Spectre vs. Rector



M.R. James vivat vivat (2)
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland (3)
Sludge hai choi, choi choi son (4)

M.R. James vivat vivat
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland
Van Greenway R. Corman (5)
Sludge hai choi choi choi son

Part one: spectre versus rector
The rector lived in Hampshire (6)
The spectre was from Chorazina (7)
In evil dust in the air
The rector locked his doors

Part two: detective drives through Hampshire (8)
Stops because of the fog there
And thinks a visit to the rector
And meanwhile and meanwhile

Spectre possesses rector
Rector becomes spectre
Sludge hai choi choi choi son
Sludge hai choi choi choi son
Enter inspector
Even as he spoke a dust devil suddenly arose and struck him (9)

Part four: detective versus rector (10)
Detective versus rector possessed by spectre
Spectre blows him against the wall
Says "Die, wretch, this is your fall! (11)
I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn Latin, my hate is crisp! (12)
I'll rip your fat body to pieces"

M.R. James vivat vivat
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland
Van Greenway R. Corman

Scene five, scene five:
Comes a hero  (13)
Soul possessed a thousand times
Only he could rescue rector
Only he could save inspector
And this hero was a strange man
"Those flowers, take them away," he said,
"They're only funeral decorations  (14)
And oh this is a drudge nation
A nation of no imagination
A stupid man is their ideal
They shun me and think me unclean,
Unclean...                                     (15)

"I have saved a thousand souls
They cannot even save their own
I'm soaked in blood but always good
It's like I drunk myself sober,      (16)
I get better as I get older."

M.R. James vivat
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland
Van Greenway R. Corman
Sludge hai choi choi choi son
Sludge hai choi choi choi son

Part six:
That was his kick from life
That's how he pads out his life
Selling his soul to the devil
And the spectre enters hero
But the possession is ineffectual
But the possession is ineffectual
And the possession is ineffectual

And M.R. James vivat
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland
Van Greenway R. Corman
Sludge hai choi choi choi son
Sludge hai choi choi choi son, I said
Sludge hai choi choi choi son

Last scene:
Hero and inspector walk from the scene
Is the spectre banished forever? (17)
The inspector is half insane
The hero goes back into the mountains
The hero goes back into the mountains
He was an exorcist but he was exhausted
An exorcist but he was exhausted 
The rector is dead on the floor

M.R. James vivat
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland
Van Greenway R. Corman
Sludge hai choi choi choi son
Sludge hai choi choi choi son

[...] chosen son
Van Greenway R. Corman
Van Greenway R. Corman
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland
Yog Sothoth Ray Milland



1. In the Church of England, a rector is a kind of parish priest. 

Dan: From the "Dragnet" handout/insert of song explanations:

Part of this was recorded in a damp warehouse in M/CR-maybe industrial ghosts are making spectres redundant.

Art points out in the comments below, and I have seen it suggested elsewhere, that the vocal cadences of the song resemble Can's "The Empress and the Ukraine King." While this is true--and MES was known to be a fan of Can--it's not something that could not have been arrived at independently, I don't think. But it is a track MES was most likely familiar with, and it does sound very similar--it then becomes a question of what, in such a case, would consitute a coincidence, and what an influence or borrowing. Dear reader, you decide...


2. M.R. (Montague Rhodes) James (1862-1936) was an influential author of ghost stories. In "Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book," James tells the tale of a "verger" or "sacristan" who is followed by a demon until he manages to sell the book in which a representation of the demon appears (unlike a rector, a verger is not a priest but a layperson who assists in services. A sacristan is a sexton or church custodian; James' narrator says the word "verger" is in this case more accurate, although he prefers "sacristan.")

It is quite possibly "vivant, vivant"--living, alive (French). One of the sleevenotes to Dragnet reads "IVANT AR CORMAN." The sung passage seems to begin with a 'v,' but this is of course the remainder of the word "vivant"; the version on the sleeve could be a play on words, as it could be both a fragment of "vivant," and a somewhat phonetic rendering of "I want R. Corman." This seemingly refers to Roger Corman (see notes 3 and 5 below), a movie producer and director who is known for B-grade horror movies. Corman, who produced and directed horror movies that are often humorously self-aware of their "B" status, such as Swamp Women and The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, has a few seconds to wait before he makes his official appearance in the lyrics (or perhaps several minutes in footnote reading time!), but Dan points out that the title of his movie Premature Burial (which plays an important role in note 3 below) was translated into French as L'Enterré Vivant ("Buried Alive"). 

However, Nairng submits:

"I watched The Haunted Palace last night - directed by R Corman, it is an adaptation of HP Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward story. In it, Vincent Price is trying to bring his old mistress back from the dead by using a Latinate incantation which concludes with a repeated 'vivat...vivat.'"

