Say! Mmmmmm-uuuaahhh
Say! Mmmmmm-uuuaaaah
Say! Mmmmmm--uuuaaaah


Monday night at operation control
I sat facing rows of monitor mountains
Mind control
Life control
Operation mind control (2)

My first is in car
I'm easily bought, but still always short

[Fly that over space beam]

And round my way the people still do say
And round these parts the people still impart

My second is in..


Say! Mmmmmm
Say! Mmmmmm

And round my way the people still do say
Round these parts the people still impart

Third: slopes
Fourth: [inverting within]

Round my way the people still do say
And round these parts the people still exclaim

And even now kids round our place say 



1. "My approach to writing has definitely changed. I used to get into the serious thing of loads of words, couldn't get enough into a song. You end up dead pretentious. 

"That's what I like about 'Riddler', it's dead slow and there's not a lot said in it but it sort of stops people in their tracks. I always remember we used to shout 'Riddler' when we were kids in Salford, but I can't remember what for, it's still a sort of mystery."  


To some extent we could perhaps say MES is being a riddler with some of his lyrics.


2. There is a 1978 book, which would be right up MES's alley, called Operation Mind Control: the Cryptocracy's Plan to Psychocivlize You, written by one Walter Bowart. The author was a founder and editor of the East Village Other and an associate of figures like Timothy Leary, Abbey Hoffman, and Robert Crumb. The book chronicled the ways in which the government, through hypnosis, drugs, and other methods, seeks to control the minds of the citizenry. 

On Amazon, one J. Moore, who says he is one of the researchers mentioned in the book, had the following to say about Bowart:

"Walter Bowart reportedly wrote a follow-up, but suddenly stopped and virtually vanished. The rumor mill has it that he was threatened with 'termination with extreme prejudice' - a phrase for assassination that is now outdated.

To my knowledge, he is still alive but living his life in a very low profile. From my own experiences over the years, I can't say I blame him."

If MES (who has admitted to having a taste for crackpot pseudo-history) was familiar with any of this, he would have eaten it up, so it may be the origin of the lyric about "Operation Mind Control."


More Information

Comments (16)

  • 1. harleyr | 06/02/2013
My take (pulling together the MES quote above and various comments by Fall forum folks) - a bored solitary late night security guard surveys the closed circuit TVs in front of him, jokes to himself about it being 'operation mind control', idly attempts to solve a puzzle in Riddler magazine ('My first is in...' etc), and thinks about the local kids who (channeling MES) shout random words at strangers. No idea what the solution to the puzzle is though.
  • 2. Martin | 31/01/2014
10 February 1986 Laser's, Haringay:

- "Riddler! Riddler!" (extra lyrics during Words Of Expectations, some months before the first performance of Riddler!)
  • 3. dannyno | 11/05/2014
It doesn't help much, but there is the 1978 book "Operation Mind Control", by Walter Bowart, an associate of Timothy Leary. It's about government use of psychedelic drugs and other tools of psychological warfare.
  • 4. bzfgt | 13/05/2014
Actually that does help and resulted in a good note. MES loves stuff like that so I think it not entirely unlikely he was aware of the book.
  • 5. dannyno | 31/01/2019
Brix in conversation with John Leckie:

Leckie thinks this track was mastered from cassette (and only this track on the album, rumour notwithstanding).

Also he says there is "a lot missing" from the track. I don't know if he means lyrically or in terms of sound.
  • 6. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Does that jibe with the info on the reissue? I think someone said that says there are two cassette tracks?

Can't wayback that &$^#% link
  • 7. dannyno | 23/03/2019
p15 of the 2019 reissue booklet has this from Leckie:

I don't remember the whole album being mastered off of a cassette - [It was Riddler! and Terry Waite Sez].

The square bracketed comment is not Leckie, but an editorial intervention. Not sure how to evaluate it.
  • 8. dannyno | 23/03/2019
p15 of the 2019 reissue booklet has this from Leckie:

I don't remember the whole album being mastered off of a cassette - [It was Riddler! and Terry Waite Sez].

The square bracketed comment is not Leckie, but an editorial intervention. Not sure how to evaluate it
  • 9. dannyno | 23/03/2019
Leckie himself only mentions Riddler!.
  • 10. dannyno | 02/07/2021
Operation Mind Control:

From Option magazine, dated July/August 1986 (note how close this is to the release of Bend Sinister, the album on which Riddler! appears), p.29:

I read a great book called Mind Control and the conclusion of the book was good, it was saying there's no real threat, people think the threat in society is from right wing or left wing, it's not the case. The threat is a loss of individuality, a loss of basic intelligence, that's the danger approaching society, it has noting to do with Reaganism or communism; those are both redundant sort of things. They really are redundant.

I've checked and really the only other plausible book would be Peter Schrag's Mind Control (1980), but the text of that is online and it doesn't quite fit the description, although it's about broadly similar subjects to the Bowart book.

So I think we have here evidence that MES did read Bowart, but that it he's not quite got the title right.
  • 11. dannyno | 02/07/2021
Text of Bowart available in archive.org:

  • 12. dannyno | 02/07/2021
Some quotes from Bowart.


There seems to be a good deal of cultural momentum leading toward a cybernetic anthill society. If we can draw any inference from the numerous predictions made by men of accomplishment in our society, it is that direct brain-computer interface, the cyborg, and the resulting mass mind control are on the horizon.


In the past such people as Hitler, Lenin, or Mao Tse-Tung were high-profile father figures who inspired trust and surrender by the masses. In the modern technological miasma, a nameless, faceless cryptocracy is manipulating world politics.


As the psychologist Erich Fromm said, "A specter is stalking in our midst whom only a few see with clarity. It is not the old ghost of communism or fascism. It is a new specter: a completely mechanized society, devoted to maximal material output and consumption, directed by computers; and in this social process, man himself is being transformed into a part of the total machine, well fed and entertained, yet passive, unalive, and with little feeling.

  • 13. dannyno | 04/07/2021
Walter Bowart died on 18 December 2007, of colon cancer.

Here's an obituary from the Los Angeles Times, 13 January 2008:

  • 14. dannyno | 10/11/2021
During the Tim's Listening Party devoted to Bend Sinister on Twitter on 10th November 2021, Brix (@Brixsmithstart) said (note that the Joker and the Riddler are different characters. The plastic action figure on the album artwork is actually the Joker.):

Mark loved the RIDDLER from the Batman comics and TV show. We shared a black T-shirt with a big white ? On it. We also had a doll of the Riddler we took on the tour bus with us. This song is paying homage to that character.

Source: https://twitter.com/Brixsmithstart/status/1458531715312492549?s=20

When we took that plastic Riddler action figure on tour, we used to torture it in every way we could. On the bus, we made a noose and hung it. We burnt its ass with matches and lighters. And we drowned it in beer and vodka most nights.

Source: https://twitter.com/Brixsmithstart/status/1458532241454342156?s=20

John Leckie, same twitter event:

Recorded Abbey Road straight to stereo but mastered from cassette tape. Bit of hiss but strong tone and vibe !

Source: https://twitter.com/JohnLeckie7/status/1458531264475062285?s=20

Steve Hanley:

This song started the rumours the album was mastered from a cassette tape. Just this song folks.

Source: https://twitter.com/Stephenhanley6/status/1458531342078054412?s=20
Mark Oliver
  • 15. Mark Oliver | 29/08/2023
On shouting 'Riddler', kids, in fact, people, always have shouted random things, sort of password/catchphrases which have lost any original sense of meaning, a sort of pre-internet example of 'going viral'- for years, you couldn't be at a festival without hearing 'Wally!' a few hundred times. At Stoke City games, in the 1970s, people chanted 'Wayo, Wayo' for no apparent reason- the urban myth was that it was inspired by a broken 'Way Out' sign which travelling fans had seen at Sheffield Station.
  • 16. dannyno | 11/04/2024
The image from the record cover:


I've got one:


It's the Joker:


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