Chumbawamba – Revengers Tragedy (2003)

REVENGERS TRAGEDY

The film REVENGERS TRAGEDY is based on a play first performed in 1606 or thereabouts. Put this way it sounds just about as tedious as can be, doesn’t it? ‘Old play’ aka ‘the Elizabethan stage’, aka unintelligible language, hose and doublet, improbable sword fights, and tedious clowns. All of those things exist in Renaissance Drama, but they are overwhelmed in Revengers Tragedy by the blood-lusting, religiously-deranged sadistic vengeance of one poor man against an aristocratic family. When I first saw the script, by accident, in 1976, it seemed to me completely modern. There is a reason for this. The regime of James I saw a loosening of the reins of power. Though he had inherited the first English super-state — church and monarchy consolidated, with a powerful network of spies — James was less of a control freak than Elizabeth or either Hank Tudor had been. The theatre — already original and innovative, relying on scenes of female impersonation and hyper-violence to excite the audience — became increasingly rebellious and iconoclastic. This happened at a time of social unrest, particularly in the provinces, and of the sudden and horrific rise of syphilis, previously unknown. The short history of revenge plays — which is the story of the origin of English theatre — runs like this:

1587-8 THE SPANISH TRAGEDY by Kyd establishes conventions of revenge, delay, play within play, and on-stage violence. “The bold way in which scenes of violent crime were treated on the Elizabethan stage appears to be directly owing to the example of Kyd’s innovating genius.” (Britannica). Kyd is 29 years old.

1588 DR FAUSTUS by Christopher Marlowe — gay, atheist, rebel, and friend of Kyd.

1589 The lost HAMLET play, by Kyd•, THE JEW OF MALTA by Marlowe.

1593 TITUS ANDRONICUS (sensational revenge tragedy by a young actor/writer, Shakespeare); arrest and torture of Kyd; murder of Marlowe.

1594 RICHARD 111 by Shakespeare; death of Kyd.

1600 HAMLET

1601 ANTONIO’S REVENGE by Marston.

1602 The revised, “madder” SPANISH TRAGEDY with additions commissioned by Ben Jonson, possibly done by John Webster (age around 21).

1602 Five-year-old Irish war ends.

1603 James I becomes King, and ends war with Spain; THE MALCONTENT by Marston.

1604 OTHELLO is performed before James I in November. Discovery of plots against James.

1605 Gunpowder Plot, against James and Parliament, discovered. Jonson, Marsden and others briefly imprisoned for their involvement in a play, EASTWARD HO!

1606 REVENGERS TRAGEDY is first published. MACBETH, written to flatter James (a descendant of Banquo!), is published the same year.

1607 The Midlands Insurrection occurs. Thousands of northerners occupy the land of the rich and demand economic redress. Unlike the Northern Rebellion of 1569, which had religious overtones, this insurrection is wholly political. It is also disorganised, and suppressed with great violence. This context of class struggle and imminent rebellion is that of REVENGERS TRAGEDY (1606) and CORIOLANUS (probably 1607). Note the difference of approach: Shakespeare addresses the grievances of the rebels (shortage and/or high price of corn) but his hero is Coriolanus, who disdains and suppresses them. Vindici in REVENGERS TRAGEDY (at least to a modern reader) is a social rebel, seeking to bring his betters down.

1608 KING LEAR: after five years of peace, James I has indulged in the lavish creation of new peers, and doubled the debt left by Elizabeth after 17 years of war.

1611 THE ATHEIST’S TRAGEDY by Tourneur. Under-powered, it relies on providence and disdains heroic action. No revenge save God’s.

1612 THE WHITE DEVIL by Webster. Fresh blood!

1613 THE DUCHESS OF MALFI, and Webster’s lost tragedy THE GUISE.

1618 James’ subservience to upstart favourites increases; he executes Walter Raleigh under the influencer of the Spanish ambassador, Gondomar, and plans for a magnificent (and unaffordable) Spanish throne.

1621 THE CHANGELING, by Middleton and Rowley.

1623 WOMEN BEWARE WOMEN, Middleton’s masterpiece. THE DEVIL’S LAW-CASE, by Webster a clumsy, involved tragicomedy — marks the transition to the later, and worse, fashion for Caroline Drama.

1624 Middleton’s A GAME AT CHESS (not a tragedy but scandalously funny at the expense of Gondomar) plays for 9 days and is banned; Middleton, summoned to appear before the court, hides.

1625 James dies.

1628 TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE by Ford. Gradually the popularity of SPANISH TRAGEDY wanes in England; it continues to be performed in Germany and Holland for another hundred years.

1642 Civil War — theatres are closed.

1662 Theatres open again; two are officially “licensed.”

1681 KING LEAR is rewritten by N. Tate — with a happy ending! This version remains in use until 1843. REVENGERS TRAGEDY is unperformed for many years. By late 19th/early 20th century it is viewed as a grotesque horror-show, the unfortunate product of a diseased mind. After World War II, REVENGERS TRAGEDY is rediscovered as a black comedy. It is performed various times in Britain from the 1960’s on.

2003 It is released as a feature film.
Alex Cox, Director

The soundtrack to Revengers Tragedy was recorded by Chumbawamba in 2002 at Shabby Road Studios, Bradford, down the road from The Fighting Cock. It was written, arranged and produced by Chumbawamba. Sleeve design by Baader-Meinhof. Cover photograph by Casey Orr. Images, dialogue and effects. 2002 Revengers Ltd. All music published by EMI Music Publishing Germany GMBH 2003 Chumbawamba.
Mutt Records Ltd 2003

Chumbawamba – Readymades (2002)

HELL NO! IT’S TIME TO TALK BACK NOW! HISTORY SAYS IT’S TIME!
Langston Hughes

FROM NOW ON WE MEAN TO SHIT IN ASSORTED COLOURS AND BEDECK THE ARTISTIC ZOO WITH THE FLAGS OF EVERY CONSULATE. WE ARE CIRCUS DIRECTORS WHISTLING AMID THE WINDS OF CARNIVALS CONVENTS BAWDY HOUSES THEATRES REALITIES SENTIMENTS RESTAURANTS HOHIHOHO BANG!
Tristan Tzara

WHAT AFTER ALL IS A HALO? IT’S ONLY ONE MORE THING TO KEEP CLEAN.
Christopher Fry

LAUGHTER IS A REACTION AGAINST RIGIDITY.
Hans Richter

DISINTERESTED AS WE WERE IN THE SLAUGHTERHOUSES OF THE WORLD WAR, WE GAVE OURSELVES TO THE FINE ARTS. WHILE THE CANNON RUMBLED IN THE DISTANCE, WE PASTED, RECITED, VERSIFIED, WE SANG WITH ALL OUR SOUL. WE SOUGHT AN ELEMENTARY ART WHICH, WE THOUGHT, WOULD SAVE MEN FROM THE CURIOUS MADNESS OF THESE TIMES. WE ASPRIRED TO A NEW ORDER WHICH MIGHT RESTORE THE BALANCE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL.
Jean Arp

EVERY TOOL IS A WEAPON IF YOU HOLD IT RIGHT.
Ani DiFranco

ALL MUSIC IS FOLK MUSIC. I AIN’T NEVER HEARD NO HORSE SING A SONG.
Louis Armstrong

IF THERE IS NO STRUGGLE, THERE IS NO PROGRESS. THOSE WHO PROFESS TO FAVOUR FREEDOM AND YET DEPRECIATE AGITATION, WANT CROPS WITHOUT PLOUGHING UP THE GROUND, THEY WANT RAIN WITHOUT THUNDER AND LIGHTNING. THEY WANT THE OCEAN WITHOUT THE AWFUL ROAR OF THE WATERS.
Frederick Douglass

GO TO WHERE THE SILENCE IS AND SAY SOMETHING.
Amy Goodman

I QUOTE OTHERS ONLY THE BETTER TO EXPRESS MYSELF.
Michael de Montaigne

Readymades was recorded in spurts throughout 2001 and completed in January 2002 at Shabby Road Studios, Bradford, above Bongo’s printshop. It was written, arranged and produced by Chumbawamba except where stated below, and mastered by Geoff Pesche at The Townhouse. Photographs by Casey Orr. Sleeve design by Baader-Meinhof.

Chumbawamba on this recording are:

Jude Abbott: Trumpet, Vocals
Dunstan Bruce: Keyboards, British sound collages
Lou Watts: Vocals, Keyboards
Boff: Guitar, Merz
Neil Ferguson: Bass, Mouse
Alice Nutter: Vocals, Propaganda
Harry Hammer: Drums, Programming
Danbert Nobacon: Vocals, Ukelele
with
Simon Pugsley: Trombone
Toby Greenwood: Saxophone
Rrose Selavy: Acoustic guitar
James Reiss: Scratching
Michelle Plumb: Vocal on ‘Sewing Up Crap’
Richard Mutt: Tea-chest, bass
Abi Riozzi: Vocal after ‘Sewing Up Crap’
Sally Riozzi: Vocal on ‘When I’m Bad’
Janet Russell: Vocal on ‘All In Vain’ and ‘Without Reason or Rhyme’

Many thanks to the artists who give us permission to use their music. We recommend in particular listening to anything by Dick Gaughan, Coope Boyes & Simpson, Kate Rusby and the late Lal Waterson.

1. Salt Fare, North Sea Vocal sample performed by Lal Waterson & Oily Knight, courtesy of Topic Records. 2. Jacob’s Ladder Vocal sample from the track ‘The Pretty Ploughboy’ from the album ‘A Century of Song’, performed by Harry Cox, courtesy of the English Folk Dance & Song Society. 5. If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me Vocal sample performed by Coope Boyes & Simpson, courtesy of No Masters Co-operative Ltd. Sampled lyrics from the poem ‘Bound for Van Diemen’s Island’ written by Jock Purdon by kind permission of Mrs Mary Purdon. 7. Song for Len Shackleton Vocal sample performed by Belle Stewart, courtesy of Topic Records. 8. Without Reason or Rhyme Vocal sample performed by Joe Heany, courtesy of Topic Records. 9. Don’t Pass Go Vocal sample performed by Coope Boyes & Simpson, courtesy of No Masters Co-operative Ltd. 10. One Way or the Other Vocal sample performed by Dick Gaughan, courtesy of Wundertute Music Prod. GMBH. 11. When I’m Bad Vocal sample performed by Coope Boyes & Simpson, courtesy of No Masters Co-operative Ltd. Sampled lyrics from the poem ‘Bound for Van Diemen’s Island’ written by Jock Purdon by kind permission of Mrs Mary Purdon. 13. After Shelley Vocal sample performed by Kate Rusby, courtesy of Pure Records.

All songs written and composed by Chumbawamba, EMI Music Publishing Germany GMBH with the exception of 2. Jacob’s Ladder, composed by Chumbawamba & Davy Graham, published by EMI Music Publishing Germany GMBH and Robbins Music Corp Ltd. 13. After Shelley, composed by Chumbawamba & Kate Rusby, published by EMI Music Published Germany GMBH and Kate Rusby MCPS.

SALT FARE, NORTH SEA The British Navy, guardian of the sea-bound British establishment, almost became its destroyer when sailors demanded rights in the mutinies at Spithead and the Nore in 1797. Sailors were always the archetypal enemy within; the word strike comes from militant sailors’ tendency to strike the sails when warring with the Admiralty.

JACOB’S LADDER Political expediency versus class; Winston Churchill let 1591 ordinary sailors drown after their ships were sunk off the coast of Norway in WW2 by German battle cruisers. Churchill thought a rescue attempt might have alerted the Germans to the evacuation of the Norwegian royal family, so ordered ships in the area to abandon the drowning men. Today’s footnote would be the sinking of the Russian Kursk submarine; sailors drowned as President Putin put national pride before the need to call in foreign rescue teams.

ALL IN VAIN Celebrity culture meets institutionalised racism. TV presenter Jill Dando’s death in 1999 was fetishised; in comparison, Ricky Reel’s racially-motivated murder two years earlier was ignored.

HOME WITH ME Measuring the world in moments, not miles. The memories of us old blues singers.

IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME There we were, hanging over a bridge watching the King escaping from the mob by rowing his boat down the Thames during The Peasants Revolt, 1381. Three days that turned the world upside down, almost upending the status quo and tipping royalty off its throne. Almost, almost.

DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME The global anti-capitalist movement reaches back to the late eighteenth century. In the back alleys of history, insurrection, like the common cold, spread quickly, inspired by the French and American revolutions: as the Sans Culottes garroted, British conspirators plotted.

SONG FOR LEN SHACKLETON The Clown Prince of English football in a time when the England team selectors refused to pick someone so downright uppity to represent his country. When asked why Len was consistently left out of the team, one selector replied, “Because we play at Wembley Stadium, not London Palladium.”

WITHOUT RHYME OR REASON (THE KILLING OF HARRY STANLEY) On September 22 1999, an unarmed Harry Stanley was walking home when he was shot dead by an armed police response unit. Someone had rung the cops claiming that “a man with an Irish accent” – Harry was Scottish – was carrying “a sawn-off shotgun in a plastic bag” – the bag contained a table leg which needed mending. Harry’s family are still pursuing the case.

DON’T PASS GO In 1986 Satpal Ram defended himself against a racist attack and his attacker died. Although he’s served longer than his original sentence he’s still locked up, still refusing the role of repentant convict, still maintaining that self-defence is a legitimate response to racism.

ONE WAY OR THE OTHER A hymn for The Quebec St Unemployed Club of the ’20s and ’30s; a self-help group in Bradford who stole and borrowed… but never begged.

WHEN I’M BAD Your duty isn’t ‘to serve’. Your duty is, as Mae West would put it, to enjoy yourself.

SEWING UP CRAP The Factory Act of 1892 outlawed child labour. Behind the modern glass and chrome shopfronts of present-day capitalism are invisible sweatshops stitch-stitch-stitching the profits together; sweatshops employing child labour.

AFTER SHELLEY During the Irish potato famine of 1845, London’s Parliament decided who would eat and who would not; as over a million people starved to death, Irish crops were being exported to England. And now? Over twelve million children will die of poverty-related illness in 2002. Words based on a poem by Shelley.

JACOB’S LADDER (NOT IN MY NAME) Recorded in response to the threat of a Bush/Blair war on Iraq – a war about oil, fear, revenge and capital – and using Harry Cox’s powerful sampled ‘and they sent him to the way to be slain’ in a context in which it surely belongs.

Full lyrics and texts for all songs are available on our website at http://www.chumba.com

Chumbawamba can be contacted at PO Box TR 666, Armley, Leeds LS12 3XJ, UK

Our website has up-to-date news, opinions, T-shirts, upcoming concerts, downloadable music and fetching pictures of the band. It can be found at http://www.chumba.com

Chumbawamba – WYSIWYG (2000)

I’m With Stupid

GUESS WHAT? I’M WITH STUPID GUESS WHAT? ‘COS I’M WITH YOU ANOTHER WHITE BOY BAND THEY’RE HAPPY ON DEMAND EVERYTHING IS PLANNED UNTIL THE SINGER GETS A HABIT GUESS WHAT? THIS COULD GET TO BE A HABIT GUESS WHAT? THIS COULD GET TO BE A HABIT GUESS WHAT? I’M WITH STUPID GUESS WHAT? ‘COS I’M WITH YOU I’M GOING OUT OF MY HEAD INSIDE A T.A.Z. YOU WON’T CATCH ME LIVING OR DEAD ON THE HOLLYWOOD A-LIST GUESS WHAT? THE HOLLYWOOD A-LIST GUESS WHAT? COME AND GET YOUR ARSE KISSED GUESS WHAT? I’M WITH STUPID GUESS WHAT? ‘COS I’M WITH YOU

Trying to find the Temporary Autonomous Zone which exists in pop culture’s darker corners. Somewhere away from the global village’s consumer spectacle and its secondhand entertainment package, where we’re encouraged to get excited about everyone’s life except our own. Meanwhile, the Boy Band/Drama School Graduates phenomenon still shocks with its open, brazen shallowness. One quick scratch of the surface and you begin to discover the ghastly and awkward stuff going on in there. The ghastly, awkward stuff that is real life. Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Shake Baby Shake

SHAKE IT SHAKE IT SHAKE BABY SHAKE THE MEMORIES AWAY SHAKE THIS GROWN UP BARBIE DOLL OF A DAY SHE GETS HUGH HEFNER BUT SHE FORGETS THE YEAR SHE JUST SHAKES HER YEAH YEAH YEAH SHAKE THE DIRT FROM YOUR HANDS NOW LISA MARIE SHAKING UP THE FAMILY WITH PAMELA LEE SHAKE THIS FEAR OF GETTING NOTHING DONE IF YOU CAN BAKE A CAKE YOU CAN MAKE A BOMB

Whatever happened to the riot grrls? Here comes another bleedin’ nose job at the Awards Ceremony, clutching the Award For Biggest Entourage. (Thankyou, Thankyou).

Pass It Along

SEND THIS SONG TO TWENTY PEOPLE ADD YOUR NAME DON’T BREAK THE CYCLE PASS IT ALONG BY WORD OF MOUSE SAVE THE WORLD DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE BECAUSE A VIRTUAL OFFICE IN A VIRTUAL HOME MEANS YOU NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE THROUGH THE WRONG PART OF TOWN PASS IT ALONG BY WORD OF MOUSE SAVE THE WORLD DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE PASS IT ALONG DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE SO HERE’S YOUR FINAL RESTING PLACE YOUR HEAVEN IS PROTECTED BY SECURITY GATES SHUT OUT THE WORLD IT’S GETTING WORSE SAVE YOURSELF DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE BECAUSE A HAPPY FUTURE IS A THING OF THE PAST AND THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER REPEAT (REPEAT) SHUT OUT THE WORLD IT’S GETTING WORSE SAVE YOURSELF DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE PASS IT ALONG DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO TODAY? SOMEWHERE YOU COULD NEVER TAKE ME BRAVE NEW WORLD POPULATION ONE JUST PASS IT ALONG

Be afraid, be very afraid. Neighbourhood Watch is all that keeps the angry criminal underclass from kicking down the front door and slitting throats. Security-driven logic keeps us locked inside our homes. The wealthy move into luxury enclaves designed for Bond villains, with restricted entry, guards and private roads; while the rest of us rely on a locksmith. The spectre of violent crime is kept at bay with five-bar locks, bolts and security gates. Despite every statistic showing that we’re far more likely to be attacked or murdered by our nearest and dearest, we insulate ourselves against the outside world.

In the US the search for absolute security is a boom industry. In Beverly Hills and Bel Air wealthy home owners are hiring architects whose design details come from military command posts and overseas embassies. No nineties-built Bel Air mansion is complete without a ‘terrorist proof security room’. In the face of urban poverty, homelessness and welfare cuts, investment is ploughed into private security rather than alleviating social conditions. Let’s redecorate the bunker, baby! It’s not lust the rich who are battening down the hatches. British property developers are talking in terms of ‘restricted housing’ for the young as well as the elderly. Developers are beginning to offer child-free environments. Some three bedroom semis are going to start coming with a proviso that homeowners have to sell up and move on if they decide to have children. Kids make noise, play on the street, grow up to be dangerous teenagers. A ‘good’ area is a dead zone with deserted streets from 6pm onwards. Crowds, street life and spectacle are something we see on TV or at the cinema. It’s the privatisation of experience.

Public space is becoming a thing of the past. The great municipal parks of the 19th century are all that remain of the egalitarian idea that people need space. Most parks are locked up after dark. We’re allowed to gather in large groups if we’re willing to pay for the privilege. Pop concerts, theme parks, shopping centres and sporting events are more or less the only places where a crowd isn’t met by cops in riot gear. MCA, Universal, Granada and Disney capitalise on our craving for crowds and bustle by supplying sanitised theme park versions of streets. Why bother visiting the real Beale St or Baker St when for a fee you can stroll down a safe tourist version complete with costumed actors? It’s a Junk food version of urban life.

The lack of public meeting places is a measure of repression. In parts of Central and South America and the so-called ‘third world’ people aren’t even allowed to meet up in church, It’s not Jesus Christ who’s perceived as a threat, but the act of gathering together as a group. Whenever there’s a domestic crisis the first thing the authorities do is break up a crowd. The British Criminal Justice Bill gives police the right to disperse groups of more than three people. Three’s a crowd who might lust be planning a revolution.

Bus shelters are now designed without benches so that kids are discouraged from gathering in them, and the homeless can’t use them as shelter. In Britain, the Government-appointed ‘Homelessness Tsar~ Louise Casey, announced moves to sweep the homeless from the streets. Calling for an end to the ‘culture of kindness~ she claimed soup runs and handouts encouraged people to sleep rough. The solution is not to build or provide housing but to punish poverty. The US has long waged brutal, low intensity warfare on the homeless. According to Mike Davis in ‘City of Quartz:

“The City (LA) is engaged in a merciless struggle to make public facilities and spaces as ‘unlivable’ as possible for the poor… adopting the idiom of the urban cold war, it promotes the ‘containment’ of the homeless in Skid Row along Fifth Street east of the Broadway, systematically transforming the neighbourhood into an outdoor poorhouse.”

Even places that have been used as common land for centuries are under threat: Glasgow Green’s long history of being the spot where generation after generation gathered to debate and air their political grievances didn’t stop Glasgow’s Labour Council from trying to sell it off to private developers. The Green’s political significance can’t have escaped the council. In the absence of human contact we’re supposed to turn to business culture as a panacea for our isolation and loneliness. The delivery of interactive media and virtual reality means we can work and shop from our own homes. Actual space has been replaced by virtual space, but only for those who can afford it. MCI promises a world without race, gender or age: “Is this a great time or what?” IBM offers “solutions for a small planet” while Microsoftr asks us, “Where do you want to go today?”

What sounds like an offer of limitless freedom is a short cut to ending up with a load of old Bill Gates software. The language of choice gives the illusion of diversity; but the communications giants aren’t offering us liberty, or the promiscuous feeling of being among strangers, or excitement, adventure, and the thrill of human contact. Oh no. We’re being offered isolation from society… the chance to stay at home, stay paranoid and keep buying things.

Buy-buy, buy-buy.

Hey Hey We’re The Junkies

HEY HEY WE’RE THE JUNKIES! STICKY PAGES IN HELLO WITH HOPPER AS HERO IN ROME SEE THE SOCIAL BIG GUNS GOING BANG BANG BANG HEY HEY WE’RE THE JUNKIES! SO FASHIONABLY BLUE WHO PUT THE U IN THE WAMBA?

We don’t have friends, we watch Friends. Religiously. Entertainment is something not to take part in, but to consume. Collective working, sharing ideas, getting drunk or dropping a pill together isn’t sold as the way to achieve empathy… common ground is watching the same soaps, supporting the same few football teams, buying the same CD’s and wearing the same labelled shirt (Nike Operates Sweatshops Worldwide, And All I Got Was This Lousy Tshirt’). Sitcoms and celebrity profiles provide the adrenalin rush that used to come from active experience, not passive experience. We’re media junkies, alienated from the people that live around us but knowing exactly what the inside of Noel and Meg’s Supernova Heights looks like. Able to recite obscure lines from The Fall’s back catalogue to help us articulate our own expenences.

Fixing up on celebrity weddings, vomiting headlines, turning blue in the corner.

The Health & Happiness Show

IT’S A NO-NO I HAVE TO HEAVE-HO I’VE GOT NO STOMACH FOR A DUMBED-DOWN TOMATO GENE GENIE ROGUE SOYA BEANIE GET THEE BEHIND ME PATENT MARGARINIE

From the same studio that concocted Agent Orange, Astro-Turf and Nutra- Sweet comes another lethal cocktail of chemistry and commerce. The mountebank, the quack, the charlatan; selling his cure-all remedy from a suitcase, only now he wears the scientists’ white coat. Listen to Hank Williams’ Health And Happiness 1949 Radio Shows where the songs are punctuated by “a few words from the sponsor.” You can hear the death-rattle in Williams’ voice ss the potions the sponsors gave him for his crooked back brought forward his sell-by date.

The politics of the twenty first century will be the dispossessed against the Disneys. There’s a duty to confront and challenge the transnational companies putting pro fit before people; Monsanto are currently considering selling off all their GM food companies as a direct result of the plummeting share prices of stocks in those companies, as a knock-on effect of the massive and popular outrage against GM foods and the attempt to foist them upon us unawares.

They got rid of the plastic pitch at Preston, too.

I’m Coming Out

I’M COMING OUT AAH LET’S KISS AND MAKE UP AAH LET’S DIG THE GRAVE UP AAH LET’S HAVE A SHAKE UP AAH LET’S KISS AND MAKE UP I HAD A FLING WITH DORIS DAY I ALMOST GOT HER IN THE FAMILY WAY I’VE GOT TO SEE WHAT THE PAPERS SAY ALL DRESSED UP IN DRAG INSIDE A GUCCI BODY BAG I’M COMING OUT AAH LET’S KISS AND MAKE UP AAH LET’S DIG THE GRAVE UP AAH LET’S HAVE A SHAKE UP AAH LET’S KISS AND MAKE UP MY SELF-DENIAL COULDN’T GET ANY WORSE FIRST CONFESSION SECOND VERSE I FORGET MYSELF BUT I REMEMBER THE WORDS ALL DRESSED UP IN DRAG INSIDE A GUCCI BODY BAG I’M COMING OUT AAH LET’S KISS AND MAKE UP AAH LET’S DIG THE GRAVE UP AAH LET’S HAVE A SHAKE UP AAH LET’S KISS AND MAKE UP THE SNIFFER DOGS ARE COMING ROUND MY HOUSE AGAIN

Buffy Buffed Me! George Licked Chocolate From My Gusset! There’s nothing like a scandal to keep newspaper proprietors happy… and a hefty dose of pop star self-denial ensures that a banal story of pharmaceutical or sexual preference becomes a tale of “smut” and “shame”. As Rock Hudson lay dying of AIDS in a Parisian hospital in 1981. the papers speculated about his ‘secret gay past’ and whether or not it had caught up with him in the form of AIDS. Escorting Doris Day to an industry shindig was no longer enough to keep the sniffer dogs at bay.

Ten years on, the tabloids published pictures of a six-stone Freddie Mercury in the back of a cab, looking like he was about to expire at any second. The Has He Got AIDS? headlines were met with a denial from the Mercury camp. Years of tabloid ‘investigations’ into Freddie’s sexual preferences had been countered by Freddie holding a public engagement to his ‘childhood sweetheart’ Mary. When the fiancée fiasco didn’t work, Mercury allowed himself to fall into the: “I’m saying nothing” category of “might be bisexual”.

After Hudson and Mercury had both lapsed into their final AIDS- induced comas, statements were read out which said that in the name of ‘raising public awareness of the disease’ they were finally admitting they had the disease. If the tabloids which vilified them could have somehow managed to bring them back from the dead, both men might possibly have grinned for the cameras, and very probably have denied themselves three times. Honesty might alienate fans and affect record sales. There’s no business like show business! I’m ready for my close- up now Mr DeMille.

Like Hoover keeping his frilly panties in a lead-lined filing cabinet marked ‘smutty secrets~ the stars guard their sexual preferences. Gay ends up in the same drawer as paedophilia because some ‘stars’ are too afraid of falling box-office receipts to challenge the media’s homophobia. Few of them come out of the closet without a crowbar, and when they do they often find, as George Michael did, that most of the public don’t care about what two consenting adults get up to in bed.

I’m In Trouble Again

NORMAN ROCKWELL COME ON IN HANG YOUR DIRTY COAT ON THE DOOR DON’T YOU WORRY ‘BOUT THE COPS DOWNSTAIRS THEY’RE JUST DIGGING UP THE CELLAR FLOOR I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN TRIED TO BE SO SQUEAKY CLEAN BUT I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN OH YEAH PEOPLE SAY I’M NASTY MEAN BUT I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN OH YEAH I’M THE GIRL FROM STARS IN THEIR EYES BUT I WALKED INTO A LIFE OF CRIME NOW I TURNED WATER INTO CORPORATE POP AND DANBERT IS A FRIEND OF MINE I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN TRIED TO BE SO SQUEAKY CLEAN BUT I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN OH YEAH PEOPLE SAY I’M NASTY MEAN BUT I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN OH YEAH I GOT A PLASTIC TOY WITH MY HAPPY MEAL I FEEL SICK TRIED TO BE SO SQUEAKY CLEAN BUT I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN OH YEAH PEOPLE SAY I’M NASTY MEAN BUT I’M IN TROUBLE AGAIN OH YEAH

Life in a pop group is all sugary sweet and primary colours; Chumbawamba rehearsals really do have a Norman Rockwell niceness to them. We ring up our record company and they tell us what sort of thing the kids are listening to these days, so that we can construct our pleasing and melodic tunes with one ear to the marketplace. Then at lunchtime we lump into the band van (much like The Monkees) and drive down to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. Sometimes we like to listen to the music being played in the restaurant, taking notes before amending the tunes we were working on earlier, It’s all so pleasant that we can’t understand why some hurtful, hateful people think that we’re nasty and mean.

Social Dogma

I’M JUST SCRAPING THE SOCIAL DOGMA FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY SOUL

“For every TV-advertised Burger Clown/ There’s half a thousand complete unknowns / Sure I believe in Santa Claus / He’s a fading actor who’s going bald / There’s mass perjury in every street / Because nobody tells the pollsters the truth /All the market research is deeply flawed / And Josephine Public becomes an outlaw.”

(Extract from D.Dogg’s ‘My Social Disease Was Incurable~ 1983)

WWW Dot

WITH A W AND A W AND A W DOT OOH MR. MURDOCH CAN I SHOW YOU AROUND? A NEW RELIGION NO BEAT NO RHYTHM JUST WAL-MART WALL TO WALL A KODAK BABY IN THE LAND OF PLENTY HONEY I BLEW UP THE WORLD! WITH A W AND A W AND A W DOT

Rupert Murdoch once dismissed the internet as a passing fad. Now he’s realised that his fear of new technology has put him at a disadvantage to the other entrepreneurs who are talking about the world wide web as the electronic equivalent of colonising a continent full of money trees. The company which Murdoch has set up to carve out huge portions of the web is ePartners. He’s handed it a fund of $400m dollars to spend on emerging internet companies:

“I want China and I want cyber space and I want it now!”

