A plate steel object was fired
And I did not feel for my compatriots
Hated even the core of myself
Not a matter of ill-health
It was fear of weakness deep in core of myself
The fact attainment was out of...

Mounting orations
To be humbled in Iceland
Sing of legend, sing of destruction
Witness the last of the god-men
Hear about Megas Jonsson (2)

Cast the runes against your own soul   (3)
There is not much more time to go
Work fifteen hours for the good of the soul
And be humbled in Iceland

Sit in the gold room    (4)
Fall down flat in the Cafe aisle (5)
Without a glance from the clientele
Good coffee black as well,
Hair blond as hell
Cast the runes against your own soul
Roll up for the underpants show
And be humbled in Iceland

And the spawn of the volcano
Is thick and impatient
Like the people around it.
See a green goblin redhead, redhead
Make a grab for the book of prayers.
Do anything for a bit of attention
Get humbled in Iceland

What the goddamn fuck is it,
That played the pipes of aluminium? (6)
A Memorex for the Krakens (7)
That induces this rough text
And casts the runes against the self-soul
And humbles in Iceland





1. The intro has a voice on cassette, apparently speaking Norwegian; according to jensotto it says "'I want to know...' and ' louder.' Sounds like It's taken from a film originally from TV."


From Melody Maker: The song was recorded in Iceland when the Fall played three gigs there in 1981. "'Right, no dicking about, let’s get set up - we’ve wasted enough money already,' Mark Smith yells at at his 'lads' as we shamble into the recording studio. 
'What’s he going to do, then?' asks Tony, the English engineeer 'Don’t ask me - he never tells anyone what he’s doing.' says Kay, watching assorted Falls tinkling abstractly on various instruments. 
The Fall eventually rattle out two tracks - the mildly funky “Look Know” and the weird haunting 'Hip Priest'- both on first takes. Everyone holds their breath on playback and looks expectantly at Mark, who’d been pacing the floor outside. Mark just mutters 'it’s okay', and we all start grinning. 
Mark then announces they will try a new song. Craig patters out a tune on the piano, Marc Riley starts to play banjo, making it sound like a sitar, and you suddenly recognise the abstract tinkering they’d done earlier. 'Is he going to sing?' asks the engineer. Kay didn’t know. Grant goes to find out. 'He’s going to play a cassette first, and then he’s going to sing,” says Grant. The engineer scarcely blinks. “I see,” he says. “A cassette. I do like these easy sessions.'
Mark plays his cassette - of the wind howling against his hotel room window - and launches into the verbals... 'To be humbled in Iceland ... sing of legend sing of destruction...witness the last of the Godmen...hear about Megas be humbled in Iceland...sit in the gold room...fall down flat in the Cafe Iol...without a glance from the clientele...the coffee black as well...and be humbled in Iceland...'
'No, we didn’t know what he was going to do either,' says Riley in a state of euphoria later. 'He just said he needed a tune, something Dylanish, and we knocked around on the piano in the studio and came up with that. But we hadn’t heard the words until he suddenly did them. We did "Fit And Working" on "Slates" in exactly the same way.Yeah, I suppose it is amazing really...'"

The song sounds nothing like Dylan (although Scanlon claims to have been trying to play the melody of "The Times They Are A'Changin'" on the piano, I can't hear it). Apparently MES was incensed with Riley for spilling the beans about the "Dylanish" directive (see Paul Hanley's Have a Bleedin' Guess, page 45).


Rip It Up : Smith: "'Sixteen track. It was ... er ... it's funny,'cos all the walls 
were lava, y'know, so you could play really quiet and you didn't 
sound weedy. You could actually hear what you were doing 
while you were doing it, which is really unusual. Expensive, 
but it was worth it.'"

According to Paul Hanley (Have a Bleedin' Guess) MES is playing two guitar parts at the end of the track.



