Joker Hysterical Face

Lyrics

(1)

They say nothing ever changes

Which is certainly true of the Poly-ocracy (2)
The sweetest sound she had ever heard
Was the whinging and crying due to the recession
In fact, if you get up pretty close enough

She had a Joker Hysterical Face

Her back head's full of skriking (3) kids 
There's no cure so find a case for it
There's no cure so find a case for it
Let's face it, you don't make the same mistake twice

Let's face it, you don't make the same mistake twice

Joker Hysterical Face!

Ted Rogers' brains burn in hell (4)
Ted Rogers' brains burn in hell
And there's no cure so find a case for it
There's no cure so find a case for it
Let's face it, you don't make the same mistake twice (2x)

Joker Hysterical face!

By order of the assessor
There's no cure so find a case for it
There's no cure so find a cause against it (5)
She made the mistake three times, at least
Let's face it, you don't make the same mistake twice (2x)

Joker Hysterical Face!

When he came home, the hi-fi was playing
She threw his dinner down on the table
And there's no cure so find a cause for it
There's no cure so find a case for it
Let's face it, you don't make the same mistake twice
Let's face it, you don't make the same mistake twice
When he'd finished eating, the hi-fi cried

Your face!
Your face!  (6)

Notes

1. This song is reputedly about Mark E. Smith's one-time downstairs neighbors. From the Reformation site (see link under "More Information"): MES about the track: "It's about a couple who live sort of downstairs from us, where we were living, and they used to play Abba and all that stuff, they always used to have it on full blast. She was a divorcee. I used to know women like her, and it's not very far from the feminist movement. Like the man is the main thing to blame." (Quoted in The Biggest Library Yet, February 1997.)

From the Room to Live press statement: "JOKER HYSTERICAL FACE is a tale of urban pretentiousness turning rotten within marriage. This person is classless and could dig K-Tel or Kreches or house prices."

K-tel is a Canadian company that sells products via "infomercials," like the Veg-O-Matic. In another words, it is essentially like Acme--not the actual grocery chain, but the fictional company that sold Wile E. Coyote all the products with which he tried to kill the Roadrunner.

I have no idea what Kreches are, unless this is a misspelling of "creches," which in the USA are Christmas dioramas, but in Britain the word means a nursery or daycare center. 

^

 

2. (UKThe section of the left-wing political establishment typically educated at polytechnics (or similar new universities). However, in the comment section, Michael points out that this may be MES' rendering of "polycracy," which means rule by more than one person.

^ 

3. (Lyrics Parade): "'skriking' is northern British slang for crying."  MES goes into a bit more depth in this passage, provided by Zack:

MES explains "skriking" in depth in the interview portion of the 'Perverted By Language Bis' video:

"Expressions like that are works of art. That is what I call art, y'see. That word... 'skriking', stuff like that... They're not words I particularly use a lot meself. I do use 'em." [Brix: "What's skriking?"] "Skriking is like when kids are crying and it really gets on your nerves. [...] That's what Fred in the Foresters used to say to this kid who used to come in the vault, right? This woman used to bring her kid in the vault and, like, it's the worst thing she could do. And she's going 'Aaargh' and all the long [?] guys'd be around there going 'Oh, great baby. Aw, she brings a baby in the pub." And like Fred behind the bar, he's all Salford. Like, he comes out and goes 'SHUT UP, YA SKRIKING KID!"

The Foresters Arms in Prestwich was (is?) one of MES's favorite haunts and I believe Fred the cranky publican pops up elsewhere in Fall Lore.

^ 

4. (Lyrics Parade): "Ted Rogers was a British comedian and gameshow host, best known for presenting the TV quiz show '3-2-1' between 1978 and 1988." According to Martin, Rogers appropriately enough appeared on a panel show called Jokers Wild

^

5. This has the sound of a proverb to it, although one that escapes me. The only analog I can find is the line "Long on causes, short on cures" in the song called, believe it or not, "Fall" by Texas psych rockers Cold Sun.

^

6. Lloyd points out that this ending echoes "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," written by Ewan MacColl and made famous by Roberta Flack.