Mike Butcher, editor of business magazine New Media Age, sees Murdoch’s move into e commerce as an attempt to create a platform from where he can challenge Bill Gates. Expect to see two pasty-faced Battling Robots fighting over the profits from cyberspace. Two triumphs of the embalmer’s art circling each other for territory.

Like Murdoch, a lot of entrepreneurs recognised the profit potential of the internet relatively late. Right now millions of people are chatting, uploading, downloading, linking, flirting and making copies of whatever they want for absolutely free. Despite capitalism’s assertion that everything worth having has to be paid for, the internet is still a vital place to head for free information and software. It remains to be seen whether capitalism can block the egalitarianism which has characterised much of the web; this crucial transitional phase will determine whether the net retains a dissipated, unruly soul of organised chaos or becomes a bland shadow of its former self as the world’s biggest supermarket.

New York Mining Disaster 1941

We decided to record this Bee Gees song after hearing a version of it on Martin Carthy’s last album, ‘Signs Of Life’. A beautiful song written in 1967, before the brothers Gibb discovered white suits.

I’m Not Sorry, I Was Having Fun

BY THE TIME I GOT TO WOODSTOCK IT WAS GOING UP IN FLAMES “IN JUNE UNDER A SILVERY MOON” WHY DO ALL YOUR SONGS TURN OUT THE SAME? GOT GOT GOT GOT NOT GOT GOT GOT GOT GOT NOT GOT I’M NOT SORRY I WAS HAVING FUN I’M NOT SORRY I GOT THAT OLD TIME RELIGION WHERE WE STILL DON’T CROSS THE PICKET LINES YOU GOT RUSH LIMBAUGH ON YOUR SIDE I GOT RICKY TOMLINSON ON MINE GOT GOT GOT GOT NOT GOT GOT GOT GOT GOT NOT GOT I’M NOT SORRY I WAS HAVING FUN I’M NOT SORRY

Woodstock 2, a festival for the advertising generation. In the queue for the pizza and burger vans the spirit of free love, free food, and free anything is trampled into the mud. I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing – but it’ll cost ya! From counterculture to hand it over the counter. The organisers are counting the profits before the first band play, but they don’t bank on the kids turning it into a burnt-out imitation of the first time round.

June 1999, and the Reclaim The Streets philosophy of seizing back space and partying in it has taken over the city of London for the day. f4m worth of damage later and its obvious that the kids have read the book, seen the film, and now they’re ripping up the t shirt. (Got, got, not got, twicer, swaps…)

In Seattle, December 1999, they’ve imposed a curfew to try to stop the anti-World Trade Organisation protesters. As night falls there’s a huge screening of the fight of the century. In one corner there’s Rush Limbaugh, right-wing US radio evangelist. Rush is out of condition, a flabby thinker in a pair of Ian Paisley’s outsize shorts. In the other corner stands British film and sitcom star Picky Tomlinson. (More Danny Devito than Jean Claude Van Damme). Tomlinson is drawing on his own experience for the scrap against Limbaugh – he remembers his time as a building worker and as one half of The Shrewsbury Two, who were arrested and jailed for leading flying pickets during a building strike in 1972. A wildcat then and a wild card now. Blacklisted by the building trade on his release from prison, Tomlinson turned actor and used most of his career to breathe life into the words of left-wing writers. Asked if he thinks Limbaugh has a chance of winning a bout, Tomlinson raises his fist and shouts:

“My Arse!”

Jesus In Vegas

I AM THE LORD OF THE VERY LAST DANCE I’VE GOT ‘TOMMY’ ON THE LEG OF MY PANTS I’VE GOT THE AUDIENCE IN THE PALM OF MY HANDS MY GOOD FRIEND SINATRA ON MY RIGHT ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER IS DOING THE LIGHTS IT’S TWICE A NIGHT FOR TWENTY-FIVE NIGHTS ONE MORE LITTLE LINE THEN EVERYONE BACK TO MINE JESUS IN VEGAS! “I’LL PULL YOUR GODDAMNED TONGUE RIGHT OUT BY THE ROOTS!” I’VE GOT BASIE CONDUCTING THE BAND I GOT A PENTHOUSE SUITE AT THE SANDS AND MY FEET NEVER TOUCH THE GROUND ARE THERE ANY BRANCH DAVIDIANS IN THE HOUSE? HERE’S JIM JONES AS A PANTOMIME HORSE THAT SHOWBIZ GETS RIGHT UP YOUR NOSE ONE MORE LITTLE LINE THEN EVERYONE BACK TO MINE JESUS IN VEGAS! “I’LL PULL YOUR GODDAMNED TONGUE RIGHT OUT BY THE ROOTS!”

History collides with itself (“Don’t I know you?”) and is re-written before it happens.

Like cancer coming back, the script is littered with corpses, sinking deep into two thousand years of shifting sand. A carbon copy of a likeness, the greatest story ever told turned in on itself and devouring its own. Even Jesus doesn’t know who he is supposed to be anymore.

The sponsors aren’t as slow and spot a window of opportunity, inventing some mad crazy cousin only once removed to lay waste to some school children on a bus; and it’s okay because Life Is A Cabaret Old Chum, like the Pope shaking hands with Hitler, like Elvis shaking hands with Nixon. (But whatever you do, don’t dare suggest the King is doing pills – “I’ll pull your goddamned tongue right out by the roots!” was Presley’s onstage outburst at Journalists who had suggested he was on drugs.).

In the name of the Father, The Son and Saint Augustine with a golden gun, still the franchise persists, doling out 57 varieties of ruthlessly Christian values and telling the networks what will and won’t be seen on primetime TV. Here’s the predominant culture: every show is an advertisement disguised as entertainment.

And the re-writing of history begins with “In the beginning was showbusiness…”

The Standing Still

ONCE UPON A TIME DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES AND SMUG SUBURBAN SWINE SAME OLD SONGS, SAME OLD CABARET A FAIRYTALE IN NOTTING HILL TAKE YOUR PARTNERS FOR THE STANDING STILL ONCE UPON A TIME NOT SO HAPPY ENDING FOR THE MERSEY AND THE TYNE WHO SAID THE STORY HAD TO END THIS WAY? A FAIRYTALE ON BEESTON HILL TAKE YOUR PARTNERS FOR THE STANDING STILL

The Notting Hill New Labour cliques, smug in their rose-tinted glass- fronted verandas, writing self-obsessed columns for the Sunday supplements and wishing they’d authored Bridget jones’ Diary. A toast to democracy! The best system money can buy.. here we go again, same poison in a different coloured bottle.

Beeston Hill is in Leeds. Being just a close mile south of the newly- gentrified city centre, it can only look on as the retail centre of Leeds is showered with desirable flats and loft conversions, Harvey Nichols coffee shops and trendy wine bars. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

She’s Got All The Friends That Money Can Buy

SHE’S GOT ALL THE FRIENDS THAT MONEY CAN BUY SHE’S THE APPLE OF HER DADDY’S EYE THE FAMILY MONEY HAS A MAGNETIC PULL HER SOCIAL DIARY IS ALWAYS FULL AND BOTH HER FACES SO EASY ON THE EYE AND EVERYONE WORTH KNOWING IS KISSING HER BEHIND SHE’S GOT ALL THE FRIENDS THAT MONEY CAN BUY SHE’S THE APPLE OF HER DADDY’S EYE STYLE HAS A PRICE WITHOUT MUCH CHANGE IF YOU HAVE TO ASK THEN IT’S OUT OF YOUR RANGE AND BOTH HER FACES SO EASY ON THE EYE AND EVERYONE WORTH KNOWING IS KISSING HER BEHIND SHE’S GOT ALL THE FRIENDS THAT MONEY CAN BUY SHE’S THE APPLE OF HER DADDY’S EYE VERSACE AND PRADA MEAN NOTHING TO ME YOU CAN BUY YOUR FRIENDS BUT I’LL HATE YOU FOR FREE SHE’S GOT ALL THE FRIENDS THAT MONEY CAN BUY SHE’S THE APPLE OF HER DADDY’S EYE SHE JUST SHAKES HER YEAH YEAH YEAH

Mum and Dad are landowners and her hairs coordinated with her teeth. Harvey Nick’s is the corner shop, and in her immediate circle there’s only one person with a less than double-barreled surname – and that’s Charles Windsor.

Take two. Mom and Dad are Hollywood movers and shakers and her bank account’s coordinated with her social circle. Her belly button piercing is a passport to the alt-rock playboy’s scene and all the people she knows are hiding their embarrassing-hippy-parents names and ‘getting back to nature’. (Taking a bodyguard and a personal trainer along of course).

She’s the old/new establishment in kitten heels and Hello magazine. The debutante has-been reinvented as a Media Commentator. She’s the It Girl, spewing out a list of parties, openings, and celebrity friends; and every day her story fills the world’s magazine stands.

We’re all being forced to stand in IT, and IT stinks.

Ladies For Compassionate Lynching

WE’RE THE LADIES FOR COMPASSIONATE LYNCHING WE FIGHT FOR ALL THE THINGS WE BELIEVE WE SPEND ALL OF OUR TIME ON YOUR TALK SHOWS WE PUT THE STICKERS ON YOUR RECORD SLEEVES

Parental advisory; explicit lyrics.

Celebration, Florida

THE GOOD FOLKS PULL TOGETHER IT’S JULY FOURTH FOREVER DOWN IN CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THE NEIGHBOURS BRING YOU COFFEE AND EVERYONE’S ALWAYS HAPPY DOWN IN CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THERE’S A BAKE SALE AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE AND THEY’RE SELLING INNOCENCE THEY’RE KEEPING OUT THE DEVIANTS TO PROTECT THE RESIDENTS OF CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THEY’RE BUYING UP NOSTALGIA FOR A TIME THEY CAN’T REMEMBER DOWN IN CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THEY’RE SHARING HOMEMADE CORNCHIPS EVEN THE DOGS GET FACELIFTS DOWN IN CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THERE’S A BAKE SALE AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE AND THEY’RE SELLING INNOCENCE THEY’RE KEEPING OUT THE DEVIANTS TO PROTECT THE RESIDENTS OF CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THERE’S NATION FIGHTING NATION THERE’S KIDS WITH MALNUTRITION BUT NOT IN CELEBRATION, FLORIDA SOCIAL ENGINEERING IT GIVES YOU THAT FUZZY FEELING DOWN IN CELEBRATION, FLORIDA THERE’S A BAKE SALE AT THE SCHOOLHOUSE AND THEY’RE SELLING INNOCENCE THEY’RE KEEPING OUT THE DEVIANTS TO PROTECT THE RESIDENTS OF CELEBRATION, FLORIDA

From Those Wonderful People Who Brought You Mi Lai: Social architecture as constructed by closet white supremacists, where the over-eager security guards look like Grandpa Walton. You know the town in The Truman Show and Pleasantville? It already exists, built by Disney upon the myth of accurate and proper research into the kind of town where the average person would like to live. It’s a closed community built to echo those apple-pie towns you only ever see in Disney films, and franchises are available to those who can prove they’re suitably ‘average’.

Who are these ‘average persons’? Residents of exclusive housing regimes where you have to drive past the security check point to get in…? Who swim in personal swimming pools, oranges falling off the trees and rolling around in the dust, so they go and buy ‘fresh’ polished ones from the supermarket? Who wear their Grecian 2000, but look at you with disgust if you have dyed hair?

Celebration, Florida is the whole glazed biscuit. Make sure you follow the strict colour code when painting the outside of your house, and be sure to use the complimentary white spirit to wash away any evil thoughts. And yes, now your dog really can get a facelift.

Moses With A Gun

OH CHARLETON HESTON YOUR FATHER’S FAVOURITE SON WALKS IN WHISTLING CASEY JONES MOSES WITH A GUN OH CHARLETON HESTON YOUR FATHER’S FAVOURITE SON ROUND AND ROUND AND AD INFINITUM

The rampant primeval morality of Norman Mailers novel Why We Are in Viet-Nam? suggests that if you are going to eat deer then you should be prepared to kill it. If one is willing to have a cop risk his life in the apprehension of a burglar, then one should also be prepared to gun that burglar down. Following this line of thought, in the wake of the Colombine High School shootings, Mr Heston (as chairman of the National Rifle Association) reassuringly suggested that in future teachers should be armed, and pupils should be banned from wearing trench coats.

The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Jerry Springer

DAMIEN HURST SAID IT CAME IN WITH THE TIDE NOW JERRY SPRINGER HE’S IN FORMALDEHYDE

In which Mr Springer is pickled during a particularly overlong ‘final thought’, musing on the blurring of distinctions between reality and entertainment.

Smart Bomb

RAIN ON ME O FRIENDLY FIRE ME N’ AUDREY GONNA SING IT FOR YA A HEADACHE PILL TO DIE FOR FROM ALL PARTICIPATING STORES SMART BOMB! SHINE ON ME O BENIGN VIRUS URANIUM FROM ARMS-R-US HERE’S SOMETHING FOR YOUR FIRST-BORN GEORGE BUSH JUNIOR SING ALONG… SMART BOMB!

Today’s school science project. Praise the Lord and pass the industry award for the most innovative use of waste product; it would be smart if it wasn’t the sickest thing you’d ever heard. Take some depleted uranium (aka radioactive waste) from nuclear power plants and dip bullets in it. Tried and tested, as fired by US and British planes during the Gulf War and the Kosovo War. Uranium being a heavy metal apparently means that the bullets, if fired at sufficient velocity, can rip through tank armour. Nearly one million rounds fired in the Gulf War, and Iraqi babies born in the surrounding areas showing increased rates of cancers on a scale comparable to Hiroshima, and what a welcome wagon for the refugees returning to Kosovo…

Knickers

THERE’S A HOLE IN YOUR KNICKERS DEAR CALVIN DEAR CALVIN THERE’S A HOLE IN YOUR KNICKERS DEAR CALVIN A HOLE

The brilliance of the advertising “hit” is yet to be fully appreciated. Yesterdays cute idea of goods = respectability has been replaced by the far cleverer harpoon of products = rebellion. We can buy into an underground subculture by nipping into town or going to a mall. Revolution, once the catch phrase of change, is now only what the ad man’s offering.

Embracing “the world turned upside down” philosophy as a marketing tool, we have ads for cigs with no smoke and the underlying assumption that we’re not buying a brand but putting on an irreverent snarl. We dare to be different, we buy Y fronts that say so. And if the black pants with the white elastic don’t change your life, then try the blue G string and stretch vest. An ever-accelerating production line of different styles and attitudes is on offer.

Last week’s hip is today’s obsolete. No rebellion but the pre-programmed search for new products and kicks. Climbing into the right underwear is apparently a pre-requisite to having sex followed by funky conversations with Kate Moss lookalikes; luxury products are no longer a sign of wealth but of belonging to a sub-group which our neighbours are too ugly or too dumb to belong to.

Except that the folks next door are wearing exactly the same underwear as us and suffering from the same spotty angst.

Lie Lie Lie Lie

LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE I FAILED THE AUDITION FOR CELEBRITY SQUARES YOUR LIFE IS A DREAM THEN YOU WAKE UP YOU WATCH FRIENDS TOGETHER THEN YOU BREAK UP I COULD WIN AN OSCAR I COULD BE SO SINCERE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE MY PSYCHIC MAKE-UP IT’S ALL OVER THE PLACE YOUR LIFE IS A DREAM THEN YOU WAKE UP YOU WATCH FRIENDS TOGETHER THEN YOU BREAK UP I’D LIKE TO THANK YOU ALL THROUGH THIS FLOOD OF TEARS LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE (CRIES… THANKYOU, THANKYOU) LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE LIE

Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou. Thankyou to the wheelers and dealers and sellers and buyers and spinners and traders and all my family and most of all to God. Thankyou. Without you I am nothing. Nothing but an over-publicised airhead whose only context is gossip, hype and the lure of the superficial. Thankyou.

On our next album we’ll do away with sleeve notes, filling the space instead with a gigantic list of thankyous, respects and shouts out. Thankyou.

Dumbing Down

ARE YOU HAPPY HERE IN THEME PARK UK/USA? DO YOU SOMETIMES WISH THAT YOUR LIFE WAS PLUG AND PLAY? AND ARE THE WORDS TO THIS SONG CONCISE ENOUGH TO FOLLOW? IS YOUR SMART FOOD SIMPLE ENOUGH TO SWALLOW? WE’RE DUMBING DOWN DUMB-DOO-DUMB-DUMB DUMBING DOWN DUMB-DOO-DUMB-DUMB ARE WE ONLY EATING WORMS FROM A CAN JUST BECAUSE WE CAN? AND IS DISNEYLAND ALL WE UNDERSTAND? WILL OUR HISTORY BE WRITTEN OUT IN HEADLINES? DIANA DOLLS MIRACLES AND LANDMINES? WE’RE DUMBING DOWN DUMB-DOO-DUMB-DUMB DUMBING DOWN DUMB-DOO-DUMB-DUMB

The Virgin Mary made out of Elephant Dung! What’s the world coming to?

Mayor Giuliani of New York recently stopped the funding to the Brooklyn Museum of Art showing Chris Offili’s ‘sacrilegious’ piece, and in so doing placed himself in a tradition of cultural morons who fear what they don’t understand. The old battalion champions only an ‘art’ which defends their collapsing culture.

All power to the Focus Groups! For now Peter Mandelson, spin doctor supreme, gathers around himself a think-tank of buffoons who try to guess what ‘the people’ would like. What would we like? A huge Dome, with Disneyland inside it. We’d like Pat Boone, Cliff Richard and Puff Daddy to sing three part harmonies at the opening. MC Hammer could dance, Britney Spears and a troupe of pre-pubescent girls could sing to old men about sex. We’d like soaps, Titanics, and sliced white bread. We want Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in a clip frame, and our football goalposts made bigger so we get more goals. And we want our political experiences distilled into three-minute pop songs by Chumbawumba. (That’s with a ‘U’).

There’d be no Elephant Dung – but a lot of shit art.

What You Get

Recorded at Shabby Road, Pudsey; Woodlands, Castleford; and The Chapel, Lincolnshire

Mixed at Woodlands, Castleford, November 1999

Mastered at The Townhouse by Geoff Pesch December 1999

Chumbawamba on this recording are:

Lou ‘Husky’ Watts: Vocals, keyboards
Harry ‘Terrier’ Hamer: Drums, vocals, programming
Danbert ‘Bloodhound’ Nobacon: Vocals, banjo
Dunstan ‘Bulldog’ Bruce: Vocals
Jude ‘Chihuahua’ Abbot: Trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals
Boff ‘Beagle’ Whalley: Guitar, vocals
Alice ‘Retriever’ Nutter: Vocals
Neil ‘ Dalmation’ Ferguson: Bass, keyboards, mouse

Even the dogs get facelifts…

Produced by Chumbawamba with Neil Ferguson

All songs written by Chumbawamba except “New York Mining Disaster 1941” written by Barry and Robin Gibb

All songs published by EMI Music except “New York Mining Disaster 1941” published by BMG Music Publishing Ltd 1967

We nicked some stuff from Negativeland’s ‘Helter Stupid’ album. Ta!

Also appearing on this record:

White Child Rix (Gunshot): Scratching
Simon: Trombone
Toby: Saxophone
B J Cole: Pedal steel guitar
Simon Lanzon: Additional vocal
The Complimentary Peanuts: Vocals on ‘Health & Happiness Show’
Wayne The Postie: Technical assistance
Armley Community Orchestra: Strings, woodwind
One Minute’s Silence: Snare drum
Steve: Assistant engineer at Chapel Studio
Seething Wells: “That’s it”
Brian Layng: Late-night technical assistance

Sleeve design by Baader-Meinhof
Eye & arse photography by Casey Orr

Thanks and love to Paul J Greco

Where You Get It

Chumbawamba can be contacted at:
P O Box TR666
Armley
Leeds
LS12 3XJ
UK

Up-to-date news, opinion, information from:
http://www.chumbawamba.net

A splendid time is guaranteed for all who can afford it

Chumbawamba – Uneasy Listening (1998)

…And In A Nutshell

From the album ‘Pictures Of Starving Children Sell Records: Charity, Lies and Tradition’ 1986

Bad pineapple hair-do’s and recent memories of mounted police batoning the striking miners and printworkers. Yuppies, Heysel Stadium, an actor in the White House. Television pictures of starving children, Status Quo snorting “Give Generously” as they hoovered up half of Columbia. Thatcher’s mad dog eyes and campaigns to ‘keep music light’. They said pop and politics didn’t mix, (they still say it now) then sung another chorus of Greed Is Good. Aah, the eighties..
Chumbawamba’s first album, tightrope-walking between pamphleteering and pop. Here’s one where we first discovered sampling.

Mouthful Of Shit

From the album ‘Anarchy’ 1994

Eight years later, still shouting at the telly as Bush, Major, Bono or Princess Di delivered another sermon from the mount. The air’s thin up there… surrounded by sychophants and starved of the oxygen of daily life, they babbled bullshit. At the same time, Britain’s pop culture was celebrating the emergence of a clutch of hip new rebels. It was the start of Britpop – Back to the Union Jack. Here we stole a heckler put-down and discovered the beauty of singing the word “piss” sweetly.

I can’t hear you ‘cos your mouth’s full of shit Do something about it Well I’m really back to basics right beside the bar Chalk the double trouble big one to the joker with the card Good call! What’s the crack? What’s the damage done today? From the Commons to the common a banana skin away Knock it back knock it out chuck a nightmare dart “Quiet!” Compere on the mic turns turning to the court Putting beef vol-au-vents across the Union Jack Bolinger and bitter says the colonies are back I can’t hear you ‘cos your mouth’s full of shit Do something about it You think you’re god’s gift You’re a liar I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire Up yer ronson – take a tab – with a flash of zippo light Catch the hip parade passing to the Polaroid’s right Check the manic little rebel with a bottle in his hand A rhyming manifesto and a butty from his mam Local lad made bad with cowboy charm Claims he doesn’t really mean every screw-’em-all barb “Pass the mic!” Karaoke with the yesteryear stars Time to weep into your beer ’til the fireworks start I can’t hear you ‘cos your mouth’s full of shit Do something about it You think you’re god’s gift You’re a liar I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire

Behave

Single 1992

Sometimes it’s hard to believe the lengths that some celebrities will go to to prove that they are actually as boring and as small-minded as their public image suggests. In 1992 former soap star Jason Donovan sued The Face magazine for “suggesting he was gay.” His lawyers claimed that this was “a poisonous slur on his reputation” and a court awarded him £200,000 damages. Donovan was reacting to an article that the magazine had carried an ‘outing’. The piece had contained a reproduction of a poster of Donovan which had gone up in London’s West End as part of an outing campaign. The Face had quoted Donovan as saying he was heterosexual; but he still sued them for libel. The magazine was forced to launch a survival campaign. Donovan had the cheek to stand on the court house steps and announce that he resented the suggestion that he was anti-gay!
A couple of weeks later, Richard Fairbrass (famous for singing “I’m too sexy for my shirt…”) found himself seated next to Jason Donovan at a music industry bash. Fairbrass requested a move, explaining to the other guests: “I don’t want to sit next to him… someone might think I’m straight.” For the sleeve design we convinced our neighbor’s little girl Mia to wield an axe and journalist Steven Wells contributed an essay on pop music and homophobia.

Smiling angels on your milk-white shoulders Scared of heaven and accusing whispers Angels always get the worst advice But they can hire the sharpest lawyers… Someone’s always telling you how to behave Boys and girls come out to play See Cupid fire his poison arrows Mickey Mouse grew up a cow Your should hear the things they say about Minnie now… Someone’s always telling you how to behave Farewell to all the smiling angels I have a date with some little devil Girls will be boys and boys will be girls I found a bedful of heaven in this hell of a world… Someone’s always telling you how to behave

Timebomb

Single 1993

Cause and effect: like the scene in The Birds where the bloke lights up and we wait for the match to hit the petrol. Charging the police officer in Trafalgar Square when we were told we had no choice but to quietly accept the iniquitous Poll Tax. Seeing the flames race through LA in search of justice for Rodney King and black America. Knowing that there’s nothing fixed about our ordinary lives. As Bakunin said: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
Depending on where and when you’ve seen Chumbawamba live, ‘Timebomb’ is an anthem for either women on their period, Mexican Zapatista rebels, German guerillas or Barnsley cabaret singers…

Stop now What’s that sound Everybody look what’s going down I am a timebomb A ticking ticking ticking timebomb Unattended on the railway station In the litter at the dancehall Sitting pretty near the fast-food counter In the backseat of a Vauxhall I am a timebomb Stop now What’s that sound Everybody look what’s going down I am a timebomb A ticking ticking ticking timebomb Hear the ticking of your heartbeat beating Hear the breaking of their promises Hear the smashing of your expectations Hear the shattering of half-rhymes I am a timebomb Stop now What’s that sound Everybody look what’s going down I am a timebomb A ticking ticking ticking timebomb And all the timebombs They’re all dancing to the same song In a world full of no-ones I am a someone I am a timebomb Stop now What’s that sound London Bridge is falling down

Morality Play in Three Acts

B-side of “Homophobia” single 1994

The British Conservative government defined a fair amount of what Chumbawamba did for these umpteen years, and during their rule there were some unintentionally hilarious moments. Just as they declared war on ‘sleaze’ – everything from marital infidelity to queer sex, promising a return to “family values” – a whole crop of MP’s were literally caught with their pants down. One was even found dead with a tangerine in his mouth and wearing 15-denier stockings. Prime Minister John Major, in their defence, still announced: “Condemn a little more, understand a little less.” The public took his words to heart and demanded that politicians be sacked from the government.

Act one, the smell of green leather, French polish, quite pristine Not a hair out of place, not a wrinkle, not a crease, the silverware all clean Exquisite chaussures grace marble floors, be upstanding, for men of yore But wait… who’s this, sticky under the collar in Elsinore? Enter silent comedy geek with dynamite down his pants Nervous, shuffling on his feet, leading a merry song and dance A back seat driver of good moral fibre, holding up the light He’s made his own bed, now he’s got to lie in it. Ha Ha! It serves him right. Act two, a new new England, watch the good seed grow But who is this Miss out-of-wedlock, with children of her own Enter Witchfinder General, of melancholy humor and irascible power All dressed in goody-goody two shoes, pulling the heads of flowers Let this be, said he, a lesson, your dirty linen is your own reflection Said I, somehow it just doesn’t wash, away with your petty inquisition in the vernacular, most unkind sir, fuck with me and you will see The flesh and blood and bone, the black eyes of thine enemy Dance, dance, Act three, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he John the Baptist, dripping wet, playing Sir Politick-Would-Be Backslapping, backsliding, back to basic instincts, backfiring By your own choice you’re on a hiding to nothing, I ask you which is more comforting? The thought that I am bad seed, gone to seed, turned sour by TV sex and violence Or even worse, am I unleashed by my own volition to do you ill “Condemn a little more, understand a little less,” Oh sad sir, thou jest Ha Ha! I am Prometheus, prepare thee to meet thy nemesis.

Enough Is Enough

Single 1993 with Credit To The Nation

Alarm bells were ringing. Derek Beacon, neo-Nazi member of the British National Party, got his ugly fascist backside elected in Tower Hamlets, London. Meanwhile, in Rostock, Germany, fascists firebombed a hostel for Turkish immigrants. They stood and watched it burn while those trapped inside it screamed from the windows. Economic depression, the fall of the old Communist countries, and growing poverty increased the recruiting-power of the fascist parties throughout Europe. Those with no sense of history talked about voting the fascists into submission; we joined with MC Fusion from Credit To The Nation to side instead with the anti-fascist activists calling for something more positive and effective: “Give the fascist man a gunshot!”
Recorded and hastily released during summer 1993, this was the culmination of several years working and touring with Credit To The Nation. The gunshot is sampled from a German sound effects record which props up the mixing desk at Woodlands Studio.

Open your eyes Time to wake up Enough is enough is enough is enough Give the fascist man a gunshot Trying and trying to get this damn thing done It can’t done Come shoot the fascist with a gun ‘Cos it’s stopping us from unity We cannot see reality Just vanity insanity fusion cannot stand it see No man fascist man will ever get me outta the land So understand Fusion plan to stop them with a bang We sang and sang to make the people all unite Not fight but fight because the leaders don’t think right You burnt us in the past you know it won’t happen again So black and white take a stand and all try to defend All of the people and the children who are living in the past Just blast and blast don’t make the fascist man last Open your eyes Time to wake up Enough is enough is enough is enough Give the fascist man a gunshot On and on and on you know the feeling’s so strong So long It’s wrong I’m telling you it’s wrong Destruction confusion and blaming it on the colour I wonder in horror ‘cos the people start to follow All the leaders and the rulers who are putting up the fence It’s dense immense and you say you’re talking sense Bull bull I want to say it full But people on the radio you know will make a pull So I try to tone it down to make the whole world know That the language of my violence will proceed in my show Flow flow to make the fascist man know That unity is here and unity will grow Open your eyes Time to wake up Enough is enough is enough is enough Give the fascist man a gunshot I want to wake up Enough is enough is enough is enough

On Being Pushed

From the album ‘Anarchy’ 1994

See this finger, see this thumb, see this fist and watch it come…

I never could stand to be pushed!

Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire

From the album ‘English Rebel Songs 1381-1914’, 1987

By 1987 Chumbawamba had a reputation for being a ranting political punk band with a sprinkling of sweet harmonies. Punk rock had become largely conservative and stuck in a time warp. There were 1001 fanzines laying down rules for what constituted a proper punk and what didn’t. Proper punks played LOUD music. For a lyric to be deemed political or even pertinent it had to be SCREAMED. For us, punk’s original attraction lay in its rejection of the old order; and now it wallowed in rules and regulations. The punk rock community had been dislocated from the past and present, existing in a void where new ideas or damn good old ones weren’t welcome. Bored and frustrated we decided to search out songs which showed that three-chord screaming didn’t have a monopoly on politics. The result was the acapella album, ‘English Rebel Songs’. ‘Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire’ was concocted by the soldiers in the trenches in the first world war. Designed to be sung whilst marching, it made obvious that those dying in the trenches weren’t making willing sacrifices for king and country: they were beginning to understand the class system and resented it. In a nutshell, those with money give the orders, those without money face the guns…
The songs on ‘Rebel Songs’ were discovered during prolonged searches in music libraries and bookshops. We spent a week in old friend Simon Lanzon’s shepherds hut in the Yorkshire Dales trying to arrange the songs, which we only had in sheet music form. Reaction to the completed album was basically what we wanted – bemusement, disgust, joy and bewilderment. ‘Old Barbed Wire’ for a change featured only the male voices.

