Mountains

Portrait 8: Climbing Mountains
I have never given up on life
In a world that doesn't care.
So just believe in yourself
Because I don't think it's fair.
From the top of the world
Far as I can see
We are climbing mountains
Mountains for your love.
When you're trapped inside a life
You see how many people care.
A million prayers are said
A million hopes are shared.

Climbing Mountains was written about a young lady who suffers from a debilitating condition called locked in syndrome. Locked in Syndrome is truly shocking illness which restricts body movements but leaves mental capacity unrestricted. The strength and love shown by her parents and friends of the family is truly moving in the way in which they have organised a charity and managed her care. Their love and devotion matches her beauty. Despite her condition, she writes wonderful poetry and is truly inspirational. The song started with a track originally written by Carl. It had a hypnotic rhythm section which had a trance-like feel to it. The lyrics had been written for a while but never used. They seemed to fit well with the rhythm and hypnotic feel of the music. Ian provided a driving bass line and the rhythm was assembled by Carl with half real percussion and half electronic. Heather provided piano and vocals to add another dimension to the melody.

The Salient

Portrait 9: The Salient (Lyrics by David William Skillen c1941)
No artist seen and there is no green
Nor grass nor shade nor water,
No birds to fly and sing in the air,
Just the crash of the shell and mortar.
Just flat drab sand, unsweeping land,
And the stunted camel thorn.
The outline shape, the stony scarp,
And the waddies deep and worn.
No structures tall to relieve it all,
Lest we give the position away.
Just the barbed wire etched against the sky,
And the nets of the artillery bay.
When the wind sweeps free in form the sea,
In the dug out's sticky waters.
We crouch down low out of the blow,
In the dust storm's humid shelter.

The music for The Salient was written in 2010, just after my Dad died. The family was left with the task of sorting through his possessions. One of the items he left behind was a poem. He wrote the poem in 1941 during World War 2 when he was a soldier in the Royal Horse Artillery. He was a 'desert rat' fighting in Tobruk in Libya where he was besieged for a year under constant shelling from the German army. During the conflict, he came up with these words which Carl and I have put to music. Inscribed on his grave stone are the words, 'A Salient Force'. I think he would have been quite bemused at the prospect of his words being sung seventy years after he wrote them.


The words were already written and so the music was required to organise the words into a song format. The order of the original poem has been changed to fit the format. It all fitted in to place quite quickly. Original trumpeter Jim Short provided the cornet playing to give the track a military feel.


Portrait 10: Attrition
When your back is against the wall,
Don't give up just stand tall,
You must believe you will never fall attrition
When this life gets you down
When silence is the only sound
When the rain keeps falling down attrition
Every dream you ever had, everyone who drove you mad
Every time life makes you sad attrition
If you believe in miracles, if you believe in fate
If you believe in destiny, the chances that we take
Believe in hope believe in faith and attrition.
You have been told you are bound to fail
Grit your teeth and change the tale
Leave the doubters in your trail attrition

Attrition was written in 2011. The basic sentiment is that we all have to work hard to achieve our aims. Some things are there for us to achieve and we do our best to get there. All that really counts is a sheer will and determination to do it. The track then became an anthem for Carl and I because we managed to record the album through weekly recording sessions over a few years. We really had to grind it out until we finished. Carl suggested it be the final track on the album to symbolise our determination release these songs.
The song does not sound like a typical This Final Frame track and would not sound out of place in an optimistic musical. The chorus was written first and I am not sure where the general emotion of the song came from. It was just a vocal and a guide guitar. The track was sent to Sean Pugh to see if he could make anything of it. It returned to Custard Squad with a different feel altogether. Heather was up from London on a visit and added vocals and another piano. It all seemed to work although it did not sound particularly like our usual material. Ken Hancock also contributed with the ebow guitar. The track developed an identity of its own.
This album is a bit of a departure for us. We have been able to experiment further away from our New Wave Blue Romantic roots. We have always been orchestral by design going back to our early tracks 'The Diary' and 'The Mask' but we have had the opportunity to work with musicians from all over the world and embellish each track when we thought it would work. The experimental lab which is custard squad studios has been the fulcrum of this effort. We have been given great support from fans all over the world to keep going and develop our sound. Thanks to everyone for help advice and enthusiasm to make this work.

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