Lee Speaks About Music… #123

Black Bead Eye – How Far To Hitchin



The latest “How Far To Hitchin” album has arrived and it appears that the man behind it all Paul Dews is going on more of an adventurous journey judging by the FANTASTIC! artwork he has done once again himself and the albums front cover does look quite AMAZING! I stated in my recent review I wrote for his debut album Easy Targets that everything about Paul Dews is a work of ART! whether it be his music or his artistic drawings. There can be no doubt this guy does have one hell of a creative mind and is an extremely well talented musician, songwriter and artist. The form of ART! you are getting here is something that is hardly likely to fall out of the sky and land on your lap, it takes a lot of hard work and time, but no doubt the end result I am pretty sure makes it all worthwhile and satisfying.

I think what would make it even more satisfying is if people went out and brought his music, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is one artist who is very well deservingly worthy of a lot more recognition for his GREAT! music, especially with all he has put into making it. Paul Dews has mastered the art of song writing no matter what genre he decides to create and work in with some respect. To many people a pop song can be seen as more of a basic thing to do, but if you can skilfully craft a song like this here, I am pretty sure there is damn site more to it than being simple.

To skilfully craft out a song like “What Everyone Wants” is like having the heads of both Lennon & McCartney on your shoulders along with the arranging skills of George Martin and it’s far from an easy thing to do at all. This is also a song that never even made it onto the debut album Easy Targets. I can also see in some respects how it would not of fitted along with the material he wrote for that particular album as well. But I do feel that in the future at some point it might be worth him remastering his debut album and including both this song and the acoustic version of “Helpless” as bonus tracks on it.

Bonus Tracks_Fotor

To be honest as a rule I never buy singles and am very much an album man, but I just had to buy this one and as you can see, I tagged up the both tracks and stuck them on the end of the digital download of the Easy Targets album. Every time I play the album on my computer and smartphone, I always play the bonus tracks too and I personally think they work very well as bonus tracks for this particular album.

Dews released “What Everyone Wants” back in 2017 the following year after the album Easy Targets was released in 2016. I am not entirely sure but I am guessing that he wrote this song before he even started to work on the material for the Easy Targets album back in 2011 and it was most likely written much earlier. The song sounds very familiar to me and it’s as if I heard it many moons ago on the radio. It really is a SMASH HIT! and superb song.

The other thing I also stated in my review of Easy Targets was that I personally felt it was an album that was that special that it would be very hard for Dews to beat or even come up with another album like it even if he was to try for the rest of his life.

Well his latest album Black Bead Eye is very much now here and, in this review, we shall find out if he managed to make me eat my words. No doubt if you have the song writing skills, he has anything is possible I would of thought. But for now, the only thing I shall tell you about the latest album to hit the shelves is that it is different, and it’s a bit like an album that has two halves. I shall go further into it later on in my review here, but as always let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork first.

The Packaging & Artwork…


Just like his debut album the latest CD also comes in a standard plastic jewel case and it was made by himself to save on the expense of having them mass produced in large quantities by a media manufacturing company. It makes a lot of sense especially when it comes to shifting them out, and it saves on having a box of CD’s cluttering up your own space doing nothing at all.

Making The CDs_Fotor

Music is very hard to sell these days especially for unknown artists which is really a shame, because in reality the artwork and the music is without a doubt worthy of being presented in a more professional way and done by a professional media manufacturing company. It would look superb if it was put on a 3-panel cardboard DigiPak with a plastic tray inside to hold the CD and a pocket inside to hold the booklet. But as you can see from the photo above, he’s doing a pretty darn good job of making the CD’s himself and it can be a costly mistake having them done by a professional media manufacturing company unless you are sure you can sell them all.

Speaking of the booklet depending on which CD package you buy will have a bearing on how many pages it comes with. Dews has done things a bit differently with this release and it comes in 4 different packages if you count the digital download of the album to which I will go into more detail in the album release editions section. I myself have the limited Deluxe version (pictured above) which comes with a 12-page booklet with a lot more artwork plus other goodies. The booklet also comes with the usual lyrics and linear production notes like the other CD packages will have too. I was also lucky enough to have this package GIFTED to me by the man himself for doing the album review to which I am extremely grateful for.

Though in all honesty I still would of brought and reviewed the album regardless, and the fact that I had the album given to me will not make the album score any extra points. Every album I review is based on how the music and the package speaks to me and I have always spoke back to it in honesty.


All the artwork was done by Dews himself and there is quite some exceptional pieces of art in the 12 page booklet, a lot more than what was in the previous album Easy Targets too. I also noticed that the artwork he has done for the individual tracks are not just close up shots taken from the main picture he had drew for the albums artwork cover either. This video shows you him hard at work making the limited prints for the Deluxe package. You can hear some of the 5th track on the album “Compression” playing along as he’s making them too.