If you want to find the General I know where he is He’s pinning another medal on his chest I saw him I saw him Pinning another medal on his chest If you want to find the Colonel I know where he is He’s sitting in comfort Stuffing his bloody gut I saw him I saw him sitting in comfort Stuffing his bloody gut If you want to find the Seargent I know where he is He’s drinking all the company rum I saw him I saw him Drinking all the company rum If you want to find the Private I know where he is He’s hanging on the old barbed wire I saw him I saw him Hanging on the old barbed wire

Ugh! Your Ugly Houses!

Single Recorded 1995

Leafing through our regular subscription copy of Hello! magazine we discovered that when Sting’s not camping out in a rainforest he’s taking tea at the upwards of £1.2m Lake House. The epitome of the English Country Mansion, it came complete with fifteen century wood panels depicting hunting scenes. Playing Lord of the Manor included having the wood panels altered so that he and his wife Trudi peeked out from among the startled fawns. Just as we were about to award him the Nouveau Riche Bad Taste Award Noel Gallagher pipped him at the post with ‘Supernova Heights’: a startlingly ugly townhouse with a Mod-style sunken ‘target’ bath and fully-equipped state-of-the-art recording studio which he’s never touched. The bubble-lettering stained glass window in the front door was designed by Noel himself; the full-wall fish tank was originally designed for baby sharks, but ‘they kept banging their noses on the glass’ and had to be replaced.
‘Ugly Houses’ was an intellectualised and in-depth look at how rich people tend to have bad taste – known as ‘The Gracelands Effect’. The central string section was arranged and conducted by Neil Ferguson after consulting George Martin’s autobiography. “Is there anything you don’t like?” Neil asked us as we straddled our cellos. “Well for a start,” chipped in Alice, “I don’t like your tie.” The main part of the song took half-an-hour to record at Wyndings Studio in Wales, the string section about seven weeks in the infamous Elvis Jungle Room at Gracelands.

Your ugly houses look so… ugh!

Look! No Strings!

From the album ‘Shhh’ 1992

Driving through America in 1990 watching the heat rise off the road and the religious signs along the way. ‘Hell’s Angels For Jesus’ along with Mrs Meta Battle all tried to convince us that the Lord was alive and well and living in a trailer. Drafting in Simon Commonknowledge as the voice of God, we demonstrated how anyone could piece together their own Deity with an empty washing-up liquid bottle and a piece of sticky back plastic.
Harry does an impersonation of Rolf Harris on this one, and Dunst plays Stylophone solo.

Look, no strings: just paper-glue and card Hark the angels sing: paste the Lord! High above the streets and houses Mrs. Meta Battle With one hand on the valium and one hand on the bottle Somewhere over Indiana, eight miles high, Meta Battle sees the good Lord wandering across the sky Have your fun whilst your alive You won’t get nothing when you die Have a good time all the time Because you won’t get nothing when you die Gobsmacked, William Shatnered, Meta does a double-take: Come on baby, do the camera shake! Half-expecting from the aisle a certain Mr Beadle Watching you, watching us, watching Mrs Meta Battle (Can you see what it is yet?) Meta Battle shot her Lord and watched him tumble down Now there’s people out with Polaroids all around town And who knows, that Jesus on the church near your house May well be the original – kiss it as you pass!

Big Mouth Strikes Again

From the album ‘Shhh’ 1992

‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ is Chumbawamba’s homage to American comedian Lenny Bruce, who was persecuted and censored because he dared to tell the truth. In the 50’s and 60’s when most comics told mother-in-law jokes, Bruce talked about nuclear testing, racism, homophobia, back-alley abortions and the irrationality and cruelty of religion. Bruce delighted in challenging taboos and prejudices, trying to rap on stage with the same freedom that he had in his living room. Over a two year period he was arrested for obscenity 15 times, and ended up spending the last five years of his life fighting court cases for freedom of speech. He was attacked for his use of words but the real reason for the onslaught was that he targeted religious and political moralism. The Catholic church took particular offense, and Catholic cops from all across America turned up at his gigs and arrested him night after night. The cops threatened to take away the licenses of night club owners who hired him and Bruce was driven towards poverty. Refusing to tone down his act, Bruce refused to become a tame jester, and in 1961 a New York court sentenced him to four months in the workhouse because of “a lack of remorse.” Bruce replied with: “I’m not here for remorse but for justice. The issue is not obscenity but that I spit in the face of authority.” He was hounded right up to his death in 1966, and he never gave up pointing out that sending young boys off to war, or hating someone for their skin colour and sexuality is the real obscenity.
The lyric to “To Come…” is borrowed from Bruce’s own stage act. These were words for which Lenny Bruce was arrested and thrown in jail.

I caught you with your head down the toilet As you were gulping up dirty words And then later dressed in suit and tie Whilst playing to the laughing crowd You were gargling, spitting, fingers down your throat – making yourself so sick Vomiting the words that you sucked and slurped All over the cops at the back! Big mouth strikes again… MC Fusion: censored! “To” is a preposition “Come” is a verb “To come” is the verb intransitive; To come – to come. Did you come? Did you come good? Don’t come in me, don’t come in me… It takes technique to thrill me! Did you come? Did you come good? Big mouth strikes again… Stepford husbands, Stepford wives With longer scissors sharper knives So sugar sweet, they spend their time as censors working overtime This good-good culture – Welcome Christ, judges, Lone Ranger, padres, pastors, Popes, Priests, critics, comics, you, me! Big mouth strikes again!

This Girl

From the album ‘Swingin’ With Raymond’ 1995

Danger is attractive, and falling in love is an adrenalin rush, not a promise of contentment. This Girl is the thrill of finding a like mind, another outsider in the sea of conformity. This girl never did as she was told; this girl is you and me.
From a time when we decided to bloody-mindedly write a series of jangly love songs, just because people didn’t expect us to. Paul plays harmonica.

This girl She didn’t turn out quite the way she was supposed to do This girl She got bored of all the things they brought her up to say She never meant them anyway This girl She got caught out on the multi-storey car park Throwing goodbye notes wrapped up in bricks When they put her in the car She said “Jesus made me do it” But all the priests in all the world Couldn’t save this girl This girl Content with all the bloody noses, scabby knees You get from fighting wars like these Running past the tidy houses Pulling faces This material world couldn’t tempt this girl Now she entertains the world and all it’s mates But she doesn’t fit in Everybody thinks this girl is great But she’s lacing all the party drinks with venom From a poison pen This girl She made a habit of habitually lying Does everybody’s head in She knows what happens when the next stop that you see It’s not the one that everyone expected it to be This girl Happy families round the supermarket check-out She loves to be the odd one out The party girl who stayed upstairs Playing musical chairs La-la, la-la-la She doesn’t care This girl Now she entertains the world and all it’s mates But she doesn’t fit in Everybody thinks this girl is great But she’s lacing all the party drinks with venom From a poison pen This Girl She didn’t turn out quite the way she was supposed to do

Smash Clause 29!

Single 1988

At the point where the media screamed ‘Gay Plague’ about the Aids virus and few understood that the virus didn’t distinguish on the grounds of sexual orientation, the Government capitalised on this fear and prejudice and introduced a legal onslaught of anti-Gay morality. Clause 29 was part of a government act which made it illegal to: “Promote homosexuality or publish any material for the promotion of homosexuality. Promote teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship. Give financial or any other assistance to any person for the purposes referred to above.” These measures were introduced under the guise of ‘child protection’ and a campaign quickly started to show that these laws had nothing to do with protecting children, and everything to do with persecuting people on the grounds of sexuality. Nothing less than ‘Queer bashing’ through the courts, Clause 29 provoked a mass movement for gay rights and sexual tolerance. Unfortunately, the clause became a law but because of the mass protests it provoked, the government have rarely acted upon it. We chose to sing about Oscar Wilde because he was sentenced to two years hard labour in 1895 for his affair with another man. Reading Gaol destroyed Wilde’s life. He was a brilliant, generous, free thinking socialist destroyed by bigotry. The mass movement to oppose Clause 29 helped prevent a return to the Victorian morality which killed Wilde.
Chumbawamba at full-throttle backed by the Armley Tabernacle Choir.

Oscar Wilde, Oscar Wilde, can you tell me where you’ve been? – I’ve been down to London Town to pay a visit to the Queen Oscar Wilde, Oscar Wilde, can you tell me what you saw? – I saw the Queen and all her courtiers cooking up new laws I saw the corridors of power with closets wall-to-wall And I saw the truth behind the Emperor’s new Clause! So you burn the books and close your eyes to every other possibility You got to keep your job for collaborating with the enemy You keep throwing stones though your house is made of glass You’ve helped to make McCarthyism popular at last (From a sermon delivered by the Reverend Abraham Meekly:) “Blessed are the moralists, the judges, the patriarchs. Blessed are the gutter-press, the Aids-joke comedians. Praise to the guilt-mongerers, the fear-builders, the sin-fetishists!” Glory, Glory Hallelujah – His truth is marching on. One in ten driven underground Divisions getting wider Hide your inclination behind a straight face and a bible Third Reich morality and if the cap doesn’t fit There’s a designer label for hypocrites Here comes the officer knocking on your door He’s got a Care Order in the pocket of his uniform Where’s Radclyffe Hall? Now is the time to tear up Clause 29! Here comes the preacher Checking your soul “Too late sir – I’d rather fall.” We’ll eat your bread and we’ll drink your wine And still tear up Clause 29! Here comes the judge Hammer in hand But we’ve all gone deaf to bigots’ commands Our justice will cross the thin blue line And tear up Clause 29! Here comes a brick heading your way A concrete opinion says all I want to say Save your own soul Mine will be fine Once we’ve shredded Clause 29!

Georgina

From the album ‘Anarchy’ 1994

The abusive husband and the wife’s sweetly cooked revenge in Peter Greenaway’s film ‘The Cook The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover’ inspired ‘Georgina’. Hell hath no fury like a woman abused. Casey and Kerry do the introductions and the ghost of Phil Spector turns the reverb knob all the way up to gas mark 7.

Georgina’s cooking supper for her husband All her friends are coming round to see the show Because the thief she calls a husband won’t be hungry When he sees what’s on the end of his fork Georgina isn’t asking any more And her lover isn’t asking any more And the cook isn’t asking any more Since the thief met a bullet on the way to the floor Georgina’s got a timebomb in her stomach She knows that any minute now it’s going to blow With all the pain and the silence that she feeds on With all the hurt that the bruises can’t show Georgina isn’t asking any more And her lover isn’t asking any more And the cook isn’t asking any more Since the thief met a bullet on the way to the floor Georgina’s got an appetite for vengeance And she sings all the songs from “Oliver” But she won’t be wanting seconds any more As she tightens up her grip on her trigger finger… Georgina isn’t asking any more And her lover isn’t asking any more And the cook isn’t asking any more Since the thief met a bullet on the way to the floor

Waiting, Shouting

From the album ‘Swingin’ With Raymond’ 1995

Having taken a decision in the late eighties to concentrate on singing about the moments of struggle where people actually win, on ‘Raymond’ we wanted to return to how frustrated and bloody angry we were at trying to get by in an unequal society. Pity hate and bureaucrat didn’t quite rhyme.
Recorded in Whales in a studio near a pub with a tiny football pitch and a dog.

Just take a ticket It takes you nowhere They saw us coming It’s them and us here Just keep your voice down And light another I am a patient girl I wait, I wait, I wait It’s not your money Don’t call me stupid! Not big or clever Mean can mean awkward It’s Wigan Pier here I’m not for jumping See candid camera Sees next to nothing You keep me waiting… I keep on shouting! My letterbox knows bangers and bad news Good morning campers – Sees queues & queues & queues They spell my name wrong It’s not for art’s sake And every truth told Black mark on black mark You love to chew on This bread and butter You crunch your numbers And push your papers Pile-up on pile-up Malicious bad turns I’ll light another Slow fuses, slow burn You keep me waiting… I keep on shouting!

Song Of The Mother In Debt…

From Compilation album ‘Pox Upon The Poll Tax’ 1989

The Poll Tax was the Conservative government’s attempt to return to 1381. Forcing the poor to pay the same tax on their homes as the ultra rich, the Poll Tax was a mission statement that they were openly penalising the poor to appease the rich. It could only have gone down worse if they’d added a footnote on eating babies and saving money on pensions by walling-up grannies. Every town and every estate had anti-poll tax groups, people were publicly burning their tax summons letters and the courts were being clogged up with people who refused to pay. The Labour Party joined with the Conservatives in calling for people to pay up and shut up – the law was the law, after all. No-one paid any attention and the refusals continued. The government finally backed down after the Trafalgar Square riot, a mass protest in London where tens of thousands of people ended an angry demonstration by trashing the rich heart of the City. The people, basically, said “No”.
Parodying the style of Brecht and Weill, this was Chumbawamba’s German 30’s agit-prop band rattling along. The full title (“Song of the Mother in Debt; Song of the hardworking Community Registration Officer; Song of the Government Minister who enjoys his work; Song of the (now determined) Mother”) proved we were just being awkward. Commonknowledge fingered and pumped, and Harry even sang on this one.

Song of the Mother in debt: I’m always waiting I’m sick of waiting For the day my luck will change I’ve spent enough time In queues and breadlines In hope of better days These thieves and scroungers and lazy bastards If I move they’ll steal my place Steal like this State does And who’s to blame us When none of us can pay? Will heaven’s angels Pull out the rent books And ask me how I’ll pay? Behind their big desks Misspell my kids’ names And file my life away? Song of the hardworking Community Registration Officer: I knock on doors See curtains move Time wins wars each name is proof I could tell tales The tricks they use Cut no ice I take what’s due There are worse tasks Than door-to-door I take pride in taking more I watch my back Dark alleyways When doubt calls I bank my wage No easy choice: The devil’s boat or cruel sea? I took the boat When I knock knock at Peter’s gate Will he ask if I can pay? Song of the Government Minister who enjoys his work: Test the water feel the ground Send the tax collectors round Fill the coffers pound by pound A surer way to keep in line The rabble who spend half their time Wishing they could have what’s mine Stamping on the people’s hands This is where I’ll make my stand This is how I’ll rule this land I’ll push and push a little more I’ll push and goad and tease the poor A good excuse to fight my war The war between have-nots and haves My little game of smash & grab Turn the screw increase the tax Friend or foe: who goes there? Turns his coat and takes the rear Sings the Red Flag once a year Song of the (now determined) Mother: I’ve got this dream-home I’m queuing up for In freshly dug brown earth One thing I can swear Before I get there I’ll kill the taxman first

On The Day The Nazi Died

From the album ‘Showbusiness!’ 1995

When Nazi war criminal Rudolph Hess died in Spandau Prison, supposedly signifying the final defeat of fascism, a whole crop of neo-nazis came out of the woodworks to publicly mourn. The infestation continued at different times and in different places, which is why we’re still to this day singing this song. Whilst the racists who killed Stephen Lawrence in a London street walk out of court scot-free, people like Satpal Ram are being given massive jail sentences for defending themselves against racist attacks. Fascism isn’t a historical idea which ended with the Nuremburg Trials or the death of Hess – it’s a political reality which accounts for alarming numbers of racist attacks everywhere from Birmingham, Alabama to Birmingham, England.
Taken from the live ‘Showbusiness!’ album, recorded in Leeds at the Duchess of York. Significantly, local nazis threatened to attack the concert but were prevented from doing so by Leeds Anti-Fascist Action.

We’re taught that after the war the Nazis vanished without a trace But battalions of fascists still dream of a master race The history books, they tell of their defeat in ’45 – But they all came out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died They say the prisoner of Spandau was a symbol of defeat; Whilst Hess remained in prison, then the fascists they were beat So the promise of an Aryan world would never materialise So why did they all come out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died? The world is riddled with maggots; the maggots are getting fat They’re making a tasty meal of all the bosses and bureaucrats They’re taking over the boardrooms and they’re fat and full of pride And they all came out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died So if you meet with these historians, I’ll tell you what to say Tell them that the Nazis never really went away They’re out there burning houses down and peddling racist lies And we’ll never rest again until every Nazi dies

Give The Anarchist A Cigarette

From the album ‘Anarchy’ 1994

Watching ‘Don’t Look Back’ (the rockumentary of Bob Dylan’s first English tour) around the time we began to write the ‘Anarchy’ album, we saw a man with a Christ complex. In the film, as the earth revolves around him in beautiful grainy black and white, we hear his manager Albert Grossman say : “Hey Bob, they’re calling you an anarchist.” Bob, enigmatic as ever, grunts: “Give the anarchist a cigarette.” Albert slavishly proffers his boss a cigarette. Another revolutionary act in the life of a rock ‘n roll rebel. On the street outside someone passed Guy Debord a cig… and the glowing ember burnt beauty into the streets.
“He’s going to choke on his harmonica, Albert…” swiped from a Paul Simon lyric – it’s a folk-rock thing, you wouldn’t understand. Kevin Rowland (Thankfully, not living in Yorkshire…) hovers ghostlike over the intro.

Albert! Bobby! For god’s sake burn it down! Nothing ever burns down by itself Every fire needs a little bit of help Give the anarchist a cigarette ‘Cos that’s as close as he’s ever going to get Bobby just hasn’t earned it yet. The times are changing but he just forgets He’s going to choke on his harmonica Albert Nothing ever burns down by itself Every fire needs a little bit of help Give the anarchist a cigarette A candy cig for the spoilt brat We’ll get Albert to write you a cheque And he’ll be burning up the air in his personal jet You know I hate every pop star that I ever met Nothing ever burns down by itself Every fire needs a little bit of help Burn baby burn Burn baby burn

Nothing Knocks Me Over

From the CD accompanying the book ‘i – Portraits of Anarchists’ 1996

From a collection of songs which goes with Casey Orr’s ‘Portraits of Anarchists’, ‘Nothing Knocks Me Over’ was written after meeting Vi Subversa, vocalist with the late-lamented Poison Girls. Now in her sixties and living in an anarchist commune in Spain, Vi is still taking risks and writing with the same bravery that set Poison Girls apart from their peers.
The lyrics to the songs on ‘Portraits’ were taken from words spoken and inspired by the portrait subjects themselves.

I jump the cliffs and ride the waves No-one comes to save me My arms are strong against the tide Nothing knocks me over Nothing knocks me over From the fire into the frying-pan I jump because I can I choose to gamble with my life Twice the risk Four times the prize Nothing knocks me over Nothing knocks me over

We Don’t Go To God’s House Anymore

Previously unreleased 1998

A continuing fascination with religion is a thread through Chumbawamba’s history, and ‘We Don’t Go To God’s House’ continues this fine tradition. The rationale and humanity of anarchist ideas seem far more appealing than the repression and elitism of organised religion; and besides, it’s neither Jesus nor the devil who has the best tunes – them atheists have it sewn up.
A tune derived from an Alabama 3 song (A3: Brixton’s finest gospel/blues/acid house combo) and written on the back of a beermat in a drunken stupor in an Irish bar in Minneapolis whilst swapping stories of religious upbringings. Which just about brings us right up to date…

Driving on the bypass to Damascus I saw a preacher trying to hitch a ride With a pair of broken wings And a suitcase full of sins He gathered up his dreams and jumped inside Pulling Malatesta from his suitcase He lifted up his voice and began to sing: “My songs of desperation lead to action… And this is where the serious fun begins.” We don’t go to God’s house anymore Saw the light and walked right out the door We don’t go to God’s house It’s more fun in the doghouse We don’t go to God’s house anymore Well driving on, I tasted sweet salvation As we sung away the pulpit and the past The preacherman and me We sang such harmonies The highway of my life went by so fast The preacher, he got off at the crossroads He said, ‘This is where I end, and you begin” He left behind the wings and the Malatesta And the memory of the songs we both did sing We don’t go to God’s house anymore Saw the light and walked right out the door We don’t go to God’s house It’s more fun in the doghouse We don’t go to God’s house anymore

Chumbawamba on this record are:

Lou Watts
Dunstan Bruce
Danbert Nobacon
Boff
Paul Greco
Jude Abbott
Harry Hammer
Alice Nutter

with
Neil Ferguson
Simon Lanzon
Matthew Hanson
Mave Dillan

  • All songs on Uneasy Listening were written, recorded and produced by Chumbawamba between 1986 and 1998 except for “We Don”t Go To God’s House Anymore”, written by Chumbawamba and Alabama 3
  • All (except live songs) were recorded and mixed at Woodlands Studio, Castleford, home of fine high-fidelity recording equipment and next door to the lard factory
  • All songs engineered by Neil Ferguson
  • Sleeve design by Baader-Meinhof; Chumbawamba photographs by Casey Orr
  • All songs published by EMI except track 20: Chrysalis Music/EMI, track 6: EMI/Island, tracks 3, 10, 11: Southern Songs
  • © by Chumbawamba 1/2/8/10/11/13/16 © by One Little Indian 2/4/5/6/7/9/12/14/15/17/18
  • Thanks to Spot, Adey, Danny Boy, Cleggy’s Builders, Neil, Andy Barnett, Kim, Kev, Dennis

Chumbawamba can be contacted at: P O Box TR666 • Armley • Leeds • LS12 3XJ
Email: chumba@chumba.demon.co.uk
Web site – News, updates, comment, etc: http://www.chumba.com

Sleeve photograph of Bienaventura Durruti, anarchist soldier and revolutionary, who died fighting the fascists in Spain in 1936. An interviewer once asked Durruti what the point of winning would be when even victory would leave the revolutionaries with only a pile of rubble. Durruti replied:

“We have always lived in slums and holes in the wall. We will know how to accommodate ourselves for a time. For you must not forget, we can also build. It is we who built those palaces and cities here in Spain and America and everywhere. We, the workers, can build others to take their place. And better ones. We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world, here in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”

Back sleeve photograph of Emma Goldman, anarchist orator and organiser. Emma Goldman was a free-thinker and a tireless and eloquent campaigner for human and sexual freedom during the early part of the 20th century. Anti-authoritarian, she fought small-minded peers as well as governments, capitalism and prejudice. When she said: “It’s not my revolution if I can’t dance to it,” she understood that personal freedom and a right to enjoyment have to go hand-in-hand with social change.

Chumbawamba – Tubthumper (1997)

Chumbawamba on this album are:
Lou Watts: Vocals, keyboards, nippy winger
Danbert “The Cat” Nobacon: Vocals, goalkeeper
Paul Greco: Bass, solid centre-back
Boff: Guitar, vocals, midfield dynamo
Jude Abbott: Trumpet, vocals, tigerish left-back
Alice Nutter: Vocals, team coach
Dunstan Bruce: Vocals, percussion, opportunist striker
Harry Hamer: Drums, programming, hardened sweeper
with:
Neil Ferguson: Keyboards, guitars, sponge & bucket
and also featuring:
Chopper: Cello on “I Want More”, cheerleader
Michael Cohen: Vocal on “Amnesia”, ball boy
Abbott Sauce Works Band: Brass on “Scapegoat”
Geoff Clout: Only recognises 2 tunes, half-time oranges
Kye Coles: Vocals on “Thank You”, mascot
Gutter People: Caught busking in Paris, pitch invasion

Thanks to Frank, Brian, Zip, and Keir (Flat Back Four)

Sleeve design: Baader-Meinhof
Photography: Casey Orr

Recorded and Mixed between August 1996 and February 1997 at Woodlands Studio, Castleford
Except ‘Top Of The World’, January 1998
All songs written and arranged by Chumbawamba
Produced and engineered by Chumbawamba and Neil Ferguson

All songs published by EMI Music 1997
“Ole Ole” published by Chelsea Music 1998
Lyrics reproduced by kind permission

© 1997 except track 13. © 1998 The copyright in this recording is owned by Chumbwamba © 1998 EMI Electrola Gmbh.
This labelcopy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved. © 1998 EMI Records

Extract from ‘Raining Stones’, a Parallax Pictures Production for Channel Four Films ©1993
Extract from ‘Brassed Off’, a Prominent Features Productions for Channel Four Films & Miramax Films ©1996

Chumbawamba can be contacted at:
PO Box TR666, Leeds, LS12 3XJ, UK
E-mail: chumba@chumba.demon.co.uk
Info, updates, comments, on the web at: http://www.chumba.com

TUBTHUMPING

We’ll be singing
When we’re winning
We’ll be singing

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

Pissing the night away

He drinks a whiskey drink
He drinks a vodka drink
He drinks a lager drink
He drinks a cider drink
He sings the songs that remind him
Of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him
Of the better times:

“Oh Danny Boy,
Danny Boy…”

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

Pissing the night away

He drinks a whiskey drink
He drinks a vodka drink
He drinks a lager drink
He drinks a cider drink
He sings the songs that remind him
Of the good times
He sings the songs that remind him
Of the better times:

“Don’t cry for me
Next door neighbour…”

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

We’ll be singing
When we’re winning
We’ll be singing

“Tubthumping” is Shouting to Change The World (then having a drink to celebrate). It’s stumbling home from your local bar, when the world is ready to be PUT RIGHT… • “Don’t let my unseriousness make you think it isn’t serious…” Phil, anti-road protestor; From The Observer, January 1997 • “It is essential to be drunk all the time. That’s all: there’s no other problem. If you do not want to feel the appalling weight of Time which breaks your shoulders and bends you to the ground, get drunk, and drunk again. What with? Wine, poetry, or being good, please yourself. But get drunk. And if now and then, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the glum loneliness of your room, you come to, your drunken state abated or dissolved, ask the wind, ask the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask all that runs away, all that groans, all that wheels, all that sings, all that speaks, what time it is; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, will tell you: ‘It is time to get drunk!’ If you do not want to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk, always get drunk! With wine, with poetry or with being good. As you please.” Charles Baudelaire, 1866 • “I declare a permanent state of happiness” Grafitti, Paris 1968 • “DRUNKENNESS, noun: A temporary but popular cure for Catholicism.” Charles T Sprading • “Knock hard, life is deaf.” Mimi Parent • Yorkshire TV Interviewer: “It’s said that you’re sick on stage, you spit at the audience and so on. I mean, how could this be a good example to children?” Malcolm McLaren: “People are sick everywhere. People are sick and tired of this country telling them what to do.” YTV, 1976 • “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Joseph Stilwell, translation of ‘Illegitimati non carborundum’ • “In 1990 McDonalds sued two London Greenpeace activists, David Steele and Helen Morris, for distributing a leaflet critical of McDonalds. The two were denied both legal aid and a jury trial; and it was quickly revealed that McDonalds had used spies to collect information on them before the trial. The trial became the longest in British legal history. Despite the Judge ruling against the McLibel Two – but awarding McDonalds only a tiny fraction of their costs – the trial showed that two anarchists could take on one of the biggest capitalist corporations in the world and come out with the vast majority of public opinion on their side. This, in effect, was where the trial was won – as a showcase victory for the notion of People Against Profit.” Sally Skull, 1997 • “I’m a human being and I’ve got thoughts and secrets and bloody life inside me that he doesn’t know is there, and he’ll never know what’s there because he’s stupid. I suppose you’ll laugh at this, me saying the governor’s a stupid bastard when I know hardly how to write and he can read and write and add-up like a professor. But what I say is true right enough. He’s stupid, and I’m not, because I can see further into the likes of him than he can see into the likes of me. Admitted, we’re both cunning, but I’m more cunning and I’ll win in the end even if I die in gaol at eighty-two, because I’ll have more fun and fire out of my life than he’ll ever got out of his.” Alan Sillitoe, from ‘Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’, 1959

AMNESIA

Goodbye to the summer
Sold down the river
Unhappy ever after
Well did you ever?
Did you ever reach for the glued-down penny?
Same old joke and it’s not funny
Burns are red bruises blue
Out with the old cheated by the new

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
I don’t remember…

You sing the same old verse
Stick like glue for better or worse
What goes around comes around
Again again again
This heart pulled apart
Hydra fighting head to head
Burns are red bruises blue
Out with the old cheated by the new

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
I don’t remember…

Amnesia

Do you suffer from long-term memory loss?
I don’t remember…

A change of Government is no guarantee of getting policies which put people before profit… as proved by the British Labour Party’s past record. Short-term solution, long-term procrastination. • “A dozen former ministers, from David Mellor to Douglas Hurd, have decided not to declare income from lucrative directorships in the first register of members’ interests which requires MPs to disclose outside earnings. Roy Hattersley, the former Labour deputy leader, emerges as the top earner, receiving £104,300 from two contracts with the Mail on Sunday and The Guardian – in a guide to MPs’ outside earnings. Others include Patrick Nicholls, Conservative MP for Teignbridge, who receives nearly £60,000 from his directorships, and Sir Dudley Smith, Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, who earns £45,000. Some 40 Conservative MPs and a handful of Labour MPs have not declared earnings. Journalism aside, the going rate appears to be between £15,000 and £25,000 for a banking consultancy and up to £10,000 for other work. Jack Cunningham, Labour’s national heritage spokesman, earns up to £30,000 from three consultancies.” Press report, 1996 • “Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch” Anon • ‘Michael Foot (Leader of the Opposition): “The Government must prove by deeds, not words.” Edward Du Cann (Tory backbencher): “There are times in the affairs of our nation when the House should speak with a single, united voice. This is just such a time. The Leader of the Opposition spoke for us all.” Press report, April 3rd 1983, the day after the start of the Falklands War. • “I woke up at 6am and started working till 2am. I wanted everybody to do the same. I saw relaxing as a personal attack on the campaign. I started saying to people: ‘You’re not serious.’ I started kissing babies and shaking every hand I could catch. I had no time to get stoned. I began to look at people as ‘votes.’ The people who were voting for me were the finest people who ever walked the earth. The people who weren’t voting for me were my enemies. People were either pro-Rubin or anti-Rubin. I was never seen without my white shirt, long tie and new suit. On election night I was super confident. Then the votes started pouring in: Johnson. Rubin. Johnson. Johnson. My heart sank deeper. There was a ‘Rubin’ here and there but I was getting creamed. I finished second, 7385 votes, 22 per cent and won four precincts, all in the campus community. I got slaughtered in the hills and a few votes in the black community. I learned the hard way that you can’t build a new community while scrounging for votes in elections. To succeed in electoral politics you must be dishonest.” Jerry Rubin, from ‘Do It!’ • “The punishment which the wise suffer, who refuse to take part in government, is to live under the government of worse men.” Plato • “Labour’s unspoken election promise is that they can run capitalism for the rich better than the Conservatives can. New Labour portray themselves as a management team waiting to take over an ailing company. What we’ve got, and what we’ve always had, is two parties supporting the status quo. Our democracy is but a name. We vote. What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats; We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.” Helen Keller, 1911 letter to British suffragists • “The struggles of the youth, already divided by the propagation of multi-culture, had also taken off in different directions. The trouncing the police received at the hands of the Afro-Caribbean youth at the Notting Hill Carnival (1976) had only led to a more sophisticated, mailed-fist velvet glove approach to policing. The tactic of using the media to legitimise the criminalisation of black youth, first begun under Police Commissioner Robert Mark, was continued by his successor, David McNee – only he, taking to heart his nickname ‘The Hammer’, now brought riot shields to the ‘defence’ of his force. And increasing police authoritarianism itself found legitimacy in the policies of a Labour government which, with an eye to the forthcoming elections, had begun to back-pedal on its anti-discriminatory programme (however ineffective) and rely on the forces of law and order to smother black discontent.” A. Sivanandan, Race and Class, 1985

