Prole Art Threat

Lyrics

(1)

Pink press threat!
 

MAN WITH CHIP: I'm riding third class on a one-class train.
I'm set at nought like a wimpey crane. (2)

 

I'm a pink prole threat.
 

GENT IN SAFE-HOUSE: Get out the pink press threat file
and Um-brrrptzzap the subject. (3)


 

MAN WITH CHIP: It's de-louse, recluse time


(now v. bitter) When I get to the safe house
Hanging rhyme
Hang this crummy blitz trad. by its neck
Pink press threat
I escaped the pink prole effect

 

GENT IN SAFE-HOUSE: It's a new prole art threat,
So it's recluse, safehouse time

 

NARRATOR: Then the clan began
Give them nail files soon
Then the clan began
Agenda Item One *

Pink press threat
Get out the pink press threat file
New prole art, the subject
It's safe-house, safe-house time

Everybody hears a hum at 3 a.m.
But in the safe-house, it's not around

Pink press threat
Get out the wet lib file (4)
New prole art, the subject
Safe-house, safe-house tone

That clan has got away with 100 years of sheer brilliance until now

* The lyrics that were published in the Lough Press book continue as follows from this point:
Scene: Safe-house Give them nail files, soon

GENT AND STAFF- And looking at this agenda, we have a bit of
now revealed a problem here
to be m.i.9 Get out the pink press threat file
(5)
New prole art threat the subject
It's safehouse, safehouse time

 

(ALL: Everybody hears the hum at 3:00 a.m.)
 

But in the safehouse, it's not around
Pink press threat

 

GENT: Get out and apply the wet lib file
Vs. this new prole art threat
Safehouse, safehouse tone

 

MAN WITH CHIP, That clan has gotten away with 100 years
dissipated and knacked, of sheer brilliance
at home, video reach, --Up till now
stereo bog etc.   
(6)

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Notes

1. "Pink press" implies a socialist organ; the term "pink" or "pinko" is sometimes applied to someone who isn't necessarily a communist, but is rather a sympathizer or approaches communism on the political spectrum (it can also be used, often in an exaggerated or humorous sense, to paint someone who doesn't actually have communist sympathies as holding views that are de facto socialist or communist in nature). An episode of the cartoon series The Pink Panther is entitled "Pink Press." According to K-Punk,

The song is a complex, ultimately unreadable, play on the idea of Smith as ‘working class’ spokesman. The ‘Theat’ is posed as much to other representations of the proletarian pop culture (which at its best meant The Jam and at its worst meant the more thuggish Oi!) as it is against the ruling class as such. The ‘art’ of The Fall’s pulp modernism – their intractability and difficulty – is counterposed to the misleading ingenuousness of Social Realism. 


However, as the author himself acknowledges later, it is problematic to straightfowardly associate Smith himself with the "threat."

Reformation reproduces sone enlightening remarks from Smith about the song:

In an interview published in NME (November 14, 1981) MES is quoted thus: "Prole Art Threat is...about...the destruction of these ridiculous liberal views which perpetuate the system...they laugh at the skinheads, they laugh at the punks, they laugh at the heavy metal kids, and then they turn round and say the Americans are bigoted and fascist!" 

In TBLY (issue no 8, February 1997) MES, in an unattributed quote, says that the song "actually started as a play, about some commuter type who flips out on leftism and gets caught up with MI5 and that. I just compressed it and made it more of a joke. It was like how everyone's going on about the working class but when they do something it's seen as a threat. It was, like, an anti-intellectual middle class song, do you get my drift?"

From Dan:

The back cover of Slates reprints some of the "play" dialogue, preceded by this: "PROLE ART THREAT

starring 'gent' and 'man' in ASDA mix-up spy thriller"

ASDA is a British supermarket chain.

^

 

2. "Set at nought"--to to be disregarded, ignored, dismissed, treated with contempt-- also pops up in "Middle Mass."George Wimpey is the name of a company (and its founder) that operated as a road surfacing contractor in Britain between 1880 and 2007. Wimpey also puts in an appearance in "Ladybird." Dan points out that "To be 'set at nought' is to be disregarded, ignored, dismissed, treated with contempt."

^

3. K-punk likely has the right idea: "The text is presented to us as a transcript of surveillance tapes, complete with ellipses where the transmission is supposedly scrambled."

^

4. "Wet" is English public-school slang for someone perceived as weak and ineffectual. A "wet" liberal may refer to someone who is not staunchly liberal enough, but may perhaps also just be used an intensifier of "liberal" by those who see the position as inherently weak.  

^

5. MI9 is a division of British military intelligence. A socialist Columbian guerilla movement called M-19 (19th of April Movement) was active in the 1980s; since Smith doesn't actually sing this lyric, it's not certain how he pronounces it, but "em eye nine" is probably more likely.  

^

6. The phrase "stereo bog" also appears in "C'n'C-S Mithering."

^

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Comments (9)

Zack
  • 1. Zack | 09/06/2015

I always took "wet lib" to mean either "bed wetting liberal" or "bleeding heart liberal". Not sure how popular those terms were in 1980s England though.

dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 15/06/2015

Note 1:

QIn TBLY (issue no 8, February 1997) MES, in an unattributed quote, says that the song "actually started as a play, about some commuter type who flips out on leftism and gets caught up with MI5 and that. I just compressed it and made it more of a joke. It was like how everyone's going on about the working class but when they do something it's seen as a threat. It was, like, an anti-intellectual middle class song, do you get my drift?""

The quote comes from the interview with MES in NME, 1 Oct 1983 (p7) - but the text is not quite the same:
http://thefall.org/news/pics/83oct01_nme/83oct01_nme.html


That song actually started off as a play, about some commuter type bloke who flips out on leftism and gets caught up with MI5 and all that. I just compressed it and made more of a joke about it.

dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 31/03/2016

"Everybody hears a hum at 3 a.m"

I wondered if this is a specific hum to the situation, like an approaching helicopter, or if it refers to that mysterious buzzing that some people hear in the early hours:
http://www.livescience.com/38427-the-hum-mystery-taos-hum.html

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 31/03/2016

Zack:

In 1980s England, "wet" was a Thatcherite term for those members of the Tory party who were nervous of her neoliberal nostrums.

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 16/02/2017

"I'm set at nought like a wimpey crane."

To be "set at nought" is to be disregarded, ignored, dismissed, treated with contempt.

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 16/02/2017

"I'm set at nought like a wimpey crane"

It February 1979, two building workers spent several days protesting up a Wimpey crane in Dagenham (in sub-zero conditions and without food and water) in protest at their sacking the previous month. Kevin Healey, 25, gave up after 5 days due to frostbite. But Michael Bridges, 32, stayed up longer.

Just a thought.

dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 26/02/2017

"Stereo bog"

Cross reference to http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/c-n-c-s-mithering.html

dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 09/03/2017

"set at nought like a wimpey crane"

The phrase "set at nought" also appears in "Middle Mass", also on Slates.

dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 25/06/2017

The back cover of "Slates" reprints some of the "play" dialogue, preceded by this:


PROLE ART THREAT

starring 'gent' and 'man' in ASDA mix-up spy thriller:

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