You can see how much passion Dews puts into his work and no doubt it takes a lot of time and passion to make too. I’ve said it many times already and everything about Paul Dews is a work of ART! and there is more of it in the way he has released the album too. So, let’s now take a look at the many different ways you can purchase the latest album.

Black Bead Eye (Album Release Editions)

As I mentioned earlier, he has released the latest album in the form of 4 individual editions all of which come with different price tiers to suit your pocket. The digital download is no doubt the cheapest way to purchase the album and its only really the physical CD side of things where he has done things a bit different and given each of these editions a different name and presented them on his website with different artwork covers. Though I am pretty sure the different album covers are only for display purposes to go along with the names of each package, and they all come with the original artwork on the albums front cover. So, let’s now take a look at all 4 ways you can purchase the album Black Bead Eye starting from the cheapest to the most expensive option.


The digital download can be obtained for £7 and it comes in the form of a high-quality MP3 format of 320kbps and comes with the front cover of the album. Unlike Bandcamp there are no other choices of formats you can choose from but 320kbps is the highest quality you can get in this particular format and to be honest I myself only ever use this format on my computer myself to save on hard drive space. Both Flac and Wave formats are higher quality but they will take up a lot more of your hard drive space.

I generally find that MP3’s at 320kbps are very good and do a decent enough job of presenting the album to you. Though I am more for the physical format and prefer that side of things myself though I do listen to albums on my computer and my smartphone in this format and it’s more of a convenient format for those devices. I dare say if you were to get in touch with Paul, he would be willing to send you the album in Flac or Wave format if you prefer that higher quality.


The Jackdaw version is the cheapest way to obtain the album in a physical format and the CD is very well priced with its price tag of £10. This version comes with an 8-page lyric booklet and the price is for the CD only, it does not come with a free digital download of the album. But if you’re willing to wait a few days for the CD to arrive this is quite a good option and you can always listen to the album on website whilst you are waiting for it to arrive.


Next up we have the Rook version which is priced up at £15. With this version you get a signed copy of the 12-page booklet plus it also comes with the digital download. To be honest it does seem to be a bit steep charging an extra £5 for it to come with a digital download and that is something that you would find free on most sites. But where the added value of this package lies is really with the extra 4 pages of artwork you get in the booklet rather than the fact that it is also signed by the man himself.

No doubt if Paul Dews was to suddenly become a lot more popular in the way of being more of a celebrity status. His signature would add value to it. But I myself would not personally pay an extra 5 bucks just for somebody to put pen to paper and scribble their name on it. I am also pretty sure that when I met my God of the keyboards Rick Wakeman and asked him to sign my copy of his album The Six Wives Of henry VIII. If he would have asked me for money to sign it. I would not have paid and refused :)))))). The 4 pages may not seem like a lot, but the artwork is superb and is worth spending that little bit extra even if that little bit happens to be 50% more in this case.


Finally, we have the Raven version and this could be seen as the Deluxe version and costs the most with its price tag of a WHOPPING! £20. This particular package is limited to 50 copies only and they have now all been sold. With this package you get the same 12-page signed booklet and the digital download like you get with the Rook version plus you get an extra 3 things for the extra 5 bucks here. 2 of the extra things you can see in my display of the package above in the packaging and artwork section. They are the extra two limited hand prints and a badge with the HFTH logo on it. The other thing you get is your name included on the back of the booklet in the supporters list as you can see in this picture below where I have highlighted my name.

back cover snip_Fotor

I think it’s quite a nice touch having your name on the supporters list printed in the booklet, the badge is a nice little trinket and the extra artwork hand made prints can be put to good use too, just like these couple of examples by James Griffiths and Cliff Proctor with how they have displayed them in the pictures below.

James Griffiths Display_Fotor

James Griffiths Display

Cliff Proctor Display_Fotor

Cliff Proctor Display

I am sure I will find a place for my prints too eventually. The other thing I have just noticed about the prints is that they are also numbered and mine is numbered 36/50.

Was the Raven package worth the extra money? I think it boils down to how passionate you are about the artists you support and some folks are more passionate than others and it shows with the couple of examples by James and Cliff here which is GREAT! to see. I myself have always believed in supporting the artist by buying what speaks to me the most about them and that is the music. I am not the type of person who would generally as a rule spend more money on a CD because it was signed and came with some other goodies.

I suppose it depends on what extras you are getting in the package that will entice me more to buy it, and those things in general are extra discs and those type of packages that come with the 5.1 recordings on a DVD or Blu Ray included in them, rather than anything else. But all those things I just mentioned come from many of the more well-known mainstream artists I buy and not the lesser unknown artists like we have here. And sometimes I will spend that bit extra on those more unknown artists simply because they are hardly likely to generate that much money from their music like those many more well-known artists can.

I do appreciate art as well though and as much as I would like to frame it and hang it on the wall in my house, I do not think my wife would be that pleased. For example, if it was not for her, I dare say I would have many prints by Roger Dean hanging on my walls by now :)))). But she’s not into music like I am and even thinks I waste my money on buying music. I am forever telling her that least I have something to show for my money which is a damn site more than what she would spend her money on :))))).

In many ways I feel guilty in receiving the Raven package for free. Not because I cannot put the artwork in a frame and hang it on the wall, and like I said I will find a spot somewhere for those prints most likely where I store my CD’s. But because even though I paid for the album Easy Targets he still never got any money from it because he lost his old email which was tied to his PayPal account. That is also the reason why his music is no longer available on Bandcamp and the only way you can buy it now is directly from his website.

I am without doubt a fan and his music certainly ROCKS! my boat and sometime in the near future I dare say I will even buy both albums again even if they are only in the form of a digital download to give away to others, I know that will appreciate them. But right now, let’s press on and get on with the review of the album.

The Album In Review…

Black Bead Eye by How Far To Hitchin was officially released on 5th August 2019. However, the release date did not get off to a flying start because Dews had to sort out his website and even though the album was released nobody could actually purchase it. I did get to hear the whole of the album on that day as Dews was uploading the tracks one by one up to his website and I also purchased his debut album Easy Targets on that very day from Bandcamp. It was not until a couple of days later on the 7th August that things got sorted out and you could purchase the new album.

The album was recorded and mixed once again at Studio One-Seven-Two which is in the basement of the house he lives in Huddersfield. Although this will be the final album to be made there due to the fact that he has now sold his house and is moving to the Orkney Isles. So, he will soon be waving goodbye to the Peacocks of Birkby.

In The Studio_Fotor

Things have been done a bit differently with the new album and it’s been mastered by Russ Sinfield. He is also credited with the production with Dews too and the album does sound GREAT! for it. I’ve come across many artists on Soundcloud that Sinfield has produced and mastered albums for and he does a GRAND! job of it. I also think it helps to sell records when you have someone else onboard and right now, and I am glad he managed to sell all 50 copies of the Limited Raven Edition so quickly. It shows people have good taste too.

The latest album comes with 8 tracks all of which are vocal tracks and there are no instrumental tracks. The 8 tracks are spanned over an overall playing time of 53 minutes, 50 seconds which is quite lengthy but more of the common time slot that has been associated with the CD format since it was born and brought in to replace vinyl back in the mid 80’s. To be honest I still prefer the old vinyl album time slot of around 30 to 40 minutes basically because you can squeeze in more albums in a day to listen to and they make it much easier to give the album more spins and get into a lot faster. When you have a large record collection like myself that old time slot really does make a massive difference and, in some aspects, can reflect on how often an album will get played as well.

I think since the birth of the CD it’s so easy for artists to cram as much information on them as they can squeeze onto them, and sometimes it can be too much food for thought. Some albums work well for it whilst others don’t depending on how good the material they wrote for the album in the first place. Solid albums are very much a minority and to make a double albums worth of material you very much have to have the right amount of good material to make it work in the first place.

Sometimes good material can take that much longer to manifest itself upon you, and until it does it’s not really going to say a lot to you at all over the first couple of spins. It can take many more spins for things to become more clearer and much of the material upon the album Black Bead Eye started to speak to me a lot more after further spins than the first 2 or 3 spins I gave the album.

In many ways the album Black Bead Eye is a different breed in relation to his debut album Easy Targets and that was an album that was even a good 13 minutes longer than what have here. Nothing about that debut album presented me with a problem and even with its overall time slot of 67 minutes, 34 seconds I even stated myself that “I have no complaints simply because this is one very well skilfully crafted and woven piece of fine ART! that has been so skilfully put together”. It is without doubt a solid album and one that is easy to get into and grab you straight away.

Paul Dews has gone about things a bit differently on his latest album Black Bead Eye and he has stepped a bit deeper into the realms of prog rock to which the album Easy Targets only had a few elements of prog rock about the material that was wrote for it. There are the odd glimpses on a couple of the tracks of his debut album but mostly this is an album that presents him in a different light, and I shall reveal more later in the album tracks section of my review here. But first let’s take a look at the album credits.

Musicians & Credits…


All songs written by Paul Dews. Recorded & Mixed by Paul Dews at Studio One-Seven-Two.  Produced by Paul Dews & Russ Sinfield. Mastered by Russ Sinfield. All Artwork & Design by Paul Dews.

Paul Dews: Vocals/12 & 6 String Acoustic Guitars/12 & 6 String Electric Guitars/Nylon Guitar/Mandolin/Ukulele/Chapman Stick/Electric Bass Guitar/Flute/Keyboard & Synth Programming/Drums/Percussion & Bass Programming.
Emma Gee: Female Voice (Track 4).