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP

Eat, sleep and crap
For to prey on your needs
Down a dark street
In backwater Leeds
I seen yer comin’
Come in, lads!
You seen the ad?
Too bad, bad, bad

What you get
Is what you see
It’s a trickledown theory
And it’s coming to me
Life’s a whip-round
And I’ve got the whip
It’s a sinking ship
Drip, drip, drip

Drip, drip, drip goes the water

Take me in
Throw me out
Put me up
Let me down

Dark, satanic
Run-of-the-mill
Sing us a song
And I’ll send you the bill
My nicotine grip
My smokin’ gun
It’s how I get my fun
Better run, run, run

Your olfactory nerves
All up the snout
You can’t smell a rat
When your nose is out
Rent-to-kill
By any other name
Kiss an old flame
Shame, shame, shame

Drip, drip, drip goes the water

Take me in
Throw me out
Put me up
Let me down

Nobody chooses to live in slums – but some make a good living from renting them out. • “The interest of the landlords is always opposed to the interest of every other class in the community.” David Ricardo • “Jack Linden lived in a small cottage in Windley. He had occupied this house ever since his marriage, over thirty years ago. His home and garden were his hobby: he was always doing something; painting, whitewashing, papering and so forth. The result was that although the house itself was not of much account he had managed to get it into very good order, and it was very clean and comfortable. Another result of this industry was that – seeing the improved appearance of the place – the landlord had on two occasions raised the rent. When Linden took the house the rent was five shillings a week. Five years after, it was raised to seven shillings, and after a lapse of another five years it had been increased to eight shillings. During his thirty years of tenancy he had paid altogether nearly £600 in rent, more than double the amount of the present value of the house.” The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, Robert Tressell • “Landlords have no rights – they forfeit them by engaging in a criminal enterprise, for which seizure of dwellings by those who actually live in them, and complete discontinuance of paying “rents” are the only remedies.” From ‘Rent: An Injustice’, Fred Woodworth • “It’s a typical fudge. (The new laws concerning strict controls on gas appliances) means landlords are ripping out gas fires so you have no heating at all. Or, if the tenant gets a fitter to put the gas fire back, then the landlord can say it’s nothing to do with him. In that case you have the crazy situation where technically speaking the safety of the appliance is the tenant’s responsibility – it’s a very grey area and we’re talking about people in poverty who can’t afford to get their appliances and chimneys checked; or they can’t afford to get into a tussle with their landlord about it if they want to keep the roof over their heads. Worse still, most people I come across don’t even know there’s a danger.” Gas fitter, Leeds 1997 • “An English priest was on a visit to a remote part of the north of Ireland. A local farmer offered to show him the sights. ‘That’s Devil’s Mountain,’ said the farmer. ‘Over there is Devil’s Dyke. Devil’s Wood starts on the other side of the river.’ ‘The Devil seems to own a lot of property in these parts,’ smiled the priest. ‘Aye,’ agreed the farmer, ‘and like most other landlords he seems to spend most of his time in London.'” Old Irish tale • “Landlord,landlord, My roof has sprung a leak – Don’t you ‘member I told you about it way last week? Landord, landlord, these steps is broken down. When you come up yourself it’s a wonder you don’t fall down. Ten Bucks you say I owe you? Ten bucks you say is due? Well, that’s Ten Bucks more’n I’ll pay you till you fix this house up new. What? You gonna get eviction orders? You gonna cut off my heat? You gonna take my furniture and throw it in the street? Um-huh! You talking high and mighty. Talk on – till you get through. You ain’t gonna be able to say a word if I land a fist on you. Police! Police! Come and get this man! He’s trying to ruin the government and overturn the land! Copper’s whistle! Patrol bell! Arrest. Precinct Station. Iron cell. Headlines in press: MAN THREATENS LANDLORD. TENANT HELD NO BAIL. JUDGE GIVES NEGRO. 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL.” Langston Hughes, 1940 • “Johnny Rotten – the man who once screamed about Anarchy in the UK – has booted squatters out of his luxury West London Flat. John … was furious when squatters moved in at the same time his flat went on the market. Says a spokesman; ‘Yes they were punks, but they’re not there any longer. I am not sure how John got rid of them. John may have been a punk himself, but he’s an upstanding citizen now. I am sure he never had to squat anywhere.” News cutting in Raising Hell Fanzine 1987 • “Let’s lynch the landlord!” Jello Biafra • “Consider the igloo: maximum enclosure of space with minimum of labour. Cost of materials and transportation, nil. And all made of water. Nowadays, of course, the eskimos live on welfare handouts in little northern slums. Man no longer houses himself: he is housed.” Colin Ward, ‘Anarchy In Action’

THE BIG ISSUE

There are those
Spend the night under bridges
Over by the river
Down in the park through the winter

But there’s a house that I know
Safe and warm
And no-one ever goes there
(Down where the priests bless the wine…)

She’s been born into the wrong time
She keeps nonsense on her mind
She’s a poet, she’s a builder
She’s as bored as bored can be
She’s a have-not, she’s a know-all
She knows just how to say yes
She’s skating frozen chaos
Till the no-good gods are dead

But sometimes in the dead of night
Woken by the city lights
She wonders how she keeps alive…

This is the girl who lost the house
Which paid to the man who put up the rent
And threw out the girl to
Feather his own sweet home

She’s a clueless social climber
Likes the wrong side of the bed
She’s a pick-me-up and she’s a drink-to-me
In the company of friends
She’s tried every variation
She’s so common, she’s so cold
She’s homesick for a future
Can’t stomach what she’s told

On every street in every town
All her days are up and down
At home among the lost-and-founds…

This is the girl who lost the house
Which paid to the man who put up the rent
And threw out the girl to
Feather his own sweet home

Here’s the good samaritan
Looks away and carries on

It’s plain mathematics: for the rich to get richer, some of us have to stay poor. But in ‘I’m alright Jack’ England, reason is in short supply. Everything is blamed on the individual. You lost your job! Lazy bastard! You lost your home! You inadequate bastard! Blaming homelessness on the homeless is as stupid as blaming poverty on the poor. • Shelter estimates that there are 1,928,300 homeless people in the UK, while the Empty Homes Agency estimates that there are 820,000 empty properties in the UK. Figures from The Big Issue • “It (begging) is not acceptable to be out there on the street. There is no justification for it these days. It is a very offensive problem to many people… We think aggressive begging is a menace. Action has been taken against aggressive begging for some time and will continue.” John Major, May 28 1994 • “We do not want people begging on the streets… I often drop my kids off in the morning at King’s Cross and it’s quite a frightening place. I’m saying we have to make our streets safe for people.” Tony Blair, Jan 6, 1997 • “Those among you who have the good fortune to enjoy shelter, warmth and the comfort of a good home, I would ask you to consider just one thing: what would you do if you saw your wife and children condemned to live for years in a single room? I know what you would do. You would move heaven and earth to get something done, and if you knew there were large numbers of empty places which could be used you would protest against it by every means within your power, and so would I. That is what we have done… I, with thousands of other Londoners, want to see something better for our people, and what we claim for ourselves we feel it our duty to find for anyone else.” From Ted Bramley’s obituary, by Margot Heinemann, 1991 (Ted Bramley played a leading role in the organising of the squatters’ movement, when (in 1946) hundreds of families took over empty blocks of luxury flats, demanding that local councils use their powers to requisition all such empty properties. He was tried with four others at the Old Bailey on a catch-all charge of ‘conspiracy to incite trespass’, where he conducted his own political defence; challenging the crowded court with the above characteristic personal appeal to heart and conscience. The defendants were found guilty, but surprisingly were only bound over instead of the prison sentences they expected; and the requisitioning of homes for the homeless notably increased.) • “(There’s) a hidden army which is squatting or living in unsuitable bed and breakfast accomodation. A national inquiry commissioned by charities suggested that there may be 250,000 people aged 17-25 alone in this group.” The Guardian • “It was only in the aftermath of Jack Straw’s speech in Autumn 1995, urging a crackdown on aggressive beggars, winos and ‘squeeze merchants’ as part of a New York police style ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign, that there was serious cabinet discussion about government policy. Michael Howard, the home secretary, pushed to update the vagrancy laws with what became known in Whitehall as the “sluice ’em down” policy to force beggars off the streets.” The Guardian January, 1997 • “Since 1979, spending on housing has been more than halved, and fewer houses are being built today in Britain since at any time since the Second world War. Put another way: in 1975 equal amounts were being spent on defence and housing; in 1984 five times as much was spent on military services and on war material. Britain no longer has a national housing programme. While this policy has created more and more homeless people, a phenomenon has emerged. It is the British-Welfare State bank rolling the exploiters of the homeless and the unemployed to the extent of more than £120 million a year. This windfall now enriches owners of so-called hotels and hostels, most of them squalid, where victims of the recession are sent by local authorities and by the Department of Health and Social Security. These are the workhouses of the late twentieth century.” From ‘Heroes’, John Pilger • “Shelter announced their ‘NATIONAL HOMELESSNESS WEEK’ in Febuary ’96. They asked the public to ‘wear a badge or send a postcard to aid the homeless’. JUSTICE? in Brighton responded with their own self-help campaign against homelessness; they opened a squatted Estate Agency. Its window displayed empty properties complete with helpful information: “Three bedrooms, nice garden, window open at the back”. The Labour Brighton Council rushed an eviction order through the courts, so that an Eviction Notice was served on the building within hours of opening.” Paraphrased from Schnews, Brighton

THE GOOD SHIP LIFESTYLE

This is the Good Ship Lifestyle
All my friends jumped ship
I elect me the captain
This is the Loneliest voyage
I’ve Ever been on
Up in the crow’s nest –
Over there! I see land!
First mate? There is no First Mate…
This is the Good Ship Lifestyle

Sail away from the world

So steer a course
A course for nowhere
And drop the anchor
My little Empire
I’m going nowhere
I’m going nowhere
I’m going nowhere
I’m going nowhere

This is the Good Ship Lifestyle
I fly my very own flag
TV dinner for one
At the captain’s table
Repel all boarders
Draw the curtains tighter!
Where’s the crew? There is no crew…
This is the Good Ship Lifestyle

So steer a course
A course for nowhere
And drop the anchor
My little Empire
I’m going nowhere
I’m going nowhere
I’m going nowhere
I’m going nowhere

“Lifestylism” is the practise of wrapping yourself in a blinkered, self-perfecting, ideologically-sound cocoon. The captain of The Good Ship Lifestyle rarely leaves his bedroom. He makes pronouncements on how other people should live but doesn’t keep his own rules. His idea of politics is not to Fight The Power but to fight the imagined enemies on his own side… • “Nothing like the cocoon of unreality when your life’s fucked.” Answer Me! Magazine • “If someone gives me a forum to express myself, I will use it. If that means using ‘mainstream’ channels to do it, then that’s all for the better. If you really believe in what you’re doing, then why not? By being too cool to publicly talk about these things, we only perpetuate the silence that already exists.” Outpunk (taken from Zines, RE SEARCH) • Stalin, Kruschev and Brezhnev are travelling on a train. The train breaks down. ‘Fix it!’, orders Stalin. They repair it but still the train doesn’t move. ‘Shoot everyone!’ orders Stalin. They shoot everyone but still the train doesn’t budge. Stalin dies. ‘Rehabilitate everyone!’ orders Kruschev. They are rehabilitated, but still the train won’t go. Kruschev is removed. ‘Close the curtains,’ orders Brezhnev, ‘and pretend we’re moving!’ Anon • “Most plans for creating a more just society focus on ameliorating human misery. They address unemployment, hunger, illiteracy, class-based inequity, unequal access to medical care, pollution, overpopulation and discrimination based on sex, race, age, or membership in other devalued groups. While I care about all of those problems, I also wonder why so many of the proposed solutions make me shudder with dread. Perhaps it’s because people who take on such enormous political chores are usually suffering from burnout. There’s no room in their brave new worlds for fun, creativity, ornamentation, play and desire. I am skeptical of utopian schemes that don’t take into account the human need for adventure, risk, competition, self-display, pleasurable stimulation, and novelty. In fact, many theoretical utopias are dreamed up by people who are afraid of diversity and deeply conservative about sex. … The first duty of a revolutionary may be, as Abbie Hoffman said, to survive. But it’s pretty difficult to survive without the nurturance of an all-consuming fantasy about where you are headed and what all this hard work is for.” Pat Califia from ‘Public Sex – The Culture of Radical Sex’ • “Consistency is highly over valued. don’t be afraid to change your mind for fear of being branded an inconsistent hypocrite.” From Splatterspleen, quoted in Zines, RE SEARCH • “Waves do not actually travel, in spite of appearances. The water only moves up and down; it is the force that travels. The simplest way to demonstrate this is to throw a stone into a pond with a paper boat in it… Although the waves appear to travel outwards, the boat merely bobs up and down.” Anon • “A worrying development among some committed political activists is their insufferable righteousness. These zealous politicos appear as nothing but fundamentalists in a religious quest, where self-made rules become doctrine and other, less worthy activists are cast out. Born again in the fire of insecurity and guilt, these people create a heaven where none but themselves truly keep the faith… a world of rigid doctrine and self-imposed commandments. And in time, these political fundamentalists take on the aspects of church clergy: Indolence, pride, superstition, bigotry, persecution and ignorance.” From ‘Educating Us About You’, 1996 • “What’s the difference between a lifestylist and a supermarket trolley? – A supermarket trolley has a mind of it’s own.” Anon • “In our fear to make an effort to tear ourselves away from the conditions which ruin us, only because the future is not quite certain to us, we resemble the passengers of a sinking ship, who, for fear of stepping into a boat which is to take them to the shore, retreat to their cabins and refuse to come out from them…” Leo Tolstoy • “The policeman on patrol has got inside our heads and his attitudes continue to be reinforced by the values of a police-loving society.” Class War, from ‘No Justice, Just Us’ 1997 • “Revolution will be built on the spread of ideas and information, on reaching people, rather than on our habit of creating ghettoes within which to stagnate. It’s no use standing outside shouting. We have to start kicking down the doors!” From sleeve notes to first Chumbawamba single, 1985

ONE BY ONE

Pontius Pilate came to our town
Up to the dockyards to see the picket line
We asked him to help but he just turned around
He’s the leader of the union now

Leader of the union
All of our questions he ignored
He washed his hands and he dreams of his reward
A seat in the House of Lords

One by one
The ships come sailing in
One by one
The ships go sailing out

We live for words and die for words
Principles we can afford
When all our Brothers turn to Lords
Whose side are you on?

You tell the world your hands are tied
History three times denied
A sea of changes three miles wide
Whose side are you on?

One by one
The ships come sailing in
One by one
The ships go sailing out

This conspiracy of shame
Murder by some other name
Play up and play the game
Whose side are you on?

If any ask us why we died
We tell them that our leaders lied
Sold us out down the riverside
Whose side are you on?

One by one
The ships come sailing in
One by one
The ships go sailing out

Dedicated to the striking Liverpool Dockers who are taking on the Merseyside Docks Harbour Company and the British State without ‘official’ union support – to all workers who take on bosses…and to those who fight with them. • “Fellowship is heaven, and a lack of fellowship is hell; fellowship is life, and a lack of fellowship is death; and the deeds that ye do on earth, it is for fellowship’s sake that ye do them.” William Morris – The Dream of John Ball • “Scabs are scum” Traditional • “The dockers are represented by the Transport and General Worker’s Union, one of Britain’s biggest trade unions, whose leaders have maintained that because the dockers’ action was technically against the law, the union cannot make the dispute official. But had the TGWU launched a national campaign challenging the circumstances and the justice of the dockers’ dismissal along with casualisation, it is likely that the battle would have been won there and then. As it turned out, the union’s failure to act unceremoniously closed more than a century of struggle to achieve civilised working conditions on Britain’s docks. Moreover, the company is clearly delighted with its “good relationship” with the union and boasts that it runs ‘the only unionised port in Britain’. “We show the TGWU far more respect than the (sacked) men.” It is hardly surprising that, at Transport House, the TGWU headquarters in Liverpool, the dockers use a bust of Ernest Bevin, the union’s pre-war General Secretary and pillar of the right wing of the Labour Party, as a coat-rack. For much of its history, the TGWU has been, as one labour historian wrote: “an encrusted, complacent, bureaucracy” which, in containing the anger of its ordinary members at the injustices imposed on their working lives, has served the aims of the British establishment.” John Pilger, excerpts from They Never Walk Alone (Guardian article on the Dockers, November 1996) • “When I see an actual flesh and blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to say which side I am on.” George Orwell • “Over the past months I have discovered many things about myself and about the laws of this land which I have been led to believe was the finest legal system in the world. But now I can only fear for the working class people of this country. If a mighty trade union can be fined a vast amount of money, and then building workers arrested, tried and sentenced for picketing, will the day come when it will be a crime in itself to be a member of a trade union? Who can tell? The sentence passed on me today by this court will not matter. My innocence has been proved time and time again by building workers of Wrexham whom I led and indeed by building workers from all over the country who have sent messages of support to myself, my family and my colleagues. Messages have in fact come from many of the very Lumpers whom I picketed during the national stoppage and I thank them all, each and every one, for their moral support. I know my children, when they are old enough, will understand that the struggle we took part in was for the benefit and interests of all building workers and their families because we really do care. One could complain of the methods used in this trial, of the identification by photograph. Just one bearded man on all the photographs, yet on my coach alone, beards were worn by at least half a dozen chaps. Statements were thrust on witnesses minutes before they entered the court to give evidence, whether they asked for them or not. Once again is this normal procedure in just an everyday criminal case? I think not. Police officers prompting and priming witnesses with what to say before entering the witness box. I would like to ask if the fantastic police enquiries and mammoth statements taken and the thousands of pounds spent on this spectacular are the usual diligent efforts used in an ordinary criminal trial? I look forward to the day when the real culprits – the McAlpines, Wimpeys, Laings and Bovises and all their political puppets are in the dock facing charges of conspiracy and intimidating workers from doing what is their lawful right – picketing.” Eric Tomlinson, one of the building workers tried in 1973 for conspiracy to cause damage to a building site; he was jailed for two years. • “No more Bosses versus Workers. We are on the same side, the same team.” Tony Blair, Labour Party Conference, Blackpool 1996 • “How could I indifferently stand by, and behold some of the very best of my fellow creatures cruelly treated by some of the very worst?” Richard Parker, Leader of the Nore Mutiny, executed 1797

OUTSIDER

I’m not alone
You’re not alone

You see me
You hear me
There are millions
Think just like me

Me, you, she, he. For the community of outsiders, misfits, and plain awkward bastards. • “Neo-conservatism contains a theory of human nature in which ‘it is our biology, our instincts, to defend our way of life, traditions and customs against outsiders – not because they are inferior but because they are outsiders.’ ” Barker, 1981, ‘Racism, The City and The State’ • “Presley dressed oddly, was painfully shy, and seemed apart from everyone else – the individualistic, ungainly, out-of-place oddball who inhabits every class in almost every school in America. He had a distant, sullen father. He was a mama’s boy, raw, dirt-poor, and timid. He learned to play the guitar from a preacher who probably would have fainted had he a clue as to how it would be used. Nobody would ever have voted Elvis most likely to succeed, or even likely to survive.” Taken from A Thousand Points Of Elvis Website • “Heterosexuality isn’t normal, it’s just common.” Derek Jarman, At Your Own Risk, 1992 • “An ageing man living alone in South Armagh, whose only son was in Long Kesh Prison, didn’t have anyone to dig his garden for his potatoes. So he wrote to his son about it and received the reply, ‘For Christ’s sake, don’t dig the garden up, that’s where I buried the guns.’ At 4 a.m. the next morning a dozen British soldiers turned up and dug the garden, but didn’t find any guns Confused, the man wrote to his son telling him what had happened, asking him what to do now? The reply: ‘Now just put the potatoes in.'” Anon, Leeds Other Paper, December 1980 • “I was on holiday in Wales in 1960, standing in W.H. Smith in Barmouth, and these couple of real freaks came in and I first became aware of the fact that there were people who were seriously different. They had hair down their backs and wore sandals and jeans and so on. This woman turned to me – I was nine or ten years old – and said, ‘There you are: that’s what you could grow up like.’ And I did. I grew up just like that.” David May, Days In The Life, from Voices From The English Underground • “On the first anniversary of the dispute in September, another kind of support was vividly demonstrated. Thousands of youthful activists from “Reclaim The Future” converged on Liverpool: environmentalists and direct action campaigners. At first sight, the disaffected young in woolly hats, with dreadlocks, pierced noses etc, accompanied by drums, fire-eaters and street theatre, seemed a world away from the dockers. But these veterans of Newbury and other campaigns, having come up against repressive laws such as the Criminal Justice Act, understand well the dockers’ struggle. Their alignment with the unofficial labour movement could influence the direction of grassroots action – especially as more and more young people are alienated from the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’, as James Kelman put it, of mainstream politics. “Unimaginable a few years ago, their banners, alongside the dockers’ traditional union banners, carried messages such as “New Labour, New Wage Slavery…” Before the sun was up on the anniversary morning, they had occupied the gantries in the docks and the roof of the company headquarters, watched with admiration by snowy-haired dockers and their wives. “We saw their banners fluttering over the occupied docks,” said Jimmy Davies. “We didn’t see the TGWU, whose officers should have been there. Now we know who our friends are; we welcome the young people’s support and idealism.” Excerpt from They Never Walk Alone, John Pilger • “Youth culture has always been treated with suspicion by police and state, but rave and travelling culture provokes outright animosity because it questions the two-up-two-down moral values. It’s not large scale gatherings that the Criminal Justice Bill hopes to prevent, it’s lifestyle dissent. Speculation as to why the rave scene is being victimized has to include brewery losses. Illegal raves don’t bring the government revenue but pubs do. Pub profits are down 11 per cent from 1989 and still falling. It’s being estimated that £1.8billion a year is now being spent on E’s and going out dancing. The pro-booze lobby has a lot of financial clout which always translates into political power… Ravers all over Britain are finding that the police have decided that parties, illegal or otherwise, will not be allowed to happen. The long arm of the law is over-stretching its powers. One free party group, the Exodus Collective near Luton, have had all their gear confiscated by the local constabulary “on the grounds that it might be stolen”. The group’s collective farm has been raided numerous times. On one occasion 36 people were arrested and the farm was trashed…” from Herb Garden

CREEPY CRAWLING

What a wonderful world…
A loose door-jamb, a light left on
The oldest national lottery
Enter Kaleidoscope-Go-Darkly
Come to spoil my party
Smell of feces lingers
Echo of light fingers
Cold comfort blankets
Steeped in creeping anger
Flatfoot comes poking
Compounding my misery
Grinding pestle and mortar
Adding insult to injury
If only this, if only that,
If only in my guts –
See my life before my eyes
Trampled underfoot

Creepy crawling

All the creeps go creepy crawling
Same thing every night
How can stealing candy from a baby
Seem alright?

Corvino, carrion crow
Skulking with his mobile
Slippery peat-bog eyes
Stick-on smiley smile
Small print like quiksand
Not a wooden leg to stand on
Sinking through my stomach
The ground beneath me gone
Free-fall, call Ophelia
Clutching at straw
Mixed with bloody feathers
From scruff of neck of crow
Johnny go! Johnny gone!
Too much drink in your tum-tum-tum
See this finger, see this thumb –
See this fist and watch it come!

Creepy crawling

All the creeps go creepy crawling
Same thing every night
How can stealing candy from a baby
Seem alright?

Wake up at 4am to find your front door kicked in and the television gone. Creeps steal from those who can least afford it. • “This is a working class area. Don’t steal from your own!” From sticker, 1995 • “Inequality is the source of all revolutions; no compensation can make up for inequality.” Aristotle, Politics • “Crime is as endemic to modern capitalism as pollution is to industrialism.” Class War, from ‘No Justice, Just Us’ • “Those who want social justice for all are by necessity anti-police. If we accept that the state is motivated by its own self-interest, rather than by the population’s desires and needs, then we must also accept that the arm of the state, the police, is there to protect the state’s interests rather than those of the population. But in attempting to push police interference out of our lives and communities, we have to also address the issue of anti-social crime. Corporate crime is rarely classed as anti-social crime because the rich criminals who steal millions, take enormous bribes and live in luxury off the backs of the working class, put a civilised veneer on their actions by never having to associate with the people they are ripping off. Anti-social crime, muggings and burglaries are at their most concentrated in poverty-stricken working class communities. We steal from each other because it’s easier pickings than confronting real enemies. The rich can afford to protect themselves and their homes from mugging and burglary. Private security firms, expensive alarm systems, fences and private roads make the rich invulnerable to attack, so we steal from each other, justifying it with excuses about survival of the fittest and Thatcherite ‘I’m alright Jack’ logic. Crime has become a livelihood and a source of conflict in working class communities. Insider stealing from the most vulnerable has to be condemned by the community as a whole. Crime which attacks the interests of capitalist enterprise isn’t a problem, since the enterprise culture is the biggest scam of all. Crime which erodes our sense of community (and as a consequence our ability to organise in groups) and leaves us distrustful of our neighbours has to be dealt with by the community. Anti-social crime shouldn’t be seen as something that individual victims are left to deal with. Community spirit is the force that allows us to survive and fight back against capitalism’s catastrophic influence on our day to day reality. The striking dockers can continue to fight because they are bolstered by the support of the whole community. Whether it’s burglary, violence or the competitiveness of ripping off our neighbours… those tearing neighbourhoods apart have to be ostracised. In recent years frustrated estate dwellers, in communities like Salford, have tried to deal with the expansion of anti-social crime – not by calling out the police but by taking responsibility for their own communities. Not in distrustful vigilante style, but with the interests of the community at heart. The dog-eat-dog ethos of capitalism is sneaking into our homes and making off with our televisions and videos. Those who can least afford it are again bearing the strain.” Class War 1997 • “A society gets all the criminals it deserves.” Emma Goldman • “Do not waste your time on social questions. What is the matter with the poor is poverty; what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.” George Bernard Shaw • ‘Let’s see. I tell you what we’ll do. We’ll have a vote. We’ll sleep in area A, is that cool?’ – ‘Okay, good.’ – ‘We’ll eat in area B. Good?’ – ‘Good.’ – ‘We’ll throw a crap in area C. Good?’ – ‘Good.’ Simple rules. So, everything went along pretty cool, you know, everybody’s very happy. One night everybody was sleeping, one guy woke up, Pow! He got a faceful of crap, and he said: ‘Hey, what’s the deal here, I thought we had a rule: Eat, Sleep, and Crap, and I was sleeping and I got a faceful of crap…’ So they said, ‘Well, ah, the rule was substantive -‘ Lenny Bruce

MARY MARY

No virgin me
For I have sinned
I sold my soul
For sex and gin
Go call a priest
All meek and mild
And tell him, “Mary
Is no more a child.”

It’s raining stones
It’s raining bile
From the luxury
Of your denial
So I don’t deny
I don’t make do
I’ll press alarms
Place bets on truth

I’m so up and down
And I love what’s not allowed
I was lost, now I see:
And now I’m growing old disgracefully

Whatever happened to Mary?
I’ll spit on floors
And do more drugs
Burn every bill
Get drunk on love
Wear next to nothing
In the pouring rain
Be a bad example
And do it all again

I’ll be uncareful
I’ll cause such scenes
And I’ll never talk
Of used-to-be’s
Tattoo my face
I won’t go grey
Be a dancing queen
I’m growing old disgracefully

I’m so up and down
And I love what’s not allowed
I was lost, now I see:
And now I’m growing old disgracefully

Whatever happened to Mary?