The sleevenote to this song reads:

Valhalla brochure bit White face Finds Roots, boys don't even notice & look for games machines


2. Melody Maker: "Our hosts play us tapes of a man with a cracked voice and a Dylanish air and describe him as 'the father of Icelandic rock’n’roll.'  And they tell us the story of Megas, who ridiculed the sacred Sagas of the land, wrote scathing, surreal lyrics, got heavily into booze and drugs, was barred from radio and shunned by society. In 1979 he released a double album called 'Plans For Suicide' announced his retirement, and hasn’t performed in public since he’s now a dock worker. 
Mark Smith is entranced by the story, and rivetted by the music. The following day Megas, a pale, gaunt figure, turns up at The Fall’s concert at the Austurboejarbio and shakes him by the hand. Mark will return to England clutching a parcel of Megas records under his arm."

It's not clear whether Jonsson indeed became a dock worker; Dan found a report that in 1981 he enrolled in the Icelandic School of Fine Arts and Crafts to study as a visual artist, although one doesn't preclude the other. 

On the other hand, in a 2013 interview MES says:

"[H]e was a big deal back when I was there, and I got some of his LPs. But I’ve never met him or anything."

In his book Have a Bleedin Guess, however, Paul Hanley says that they did meet.

Clay contributes re: "Last of the god men": I think that MES is making reference here to the speculative historical/anthropological idea that modern day Scandinavians are the descendants of a "godlike" Hyperborean race that supposedly existed around the Arctic Circle at some point before the dawn of civilization as we know it. The fact that MES mentions "the Thule group" in "Gut of the Quantifier" strengthens this interpretation (Thule and Hyperborea being viewed, more or less, as equivalent).



3. Joseph Mullaney reminds us that "Casting the Runes" is a story by MR James, in which a researcher for the British Museum is cursed by a character thought to be based on Aleister Crowley...James is also referred to in Spectre vs. Rector.


4. The Hotel Borg in Reykjavik has a gold room. According to Dan, although the Fall stayed at the Hotel Esja, the Borg was apparently a place where people hung out, and where two of the Fall's gig's were played. 


4. The Lyrics Parade had "Cafe Iol," and the following note: "Cafe Iol is a famous meeting spot in Reykjavik where MES hung out when in Iceland."

And Dan points out that the incident that inspired this line can be found in the contemporary Melody Maker article I cited above (cf. note 1), about a gig the Fall played at the Hotel Borg (see note 3 above):

"Mark decided to go for a coffee in the cafe across the road. He tripped, and tumbled across a pile of tables. Nobody laughed. Nobody got upset. Nobody blinked. They thought he was a drunk. It happens all the time in Iceland…"

Note that the article from Melody Maker also has the lyric as "Iol." But we have not found any evidence that there was a Cafe Iol at any time. 

Iceland, in Icelandic, is "Island," so "Cafe Isl" would be more likely (but there's no evidence of one of those either).

So, in lieu of a revelation, at this point "aisle" seems most likely.

According to the article


5. Note the lyrics to "Masquerade" (circa 1996):

And what is that branch?
What branch is it
That has the pipe
Of Aluminium
Sprawling underneath it?


6. A kraken is a legendary sea monster, sometimes thought to actually refer to a real sea monster, the giant squid. Memorex was a brand of cassette tape--people of my age or older will remember the advertising slogan "Is it live, or is it Memorex?" 

Krakens are also mentioned in "Winter," also on Hex Enduction Hour.




More Information

Comments (92)

  • 1. Robert | 01/05/2013
Is it really "Cafe Iol"? Or just "cafe aisle"?

Seems it got reported somewhere as "Iol" (I first read it in the Brian Edge book) and has been repeated as such ever since.