The Album Tracks In Review…

So far, I have mentioned that the album Black Bead Eye is a different breed in relation to the debut album Easy Targets. I also mentioned that it’s a bit like an album that has two halves and that Paul Dews is stepping a bit deeper into the realms of prog rock. There is no doubt that Dews has done things more differently on his latest album even with how he has approached it with the material he has written for it. For example, even his own voice sounds different on some tracks in relation to how it sounded on that debut album of his. I most likely expect that the new material gave him a new challenge in which he had to express his voice in another way to make it work in some parts.

Regarding the album having two halves I first seen as two things. The first being that he has made it to look like a vinyl album with how it has a side one and side two printed on the back of the CD. Plus, he has also made it sound like a vinyl album by adding the sound of the needle being placed onto the record at the beginning and end, even where it comes to the point of turning the album over to play the other side. The second part of how I see it as an album of two halves is a bit more confusing, and basically it really boils down to if Dews was working with the tracks having some form of a concept of stories going on or not with the album.

It does have me thinking that his original intention was to make side one of the album into a concept of fantasy stories and the second side more of a bunch of collective songs. However the way the album tracks have been placed do not seem to work like that and have been shuffled about a bit which would suggest that he gave up on that idea. For example, looking at the tracks “Queen Of Malice“. “Woman Screaming At Trees” and “The Crow” these 3 tracks are certainly more of your fantasy story sort of thing.

I suppose you could of also have thrown in “Compression” although that is perhaps not a fantasy sort of story like those other 3 tracks are. But in reality if you were to put this album onto 1 Vinyl LP you would have to juggle the tracks around to make them fit and you would need one of the shorter tracks on each side of the album and not both of them on the same side like they are placed here. No doubt 53 minutes, 50 seconds is way over the limit of vinyl restrictions though that amount of time has been squeezed onto them in the past.

The way I seen the album Easy Targets is very much like how I mentioned it in my review of the album. I did see it has a 12-piece jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces fit perfectly together to make it up. The 8 pieces we have here on Black Bead Eye are never gonna fit perfectly together like that previous album. Regarding the track placement I do feel there are some pieces that have not been cut right to make them fit perfectly enough, and they have been placed in the wrong place. I very much feel if you play a game of mix and match here and juggle the pieces around to make them fit. You will have an album of two halves, the first half being in the way of a concept of fantasy stories, and the second half in the way of a collection of songs.

But of course this is all speculation on my part and for all I know Paul Dews may have not have had any intention of making a concept with the material he wrote here and they were just a collection of songs he wrote for this particular album. He may very well have done exactly the same thing with Easy Targets and to be perfectly honest many people would not see that album having any form of a concept. I only related a concept to them based on the subject matter of the lyrics and what all the songs were pertaining and relating too with them.

The other major difference between the both albums is that Black Bead Eye certainly has a lot more in the guitar department whereas in many ways the album Easy Targets was more deprived of guitar solos and could be a lot more keyboard oriented. I would also say that this new album is also very much more influenced by Steve Hackett whereas the last album had more of a cross between Roger Waters and many other artists about it. The one thing both albums do have in common is a nice cup of tea and Paul Dews certainly likes a nice cup of the stuff :)))). So, let’s now take a deeper look into the albums 8 tracks.

Track 1. Queen Of Malice.

The needle is placed on the record and the album kicks off at first with a mini orchestral overture to set the scene for the opening story about the selfish and mean sister of King Merry who was chosen to be the Secret Kingdom’s ruler. His ugly sister was evil and the greedy one who plotted out a plan for revenge at least that’s what I am presuming this story is pertaining too. There have been many Queens of Malice including Malice in Wonderland and they are all pretty damn evil. Some of them will have your head on the chopping block in no time at all :))))) and others are even connected with Halloween and speaking of Halloween there may well be a connection with some of the other stories here on the album.

Track 1

The mini overture makes quite a majestic entrance with the kettle drums rolling and is as bold as brass with the brass too, I like how it winds itself down with the strings at around the 45 second mark and allows a sequence on the keyboard to fade its way into the action and allows Dews to count in 1,2,3,4 which is panned to the left and how he expresses the number 5 with his voice more boldly and is panned to the right. It’s precisely at the 1-minute mark that the band instrumentation kicks in with the drums, bass, guitars and keyboards and it starts to ROCK! out more in a meandering and menacing style and runs along for 55 seconds. Then at the 1:55 mark that Dews bring in the vocals to take the story along its way.

Much of the material on the album is quite lengthy and range between 6 – 9 minutes apart from the last couple of tracks on the album. This particular track is the shortest of the three 6-minute tracks on the album and weighs in at 6 minutes, 17 seconds, it also goes through some lovely transitional changes.

I have to confess when I first heard this opening track it was not really grabbing me at all and it took me at least 4 or 5 spins to get to see everything ring out in a different light for me to really appreciate it. I think what threw me off more than anything was how Dews voice was projecting the vocals differently and it took me that much longer to get used to his voice.