Feminism doesn’t mean being anti-sex with a sense of humour by-pass; some of us are demanding the right to be sexual and safe. Saintly womanhood leaves a lot to be desired. It can be boring and lonely on a pedestal. And growing old doesn’t mean growing more conventional – women of every age want a revolution they can dance to. • “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.” Oscar Wilde, from ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism’ • “Women have to go through such a tremendous struggle before they are free in their own minds that freedom is more precious to them than men.” Angelica Balabanov • “While men tend to gain social prestige as they age, the opposite is true for women who are given little real power at any age, and are frequently viewed as one dimensional sexual objects – thus losing our usefulness as we age.” Manifesto of Riot Girl (Taken from Zines) • “My anger knows no bounds; my anger is unlimited. I’m a big lady, I can stand up in front of almost any man and cuss him out and have no fear – you know what I’m sayin’? Because I will go to blows. But when I get older I’m not going to be able to do that, and with my temper – I’m going to have to start carrying a gun! And if I carry one, somebody’s ass is going to be shot! Because at the rate things are going… I won’t tolerate this bullshit (contrary to some of my colleagues who have mellowed with age). I’m not among them – yet. Maybe I have to go through some kind of biochemical change or menopause – I do not know! I’m trying to come to terms with this, because I’m tired of dealing with racial incidents on a daily basis. Why can’t I just leave my house, go shopping, do my thing and come home? Why do I always have to deal with some bullshit?” Wanda Coleman, taken from Angry Women, Re Search • “Don’t Liberate me – I’ll Do It Myself” Graffiti, Paris May 1968 • “Learning to speak is like learning to shoot” Avita Ronnel, from Angry Women, Re Search • “Some women I talk to are so frightened of growing old. I sense their desperation. They say things like, ‘I’m not going to live to be old, I’m not going to live to be dependent.’ The message young women get from youth culture is that it’s wonderful to be young and terrible to grow old. If you think about it, it’s an impossible dilemma – how can you make a good start in life if you are being told at the same time how terrible the finish is? Because of ageism, many women don’t fully commit themselves to living life until they can no longer pass as young. They live their lives with one foot in life and one foot outside it. With age you resolve that. I know the value of each day and I’m living with both feet in life. I’m living much more fully… The power of the old woman is that because she’s outside the system she can attack. And I am determined to attack it. One of the ways in which I am particularly conscious of this stance is when I go down the street. People expect me to move over, which means to step on the grass or off the curb. I just woke up one day to the fact that I was moving over. I have no idea how many years I’ve been doing that. Now I never move over. I simply keep walking. And we hit full force, because the other person is so sure that I am going to move over that he isn’t even paying any attention and we simply ram each other. If it’s a man with a woman he shows embarrassment, because he’s just knocked down a five foot seventy-year-old woman and so he quickly apologises. But he’s startled, he doesn’t understand why I didn’t move over, he doesn’t even know how I got there, where I came from. I am invisible to him, despite the fact that I am on my own side of the street, simply refusing to give him that space he assumes is his.” Barbara Macdonald, from ‘Both Feet In Life’, Out On The Other Side, Contemporary Lesbian Writing, 1988 • “It will yet be the proud boast of women that they never contributed a line to the Bible.” George W. Foote • “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Mae West • “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton • “When I’m good, I’m very good but when I’m bad I’m better.” Mae West • “It is much more a lack of fun which batters us than over-abundance and indulgence” Raoul Vaneigem • “Punctuality, regularity, discipline, industry, thoroughness, are a set of slave virtues.” G. D. H. Cole

SMALLTOWN

And every morning comes too soon
All your nights are sleepless

Poison arrows
To ruin your tomorrows
Below suspicion
Cafes full of people dressed as spies

And all I know
Is guilt for being different

It’s always raining stones
There’s a killer in the home
In a small town
Everybody looks the same

There are unwritten rules
Unspoken words
Should I pack my fear and go?

I have to leave somehow
Before they run me out of town
I have to leave somehow

When you can’t change small minds… you have to leave them behind. • “People act upon their immediate, distorted impulses without thinking. Violence pacifies them. They overpower their victims like a pack of wild dogs. Like a swarm of bees they attack. Fights arise from stupid conversations and silly misunderstandings until someone gets hurt. If a person thinks or looks different, people condemn by reflex. Fuck that! I root for the underdog in all situations.” Answer Me! Magazine • “I think that any time a woman expresses her sexuality in an honest or unusual way, it becomes a political act because we are so discouraged from doing that. It takes guts to openly express aspects of your gender that are “socially unacceptable.” And anything that disrupts the status quo and pisses people off is political.” Brad Clit, drag king, from “Pucker Up”, 1996 • “the fucking view is fucking vile / for fucking miles and fucking miles / the fucking babies fucking cry / the fucking flowers fucking die / the fucking food is fucking muck / the fucking drains are fucking fucked / the colour scheme is fucking brown / everywhere in chicken town / the fucking pubs are fucking dull / the fucking clubs are fucking full / of fucking girls and fucking guys / with fucking murder in their eyes / a fucking bloke is fucking stabbed / waiting for a fucking cab / you fucking stay at fucking home / the fucking neighbours fucking moan / keep the fucking racket down / this is fucking chicken town” John Cooper Clarke, from ‘Evidently Chicken Town’ • “The answers you seek / Will never be found at home / The love that you need / Will never be found at home…” From Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’, 1984 • “KICK THIS EVIL BASTARD OUT!” Front page headline on news that Snoop Doggy Dog would be visiting Britain, Daily Star, February 1994 • “‘Can I turn the telly off for a minute? I really need to tell you something.’ When he said he was gay, there was silence. His mother’s jaw dropped and her eyes were full of tears. Then his father went into the hall, chucked Darren his coat, and told him to ‘sling his hook’. At the time Darren didn’t know any other homosexual people, so he wandered the streets in the city where he lived for three nights, till his mother came looking for him. He went back home but only his mum and one sister talked to him. Two weeks later, after a big family party, when a fight broke out between him and his brothers, Darren wrote a note saying, ‘Sorry I’m gay, love son and brother Darren’, and took 103 paracetamol tablets. Extraordinarily, he was woken up by an ambulance man because his father had had a heart attack! It wasn’t until two days later that he went to a doctor in terrible pain and was rushed to hospital. After three weeks of treatment he had recovered enough to return home to his family. His belongings were packed and waiting for him in the dining room. Darren’s father had also recovered, but told his son to leave and never return.” When Your Child Comes Out, Anne Lowell, 1995 • “The world is your oyster… but the future’s your clam.” Paul Weller, 1979 • “I yawn, I’m tired, I’m sorry / I sneeze, I blow my nose / I’m so hungry Oh Look! / I ate my food with the wrong knife and fork / I wear my collar undone / I will not wear a tie / They won’t let me into their disco / They refuse to tell me why / Because I’m dressed informal / Because I’m dressed informally – That’s why” Patrik Fitzgerald, 1979 • “I myself have often wondered why it took so long for anyone to get around to ‘taking me in for questioning’, considering that I used to waltz along the streets of the West End totally unaware that they were infested by plain clothes coppers. Though they did not arrest me till 1943, they knew that I was in a weak position and constantly threatened me for their own and one another’s amusement. Their condescension towards me on these occasions will never fade from my mind. Even now I could never wittingly become acquainted with a policeman; nor would I, except under torture, betray anyone to the authorities. Life is so hard for poor little crooks at the best of times. I imagine that these opinions which I hold so intensely are, in a milder form, fairly common. As a former police chief has himself said, ‘If the police were popular there would be something wrong somewhere.'” Quentin Crisp, from How To Become A Virgin, 1981 • “Habit is probably the greatest block to seeing truth.” RA Schwallerda Lipicz

I WANT MORE

Blue-rinse sugar
Wipe-clean couple
Pinched last supper
Counting pretty penny
John Betjeman
Some dead liar
Quiet pink picture
Under heavy manners

This is Tearoom England
They’ll kick your face in
So politely
This is Tearoom England
They’ll kick your face in
Oh so nicely

I want more!

No hurry
So sorry
Don’t worry

Bite-size china
Tea or tartar
Lipstick traces
Table set to bless
Sweet charity
Lukewarm whisper
Still-life platter
Under heavy manners

This is Tearoom England
They’ll kick your face in
So politely
This is Tearoom England
They’ll kick your face in
Oh so nicely

I want more!

No hurry
So sorry
Don’t worry

I want more!

This is Tearoom England: the class system in microcosm. The worst bigotry can have the best table manners. • “The distinctions separating the social classes are false; in the last analysis they rest on force.” Albert Einstein • “There is nothing to which men cling more tenaciously than the privileges of class.” Leonard Sidney Woolf • “What do you think the effect of the Beatles was on the history of Britain?” – “I don’t know about the history. The people who are in control and in power and the class system and the whole bullshit bourgeois scene is exactly the same except there is a lot of middle class kids with long hair walking round London in trendy clothes and Kenneth Tynan’s making a fortune from the word ‘fuck’. But apart from that, nothing happened except that we’re all dressed up. The same bastards are in control, the same people are runnin’ everything, it’s exactly the same. They hyped the kids and the generation. We’ve grown up a little, a lot of us, and there has been a change and we’re a bit freer and all that, but it’s the same game, nothing’s really changed. They’re doing exactly the same things, selling arms to South Africa, killing blacks on the street, people are living in poverty with rats crawling over them, it’s the same. It just makes you puke. And I woke up to that, too. The dream is over. It’s just the same only I’m thirty and a lot of people have got long hair, that’s all.” John Lennon, 1970 • “Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, can never bring about a reform.” Susan B Anthony • “Everybody knows that the influence of social class is much less than it used to be – except that it isn’t. Scrutiny of General Household Survey figures shows, for example, that sons and daughters of unskilled workers are no more likely to go to university now than they were two decades ago.” Observer, January 26, 1997 • “With the benefit of hindsight, most historians of sport recognise that the concern with the separation between amateur and professional was a semantic masking of class divisions. Such segregation served the objective of retaining power over the control and allocation of resources through the exclusion of the majority. The formation of the Amateur Football Association in 1907 – originally called the Amateur Football Defence Foundation – over the issue of admittance of professionals to county football associations, was essentially a southern-based, public school reaction to the growing economic might of the Northern, working-class professional clubs. The amateur/professional debate used language that betrayed a political agenda, the double standards and selective application of the rules were breath-taking in their hypocrisy. The elitist, amateur Corinthians often charged more in expenses to play than the weekly wage bill of their professional opponents; amateur cricketers could receive unlimited income from benefit matches. Amateurs didn’t need or want to earn a living from sport. Thus their performance didn’t carry the same practical or symbolic value. If they played badly the disadvantages were metaphysical – a loss to pride not to the pocket. Loss of form didn’t have the demon material consequences that shadowed the exploits of the working class professional. Shamateur clubs were snobs: They wanted to compete, to use the same devices as professional clubs to build a successful team, but at the same time remain unsullied by the grubby practice of openly paying hirelings to beat opponents.” From ‘Walter Daniel Tull, 1888-1918: Soldier, Footballer, Black’, by Phil Vasili • “The use of legislation, however, should not be allowed to muffle the noise and directness of class conflict. Indeed, legislation cannot be understood without being seen as part of that conflict. Commissioner of Police, Sir Charles Warren said, in relation to the Feltham fair of 1887, “the abolition of the fair is a class question on which as commissioner of police I can say little beyond the fact that it gives the police trouble to keep order, and while one class certainly enjoy it, its existence is a cause of annoyance to others.” Popular Culture and Class Conflict 1590-1914, edited by Eileen and Stephen Yeo, 1981

SCAPEGOAT

Aftershave and smoke
And the same unfunny jokes
They say they’ll take you “Anywhere
But there”
Believe every half-whispered
Half-remembered lie
Where truth is a luxury
They can’t afford to buy

Scapegoat
Looking for a scapegoat

There’s always someone else for you to blame

Backed into a corner
He barricades his life
Fastens up the shutters every night
This island is big enough
For every castaway
But most of us are looking round
For someone else to blame

Scapegoat
Looking for a scapegoat

There’s always someone else for you to blame

At the height of apartheid there were more black men in British jails than there were in jails in South Africa. Britain’s mucky colonial past lives on, in the mistrust of anybody who isn’t a whiter shade of pale – the State still institutionalises racism knowing that when the black ghettos explode then white society can tell itself that its fear of the other is justified… • “There has always been racism. But it developed as a leading principle of thought and perception in the context of colonialism. That’s understandable. When you have your boot on someone’s neck, you have to justify it. The justification has to be their depravity. It’s very striking to see this in the case of people who aren’t very different from one another. Take a look at the British conquest of Ireland, the earliest of the Western colonial conquests. It was described in the same terms as the conquest of Africa. The Irish were a different race. They weren’t human. They weren’t like us. We had to crush and destroy them. No. It has to do with conquest, with oppression. If you’re robbing somebody, oppressing them, dictating their lives, it’s a very rare person who can say: “Look, I’m a monster. I’m doing this for my own good.” Even Himmler didn’t say that. A standard technique of belief formation goes along with oppression, whether it’s throwing them in gas chambers or charging them too much at a corner store, or anything in between. The standard reaction is to say: ‘It’s their depravity. That’s why I’m doing it. Maybe I’m even doing them good.’ If it’s their depravity, there’s got to be something about them that makes them different from me. What’s different about them will be whatever you can find.” Noam Chomsky • “Prejudice, which sees what it pleases, cannot see what is plain.” Aubrey T. de Vere • “Detroit was almost as far north as we ever went, but it was still full of crackers and I was always uneasy. One night Chuck Peterson asked me to go with him to a little backstage bar on the corner and have a drink, but I didn’t want to go for the same old reason. But he insisted, and so we did. In a matter of minutes some woman at the bar piped out that she wasn’t going to drink in the place if that nigger stood there, making it clear she meant me. Chuck wanted to answer back, but I talked him out of it and we went on to finish our drink. The next thing we knew a man came over and stared after Chuck. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ he said. ‘A man can’t bring his wife in a bar any more without you tramp white men bringing a nigger woman in.’ Chuck wouldn’t stand for that, but before he knew it, this guy and a couple more were on him, beating him and kicking him. While everyone else stood around with their mouths open, this guy kept kicking Chuck in the mouth and saying, ‘I’ll fix it so you don’t play trumpet tonight.’ Lady Sings The Blues, Billie Holiday (with William Duff) • “The mind of the bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.” Oliver Wendell Holmes • “As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.” Clarence Darrow • “Beware prejudices. They are like rats, and men’s minds are like traps; prejudices get in easily, but it is doubtful if they ever get out.” Lord Jeffrey • “Scotland Yard’s Immigration Unit burst into Joy Gardiner’s London flat at 7 am on the 28th July, 1993. They had a deportation order. Joy Gardiner was bound and gagged by the officers. They wrapped 13 feet of surgical tape seven times round Mrs Gardiner’s head. Unsurprisingly, she went into a coma from which she never recovered. The ‘official’ cause of death was suffocation. Mrs Gardiner had overstayed a six month visa and the Home Office wanted her deported back to Jamaica. She had no legal aid present when the immigration unit raided. The Home Office later admitted that the deportation order was timed so that it arrived at her solicitor’s office on the morning of the deportation. They’d deliberately fixed things so that Mrs Gardiner would be caught unawares by the raid. The government refused to launch a public enquiry into Mrs Gardiner’s death. Three officers were charged with ‘unlawfully killing’ Mrs Gardiner; during the trial the judge stressed that: “the case has no political or racial aspect.” On July 12, 1995, almost two years after Mrs Gardiner’s death, the Police Complaints Authority confirmed that the three Met Officers acquitted of ‘Unlawful Killing’ would NOT face disciplinary charges.” Northern Star, 1995

TOP OF THE WORLD (OLÉ OLÉ OLÉ)

Words on a postcard from far away
Spoke of a time long ago
Laughed ourselves daft on that Saturday
Singing “Here We Go”…

I’m a taxi driver
I’m a postal worker
I’m an office cleaner
I’m a striking docker
I’m a ballet dancer
I’m a zapatista
I’m a pop singer
I’m a winner

I’m a winner, baby
I’m a winner, baby

Olé, Olé, Olé
Top of the world
I’m on top of the world…

I’m a bricklayer
I’m an ex-miner
I’m a single mother
I’m a bus driver
I’m a political prisoner
I’m a printworker
I’m a footballer
I’m a winner

I’m a winner, baby
I’m a winner, baby

Olé, Olé, Olé
Top of the world
I’m on top of the world…

Words on a postcard from far away
Spoke of a time long ago
Laughed ourselves daft on that Saturday
Singing “Here We Go”…

Olé, Olé, Olé
Top of the world
I’m on top of the world…

(I’m up, I’m down – I love what’s not allowed)

“The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, It’s the way I see life.” Bill Shankly • “Football is a game for rough girls, not suitable for delicate boys” Oscar Wilde • “Football is part of I, when I play the world wakes around me.” Bob Marley • “Football is the beautiful game” Pele • “Ian Wright will not grass on a fellow pro. I’m not going to start demanding action against Peter Schmiechel. Where I come from you don’t do that.” Ian Wright • “What’s the correct analogy here? Using sexual imagery when trying to explain what it feels like to score a goal. Smith’s third goal in our 3-0 win over Liverpool – that felt pretty good, a perfect release to an hour of mounting excitement. The trouble with the orgasm metaphor here is that the orgasm, though obviously pleasurable, is familiar, repeatable (and within a couple of hours if you’ve been eating your greens), and [can be) predictable, particularly for a man – if you’re having sex, then you know what’s coming. Maybe if I haven’t made love for eighteen years, and had given up hope of doing so for another eighteen, and then out of the blue, an opportunity presented itself… maybe in these circumstances it would be possible to recreate an approximation of that Anfield moment. even though there is no question that sex is a nicer activity than watching football (no nil nil draws, no offside trap, no cup upsets and you’re warm), but in the normal run of things, the feelings it engenders are simply not as intense as those brought about by those once in a lifetime last minute championship winners. None of the communal ecstasy of football. So please be tolerant of those who describe a sporting moment as their best ever. We do not lack imagination, nor have we had sad and barren lives; it is just that real life is paler, duller, and contains less potential for unexpected delirium.” Nick Hornby, from ‘Fever Pitch’ • “It’s a great feeling, you just lose your head… everything goes out of your head for 10 seconds, it’s just jubilation – me personally, I always sprint10, 20 yards when I score. I’ll never walk away. I just seem to go stupid.” Chris Waddle • “You can use all the exclamation marks in the world, but it won’t describe it… it’s a split second of sheer joy. And sometimes relief when it’s really important. You tend to go a little uncontrollable… you go, Yes, and really scream it out, you’ve got to live it. The roar – you’re totally oblivious for the first few seconds, and then… it’s the ultimate in joy really. I can’t think of anything that could make you higher… there’s no words written.” Gary Lineker • “All that I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football” Albert Camus, writer and goalkeeper • “Power is only too happy to make football bear a diabolical responsibility for stupefying the masses” Baudrillard • “Hereford will not die. We’ve had 25 wonderful years and we’ll be back. When I took over I had hair. Not any longer. I was going to wear a toupee if we won today. Now I shall use it to wipe away the tears.” Chairman Peter hill after Hereford were relegated from the Football League • “The greatest threat (to organised religion) of all was the diversion offered to all classes, and the lower classes most of all , by the advent of professional football. This was what the working man regarded as the highlight of his weekend.” DJ Taylor • “Perhaps, since the old working class supporter is being forgotten, we ought to call the game New Football.” Roy Hattersly, former MP and current Labour Peer • “Any decent person hates racism. And I think I include myself in that.” Gary Newborn • “Even the tea lady cries when we lose” Unknown Third Division Manager • Alan Parry: “Graeme, how do managers control the pulse rate when a game unfolds like that?” Graeme Souness: “Well, its a lot easier for me; because I’m on medication.” from a BBC broadcast

Chumbawamba – Swingin’ With Raymond (1995)

SWINGIN’ STUFF

CHUMBAWAMBA ON THIS RECORD ARE:
LOU: ROSEGROVE INFANTS, LOWERHOUSE JUNIOR
HARRY HAMER: ON THAT WE AGREE
PAUL GRECO: THE SIMPLEST THINGS YOU SEE ARE ALL COMPLICATED
BOFF: ROMBALD’S MOOR 1990
DUNST: BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
MAVIS DILLON: DAVE LENTIL
DANBERT NOBACON: 666
ALICE NUTTER: OH I WAS JUST ABOUT TO PHONE YOU

OTHER PEOPLE:
ENGINEERING ON ALL SONGS: NEIL FERGUSON. HE’S ACTUALLY MORE THAN AN ‘ENGINEER’, HE GETS VERY INVOLVED.
ASSISTANT ENGINEERING AT WOODLANDS: PAT, DRINKING WHISKEY, PHONING UP AT THREE AM TO DISCUSS CATHOLIC GUILT
ASSISTANT ENGINEERS AT WYNDINGS: SIMON & STUART
VIOLIN ON LOVE SONGS: DEE SCHOLEY
SLEEVE PHOTOGRAPHY: CASEY ORR
EXTRA VOCALS ON SALOME: SIMON COMMONKNOWLEDGE
LIVE TAPE IN THE MIDDLE OF SALOME: BABS FOX AT THE FFRWD
KNUCKLE DUSTER PHOTOGRAPH: GINNY SCHOLEY
DESIGN: BAADER MEINHOF
THE DOG: BRANDY
THANKS TO BOTH RAYMONDS
THE HANDS BELONG TO: RAYMOND MILLS

ALL SONGS WRITTEN AND ARRANGED BY CHUMBAWAMBA
PRODUCTION BY CHUMBAWAMBA & NEIL FERGUSON
ALL SONGS PUBLISHED BY CHUMBAWAMBA SONGS (LEOSONG)

Swingin’ With Raymond is two seperate recordings put together and given a name: it’s the Lovin’ It record and the Loathin’ It record.
The Love songs were recorded & mixed at Woodlands Studio, Castleford in April 1995. The Hate songs were recorded & mixed at The Wyndings, Wrexham, in June 1995. Woodlands is in an industrial estate and adjoins a lard factory. On hot days the fat stinks and you never see the daylight, ever. The Wyndings is a converted Mineworks in Welsh farmland, it’s always sunny there and they have a dog and some football nets.
So. For a few years we’ve been mixing up all the ragtag dog-ends of everything we listen to, calling it “influences” and cramming it all into every song. Stealing by any other name (just being modest, y’know). This time we go for the straight split-down-the-middle Cooing and Barking thing. No Lou’s voice on the hate stuff, no loud guitars or shouting on the love stuff. Hearts laid open (as usual) diving headlong into the boiling pool which is popular culture. This record is another installment in our plan to prove that there’s room for contrary bastards in rock n roll.

“Speak softly… and carry a big stick” (Theodore Roosevelt)

THIS GIRL

THIS GIRL
SHE DIDN’T TURN OUT
QUITE THE WAY SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO
OOH
THIS GIRL
SHE GOT BORED OF ALL THE THINGS
THEY BROUGHT HER UP TO SAY
SHE NEVER MEANT THEM ANYWAY

THIS GIRL
SHE GOT CAUGHT OUT
ON THE MULTI-STOREY CAR PARK
THROWING GOODBYE NOTES
WRAPPED UP IN BRICKS
WHEN THEY PUT HER IN THE CAR
SHE SAID “JESUS MADE ME DO IT”
BUT ALL THE PRIESTS IN ALL THE WORLD
COULDN’T SAVE THIS GIRL

THIS GIRL
CONTENT WITH ALL THE BLOODY NOSES
SCABBY KNEES
YOU GET FROM FIGHTING WARS LIKE THESE
RUNNING PAST THE TIDY HOUSES
PULLING FACES
THIS MATERIAL WORLD
COULDN’T TEMPT THIS GIRL

NOW SHE ENTERTAINS THE WORLD
AND ALL IT’S MATES
BUT SHE DOESN’T FIT IN
EVERYBODY THINKS THIS GIRL IS GREAT
BUT SHE’S LACING ALL THE PARTY DRINKS
WITH VENOM FROM A POISON PEN

THIS GIRL
SHE MADE A HABIT OF HABITUALLY LYING
DOES EVERYBODY’S HEAD IN
SHE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENS
WHEN THE NEXT STOP THAT YOU SEE
IT’S NOT THE ONE
THAT EVERYONE EXPECTED IT TO BE
THIS GIRL

HAPPY FAMILIES
ROUND THE SUPERMARKET CHECK-OUT
SHE LOVES TO BE THE ODD ONE OUT
THE PARTY GIRL WHO STAYED UPSTAIRS
PLAYING MUSICAL CHAIRS
LA-LA, LA-LA-LA
SHE DOESN’T CARE
THIS GIRL

NOW SHE ENTERTAINS THE WORLD
AND ALL IT’S MATES
BUT SHE DOESN’T FIT IN
EVERYBODY THINKS THIS GIRL IS GREAT
BUT SHE’S LACING ALL THE PARTY DRINKS
WITH VENOM FROM A POISON PEN

THIS GIRL
SHE DIDN’T TURN OUT
QUITE THE WAY SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO
OOH

“Traveler, there is no path; paths are made by walking.” (Old Spanish saying)

NEVER LET GO

THESE RED AZALEAS
NEVER GREW SO TALL
THIS WELL OF LONELINESS
COULD RISE AND DROWN US ALL

THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG
THINGS FALL AS THEY DO
PULLED BY THE SUN & THE MOON
FOREVER COMES TOO SOON

PEOPLE COME / PEOPLE GO
BUT STILL I’LL NEVER LET GO
IDEAS COME / IDEAS GO
STILL I’LL NEVER LET GO

I’VE FALLEN FOR THE GIRL
BEEN MAD ABOUT THE BOY
WHEN YOU’VE KISSED AN ANGEL
THERE’S JUST NO CHOICE

THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG
THINGS FALL AS THEY DO
PULLED BY THE SUN & THE MOON
FOREVER COMES TOO SOON

PEOPLE COME / PEOPLE GO
BUT STILL I’LL NEVER LET GO
IDEAS COME / IDEAS GO
STILL I’LL NEVER LET GO

LYING WITH THE SQUARES
ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR
WATCH THE CLOCK’S POINTING FINGERS
THEY’VE SEEN IT ALL BEFORE

THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG
THINGS FALL AS THEY DO
PULLED BY THE SUN & THE MOON
FOREVER COMES TOO SOON

PEOPLE COME / PEOPLE GO
BUT STILL I’LL NEVER LET GO
IDEAS COME / IDEAS GO
STILL I’LL NEVER LET GO

“When I have shaken off my passion, somewhat as a dog shakes off an unexpected plunge into the canal, I find myself without any understanding of what it was that ravaged me.” (Jeanette Winterson)

JUST LOOK AT ME NOW

DON’T TELL ME LIES
I DON’T NEED FINGERPRINTS, SO
BUTTON UP YOUR COAT
BEFORE YOU CATCH YOUR DEATH OF COLD

THROW AWAY YOUR BOOKS
THEY’RE BUILDING WINDMILLS
THREE MILES UP
OUT ON THE MOORS
THERE’S AN EMPIRE WAITING

LOOK AT ME NOW!
I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD – AND WIN
LOOK AT ME NOW!

TOWNY GO HOME
WHISPERS IN THE TOWER OF BABEL
BUT I HAVE ALL I NEED
I HAVE SHOES WITH SHARPENED SOLES

AND EVERY SIMPLE JOY
WE MAKE IT ALL SO COMPLICATED
WHEN ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
IS PUTTING THE MEAT
AROUND YOUR BONES

LOOK AT ME NOW!
I CAN TAKE ON THE WORLD – AND WIN
LOOK AT ME NOW!

JUST LOOK AT ME NOW
BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND
MY SIGHTS ARE FIXED ON THE HORIZON

“It’s like a dam in the brain… which bursts.” (Edna O’Brien)

NOT THE GIRL I USED TO BE

WONDERING
HAVE I GIVEN UP DREAMING?
COME DOWN FROM THE CEILING
I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
THINKING
MY MISSPENT HISTORY
MISTAKES TO TEACH ME
I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
DREAMS I KEPT AS A CHILD
KEPT ME QUIET AND HYPNOTIZED
COOKED AWAY MY VALENTINES
SERVED MYSELF UP EVERY NIGHT
COULDN’T SEE ME FOR THE TREES
AND ALL THAT HALLMARK POETRY
I’M NOT THE GIRL I USED TO BE
WONDERING
HAVE I GIVEN UP DREAMING?
COME DOWN FROM THE CEILING
I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
THINKING
MY MISSPENT HISTORY
MISTAKES TO TEACH ME
I WON’T DO THAT AGAIN
TRYING TO BREAK THE FAMILY TIES
CHOCOLATE HEARTS AND TACKY LIES
HEARD A THOUSAND CRAPPY LINES
AND I BELIEVED THEM EVERY TIME
SO I BEG TO DISAGREE
LOVE’S NOT TAKING ALL OF ME
I’M NOT THE GIRL I USED TO BE

“The most vital right is the right to love and be loved… and if partial emancipation is to become a complete and true emancipation of woman, it will have to do away with the ridiculous notion that to be loved, to be sweetheart and mother, is synonymous with being slave or subordinate.” (Emma Goldman)

THE MORNING AFTER (THE NIGHT BEFORE)

UNHOLY SUNDAY – A WINTER’S DAY (MINE IS THE KINGDOM)
CHURCH BELLS RING A MILLION MILES AWAY (FOREVER AND EVER)
NOWHERE TO GO, NOTHING TO DO
BUT STAY HERE WARM IN BED WITH YOU
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

ICE ON THE WINDOWS, LET’S THAW IT AWAY (IT’S A HELL OF A WINTER)
SO MUCH TIME TO WASTE, SO MUCH TO SAY (PEPPERED WITH LAUGHTER)
NOWHERE TO GO, NOTHING TO DO
BUT MOVE JUSTALITTLEBITCLOSER TO YOU
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

SUNDAY AFTER SATURDAY
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

PLASTICINE PEOPLE WE COULD BE (DO WHAT YOU WANT TO)
SQUEEZING TOGETHER FOR NOW OR FOREVER (FOREVER OR NEVER)
NOWHERE TO GO, NOTHING TO DO
BUT ROLL UP INTO A BALL WITH YOU
THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

“She laughed. She didn’t know what it was, but it was forbidden and she liked it.” (Jeannette Winterson)

LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER

HERE’S THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE
HITS ME RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES
LIKE A THIEF OUT OF THE NIGHT
SOMEONE TAUGHT HIM HOW TO FIGHT
LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER
LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER

TONGUE-TIED & CRUCIFIED
CROSS MY HEART & HOPE TO DIE
BUT I’LL GET UP AGAIN
AND I’LL FALL DOWN AGAIN
AND I’LL GET FOOLED AGAIN
LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER
LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER

BEATEN BY THE SUCKER PUNCH
AND I DON’T CARE ABOUT GETTING UP
YOU CAN COUNT ME OUT THIS TIME
AND I WON’T MIND

SO USED TO USELESS METAPHORS
LOST THE BATTLE, WON THE WAR
WORDS TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY
PASS AWAY
LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER
LOVE CAN KNOCK YOU OVER

“The best work is done with the heart breaking, or overflowing.” (Mignon McLaughlin)

ALL MIXED UP

SITTING ON THE SHELF WHEN SOMEONE CALLED MY NUMBER
A TEMPLATE IN ONE HAND, SCISSORS IN THE OTHER
“WHAT LUMP OF CLAY IS THIS?” SAID THE KINGMAKER TO ME
DULL, GREY MATTER, PERFECT FOR HIS ALCHEMY
THE FUTURE FLESH AND BLOOD ON THE BONES OF THE BIG LIE
A NO-WIT WHO’S FACE FITS – AND NEVER WONDERS WHY;
I MET MY MEPHISTOPHELLES, THE PAPERS SEALED IN BLOOD
LIKE I GOT A TRANSFER DEAL: “THE LAD DONE GOOD!”

