Psycho Mafia

Lyrics

(1)

Spit on the streets
Numb heads and feet
Nowhere to go
Won't let us in the shows

'Cos we talk about love
And the Psycho-Mafia
I'm talking 'bout love
And the Psycho-Mafia

No soul in the discos
No rock in the clubs
Won't let us in the pubs
And the city jars

Going on about love
And the Psycho-Mafia
I'm talking about love
And the Psycho-Mafia

Psycho-Mafia
Psycho-Mafia
'cho Mafia
'cho Mafia

Spit on the streets
Shot heads and teeth
Our eyes are red
Our brains are dead

Going on about drugs
Psycho-Mafia
I'm talking about love
Psycho-Mafia

 

 

Notes

1. In this, one of the earliest Fall songs, MES coins what could have been a name for the Fall's fan base, in the mold of "KISS Army," or "Slaytanic Wehrmacht" (which tries a little too hard, but Slayer fans were game), or "Parrotheads" (Jimmy Buffet), or "Juggalos" (Insane Clown Posse), or of course "Deadheads." To the fans' credit, they didn't go for it, and to MES's credit he probably didn't mean for the name to be used that way anyway, but it's an amusing idea. Mick Middles calls it a "tale of late night violence and terror," whereas The Story of the Fall hears a "condemnation of mental hospital staff." According to MES, courtesy of Reformation

This song started out as a tribute to a local street-gang, but on completion of the lyrics, it took on a sinister aura - an aura of oppression, a sort of subconscious manifestation of events which were happening around the author at the time. The music, strangely enough, is a sort of tribute to the new R n B bands which were the only thing happening at the time of writing, i.e. early 1976.

The street hang may have been called "Sedgley Park Psychomafia," as Danny reports: Tony Friel's short lived website included an mp3 of Psycho Mafia annotated with "Sedgley Park Psychomafia (bus stop graffiti)", suggesting the phrase was something they saw - presumably the street gang wrote it.

And, from Renegade:

Music to me was something your sisters did. My three sisters all had posters of Cliff and the Osmonds over the house. I was more into causing trouble, forming gangs and things like that. I used to have a few – Psycho Mafia, the Barry Boy gang. We’d fight other gangs. It was quite interesting; there used to be Irish gangs and Orthodox Jewish gangs. But the Psycho Mafia was a real melting pot, and I was the vice president.

Dan submits:

From New Manchester Review, #53, dated 24 March 1978 to 6 April 1978, p8, interview with MES:
 


Both Mark and Una have attended Mental Patients' Union meetings at the local hospital, and have occasionally invited patients back to the flat.

On the lyric sheet which Mark copied out he wrote: "N.B. Psycho Mafia is about chemical straitjackets":

"No soul in the discos/No rock in the clubs/Won't let us into the pubs/And the city joys/Spitting on the streets/Shot heads and teeth/Our eyes are red/Our brains are dead/'Cos we know about chemicals and the Psycho Mafia/I'm talking about electrodes and the Psycho Mafia."

The Mental Patients Union was "founded in London in 1973 to oppose psychiatric oppression.

^

Comments (11)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 04/05/2014
You know what I think? I think it's "spit on the streets", not "spitting".
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 14/05/2014
Tony Friel's short lived website included an mp3 of Psycho Mafia annotated with "Sedgley Park Psychomafia (bus stop graffiti)", suggesting the phrase was something they saw - presumably the street gang wrote it.
http://web.archive.org/web/20040216114513/http://www.atomicsoup.co.uk/MUSIC.htm
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 12/08/2017
"Psycho Mafia" may have been MES's gang, it seems.

MES wrote in "Renegade":


Music to me was something your sisters did. My three sisters all had posters of Cliff and the Osmonds over the house. I was more into causing trouble, forming gangs and things like that. I used to have a few – Psycho Mafia, the Barry Boy gang. We’d fight other gangs. It was quite interesting; there used to be Irish gangs and Orthodox Jewish gangs. But the Psycho Mafia was a real melting pot, and I was the vice president.
GLochin
  • 4. GLochin | 27/01/2018
It's worth noting that Mark Fisher ends up co-opting the "psycho-mafia" coinage to describe pharmaceutical corporations
"Considering mental illness an individual chemico-biological problem has enormous benefits for capitalism: first, it reinforces capital's drive towards atomistic individualization (you are sick because of your brain chemistry) and second, it provides an enormously lucrative market in which multinational 'pyscho-mafias' can peddle their dodgy drugs (we can cure you with our SSRIs)."

http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/005660.html
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 29/01/2018
Comment #4: yeah, I think the psychiatric hospital/pharmaceutical industry angle has to be part of it. Notes do mention this.
VEJ
  • 6. VEJ | 17/04/2018
Suggest : "And the city jars"

: to have a harshly unpleasant or perturbing effect on one's nerves, feelings, thoughts, etc.:
bzfgt
  • 7. bzfgt (link) | 05/07/2018
Yeah I like that it makes sense, let me listen

It sounds like it is definitely "jars" to me--cool! progress inches along

Now "numb heads and feet" sounds like it might be "don't hesitate"--ugh
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 24/04/2019
From New Manchester Review, #53, dated 24 March 1978 to 6 April 1978, p8, interview with MES:


Both Mark and Una have attended Mental Patients' Union meetings at the local hospital, and have occasionally invited patients back to the flat.

On the lyric sheet which Mark copied out he wrote: "N.B. Psycho Mafia is about chemical straitjackets":

"No soul in the discos/No rock in the clubs/Won't let us into the pubs/And the city joys/Spitting on the streets/Shot heads and teeth/Our eyes are red/Our brains are dead/'Cos we know about chemicals and the Psycho Mafia/I'm talking about electrodes and the Psycho Mafia."
dannyno
  • 9. dannyno | 24/04/2019
So that's "city joys". But is that what is sung on record? Might not be, and either MES's written version departs from it, or the writer has misread it. Or it might be right. Need to listen again!
dannyno
  • 10. dannyno | 24/04/2019
After all, this NMR text includes lines not found above anyway.
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 05/05/2019
Some information about the origins of the Mental Patients' Union:

https://www.manchesterusersnetwork.org.uk/2017/03/29/mental-patients-union-1973/
[archive]

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