Has a Cafe Iol ever existed? Searching for it online reveals reference only to these lyrics.
  • 2. dannyno | 30/12/2014
For a famous cafe, even one in Iceland, the "Iol" is proving elusive. Articles and books about the early 1980s punk scene in Reykjavik mention places like the Hotel Borg/Berg, where everyone seemed to hang out.
  • 3. bzfgt | 01/01/2015
Could have spelled it how he heard it? Maybe widen the spellings?
  • 4. clay | 06/01/2016
"the last of the god-men": I think that MES is making reference here to the speculative historical/anthropological idea that modern day Scandinavians are the descendants of a "godlike" Hyperborean race that supposedly existed around the Arctic Circle at some point before the dawn of civilization as we know it. The fact that MES mentions "the Thule group" in "Gut of the Quantifier" strengthens this interpretation (Thule and Hyperborea being viewed, more or less, as equivalent).

  • 5. dannyno | 25/01/2016
"Sit in the gold room".

I mentioned Hotel Borg above. Apparently the Hotel Borg has a "gold room": a restored banqueting suite:

Don't know if it was called that when the song was written...
  • 6. dannyno | 25/01/2016
Fall down flat in the cafe Iol.

This article has been cited already, but I can't believe this bit hasn't been quoted:

Mark decided to go for a coffee in the cafe across the road. He tripped, and tumbled across a pile of tables. Nobody laughed. Nobody got upset. Nobody blinked. They thought he was a drunk. It happens all the time in Iceland…
  • 7. Robert | 27/11/2016
"Sing of legend, sing of destruction"

I'm sure this is "Saga legend, Saga destruction".

Sagas are stories mostly about ancient Nordic and Germanic history, about early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during the voyages, about migration to Iceland and of feuds between Icelandic families. They were written in the Old Norse language, mainly in Iceland.[1]
  • 8. bzfgt | 21/12/2016
That would fit but he pretty clearly says "sing of..."
  • 9. Mark | 09/01/2017
Intrigued by the line "A Memorex for the Krakens".

A Kraken is a sea monster:

Memorex are an electronics brand. Presumably in the early-80s, they were dealing with cassettes and tapes?
  • 10. dannyno | 18/01/2017
Note 9: yes absolutely, Memorex made cassette tapes. So presumably "memorex for the krakens" is either something to record the krakens with, or something you give to the krakens to record with.
  • 11. dannyno | 18/01/2017
That first line: "A plate steel object was fired"

What's going on there? Fired as in gun? Or put in a furnace? If the former, would "plate steel" indicate a tank or cannon?
  • 12. dannyno | 18/01/2017
"aluminium pipes"

Iceland is well known for aluminium, which is used for piping hot water around - geothermal energy is big business due to the volcanic geology.
  • 13. dannyno | 19/01/2017
Note 10: or, indeed, a tape to be played to the krakens. if the aluminium pipes are a musical instrument - or used as a musical instrument - maybe that would be a sound that krakens would appreciate.
  • 14. dannyno | 19/01/2017
Oh for heavens sake. In my comment 13 I say "note 10" when I mean comment 10, and in my comment 10 I say "note 9" when I mean comment 9. I'm clearly too tired to be posting here.
  • 15. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
Thanks, Mark. It didn't occur to me to explain "Memorex for the krakens" but it can't hurt, and in particular "Memorex" may be a fading memory or unknown to some of our youth. Is it live, or is it Memorex?
  • 16. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
Dan, I imagined that he recorded a gig for the kraken, who were unable to be there in person due to not being air-breathers. If the ads were to be believed, this was practically just as good, though, so we should not pity the kraken.
  • 17. dannyno | 04/02/2017
I imagine pity is the kind of thing that really gets up the nose of the kraken. They do have noses, right?
  • 18. bzfgt | 04/02/2017
Well, if they lacked noses I would pity them. How would they smell?!

