Blanket of Secrecy

ears have walls have ears have walls have ears
Ears Have Walls (U.S.)
Walls Have Ears (U.K.)


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was the only record released by this great group, which featured great pop music and vocals and unusually varied arrangements for a synth-based band.  They put out a wonderful single, Say You Will, which got a bit of airplay.  They also had a gimmic -- the identities of the musicians was kept secret.  With one exception, authorship of the songs was credited to "Tinker", "Tailor", "Soldier", "Sailor" and "Spy".  There is also a reference to the record having been "directed" by well-known producer Roger Bechirian.

There have been many rumors about the identity of this band.  Some have said that it was a solo project by Bechirian and that he wrote all of the songs and played all of the instruments.  Others claim it was by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.  Rumors also identified Peter Marsh as the man behind the project.

Back in 1984, after the record had been long gone from the charts, I called their American label (Warner Bros.) to find out who was in the group.  I was told the members were:

Pete Marsh (vocals and guitar)
Roger Bechirian (keyboards and backing vocals) and
Andy Howell (bass and backing vocals).

Peter Marsh's musical career goes back at least to 1974, when he released a record with brother-in-law Ken Nicol under the name Nicol and Marsh (a/k/a Nicol & Marsh's Easy Street).  They then changed their name to Easy Street and put out two records in 1976 and 1977.  Their last record together was a 1978 release called simply "Nicol & Marsh".  Marsh's next project was Twist, which put out one record called This is Your Life (1979).  Between then and BoS, he also worked with Vangelis and Manfred Mann's Earth Band, and released a solo single.

Roger Bechirian is a noted producer, having worked with Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Carlene Carter, and Trash Can Sinatras.

Andrew Howell is best known for having co-written The Monkees' reunion single "Heart and Soul", from "Pool It!"  He co-wrote and played a lot of the instruments on Simon Byrne's album "Dream Crazy".  He also played bass on
Robert Ellis Orrall's Contain Yourself.  His pre-BoS claim to fame, though, is that his band was on the bill at the legendary 1977 London open-air punk show, headlined by Squeeze, which was the first show by the new lineup of a band called Cafe Racers -- days before they changed their name to Dire Straits.

Interestingly, all three BoS members had a hand in Carlene Carter's "C'est C Bon" record.  They made most of the music and co-wrote two of the songs.

Even more interestingly, at the time Ears Have Walls was recorded, BoS also recorded an entire second album which has yet to see the light of day.  Unfortunately, the band broke up before the record could be released.  One of the unreleased songs is Cool Reaction, which has been covered by Nick Lowe and Carlene Carter.

So what about the songwriting credits on Ears Have Walls?  Who was who?  Well, using the ASCAP compositions database and other sources, I have come to the following conclusion:

Peter Marsh was Tinker
Andrew Howell was Tailor
Roger Bechirian was Soldier

The single, Say You Will, is credited to Tinker / Spy.  Who was Spy?  According to ASCAP, it was Philip Grant McWalter .

The song Yo Yo was written by Tinker / Sailor.  A reliable source has informed me that Sailor was artist Ron Chadwick .

Mystery solved.

This Blanket of Secrecy page created and maintained by Gary L. Maher . Comments and corrections are welcome.
Page created August 27, 2003.  Page updated September 27, 2003.