Devolute

Devolute

(1)

english glasnost (2)
from the mouths of those
who use air rifles on their friendly class
why is the truly skint never ssssss-scotch ridden
embrace...negate...

how does
....devolute....
man prise the political from anything from a garden,
...metamorphosis...barge...
a jet plane or a loaf
...euro jazz...devo-land...
English glasnost
...metro-jazz...
to re-iterate
...indigenous...
injury list
devolute...tionites
the stinking cast and the stinking east (3)
in fear of Bill
three mile quaker pub radius (4)
became different person
in reality of right of portion of forthcoming
'tricity and face three years solid for evasion
was posessed by indigenous...Chorltonite's natural aversion...(5)
there is also the little matter of shafting somebody while they're working
like what you did at Sheffield
get lost
yours sincerely...
famous face...pop star...
also when are you can't afford a stamp
and get with food
...fat-arse......which...
it's the gas electric workers and the carpenters
is more than I have since end of May
and the assertion of the letters to press battery better make it better
...tenth...
goodbye cackhead...
sincere yours,
Smith
faced murderer
geriatric
like indigenous
you wanted to know that didn't ya
...english glasnost...
...Charlatanite
why are the truly skint never devoluted
what would life be without comedy...
how does the political man prise from any--
...comedy and music,
music and comedy...
...devolute
...from a garden...

...eject...
what would it be like
...plague...
...or a loaf...
...what would life be like without...

[the rest of the way there is a single vocal line]

devolute
and forget to
reboot the gas boiler
don't forget to
listen to
the phone in BBC
northern

god I thought
I'd regret
some crocus
god I thought I
had recruit
some crocus
the gurning hosts
were grinning twinkle-eyed
maniac
rumour host
and all the stuff in your...
invalid
devolute
I...on freezin' rot
strafed by
days of chance
english glasnost
its visitation is vibration
i am not
wrongable
from the werewolf
and the...
pseudo jobs
english glasnost
the unutterable
refrain duplex
in the shrine
found a photo booth
in...absolute
devolute
devolute (6)

Notes

1. This is one of the Fall's weirdy/experimental songs, and a stellar example of the genre, if we can call it that. It is strong evidence, in my view, against the claim sometimes made that the album runs out of steam down the final stretch; there is plenty of steam here, but there is no doubt that the running order of the album is odd, with most of the more conventionally-structured or accessible songs in the rear view mirror at this point.

There are two vocal lines, both by MES, which I have distinguished by placing one of them in italics. At times the order of the lines is hard to decide on because of overlapping vocals, but the above should be fairly easy to follow; one can choose one of the vocal lines and follow it, or read the lyrics in order and try to get a sense of the overall effect of Smith's lyrical barrage.

Many readers will be aware of the American band Devo, whose name is derived from "devolution." Devolution is not a widely accepted scientific concept, since it presumes that there is a qualitative progression involved in evolution, a notion that probably all, or certainly almost all, biological theories derived from Darwin (including that of Darwin himself) deny. It is rather a popular perversion of the theory of evolution, and a concept which no mainstream scientist would accept.

However, this is presumably not the primary meaning of MES's use of the word.  Consider this comment by vegetables:

I'd say it's very likely that this has something to do with the "devolution of powers" from Westminster with all the references to "English glasnost". There were successful referendums in Scotland and in Wales on devolution in 1997, leading to the establishment of the Welsh Assembly in 1998 and the full Scottish Parliament the following year in 1999, placing it well within the period when stuff was being written for the album and to me would seem to indicate that there had to have been some kind of link or at least an inspiration for MES to pick up the term and run with it.

The alternate version from the Unutterable bonus disc begins "May 10th, Monday" (see note 6 for the alternate lyrics). According to Zack, this provides an important clue for any Fall sleuth looking for more background on the political content of the lyrics. A veritable smoking pistol, if you will. The Butler did it, and all that:

May 10th fell on a Monday in 1999, and on that day BBC News reported under the headline "Devolution brings new politics" that "A new political era has emerged amid the final results from the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections." 