(Awful, I imagine...)
  • 19. dannyno | 04/02/2017
We're here all week.
  • 20. dannyno | 08/02/2017
In the John Wyndham novel "The Kraken Awakes", an ultrasonic weapon is developed to combat the kraken invasion. Might the "Memorex for the Krakens" then be a hostile weapon rather than a friendly mix-tape?
  • 21. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
Right, we assume it's the Fall, but what if it's Elton John?
  • 22. dannyno | 25/02/2017
Or it could be The Fall but the kraken are Elton John fans.
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
It's like Noriega, I think they blasted him with Van Halen's 1984. Actually I think I'm mixing it up because there's a song called "Panama" on that album, I'm not sure what they played him.
  • 24. dannyno | 04/03/2017

Reportedly the song "I Fought The Law" by The Clash was played repeatedly along with "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses;[another song in the line-up was "Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die" by Jethro Tull.
  • 25. dannyno | 14/03/2017
Note 2: so the story has always been that Megas turned up and met MES. But in this 2013 interview, MES denies having met him (perhaps he forgot):

he was a big deal back when I was there, and I got some of his LPs. But I’ve never met him or anything.
  • 26. lloyd | 25/03/2017
The pronunciation of "myself" in the opening lines is presumably a reference to Marcel Proust?
  • 27. dannyno | 25/03/2017
lloyd, comment #26: er, how so?
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 01/04/2017
Lloyd, please explain?
  • 29. dannyno | 11/10/2017
Colin Irwin, who wrote the Melody Maker piece "The Decline and Fall in Iceland" cited several times in the notes above (use this link as those above seem dead:, also wrote a review of Hex for MM (6 March 1982), in which he says, of this song:

Iceland's rich history of legends and folklore fired Smith's already rampant imagination, and he'd jotted down a series of scattered thoughts, fantasies and genuine incidents surrounding the visit, while the rest of the band concocted a weirdly haunting tune in the studio. The track, opening with a cassette recording of the wind blowing outside Smith's hotel window was done first take with the band and their leader having only the vaguest idea of what the other would be doing.
  • 30. bzfgt (link) | 04/11/2017
Dan, that Wayback link shows nothing for me (a US/England thing?).
  • 31. bzfgt (link) | 04/11/2017
I wonder if Lloyd's coming back...the link works from this page, but not from my email, so never mind. From the email it shows a search page with "the fall, iceland" in the search box and the message "no results" below. Now, that's weird.
  • 32. dannyno | 04/11/2017
Very weird. Shorter link:
Mike Watts
  • 33. Mike Watts | 01/12/2017
I hear "cafe aisle"...
  • 34. jensotto | 06/12/2017
The voice fragments on the cassette intro is in Norwegian, not Icelandic: "I want to know..." and "... talk louder". Sounds like It's taken from a film og from TV.
  • 35. dannyno | 07/12/2017
"Mounting orations"

Mountain orations?
  • 36. dannyno | 07/12/2017
"Mounting orations"

Mountain orations?
  • 37. dannyno | 07/12/2017
I'm becoming ever more convinced that it's "Cafe aisle" not "Cafe Iol". Despite extensive searches I've found no evidence of any "famous" Icelandic hangout of that name. It was the Hotel that attracted scenesters, not really the cafe across the road. Negative evidence only, mind you.
  • 38. bzfgt (link) | 09/12/2017
Mike, "Cafe Iol" is pronounced "aisle" but it could be the latter instead of the former...
  • 39. bzfgt (link) | 09/12/2017
I don't hear "mounting" or "mountain orations," really. It sounds slightly more like "I took a chance" but maybe not.
Dr X O'Skeleton
  • 40. Dr X O'Skeleton | 11/12/2017
In agreement about "cafe aisle", another Fall lyrical myth busted
The "pipes of aluminium" I always took to be the sound of the wind whistling between the corrugated aluminium buildings, as recorded by MES at the start of the track
For me, this is the most mysterious and intriguing Fall song, combined with some utterly unique music
  • 41. bzfgt (link) | 16/12/2017
Yes, Dr, it is quite astounding, isn't it?
Joseph Mullaney
  • 42. Joseph Mullaney | 20/03/2018
'Casting the Runes' is the title of a story by M R James.
  • 43. bzfgt (link) | 31/03/2018
Ha, I'm well familiar with that, I can't believe I never noted it...
  • 44. dannyno | 29/05/2018
"Pipes of aluminium" also pop up in Masquerade.
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 15/07/2018
I changed "aluminum" above to "aluminium," I'm trying to mend my ways and go with British spellings. Please let me know if there's a reason not to do so here.
  • 46. Bombast | 26/11/2018
I wonder if the line ... And I did not feel for my compatriots ... was lifted from the Bruce Chatwin Book Utz on page 30 reads 'I do not have high regard for your compatriots'?
  • 47. dannyno | 30/11/2018
Bombast comment #46. Utz would seem an unlikely source for this song given that it wasn't published until 1988.
  • 48. dannyno | 01/12/2018
The sleevenote to this song reads:

