Impression of J. Temperance



Hate wide for dog breeder
in the town of the port
A never seen dog breeder
This is the tale of his replica.


Name was J. Temperance
Only two did not hate him
Because peasants fear local indifference
Pet shop and the vet, Cameron.


One night vet is called out
from his overpaid leisure
To Temperance household:
Delivered, ran out,
and phoned his wife in terror.


The next bit is hard to relate.
(There are no read-outs for this part of the track.)
The new born thing hard to describe
Like a rat that's been trapped inside
A warehouse base, near a city tide
Brown sockets, purple eyes
And fed with rubbish from disposal barges
Brown, uncovered
Brown, uncovered 

No changeling,        (2)
as the birth was witnessed.
Only one person could do this
Only one person could do this

"Yes" said Cameron
"and the thing was in the
impression of J. Temperance."


His hideous replica (3)
Scrutinized little monster
DIsappeared through the door (4)
His hideous replica
His hideous replica



1. A weird tale, but one not hard to get the basic gist of; a dog breeder conducting odd experiments, or, if you like, throwing himself into his work and taking the "breeding" part a bit too literally. In one way or another, he produces a dog/thing which resembles him closely enough that Cameron, the vet, runs from the scene of the birth in terror. On the Legendary Chaos Tape (recorded in December 1980 in London) MES reveals that 'J' stands for "Jermyn" (this is corroborated by leftover liner material for Grotesque). This is an apparent allusion to the early H.P. Lovecraft story "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family," which similarly has a theme of interspecies breeeding; Arthur Jermyn commits suicide when he discovers he is descended from a sort of ape goddess whom an ancestor of Jermyn's, an explorer, met in an African city of white apes.  

Dan submits: From the Grotesque press release: "'Impression' is the oldest song on the album and was written during the 'Totales Turns' period in a bed and breakfast in Retford miles from anywhere when the locals got suspiciously friendly and there was a huge man-sized one-eyed teddy bear on the landing."

Dan points out the similarity between this song and the main theme of Rossini's "William Tell Overture"; the bass line follows the rhythm, and a quite similar pattern of notes. 

Paul Hanley confirms the William Tell Overture debt in his book Have a Bleedin Guess (p.27, footnote 14):

The drum pattern's nicked from Gioachino Rossini's William Tell Overture, or more correctly the theme from The Lone Ranger.


2. "Changeling" usually refers to a fairy baby that has been left by the fairies that abducted your baby, and more generally any baby that has been switched with another. 


3. The influence of Lovecraft is perhaps evident in the choice of one of the latter's favorite adjectives, the insistence that the thing is hard to describe (which is nevertheless followed, as it always is in Lovecraft, by a grotesque description), and the general mood of the lyrics. The whole thing can be read as a joke (the punchline would be that the protagonist had sex with a dog), but it can also be taken as a homage to pulp horror stories.


4. From "Oh! Brother": "He scrutinized a little monster/And disappeared through red door." "Oh! Brother" was recorded and released some years after Grotesque, but it was written in the 70s and performed in 1977 (only once, according to Reformation!, but I'm not sure how complete the records are). The lyric as quoted above appears in the one known version, preserved (in horrible sound quality!) on Live 1977.


Comments (39)

  • 1. Zack | 26/09/2013
On "The Legendary Chaos Tape" MES tells us what the "J." stands for - sounds like "Jermaine."
  • 2. Colin | 11/10/2013
This song is about bestiality.
  • 3. bzfgt | 15/10/2013 you don't think I covered that with the line "the punchline would be that the protagonist had sex with a dog"?
  • 4. Colin | 22/10/2013
Just giving my opinion. mate.
  • 5. bzfgt | 24/10/2013
Well, OK, then...
  • 6. Colin | 25/10/2013
I don't understand why you have to be pissy about it.
  • 7. bzfgt | 26/10/2013
I didn't mean that as pissy at all, unless you mean my first comment, which was a little pissy, sorry...
  • 8. Antoine | 24/10/2015
Regarding Zack's old comment RE the Chaos Tape, it certainly does sound like Mark says "Jermaine" but with a surname like Temperance, it's most definitely got to be Jeremiah. And interestingly enough, thanks to a quick Google search, the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament touches frequently on temperance:

It might also be worthwhile to add a note for "Changeling," I'm pretty sure I didn't know what a changeling was when I first heard the song:

And thirdly (all my comments must be unbearably wordy, apologies) I've just recently noticed that the line "Inscrutinizable monster... disappeared through the door" in the "this hideous replica/this hideous replica/this hideous replica/this hideous replica/etc" section at the end is echoed in Oh! Brother as "He scrutinized a little monster and disappeared through the red door."
  • 9. Antoine | 02/11/2015
Whoops! What an oaf, I hadn't clued into the Jermyn bit. How did I miss that?
  • 10. bzfgt | 16/11/2015
Yeah, don't know how I never noticed the Oh! Brother thing, good call.
  • 11. Loupen | 18/01/2016
Great post! Love the Lovecraftian 'too-terrible-for-description'-ism.
btw Anyone remember that photo of a dog looks like Vladimir Putin?
  • 12. bzfgt | 19/01/2016
Yeah, I remember that!
  • 13. dannyno | 14/06/2017
From the Grotesque press release:

'Impression' is the oldest song on the album and was written during the 'Totales Turns' period in a bed and breakfast in Retford miles from anywhere when the locals got suspiciously friendly and there was a huge man-sized one-eyed teddy bear on the landing.
  • 14. bzfgt (link) | 09/07/2017
Thank you, Dan, a lesser man would have just linked to the press release and said "Check these out," but you've made my job very easy, and not for the first time...
  • 15. JT | 16/09/2017
  • 16. JT | 16/09/2017
  • 17. JT | 16/09/2017
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 07/10/2017
Nga? Gha? Ghng.
  • 19. dannyno | 11/10/2017
Note the similarity between this song and the William Tell Overture.
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 04/11/2017
I never noticed that except, I think, subliminally!
  • 21. dannyno | 28/01/2018
"A warehouse base, near a city tide"

A reference to the docks?

  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 12/02/2018
Well yeah, I would think so.

I just saw our last comments--I must have noticed the similarity, the last time I listened to it a couple weeks ago I immediately thought of William Tell....the similarity is pronounced. I guess I should mention it.

Oops, I guess I already did...
Joseph Mullaney
  • 23. Joseph Mullaney | 22/02/2018
'Scrutinized little monster' - this line also appears in 'Oh Brother!'
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 24/02/2018
Shit, Joseph; of course it does! How have we left that out for so long?
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 24/02/2018
Oh crap--we didn't leave it out, see note 4.
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 24/02/2018
I fleshed it out a little now though, so it's good you brought it up.
Dolores Phelps
  • 27. Dolores Phelps | 01/09/2018
I would say it's "In the town of the port", rather than In the town of purport?
PS Your ad choices keeps asking me to accept, I do but the pop up keeps coming up and blocking half the screen...
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
Sorry, I use ad blocker so I don't see them, that's the only way I think. I do not choose the ads, they are chosen for me because it is a free host.

I listened to this yesterday and definitely it was good that I wasn't looking at the lyrics. It is definitely "town of the port," for both semantic and sonic reasons. That line jumped out and now I know why, I must have had a dim idea that I had something else down here! So thank you, Dolores, I might not have noticed this if you hadn't brought it up.

The second "Only one person could do this," which is the highlight of the song, and of MES's career, and maybe of 20th century music in general, has also been added!
  • 29. nutterwain | 17/04/2019
Comment 28

Definitely the best of his falsettos. Keep coming back to this song time and again
  • 30. dannyno | 05/12/2019
Somethings gone wrong with the numbered links to the notes with this page... i.e they don't work.
  • 31. bzfgt (link) | 21/12/2019
  • 32. bzfgt (link) | 21/12/2019
I don't know how links go dead after working for 5 years but I hope this doesn't portend similar events in the future
  • 33. bzfgt (link) | 21/12/2019
It works for me now let me know if there are any further mishaps, thanks
  • 34. dannyno | 27/12/2019
Paul Hanley confirms the William Tell Overture debt in his book Have a Bleedin Guess (p.27, footnote 14):

The drum pattern's nicked from Gioachino Rossini's William Tell Overture, or more correctly the theme from The Lone Ranger.
  • 35. JBTH | 14/07/2020
Line two: is it " in the town of the port" or ( according to the Fall website) "in the twon of purport"? If so, what does it mean?
  • 36. bzfgt (link) | 19/07/2020
It sounds to me like "town of the port." "Town of purport" would maybe be just the town the narrator is purporting to tell the story about?
  • 37. bzfgt (link) | 19/07/2020
Or indicate that the whole thing might be fictional, the town where this "purportedly" happened?
  • 38. JBTH | 26/07/2020
Thanks understand ( and decode) the lyrics for a non-english speaker is very difficult. Your wepage is more then helpful..
  • 39. obscenebird | 13/03/2021
'town of the port' may be a reference to the Lovecraft story 'The Shadow Over Innsmouth', in which interspecies breeding takes place in a run-down seaport town.
Alternatively it could also refer to Manchester, which port was, according to Wikipedia, "in the top five most important custom ports in the UK" in the first half of the 20th century and closed in 1982.

Add a comment