GOOD KING DANBERT AT THE HELM
HIS FACE ON EVERY COIN OF THE REALM
AND EVERY TIME WE SING, IT’S “THREE CHEERS FOR THE KING!”
SIRHAN SIRHAN, WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?

ALL MIXED UP
WE TAKE A FOOL FOR A KING
ALL MEIXD UP
MISTAKE A FOOL FOR A KING

THE WASHING POWDER ADVERT
THAT EVERYBODY HATES
BUT ALL THE RESEARCH SHOWS THAT’S HOW BRAND NAMES ARE MADE
SQUEAKY CLEAN, NO SKELETONS,
IN OTHER WORDS: I’VE NEVER LIVED
MAKES ME HIGHLY-QUALIFIED
TO DECIDE WHAT GIVES
ROUGH-SHOD, RIDING RAIL-ROAD
OVER ALL THE AWKWARD QUESTIONS
QUEEN VICTORIA OF GRANTHAM
TO GIVE ME HER BLESSING
IT’S WRITTEN ALL OVER ME;
I’M TOUCHED BY THE HAND
I AM THE SOMETHING VERY ROTTEN
IN THE STATE OF LITTLE ENGLAND

GOOD KING DANBERT AT THE HELM
HIS FACE ON EVERY COIN OF THE REALM
AND EVERY TIME WE SING, IT’S “THREE CHEERS FOR THE KING!”
SIRHAN SIRHAN, WHERE HAVE YOU GONE?

ALL MEXID UP
WE TAKE A FOOL FOR A KING
ALL MXDEI UP
MISTAKE A FOOL FOR A KING

“Fools had ne’er grace in a year,
For wise men are grown foppish
And know not how their wits to wear
Their manners are so apish.”
(Shakespeare, The Fool talking to King Lear)

How to turn shit into gold? The alchemists have been doing it all along under the cloak of the Divine Right of Wannabe Kings. Touched by the hand that gives the enema. Worming tablets, flea powder and disinfectant baths for the heir-apparent politician who will show most willingness to go one lower: “I’ll do anything to be on television.” Pull out all the stops. Whatever it takes to make him fit the Bill: “I smoked but I didn’t inhale; my face turned red and then blue! I sent my son to Public School and even the Wicked Witch of the West approves.” And so the Fool as professional idiot has been outclassed and made redundant by the genuine stupidity of these smart Alecs… but the Fool worth his salt finds out where the wise man is ticklish – and laughs with him as he drives the knife home into the soft, yielding underbelly…

“There is more force in names than most men dream of; and a lie may keep it’s throne a whole age longer, if it skulk behind the shield of some fair-sounding name.” (Anonymous)

THIS DRESS KILLS

I’M JUDAS/JUDY, PANICKING, GOT EVERYTHING AND NOTHING
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR PRESIDENT! I’M HERE TO CALL YOUR BLUFF!
FROM THE TOP OF THE WORLD I’M GONNA JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!
SO IMPERFECTLY IMPERFECT AND I DID IT FOR YOUR LOVE

I’M AS SMALL AS THUMBELINA, SUGAR FAIRY ON THE CAKE
BECAUSE THE THINNEST OF EXCUSES LEAVE THE BITTEREST TASTE
BRITTLE-BONED, BARBIE-CUED, TAKE A PIECE OF MY HEART
WHEN YOU KNOW YOU HAVEN’T GOT IT, DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD?

THIS DRESS IS KILLING ME!
FROCKANOIA*

I WON AND THEN I LOST AND THEN I WON AND THEN I LOST
AND NOW I KNOW HOW MUCH A POUND OF FLESH CAN COST
AND THE QUESTION ISN’T IF, IT’S A DEFINITE WHEN
DO I THROW MY ACHY HEART INTO THE GUTTER AGAIN?

THIS PARTY ISN’T OVER ‘TIL THE THIN LADY SINGS
CRITICS DRESSED AS WAITERS ARE WAITING IN THE WINGS
WHERE THEY’LL GATHER LIKE VULTURES TO PICK AT THE BONES
I WON AND THEN I LOST AND I GOT NOTHING AT ALL

THIS DRESS IS KILLING ME!
FROCKANOIA

*A FEELING OF BEING CONSTANTLY FIGURE-WATCHED

No matter how close women come to the ideal body, when it’s your own body it never quite feels close enough. The pressure to be perfect is intense: Karen Carpenter, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe… but it’s not just the famous who binge and starve themselves towards self-destruction. At 22, weighing in at just under eight and a half stones, I went on a diet. Obsessive would be an understatement. I could have gone on Mastermind with a specialist subject of “how many calories?” (a tomato has fifty and has to be paid for with a walk across town to burn it off). Every woman I know had dieted at one time or another, so food phobia, and never feeling thin enough to measure up, didn’t seem weird. Knowing the feminist theory and the easy lines about self-acceptance wasn’t enough to make me feel good about my body. There’s glamour in wasting away; I wanted to be glamorous more than I wanted to fight the stereotypes. There’s no point claiming appearance doesn’t matter. A woman spends her whole life being judged on it. There are a few women for whom weight isn’t an issue. The big lie is that women diet because they suffer from individual neurosis; in fact, the struggle to be thin isn’t one of asserting individuality, but of desperately trying to fit in.

SALOME (LET’S TWIST AGAIN)

PART PUNK PART GOD ALMIGHTY
PART FUCK YOU PART MR X RAY EYES

I DIDN’T CHOOSE TO BE
SHOUTING FOR A LIVING, IT HAPPENED
SOMETHING SNAPPED: AND I DON’T KNOW WHY
TOO MANY SLAPS? TOO MANY PRIESTS?
FUMBLED SEX IN PARKS?
OR JUST A PART OF THE ME ME ME GENERATION
THE THATCHER YOUTH
COMING HOME TO ROOST

IF THE OLD SCHOOL CAP FITS, WEAR IT
BUT I’LL TAKE MY CAKE AND SHARE IT
BURNING DOWN A BONFIRE MADE OF TEACHERS
PAY YOUR VAT BILLS ON THE CINDERS
JUST YOU AND LITTLE MOLLY FLINDERS
DOING THE TWIST AT ALL THE DANCES
DON’T LOOK TO ME FOR ANSWERS

LET’S TWIST AGAIN, SEE THEM SING
LET’S TWIST AGAIN, HEAR THEM SING
LET’S TWIST AGAIN
BRING ON THE DANCING GIRLS!

PART SUSSED PART AMATEUR
PART LOVE YOU PART MR BLEEDING HEART
I SINGALONGA, JUMP UPPA-DOWNA,
WATCH THIS SPACE
I’VE GOT LUNGSFULS OF THIS STUFF
BOTH SIDES TOGETHER IN THE COMMONS BAR
JUST WHO THE FUCK
DO THEY THINK THEY ARE?
I AM NOT A POP STAR –
I AM A PART OF THE CLASS WAR

“EVERY REVOLUTIONARY
IS MOTIVATED BY LOVE” *
I SEE THE NEWSREELS: 200 BODIES
IN A SHALLOW GRAVE IN EAST TIMOR;
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
FORGET IT? PRETEND IT NEVER HAPPENED?
WHILST POLITICIANS CIRCLE-JERK AROUND
LEGAL JARGON TOTEM POLES

LET’S TWIST AGAIN, SEE THEM SING
LET’S TWIST AGAIN, HEAR THEM SING
LET’S TWIST AGAIN
BRING ON THE DANCING GIRLS!

YOU TELL ME
WHERE DOES ENTERTAINMENT END
AND RESPONSIBILITY BEGIN?

OH SALOME WAITS
SHE SAYS “BRING ME ALL THE HEADS
OF ALL THE HEADS OF STATE”

LET’S TWIST AGAIN, SEE THEM SING
LET’S TWIST AGAIN, HEAR THEM SING
LET’S TWIST AGAIN
BRING ON THE DANCING GIRLS!

*TO PARAPHRASE CHE GUEVARA

“Boy, they were big on crematoriums, weren’t they?” (George Bush, comment made on tour of Auschwitz)

Salome was a dancer who performed a dance so well that the King granted her whatever wish she pleased. To his surprise she demanded the head of John the Baptist on a plate. He provided it. Where are today’s entertainers?
Recently there was a re-run of a TV documentary centred around the final four weeks of a condemned man’s life in an American prison. One of those programmes you don’t ever intend to watch; you just get drawn in. And just when you’d begun to get to know the guy – who’d spent something like seven years on death row fighting this day – just when you’re thinking that programmes like this only get shown when the bloke gets off at the last minute (haven’t we all seen the film a thousand times?), the prison guards sheepishly led him away to the gas chamber. Despite the governor, the screws, the press, the lawyers, all saying how they believed the prisoner was innocent. And he went to the chamber saying “I am innocent. I didn’t do nothing”. I just sat and watched… and cried. It was one of those times when I understand why I’m in a pop group that tries, awkwardly, to articulate an anger at the way things are. Because I know that if I’m to understand how to have a good time, I can’t ignore this gut feeling. It’s part love, part anger, part bullshit. I think for most of us the bullshit is the easiest bit to show to the world.

OXYMORON

SHINY BUTTON-DOWN CLOWN SUIT
OXYMORON
EXPAND THE SIMPLEST OF CHORES
OXYMORON
MR CONSTANT CONSTERNATION
AND HIS DECLARATION OF WAR
MAKES A FIST OUT OF DEMANDS
WITH IS PLASTICENE HANDS

MATEY MAKES A BIG BIG DEAL
OXYMORON
AND MATEY MAKES A BIG BIG MEAL
OXYMORON
BOASTS OF CONSCIENCE SO BIG
IT MEANS HIS UNIFORM WON’T FIT
COOKING BOOKS AND PUNCHING DRUNKS
WORKING FOR THE REAL CROOKS

THE GOOD COP
OXYMORON
THE GOOD COP
OXYMORON

I DON’T BELIEVE IN THE GOOD COP

AT THE TICKET INSPECTOR’S PARTY
OXYMORON
PRISON GUARDS EYE STORE DETECTIVES
OXYMORON
ALL GOOD FIGHTERS OF CRIME
SAME REPEATED CHAT-UP LINE:
“ARE YOU WELL TOOLED UP?
COME AND HAVE A GO IF YOU THINK
YOU’RE HARD ENOUGH”

WATCH THEM TIGHTEN THEIR STRAPS
OXYMORON
YES SIR I SWITCHED ON THE TAPS
OXYMORON
HEADS TO CRACK, EYES TO BLACK
BEAUROCRATS WILL COVER YOUR TRACKS
HERE’S HOW YOUR DICTATORSHIPS BEGIN:
FOOLS OBEY WITHOUT THINKING

THE GOOD COP
OXYMORON

I DON’T BELIEVE IN THE GOOD COP

oxymoron – noun, rhetorical(ly). A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. the good cop) [Gk f. oxus sharp & moros foolish]

A few short steps away from the custodial suite. The plain clothes guys still dress in the same ‘slacks and loafers’ uniform they wore when the show began it’s run some twenty years back, only they look even more ugly now. Routine enquiries. A double act. Nicholson the bad cop, Ross the good cop, two halves of the same pantomime horse. Not many other cops around but you can hear them, away from their paperwork, imposing the curfew in the dead of night and fighting crime where it doesn’t exist. They don’t take you to a cell because this interview is strictly off the record. Nicholson shouts the loudest and makes the biggest threats. He’s going over the edge. Calm down for chrissakes! Softly, softly. Ross comes across as the Good Samaritan, armed with a cup of insipid coffee. There, there. They persist with the whole routine and in the end… Ross, the good cop, hits you in the face anyway, when he tires of the pretence. I never believed it. I knew. I’ve been there. And I don’t believe in the good cop.

“He that first cries out ‘Stop Thief,’ is often he that has stolen the treasure.” (William Congreve, 1695)

WAITING, SHOUTING

JUST TAKE A TICKET
IT TAKES YOU NOWHERE
THEY SAW US COMING
IT’S THEM AND US HERE
JUST KEEP YOUR VOICE DOWN
AND LIGHT ANOTHER
I AM A PATIENT GIRL
I WAIT, I WAIT, I WAIT
IT’S NOT YOUR MONEY
DON’T CALL ME STUPID!
NOT BIG OR CLEVER
MEAN CAN MEAN AWKWARD
IT’S WIGAN PIER HERE
I’M NOT FOR JUMPING
SEE CANDID CAMERA
SEES NEXT TO NOTHING

YOU KEEP ME WAITING…
I KEEP ON SHOUTING!

MY LETTERBOX KNOWS
BANGERS AND BAD NEWS
GOOD MORNING CAMPERS –
SEES QUEUES & QUEUES & QUEUES
THEY SPELL MY NAME WRONG
IT’S NOT FOR ART’S SAKE
AND EVERY TRUTH TOLD
BLACK MARK ON BLACK MARK
YOU LOVE TO CHEW ON
THIS BREAD AND BUTTER
YOU CRUNCH YOUR NUMBERS
AND PUSH YOUR PAPERS
PILE-UP ON PILE-UP
MALICIOUS BAD TURNS
I’LL LIGHT ANOTHER
SLOW FUSES, SLOW BURN

YOU KEEP ME WAITING…
I KEEP ON SHOUTING!

There’s a breed of desk clerk who’d love a life in uniform. He/she behaves as if your fortnightly giro or doctor’s prescription or housing benefit cheque comes straight from their own personal account. They religiously follow the rule book, try and numb people into apathy and see work as a vocation rather than a pay packet. It was a cliché when The Prisoner yelled: “I’m not a number! I am a free man!” but in the 90’s, the urge to assert ourselves in the face of supposedly impersonal bureaucracy continues. Sometimes there’s one queue too many.

“Disobedience… the original virtue.” (Oscar Wilde)

HEY! YOU! OUTSIDE NOW!

ONE YEAR LATER
THIS QUEUE NEVER MOVED
I’VE GOT WELL DRESSED SLUGS
CRAWLING OVER MY SHOES
AND ALL THESE BOUNCERS
PUSHING ME AROUND
WELL I’LL HUFF AND I’LL PUFF
I’LL BLOW YOUR HOUSE DOWN
IN THESE HARD TIMES
NO MONEY FOR THE ARTS
NO MONEY FOR A BONUS
AND MY CAR WON’T START
THE TAXMAN COMETH
AND THE LANDLORD TOO
NOW SOMETHING BETTER CHANGE
I’VE GOT THINGS TO DO

SCRATCHED RECORD CARRIES ON FOREVER
LAST WALTZ CARRIES ON FOREVER
PRIZE FIGHTER CARRIES ON FOREVER
TOO MUCH BOWING
TO THE SACRED COW
HEY! YOU! OUTSIDE! NOW!

TWO YEARS LATER
AND THE TAP STILL DRIPS
THIS PAIN IN MY BACK
MEANS I STILL CAN’T SLEEP
THEY’RE RIPPING UP THE LONGSIDE
FOR PLASTIC SEATS
WE’RE RIPPING OFF THE GAS
JUST TO MAKE ENDS MEET
HALF THE POPULATION
LIVING OFF CRIME
I’M TALKING ‘BOUT THE FUCKERS
ON QUESTION TIME
POP FOPS ON HORSE
HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE
NOW SOMETHING BETTER CHANGE
I’VE GOT THINGS TO DO

SCRATCHED RECORD CARRIES ON FOREVER
LAST WALTZ CARRIES ON FOREVER
PRIZE FIGHTER CARRIES ON FOREVER
TOO MUCH BOWING
TO THE SACRED COW
HEY! YOU! OUTSIDE! NOW!

THREE YEARS LATER
AND I’M STILL IN THIS QUEUE
NOW SOMETHING BETTER CHANGE
I’VE GOT THINGS TO DO
TOO MUCH BOWING
TO THE SACRED COW
HEY! YOU! OUTSIDE! NOW!

“Don’t rock the boat, Baby! Don’t tip the boat over!”

We’re not reformists. While liberals claim that all the system needs is ‘a bit of fine tuning’, we’re not prepared to spend valuable time faffing with the dial – at best we’d be stuck with better reception on the same old crappy tunes. Sometimes the heavy-handed approach works best. Sometimes debate won’t work. Soemtimes you get pushed so far there’s little space left for reason. I watched this year as a group of nazis in the crowd at a festival in Finland threw seig heils at Dodgy’s singer Nigel, after he’d made an anti-fascist remark from the stage. I watched as a handful of people went and confronted these pathetic boneheads and forced them to leave. And I watched how the rest of the huge crowd stood by and… waited for someone else to sort it out. What’s going on? Everyone has a point where they snap. Where the waiting turns to shouting. (As a pop group we’re part of a business which thrives on not getting involved. As people we’re taking lessons in full-time boat-tipping.) The scratched record, jumping and hopping back to the same groove, and a roomful of people standing on the dancefloor waiting for someone else to sort it out…

UGH! YOUR UGLY HOUSES!

YOUR UGLY
YOUR UGLY
YOUR UGLY HOUSES
LOOK SO
UGH!

Sting lives in a £2 million Elizabethan mansion. It’s 41 rooms are paneled with Queen Anne oak; in it’s 54 acres of lawn and woodland there are two cottages, stables, a tennis court and a boathouse. A quick glance between the covers of hello! magazine will reveal that, despite it’s decadent grandeur, Sting’s shebang is decorated with a style befitting a sad old rocker millionaire who, like so many other rich twerps, imagines himself lord of a tudor manor. Friezes along some of the walls depict likenesses of Sting and his family dressed as elizabethan minstrels…
A 1975 UN survey revealed that one quarter of the world’s people are either homeless or living in unfit shelter conditions. The same survey stated that three quarters of the total investment and construction in developing countries is devoted to upper class housing, one fifth to middle class housing, and the tiny amount left over goes to families of low income. Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Rod Stewart’s Epping place (he has several around the world) cost him £20 million. This particular mansion is another georgian-oak big rich kid’s playhouse “done in traditional jacobean style”. Rod has stuffed it to the gills with expensive chintz and paisley patterns – another mish-mash of paneling, paintings and period furniture. Inevitably, it has it’s own full-size football pitch with a full-time serving groundsman. Ugh.

Chumbawamba – Showbusiness! (1994)

“Art is not an end in itself, but a means of addressing humanity.” – Mussorgsky

Showbusiness!

“No-one is completely worthless – they can always serve as a bad example”

“Now if only pop (I mean POP) and politics DID mix…” – Robin Gibson reviewing Chumbawamba’s “Never Mind The Ballots” LP, Sounds July 1987.

“Suspended above the courtyard of the Pompidou Centre in Paris is the Genitron, an electric sign-clock flashing the number of seconds left in the twentieth century. Inaugurated in January 1987 by Francois Mitterand, the Genitron is a time machine that conducts its relentless countdown over the heads of the international fauna of Les Halles, the hustlers, punks, dealers, con men, mystics, musicians, strong-men, fire-eaters, rappers, breakers, addicts, sidewalk artists and sidewalk dwellers who seem already to represent the spectres of the apocalypse.” – Elaine Showalter, from “Sexual Anarchy – Gender and Culture At The Fin de Siecle” (1990)

FIVE OR SIX YEARS before the countdown began and Chumbawamba is being born out of that beautiful mess of street performers. Chumbawamba is the trio in the corner busking Clash and Gene Vincent songs on acoustic guitars – fired by punk logic, punk as change, hanging about in Paris during that knife-edge decision-time when rebellion turns into either part of your growing up or part of your life. Politics, or “attitude” to come into it sooner or later.

Back a bit further. Legal Aid and Optical Illusion are the drummer and singer in a Barnsley punk band. Legal’s grandad is taking a polaroid. They’re called `The Threat’ and their music starts and ends this record; the photograph becomes it’s cover. Later they’ll change their names to Harry & Mave and meet up with the others in Leeds, and end up living in a huge squatted Victorian house making pop (I mean POP) records.

Alice Nutter, art school drop-out, is playing drums badly in a group called ‘Ow My Hair’s On Fire’. Lou Watts operating computers for Burnley Building Society, Dunstan singing Velvet Underground cover versions in a Billingham group ‘Men In A Suitcase’. Teams that meet in caffs… and in the background, a woman Prime Minister running her own War in the South Atlantic, kills, maims, parades and gloats for half of 1982. England is dreaming alright: and somebody has to shout about the nightmare even if they are to be damned into obscurity for their pains. Usher in the Never-Has-Beens!

LONG BEFORE Chumbawamba release any records of their own, they pull off a successful guerilla attack which results in their first appearance on vinyl. In response to Garry Bushell’s inane patronage of Oi Punk (before Gary wrote for The Sun, he practised his homophobic brand of tabloid sensationalism in music weekly ‘Sounds’), Chumbawamba fabricate a completely bogus Oi band called ‘Skin Disease’, complete with press pack and four-track demo cassette. Some few weeks later and Bushell lists Skin Disease as “Burnley’s premier Oi band”, and letters appear in Sounds lumping Skin Disease in with “other Northern Oi bands”, as proof of that “good Oi music is not exclusively a London phenomenon.” All this despite the fact that the “band” never actually exist. Eventually Bushell invites the band to appear on an Oi compilation single. Playing the role of Northern oiks, Skin Disease travel to London to record a special-written song called “I’m Think”, a bog-standard punky thrash with the words “I’m Thick” repeated sixty-four times. It appears on the single “Back On The Streets”.

Meanwhile, back to the twentieth century countdown. The first Chumbawamba demo tape is recorded in Hulme, Manchester, a few days after the band’s first gig in January 1982. A snippet of it ends up on a Crass compilation album “Bullshit Detector 2”, alongside a song about nuclear war by Barnsley band Passion Killers. Passion Killers are what became of The Threat. (As in, “1, 2, 3, 4, Let’s Go!”). The two bands meet. Small-town punks in Leeds, with a desire to rise above the mundane, to avoid a lifetime career at the Building Society or down the put at Barnsley Main… sidestepping the alternative of college education. But instead of just escaping those roots, it becomes more and more important as the eighties progress to take them along, to re-write the endings of the Hollywood teenage rites-of-passage movies, to balance the fine line between everyday boredom and rock n roll’s petulant ignorance of real life; and to have fun doing it. Growing up to a soundtrack of punky, alienated noise – religiously watching The Fall, Wire, ATV, Clash – turns everything after it into a choice btween safety – with all it’s inbuilt insecurities and emotional cancers – and challenge. Change or go under. The bad ship Chumbawamba sets sail.

“Chumbawamba: the message is more important than the music.” – Full extent of first ever live review, New Musical Express.

AT THIS POINT CHUMBAWAMBA are fast becoming unmovable flag-burning pacifists, a reaction against Thatcher’s election campaign involving nuclear stockpiling and stepping over dead bodies in the Falklands. This is the decadent 60’s and 70’s hangover, the Pistols’ “No Future” etched across a Boy George mirror. In the early eighties the choice seems straightforward – Brit-pop as complete escapism (Lady Margaret’s “Me, me, me” culture) or the sub-culture of resistance that is burrowing it’s way from underground. Chumbawamba play gigs at peace camps, turning up at demonstrations and rallies like they’re going out of fashion. (Which they are). The band’s home is raided twice in under a year by ten burly drugs squad officers who ask, “You lot them Socialist Worker types, right?” No wonder the likes of the Guildford Four got banged up for fifteen years with authorities like this on the case.

The entries on the Special Branch files get longer. Raids, obstruction, breaches of the peace, even “theft by housebreaking” – twenty-six hours in the custody of the Strathclyde police in December 1983 charged with “removal of dogs, mice and files” from a research bucketload; for single parents, local hospital closure campaigns, hunt saboteurs, the ALF, anti-Sizewell campaign, nurseries. Nine people, three cats and a dog living under one roof, fledging anarchist politics mixed with too-hefty doses of idealism and organic vegetables. The dog, Derek, appears on a couple of the early records and includes in his CV the greatest accolade bestowed upon a canine: that of biting members of the police force (forcing one to have hospital treatment).

TWO EVENTS WHICH RE-ROUTE the agit-pop politics of Chumbawamba, both from 1984. Firstly, the Brighton Bomb. Half the Cabinet covered in rubble, and suddenly political violence – of the type which defeated Hitler, freed Mandela, ended slavery, and overthrew the state communist dictatorships – blows a hole in the pacifist edge to the band’s polemic. Secondly, and more importantly, the beginning of the great Miners’ Strike. From early on, the Armley (Leeds) Miners Support group is twinned with Frickley put in South Elmsall – Armley Socialist Workers make the connections and Chumbawamba supply the van and the street collections on Saturday mornings. The band mix playing benefit gigs for the miners with traveling down to the picket lines at five and six o’clock in the morning. And during this bitter winter some of Chumbawamba join a theatre group who travel from village to village putting on a Christmas pantomime for miner’s kids, down to South Wales and around Yorkshire. Coming from places like Barnsley and Burnley in times when the coal mines were part of the very fabric of these towns, it doesn’t take much effort to know which side of the fence you ought to be standing on; the band makes and sells a fast-selling three-track cassette for the Miners’ Hardship Fund, and Sounds writes:

“The Chumbas, as they are affectionately known, are refreshing and genuine pop anarchists. And no, they won’t go away…” (December 1994)

“What we’re given is any old rubbish that won’t upset the apple cart. The only choice we seem to be left with it to play the part of the bad apple.” – from Chumbawamba’s first single sleevenotes

ON JUNE 1ST, 1985, Chumbawamba are recording their first single “Revolution”, whilst at the same time the Travellers’ Convoy is being attacked and wrecked in a beanfield adjacent to Stonehedge. Cracked heds, massive publicity, and the start of an era of political change: when the marginals begin to come out from the underground.

The Clash, hastily re-formed in new street-cred guide with Joe Strummer passing round the music business hat to pay for his cocaine habit, play rebel chic outside Leeds University. Danbert Nobacon arms himself with a hydraulic-action paint-gun and splatters band and audience before legging it. This is Chumbawamba discovering their real talent: refuting the idea that rock n roll is some huge back-slapping family business where everyone “pulls together”. Putting spanners in their own works, pigheadedly refusing to lie down and become another servile record business lap-dog.

THE HOUSE IS RAIDED AGAIN, this time with sledgehammers. They’re looking for “explosives and bomb-making equipment”. Everyone is hauled down to the station, questioned relentlessly, kept separately, diaries and books confiscated – huge plastic bagfuls of pamphlets, posters, even song lyrics… twenty-three hours in a Leeds copshop. Meanwhile, the first single sells out.

“We haven’t got a masterplan – we react to things as they come along. As Anarchists we live with the contradictions that socialism doesn’t allow.” – From an interview with Melody Maker, Dec 1986

Chumbawamba mocks up as an April Fool’s SDP/Liberal Alliance pop group, calls itself The Middle, and records three tracks for a spoof demo. The Libs love it. Mike Harskin at the Liberal Whips Office in the House of Commons writes to invite the band to play at MP David Owen’s birthday party at Stringfellow’s in London; Chumbawamba are busy playing their own gigs. The single “Smash Clause 28” attacks the government homophobia pushing through a law which, amongst other things, demands the teaching of hetero-only family values in schools. This single is received as “unwashed ghetto grumbling… rock n roll won’t even notice” by Sounds magazine. (Shortly after, few people notice the demise of Sounds.) “Smash Clause 28” is the first of several recorded attacks on homophobia by the band, and significantly it isn’t until 1994’s “Homophobia” that the issue becomes “acceptable” enough to make it into the pop industry’s frame of vision, along with active anti-fascism (as opposed to a general nod in the direction of anti-racism) and anti-sexism. This year’s thing, last year’s thing, next year’s thing.

IN THE SUMMER OF 1985 Live Aid gives Sir Bob Geldof an excuse to get pissed and shout “fucking give, you bastards!” on live TV. Everyone waits to see if they’ll exhume John Lennon’s body and sit it in front of a white piano. Showbiz razzamatazz and displays of public generosity before McCartney sings “Let It Be”. Let what be? Have a party, celebrate decadence, and send a few bob to Africa? The £80 million raised amounts to a little more than half Michael Jackson’s personal fortune, or about what the world spends on arms every two hours forty minutes. And not one of those has-beens up there on the global pulpit ever mentions why there’s a famine in the first place – no-one asks who raps off the African crops and gives only MacCoke culture in return. Band Aid: a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. Revive those flagging careers! And U2 get their first taste of stadium rock…

Chumbawamba’s response is an LP catchily titled “Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records; Starvation, Charity and Rock n Roll – Lies and Traditions”. Which says it all, really. On the home front, Chumbawamba get involved in mass pickets both locally, at the Silentnight factory in Barnoldswick, and nationally, outside Fortress Wapping in London, where Rupert Murdoch mixes upgrading production of The Sun and The Times with all-out attacks on unions. Bundles of newspapers sitting outside newspaper shops across Britain are repeatedly stolen and burn, and several nights in Wapping end in a celebratory and almost ritual battle between cops protecting newspaper lorries and thousands of pickets and supporters. The band plays benefits for both sets of strikers in addition to gigs for Gay Switchboard, Prisoner’s Support group, Leeds Bust Fund and even an Anti-Freemasons concert in Keswick which has to switch venues twice due to local Masonic council threats. Chumbawamba are described in the Keswick press as “the worst of the american satanic backwards message bands”. And a gig with arch-punks Conflict at Leeds University ends in a mini-riot, missiles and riot cops and running battles… and Chumbawamba earn a lifetime ban from the University.

Late 1986 and Chumbawamba link up with Dutch band The Ex for a gig-to-gig relationship which is to last several years. Anarchists, squatters, and die-hard musical experimentalists, The Ex introduce Chumbawamba to demonstrations, Amsterdam-style; in a protest against NATO warships being stationed in the harbour, thousand of people create a huge party on the shores with bands playing on warehouse roof-tops and people already in crash helmets and with scarves across their faces. The Dutch riot police repeatedly charge the crowd, there’s a scream, and it’s an English accent. Alice Nutter is caught in the panic and has a broken leg. She completes the tour sitting on stage on a stool with her leg in plaster.

“All good clean fun, and ultimately harmless” – Chumbawamba live review, Birmingham Mermaid 1987

THE “SCAB AID” SINGLE, released under the name “The Scum” in 1987, attacks The Sun newspaper’s hypocrisy and jingoism by parodying that paper’s charity single “Let It Be” – where a host of pop’s greying publicity-fetishists (McCartney, Boy George, etc) sing to raise money for people involved in a ferry disaster. The single, a spoken-word n’ piano piece narrated by long-standing Chumbawamba sidekick Simon Lanzon (later of Credit To The Nation) makes NME’s single of the week and sells out before anyone realizes it’s Chumbawamba. The Sun describes the record as “sick!”. And what more accolade could it get from a paper which described the drowning of hundreds of Argentine soldiers aboard ship in 1982 with the headline “Gotcha!”?