Valhalla brochure bit White face Finds Roots, boys don't even notice & look for games machines
  • 49. dannyno | 15/12/2018
"A plate steel object was fired
And I did not feel for my compatriots"

I was wondering if there might be something of the story of the torpedoing of the USS Kearny during WW2 in this. I can't stand it up at all, but it's a thought.
  • 50. Richard (link) | 24/03/2019
It's definitely "cafe aisle" without a doubt ... and "mountain orations" seems most plausible -- just think of Christ's "sermon on the mount" and Nietzsche's Zarathustran inversion ... one goes up a mountain, the other comes down, but they both keep talking ...
  • 51. bzfgt (link) | 09/06/2019
Yeah, Cafe Iol has had long enough to prove it exists.
  • 52. dannyno | 27/12/2019
RE the meeting with Megas, which MES denied.

Paul Hanley, in Have a Bleedin Guess says that Colin Irwin confirmed to him that the meeting took place (p.65, and note p.52).
  • 53. SRH | 20/02/2021
Comment 26

Lloyd is obviously taking the mickey. He's had one too many madeleines.

It's clearly a reference to Marcel Duchamp.

"The core of marcelf".

Duchamp wrote some pieces of aleatoric music. Alea means dice. From wikipedia:

"Compositions that could be considered a precedent for aleatory composition date back to at least the late 15th century, with the genre of the catholicon, exemplified by the Missa cuiusvis toni of Johannes Ockeghem. A later genre was the Musikalisches Würfelspiel or musical dice game, popular in the late 18th and early 19th century. (One such dice game is attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.) These games consisted of a sequence of musical measures, for which each measure had several possible versions and a procedure for selecting the precise sequence based on the throwing of a number of dice.

The French artist Marcel Duchamp composed two pieces between 1913 and 1915 based on chance operations."

The Dice Man. It's obvious! The name Marcel is merged with elf. We know MES was obsessed by elves. It all fits.

Signed R. Mutt 1917.
  • 54. Ant | 07/03/2021
I can't believe no-one has mentioned this yet but Stewart Lee mentions in his introduction to "Have A Bleedin Guess" by Paul Hanley that when researching his proposal on Hex for the 33 1/3 book series he travelled to Iceland "twenty years ago" and DRUNK COFFEE IN THE CAFE IOL. C'mon you must have all read it by now lads and lasses
  • 55. bzfgt (link) | 13/03/2021
Shit. So is there a cafe Iol after all?
  • 56. bzfgt (link) | 13/03/2021
I'm strongly tempted to go back to "cafe Iol" but a little more corroboration would be nice. Anyone in touch with Stewart Lee?
  • 57. dannyno | 13/03/2021
Ant does not quite have it right.

