Songs You May Have Missed #168

train

Big Big Train: “Judas Unrepentant” (2012)

Songs like “Judas Unrepentant” are why I hang in there with prog rock. Despite the fact that 95% of what I sift through disappoints, and notwithstanding the genre’s current overall metal leanings, there are occasions when an ambitious practitioner of the long-form rock song produces pure gold. Songs like this one, and bands like Big Big Train, reward repeated listenings and have greater shelf life than more ephemeral pop music.

The fascinating true story behind “Judas Unrepentant”, the story of art forger and restorer Tom Keating, is explained by lyricist David Longdon here.

I also found Keating’s Wikipedia page to be among the most astonishing I’ve ever read.

The song does a remarkable job telling a story that requires quite a bit of detail, as well as the language of the art world–without sacrificing listenability. Let’s face it, if your story is “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, it isn’t difficult to keep it catchy. But weaving a tale with the complexity required here, well–that’s what we still have progressive rock for. That’s why it’s still essential, despite the multitude of claims that the only era of prog that mattered was the Yes/Genesis/Floyd heyday 1970’s.

Judas Unrepentant:

Venetian expertise
Inspired by Titian
Which he modified
Fine tuned along dutch lines

He’s painting revenge
Embittered by lack of success

With signature techniques
Attention to details
And fine tell tale brushstrokes
Of badger and sable

Expressing contempt
For greedy dealers
Getting rich
At the artist’s expense

Infamous forger and restorer
Judas Unrepentant
Branded a charming old lovable rogue
Judas Unrepentant
Hey
Judas Unrepentant
Hey
Judas!

His time bombs are in place
And anachronisms
Clues pointing to the truth
If ever they are X-rayed

Wrote legends in lead white
To trick the experts
And hoodwink
Hoodwink the trained eye

Infamous forger and restorer
Judas Unrepentant
Branded a charming old lovable rogue
Judas Unrepentant
Hey
Judas Unrepentant
Hey
Judas Unrepentant

Establishing provenance
Acquiring old frames with Christie’s numbers
Then paints a picture in the same style
Specialising in minor works by major artists

All rise
Thirteen watercolours by Samuel Palmer
Have proven to be his undoing
And so he confesses then he is arrested
Charged him with conspiracy to defraud

Years of chain smoking and breathing in fumes from restorations
The stress of the court case had taken its toll
His trial was halted due to ill health

So now we can all buy
Real genuine fakes
That’s posthumous fame
It’s always the same

Infamous forger and restorer
Judas Unrepentant
Branded a charming old lovable rogue
Judas Unrepentant
Feeling like Robin Hood
Just as good
As Rembrandt or Titian
Hey
Judas Unrepentant
Hey
Judas Unrepentant
Hey
Judas Unrepentant

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/05/24/songs-you-may-have-missed-420/

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Songs You May Have Missed #420 | Ed Cyphers
  2. Trackback: And to Sum Up…”Come On, Make Some Noise” | Ed Cyphers

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