Chumbawamba – Slap! (1990)

ULRIKE

you sometimes wonder and you sometimes wonder
ten thousand deutschmarks to hand me over
o you sometimes wonder and you sometimes wonder
you can make a living “sometimes wondering”

don’t think these bones can be sold when I’m long gone
don’t think that I should want to sell my soul for the Sundays
don’t wait for me to say I’m sorry – I won’t
who wants to be a green MP? – I don’t

“The empire continued without Elvis. The legend seemed to have a life of it’s own, constantly perpetuating its own intensity. If anything, life was easier for the Colonel (Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager) with Elvis safely in the grave. There were no freak-outs, no orgies, no paternity suits or overdosed teenagers who had to be hushed up. The Colonel was in the business of licensing icons and shrines. He was virtually in the religious-artifact business, and it suited him fine.”

From “Elvis and The Colonel”, Dirk Vellenga and Mick Farren

don’t think I walked into banks to stand in the queue
don’t think I pressed up to the plexiglass just to talk to you
don’t wait for me to say I’m sorry – I won’t
who wants to be a green MP? – I don’t

“I sometimes wonder how she would act now and what she would think had she survived that time. She, who was made into a myth, a martyr, by many young left-wingers who never knew her, would have been able to shatter the myths of the Red Army Faction and put an end to the inhuman and hopeless attempt to bomb a new society into existence. Perhaps she would now be a Green MP, perhaps she would be an established journalist and writer. It was not to be.”

Astrid Proll on Ulrike Meinhof, The Independent on Sunday Magazine,
19 August 1989

TIANANMEN SQUARE

heads bowed, eyes down, here comes the enemy
to hail the people’s victory – which people? what victory?
it’s the People’s Army that murdered the people
they’ve come to glue the shattered, battered statues
in the square

heads bowed, eyes down, here comes the enemy
with a haircut and a trigger-finger, that could be me
tanks tearing a hole in the silence
I’ve got armour-piercing rockets in my pockets: watch out!

you must’ve seen it: the boy in the white shirt
you want a fight? yeh, you and whose army?
the people is bigger than the People’s Army
my dad is bigger than your dad – and one day, one day…

raw and angry in front of the enemy
so it’s turn back or kill: boy versus tank
you want a fight? yeah, you and whose army?
here soldier, have a watermelon – this’ll cool you down!

“It’s just a few short weeks since the massacre at Tiananmen Square convulsed a nation and spread itself awkwardly across the televisions and newspapers of the world. And yet the people of Bejing are already going about their business as if unaware that the eyes of the globe’s media are upon them. All seems as normal as it possibly could be under the circumstances. It is the annual watermelon harvest, and everywhere there are people carrying armfuls of the juicy ripe fruit to and from the market. Trucks are loaded, bicycles awkwardly balance baskets atop mudguards, buses are crammed with shoppers; each carrying whatever they can manage of this season’s harvest.
“But there are signs of the recent upheaval, and whispered tales of the continued resistance of the people to the military. It’s hot in Bejing, very hot, and red-faced soldiers in full uniform patrol the roads leading into the central area of the city, cordoning off Tiananmen Square whilst it is refurbished by the military police. They glance uneasily at every passing shopper, every vehicle. For it is known that over the past few days there have been slodiers killed by people in the streets of Bejing. Indeed, only yesterday there was the story of how two soldiers, sweating in the intense heat, gladly ate watermelons offered them by local women; watermelons injected with a lethal poison.”

Taken from eye-witness account, Bejing, June 1989

CARTROUBLE

big tall courthouse, a clock upon the wall
a hammer on the table and a copper on the door
a judge in front and a jury at the side
and a bible on the stand to say I won’t tell lies

well it’s one o’clock, two o’clock, any old o’clock
between the rock & roll devil and the fear of god
big brotherly love runs shallow as skin
in the deep south of America

“can the lady take the stand now? blah, blah, blah –
and how come a black woman drives her own car?
and what gives you the constitutional right
to drive a car through a junction on a red stop light?”

well it’s one o’clock, two o’clock, any old o’clock
between the rock & roll devil and the fear of god
big brotherly love runs shallow as skin
in the deep south of Yorkshire

well of course I drove the car through the red stop light –
but well, I thought that law was just for whites
I say, “I saw the white folks drive through on green
so when the red light flashed, I thought: this must be for me!”

well it’s one o’clock, two o’clock, any old o’clock
just a fear of the people with a fear of god
Lancashire white girl tries to sing the blues:
well, I woke up this morning like I usually do.

