Exploding Chimney



Got rat poison In my workshop
In my vicinity
I've got rat poison
In my vicinity
And I'm beyond redemption

And my chimney
Is exploding
My Chimney
Is exploding

Listen to me now
Herpes, scabies and AIDS, kids
Believe me kids I've been through it all
You've gotta believe me kids
I've been through it all
Universal Wax Solvent

And my chimney
Is exploding
My Chimney Is exploding

I've got a Universal Wax Solvent
Got rat poison
In my vicinity
Listen to me now kids
A Universal Wax Solvent
Is exploding
Believe me kids I've been through it all

More Information

1. For some reason, the Fall took to allowing a roadie named Nikkie or Nikki (both spellings are given) to take over vocals on some of the new songs around 2008; in addition to this one, he would get up and sing "Tommy Shooter" while MES took a breather. Whereas his vocal line for the latter was pretty much the one we know from Imperial Wax Solvent, apparently some of the lyrics he sung for this song were quite different than the ones on the album. Reformation has helpfully recorded some of them for posterity:

"Hideous, evil album. You will try and remember songs and you can't. You strain. In an inside flash, they come in one-third segments that will not leave your mind free. I can turn on the TV. Someone's moving, penetrating down into the long, long... into the giving sun. Etcetera. Etcetera. Extra: this is your worst, terrifying gig. Gig! I am the impressario of The Fall and the so-called compere grand. I am Alan Wise."

Now, admittedly, these phrases sound supspiciously like the work of Mark E. Smith, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that working in proximity to the man allowed Nikkie/Nikki to develop a Pierre Menard-like ability to produce MESian lyrics. For more on Alan Wise, see "An Older Lover Etc."

MES enumerates some venereal diseases in the second verse, and I thinki that's basically what this song is about: the narrator's "chimney" is exploding in all directions, as a result of Herpes, scabies, AIDS, and, as Bon Scott once sang, "who knows what else?"

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!! points out that on the latest issue of Imperial Wax Solvent, there is an earlier version with different lyrics ("Smith and Mark") which contains the line "What about that guy who died chewing tobacco?"



More Information

Comments (16)

  • 1. dannyno | 26/08/2013
"I've been through it all
Universal Wax Solvent"

A punning reference, as has been pointed out on the Fall forum a few times, to episodes 23 ("Ring of Wax") and 24 ("Give Em The Axe") of series 1 of the 1960s Batman TV series. Ep 23 first broadcast March 30 1966, Ep 24 first broadcast the next day.

In the show, the Riddler has got hold of a corrosive "universal wax solvent", that will dissolve through anything.

  • 2. dannyno | 26/08/2013
Worth noting that certain rat poisons can be explosive or flammable.

Paul G
  • 3. Paul G | 28/11/2015
Taking a bit of a flier here but the anticoagulant drug Warfarin was introduced in the late 1940s as a poison for rats and mice and is still used for that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warfarin

MES seems to refer to hospitals more in later songs - signs of treatment for blood clots perhaps?

Told you it was a flier!
  • 4. bz | 06/12/2015
Yeah, I think that's intriguing with the hospital theme that came to the fore on the next album and all, although you're right that it's highly speculative. There isn't enough of an identifiable theme to these lyrics to really hang one's hat on...
  • 5. dannyno | 17/11/2016
MES spent a lot of time in hospitals, presumably, around the two times he broke his hip. So we don't need to invent other scenarios.
  • 6. dannyno | 12/08/2017
Could there be a nod here to Beefheart's "When it Blows its Stacks"?

  • 7. Dee | 22/04/2019
'MS What is the meaning behind the title Imperial Wax Solvent?
MES I did Reformation, and I did Fall Heads Roll, and the album before that, and I wanted
something that would glue it altogether, the fourth LP of the tryptych (sic).'
  • 8. AAAAA | 14/11/2020
Gruen Von Behrens (May 14, 1977 – September 8, 2015) was an American motivational speaker and victim of mouth cancer caused by smokeless tobacco. After his diagnosis and during his multiple treatments, he became nationally known for raising awareness against the dangers of smokeless tobacco use.
  • 9. Martin | 09/02/2021
Grant Showbiz postulates that Imperial Wax may be a reference to Imperial Wharf in London.


  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 13/02/2021
AAAAA 8: I can see where someone like that is the narrator but any reason why Behrens specifically? Am I missing something obvious? Sorry if so
  • 11. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!! | 07/04/2021
Point 8 - There was another version on the latest reissue with the lyrics - "What about the guy who died chewing tobacco?"
For the Record
  • 12. For the Record | 11/04/2021
Re comment 11. He means Smith & Mark which musically is the same as this but lyrically completely different. Anyway the line is "to bring tobacco" not chewing, which was repurposed for latch key kid. Nothing to do with chewing tobacco on exploding chimney
For the Record
  • 13. For the Record | 11/04/2021
Smith and Mark

Totale will not be captured, never
His spectre of knowledge
Cannot be encapsulated
Within the confines
Of it's ? (Sounds German)

Remember Culloden

The workmen yellow-fettered
Appear at the openings of upmarket shops and streets
Their earrings dangling merrily
With drills that batter
Meanwhile estates battle the pavements
Silence you smoker
You hedonic imbecile
Silence you smoker
How old is he?
The guy with the video camera

Remember Culloden

But do they think about the guys
Who died to bring tobacco?

Totale will not be captured, never
His spectre of knowledge
Cannot be encapsulated
Within the confines of its ?

Remember Culloden
Standing outside in the rain endlessly
  • 14. bzfgt (link) | 17/04/2021
Oh, right. I put out a call for someone to transcribe this on the FOF, so thanks!!

For the record, I think S&M is superior to Exploding Chimney....should have been the version that made the album
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 17/04/2021
I did a separate entry, I wasn't sure whether or not to but the only precedent I could think of is we have a separate one for "Hey! Fascist." Of course there's probably something else similar where it's all on one page.


I tried an English construal of line 4, sounds kind of like "two-bit scale" the first time and "two-but skin" the second, but the second was clearer so I went with "skin." You may be right and it's German.

Sounds like it may be "spectrum knowledge," but I like "spectre" better....we'll see what sticks. There's a good note about Blake in the latter, but I'm not going to write it (at least yet) since I'm unsure about the lyric. If a lot of people weigh in saying "spectre" is clear to them I'll write a note.
  • 16. titfordshire | 06/06/2022
I'm totally with Paul G comment3 on this one.

I've always heard the first line as "I've got Rat poison in my BLOODCLOT"
Workshop is a mistake.
My granny always used to tell me that she had to remember to take her rat poison (meaning warfarin)

To my mind MES is talking about (or playing a character who is talking about), almost bragging about all the illness he's had. And all the medicines, which are now a concoction in his body causing his chimney to explode!
Dissolving the bloodclots just like the Riddlers universal wax solvent?! (thanks dannyno)

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