As I mentioned earlier there is something different about his voice on this album and this particular track over its first few spins had me thinking of some of the light weight songs that both Steve Hackett and Steve Howe played with the band GTR. Although Paul Dews voice is not as high as Max Bacon’s for some reason it was giving me the impression of that light weighted song “When The Heart Rules The Mind“. Musically it’s nothing like that song and neither is the vocal line, but somehow that is how this song was speaking to me until a few further spins. The only part of his voice that had any connection with his debut album was when he counted in the numbers 1,2,3,4 – FIVE!

Although the GTR side of things had disappeared after 6 or more spins it was still plain to see that the Steve Hackett side of things had not. Instead of it reminding me of material by GTR it was speaking to me more along the lines of the material Hackett wrote for his 1984 album Till We Have Faces or around that time in particular. There is a difference between Hackett’s own material in that it can be a bit denser and darker in relation to what he did with GTR. For example, by me calling “When The Heart Rules The Mind” lightweight. What I really meant is that the song was written with a more commercial approach to it, very much like the material that the band Asia presented to us when they first started. It’s lighter and airier and is aimed to attract a wider audience by verging on the boundaries of pop music.

Even though the song “Jekyll and Hyde” from that same album may have a darker aspect to its lyrical content. The way Max Bacon sings and delivers it with his high vocal range does tend to throw more light on the song than it should have in reality, and that is what I was getting  from the “Queen Of Malice” at first with how Dews voice projected the lyrics and that was throwing me off. To be honest I was quite surprised how well he is stretching out some of his vocal chords on this song and reaching the highs more or less perfectly on some of the more stretched out sentences.

Though somehow what I am not getting here is that special fresh new presence I got with the way the vocals and harmonies were expressed on his debut album Easy Targets. Instead the vocals and harmonies on this song in many ways is like listening to Steve Hackett with the many other vocalists he has backing him up in his band. Don’t get me wrong I think the song is GREAT! but I cannot even after a zillion spins get this Steve Hackett vibe out of my head, and this album is certainly going down the road of Hackett’s music in parts where as I felt the album Easy Targets was more special, unique and more original even with its many other influences.

Musically things are different and it’s not so much like Hackett at all apart from the chords played on the keyboards that support the vocals. Around the half way point there is nice little synth solo and after the final chorus the song runs along once again in its meandering and menacing style we got earlier. Dews does work the electric guitar very well into the piece and then around the 4:35 mark we get this lovely translational change with a lovely acoustic guitar section that brings the song down a TREAT! He then winds up the last few verses repeatedly to bring the song down to its ending.

Overall the “Queen Of Malice” is one of the more powerful up tempo paced out songs on the album, to be honest there are very few songs on the album (including this one) that really run along at this faster pace. There is without doubt some Steve Hackett influences here just as there are on other parts of the album and I personally do not have a problem with that and we all are influenced by many of our idols to some extent. It’s a really GREAT! track to open up the album and does without doubt get the album off to a flying start. I think for many this would also be one of the tracks in contention for the albums TOP SPOT! too with its pace and feel.

Track 2. Desensitised.

Track 2

This fine ballad of a song is very much more like Dews getting back on track of being who he is with his own originality and I have to admit once again this took me several spins for it to really sink in and get to appreciate just how good this song really is. Actually, when I listen to many of the songs on this album Dews is being more sensitive with how he delivers them with his voice. In many ways I would even say that he is going around things in the opposite way of how he would have approached many of the songs on Easy Targets especially with how all the anger and explicit lyrics are no longer present. For a ballad this is quite a long song over 7 and half minutes, it could also be seen as too long. But the way Dews can skilfully carve out a song like this and how he can so masterfully build it up with his arranging skills does make it that more interesting even to the point of lifting the pace up and gradually lifting it out of its ballad mode to raise the game up a bit more.

To be honest the way the song opens up with its sequenced intro it gives you the impression that you were gonna get something different in relation to how it settles into its ballad mode on the piano. It’s perhaps a bit of an unusual intro and my guess is that it was used for the purpose of a news reel to reflect the lyrical content we have here. Speaking of the lyrical content it relates to those who are less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty or suffering by overexposure to such images. I think when you look at all that does go on in the world on the TV nothing does really shock or surprise you anymore. I suppose in some way even I can desensitize myself from it all by not watching the news, although when I do catch glimpses of it can get my goat up and no news is hardly ever good news.

The lyrical content is without doubt speaking about the reality of it all and this is a song that starts off sensitively with the keys and vibes supporting the vocals over the first couple of minutes. Around the 2:26 mark the bass, acoustic guitar and drums kick in to lift it up more and there are some LUSH! bass lines throughout that takes us into the little change just over 4-minute mark. A nice little lead guitar solo further on around the 5:18 mark comes into play and the song falls back in and gets wonderfully rounded off with the keys and a fine oboe sound. It’s a really GREAT! meaningful song that speaks a lot of truth and is very much another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!.

