Rowche Rumble

Lyrics

(1)

Rowche Rumble
Is valium
Valium
Valium
Rowche Rumble
That's rumble

Thousands of wives around the world
are given them by doctors, who think they're little girls
The doctors need prescriptions
The wives need their pill
So Rowche Rumble

Menopause wives are hard to handle
No culture or love, no gambles
The dull manage, especially smashed
on Rowche Rumble
Rowche Rumble

Physician, heal thyself  (2)

Our government's built on expense accounts
Once in, never out
A step to Rowche
Force feeding
What are the people around you taking?
Rowche Rumble

Now I've tried crazy things
Abusing my body to a quick end
But I'll never never never never do it again
I said I'll never never never never do it again (3)
Rowche Rumble

Physician, heal thyself
Physician, heal thyself

Musician, heal thyself
Hey listener, heal thyself

Loads of people across the land
Do a prescribed death dance
While condemning speed and grass
They got an addiction like a hole in the ass
Rowche Rumble
Rowche Rumble

I sent 70 pounds instead of 70 p to
pharmaceutical company Rowche AG
The lorry arrived the next day
Swiss gnomes dealing out potions
Kick your liver in
What is it there for?
To decant the beer
...the full use of your body isn't it? (4)

Rowche Rumble
Is valium
That's rumble

Notes

1. This song is quite explicitly about Valium (diazepam), in the model of the Stones' (less explicit) "Mother's Little Helper." Valium was produced by the pharmaceutical company Roche, which has presumably been altered here for legal reasons. According to Simon Ford in Hip Priest (thanks to Reformation):

"Rowche Rumble" refered back to Smith's shipping clerk days, when he did business with the Rowche Chemical Company. One day, due to a clerical error, Smith found himself with piles of barbiturates that he attempted to hide in stores across Manchester and in the bottom drawer of his desk at work.

 According to the Fall's press release: "This is a great dance number and combines a cheek-in-tongue putdown of a popular sweetie with the Fall's tribute to Racey. Dig it."

Many fans do; according to a poll, this is the most popular song on Early Years 77-79 among members of the Fall online forum.

Anita points out that the title may be an allusion to Link Wray's "Rumble."

Sumsiadad suggests the riff is a "shambling homage to the Stooges' 'Shake Appeal.'"  This has apparently been confirmed by Marc Riley on Twitter.

^

2. The cadence here anticipates "Spectre vs. Rector."

^

3. It seems clear that MES must be singing in character here.

Connell brings the goods: "'I'll never never never do it again' is almost a quote of the line in 'Transfusion' by Nervous Norvus, 'I'll never never never speed again'  which of course MES & Ed Blaney covered many years later." 

According to Mark Turner, Marc Riley has confirmed that this is the source of the lyric. 

"Transfusion" is on Kenny Everett's "All-Time Worst Top 30", along with Steve Bent's "I'm Going to Spain" which the Fall covered for The Infotainment Scan (thanks to Dan).

Martin submits: "from the performance of the song at St. Helens, 20 February 1981:

I'm a real gone paleface and that's no illusion
Transfusion, transfusion"

^

4. Trevor Morris points out the live variant from Totales Turns runs "They're gonna kick your liver in, y'gonna treat it like a bin, beer & speed is OK, but the full use of your body isn't."

Note that similar phrases appear in the handwritten lyrics for "Underground Medicin."

^

 

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Comments (20)

Mark
  • 1. Mark | 21/05/2014
"Physician, heal thyself" possibly comes from Luke 4 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physician,_heal_thyself
Mark
  • 2. Mark | 21/05/2014
Is there a link between "Your Heart Out" and "Your liver in"?
Connell
  • 3. Connell | 30/06/2014
"I'll never never never do it again" is almost a quote of the line in "Transfusion" by Nervous Norvus, "I'll never never never speed again" which of course MES & Ed Blaney covered many years later.
Anita
  • 4. Anita | 08/09/2014
My guess is that Mark E. Smith knows Link Wray's very influential 1958 "Rumble" which was banned from radio play although it was an instrumental. A rumble was a gang street fight.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucTg6rZJCu4
Sumsiadad
  • 5. Sumsiadad | 25/01/2016
I'm surprised no-one has pointed out that the main riff in this song is a sort of shambling homage to the Stooges' "Shake Appeal".
bzfgt
  • 6. bzfgt | 12/03/2016
Good call, Sumsi, it is the same riff.
dannyno
  • 7. dannyno | 10/08/2016
Note: Nervous Norvus' "Transfusion" appeared on Kenny Everett's "All-Time Worst Top 30", along with Steve Bent's "I'm Going to Spain".
dannyno
  • 8. dannyno | 12/08/2017
The similarity of the riff to The Stooges' Shake Appeal is also noted in Rob Waite's article "Notebooks Out", in the Fall fanzine, "The Biggest Library Yet", issue #18, January 2000, p.6.
mark turner
  • 9. mark turner | 17/01/2018
marc riley confirmed recently that "I'll never never never do it again" is from nervous nurvus transfusion.
Trevor Morris
  • 10. Trevor Morris | 25/01/2018
Pretty sure the outro is
"Kick your liver in
What is it there for?
[To decant the beer]
...the full use of your body isn't?"
The Dudley live version from September '79 (and others around the time) condense it to, "kick your liver in, treat it like a bin, what is it there for? the full use of your body isn't", plus some Underground Medecin lyrics. And, of course, Totale's Turns captures another memorable variant "They're gonna kick your liver in, y'gonna treat it like a bin, beer & speed is OK, but the full use of your body isn't."
John Kedward
  • 11. John Kedward | 28/01/2018
I thought the rumble was a pun on stomach cramps when you take them, and rumble meaning find out, uncover the government expense account which was not widely known.
Csonic
  • 12. Csonic (link) | 25/02/2018
Marc Riley also confirmed that the riff on "Rowche" is indeed a flawed* attempt to play "Shake Appeal".
bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt (link) | 10/03/2018
Damn, he tweets a lot and you can't search Twitter timelines. I scrolled back to the beginning of the year looking for "Shake Appeal," and that's as far as I'm willing to go because that in itself took forever. If you remember around when the tweet was, could you please find it? This needs confirming.
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 11/03/2018
The story starts with this Tweet I just found from Vic Godard:

Vic Godard, Twitter, 11:13 AM - 15 Nov 2016@marcrileydj thinks his guitar riff on rowche rumble is like shake appeal!
stick to the dj job mate !


https://twitter.com/vic_godard/status/798604972850081792

And there's a reply from Paul Hanley:

Paul Hanley, Twitter, 11:41 AM - 15 Nov 2016Replying to @vic_godard @marcrileydj
sounds more like 'Tight Pants' to me


https://twitter.com/hanleyPa/status/798611901970137088

A couple of days later, Godard says:

Vic Godard, Twitter, 8:26 AM - 17 Nov 2016To b honest havent heard Shake Appeal since 1976 and was windin him up- hope u got paid the nite u did Rowche Rumble !!!!!!!


https://twitter.com/vic_godard/status/799287505983926272

I haven't found a Tweet from Riley about this. Could be that it was a comment he made on his show.
dannyno
  • 15. dannyno | 11/03/2018
By the way, Twitter does have an advanced search option that allows you to specify accounts and dates:

https://twitter.com/search-advanced
dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 16/06/2018
Note 3, live variant noted by Trevor Morris in comment #10.

A version of the line appears in a lyric sheet for Underground Medecin posted on Facebook by Graham Duff. See the Fall Online Forum

Dan
Ben
  • 17. Ben | 06/04/2019
'A Letter From Mark E Smith' - April 18th 1983 (soundcloud interview)

Dear Andy,

Here is some stuff you may like...

Rowche is a ridiculous perversion of Swiss depressant making company Roche AG, valium etc.

See you soon or not

Regards MES,

PS Apologies for scribbles on the back, vandals abound in NYC.
MES Sage
  • 18. MES Sage | 25/04/2019
Hey listener heal thyself not hey mister - good advice!
bzfgt
  • 19. bzfgt (link) | 28/06/2019
Sounds like it, I'm going with it
Martin Peters
  • 20. Martin Peters | 18/05/2020
Re note 3: from the performance of the song at St. Helens, 20 February 1981:

I'm a real gone paleface and that's no illusion
Transfusion, transfusion"

These are the full lyrics of the Nervous Norvus song:

"Tooling down the highway doing 79
I'm a twin pipe papa and I'm feelin' fine
Hey man dig that was that a red stop sign-
Transfusion transfusion
I'm just a solid mess of contusions
Never never never gonna speed again
Slip the blood to me Bud

I jump in my rod about a quarter to nine
I gotta make a date with that chick of mine
I cross the center line man you gotta make time-
Transfusion transfusion
Oh man I got the cotton pickin' convolutions
Never never never gonna speed again
Shoot the juice to me Bruce

My foot's on the throttle and it's made of lead
But I'm a fast ridding daddy with a real cool head
I'ma gonna pass a truck on the hill ahead-
Transfusion transfusion
My red corpsuckles are in mass confusion
Never never never gonna speed again
Pass the crimson to me Jimson

I took a little drink and I'm feelin' right
I can fly right over everything everything in sight
There's a slow poking cat I'm gonna pass him on the right-
Transfusion transfusion
I'm a real gone paleface and that's no illusion
I'ma never never never gonna speed again
Pass the claret to me Barrett

A rollin' down the mountain on a rainy day
Oh when you see me coming better start to pray
I'ma cuttin' up the road and I'm the boss all the way-
Transfusion transfusion
Oh doc pardon me for this crazy intrusion
I'm never never never gonna speed again
Pump the fluid in me Louie

I'm burning up the highway early this morn
I'm passing everybody oh nothing but corn
Man outa my way I don't drive with my horn-
Transfusion transfusion
Oh nurse I'm gonna make a new resolution
I'm never never never gonna speed again
Put a gallon in me Alan

Oh barnyard drivers are found in two classes
Line crowding hogs and speeding jackasses
So remember to slow down today
Hey daddy-o
Make that type O huh
Atta-boy"

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