^

2. Glasnost is a Russian word meaning "publicity" or "publicness" and has historically been used to describe government activity that is conducted in the open, without secrecy or dissembling. The word became famous in the late 1980s when Mikhail Gorbachev used it as a label for reforms he undertook to bring more transparency into Soviet governmental affairs, and to reduce Party control of the government.

^

3. Reading this line, it occurs to me that it may be originally derived from a typo ("cast" for "east" or vice versa).

^

4. There is an "advice" from a Quaker Book of Discipline that reads: “In view of the harm done by the use of alcohol, tobacco and other habit-forming drugs, consider whether you should limit your use of them or refrain from using them altogether.” It should go without saying that, to the extent that this can even be viewed as a rule, it is often honored in the breach. Nevertheless, both currently and historically, there are some Quaker groups that advocate teetotalism. 

According to avsp:

"There are in England places with no pubs due to restrictions placed in land owning trusts that were set up by Quaker business families. One such is the Birmingham suburb of Bournville, which is were the Quaker Cadbury family built their chocolate factory. Several pubs are, I'm told, immediately adjacent to where the trust land ends. Local shops within the Bournville Village Trust boundaries are still not allowed to sell booze at all. Oddly there's long been a bar in the factory's social club but that was more a members only-ish club & I doubt it had a bar back when it was built. Presumably the factory land was separated from the BVT land at some point FWIW, & I'm guessing the BVT area is at least 3 miles across in places, I can well recall the lengthy booze-walks back when I was going out with a girl who lived in Bournville.

^

5. Further down, Smith clearly says "charlatanite" (which isn't actually a word). Here I have followed the Lyrics Parade, however, since in this instance the line sounds like "Chorltonite" may be correct. There are no less than two Chorltons in Manchester city. Chorlton-on-Medlock is in the inner city of Manchester, bordering on the city center, while Chorlton-cum-Hardy is a suburb four miles to the southwest of the centre. Whatever associations MES has with Chorlton are beyond me, if this is even what he says. 

^

6. The bonus disc of the rereleased The Unutterable has an alternate version of this song, and Reformation kicks down with the lyrics:

Left MES:

May 10th, Monday
Far up
Tale of the speccy M
Metamorphosis
Barge
Euro-chant
Devo-lad
Metro-chaff
Like indigenous charlatonites
In fear of film
Three-mile Quaker pub radius
Became different person
The reality avoided the parson of forthcoming
Was possessed by indigenous Charltonite's charlatonite's natural amazons
Who's paying for the grub here?
Faced murder
You wanted to know that, didn't yer?
English glasnost
Why are the truly skint never Scotch-ridden?
How does man prize the political from anything from (...)?
The jet plane of...
English glasnost
To reiterate: dangeralist
The steed
Cash (...)

Tricity of the faith
Previous folly or evasion
Or is (...) matter of shouting something loud while working?
Like what you did at Sheffield
Get lost
Yours sincerely
Famous face
Pop star
Also: when are you can afford a stamp
And get with food
Fat arse
Which is what my (...) six-second (...)
Temp
You buy (cabin)
Sincere
God
Smith
Geriatric
By indigenous charlatonites

What would life be without comedy?
Comedy and music
Music and comedy
Devolute
What would it be like?


Right MES:

Now
I laughed at the government
The old jokes we laughed at
Admittedly
Or do you want to go back to the jokes?
What would it be like?
Alternative comedy music
Music and comedy
What would we... life be like?
What would life would be like?
Chip-pan (...)

Alan Brazil on (...) miserable and (...) for talk about all those cities
Are hyperbole
Touch (...) city
Long romance of those who use air-rifles
And their friendly (flask)
Embraced
The gates
Devolute
Metamorphosis barge
Euro-chant
Devo-lad
Metro-chaff
Indigenous
Devolute Semite
In fear of mill
Three-mile Quaker pub radius
Became different person
The reality avoided person of forthcoming
Was possessed by indigenous Charltonite's natural aversion

It's the gas
Electric workers and the carpenters
And the accession of the letters to press battery
Better
Make it better
Ssssshhhhhh...
Faced murderer
You wanted to know that, didn't yer?
English glasnost
Why are the truly skint never devoluted?
How does the political man prize anyth...
From the gardens
Eject
Lane or aloof
What life be like without devolute?