This is what Lee says:

"Twenty years ago, I went to Reykjavik, to drink in The Cafe Iol, as mentioned in the wyrd-folk jam 'Iceland', and I saw some 'pipes of aluminium' in the Cathedral... " 

It records an intention, but it doesn't explicitly say he actually found a cafe of that name, and he definitely doesn't say he drank coffee there.
  • 58. Ant | 16/03/2021
@Dannyno--shit, good point. I didn't have the text in front of me, you're exactly right. But part of me thinks he would have qualified it in the same way he talks about how: "...many a Winter's evening have I stood, in dazed wonder, on my way from the railway station and the comedy club, in front of the FORMER REGAL CINEMA, HITCHIN (capitals mine!), where the bulk of Hex Enduction Hour was recorded...". I may well be wrong but it strikes me Lee may have qualified or expiated in some way if he went there and Cafe Iol was absent...But thanks for the correction , Dannyno. This is the type of exacting detail I revere this sight for! Cheers lads and lasses!
Ant Volley
  • 59. Ant Volley | 16/03/2021
(Also Stewart Lee's visit to Iceland seems more of a pilgrimage and was nothing to do with his proposed book for 33 1/3.)
  • 60. bzfgt (link) | 20/03/2021
Well, a "Stewart Lee" contacted me about 6 months ago....I don't know if it's him, doesn't seem likely to be an unusual name though. But I sent him a message a week ago and haven't heard anything he on Twitter? All I can find is a fan account. Anyone know how to get ahold of him, like maybe a third party who is in touch with him?
  • 61. dannyno | 27/03/2021
He deliberately doesn't run any social media accounts at all.
  • 62. dannyno | 27/03/2021
Comment #59 - Lee doesn't explicitly say that his Iceland trip was anything to do with the proposed book, but both seem to have occurred around 20 years ago. I'd be surprised if a cafe was still under the same ownership after two decades, but not impossible, I guess.

I should add that I have done my best by researching in every 1980s Icelandic business and telephone directory I can find to locate any sign of a cafe Iol, and so far I have found nothing.
  • 63. dannyno | 27/03/2021
The hotel The Fall stayed in while in Iceland in 1981 was the Hotel Esja, by the way. The address was Suðurlandsbraut 2, Reykjavík. It is now the Hilton Reykjavík Nordica.

(Source: the Icelandic newspaper Visir, 9 September 1981 p.28:"Fall")

Wherever the cafe from the article was, and whatever it was called, it was near the Hotel Borg, not the Esja.
  • 64. dannyno | 27/03/2021
This article from the Icelandic newspaper Tíminn , 4 May 1983 p.22, has a different rendering of the lyric.

Fall down flat in the Cafe ISLE

But that could just be another phonetic rendering without certain warrant, like "Iol" and "aisle".
  • 65. bzfgt (link) | 27/03/2021
Yeah "Isle" seems the least likely
  • 66. dannyno | 27/03/2021
Had Megas become a dock worker, as per the Melody Maker article cited in note #1 above

Well, maybe, but I found this short item in the Icelandic newspaper Dagblaðið, 25 June 1981, p.28:

Megas á skóla-bekk

Hljótt hefur verið um tónlistarmanninn Magnús Þór Jónsson, öðru nafni Megas, að undanförnu. Megas mun þó ekki hafa setið auðum höndum því að nýlega þreytti hann inntökupróf í Myndlista og handiðaskóla íslands. Myndlistarmaðurínn Magnús Þór Jónsson stóðst þetta próf með glæsibrag og sezt því væntanlega á skólabekk i haust. Ekki er að efa að hann mun láta til sin taka á þessu sviði sem öðrum.