^

Comments (36)

FoxyDread
  • 1. FoxyDread | 02/10/2013
First verse, could the she referred to be Margaret Thatcher, it would be reference to the way she was indifferent to the consequences of her policy, almost at times seeming to revel in it. I take the Joker HF to be reference to the Joker from the tv series Batman (Bruce Wayne etc) and at the time Thatcher was portayed by opponents as manical - see the Spitting Image portrayal.
michael
  • 2. michael | 29/04/2014
I always thought "polyocracy" was just a pronunciation of polycracy, would certainly make sense given the thatcher connotations
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 14/05/2014
"Polyocracy" is used in histories of the Third Reich, but in this case it is I think clearly about polytechnic-educated left wingers. Hence the reference to crying about the recession.
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 14/05/2014
Daily Mail comment, 7/12/81 (p6), about Peter Tatchell:

"...No Oxford Union elitist this lad, but a genuine member of the polyocracy..."
Chris
  • 5. Chris | 15/10/2015
Maybe he is making a joke, there was polyocracy in Third Reich, and is 'now' in contemporary left - hence 'nothing ever changes'.
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 23/11/2015
What do you mean by a polyocracy in the 3rd Reich?
Martin
  • 7. Martin | 04/01/2016
Ted Rogers appeared in a TV panel game called Jokers Wild:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jokers_Wild_(TV_series)

No idea if this is coincidental or not.
Martin
  • 8. Martin | 04/01/2016
Ted Rogers was a strong supporter of the Conservative Party, which may account for the reference to his brains burning in hell in the context of the other lyrics of the song.
Martin
  • 9. Martin | 04/01/2016
In a thesis entitled "Paranoia Man in Cheap Shit Room: the wonderful and Frightening Political Ideology of Mark E. Smith and The Fall" (2008; I don't know if it was accepted/published or not), Racan Souiedan has this to say about the song:

"Even Smith, a supporter of many merits of the New Right, described Thatcher as revelling in the economic woes facing the British working class in the period immediately leading up to the confict [Falklands/Malvinas].On 'Joker Hysterical Face'...he insists that `the sweetest sound he had ever heard was the whinging and crying due to the recession."
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 08/05/2016
Sorry, missed this from last November:

bzfgt: "What do you mean by a polyocracy in the 3rd Reich?"

It means there were competing power structures. The concept came out of debates among historians about the nature of Hitler's domination of German politics, which apparently wasn't a case of him just telling everyone exactly what to do.
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 08/05/2016
Martin, re: your post of 4/1/2016, if you are referring to the Racan Souiedan of this FOF thread - http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=19905 - then technically the essay was not in fact a dissertation or thesis, just an "honours paper", as Racan said themselves: http://z1.invisionfree.com/thefall/index.php?showtopic=19905&view=findpost&p=11190473. Presumably you got your copy off them? But it doesn't seem to be have been published.
Martin
  • 12. Martin | 09/06/2016
Thanks for the clarification, Yes, mine must be a private copy, one I asked for at the time.
Martin
  • 13. Martin | 09/06/2016
I'm not bringing anything here of great importance, but just for the sake of completionism it may be worth noting that the fourth series of 3-2-1 (with Ted Rogers as host) was broadcast between 30 January and 1 May 1982. The first reference in a live context to Ted Rogers was not in Joker Hysterical Face itself but in Fortress during the gig in Bristol Polytechnic a week before the live debut Joker Hysterical Face.

As luck would have it, a lot (maybe all?) of the episodes of the aformentioned series of 3-2-1 have been uploaded to youtube, so it's just a matter of ploughing through them to see if there are any references to brains burning in hell.
Zack
  • 14. Zack | 18/06/2016
MES explains "skriking" in depth in the interview portion of the 'Perverted By Language Bis' video:

"Expressions like that are works of art. That is what I call art, y'see. That word... 'skriking', stuff like that... They're not words I particularly use a lot meself. I do use 'em." [Brix: "What's skriking?"] "Skriking is like when kids are crying and it really gets on your nerves. [...] That's what Fred in the Foresters used to say to this kid who used to come in the vault, right? This woman used to bring her kid in the vault and, like, it's the worst thing she could do. And she's going 'Aaargh' and all the long [?] guys'd be around there going 'Oh, great baby. Aw, she brings a baby in the pub." And like Fred behind the bar, he's all Salford. Like, he comes out and goes 'SHUT UP, YA SKRIKING KID!"

The Foresters Arms in Prestwich was (is?) one of MES's favorite haunts and I believe Fred the cranky publican pops up elsewhere in Fall Lore.
Werner Blokbuster
  • 15. Werner Blokbuster | 04/11/2016
I hear "She made the mistake three times at least".
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt | 19/11/2016
Yes, I think so.
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt | 19/11/2016
This is the best Fall track ever. I once suggested on the FOF that this is evidence that things can sound better a little out of tune and someone told me I was a fool for thinking it out of tune. I can't recall whom, but I don't know how anyone can listen to this and think it's not out of tune.
Lloyd
  • 18. Lloyd | 28/02/2017
It cannot have escaped everyone's attention that the closing lines refer to "The first time ever I saw your face"? The song ends with "your face" being repeated.
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
That's weird, Lloyd, I could swear I have that song in the notes for something here but I guess it's not this.
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 08/10/2017
From the "Room to Live" handout/press statement:


JOKER HYSTERICAL FACE is a tale of urban pretentiousness turning rotten within marriage. This person is classless and could dig K-Tel or Kreches or house prices.
bzfgt
  • 21. bzfgt (link) | 18/11/2017
Any idea about "Kreches"?
dannyno
  • 22. dannyno | 19/11/2017
Sounds a bit Yiddish to me. Or am I thinking of "kvech"?

There's the Yiddish word "krekhts", which means "groan" or "sob", and has a musical meaning also - a kind of singing, or a particular kletzmer sound.
dannyno
  • 23. dannyno | 19/11/2017
"creches" are also nurseries/kindergarten, but the word often tends to mean a temporary or day arrangement. So if you go to a conference, there might be a creche arranged as part of that.
dannyno
  • 24. dannyno | 19/11/2017
"creches" are also nurseries/kindergarten, but the word often tends to mean a temporary or day arrangement. So if you go to a conference, there might be a creche arranged as part of that.
bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 02/12/2017
Well, in America the only time "creche" is used is to refer to a Christmas tableau, where the birth of Jesus is portrayed. I guess I should mention "creche" but I wonder why "kreche"?
bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 02/12/2017
Well at least it's not in your actual lyrics, we can sort of laugh about it and move on.
Ex worker man
  • 27. Ex worker man | 25/03/2018
Apologies if pointing out the obvious but the repeated your face at the end is presumably representative of the neighbours record player stuck in a groove
Lloyd
  • 28. Lloyd | 05/04/2019
Maybe, but the Roberta Flack song ends with her repeating “your face” a number of times. There’s a live version on YouTube where MES adds a few more of the lyrics from “The first time....”, by the way.
Lloyd
  • 29. Lloyd | 06/04/2019
Crèches would have been an easy target for MES, the word entered common parlance in the uk in the year or two before the song was released and for whatever reason carried heavy connotations of middle class, left-wing, faux socialism, like the anti-nuclear car stickers he writes about elsewhere.
Lloyd
  • 30. Lloyd | 06/04/2019
The comment on k-tel above is right, but in England they were specifically known for releasing cheapo music albums of old hits and so on, which would as I recall either be sold mail order from the tv ads or else at newsagents, outside the record shop distribution system. Quite possible MES, like Throbbing Gristle, would have dreamed of releasing one of their albums on k-tel. Or Ronco.
Lloyd
  • 31. Lloyd | 06/04/2019
Ted Rogers was more than a strong Conservative supporter, but knew Thatcher and was used to entertain guests at 10 Downing Street.
dannyno
  • 32. dannyno | 16/04/2019
Comment #29. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with the cultural baggage of a word like "crèche", but by no means was this a new word when the song was written (c1982). It dates back in English usage (obviously as a borrowing from French) to the mid nineteenth century and was common by the 1970s.
dannyno
  • 33. dannyno | 16/04/2019
See this google ngram for the word, 1830-2000:

Google Ngram
dannyno
  • 34. dannyno | 16/04/2019
Google Ngram -
bzfgt
  • 35. bzfgt (link) | 21/06/2019
Ex worker man--maybe he killed her, and now the record is skipping as a stares at her lifeless body? Like something from a movie, probably too silly to note.

Lloyd--could you please tell me what the extra lyrics are? It's really time consuming to do this and listen to an entire song every time someone mentions something.
dannyno
  • 36. dannyno | 21/07/2019
cf note #2 and my comments #4 and #10, the sense of "polyocracy" apparently intended here was ultimately coined by Keith Waterhouse (the author of Billy Liar), in his "Keith Waterhouse on Thursday" column in the Daily Mirror of 23 October 1975 , entitled "The New Polycrats" (p12).

He wrote:


The other day, in one of those rambling, chest-prodding pub arguments I seem to get into from time to time, I was accused of being middle class.

I hotly denied it. I define middle class as Indignant Ratepayer from Surburbiton, with a mortgaged semi, a glass-fronted shelf of Reader's Digest Condensed Books, two children at grammar school, a wife who bottles fruit, and a small ginger moustache.

My accuser then put it to me that, whatever back street I might have once infested, I could at any rate no longer describe myself as working class.

I agreed. I am, I said grandly, a member of the Polyocracy.

You will not have heard of the Polyocracy, since I have just made the word up...


And so on. The wiktionary definition in note #2 is different.

Waterhouse followed up with more in his column on the following Monday ("Keith Waterhouse on Monday"), 27th October.

And it cropped up in several columns over the next few years.

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