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Comments (12)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 09/11/2013

I think it's "scotch-ribbon", not "scotch ridden".

HoppyTFrog
  • 2. HoppyTFrog | 19/09/2014

Any thought this might be about political "devloution" from the Central government to the regions? Like the creation of Welsh/Scots Parliaments?

vegetables
  • 3. vegetables | 13/06/2015

I'd say it's very likely that this has something to do with the "devolution of powers" from Westminster with all the references to "English glasnost".
There were successful referendums in Scotland and in Wales on devolution in 1997, leading to the establishment of the Welsh Assembly in 1998 and the full Scottish Parliament the following year in 1999, placing it well within the period when stuff was being written for the album and to me would seem to indicate that there had to have been some kind of link or at least an inspiration for MES to pick up the term and run with it

avsp
  • 4. avsp | 12/09/2015

There are in England places with no pubs due to restrictions placed in land owning trusts that were set up by Quaker business families.

One such is the Birmingham suburb of Bournville, which is were the Quaker Cadbury family built their chocolate factory.

Several pubs are, I'm told, immediately adjacent to where the trust land ends. Local shops within the Bournville Village Trust boundaries are still not allowed to sell booze at all.

Oddly there's long been a bar in the factory's social club but that was more a members only-ish club & I doubt it had a bar back when it was built. Presumably the factory land was separated from the BVT land at some point

FWIW, & I'm guessing the BVT area is at least 3 miles across in places, I can well recall the lengthy booze-walks back when I was going out with a girl who lived in Bournville

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bournville

avsp
  • 5. avsp | 12/09/2015

There are in England places with no pubs due to restrictions placed in land owning trusts that were set up by Quaker business families.

One such is the Birmingham suburb of Bournville, which is were the Quaker Cadbury family built their chocolate factory.

Several pubs are, I'm told, immediately adjacent to where the trust land ends. Local shops within the Bournville Village Trust boundaries are still not allowed to sell booze at all.

Oddly there's long been a bar in the factory's social club but that was more a members only-ish club & I doubt it had a bar back when it was built. Presumably the factory land was separated from the BVT land at some point

FWIW, & I'm guessing the BVT area is at least 3 miles across in places, I can well recall the lengthy booze-walks back when I was going out with a girl who lived in Bournville

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bournville

Zack
  • 6. Zack | 16/01/2017

I hear "Left MES's" first line in the alternate version as "May tenth, Monday." "May tenth" is also clearly audible in the more familiar album version. May 10th fell on a Monday in 1999, and on that day BBC News reported under the headline "Devolution brings new politics" that "A new political era has emerged amid the final results from the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/vote_99/337928.stm).

There are some discrepancies between the Lyrics Parade's transcription of the album version and Reformation's transcription of the alternate version, even though parts of the same vocal takes are heard in both versions.

bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt | 04/02/2017

Zack, I hear it in Testa Rossa, but where does it come in on the Unutterable version?

Dannyno
  • 8. Dannyno | 04/02/2017

Independent journalist tries to get a pint in Bournville in 2015: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/bournville-trying-to-get-a-drink-in-the-village-where-alcohol-has-been-banned-for-120-years-a6677551.html

Zack
  • 9. Zack | 19/02/2017

Some discrepancies between the transcriptions of the LP version and the Testa Rossa Monitor Mix:

"Injury list" (LP) vs "Dangeralist" (TR) - I believe "injury list" is correct.

"anything from a garden, a jet plane or a loaf" (LP) vs "anything from (...)? The jet plane of..." (TR)

"the stinking cast and the stinking east" (LP) vs "The steed Cash (...)" (TR)

All lyrics quoted above appear to be from the same vocal take.

"Chip-pan" in the TR version is a reference to Adolph Chip-pan, a comedic alter ego of Steve Evets.

Martin
  • 10. Martin | 21/03/2017

stve posting in Fallnet back in 2009:

"There is also the little matter of shafting somebody while they are working: like what you did at Sheffield." From Devolute, a reference to the 1866 'Sheffield Outrages'?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield_Outrages

dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 22/03/2017

I doubt it's that. I bet it's a more personal thing - someone's pissed him off.

bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 23/03/2017

From what passage?

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