Dan points out the opening credit sequence of The Haunted Palace seems to be the source of the cover of Dragnet.

"Vivat" in Latin is a cry addressed to someone meaning "life," sort of like "long live!" or "Viva!" So it makes sense as a vivifying chant, and I suspect this could be the lyric. Or, given "Ivant Ar Corman," it could be "vivant" is a misheaing of "vivat."

The Lyrics parade had "be born," and there is still a strong "be born" contingent, but it doesn't have much going for it except, importantly, many people are sure that is what they are hearing.

The chorus seems to function as a sort of incantation, in which case the meaning and the exact formulation of the words is perhaps intended to recede before the repetition of the barbarous sounds derived therefrom, which are presumably intended to induce a trance or to summon a demon (or both, and perhaps these two processes are in some way one and the same). Of course, this is all presented as a sort of joke, if a deadpan one, the way movie monsters or vampires are always, to some extent, humorous--at least, latently so--as evidenced by how easily they become the subject of jokes ("I vant to suck your blood!"; "I vant Ar Corman!").  At the same time, this all nevertheless sounds suitably evil as sung and played by the Fall, in no small part due to the angular, muffled, and slightly off-tune grinding of the guitars and Hanley's ponderous bass line...


3. Yog Sothoth, in the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), is an "Outer God" who appears as "a congeries of irridescent globes...malign in its suggestiveness" ("The Horror in the Musem"). He is said to be co-regent with his father Azathoth, head of the Outer Gods, and to be omnipresent, although at the same time he is sometimes said to be locked outside of the known universe. In "The Dunwich Horror," Yog Sothoth impregnates Lavinia Whately, who gives birth to monstrous twins (one of whom is able to "pass," although his abdomen is tentacled; the other is kept in secret). There are magicians who use names from Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos in their rituals, and belief in the reality of the named entities is not considered by all magicians to be a requirement (for instance, among Chaos Magicians).

Initially we had "Rape me lord" rather than "Ray Milland," as the former was the way it was on the old Lyrics Parade. There is good reason to think it is the latter, however. 

Ray Milland (1907-1986) was a Welsh actor with an extemely long career, and many of us remember him from The Lost Weekend, in which Milland's harrowing portrayal of an alcoholic writer was probably largely responsible for the ascendence of the cliché "harrowing portrayal" in movie criticism. Milland became a major star in the afermath of The Lost Weekend, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor (also sweeping Cannes, The National Board of Review, and The New York Film Critics circle). After about a decade at the top of the mountain, Milland became a director, and took on more minor roles as well as major roles in minor (in terms of popularity) films. This brings us to the early 60s, when Milland took the lead role in two films by Roger Corman ("R. Corman," see notes 2 and 5), Premature Burial and The Man With The X-Ray Eyes

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, our very own mister fucking bawbag, driven nearly mad by the refusal of bzfgt, his arch-nemesis, to amend his transcription of the lyrics to "Spectre vs. Rector" to include the words "Ray Milland," spent every day and night between Septermber 13th, 2013 and January 13th, 2014--an almost unbelievable stretch of 122 days--watching Ray Milland movies, frame by frame, his eyes clamped open, Clockwork Orange-style, as his hunchbacked assistant Matt irrigated his eyes. The two of them spent four months in this manner, searching for the evidence that would connect Milland to the Fall and vindicate them once and for all.  As the clock struck midnight on the morning of the 14th, Matt squeezed out the last drop of visine and it seemed the game was up--but, in fact, it was only just beginning. Groggy and half asleep, bawbag and Matt were jolted into awareness by the shocking scene that was unfolding on their computer monitor...

I had to tell you that to tell you this--actually, I had to tell you that to give mister fucking bawbag (who has, since his change in fortune, changed his name to "dj bawbag" and taken to wearing gaudy gold ropes around his neck and driving a Humvee around with Matt riding shotgun, shouting "Yeah, boyee!! Ray fucking Milland!!" at confused pedestrians) credit for the following discovery: in Premature Burial, Milland plays Guy Carrell, a man who cannot get over his morbid fear of being buried alive. In an early scene in the movie, he and his wife, Emily Gault (Hazel Court) are walking in a graveyard, and she picks some flowers with which she proposes to "brighten up that dreary old house" for Carell. She shoves the flowers in Carell's face, demanding "Aren't they lovely?", and but he swats them away from him, commanding her to "Take them away!!" He goes on to avow, "I loathe flowers! You must promise never to bring those sickly funeral decorations into the house!" Gault agrees, but she seems none too happy about it. 

This is clearly the origin of the line in scene five when the "hero" proclaims "Those flowers, take them away," he said,/ "They're only funeral decorations..." (see note 13 below). This seems to corroborate the reading of the line in the chorus as "Ray Milland," and if you listen closely, I think that this is indeed what MES is saying.   

