You are bequeathed in suede
You are entrenched in suede (7)
You've got celluloid in your genes dad (8)
You are Glam Rick
You've cut my income by one third
You are working on a video project
You hog the bathroom (9)
And never put your hand in your pocket
You're Glam Rick
You're paging Malagna in Spain (10)
But can't read between the lines
Your price, cut down is amazing
You're one of the best songs I've ever heard by Stephen King (11)
Your Clearasil produces Richthofen rashes, (12)
Sideboard-like on mountains
Clearasil is in conjunction
Shadrach, the shock (13)
You post out sixty-page computer printouts
On the end of forests (14)
All the above will come back to you
And confirm you as a damn pest
You're Glam Rick
1. Usually interpeted as a swipe at the glam revival that was apparently going on in 1993. The music is heavily indebted to glam icon Gary Glitter (see also "New Big Prinz" and "Mountain Energei").When Brix rejoined the band, she added vocals (the Peel session version is entitled "Glam Racket-Star"; the "Star" portion is Brix's contribution). Brix later claimed that "Bad News Girl" from I Am Kurious, Oranj was about her, and "Star" was meant to be a good-naturedly insulting rejoinder. The lyrics to the "Star" portion of the song:
You say that you're a star but I don't give a fuck
I watch your head expanding as you're running out of luck
I feel empty
Cause baby you suck me
I feel empty
Cause baby you suck me clean
Go feast on someone else
Cause charity ain't my scene
I feel nothing
Cause it's nothing you make me feel
Go shine on someone else
Cause your act has lost all its appeal
So glam racket
Glam star racket
From Brix's autobiography The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise: "the lyrics were such an obvious swipe at Mark and even allude to the old Fall song 'The Man Whose Head Expanded'. Mark was so self-obsessed, he would never think that someone in his band was writing a song about him. After years of him viciously singing about me, I finally let him have it. It was subtle revenge for 'Bad News Girl.'"
From The Big Midweek: p313: "for some reason, he [MES] offers me a bar of Dairy Milk. I don't often eat chocolate, but it's such a rare thing to be offered food by the boss that I eat the lot before leaving him to get the vocals down.... <snip> ... the opening line [of Glam Racket] is him shouting at someone to stop eating all that chocolate and to eat salad instead. And that someone's a Viz-reading half-wit with a penchant for Stephen King. And that someone is also cutting Mark's income by a third and should literally bog off back to Ireland. I wouldn't care, but I was only being polite eating the blasted chocolate bar!"
Grimo from the Fall online forum has tracked down a possible source for these lines:
I don't know if anyone has unearthed this, but the "Stop Eating Chocolate, Eat Salad Instead" line must have been inspired by "George's Marvellous Medicine" by Roald Dahl. I first realised this about a decade ago, but forgot where I found it...
"Grandma sipped some tea but never took her eyes from the little boy who stood before her. 'Never grow up,' she said. 'Always down.'
'And stop eating chocolate. Eat cabbage instead.'
'Cabbage? Oh no, I don't like cabbage.' George said
'It's not what you like or don't like,' Grandma snapped.' It's what's good for you that counts. From now on, you must eat cabbage three times a day. Mountains of cabbage! And if it's got caterpillars in it, so much the better!'
3. I'm not sure what the Ireland connection is, but the name "Xanadu" entered common usage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan," which begins: "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/ A stately pleasure dome decree." Khan's palace in Xanadu (also known as Shangdu) was the summer capital of the Yuan dynasty. The name connotes a place of pleasure and idleness, an opulent respite from gritty quotidian realities. Among the many uses of the term in popular culture, the protagonist of Citizen Kane named his estate Xanadu, and there was a 1980 film called Xanadu which featured Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton John (and was the source of multiple hit singles by both John herself and by the Electric Light Orchestra). Closer to home, in 1968 a song called "The Legend of Xanadu" by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mich and Tich (yes, they recorded it using all those names) hit number one, and the Fall recorded the song for a 1992 compilation album called Ruby Trax.
4. Is there a real-life "Rick" to whom the song is addressed? This question was settled not at all by elvischomsky on the Fall online forum:
Despite what it says on the Lyrics Parade on this here intrawotnot, I'm pretty sure he sings "Glam wreck".
Edit: Actuafactually on listening to it again the backing vocals contrapuntally appear to be singing "Rick". Which leaves us none the wiser. Tra-la-la...
On reflection... Right been mulling this over, I think the person most of it's directed at is the mysterious co-producer of TIS and sometime Fall mixer, REX Sargeant (I think other bits may be about Dave Bush).
According to Thop, Rex Sergeant's "nickname was 'The Racket Scientist' and his real name was Ronan, which could be where the Ireland reference comes in, rather than (or as well as) referring to Steve Hanley."
But TLB rather plausibly points out:
"I've got another explanation for the 'Rick' chorus. I don't think it's Rick at all, but an abbreviation of the song title, 'Rckt" instead of 'Racket' and he's rephrasing it without the vowels.
Steve Hanley makes a convincing case that the song is about him in his book, and I don't see a connection between Hanley and 'Rick'.