Translation (thanks to google translate):

Megas in school class

There has been silence about the musician Magnús Þór Jónsson, alias Megas, recently. Megas, however, will not have sat idle because he recently took an entrance exam at the Icelandic School of Fine Arts and Crafts. The visual artist Magnús Þór Jónsson passed this test with flying colors and will probably be in school this autumn. There is no doubt that he will make a name for himself in this field as well as others.
  • 67. Ant | 07/04/2021
@Dannyno; you're a true mensch.
(Btw I take it you know about the Oh Brother podcast soon come?! The Hanley Bros are on Twatter with this hashtag; not sure when the actual podcast will drop but it's the Hanley Bros. talking about their time in The Fall. SQUEAL
  • 68. dannyno | 09/04/2021
Comment #65:

Yeah "Isle" seems the least likely

Except that the Icelandic for "Iceland" is, of course, "Ísland". So it could be perhaps an abbreviation of the name the country: "Cafe Ísl", like "Cafe UK" or "Cafe Brit". Or, er, something.
  • 69. bzfgt (link) | 10/04/2021
Yeah I asked the Hanleys on Tweeter about the lyric, no response yet
  • 70. bzfgt (link) | 17/04/2021
Shit got to get that "Gold Room" in, making this comment so I'm reminded next week
  • 71. bzfgt (link) | 17/04/2021
Not that I read my own comments....I hope I remember
  • 72. dannyno | 20/04/2021
After some digging in Icelandic newspapers and elsewhere, my current theory is that the cafe was Hressingarskálinn, aka Hressó, which seems to fit the bill in terms of famousness and proximity to the Hotel Borg.

See some posts on the FOF here:
  • 73. bzfgt (link) | 24/04/2021
OK, shit, I thought they stayed at the Borg. So the gold room is still a cool thing, but less exciting then it would have been.

Dan, I cannot open your link about the Esja. We know that they were in the vicinity of the Borg while at the cafe?
  • 74. dannyno | 24/04/2021
Well, Colin Irwin's article says that the cafe was near the Hotel Borg. It all took place after a gig, if you read the article carefully. The Gold Room is I think certainly the Hotel Borg thing.

Re: the Hotel Esja. Try this link:

Or a picture of the piece:
  • 75. dannyno | 25/04/2021
Note 4 now reads:

the Borg was apparently a place where people hung out.

More to it than that - The Fall played two of their gigs there.
  • 76. bzfgt (link) | 01/05/2021
Oh right, got it. "Across the street."

Well, one thing is for sure, the original LP note has to be false, as the Cafe Iol at this point, if it existed, was certainly not "famous," or someone would have confirmed its existence by now....
  • 77. bzfgt (link) | 01/05/2021
"Across the road," of course....not "street." Forgive me.
  • 78. dannyno | 03/05/2021
#76 - the cafe was famous, as per my discussion on the FOF, but it wasn't named "Iol".
  • 79. dannyno | 05/05/2021
It's probably worth noting that a kraken is released by Poseidon on the orders of Zeus in the movie Clash of the Titans (1981). The film is packed with stars like Laurence Olivier as Zeus, and was co-produced by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. It was released in June 1981.

So Krakens were especially culturally salient in 1981, as well as being part of Scandinavian mythology that MES was clearly interested in on visiting Iceland.

On the other hand, krakens are mentioned in performances of Winter from early in 1981 prior to the release of Clash of the Titans. But, on another hand entirely (one of the Kraken's additional ones, perhaps), Variety magazine reviewed it as early as December 1980 (

A Kraken, yesterday
  • 80. bzfgt (link) | 08/05/2021
Hmmm..."release the krakens" got a new lease on life here last year, with the election stuff
  • 81. dannyno | 14/08/2021
Roll up for the underpants show

From Colin Irwin's Melody Maker article:

One of the support bands at the Fall’s second Hotel Borg gig is a punk band called Q4U fronted by two ladies dressed in black suspenders and not a great deal else. One of the ladies whips off the remnants of her top as the screams into the mike.

“She’s not shy is she?” observes Paul Hanley, viewing her intently. One couldn’t disagree.

The transcript at incorrectly renders the band name as "C4U", but it appears correctly in the original as "Q4U".