Also, all joking aside, it will be noticed in the comments below that Matt was the first to propose this lyric change here, and mister fucking ("dj") bawbag discovered the scene in Premature Burial, so both of them deserve our thanks for making the discovery. 


4. I have not found any antecedents for the phrase "sludge hai choi"; it may just be intended as mumbo-jumbo. At the end, however, the line "chosen son" is substituted, which may suggest that "choi choi son" is a sort of incantatory derivation from "choice" and "son," blurred to enhance its magical trance-inducing power by keeping the meanings of the words from pulling the mind of the magus back to ordinary awareness, whilst leaving the semantic content lurking beneath the surface. 

(Fade to Black)

(Unfade From Black, or whatever the proper cue is)

I wrote the above a couple years ago, and since then I have come to think that these things may be confusing, but they're rarely that vague. Andy Lynes gives us another perspective:

"It may or may not be relevant but it's at least interesting that 'hai ch?i' means 'two players' in Vietnamese and there are two main players in the song."

And, finally, George Henderson gives us some red meat to chew on below!

"Here's a possible choi choi son link
First, in Madame Butterfly, the main character's real name is Ciocio-san, pronounced cho-cho san.
There is also the Chinese pirate Lai Chio San.

Now, how might MES have known these names? And why put it in the song? Well, the only link I can think of is Borges' Universal History of Infamy, which I'm sure MES read but which has a different female pirate in it, Ching Shih."



5. Peter Van Greenaway (1929-1988) was an English author who wrote thrillers, some of which had elements of horror. (Incidentally, the Fall now have a guitar player named Peter Greenway). Roger Corman (see notes 2 and 3 above) is a movie producer and director who is known for B-grade horror movies, often with elements of humor, such as Swamp Women and The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, as well as being the producer of Rock and Roll High School

A sleevenote to Dragnet reads "IVANT AR CORMAN." Dan suggests this could be "a phonetic rendering of Yog Sothoth's slobbering stentorian and accented demand, 'I Want R. Corman!'" I like to think the spectre wants his favorite filmmaker to shoot the imminent carnage! But see note one, this could be a garbled rendition of "vivant."

The use of these names in an incantation (presumably voiced by the "hero") is characteristic of the song, which is both humorous and, to my ears at least, genuinely creepy. In magical rituals, names that are thought to possess power are chanted to the point where the practitioner loses consciousness of their semantic content, and in this manner sound supersedes sense (indeed, some purported words of power seem to lack any explicit denotation, such as "abracadabra"). Thus, MES's invocation, while intentionally absurd, is also somewhat plausible as a magical spell or ritual. 

The second Fall lyrics book is typically unhelpful with the chorus, rendering it with the completely unbelievable "M.R. James live on live on. You suffered grief ere long, Than grimly, ah! come on, live on. Than grimly, ah! come on. Sludge hatred T.T. son."


6. Hampshire County is in southern England.


7. Chorazin was a village in Galillee, cursed by Jesus in the Bible. From the 11th chapter of Matthew:

21 “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

22 But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the Day of Judgment than for you.

23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

24 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for thee.”

The first cities named, including Chorazin, were Hebraic cities that Jesus visited, which did not repent, as opposed to the pagan cities names which were never exposed to the gospel. 

In one performance of the song, MES added "Chorazina is the negative of Jerusalem" (Reformation), and from the back cover of Dragnet:

"Chorazina N. - Village.Location unknown.Said to be negative Jerusalem. (from "U.Medecin" by R. Totale XVII)

In M.R. James' short story "Count Magnus," an Englishman with an interest in history is visiting an estate in Sweden built by a Count Magnus in the early 17th century. The Count, a figure of evil repute, was rumored to have gone on something called the "Black Pilgrimage." The protagonist, a Mr. Wraxhall, finds a Latin snippet about the Black Pilgimage in the Count's papers, which reads in English:

"If any man desires to obtain a long life, if he would obtain a faithful messenger and see the blood of his enemies, it is necessary that he should first go into the city of Chorazin, and there salute the prince..."

James' text continues:

"Here there was an erasure of one word, not very thoroughly done, so that Mr. Wraxhall felt pretty sure that he was right in reading it as aëris ('of the air')."

A deacon later tells him that he has heard from a priest that the Antichrist is to be born in Chorazin. Apparently this is actually suggested by several Medieval writers; according to the 13th century Book of the Bee, a compendium of various quasi-biblical legends, "[The Antichrist] shall be conceived in Chorazin, born in Bethsaida, and reared in Capernaum."

Chapter Two of Paul's letter to the Ephesians begins:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

The "prince of the power of the air" is usually considered to be Satan.

