White line fever (2)
I got it off the children of Captain Beefheart
They’d been locked in the forest for many years
They could not help it
They were retards from the Los Angeles district (3)
There was Tim
There was Tim 2 (4)
There was Rob
There was Dave the Eagle
And the mad Greek woman, The Hydra (5)
It was White Line Fever
Over and over again
Over and over again
They had us trapped in the hills
Playing their Los Angeles music over and over
It sounded like Amon Düül at first (6)
But in fact it was a plot by three of them
We thought they wore masks
Until we asked them to take them off
They took the trout replica a bit too far (7)
They were coffee Darkly, My Love (8)
They were cool cats
They were White Line Fever
They were a bunch of twats
White Line Fever
White Line Fever
Often on the beach they would play for ever and ever
In the sandy surf of L.A. County
One day they put their sandals on
And decided to go in to Rochdale (9)
They were pretty outta sight
Orpheo, the ancient name from Greece (10)
Orpheo, Tim Presley… how many names did they have?
Was it Latin?
Was it Yamaha?
So they traveled like the born again Christians
Or the Jehovah’s Witnesses
So they traveled and traveled
Till they reached the holy town of Ro'dale
And Nob End
And Ramsbottom (11)
To find their true wagon, Christianity
They were so happy!
They were so happy, they could not describe it themselves!
Sauna in the hotels
Fantastic views of the English countryside
They were besides themselves with happiness
Their tour guide, Dave (11)
Put a stocking over his head, and you couldn’t tell the difference
Following their leader blindlessly and obeying in all goodness
The long trail to the Lancashire hilltops
Happy in their fulfillment
Little did they know they were paying by the minute
For the tape they were wasting (12)
‘Insult Song’ on Reformation was done in one take. I was just fucking around – the tune was there and I just started ranting, making things up. But it worked, and in a way it’s the story of that period when the band fucked off and left us in the desert. And the new band loved it as well – I was just using it as an exercise, but they wanted me to keep it on there.
2. "White Line Fever" is the previous song on Reformation Post TLC. It is a cover of a Merle Haggard song, but there is some evidence that Smith's point of reference was the vastly inferior cover by Bud Brewer (the original is one of the great Merle Haggard songs). As the song ends, there is laughter and someone says "let's do it again." Instead (assuming the course of events has been transmitted in the order it happened, which would explain why MES begins by singing "White line fever"), the band begins vamping and a jam ensues in which the lyrics printed above are presumably ad libbed by Smith.
3. Here and in what follows Smith makes up lyrics about the band; they were indeed from Los Angeles, where two of them (Tim Presley and Rob Barbato) had a band. I'm not sure why they are called children of Captain Beefheart; Presley and Barbato's band, Darker My Love, does not seem to be particularly Beefheart-derived. They may have all been fans, and anyway I suppose Smith enjoys mentioning Beefheart once in a while.
"Tim 2" is likely co-producer Tim 'Gracielands', whose real name may or may not be Tim Baxter. Lisa Stansfield's Gracieland Studios in Rochdale were The Fall's recording studios of choice in the mid to late 2000s.
(Discogs.com suggests that "Tim Gracielands" is an alias of Tim Presley but this is certainly incorrect since Tim Gracielands contributed to Real New Fall and Fall Heads Roll, well before The Dudes entered the picture.)
5. That is, Tim Presley (guitar), Rob Barbato (bass), and Dave "The Eagle" Spurr (also credited with bass, and both he and Barbato seem to be playing on this track); see note 3 for "Tim 2," and "The Hydra" is of course Smith's wife, keyboard player Elena Poulou. The Lernaean Hydra was a beast in Greek mythology who had numerous heads. When one head was cut off, two would grow back; Heracles, however, who killed the Hydra for the second of his Twelve Labors, neutralized the Hydra's signature superpower by cauterizing each neck stump with a brand every time he cut one off with his sword. It seems a strange nickname for a man to give his wife and keyboardist; in modern discourse, "Hydra" is often used to denote a problem that seems to multiply with every attempt to solve it. It's possible that Smith meant to say "The Pythia," who was the Delphic priestess who was an oracle of Apollo. This would be more compatible with "mad Greek woman," as the Pythia would attain a madly ecstatic state of mind before uttering her prophecies (it has been speculated that she inhaled hallucinogenic vapors emanating from hot springs that ran under the Temple). Since the words are clearly extemporized, a substitution like this would not be surprising.
6. Amon Düül was an experimental art-rock band from Germany, or rather two such bands--at some point, like the Hydra, they multiplied, spawning Amon Düül and the more commerically successful Amon Düül II. MES weighed in on both Duuls in the "Invisible Jukebox" feature iin The Wire, January 2001 (see "Dktr Faustus" for a somewhat longer segment, mostly concerning Faust):
Are there any other Krautrock groups you appreciate apart from Can and Faust?
I really liked both versions of Amon Düül a lot when I first heard them. Especially Amon Düül I, I thought they were very inventive.
11. Nob End and Ramsbottom are both in Greater Manchester, which is convenient, since they also serve here as bawdy double entendres (it will be left to the reader to interpret their latent meanings).
13. A final word from Reformation: