New Face in Hell



Wireless enthusiast intercepts government secret radio band and
Uncovers secrets and scandals of deceitful type proportions.

Aghast, goes next door to his neighbor, secretly excited, 
As aforementioned was a hunter who radio enthusiast wanted
Friendship and favor of

A new face in hell
Nearly a new face in hell!

A muscular, thick-skinned, slit-eyed neighbor is at the table
Poisoned just thirty seconds before by parties who knew of
Wireless operator's forthcoming revelation

A new face in hell!

A prickly line of sweat covers enthusiast's forehead as the
Realization hits him that the same government him and his now
Dead neighbor voted for and backed and talked of on cream porches
Have tricked him into their war against the people who enthusiast
And dead hunter would wish torture on. A servant of
Government walks in and arrests wireless fan in
Kitchen for murder of his neighbor (2)

A new face in hell!
A new face in hell!
A new face in hell! 

A new face in hell!
A new face in hell!
A new face in hell!
A new face in hell! 

The dead cannot contradict   (3)
Sometimes the living cannot

A new face in hell!   (4)


1. This is a pretty straightforward (odd, but not impenetrable) story...the music is based on the riff from "What Goes On" by the Velvet Underground. The 1968 film P.J., with George Peppard starring as a private eye set up by his cleint, played by Raymond Burr, was called New Face in Hell in the UK. Slackhurst Broadcasting from the Fall online forum remembers MES saying the kazoo part is an attempt to imitate the theme song from P.J. Unfortunately, this has not yet been corroborated, but it is entirely plausible, given the similarity of the melody.

There is also a (rather obscure) crime fiction title from 1976 called New Face in Hell by Roger Busby. 


2. Hexen Blumenthal: "This is followed by 'what a turn up for the books' in the Peel version which is possibly an allusion to 'Rhinocratic Oaths' by The Bonzo Doo Dah Dog Band where the same phrase is uttered when several policemen emerge from their hippy disguises."


3. The English translation of the German play Die Spanier in Peru ("The Spaniard in Peru," 1796) by August von Kotzebue (translated in 1799 by Richard Sheridan, who is today probably best known for A School for Scandal, and retitled Pizarro) contains the line "The dead cannot contradict the assertions of the living." The German text is simply "die Todten sind gefällig" ("the dead are compliant"--alternatives would be "obliging" or "accomodating").

The events surrounding the death of Kotzebue, a political conservative who polemecized against those seeking to liberalize German institutions, form a narrative worthy of "New Face in Hell." Kotzebue was seen as a reactionary by many of the students and ex-soldiers who were calling for a unified Germany with increased freedom of the press and of association, and his History of the German Empires was publicly burned at the Wartburg Festival, a public demonstration for German unity. In 1819 he was stabbed to death by Karl Sand, a member of one of the Burschenschaften, the liberal and nationalistic student fraternities that were politically active in the 19th century. This became a pretext for the arch conservative Prince Metternich, then Foreign Minister (later Chancellor) of the Austrian Empire, to promulgate the Carlsbad Decrees which dissolved the Burschenschaften and imposed state control on the universities and the press.  


4. The "new face" may be the neighbor, but it could also refer to the "wireless enthusiast," as indicated by the line "the dead cannot contradict, sometimes the living cannot." The government may be using the frame-up to blackmail the enthusiast, rather than prosecuting him straight off, in which case "hell" would be a metaphorical way of describing the wireless operartor's life subsequent to these events. Thus, on the Peel session, MES repeats "nearly a new face in hell" after the neighbor is already dead. Then, when the wireless enthusiast is arrested, he sings "He became a new face in hell!" On the other hand, given that on the album version he does not repeat "nearly" or sing "became" after the arrest, there is a bit more leeway for interpretation there. 