Track 3. Instant Gratification.

A more modern approach to things and a modern look at how society these days go about wanting instant gratification on media sites such as the likes of Facebook, Instagram and so on by wanting you to click on the LIKE! button. Dews takes in the cynical side of things with the lyrical content we have here and it’s funny in a sort of way. This is perhaps a song that could hark back to his debut album in some respects with how he’s structured the music around the bass line and the synths.

Track 3

However, I do not think it would have worked that well on the album Easy Targets and its perhaps not quite up there with the material that was written for it. That’s not to say there nothing remotely bad about this song either and it even has some really GREAT! little lead guitar spasm bursts in it too. I also think it’s quite clever how he’s worked on the lyrics. It is perhaps my least favourite track on the album though considering it’s 6.5 minutes long it only seems like half of that time when playing it. So, he must be doing something right and I do like how he’s gone about it all and it can make me give a chuckle. I also can still certainly give it a LIKE! LIKE! LIKE! :)))))).

Track 4. Woman Screaming At Trees.

Track 4

It’s story time and this is quite a haunting story as the title may suggest. It’s also the longest track on the album and weighs in at precisely 1 second over the 9-minute mark. Some of the songs on the album were worked out over a good few years back. This two and half minute rough sketch video preview of the track was put out on his YouTube channel back in 2016. The drums that come into play towards the end are not even on the finished track. Though there is a lot more been put into the track than just the drums and piano with how well it’s been built up and how further developed it is today.

You can also see that the title was slightly different back then too and was still at it’s early stage of a working title with it having the word “Shouting” instead of “Screaming”. Either way you can see something is not right with this woman, and she is either off her head or barking up the wrong tree, or just barking mad :)))))).

The video only really gives you an idea of how the story gets put over and it does develop into more of a song as it progresses along. Paul Dews makes a fine story teller and apart from the noise effects he recites the first part of the story unaccompanied over the first 1 minute 55 seconds. From here on he is accompanied by the piano and other elements of instrumentation such as orchestration, percussion and the odd touch of slide guitar in parts gradually come into play with how it all builds up. It also features his other half Emma Gee whose voice works very effectively panned across the speakers at around the 4:26 mark for a few seconds.

Most of the words are presented with Dews spoken voice right up to the 6:42 mark where the drums kick in to drive it all home in the way of more of a song. It’s very clever how it’s all so well built up for the transitions to take place and once again it’s does have a Steve Hackett feel about it and also features a very TASTY! Hackett like guitar solo from 7:34 – 8:04. The drums pound in harder for the final stretch to drive it home and it ends off very well with the final words unaccompanied quite abruptly to end off side one of the album. I also like how you hear the crackling of the vinyl and his other half asking him if he’s going to put the other side on and do want a cuppa tea? To which Dews replies YES! and no doubt he loves his cup of tea :))))).

Woman Screaming At Trees” is an excellent piece of work and a GREAT! track with a masterful build to it all. I also noticed that on the back of the CD it does say it has 2 parts though it does effectually work well as one long story portrayed with voice and singing vocals. Once again I also get an Halloween connection as I do with the 1st track and track 6. “The Crow” and that is also what gave me the impression that all of these 3 story tracks do have a concept connection. I would also consider it to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 5. Compression.

The needle is placed back on the record for side two of the album to commence and just like the first half of the album got off to a flying start so does the second side with “Compression“. This is my personal favourite track on the album. To be honest it was a very hard decision to make especially with the track coming up that’s about to follow it “The Crow“. If anything, this is one of the couple songs on the album that are the closest to the songs that was written for his debut album Easy Targets.

Track 5

Paul Dews made a video for the song in the way of a single release to showcase how the new album was coming along and posted it on his Facebook wall only back in April of this year. For the purpose of my review I did ask Paul if I could nick it from his Facebook wall and upload it to my own YouTube channel unlisted so you could get to hear the song for yourselves.

I like how the lyrics put you behind the eyes and the state of mind Dews is portraying with the character in this song. Here we are looking at a consummate liar who has the skill to lie both consistently and artistically in his profession which in this case he may very well of been an architect or the chap responsible in getting the work done that the architect has designed. In many professions they can present you with many ways of cutting corners and getting things done a lot cheaper. Though there can be many pitfalls in going about things this way especially when it comes down to durability with how long things will last.

Compression is the action or state of being squished down or made smaller or more pressed together. In medical terms it can also be a force on a bodily part such as compression of an artery by forceps or compression of the brain by the bones of a depressed fracture. Dispassion is an undisturbed state of mind that prevents one from being able to think clearly or make good decisions because of not being influenced by emotions and all of these things are tied to the character we have in this song.