“Zora Neale Hurston; Novelist, folklorist, anthropologist and adventurer; grew up in Florida, spending much of her time seeking a literary form that could express her experience in the rural black south. Despite being the most published black woman writer in the U.S.A., she still had to send manuscript to a publisher unsolicited. “I shall wrassle me up a future or die trying”, she said. Hurston once claimed she was arrested for crossing against a red light, but escaped punishment by exclaiming that: “I had seen the white folks pass on green and therefore assumed the red light was for me.”

from a postcard published by Helaine Victoria Press, 1982

CHASE PCs FLEE ATTACK BY OWN DOG

got my photograph taken with Elvis
circled round the earth in a rocket ship
found the world cup in a garden
I must’ve saved a million drowning babies

you can imagine what a come down:
drug-busts and house fires
I didn’t orbit the earth to be bossed around
by someone wearing flares!

“Police were forced to call off a high-speed chase after a series of mishaps ruined their attempt to catch a car thief. The drama began when they received a 999 call that a Sunbeam Rapier had been stolen from Gloucester cuty centre. A number of officers set out in pursuit, but were forced to call it a day after:
A pedestrian had his foot crushed by a police car.
Another police car accidentally wrecked the vehicle they were chasing.
Two officers were mauled by their own dog before the suspect finally escaped on foot.
The first mishap happened as a police car raced after the Sunbeam on the road to Cheltenham. A bystander stepped out to cross the road and his foot was run over. The driver was forced to pull out of the chase to aid the hobbling casualty.
Three miles away, their colleagues were having no better luck. As they closed in on the car, a patrol vehicle accidentally smashed into it – causing severe damage.
Two PCs released their alsation after the culprit, but the dog did a quick U-turn in a field and tore after the stunned officers. Both were badly bitten about the legs and needed hospital treatment. At that stage the chase was called off.”

“Chase PC’s Flee Attack By Own Dog”, from Yorkshire Evening Post 1989

RUBENS HAS BEEN SHOT!

o xmas tree, o xmas tree
how bent your branches seem to be
1921 and all’s well
another fifteen years and we’ll be laughing in hell

one bullet straight through the heart
Rubens caught a ricochet, Durer’s lady cried today
cracked old masters up against the wall
blue-faced Wendy Woolworth: she’s seen it all

housepainter, housepainter
hanging your swastika wallpaper
rows of pretty cabbageheads to gobble up your words
laughing along to your blah, blah, blah

“After the Kepp Putsch of 1920 (an attempt by the radical right to violently overthrow the new Weimar Republic) clashes occurred between the army and workers in Dresden. A bullet went through the window of the Zwinger Gallery and damaged a Rubens painting. Incensed by the incident, Kokoschka – then art professor at the Dresden Academy – financed an appeal which appeared in local newspapers and as wallposters, urging the two sides to settle their scores well away from cultural treasures. Kokoschka’s elevation of art above political struggle outraged Grosz and Heartfield (political art activists) who replied with a furious polemic ‘Der Kunstlump’ (The Artist As Scab) ridiculing the idea that art could be considered more important than lives of workers. They welcomed the fact that bullets had penetrated galleries, palaces and a Rubens, rather than the homes of the poor.”

from “Photomontage: A Political Weapon” by David Evans & Sylvia Gohl

RAPPOPORT’S TESTAMENT: I NEVER GAVE UP

and if you survive me, tell them this:

almost as if I were planning ahead
I drank, I ate, I made love
I learnt to snatch whatever I could
I never asked for pity and I never gave up

twenty months I kept accounts
and in the end they’ll balance out
sometimes I vomit happy memories
sometimes I laugh out loud just to crack my face

and if I meet Hitler in the other place
I’ll spit this precious soup in his face
and all my accounts will be settled, you see
because Hitler never ever got the better of me

I never gave up
I never gave up
I crawled in the mud
but I never gave up

But it was not easy to repress, elude, or ignore Rappoport.
“What are you sleeping for? Here I am about to make my will and you’re sleeping? Perhaps my bomb is already on it’s way, and I don’t want to miss the chance. If I were free, I’d like to write a book with my philosophy in it. But for now, all I can do is tell it to you two wretches. If you can use it, fine. If not, and you get out of here alive and I don’t, which would be rather strange, you can spread it about and maybe it will be of use to somebody. Who knows? Not that it matters much to me, though. I don’t have the makings of a philanthropist.
“Well here it is. While I could I drank, I ate, I made love. I left flat gray Poland for that Italy of yours; I studied, learned, travelled and looked at things. I kept my eyes wide open; I didn’t waste a crumb. I’ve been diligent; I don’t think I could have done more or better. Things went well for me; I accumulated a large quantity of good things, and all that good has not disappeared. It’s inside me, safe and sound. I don’t let it fade; I’ve held on to it. Nobody can take it from me.
Then I wound up here. I’ve been in this place for twenty months, and for twenty months I’ve been keeping accounts. They balance – in fact I still have substantial credit. To tip the balance, it would take many more months of Camp, or many days of torture. Actually,” (he caressed his stomach affectionately) “with a little initiative, even here you can find something good every so often. So in the sad event that one of you should survive me, you will be able to say that Leon Rappaport got what was due to him, left behind neither debts nor credits, and did not weep or ask for pity. If I meet Hitler in the other world, I’ll spit in his face and I’ll have every right to…”
A bomb fell nearby, followed by a roar like a landslide. One of the warehouses must have collapsed. Rappoport had to raise his voice almost to a shout: “because he didn’t get the better of me.”

from “Rappoport’s Testament”, an account of time spent in Auschwitz, from “Moments Of Reprieve” by Primo Levi

SLAP!

Fleet Street fell in love
but the girl proved hard to get
took a seat at the old boy’s club
but wouldn’t share the bed
slap!

cuppas for the troops
bubbly-gum and wire
trojan horses, Black & Tans:
they’re running for their lives!
slap!

royals came to call
Mr. Paisley – save her soul
heaven: here’s the naughty girl
who wouldn’t say her prayers
slap!

bloody Monday morning
the rat who did the talking
here’s Ginger to the rescue –
take that! and that!

“Miss Bernadette Devlin, arms flailing and fists flying, launched herself across the House of Commons today in an attack on the Home Secretary, Mr. Maudling, as that normally unflappable minister was answering questions on events in Northern Ireland at the weekend.
“Mr. Maudling’s glasses were sent flying as the diminutive, mini-skirted MP for Mid-Ulster threw herself at the government front bench. The Home Secretary had already been called a liar several times by Miss Devlin, but words, for once, appeared to fail her as she was about to embark on another verbal attack.
“That murdering hypocrite” was all that could be heard above the uproar as she took off from her seat on the Opposition back benches.”

“Miss Devlin Strikes Mr. Maudling In Commons” from The Times, Tuesday February 1 1972. Two days after Bloody Sunday in Derry where 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators were shot dead by the British Army.

THAT’S HOW GRATEFUL WE ARE

working in a forge, black lungs, burnt skin
callouses, arched back, hammering, hammering
Stalin watching over us: pigeonshithead
we’d spit on the floor at this redbastard god

that’s how grateful we are

bronze statue, pink marble – built to last
we brought him to his knees in a single night
and the boots that remained I attacked, I attacked
hammering, hammering: the past is past

that’s how grateful we are

and the noise rang out: metal on metal
pigeons flit, dust settled
out from the shadows we took to the streets
David chopping at the giant’s feet

that’s how grateful we are

you still want to come? too late, too late
we’re cut and we’re fallen like harvested wheat
but we lived on our feet, at least, at last
and we will live on our feet, at least, at last

that’s how grateful we are

“Violence of a different kind had broken out elsewhere. One of the most spectacular of these early events occurred in the City Park in Dozsa Gyorgy Street. Here stood the city’s massive bronze statue of Stalin on great blocks of pink marble. Fifty to sixty feet high and built to last. Stalin’s statue resisted the efforts of the demonstrators who had fixed ropes around the neck and were trying to pull off the head. Eventually metal-cutting equipment arrived and there was a second attempt to fell Stalin, this time by cutting away at the bronze below the knees and pulling the hawsers attached to the trucks. This proved successful. The statue fell down and was cut up into fragments light enough for the crowds to claim as mementoes. All that remained of Stalin’s ugly figure was a pair of six-feet high bronze boots and the inscription:

A Nagy Sztaliniak a halas Magyar Nep
(To the great Stalin from the grateful Hungarian people)

It had been the work of one Kistaludi-Strobl, an artist who had finally achieved passing notice that evening once his work had been destroyed to the accompaniment of enthusiastic cheering.”

from “Cry Hungary: Uprising 1956” by Reg Gadney

Written and Produced by Chumbawamba
Recorded in January/February 1990
Engineered by Neil Ferguson
Woodlands Studio, Castleford, England

Chumbawamba on this record are:

Lou- Vocals, guitar
Dunst- Vocals, percussion, soprano saxophone
Harry- Drums, percussion
Alice Nutter- Vocals
Danbert Nobacon- Vocals
Boff- Guitar, vocals, clarinet
Cobie- Live sound
Mavis Dillan- Bass, trumpets, vocals
Simon Commonknowledge- Keyboards, accordion, piano

with:

Alan Wilkinson- Alto and baritone saxaphones
Neil Ferguson- Keyboards
Dill- Whine
Derek- Woof
Mia- Vocals
Tania- Mouth organ, Vocals
Elvis Presley- Quaalude, Placidyl

Also appearing on this record are: Carl Douglas, Mark E Smith, Dagmar Krause, Elvis Presley, Philip Glass, Adam Ant, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, George Gershwin, Penny Rimbaud, Jake Burns, Rob ‘n’ Raz, Lenny Bruce, Muzsikas Ensemble, Mark Perry, Gang Of Four, Poly Styrene.

Chumbawamba
PO Box TR 666
Leeds
LS12 3XJ
UK

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