I'm sure I've seen the title abbreviated to 'Glam Rkt' or 'Glam Rckt' on some Fall artwork or promo material, but I can't put my finger on where.
Abbreviating like that is an MES trait, as is vocalising abbreviations in lyrics, eg: the way he sings Xmas in 'No Xmas for John Quays' and riffs on the 'X.'"
Notice however that Hanley merely says the line about eating chocolate is about him, not the whole song (see note 2 above).
5. A shell suit is basically a shiny plastic track suit. In the 80s they were somewhat popular, although I'm not sure if they were ever associated with glam rock; Jimmy Savile, mentioned in Fortress, was known for wearing them. Shell suits were voted the worst fashion item of the past 50 years in an online poll conducted by web retailer itsme.
6. Viz is a British comic magazine, featuring characters like "Johnny Fartpants," "Sid the Sexist," "Buster Gonad" and "Sweary Mary." It began life in 1979 as a punk fanzine. In 1986, MES supposedly declared that it was "not as funny as it used to be," a quote the magazine promptly placed on their cover...that's such a good note I'm leaving it in, but it is one of those persistent tales that is in fact false. Dan:
Punch magazine had "not as funny as it used to be" on its cover as early as 1989 (earliest I found); but it was said about Punch as early as 1877 and became a running joke. What Viz put on its cover - earliest i found was 1991 - was "The magazine that's not funny any more - and that's official". Clearly in doing that Viz was also making a joke about Punch. In fact, in 1988 (not 1986), MES said "It's all farts and rude words now, nothing like as inventive as when it started out." MES is also supposed to have accused Viz of selling out to Virgin.
From Martin Gammon:
"Further to Note 6: in one issue of Viz, "Student Grant" (an annoying student) goes to a hairdresser where various "indie" band hairstyles are offered including 'the Fall-ah.'"
7. Suede was a popular band of the early 90s, whose style was heavily indebted to glam rock. Many fans took this line to be a reference to the band, but Mark E. Smith has denied this (via Reformation) :
"In Manchester, if you've got a job in the media, say in videos, you wear suede shoes and a suede jacket. They all do. The song has got fuck all to do with the group Suede, and they shouldn't flatter themselves to think it is."
A somewhat more lengthy, if scarcely more enlightening, set of comments comes to us from MES, in Indiecator, via our very own Dan (1993): "Which brings us neatly to 'Glam Racket No.3,' the song that Suede are apparently honoured to believe is aimed at their carefully coiffeured Seventies demeanour. Mark explains that the lyrical reference is to 'suede' and not 'Suede'. Yeah, sure. 'The group came up with this tune and I told them it sounded like glam shite.' One swift re-working later and 'Glam Racket' was born. 'I was a bit stuck for lyrics,' he recalls, 'so I ended up writing some aphorisms. I just sang them over the tune. It's nothing to do with Denim or Suede, believe it or not.' Rumour has it that Suede took it as... er, something of a compliment. 'Well I think that's really big-headed of them. If they looked deeper into the lyrics they'd be quite insulted!' he adds with a throaty guffaw thrown in for good measure. 'It's not about them at all. I think they're flattering themselves to be quite frank.' Smith does actually like Suede though. For ages they used to send him demos and he's always been impressed with their grasp of pop sensibilities."
Suede either parodied, paid homage, or both, to the Fall in a song called "Implement Yeah!" which begins: "The boy Smith's got lard for a tongue/He looks like a bum or a son or a punk/He's a basket case, he's a silent sodder/His face is odd, his voice is odder/Yeah, Implement Yeah!"
In a Quietus "Baker's Dozen" feature, Suede's Brett Anderson chose This Nation's Saving Grace as one of his 13 favorite albums, and commented on Mark E. Smith:
He was always a huge, huge influence for me, growing up and then in Suede. You can't actually hear it in Suede, but we were massive fans, Justine and I especially, we were obsessed. When Matt, Justine or I were just mucking around we wrote the song 'Implement Yeah!', which was a sort of comedy song about him. Then there was the Fall song 'Glam-Racket', which the NME or someone said was about us. Who knows what anyone's songs are about, let alone Mark E. Smith songs? I think it was a timing thing: it came out in 1993, and people just assumed it was a criticism of Suede. Mark E. Smith's too smart to write a criticism of anyone, apart from people he's been in a band with. A great artist utterly defines their own genre, and that's what Mark E. Smith's done. He's got a patent on that sound.
And, shortly fter MES's death, Suede's bass player, Mat Osman, posted the following story on Twitter:
"I have a Mark E Smith story actually. Back in the day Suede got asked to support The Fall on a couple of dates. To a man we were massive fans and VERY excited to be asked. Everyone told us he could be rough on support bands but he was great. Lots of time to soundcheck. He was friendly, helpful, told us to come straight to him with any problem. The shows were great, his crowd were great, The Fall were great. On our way home in the van we were listening to Richard Skinner and he had an interview with Mark. We listened in intently. Especially when Skinner asked, 'Do you like any of the new bands who are calling you an influence.' Mark said 'Like who?' Skinner asked 'Well, like Suede.' There was a perfectly timed beat. 'Never heard of them.'"