In many ways the lyrics to this song reminds me a bit like how I see how the lyrics could possibly relate to in today’s world that Peter Gabriel wrote for the Genesis song “Get Em Out By Friday“. Now obviously Gabriel did write those lyrics pertaining to how they could make humans smaller genetically in the future and fit twice as many people in the properties they built. Another money making scheme and to many conniving greedy bastards in this world money is all they can think about, and where they can cut corners, they will to make it. In some way the words that Gabriel did write all those years ago have come true if you look at the way things have become smaller in another light.

I first noticed this a few years back when the council in my own town decided to knock down many of the houses around the area  I live in to make way for new regeneration plan they had put into operation. No doubt the Winkler called upon all those who owned and had brought their houses from the council and offered them a measly sum on top of what their houses was worth to move out. The counsel tenants were offered 5 grand to move into smaller properties such as tower block flats and maisonettes. Once every one had moved out in the designated areas, they intended to build new houses and after they had bulldozed them all to the ground. They did in fact nearly build twice as many houses on the same building site. Honestly, they were like dolls houses and you could not sling a cat in the things :))))).

Both musically and vocally “Compression” is as good as any song on the Easy Targets album I think the only way it would stick out on that album is down to how it does have more guitars than any track on that album. Both the acoustic and electric guitar work on this song is GOLD and worked in with the keyboards and everything else it works a TREAT! It’s a song that has GREAT! progression throughout it all and both the lead guitar and keyboard solos are quite AWESOME! with how they work with each other and run along in unison with one another. It very much merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 6. The Crow.

Track 6

The albums self-titled track to which “Black Bead Eye” is contained in the lyrics and was used for the album title. This song relates to the Corvid and if you never spotted the Steve Hackett influence earlier on you will soon spot it here, especially if you are familiar with the Genesis song “Blood On The Rooftops” that Hackett & Collins wrote for the bands 1976 album Wind and Wuthering. Although this song does not contain the same melody on the nylon guitar to that particular song, the sound and GORGEOUS! job Dews has done and his playing certainly gives you the impression of Hackett playing the piece.

It’s quite a lengthy 2-minute intro that has bags of chord progression and movement and goes through a few changes before the vocals come into play. Supporting the nylon guitar we have some orchestral flute, harp, and mini moog over the first 90 seconds which brings in another change with the electric guitar and keyboards for 15 seconds and then the 12 string acoustic comes into play and and introduces the main melody to support the vocals that enter in at the 2 minute mark.

This video shows you just one of the main melodies on the nylon guitar that enters at around the 44 second mark of the intro. It really is a beautiful piece and so skilfully played and he posted this rough take of it on his Facebook wall in July 2018. He titled this small part of the larger piece ‘Corvidance‘ and Paul told me it’s a piece that has been kicking around since 1984 and he has been playing it ever since. It makes me wonder how many other pieces he’s been playing over all these years that are still to be put out and see the light of day.

The Crow” is the second longest track on the album and over its 7 minutes, 36 seconds and it tells a short haunting and harrowing story about some chap coming face to face with a crow that to his surprise speaks and tells him his time is almost up which instils fear into the poor chap. It’s enough to make you want to stone the crows :)))))) but is interesting how the chap replies to the crow questioning its small insignificant tiny brain has to how it could possibly know that fate was upon him. So too is the crows reply.

The nylon, 12 and 6 string guitars feature very well throughout the story and it builds up very well and takes another path to present the final part of story adding more power with other elements of instrumentation that comes into play from 4 minutes onwards. The Egyptian/Moroccan orchestration that comes into play with the drums and bass remind me of Led Zeppelin’sKashmir” a bit.

To be honest the way this song did transcend into the second part did take me awhile to get used to all the other things that Dews had put into it. In many ways they did seem a bit more minimalistic in relation to the GORGEOUS! acoustic melodic melodies we got over the first 4 minutes. Though they do work in building the piece up and taking the it somewhere else for the final part of the story.

Overall “The Crow” may not be quite the classic song “Blood On The Rooftops” that Hackett & Collins wrote for Genesis but that was something quite special. There is something that still niggles me a bit of the how the second part of the song was constructed, and I do feel that it needed that bit more to match up to the quality that the first 4 minutes presented us with. That is most likely why it never got my TOP SPOT AWARD! but it is without doubt a very much a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 7. Bumsurfing.

It’s time for a complete change of mood and “Bumsurfing” is another song that reminds of some of the material that was wrote for Easy Targets. This is another one of those jolly bouncy songs much like how “Flowers From Burma“ from that debut album. Though regarding the instrumentation that was used for both songs there is quite a margin between the world of 80’s keyboard-oriented electronica to what we have here with this song. This song packs in a host of goodies in the instrument department and utilises the mandolin and ukulele superbly along with the bass, guitars and other goodies.

