Pearl City


In Pearl City (1)
Pearl City
No-one knows, no-one cares
about your world of stocks and shares

I don't need no riding crop
I don't need no roundabout stop

You're welcome to Pearl City

See the b(r)ight,
Bright white training shoe
Old coots retired early

At Pearl City
In Pearl City

Cappuccino and a slice of quiche
It's salad for the new educated 'teach'
Everything is gonna work out fine
The sleepiness in the lec-lecturer line
In Pearl City

In Pearl City

Ye over-counter drugs
Have left you totally bushwhacked

In Pearl City

We asked Vauxhall drivers
what they wanted from a garage
Did ya? Did ya? (2)

At service center on the Rock (3)

Pearl City

I don't need a bird beggin at my knees  (4)
I don't need no riding crop
I don't need no roundabout stop

[Woman: Are you up the pole?]  (5)




1. The general consensus is that this song is titled after a Chinese restaurant in Manchester called Pearl City. However, it seems obviously wrong to say that the song is "about" the restaurant, which doesn't serve quiche, among other reasons.

Julia Nagle has confirmed the Chinese restaurant hypothesis (on Fallnet):

"I'll verify that, that was the inspiration for the song, and is/was 
MES's fave Chinese restaraunt..."

The song was co-written with producer Mike Bennett and Karl Burns. Burns was in a band (with Martin Bramah, Carrie Lawson, Mike Rickard and Lee Pickering) called Thirst who released one EP in 1987. The first song on the EP, "Let Go," is also co-written by Burns and has a similar melody to "Pearl City."

Bennett, who co-produced Cerebral Caustic and The Light User Syndrome, also co-wrote "The Chiselers," "Masquerade," and co-wrote and sang on "Cheetham Hill."


2. "Touch Sensitive" from The Marshall Suite was later used in a Vauxhall commercial.


3. The Rock is a shopping area in Bury. According to DJ Ash, there was a Vauxhall dealership and service centre on The Rock in Bury (Auty and Lee's, until 1996). Vauxhall used to have that line as a tag line on their adverts.

In "Pat-Trip Dispenser," the line "There are no big shots on the Rock" (whose primary reference is of course to Alcatraz) may also place Pat, whom we first meet at a service center ("petrol shop"), in the same location, as Danny suggests below.



4. "Bird" refers to a woman in English slang.


5. Some commenters think it's "on the ball." To me it sounds like "up the bowl," which makes no sense. 


"Up the pole" is apparently a phrase with several meanings: in the wrong, in good with one's superiors, crazy, difficult...this is all very vexing.


Comments (47)

  • 1. dannyno | 18/09/2013
"At service center on the rock"

"The Rock" is a shopping street/centre area in Bury. I reckon this is the same Rock as is mentioned in Pat-Trip Dispenser.
  • 2. dannyno | 01/02/2014
Julie Nagle confirms Chinese restaurant theory in FallNet posting, 2002:
  • 3. bzfgt | 12/02/2014
Shit, Danny, nothing shows in that link for me. Could you copy and paste it here?
  • 4. Martin | 27/02/2014
I think Dan has forgotten that it's a restricted group, so if you're not a member. I am, so what the post says is:

"I'll verify that , that was the inspiration for the song, and is/was
MES's fav Chinese restaraunt........ as no other bugger will.
annnd Hannah.. my middle name is Mary..cooo, (not first born
  • 5. Martin | 27/02/2014
Please ignore the crap grammar in the post above. More importantly, just wanted to say that I'm sure that there are quite a few snipbits of info in the Fallnet archives, a message forum which hit peaks of around 2,000 posts a month before The Fall Online really got going but which now is lucky if the post count reaches 100 per month. Problem is knowing where to look for this info: you don't even know if there's a needle at all to be found in the haystack.
  • 6. bzfgt | 11/03/2014
What's all the Hannah/Mary stuff?
  • 7. Martin | 11/03/2014
Probably a reply to another fallnet post which I included in the quote above for some reason. Don't think it has anything to do with the song itself.
  • 8. DJAsh (link) | 22/01/2018
"We asked Vauxhall drivers what they wanted from a service centre on The Rock"
There is (or certainly was in the 90s) a Vauxhall dealership and service centre on The Rock in Bury.
Vauxhall used to have that line as a tag line on their adverts.
  • 9. dannyno | 11/02/2018
Comment #8. The dealership was probably Auty & Lees. Their registered address was "284 The Rock, Bury".