Finally, again from Martin Gammon: "Further to the Suede saga, Elastica did a Xmas Peel session with a 'tribute' to the Fall titled 'I want to be a King of Orient-ah.'"
Elastica was fronted by Justine Frischmann, who was an early member of Suede, having left the band prior to their landing a record deal. The Fall's keyboardist Dave Bush went on to join Elastica, and MES appears on, and gets co-writing credits for, two songs on their 2000 album The Menace. The song in question is in fact officially titled "I Want to be a King of Orient Aah," and the "aah," while gratuitous, is not sung in an obviously MES-ian way but rather as a distinct word, as well as being the subject of several rhymes, which MES would not have done. Nor is there any clear reference to Smith or the Fall in the lyrics, which is not to say it's not intended as a hat tip to Smith, but it's not clear that it is.
8. From Shawn Swagerty: "At a 1991 American Film Institute tribute to American actor Kirk Douglas, his son Michael Douglas said in his tribute speech to his falther, 'You put celluloid in our genes, dad'" (see comment #40 below for a link to the video).
9. Although he denies the song is about Suede (see note 7), Smith did subsequently make comments involving Brett Anderson and a bathroom: "First time I met Brett he keeled over and fell on the floor. I got on with him Ok but he kept following me into the toilet every time I went for a piss. It's God's honest truth. For drugs? No, no. For sex? I don't know. Maybe he just wanted to look at my underwear."
Note that the next song on The Infotainment Scan is "I'm Going to Spain" (Zack).
11. Stephen King is, in fact, a musician; for years he played in a band called "The Remainders," the members of which were mostly authors and included, at one time or another, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Maya Angelou, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Joel Selvin, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Fulghum, and Matt Groening.
12. Clearasil is acne medication. Manfred von RIchtofen, also known as the "Red Baron," was an German flying ace during World War I, and is credited with an astonishing 80 victories. Photographs seem to suggest that his skin was pretty clear.
13. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were the three men in the book of Daniel who survived, through divine intervention, being placed in a furnace. There was also a Marvel supervillain named Shadrach. The reference may be to something else entirely.
From Captain Beefheart's "The Blimp":
"Back in the fat rack/Shadrach, Meshach"
14. Zack notes that this "echoes this remark from an MES interview from 1991-92: 'What made me laugh was Sting's concept album. It had a book in it about how hard it was for him to write the LP, and how concerned he was about the rain forest on 20 pages of this expensive quality paper made out of loads of trees.'"
See also "British People in Hot Weather": "Press hot houses waste tree statements" (thanks to Mark for this connection).
Message: If transcribed a few of the differences from live version. It doesn't help much with the overall meaning, but some of it is pretty funny. (like the Call Me Al & jellyfish lines) From Mark Goodier session 17/5/93: MES as if he's reading '...says the first face to the Egyptian. It must be a corpse, or, a Mummy. Who is his Mummy?'Female voice 'Such an Angel..... and he's on, chemotherapy' MES Later...'You look at July roses yet does not have the mentality to cut down himself. you are stuck like a little pig on a castle lawn and said - look at what happened to my leg. Your GlamRick... You are bit by bit, reticent, in splendure you'd think. GlamRacket... When they sent to computer, they forgot the scientist are half illiterate. Glam Rick.. You make all history and related topics, thematic. you are coming around to Viz comic. you are operation, mind distort, on the children of this land. you are a slow coach of the first water. you are paging Malagna in Spain. you can not read between the lines. you are bit by bit reticent. you have Pelagia of the mind. Pelagia is a genus of jelly fish' [This is indeed true--bzfgt]
From the Peel session 17/12/94, a few line changes Both Xanadu in Ireland and Malagna, Spain are missing. The later replaced by 'somewhere'. Instead of shell suits he says: 'You hang around with camera men who look up girls skirts,' 'Your Clearasil advert could use some Richthofen(?) rashes. sideboard like. Shadrach. (another word I cant make out.) 'You post out 60 page computer print outs on the death of Earths forest. 'You are Malchick of the worst order.' The last line made me think of Clockwork Orange speak (nadsat). Malchick meaning Boy (like the teenage ones described in the book). From Live recording on 27points album: 'Prozac, its a good life, bowing to a tyrant. Rocks in Spain look like the ones around lochs in the highlands, on or on the continent. Spirit, response. Call me Al, from the UK Prozac. Glam Rack Don't try and cheat me, I'm fragile. You hog the bar and always keep your hand in your pocket. You're Glam Rick Why don't you bog off back to Ireland or where ever it is you're from.'
'Call me Al '- a ref to the Paul Simon song.
"Ten Points" on the album The Twenty-Seven Points is an MES spoken word piece that appears to be an early draft of "Glam-Racket."
Many of the lyrics that Titfordshire transcribed from the Goodier version of "GR" also appear in "Ten Points," though sadly the best line does not: "He has thoughts, crap, Blake-like, like 'while they sleep I'll plot to shaft the bastards in their cot through gradualment and see bit by bit.'"