Musically the “Flowers From Burma“ was much more minimalistic and a lot more easy to construct in relation this song, though they both have some quirky percussion elements thrown into the pot to make them bounce along. For me personally it was the strong lyrical content I liked about the “Flowers From Burma“ that made it such a good song, whereas the instrumentation we have on “Bumsurfing” is much more to my taste. I also like the holiday carefree lyrics we have here too and they are quite comical. I noticed Dews had to get the kettle in there too :)))))).

Track 7

In some way a song like “Bumsurfing” may feel a bit out of place on album like this, but I was quite happy for its inclusion and it is so skilfully done and all well put over with the vocals. lyrics and bounty of instrumentation. It’s really GREAT! fun song.

Track 8. Giraffe.

Track 8

The final song is the shortest track on the album though only by 5 seconds did it merit that spot. I have to confess I have no idea whatsoever how the lyrics relate to the title we have here and even spent a good hour doing some research on giraffes and came up with ZILCH! The only logical explanation for the loving meaningful and caring lyrics must of come from some place he had visited and are what he visualized. They could of also could have come from a dream judging by the artwork he done above for this final track, or the work they are making here is a bit of a tall order :)))))).

There is quite a serene feel of sensitivity with how Dews delivers the fine words and it’s a lovely song that was structured and built up around the piano. It has some wonderful orchestration, bass and ambient Hackett like lead guitar supporting it all and a nice sequenced synth works well in the piece too. I also like how it washes it’s way in on the intro with the sound of the sea and seagulls, you can also hear Dews scribbling out something on a sketchpad, he might be carving out his next masterpiece or sketching out the picture above whilst he is sitting in a field by the sea. This subtle and serene song ends off the album in GREAT! style and closes the chapter of another GREAT! album he has very well crafted out here.


To sum up Black Bead Eye by How Far To Hitchin I would certainly say that this album is more along the lines of prog rock in relation to his debut album Easy Targets. I think much of the material he wrote for this new album is very strong and I like the fact that there is more of a finer balance with the guitars and keyboards and that is where I personally feel it is better than his debut album in some respects. I think there is much more guitar work on this album too and it’s not so much keyboard orientated in relation to that debut album of his either.

To be honest when I weigh up all of those advantages that the album Black Bead Eye has presented to me, you would think that it has made me eat my words in stating that I do not think Dews could beat or even come up with another album like Easy Targets. Personally, I still stand by those words and for a guy who is more into prog rock and not a fan of keyboard orientated albums. It’s very unusual but that album still has something very special about it. It has too if it can do that to me.

When comparing the both albums I would say that much of the material on Black Bead Eye is more subdued in that it can be soft and restrained throughout many of its parts. The album Easy Targets does also have those qualities about some of its material, but it also contains more excitement I personally feel. I did say that it was a bit like a Greatest Hits album too, and it is an album where the material will hit you more or less instantly in relation to a lot of the material on his latest album that do meed more time to sink in.

But if you were to ask me what album should I buy of How Far To Hitchin? My answer would be simple just get them both. Simply because they are both really excellent albums that will give you plenty of pleasure and my personal highlights from the album Black Bead Eye are as follows: “Compression“. “The Crow“. “Queen Of Malice“. “Woman Screaming At Trees” and “Desensitised“.


To conclude my review of the Black Bead Eye. I would say its an album that contains a strong body of work and I cannot fault any of the material that was written for the album either. It’s also highly original material even if It does have quite a strong Steve Hackett influence in parts. I personally feel that it is a album that will sit well with many who are into prog rock and those who have a good taste for good music. It’s also an album that comes with a GREAT! production and you are without doubt getting quality for the buck. It’s very much something that will give you GREAT! listening pleasure for many years to come and an album I would highly recommend adding to your collection.

It will be interesting to see what Paul Dews comes up with for his next album. But whatever it is I am sure it will be without doubt another fine work of ART! He is working on a new album already but my guess it will be another couple of years at least before it materializes. To carve and craft out the music he makes it does take time and a lot of skill. Everything about this man is a work of ART! and no doubt I will be on the look out for his next creative adventure and I am pretty sure whatever he comes up with it will ROCK! my boat so to speak.

You can listen to the album for free or even purchase the album in the form of a digital or physical format from his website store page here: http://www.howfartohitchin.com/store

Warning: Compression can take your breath away and If you should happen to come across a talking Crow. Make sure your Life Insurance Policy is up to date.

Compression Takes My Breath Away, And Once Again I lose Control…

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Queen Of Malice. 6:17.
02. Desensitised. 7:30.
03. Instant Gratification. 6:31.
04. Woman Screaming At Trees. 9:01.
05. Compression. 6:58.
06. The Crow. 7:36.
07. Bumsurfing. 4:58.
08. Giraffe. 4:53.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.

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