“NEVER MIND THE BALLOTS… Here’s The Rest of Your Life”. Another Thatcher election victory and another round of red-faced Labour politicians shifting further to the right. The Labour Party, sitting on the fence so long it can’t work out which side it’s supposed to be on. Scared to challenge the status quo, wooing big business, turning a blind eye to sexual politicism to the dismantling of the Unions, to Ireland. For some of Chumbawamba, a few days in Belfast to see a little of what’s going on there. Saturday night chucking-out time, blacked-up squaddies creeping through peoples’ front gardens, in armoured cars in daylight asking questions, taking detail at sub-machine gunpoint. And the British media’s propaganda warfare, relentless in it’s blanket-censoring thoroughness… you can sing “Free Nelson Mandela” until the cows come home, but sing a song about Bobby Sands and see what reaction you get.

1988 and trying to cross the border between Switzerland and France. Seven hours in the no-man’s-land between the two, the entire band strip-searched and questioned after being found to have some copies of “Class War”. Extra plain-clothes officers “looking for guns”, the band only managing to cross intro France when the Swiss refuse to have them back; and after signing papers agreeing to the destruction of the confiscated magazines.

BACK IN ENGLAND, and the Centre for Policy Studies has unveiled their brand new baby for the 1990’s – the Poll Tax. Contrary to previous form, this is an attack on the whole of the British working class in one fell swoop; having excelled at picking off sections of it, this time the state proposes to reinvent a sweeping poverty tax which last failed in 1381, the time of the infamous People’s Revolt. Chumbawamba reacts by releasing a collection of acapella songs dating from that revolt up to the present day: “English Rebel Songs” breaks the chain of guitar/drums pop and tells it’s history of trouble-makers, revolutionaries and rebels whilst around the land anti-Poll Tax groups begin to organise and educate.

“If I can’t dance to it… it’s not my revolution” – Emma Goldman

PEOPLE ARE BEGINNING to get their act together – for some, 80’s hedonism is giving way to a recognition that whilst they were at the cocktail bar getting drunk the number of homeless people on the street outside has doubled. Chumbawamba take time off to get crap jobs, record a double LP entitled “101 Songs About Sport” (under the name “Sportchestra!”), and move out of the big home. During this unplanned sabbatical they play only one gig, at Bradford’s long-running (and self-run) Anarchist club the 1 in 12: playing only punk cover versions, God Save The Queen, White Riot, and the rest.

This concert aside, it isn’t until late 1989 that Chumbawamba play again, this time in Japan, as Britain’s contribution to an international conference organised to raise awareness of all things political: unionised struggles, aboriginal rights, women’s groups across the world. From a squat gig in Hackney almost a year earlier, to singing acapella rebel songs in a converted Catholic church in Tokyo. The conference is called “The People’s Plan For the 21st Century” – and the clock outside the Pompidou Centre carries on ticking away.

THE POLL TAX is introduced in Scotland, and Thatcher suddenly realises why the Romans built Hadrian’s Wall in the first place. No way are most of the Scots going to pay – for that initial year, the fightback against the tax – demonstrations, non-payment, attacks on tax collectors – shows the rest of Britain just how we can deal with the Poll Tax (and with Thatcher) once and for all. Of course, the Tories don’t even plan to introduce the tax in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland; they just wouldn’t dare. And the Chumbawamba machine spins on, recording songs for benefit compilation LP’s and surviving the bankruptcy of their distribution company and the general indifference of most folk to the continuing combination of pop and politics.

“As a reggae horn section kicks up dust, a duet from beyond the grave: a pseudo-Meinhof (German woman urban guerilla), insisting in a clear, unsolemn voice that she’s not sorry (“don’t think I walked into banks to stand in the queue” – Raymond Chandler wouldn’t have minded having written that); then Elvis, not pseudo but sampled (credited as a band member doubling on Quaaludes and Placydil), aiming `Can’t Help Falling In Love’ right back.” – Greil Marcus, March 1991

“Don’t urinate on the floor – your son will have to clean it up” – graffiti carved into the wall in visitors’ waiting room toilets, inside Armley Jail

YEARS ON, AND CHUMBAWAMBA still awkwardly hanging around, balancing on that knife-edge between boredom of everyday life and the ignorance of pop (knowing that when a band, smacked out or coked up, gets up in it’s boy’s playroom antics in the hotel room, chucking around tellies and food and chairs and champagne… that someone’s mum comes in the next morning and gets paid £3 an hour to wipe up the mess on her hands n’ knees). The turn of the decade, and the pop clock begins to bring politics into fashion as organised raves and warehouse parties are busted, banned and trashed by cops throughout Britain. Just south of Leeds, the biggest mass arrest ever seen in this country as hundreds of people are shunted into cells, jails and cop-shops around West Yorkshire during one large outdoor rave. A handful of people out of the hundreds get charged for possession – but more importantly, the authorities are putting the scare on pop culture.

Dance music, new (different) drugs, people organising outside the established clubs: suddenly you can go for a night out without having to stand in the corner of some pick-up joint listening to daytime radio disco; the threatening, sexist, macho atmosphere connected to nightclubs is swapped by something new, exciting and even joyous. And suddenly, thousands of people are putting together records on their own tiny labels, home-computers undermining the pop/rock company stranglehold.

CHUMBAWAMBA RELEASE “SLAP!”, sampling everything from Mark E Smith to Philip Glass. Live they mutate dangerously close to an all-singing, all-dancing cabaret spectacle; karaoke culture, sampling, even theft (they cheekily call it “poplifting”) enables the band to run riot, costumes and characters and do-it-yourself situationist sillyness in the name of revolution, art and fun… not in any particular order.

A concert raising about £1000 for the striking Ambulance Workers in February 1990 is memorably chiefly for the showbiz spectacle of five ambulance workers on stage with their collection buckets, wearing yellow fluorescent jackets and uniforms, one of them yelling into the mic above some quiet, sub-cabaret lounge music the band are playing. There’s a sense of people waking up; students, for so long an entrenched hotbed of quiet conversation, are leaning leftwards and upwards upon seeing the government chip away at their grants and services. And the timebomb is counting down to the anti-Poll Tax march: the whole world descending upon London to say “we’ve had enough of being pushed!”.

A QUARTER OF A MILLION PEOPLE will remember this day, March 31st, as the day we won – a quarter of a million anti-Poll Tax demonstrators to represent the many millions of British people who didn’t pay it, organised around it, formed local unions to prevent it, and leafleted, sung, shouted and nattered against it. Chumbawamba’s local banner, held amongst the drums and whistles of the march, is lost as riot cops are chased down Whitehall, the South African Embassy in flames, rich West End shops smashed and looted. This day is to see the beginning of the end of Margaret Thatcher – by November she’s out on her arse, the Tory tax discredited and unworkable. After years’ worth of demonstrations, being bullied, beaten, and arrested, after years of being raided, searched, stripped, charged, fined, banned and censored, this day is to remain a cornerstone in this band’s raison d’etre: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle 8, revolution… repeat chorus.

From Leeds to America and back again. An up and down tour, up and down the West coast of USA, avoiding the gunfire outside the gig in Las Vegas, stealing petrol to make it to concerts, Jello Biafra doing an Elvis impersonation with the band in Berkeley, and exchanging punches with the promotor in San Francisco. Chumbawamba almost ten years old and still coming out fighting, albeit under a variety of names:

Beeston YMCA 1983 Chumbawunba
Princess Charlotte, Leicester 1986 Jumba Wumba
Van Hall, Amsterdam 1987 Shum Bawanba
Swiss Customs Office 1988 Zhuma Vamba
Blue Gallery, Portland 1990 Chumbawunga
Fronte 79, Ingolstadt 1991 Tschamba Wamba

“‘The first time I was really shitting it’, he recalls, spinning one of the many sovereign rings on his fingers, ‘The only performing I’d done before was in church, and here I was playing a Methodist Hall with a group of Anarchists. In the middle of the set Boff, the guitarist, stops everything, looks up into the raffters and shouts, “If there is a God, strike me down!’. Then Danbert comes onstage dressed up as Jesus. And I’m thinking, fuck me, we’re all going to die! But I got used to it. They’ve corrupted me. It’s much more fun.'” – MCFusion speaking in NME 1993 about first ever Credit To The Nation/Chumbawamba gig, Liverpool 1991

THE SLOW BURNING FUSE OF ANARCHY continues to glow as Chumbawamba face the aftermath of a war fought in the Gulf for the sake of American oil prices. A studio audience of schoolchildren is shown via satellite on ITN’s news coverage. A general feeling emerges that many of the children oppose the war because “killing is bad”, and war is “not right”. Some way into the discussion a child suggests that the war is being fought “just for the oil” and a subsequent show of hands shows that a large number of these children feel the same. At this point the screen goes black and the sound cuts. It returns a few second later in a London studio, where a surprised anchor-woman, brain scrambling to readjust, announces the next bulletin.

PASSION KILLERS, revived briefly as a Chumbawamba offshoot, release a four track EP “Whoopee! We’re All Going To Die!” a handful of songs protesting against the war in the Gulf. Chumbawamba begin work on “Shhh”, an LP based around the idea of censorship (whether by state or by oneself); originally titled “Jesus H Christ”, the first version of the album is banned even before it’s release due to the intervention of a number of publishing companies whose artists’ songs are being covered (in small part) on this heavily irreligious collection of pop songs. Stock Aitkin Waterman “were not happy with the tone or mood of the section including ‘I Should Be So Lucky'”, McCartney’s people said simply, “we refuse to allow ‘Silly Love Songs’ to be included.” The band are forced to throw the protesting superstars overboard the good ship “Shhh”.

Seems like you can do cover versions until you’re blue in the face if you’re not part of the pop/rock old boy’s club. Little wonder, really – everyone’s in this boat together, rowing away to the Promised Land where the bands, the press, the companies, the agencies and managers have some idyllic cocaine paradise where we all wear backstage passes and drink the everlasting rider – everyone rowing away, and here comes some band standing up and shouting, rocking everyone all over the place and spoiling the ambience.

AND SO CHUMBAWAMBA give up the day-jobs, give up working in the café, running a removals firm, serving in the shop, working as a garage mechanic, working cleaning toilets in an old folk’s home. Now it’s Chumbawamba Inc, and the touring schedules get heavy so we can afford to live. To Europe, USA, life from the back of a van: countless variations on a theme of “if you can’t beat ’em, subvert ’em”. Playing in Dublin, in a venue owned by the Catholic Church, Alice swaggers onstage as a whiskey-swigging nun and throws a thousand condoms into the audience – the availability of rubbers in Holy Roman Ireland being illegal. Say three Hail Marys and pull that tongue from your cheek.

“Chumbawamba’s next single… is a tribute to the much-maligned Princess Di. All proceeds will go to a charity of the Princess’ choice. The record is ‘Never Say Di’ backed by ‘For The Love of a Princess’.” – From a press release printed by music papers, 1992

A PEEL SESSION is recorded in late 1992 to the accompaniment of outraged letters to the Radio One DJ complaining that “Chumbawamba are taking the piss”. In fact, and in fitting with Peel’s eclectic taste, the four songs broadcast are all kitsch classics from the band’s northern England cabaret WMC heritage. Don’t knock it, mate! These are songs heard as background to skiving off school, to the Miner’s Strike, to growing up; Agadoo, Knock Three Times, Y Viva Espana and The Birdy Song. Earlier, from the mid-eighties onwards, “Agadoo”s original producer Neil Ferguson (late of punkpop band The Donkeys) somehow ends up working with Chumbawamba on a regular basis and the swing towards camp throwaway pop, still mixed up with punk and folk, turns the whole “think ” – revolution, art and fun – into something daringly unclassifiable.

Chumbawamba, slight changes in line-up, haircuts and dress-sense, confront an audience in Memphis, Tennessee. Before the gig and across the road, a gathering of religious nuts carrying anti-abortion placards; inside the gig, these idiots have a youth wing called “Vegan Reich”. Their position is supporting the rights of the unborn foetus; they have a local reputation for attacking people wearing leather jackets. The atmosphere is charged and tense and they stand, around fifteen of them, in a group in front of the stage. Through the first two songs they chant and shove people around who want to dance, and after a stage/audience shouting match Chumbawamba down tools and climb off the stage. Harry continues to play a gentle swing as the band square up, yell, argue, punch, kick and force the kooks to leave the hall. On with the show!

“A revolution cannot be made without terror, disorganisation, and even wanton destruction, any more than an omelette can be made without breaking eggs.” – Nikolai Bukharin.

CHUMBAWAMBA VISITS GRACELAND: Danbert wearing his Elvis costume and wig. A sequined, huge-belted, high-collared jumpsuit with black fur-fabric wig held onto his head by gaffer tape. Incensed at not being allowed to visit the actual toilet where the King died, he ran from the mansion, through the gardens towards the front gates, eschewing the shuttle-busses which you are supposed to use. Suddenly the grounds are filled with security guards chasing Danbert across the lawns. A blue-rinsed tourist shouts, “Elvis has escaped!” and cockloads of people whoop and cheer as Elvis is chased out of his home. The guards catch him… and escort him from the premises.

“There’s a lot to be said for PC bands… but there’s too many Chumbawamba and not enough Rolling Stones.” – Paddy from These Animal Men in Melody Maker, 1994

AFTER SINGER JASON DONOVAN takes The Face to court for printing a mocked-up photograph of him wearing a “Queer As Fuck” t-shirt, Chumbawamba anonymously print up hundreds of “Jason Donovan – Queer As Fuck” shirts and distribute them free. Shhh…

1993, and in the swirling, beautiful but irrelevant whirlpool that is pop, organised politics is beginning to float to the surface. In the face of a fascist candidate being elected to a seat on Tower Hamlets council in London, both Anti-Fascist Action and the newly-reformed Anti-Nazi League see large increases in active membership. Carnivals, marches and a general raised awareness of the years and years of racist thuggery begins to infiltrate pop culture. Chumbawamba join with Credit To The Nation to produce “Enough Is Enough”, written as a warning of, and released as a reaction to, the increasing popularity of the nazi programme.

IT SUMS UP THE YEAR, gets slagged off by Jamiroquai, and burdens Chumbawamba with a reputation amongst Leeds nazis that the band (and their records) are targets for violence and intimidation. Local record shops who stock Chumbawamba’s “anti-fascist” t-shirt have their windows repeatedly smashed; Leeds Virgin and HMV staff are threatened with firebombing if they continue to sell Chumbawamba records. Ironic, as both Virgin and HMV have in the past refused to stock the band’s LP’s on grounds of political content. Still, hearing the line “Come kill the fascist with a gun!” on national day-time radio vindicates much of Chumbawamba’s brand of sugar-coated karaoke subversion.

Still counting down, and Chumbawamba release an album, “Anarchy”, their first for One Little Indian, still rocking the boat along the way: the cover of the album – a baby being born – is instantly banned by several record shop chains, sold under wraps or under-the-counter in others. As a way of coaxing out the double-standard moralities of the frightened rabbits who make these decisions, it works above and beyond the call of pop. (Which, of course, is the intention all along).

CHUMBAWAMBA: IN SHORT, troublemakers. What was that about pop (I mean POP) and politics mixing? Welcome to the end of the Twentieth Century… As a heckler at an early Chumbawamba gig said, “fucking weird!”.

That’s showbusiness.

“Art for art’s sake: a serpent which bites it’s own tail.” – Nietzsche

INTERVIEWS with CHUMBAWAMBA

Taken from Mutual Aid Recordings Double CD Release of
“For A Free Humanity: For Anarchy”

The following interview was done by Chris Burnett. The questions were sent via e-mail to Chumbawamba on June 2, 1996. The answers were received on July 15, 1996.

BURNETT: Chumbawamba is an unusual band: an anarchist pop-band that has been very successful over your 15 year existence. Can you talk a little bit about the politics of the band and the types of activities that you are involved in today?

CHUMBAWAMBA: British culture and the political climate has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. We’ve taken risks and changed with it. In the early to mid eighties the anarchist movement got a tremendous boot up the backside in the form of the punk/political band Crass; in fact, Crass were probably the catalyst for many of the 25 to 30-something anarchists who are active today.

By 1980 the original punk scene had got complacent; it was becoming the life blood of an industry it was supposed to despise. Crass appeared. They were critical and awkward. They didn’t fit into the music industry or the media’s idea of what a band should be. Mixing rock ‘n roll with subversive ideas gave Crass a sense of danger. The Sex Pistols had crooked a finger at the establishment, then Crass pointed out that the Sex Pistols had become the establishment. Crass redefined rock ‘n roll rebellion so that it no longer followed a path of cocaine, groupies and vandalism. If you come from a small town (as we did) then your influences are a mix of experience and pop culture. Clashes with authority supplied the gut feeling; pop culture supplied a sense of shared rebellion.

Crass was an antidote to easy listening but they were quite conservative in some ways. Unwittingly, they introduced lifestylism as an antidote to capitalism. There was a definite feeling that if you dressed in black, didn’t eat meat, banned all ‘unclean’ sexist or even sexy thoughts, and grew your own vegetables – or at least bought them at a health food shop instead of a supermarket – you were on your way to changing the world.

The “peace punk” thing had its own style… though it’s hard to see it now. We’d always been attracted to style and glamour – but not at the expense of content. The problem was that it was more about musical style than anarchist ideology. Class politics were noticeably absent. Everything was looked at in terms of single issues, whilst the biggest problem of all, capitalism (otherwise known as one small group of people shitting on the majority, with a few perks thrown in for the middle men who keep the ‘peace’) was rarely touched upon.

By the time of the Miners’ Strike in 1984 it was obvious that Chumbawamba weren’t ‘peace punx’. We wanted all out war. All of us thought that the sound of the ‘peace movement’ was too limiting in terms of music and ideology. The bands that were involved fell into two categories: Crass and imitation Crass. During the Miners’ Strike half the ‘peace punx’ declared that they couldn’t support the Miners because they were sexist, violent and ate meat. The Miners had taken on the might of the British state and snotty nosed punks were ignoring them for not being revolutionary enough. The whole “peace punk” ethos was exclusive: you had to wear the right rags, eat the right food, say the right things and listen to/make music that gave your Grandma a headache. Chumbawamba wanted to make pop music that Grandma liked; but we wanted each tune to carry a sucker punch.

People reacted in very strange ways when we started playing more dance and pop. Some were offended, whilst others gave us knowing looks and decided that what we were doing was in terms of political strategy rather than a combination of love and necessity. But mostly people just said we’d sold out. It seemed obvious to us that if you come across ideas which excite you, then the next step is to make them accessible to the widest number of people. The purists said that we’d diluted the ideas and sentiments by making them easy to listen to; the media, at the opposite end of the scale, said we were one-dimensional purists.

None of it kept us awake at night. If people are disappointed because we don’t fit their expectations… that’s a good thing. We’re anarchists not just because the present system doesn’t work, but because it’s common sense that nobody is better than us and we’re no better than anybody else. The myth of the hero/heroine is too strong in this culture. It ends in leaders and vanguards; we don’t want to lead a revolution, we just want to chip our ideas in along with everybody else.

Chumbawamba has existed as long as it has because of other people’s – often unconscious – input. Whenever we come across an idea or sound that moves or excites us, we steal it and with a bit of adapting it becomes a part of Chumbawamba. There’s a lot of situationism, working class history and class struggle anarchism about what we do but there’s also hedonism, fashion, drug culture, sex, football, cinema, etc. etc. Part of the problem with the eighties was that people got so wrapped up in the politics of denial that they forgot to have a good time. Rather than admitting that they’d been tight-arsed while confusing rebellion with martyrdom and saintliness, they claimed that it was impossible to be political AND enjoy life. They blamed politics rather than their own delusion. We’ve always maintained that the whole point of having politics is to improve the quality of your own life and other people’s.

We have a lot of contradictions but our integrity lies in our not trying to hide them. Chumbawamba has become a full-time occupation which just about pays the rent. There are problems with mixing politics and a pay cheque – but none that are so big that we can’t sort them out with hours and hours of discussion or arguing. None of us feel guilty about being able to pay the electric bill. Only the middle classes or Trust Fund babies glamorise poverty. We think ourselves lucky; not many of us get to make a living from doing work we love.

Interviewers often ask what we do away from Chumbawamba – as if that’s where the real credibility lies. Chumbawamba takes up vast amounts of our time, and all of us end up shelving personal projects in favour of the whole. It’s worth it; Chumbawamba is so much better than anything we could produce individually. The bonus is that Chumbawamba is a changing platform. What keeps us interested is being able to shift from working with convicted political prisoners to recording a radio-friendly pop song to writing for “Class War” newspaper to playing municipal halls in Poland…

BURNETT: I think there is a lot of mutual aid that goes on within the music industry, particularly among bands that express some sort of political consciousness. For example, shows are organized to benefit some local organization or to raise money for those in the midst of a heated struggle. Can you talk a little bit about who Chumbawamba has helped throughout the years and the process and/or criteria you use to make benefit decisions?

CHUMBAWAMBA: It’s something else that’s continually changed. Our early shows were all benefits; for years and years we refused to play for anything above our expenses getting to the show. As the band got bigger we played more and more, travelled farther and farther, and became burnt-out from playing every weekend and working “normal” jobs during the week. Something had to change; basically we became “professional” at a point where it was impractical to carry on as we were doing. Thus the idea of “benefits” changed also – now we were having to pay ourselves to live, too. (We rationalised this – and still do today – by believing that our role as a “pop group” is no less valid than many politically-active pressure groups. We are a part of, and party to, any movement for revolutionary change.) Ironically, whilst this change cut down on the number of shows we played to raise money for causes, it also directly led to much bigger audiences – we now had time and energy to tour places we’d never been to, to make records, to make better and more accessible propaganda. And so, when we do benefit shows now – or when we donate money to something – we can raise more in one night than we could raise over a whole tour several years ago. And as we’ve changed politically, we’ve also changed how we work within a “mutual aid” network – we began to identify the mutually irresponsible (!) notion of giving away lots of money to national animal rights groups (for instance) when we were living in a community where the pre-school nursery/infant’s daycare centre was threatened with closure for lack of funds.

So the early years of the band saw us playing benefits for lots of politically “soft” groups; this changed gradually to a definite policy of putting local and community-based projects at the top of any “benefit” list. If we do give money to national political organisations like Anti-Fascist Action or Class War, we give it to people in local groups, people whose work we respect and know about. Most times it’s not publicised that we’re making a donation unless it’s important to make it an informative gesture – like making sure someone we’re playing a benefit for can explain their position from the stage or distribute information at a show.

BURNETT: Chumbawamba is now on the internet. You recently did a project with Casey Orr called “i – Portraits of Anarchists” which is being displayed on the BURN! web site. As I am sure you know, there are many activists using the net as a decentralized organizing tool. What does Chumbawamba use the net for? Can you talk briefly about your impressions of the internet and its potential?

CHUMBAWAMBA: Well… pop groups on the internet are notoriously lame. Record company blurb, hard-sell, press pictures, the art of using a huge space to say nothing whatsoever. Before we set up our web site we looked at all the corporate rock n roll cornflakes sitting like mulch on the WWW, boring irrelevant mulch, and decided instead to take our cue from the political/radical sources of information on the net. If only to use the resources there to join in the information free-for-all (though it isn’t free… but I won’t go into that now), to counterbalance the idea that “band pages” have to follow a formula. We’d like it to work for us like a song ought to work: either suck in the music people and steer them towards a link to, for instance, an anti-fascist resource or a discussion on sexuality; or tempt the radicals into looking at the pop-culture politics of football, pop music, drugs, etc.

The internet is at a frightening point where it can claim to be both a haven for the spreading of great ideas and the newest platform for the advertising of capitalism. Cynically, I’d say it’s inevitable that we’re about to see the Coca-Colanisation of this medium in the same way we’ve seen it with print, with TV, with sport, with music… but realistically I’d add that, for the revolutionary, any media is there to be exploited, infiltrated, used, abused, stolen, corrupted, and embraced.

BURNETT: In the November 1995 issue of Love and Rage, Alice said, in response to a question about the record industry and ‘selling out’, “I don’t automatically think indies are better than majors. There’s no such thing as a benevolent boss. If he’s your boss, he’s a bastard. I hate the small businessman. I hate the lot of businessmen.” What is interesting is that Chumbawamba appears to be in a position to choose its boss. What are you looking for when you sign contracts?

CHUMBAWAMBA: Chumbawamba are in almost the same position as every other worker – apart from our enjoyment of the job. We’re powerful in that we have enough guts to do the musical equivalent of going on strike; but we’re sometimes powerless because someone else is holding the purse strings. We’ve learned that we can’t allow record company business heads to have any creative input. Creatively we trust each other and almost no-one else. But it would be a fallacy to pretend that we’ve outwitted capitalism so that the boss has to do our bidding. We chose our boss in the sense that we chose one record company over another BUT we have no illusions about the relationship. Capitalism works on profit; if Chumbawamba lost money for the record company they’d be less likely to support us.

I’m sure that OLI (One Little Indian Records) likes our ideas and our music but that doesn’t mean our motives run on a par. I’m not saying that we’ll see it, but what we’re after is the complete destruction of capitalism; that isn’t what the record company wants. When we sign a contract we’re looking for the small print.

The perks of the job lie in meeting people, and having an avenue to push ideas down. The music industry is no different from any other capitalist industry. For the most part the ‘enthusiasts’ are at the bottom of the pecking order and the money men are at the top. Some record company bosses may claim to be enthusiasts but its rare to find a label sticking with a band who lose them money.

BURNETT: In the same interview, Boff made a really interesting comparison between the comments of your working class friends who gave Chumbawamba support for your success and the comments of the middle class people who sort of looked down on the success of Chumbawamba. Have you noticed any changes in the audience that supports you? In addition to class, what else might explain the difference in attitudes?

CHUMBAWAMBA: Perhaps unfairly, we can tend to see all of our “radical” critics as suffering from middle-class guilt complex, still rebelling against the niceties of clean suburban homes and boring suburban parents. That’s our get-out clause when we’re accused of selling out radical ideas by young white males who quote their political ideas from other peoples’ records. It’s a long-standing bugbear! Sometimes we feel like a lot of people in the anarchist movement aren’t enough aware of the way the world looks outside the peculiar corner of it which is forever radical… that corner where the language, the patterns of social behaviour, the laws, the rates of human exchange are so separate from the “real” world. Some people treat political ideas like cults – the similarities are frightening.

All we’re doing is trying to encourage the idea that there can exist a politically radical culture within popular culture. Where Emma Goldman used a soapbox we now have TV and compact discs. Significantly, we’re often facing flak from both the pop and political sides for not being enough part of their gameplan – this we like. We’d hate to feel we were in anyone’s pocket.

Chumbawamba aren’t exclusively a working class band, and between us eight that’s completely irrelevant to how we work. It isn’t in our gameplan to feel guilty for anything we do, it’s in our gameplan to have a good time, stick some anarchist politics into the world, and avoid being boring. Then there’s always sex and football, of course.

BURNETT: Do you have any last comments that you would like to make? Is there anything Chumbawamba has been working on that you would like to share?

CHUMBAWAMBA: ‘No ideas, no revolution.’ (Crane Brinton) We love pop music and we never took a conscious decision to be political; experience made us that way.

CHUMBAWAMBA ON THIS RECORDING ARE:
Harry: showbusiness drums
Danbert Nobacon: vocals, tiny dresses
Dunst: ever-expanding percussion tree
Lou: vocals, keyboards
Alice Nutter: vocals, boxing gloves
Mavis Dillon: full-on trumpet captain, vocals
Paul Greco: faff bass
Boff: guitar, vocals
with:
Neil Ferguson: mobile & Studio recording/engineering
Ed Derby: live sound, little tips
Ady: lighting
Vic: merchandise
Casey Orr: backline tech (whatever that means)
Spot: backline tech, piercings
Jimmy Echo: vocals on “Timebomb”

ALL SONGS are written and arranged by Chumbawamba.