They were still listed at that address in Key British Enterprises, 1994.

Companies House ( indicates that Auty & Lees lasted from 1930-1996.

However, records from 1984 indicate that by then the business was part of Vantage Garages (Bury) Ltd, run by the Bowie family. It was part of the "Vantage Group". At the end of 1996, the name was formally incorporated under Vantage Garages.

And then March 2007, they became Perrys Bury Ltd.

One of the former directores of Auty & Lees died in January 2017, aged 89:

One of the partners in the original firm was Harold Riley "Ginger" Lees - a speedway champion. I think the other was maybe Charlie Auty. Very interesting, but by the time this song was written the business was clearly in other hands.
  • 10. dannyno | 19/02/2018
Apparently more or less the same tune as the also-Burns-penned "Let Go" by Thirst (1988):
  • 11. bzfgt (link) | 24/02/2018
Good one!
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 24/02/2018
Looking at this spurred me to get the proper Bennett info on "Masquerade," "Chilinism," and "Cheetham Hill"...
  • 13. Junkman | 26/03/2018
Pretty sure it's "They're sleeping us on the left-lecturer line"

Another possible option for the prior line is "It's salad for the new educate-to-teach", which makes slightly more sense. You could make a case that it's to do with needlessly fancy things - cappuccino instead of coffee, quiche instead of salad, saying "educate" instead of "teach". Tenuous though
  • 14. bzfgt (link) | 07/04/2018
I don't hear "left," and "educated 'teach'" makes at least as much sense...why would "educate-to-teach" make sense? Like the students become lecturers eventually and perpetuate the cycle?
  • 15. Junkman | 08/04/2018
Just what I said - a sarcy comment on needlessly fancy things/language. People who say 'educate' instead of saying 'teach'. And so on.
ex worker man
  • 16. ex worker man | 08/04/2018
re - See the bank/Bright white trains/You old coots retired early;
I think MES here loses the r in a first bright and then corrects himself, the line is;

see the b-ight, bright white training shoe, old coots retired early

and later;

The sleepiness of the lec-lecturer line
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
Junkman, wouldn;t that be "people who say 'educate' for 'teach'" in that case? (But in saying that, I suddenly somehow feel like one of the people you describe!)

EWM--spinning it to see
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
I hear it more like what I have, but your suggested revision is on the record now.
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
Crap, now I'm not may have it. Need more opinions.
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 22/04/2018
No, I hear what I have for sure. But the second one I think you're right (the lecturer line)--could others please check and weigh in before I change it? I am not confident about it.
  • 21. dannyno | 07/05/2018
"Cappuccino and a slice of quiche
It's salad for the new educated 'teach'"

"Teach" is only really there because it rhymes with "quiche" in the previous line, I would have thought.

I agree with comment #16, "bright white training shoe". It's clearer on some live versions.
  • 22. dannyno | 07/05/2018
Listening to this again, I was thinking - this reminds me of something. And not the Thirst song identified in comment #10.

Eventually I got it. There's a resemblance to Spoilt Victorian Child too (which predates the Thirst song).
  • 23. dannyno | 07/05/2018
I'm also in agreement on "The sleepiness of the lec lecturer line"

Luckily all these suggestions improve the lyric!
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 04/07/2018
Yeah OK made changes
  • 25. hbalint | 11/02/2019
Round about stuff- prostitute slang for sexual perversion. Sorry to bring this up so late in the day. Great song great album.
  • 26. dev | 25/04/2019
"And you've got a fucking maggot for a brain but you're making a bob or two at the Commonwealth Games." (amended lyrics to "Pearl City")
  • 27. dev | 25/04/2019
The offending Thirst tune:

It's not bad but forgettable, with terrible lyrics: 'Eeny, meeny, miny, moe let go.'
  • 28. bzfgt (link) | 27/04/2019
He does pronounce "stop" like "stuff," but the rhyme with "crop" and more importantly hearing them next to each other they seem phonetically identical, including a little "p-(a)hh" at the end--I think it's "stop."
  • 29. bzfgt (link) | 27/04/2019
It'd be nice to identify "Are you on the ball?"
  • 30. bzfgt (link) | 28/06/2019
Comment 26--where from?
  • 31. dannyno | 30/08/2020
"The Rock"

(photos by me taken in November 2018)
  • 32. Chris | 31/08/2020
I just started watching a film from 1947 called 'Snowbound' where Stanley Holloway's character says someone "must be up the pole". I've never heard this expression before i.e. he must be daft but his intonation was just like the last line of this song so brought it immediately to mind. On this site it's rendered as "are you on the ball?" whereas I now think it's "are you up the pole?" because of this British film!
  • 33. bzfgt (link) | 06/09/2020
Hmmmmaybe, it sounds like "Are up up the ball?" to me now..."pole' sounds weird, more like a "B", but "on" sounds more like
"up," so I don't know, maybe we could get more ears involved? I think there's a good chance it isn't "on the ball" anyway
  • 34. dannyno | 13/09/2020
It sounds more like "are you on the ball?" than "are you up the pole?"

Also "are you on the ball?" is a way more common phrase than "are you up the pole?" "on" might possibly be "up", the voice is unhelpfully distorted, but "ball" is definitely not "pole".
  • 35. bzfgt (link) | 20/09/2020
Well I"d say "on the ball" is more common, since I've never heard anyone say "up the pole." What that means is I'm more inclined to think it's the former, aside from phonetic evidence. But it sounds like "Are you up the ball/bole" to me...I guess accent could easily account for the "ole"-ish sound, it's the "up" that's hanging me up.

I listened to it enough times I can convince myself of "on." Let's run with it for now.
  • 36. bzfgt (link) | 20/09/2020
Shit I already have "on the ball," I guess I changed it last week....I guess we're running with it for now.
  • 37. erik | 22/09/2020
i always hear that last line as... " are you on the dole"?
  • 38. Chris | 24/09/2020
bzfgt, watch the film!
  • 39. dannyno | 25/09/2020
  • 40. dannyno | 25/09/2020
The line might be an advertising slogan, or a recorded and distorted snippet of TV advert dialogue. I don't know it is, and it would have been local, but given the song's apparent references to other adverts it would make sense. In which case "on the ball" would be more likely than "up the pole". I can see no reason to think it's the latter, not least because it doesn't sound like it (to me).
  • 41. bzfgt (link) | 27/09/2020
Damn it Chris, we had "up the pole" until a week ago when these guys talked me out of it. If that's said somewhere that might be it, it really sounds like "up the bowl" to me more than anything to make matters worse.

Doesn't sound like "on the dole" to me at all.

I don't really think it's "on the ball." I'm for now going with "up the pole" with a note about "on the ball."
  • 42. bzfgt (link) | 27/09/2020
I have to remember to read back a few comments every time I come here, I never remember what was said

Doesn't sound like either to me
  • 43. bzfgt (link) | 27/09/2020
If we know who said it maybe we could find out...maybe someone could ask one of the principals.
  • 44. dannyno | 27/09/2020
It's the new "Baghdad, State Cog, Analyst".
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 24/10/2020
  • 46. harleyr | 01/11/2020
I recall an interview around the time of Cerebral Caustic's release in which Smith said he had struggled to come up with any words to Pearl City but had ended up throwing together (paraphrasing from memory) 'a bunch of aphorisms about Manchester' and he thought they worked well. Sorry, can't find the interview in question on Google.
  • 47. dannyno | 03/11/2020
Comment #46.

Sorry, can't find the interview in question on Google.

I can.

It's from Indiecator, May 1993.

So a couple of years before Cerebral Caustic. Around the time of the release of Infotainment Scan.

Text is here:

It's actually in relation to Glam Racket (the line is also quoted on the page for that song here)

"The group came up with this tune and I told them it sounded like glam shite."

One swift re-working later and 'Glam Racket' was born.

"I was a bit stuck for lyrics," he recalls, "so I ended up writing some aphorisms. I just sang them over the tune. It's nothing to do with Denim or Suede, believe it or not."

Add a comment