Comments (19)

  • 1. John | 17/10/2013
I distinctly remember that "a new face in hell" was prison slang for "the new guy". I can't find a reference, unfortunately, but it would make sense: the guy is now a political prisoner. The dead can't contradict, and sometimes the living cannot, indeed.
  • 2. Martin | 28/01/2014
A book called "New Face In Hell", written by Roger Busby, was published by Collins Crime Club in 1976:
  • 3. bzfgt | 15/02/2014
I couldn't find any info on that, John, but let me know if you do.
  • 4. dannyno | 19/04/2014
"Hunter who", not "hunter whom"
  • 5. bzfgt | 19/04/2014
But...that's incorrect English!

I took your word for it, so you better be right...
steve hamilton
  • 6. steve hamilton | 25/04/2014
New Face In Hell is also the title of a 1968 film (UK version).
  • 7. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
  • 8. dannyno | 02/01/2015
There's a line in the play, "Pizarro; or, the death of Rolla" by August von Kotzebue as translated by Benjamin Thompson (other translations differ) c 1800, spoken by the character Cora:

"The dead cannot contradict the assertions of the living".
  • 9. E. | 28/06/2015
"Every man hates what he has to rely on"
  • 10. Zetetic | 05/12/2015
I see put down here as:

A new face in hell
Nearly a new face in hell!

I've always heard it to be:

A new face in hell
Merely a new face in hell!

(his accent is fairly broad but I feel I hear a little more than most - simply by having grown up in that area (I'm from Oldham))
  • 11. bzfgt | 06/12/2015
Thanks, Zetetic, that's entirely possible but I can't hear it clearly enough to say for sure, and the Orange Lyrics book has "Nearly." The lyrics books are authorized by MES, so authoritative to an extent, although they are in fact notoriously inaccurate. So that doesn't settle it, but my general policy is to adhere to the lyrics books except in cased where their inaccuracy is quite patent. But in any case, your alternative is now registered here for posterity...
  • 12. egg | 11/09/2016
NB that (on the Grotesque version anyway) MES stumbles on the opening line, or starts too early, so there is a sort of "Wwwrrrrrr!" shriek before the lyrics proper begin...
  • 13. dannyno | 11/02/2018
This was posted on another entry.

Lyrics to the song as published in Smash Hits:
  • 14. dannyno | 11/02/2018
Er, just the link then:
Hexen Blumenthal
  • 15. Hexen Blumenthal | 29/09/2018
"A servant of Government walks in and arrests wireless fan in kitchen for murder of his neighbor" is followed by "what a turn up for the books" in the Peel version which is possibly an allusion to "Rhinocratic Oaths" by THe Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band where the same phrase is uttered when several policemen emerge from their hippy disguises/
Ian F
  • 16. Ian F | 25/03/2019
Hopefully it's legitimate to comment where tracks might have in turn influenced other works. I'm reading Milkman by Anna Burns, and can't help thinking that the theme (paranoia) and the style bear the hallmarks of someone who has listened to The Fall quite a lot, and the breathless over-delivery of this track in particular. Here's an example (though I could pick practically any sentence):

"It took its toll though, all that darkness and mutual games-playing, bringing with it the concomitant that even though the whole meat of my dissembling had been to keep separate by non-participation with them, here I was, making common cause with them. Too late I realised that all the time I'd been an active player, a contributing element, a major componential in the downfall of myself."
Ian F
  • 17. Ian F | 25/03/2019
And here's another example from Milkman (see above comment), especially pertinent to this track.

"I knew, of course, though maybe-boyfriend didn't, that not only might he be getting snapped by the renouncers as a possible informer, and snapped by those backroom-enterprisers as someone who might be famous one day for being killed as an informer, but also that the state would snap him twice over as an associate of an associate of a man high on their list".

And this book has won The Booker Prize, for what it's worth.
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 09/06/2019
Of course it's legitimate, and welcome
  • 19. dannyno | 30/06/2019
Lyrics to this were published in Smash Hits magazine, dated 25 December 1980 - 7 January 1981, vol 2 #26, p28

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