CHUMBAWAMBA THANKS everyone at the Duchess, those working there and those who paid to get in. Thanks (of course) to Leeds AFA, to Pete for doing the monitors, to Daisy for interviewing the audience, to Aaron Stuart whose Elvis Tribute Show was support both nights…

Chumbawamba – Anarchy (1994)

ANARCHY was recorded in january 1994 at woodlands studio castleford • chumbawamba on this recording are: harry, danbert nobacon, paul greco, louise mary watts, dunst, boff, alice nutter and mavis dillon with neil ferguson and fusion • all songs written and arranged by chumbawamba except “enough is enough” written and arranged by chumbawamba/fusion and “heaven/hell” – the melody based on a traditional hungarian folk tune and passed via the ex from muzsikas • all songs produced and engineered by chumbawamba and neil ferguson at the doctor quantize clinic • thanks bedlam rovers for the traditional melody to “homophobia” • thanks to fusion for the piece in “love me” • special thanks to jimmy echo for extra “timebomb” • accordion by commonknowledge • “georgina” intro by kerry and casey • mandolin by geoff read • additional guitars and keyboards by neil ferguson • cover photo by lennart nilson from “being born” (dorling kindersley) • photography by casey orr • design by baader-meinhof with thanks to jason and jim (his assistants) • all songs published by chumbawamba songs (leosong) and island music ltd • chumbawamba can be contacted at: p o box tr666 • leeds ls12 3xj • west yorkshire • england • dedicated to the memory of will ramsbotham, frank zappa and derek jarman •

“when the artist paints what the public demands, it is not art, but business.” (charles t sprading). In which our hero and his manager ride through london in the back of a stretch limo, as press agents, a&r flunkies and professional hangers-on lick the car windows from outside – discovering that the icy-cold british weather has attached them tongue-first to the star’s car. watch as albert burns them off with a ciggy in true medieval quack-doctor style. wealth, politics and embassy king size: we always suspected kings were small. give the anarchist a cigarette albert • bobby • for god’s sake burn it down • nothing ever burns down by itself • every fire needs a little bit of help • give the anarchist a cigarette • ‘cos that’s as close as he’s ever going to get • bobby just hasn’t earned it yet • the times are changing but he just forgets • he’s going to choke on his harmonica albert • nothing ever burns down by itself • every fire needs a little bit of help • give the anarchist a cigarette • a candy cig for the spoilt brat • we’ll get albert to write you a cheque • and he’ll be burning up the air in his personal jet • you know i hate every pop star that i ever met • nothing ever burns down by itself • every fire needs a little bit of help • burn baby burn • burn baby burn • nothing ever burns down by itself • every fire needs a little bit of help

“come together, right now” (lennon). remembering the delight, fear, joy, panic and excitement in trafalgar square during the poll tax riot and in post-rodney king verdict san francisco. you had to be there. you will be… timebomb stop now • what’s that sound • everybody look what’s going down • i am a timebomb • a ticking ticking ticking timebomb • unattended on the railway station • in the litter at the dancehall • sitting pretty near the fast-food counter • in the backseat of a vauxhall • i am a timebomb • stop now • what’s that sound • everybody look what’s going down • hear the ticking of your heartbeat beating • hear the breaking of their promises • hear the smashing of your expectations • zxwj • hear the shattering of half-rhymes • i am a timebomb • stop now • what’s that sound • everybody look what’s going down • and all the timebombs • they’re all dancing to the same song • in a world full of no-ones • i am a someone • i am a timebomb • stop now • what’s that sound • everybody look what’s going down • stop now • what’s that sound • london bridge is falling down

being the true tale of a young gay man who was kicked to death outside a toilet in bradford homophobia up behind the bus-stop in the toilets off the street • there are traces of a killing on the floor beneath your feet • mixed in with the piss and beer are bloodstains on the floor • from the boy who got his head kicked in a night or two before • homophobia the worst disease • you can’t love who you want to love in times like these • in the pubs clubs and burger bars breeding pens for pigs • alcohol testosterone and ignorance and fists • packs of hunting animals roam across the town • they find an easy victim and they punch him to the ground • homophobia the worst disease • you can’t love who you want to love in times like these • the sirens of the ambulance the deadpan of the cops • chalk to mark the outline where the boy first dropped • beware the holy trinity church and state and law • for every death the virus gets more deadly than before • homophobia the worst disease • you can’t love who you want to love in times like these

like an overcrowded bus or the january rush: on being pushed i never could stand to be pushed

anarchy, love and the tension between order and chaos; anarchy, love and the desire to kick out the old and build upon its ruins. “lately i seem to walk as though i had wings – i bump into things, like someone in love” (j van heusen/j burke). “we are all looking for great passion which is at once single and plural. socially we want to create the historical conditions for a lasting passionate relationship for a pleasure the only boundary on which is the exhaustion of possibilities” (ratgeb). “we are not in the least afraid of ruins. we are going to inherit the earth. the bourgeoisie may blast and ruin their world before they leave the stage of history. but we carry a new world in our hearts.” (durutti) heaven/hell tall as houses • small as spiders • undefined this buzz inside us • tightrope walker • chaos order • i fell right into heaven/hell • devil take me • god forsake me • made my home in heaven/hell • out of ruins growing pains • wide-eyed pirates crossing bones • tightrope walker • chaos order • i fell right into heaven/hell • devil take me • god forsake me • made my home in heaven/hell • kicking giants drowned in reason • breaking old building new • tightrope walker • chaos order • i fell right into heaven/hell • devil take me • god forsake me • made my home in heaven/hell

special guest appearance on this lp by johnny trabant, heard here reading the riot act to football stadia-sized crowds (you have to imagine the attendant video gimmickry). as a voxpop evangelical liberal, he thinks it’s some wonderful post-modernist joke to be appearing on an lp entitled “anarchy”. of course, we never actually met him; his personal assisitant simply requested we send him the tapes and he did the vocal in some 72-track studio in venice beach, los angeles. love me i’m an anarchist • i’m the anti-christ • well sort of not really • it’s not big it’s not clever • and i’m quite a reasonable fella • your friendly uncle good with kids good ol’ paternalist pop • good cop bad cop good cop bad cop good cop good cop • i was a wannabe and wannabes don’t know what they want to be • i needn’t have worried ‘cos the man upstairs was looking out for me • god gave me the finger with his free hand • now i’m his left hand man • hey punk don’t call me mac • my name is johnny trabant • love me • they call me the great pretender • john noakes was my mentor • i’m a walking talking ideas man • here’s one i prepared earlier • stretch armstrong and his rubber band • edwin meese and the sex police • please mr postman post-post-modern deliver us from elvis • be-bop-a-lula my baby-baby does good culture yes • now i found what i’m looking for i find myself in another fine mess • someone muddied my waters • i lost my way but now i see • i o.d.’d on irony • i’ll rediscover god for the next lp • love me • bend me shake me anyway you want me whatever you want i’ll be your heart’s desire • black and cuddly • you want love me • pop me cork watch me pop like bubbly • hot or not you’ve got to use what you’ve got • where’s the weak spot • let me take a shot • what a turn on • does it feel lovely • love me love me • johnny johnny what for art thou • how goes victor jara • i got a stadium-sized pro rata headache • pretentious moi • the ghost of eamonn andrews smiling watching over me • i love it let’s shoot it “johnny trabba the movie” • i paid my dues i sung the blues • i’ve done pain and personal hell • pass me the phone i got calls to make • this will sell and sell • i’m as “bob roberts” to your phil ochs • talking political • so love me • love me • love me i’m a liberal • love me • freeze-frame • love me

see “the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover” (peter greenaway). sing along to “oliver” (lionel bart). georgina georgina’s cooking supper for her husband • all her friends are coming round to see the show • because the thief she calls a husband won’t be hungry • when he sees what’s on the end of his fork • georgina isn’t asking any more • and her lover isn’t asking any more • and the cook isn’t asking any more • since the thief met a bullet on the way to the floor • georgina’s got a timebomb in her stomach • she knows that any minute now it’s going to blow • with all the pain and the silence that she feeds on • with all the hurt that the bruises can’t show • georgina isn’t asking any more • and her lover isn’t asking any more • and the cook isn’t asking any more • since the thief met a bullet on the way to the floor • georgina’s got an appetite for vengeance • and she sings all the songs from “oliver” • but she won’t be wanting seconds any more • as she tightens up her grip on her trigger finger • georgina isn’t asking any more • and her lover isn’t asking any more • and the cook isn’t asking any more • since the thief met a bullet on the way to the floor

“a miracle: an event described by those to whom it was told by men who did not see it” (elbert hubbard) doh! featuring the voices of the blind slye twins

it’s 1966 and reg at his organ celebrates local lad harry roberts’ gunning down of three policemen. geoff hurst scores a hat-trick and the clown king laughs forever and ever… “they think it’s all over! it is now” (kenneth wolstenholme) blackpool rock

on the dignity of labour of those well-seasoned agit-rock and rollers, the unlikely-named “stretch armstrong and his rubber band” this year’s thing roll up roll up • the greatest show on earth • animals clowns freaks misfits contortionists • fun for all the family • currently residing in the “where are they now” file • all tied up in elastic • stubborn like weeds they’ve been here all the while • i saw the egos grow • in good working order adjustable spanner • industry junkies • regurgitated cabaret under the hammer • they were running the show • let’s hear it for this year’s thing • last year’s thing • next year’s thing • step right this way • thrills chills and spills • marvel at the daring feats • pure entertainment • karaoke sex we can spend the night together • i made a date with elvis • while someone does a runner with the group’s bread and butter • i heard the colonel sing • from a packet of twenty when will they learn • sickalongadanbert • that for one good smoke there’s nineteen that burn • i never saw the strings attached to this year’s thing • last year’s thing • next year’s thing • jump a little higher • live by fire die by fire • i am the dog in the manger • or a dodgy brown packet with suspicious-looking wires • here’s my starter for ten • behind that pane of glass your special backstage pass • hear the never-has-beens • meet the manager with his kex down and kick his arse • and watch it happen again • this time it’s this year’s thing • last year’s thing • next year’s thing • politics is this year’s thing

rock n roll politicians: more exciting flavours for the same old piss. mouthful of shit i can’t hear you ‘cos your mouth’s full of shit • do something about it • well i’m really back to basics right beside a bar • choke the double trouble big one to the joker with the card • good call • what’s the crack what’s the damage done today • from the commons to the common a banana skin away • knock it back knock it out • chuck a nightmare dart • quiet • compere on the mic turns turning to the court • putting beef vol-au-vents across the union jack • bolinger and bitter says the colonies are back • i can’t hear you ‘cos your mouth’s full of shit • do something about it • you think you’re god’s gift • you’re a liar • i wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire • up your ronson • take a tab • with a flash of zippo light • catch the hip parade passing to the polaroids right • check the manic little rebel with a bottle in his hand • a rhyming manifesto and a butty from his mam • local lad made bad with cowboy charm • claims he doesn’t really mean every screw-’em-all barb • pass the mic • karaoke with the yesteryear stars • time to weep into your beer til the fireworks start • i can’t hear you ‘cos your mouth’s full of shit • do something about it • you think you’re god’s gift • you’re a liar • i wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire

to the joyous, the relentless, the pleasure-seeking, the outrageous, the inspiring and the libidinously-charged. never do what you are told this coat my royal gown • a stolen hand-me-down • no need to scrape and bow • we can be heroes now • for more than just one day • here’s how • 1. look both ways when crossing roads 2. don’t wear slippers ’til you’re old and 3. never do what you are told

“i believe in making trouble. if women have any duty at all, essentially it’s to be a pain in the arse” (avital ronell). • “the pursuit of sex threatens to make good girls bad, so we usually accept the cultural standard of sexual minimalism… few partners, fewer positions, less pleasure and no change in preference. what i am suggesting here is an active pursuit of our gratification with a sense of responsibility, entitlement and enthusiasm. the good girl/bad girl distinction will fail to terrorise us and control our access to pleasure only if we set out to destroy the double standard.” (paula webster) bad dog puppy eyes puppy eyes tearing claws spitting pride • roll over! roll over! roll over! roll over! • pretty please pretty play chase away chase away • nasty nasty snapping nasty biting spitting nasty nasty • hammer hammer teeth nails sit sit sit sit • bitch won’t beg bitch can’t lick bitch can’t do those clever tricks • heel fetch run lie nasty nasty snapping nasty • see these eyes puppy eyes roll on over and die die • bad dog you bad dog you bad dog you bad dog • playful dog with trouble and spice nasty nice nasty nice • slip the lead fight fight my bark is softer than my bite • roll over roll over mock each chewing spewing mouthful • hammer hammer teeth nails bad dog bad dog • good girl pat pat bad dog smack smack • here’s a bitch who’ll give it back snap snap snap snap • puppy eyes will start to play this nasty dog will have it’s day • this is heaven • this is hell • this is living • this is tale to tell • this is drive wheel • this is cog • this is master • this is snarling dog • this is hammer • this is spanner • this is no sir • this is table manners • this is history • this is how it’s been • this is over and over and over and over again

“we should pity rather than fear them”. bollocks! anti-fascist action are at: bm 1734 • london • wc1n 3xx enough is enough open your eyes • time to wake up • enough is enough is enough is enough • give the fascist man a gunshot • trying and trying again to get this damn thing done • it can’t done • come shoot the fascist with a gun • ‘cos it’s stopping us from unity • we cannot see reality • just vanity insanity fusion cannot stand it see • no man fascist man will ever get me outta the land • so understand fusion plan to stop them with a bang • we sang and sang to make the people all unite • not fight but fight because the leaders don’t think right • you burnt us in the past you know it won’t happen again • so black and white take a stand and all try to defend all of the people and the children who are living in the past • just blast and blast don’t make the fascist man last • open your eyes • time to wake up • enough is enough is enough is enough • give the fascist man a gunshot • on and on and on you know the feeling’s so strong • so long • it’s wrong • i’m telling you it’s wrong • destruction confusion and blaming it on the colour • i wonder in horror ‘cos the people start to follow • all the leaders and the rulers who are putting up the fence • it’s dense immense and you say you’re talking sense • bull bull i want to say it full • but people on the radio you know will make a pull • so i try to tone it down to make the whole world know that the language of my violence will proceed in my show • flow flow to make the fascist man know • that unity is here and unity will grow • open your eyes • time to wake up • enough is enough is enough is enough • i want to wake up • enough is enough is enough is enough

it’s not over til the end. “the young doctor who told me this morning i was a carrier of the aids virus was visibly distressed. i smiled and told her not to worry, i had never liked christmas.” (derek jarman, 22nd dec 1986). respect to fighters, and especially here to the people who put together “diseased pariah news”, two parts gallows humour and one part righteous anger. this magazine, written by and for people who are hiv positive, proves that life doesn’t end with diagnosis. “diseased pariah news”: fog press c/o men’s support centre p o 1box 30564 oakland california 94604 usa rage hear the ghosts of ever after • yell of anger • ring of laughter • don’t go gently into the night • rage against the dying of the light

Chumbawamba – Shhh (1992)

we’ve long since been tagged as pop’s ungrateful spoilt brats, cowering in the wings and sniping endlessly at pop culture and its playschool politics. mama cass carrion crow squadron at 3 o’clock it can get a bit obsessive, admittedly. i mean, there’s more to life than slagging off u2 and live aid. so swapping the anti-rock & roll venom for a cocktail of blasphemy, obscenity and stolen chorus lines, our fifth lp, originally called “jesus h. christ”, was all done and dusted when uh-oh! the objections started to arrive. publishers representing millionaire rock scum, in paroxysms and piques, demanding that we remove from our record any sample or version of their darlings’ golden greats money money money saying they “didn’t like the tone of the songs”. some requested 75% of royalties for about 10 seconds worth of music. abba, kylie, bolan, beatles and so on. not having a huge multi-corporation record company to foot the bill, we gave it up as a bad job. “shhh” is the precocious bastard offspring which “christ” bore. hear nothing, see nothing, feel nothing, say nothing. just when you figured it out someone lets you down. us, usually and unashamedly who’ll make all the wrong decisions when the judge is up for trial? no-one has the cure for all our daily hurts – least of all this rock & roll, it’s wannabee christs all dead and dying. truth, get stomach and wings! mama cass carrion crow! dream a little dream of cass elliot, sweetest voice strangled on a mouthful of sandwich pecking at the tongue of a still-warm body. shut your mouth; or laugh out loud! “er, what does it all mean?” for a few brief words and a few short lines i was taken to the coliseum, fed to the lions – and lions aren’t the type you can really love enough, but you can turn ’em into rugs! “ow mate, can you spare some change?” too much… are you down on your fashion, or down on your luck? sometimes questions never get dropped: hey mick, are you dancing? “i never stopped!” l.a.u.g.h.i.n.g. – laughing.

by the time students across the western world were wetting themselves to monty python’s flying circus, lenny bruce was long since dead and buried. first in the courts, and finally in the toilet, elvis-style. so i was fortunate in having a hero that no-one around here had heard of. sometime in the late seventies, ian martindale, “the video, joe! don’t tell them about the video, joe!” who later went on to own a pit bull terrier named after jah shaka, gave me a book of bruce’s comedy routines and i fell in love with it. i read and re-read the book, laughed out loud on buses, and wished i could die in the toilet just like lenny. i practised using words like “motherfucker” and “bullshit”. it was no use. this was leeds, england, and i was already a cynical punk casualty without half of bruce’s style, wit or amazing ability to say the wrong things at the right time. rock n roll – it’s easier lenny bruce was repeatedly arrested for “obscenity”, a word whose meaning he consistently and continually challenged. so in homage to the man i got arrested for having a piss in a public place. i caught you with your head down the toilet as you were gulping up dirty words, and then later dressed in suit and tie, whilst playing to the laughing crowds, you were gargling, spitting, fingers down your throat – making yourself so sick. vomiting the words that you’d sucked and slurped all over the cops at the back! big mouth strikes again… mc fusion: censored! “to” is a preposition, “come” is a verb. “to come” is the verb intransitive; to come – to come. did you come? did you come good? don’t come in me, don’t come in me… it takes technique to thrill me! did you come? did you come good? these are words for which bruce was arrested big mouth strikes again… stepford husbands, stepford wives; with longer scissors, snip snip snip sharper knives. so sugar sweet, they spend their time as censors, working overtime. this good-good culture – welcome christ, judges, lone ranger, padres, pastors, popes, priests, critics, comics, you, me! big mouth strikes again…

basically the message is: steal it! culture, music, art, the odd book and slab of cheese… the new will be built from the ruins of the old. buenaventura durruti, give me a d minor! same seven notes and some slag poet’s quotes: stick them together with glue; you can mix a fine cocktail from memories, and pretend what you’re drinking is new. but there’s nothing that’s new under heaven – there’s nothing that hasn’t been done. pour me another double cliché; you can’t write a song that’s never been sung. take it away… and don’t bring it back everyone’s stealing from someone. burglars get burgled as well. there’s nothing that’s new under heaven; there’s nothing unique over hell. there’s nothing that’s new under heaven – there’s nothing that hasn’t been done. pour me another double cliché; you can’t write a song that’s never been sung.

i can’t remember how we stumbled across “the hit man and her”. a two-hour television programme, shown between two and four in the morning, based around the idea of sitting at home watching other people get drunk behave! and enjoying themselves, in a nightclub somewhere in the north of england; we were hooked. it’s one of those programmes that you just can’t stop watching. hosted by pete (of stock, aitken and…) waterman, talentless millionaire, no personality, awful grey suit; and michaela strachan, talentless bimbo, no personality, mini-skirts and giggles. behave! the whole thing is a vehicle for waterman (the “hit man”) to play his label’s new releases. and his catchphrase is: “behave!” sa&w typify pops’ ability to avoid talking about sex whilst filling the charts with endless oohs, aahs, and carry on-style euphemisms. ooh er missus, pump it up, let’s spend the night together so i can sex you up… behave! it’s the same unreal glossed-over crap you see in penthouse. sex without the… well, without the sex. macho bragging or little-girl whimpering, staple pop under brown wrapper. tee-hee. behave. five fingers holding four wise angels; little heads float by on clouds of goodness. they’re playing voodoo with their kylie dolls – sing it right or don’t sing it all.

fascinated by the hills of hebden and halifax, it was inevitable that i’d stumble across the legacy of the calder valley coiners: a huge network of coin forgers and counterfeiters who, some 200 years ago, cost the government dear and shared out their profits among the poor of the region. this was too good to be true: a thousand robin hoods virtually on my own doorstep. i’d seen an advertisement for a fell race up n down x country called “the coiner’s seven” – a seven mile slog around the coiners’ eighteenth century haunts – and began looking for any writings on the coiners. precious little is left: the history of these coin clippers is writ small, usually by wet liberal historians who fail to understand the radical nature of coining. what little there is led me to heptonstall church graveyard where “king” david hartley, one of the leading coiners is buried. finding his rainswept tombstone, one desperately stormy sunday afternoon, was as exciting as the childhood annual visit to blackpool pleasure beach. it was up in the tiny village of heptonstall, too (i later read) that a local woman called mary newall had killed an informer by putting hot coals down his trousers a flame for your pants, a poker for your eyes in a local inn. great stuff. as coincidence had it, the summer of 1991 saw a spate of forged tenners and fivers hitting the streets of england, with shopkeepers and bankers across the country discovering they’d been conned by counterfeit notes. respect due to mickey thomas, wrexham footballer ha! well madam how’d you like it, maybe plenty off the back? i heard the coiners took the snippers to the union, jack, with a snipper and a clipper and a bloody close shave making fivers, tenners, twenties, change. what’s your size? what’s the hours? tufnelspeak no, you don’t need the hassle – take the new short cut to the old clippy castle with the ramblers and the scramblers and the loiners and the tykes and the punks and the hippies living over by the pike. skyline-dominatingstoodley pike, built to commemorate the end of the napoleonic wars, now a phallic haven for twolegs and fourlegs pick a coin, any coin, and with a snip snip snip you turn a portuguese guinea to a threepenny bit; and every last watermark just curled up and died, haircut sir? and now the king and the queen got a bit on the side. don’t be bloody silly – keep away from bloody billy notorious government informer – cause he’s shopping all the chopping going down along the valley, and supergrassing catches like a plague, to be sure: but it’s nothing that a bullet in the belly couldn’t cure. please to put a penny in the old man’s hat, then roll ’em over! roll ’em over! lay ’em out flat! just deliver us kicking from our pokes and sacks to the hills of hebden, hell and halifax. and the next bugger blabs is the next bugger dies, got a flame for your pants and a poker for your eyes… where every hot guinea is another hot dinner, with the weavers and the spinners and the reverends aye, even the reverends were involved! and the sinners.

whilst “kicking back” (a term we picked up from chris and janis) in the states a few summers ago, we had the privilege of visiting one of the most inspiring shops I have ever come across. this was prior to the alice nutter/roger ahlforth bout (one round, one punch, and he’s down!) and so it was with roger as holy guide that we trooped off like a big happy partridge family to this christian music superstore and bookshop rolled into one. “jesus loves you” cowbells! i was in heaven. surrounded by icons and crosses and flagellation devices we filled our pockets with the joys of the lord. on the counter of the book store we came across a small pile of badly developed photographs come on baby, do the camera shake accompanied by the following explanation: “picture was taken by meta battle while flying from indiana to florida. the lord impressed her to take a picture of a cloud formation and, developed, this was the result. upon seeing the picture, a deacon from her church gave a prophecy of the soon return of jesus. at the end of it were the sic words to this effect: you think that you have lots of time, but you only have a moment to get ready to meet jesus! copies of this picture were sent to a friend, miss may miller, who was visiting in oakland. a negative was made so that more copies could be given out to be used for god’s glory. people out with polaroids all around town rev hal herman, a former professional photographer of hollywood, gave his opinion that it was authentic and not contrived in any way. jesus is coming soon! (matthew 24:30)” well i believe it. amen! (ahem). look, no strings: just paper-glue and card. hark the angels sing: paste the lord! high above the streets and houses paint the whole world with a rainbow mrs meta battle, with one hand on the valium and one hand on the bottle. somewhere over indiana, eight miles high, meta battle sees the good lord wandering across the sky. have your fun whilst your alive… you won’t get nothing when you die. have a good time all the time because you won’t get nothing when you die… gobsmacked, william shatnered, twilight zone doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo monster-on-the-wing-episode meta does a double take: come on baby, do the camera shake! half expecting from the aisle a certain mr hated jeremy beadle watching you, watching us, watching mrs meta battle (can you see what it is yet?) accompanied on the stylophone meta battle shot her lord load and watched him tumble down; and now there’s people out with polaroids all around town. and who knows, that jesus on the church near your house may well be the original – kiss it as you pass!

oi jesus, what you looking at? guilt, shame and fear… twelve years old and i’m being told that masturbation is unclean. jesus is watching. all the time. both the youth club leader and later the boss at the church who drilled this into me got sent down for molesting children. presumably jesus was watching them. so when boy george and his drug rehab mates pop up chanting the hare krisna mantra on top of the pops, everybody’s on to-oh-op of the pops telling me that “jesus loves you”, i get the urge to nut him where his third eye should be. rich pop stars have always had this thing for religious mysticism – egos looking for justification, spoilt brats wanting surrogate mothers to wrap them in cotton wool. i wouldn’t care if they didn’t try to convert the rest of us into their funky freak show. fine, if lennon wants to float off to india to sit cross-legged in front of some smirking joker in a loin cloth, chapman put a stop to that! but frankly most of us haven’t the time or inclination to spend what little money we have on buying flashy cars for sexually repressed gurus. i thought that sort of rubbish went out in the sixties. walking down lands lane in leeds can be a nightmare – not only do you have to dodge the revolutionary communist party’s maniacal paper sellers, you have to run the gauntlet of bald-headed, woolly hatted, clip-board wielding krisnas wearing their false smiles and trying to screw money out of you on the pretext of some “poor children”. liars! the money-grabbing mansonite “friends of the family” call this technique “transcendental trickery”. true! it means lying through their teeth in the name of the lord to get cash. heroin, jesus – same drug in a different syringe. mainline some escapism. “i can handle it…” i’m having a wonderful time drunk on communion wine; one sin over the seven, sick all over the stairway to heaven. bullshit, bullshit, priests without a pulpit, shake shake shake your blessed bells. ding dong! heaven calling! buzz buzz buzz… haircut sir! you put your whole self in, your whole self out – in out in out, shake it all about with a pop song, pop song, smothering love bombs, you’re great i’m great everybody’s great! happiness is just a chant away. georgie got a needle and georgie got a hit. georgie got religion and a saviour on a stick. a thousand georgies all posing in a field mimickingfrench situationist madman who joined a convention of people all claiming to be jesus. he interrupted the mass meeting by descending from a light aeroplane dressed as christ. touché! – which are false and which are real? you put your whole self in, your whole self out, in out in out, what’s it all about? pop song, pop song, smothering love bombs, you’re great i’m great everybody’s great! (chants the harry roberts mantra:) harry roberts, harry roberts, roberts roberts, harry harry. a popular football terrace chant of the seventies was the non-sectarian “harry roberts is our friend.” harry was incarcerated for shooting a cop… everybody got a good deal, everybody got a guru, everybody got a love bomb, everybody got a hit song.

an extract from the ransom note, written in cut-and-paste newspaper style (ref: jamie reid). a phonebox rendezvous, don’t whisper a word. half a million by monday – or roger waters gets it! (as spoken by roger waters’ mother:) “my little baby! they cut off his ear!” hooray! half a million by tuesday, then – don’t whisper a word…

i grew up on the never-never; everything was bought on a tick and had to be paid for every friday night weavin’ and a-bobbin’ when the tallyman called. my dad got paid thursday and by monday my parents were hard up again. my mum always made sure she paid the bills; there was supposed to be virtue in being “poor but honest”, but all it gave us was less than everybody else had. thirty years of married life to the holiest joe, ex-footballer and possibly, an armchair without ever taking a penny that didn’t belong to her. she was sixty when my dad died, and after she’d paid for the funeral she’d a grand total of £200 in the bank; and she still thought that honesty was the best policy. years after i’d left home i met a group of women from a council estate who’d chucked that idea out the window and had taken to shoplifting, managing to get videos and decent clothes for their kids as a result. they’d hire a van and set off for a city and descend en masse. you could order anything from three pairs of kids’ knickers to a nikon camera and they’d let you have it at a third of the price. if the girl’s got to have it, then the girl’s got to have it nobody buys from catalogues on that estate. shoplifters of the world unite! two little ducks sank with a knock knock knock; she got twenty on tick and she smoked the bloody lot. the fridge was bare, the dog was bones: weavin’ and a-bobbin’ when the tallyman calls. mary, mary, she went up the wall and she kissed bye bye to the holiest joe: played the wild rover and climbed on board, says, “it’s all that the lady of the manor can afford.” you sometimes plunder, and you sometimes plunder… meet ms morrissey, fingers light, she lifted up his hat a hatful of hollow rhetoric. all aboard for maudlin street! and he wept all night. she’s the woman with the granny bag dressed to the nines – the pleasure and the privilege mine all mine! candid camera watching you, watching us, again. on every bloody wall – all the cameras under heaven couldn’t catch ’em all. fill those pockets and lift that grail; lead me into temptation, girls. (interlude): everything i do, i do it for you. everything i do is driven by you. driven by you? you don’t have a clue… i make your songs better and you always try to sue! money, money, money – it’s gone to your head. i sample too much and you say “the music’s dead”. dead? huh! you’re the one that’s dead – lots of money spent on someone with a hollow head. new kids, minogue, all those sort of rogues, making lots of money for those scheming little toads. then you come to us and say we made the music worse; look at the beatles and stones – who made their music first? all the threes and all the queen bees singing “does the driver want a wee wee?” wicked ladies, malicious intent: “but your honour, i was only trying to pick it up for lent.” roll up for the magical miss tour, step right this way! does the driver want a wee wee? ’cause we want a wee wee too! why waste change? why change the habit? if the girl’s got to have it then the girl’s got to have it. easiest pickings, wall to wall, in england’s piped ceramic malls. by the dickens! and the devil’s daughter – bingo! full house! everyone’s a winner! the lady works in mysterious ways: all because the lady loves christmas every day… you sometimes plunder, and you sometimes plunder. and here’s the moral of this story you can make a living sometimes plundering.

we were driving down to london the other day listening to magic 828 (ray stroud playing “what have i got in my hand?”) when on came “the streak” by ray stevens. vivid memories of sprinting naked bodies came flooding back – that guy who leapt over the stumps at lords, or blaine ward, who, whilst out camping in our back garden, agreed to streak down whitehouse road in return for an orange. then there was of course bert bacon comma, though, in the middle of the night, down to the post office to post a letter, stark naked, for a bet. so, this dutchman when he got all his clothes nicked during a heavy session at the launderette around the time of the lean years of the nazi occupation of holland, took the only possible option: a brave walk home in the rain, wearing only a hat, shoes, and carrying an umbrella. suffice to say he was spotted and photographed and the rest, as they say, is history: “a daring dutchman strolls naked through the streets of amsterdam to protest against strict german clothes rationing.” i’m not so brave and i’m not too crazy, and i’d rather be a coward than pushing up daisies. never rocked the boat. never tipped the scales. never got off the fence. never had that much to say… so when i get a leather glove across my face, i say “yes sir, no sir, whatever you say sir.” and when the nazis stop me, shouting “get out your pass book!” i say “yes sir, yes sir” – i don’t trust to luck. blimey! who’d adam and eve it? they’re rationing clothes; and where they find a molehill a mountain grows. so please, no pictures! ’cause the snap they took – they’ll take it as a sign, jesus h. christ! shhh just my luck! i’d stay at home and sit it out, but in a dirty world you need a launderette. gene kelly, played by paul simenon, whistling “singing in the rain”… two short minutes, i look the other way – some bastard robbed me blind! you can’t trust anyone nowadays.

who’s on this recording? alice nutter vocals, habit, rabbit bert bacon vocals, elastic band, foam lou vocals, keyboards, granny bag mave bass guitar, vocals, trumpet harry drums, percussion, octopus’ garden boff guitar, vocals, refrigerator dunst vocals, percussion, hammering with: commonknowledge keyboards, accordion, voice mc fusion vocals neil ferguson guitars, keyboards, engineering geoff slaphead fiddle howard storey vocals, a good time thanks: brian and sam typesetting geoff clout live sound cobie hard work, no money, memories mick sexgod guitar southern hard sell jimmy mullen’s claret & blue army the mighty turf moor roar written, performed and produced by chumbawamba march 1992
southern records po box 59 london n22 1ar england fax: 44 81 889 6166
published by southern songs

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