About Q4U:

Paul Hopkins
  • 82. Paul Hopkins | 21/10/2021
Roll up for the underpants show

I'm pretty sure one of the Hanley brothers' books, which I don't seem to be able to lay my hands on at the moment, mentions (specifically in reference to this song) an incident at Icelandic immigration control where one of the band had to strip to his bills.


Do anything for a bit of attention

I've always heard this as "a bit of tension", which I think makes more sense in the context.
Paul Hopkins
  • 83. Paul Hopkins | 21/10/2021
Re the tension/attention thing, scratch that, as you were, actually attention is better isn't it.
Michael Allen Z Prime
  • 84. Michael Allen Z Prime (link) | 03/04/2022
Here is one of the old TV ads for Memorex cassette tape. A recording of Ella Fitzgerald hitting a high note would shatter a glass:

So indeed, a Memorex for the Krakens would be a sonic weapon.
  • 85. dannyno | 14/04/2022
Paul Hopkins, comment #82.

You've misremembered the detail, because there was no stripping, but you made a good call otherwise.

From Paul Hanley's Have a Bleedin Guess:

The song's bathetic juxtapositions are probably best summed up in the lines 'Cast the runes against your own soul - roll up for the underpants show'. Whether it's contemplating the fleeting nature of your life when set against an ancient and epic backdrop, or having customs hold up your skiddies for all to see, there's evidently more than one way to be humbled in Iceland.

When I first read this, evidently too quickly, I didn't take this in properly as describing something that happened at customs in Iceland, it sounded more speculative, or something, than that. So I ignored it in favour of the Q4U story.

But re-reading it now it seems clearer that it's referring to such an incident, and of course it works in the context of the "humbled in Iceland" repeated line.
  • 86. Joel | 13/06/2022
Cafe 101 is more likely to me than "cafe lol" since 101 is postal code for Reykjavik, and is also the postal code in which Hotel Borg and Hotel Esja are (still) located, being the "downtown," if you will, of Reykjavik.
  • 87. Joel | 13/06/2022
Actually, it's probably just a typical M.E.S. pronunciation-corruption of "Cafe Esja," not an actual cafe called 101.
  • 88. Joel | 13/06/2022
One last thing: I always assumed the opening line "A plate steel object was fired" was just a reference to the Fall flying in an airplane, which is presumably how they traveled to Iceland for the 3 shows.
  • 89. dannyno | 16/06/2022
It's not pronounced "one hundred and one" or "one oh one" in any case.
  • 90. dannyno | 16/06/2022
Comment #88 - planes are mainly made of aluminium, rather than steel.
  • 91. hoodgramme | 23/01/2023
I have just come across this. And want to add a few possibilities. First, I have to the studio on the outskirts of Reykjavik where part of the album was recorded, and indeed there are lava walls, where quite a few bands stash their pharms. Then, the word 'Krakkar' is an Icelandic slang for 'kids'. In fact there are quite a few Icelandic words that sound like kraken, like 'klakka' (ice cubes) and kalla (slang for money and the 'll' it pronounced as a 'tl'). So Memorex for kids might make for sense than for a mythical monster.

There was a famous and quite posh cafe opposite hotel Borg, called Cafe Paris. The sort of place where if you fell over, no-one would flinch, in a very Northern (Arctic) way. Closed now, but I had coffee there and Bjork was at the next table in all her finery and no-one gave her a second glance.
  • 92. dannyno | 05/02/2023
Comment #91, by hoodgramme

The lyric has several mythological references, so i don't agree that krakens make less sense in context.

I'm sorry to say that Cafe Paris is also a red herring.

The Cafe Paris was established in 1993, over a decade after this songs was written. Nor was that building home to a cafe in 1981/2.

I researched this location (Austurstræti 14) a couple of years ago in fact.

You can read what I found here:

There are some Icelandic-language sites which talk about the history of the building which I mention in that thread. An example:

So we can confidently rule out both Cafe Paris, and any previous occupant of that building.

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