An essay examining the sources of James' "Black Pilgrimage," written by Rosemary Pardoe and Jane Nichols, recounts a Black Pilgrimage undertaken by Jack Parsons, acolyte of Aleister Crowley and friend and magickal colleague of L. Ron Hubbard:

But whether or not MRJ needed to invent the Black Pilgrimage to Chorazin, it is intriguing to discover that, in the 1940s, a Californian named Jack Parsons actually went on just such a journey, and with disturbing consequences. Early in 1946, Parsons (1914-1952), scientist and sometime leading light of the Californian Lodge of Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis, invoked the Thelemic goddess Babalon in the Mojave Desert, utilising the "Enochian Tablet of Air". He had devised the magickal operation in order to "obtain the assistance of an elemental mate" (reminiscent of Count Magnus's "faithful messenger"), an object he claimed to have achieved by following Babalon's instructions, which he later wrote down as The Book of Babalon or the Liber 49. One of the goddess's demands was that: "Thou shalt make the Black Pilgrimage". Babalon did not specify in so many words where the Pilgrimage should be to, but Parsons' Foreword to the Book says:

"I have taken the Oath of the Abyss, and entered my rightful city of Chorazin, and seen therein the past lives whereby I came to this, the grossest of all my Workings. Now it would seem that the further matters of the prophecy are at work; events press on tumultuously, and 'Time is' is writ large across the sky."(15)

Any lingering doubts concerning the destination of Parsons' Pilgrimage are removed by his The Book of Antichrist (1949), where he explains how, during a later invocation in 1948-9:

"...I reconstructed the temple, and began the Black Pilgrimage, as She [Babalon] instructed.
"And I went into the sunset with Her sign, and into the night past accursed and desolate places and cyclopean ruins, and so came at last to the City of Chorazin. And there a great tower of Black Basalt was raised, that was part of a castle whose further battlements reeled over the gulf of stars. And upon the tower was this sign [an inverted triangle in a circle]."(16)

Just like Count Magnus, Parsons "was taken within and saluted the Prince of that place", after which:

"...things were done to me of which I may not write, and they told me, 'It is not certain that you will survive, but if you survive you will attain your true will, and manifest the Antichrist.'
"And thereafter I returned and swore the Oath of the Abyss, having only the choice between madness, suicide and that oath."(17)

Of course, Jack Parsons' pilgrimage was magico-spiritual rather than geographical, but so might Count Magnus's have been. At no point in the story does MRJ specify that his journey was a physical one. It would be interesting, too, to know how Count Magnus died. Parsons was killed when he accidentally dropped some unstable fulminate of mercury, thus fulfilling Babalon's prophecy that he would "become living flame".


8. Here we are introduced to a third character, a "detective" or "inspector" who has presumably become aware of a commotion at the scene of the possession.


9. Ian Penman's Fall/MES interview/feature All Fall Down, from NME, 5 January 1980, pp6-7:

"Oh! Brrr! Grrr - The poor fellow covers his face with his hands and almost tears his eyes out with vicious rubbing. For even as he spoke a dust devil suddenly arose and struck him. His mouth is filled. He spits some out, but swallows more. His eyes are blinded. Poor wretch! In a day or two he will be in hospital, with that terrible ocular disease brought on by the glaring sun and the deadly dust."

- from Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War

That was the bit where we normally talk about 'influences,' by the way.

Thanks to Dan for finding this. "That was the bit..." seems to be the interviewer being clever; admittedly he probably helped us more than MES would have, though. 


10. Part Three is presumably "Spectre possesses rector/ Rector becomes spectre."


11.  Here it is not entirely clear who the spectre has entered; "Detective versus rector possessed by spectre" is ambiguous, although the most natural reading seems to me to be that the rector is possessed.  Dan suggests the spector (now in the rector) blows the detective against the wall, to get him out of the way so as to finish off the rector...if Dan is correct, then it seems he hurls the detective aside and then addresses the rector (from his own mouth?) with the ensuing speech, since it seems the rector is who he really has it in for, as the title of the song would indicate....eh, who the fuck knows? 


12.   My first thought, almost certainly wrong, was that the rector is Catholic and is being addressed as "Latin" (in the Catholic Church, a rector refers to a priest in charge of any of various ecclesiastical institutions--unless the spectre is addressing the detective here--see note 11 above).


Another possibility is that the spectre just didn't like having to speak Latin, as it's difficult to learn. Aubrey from the Fall online forum suggests perhaps the most plausible explanation, however, which is that the spectre is referring to exorcism with "Damn Latin!"


13. Now we have a fourth character, a "hero" who allows himself to be possessed by evil spirits in order to battle them. We soon discover that he has grown weary, cynical, and bitter in his profession, and is perhaps a bit of a megalomaniac.


14. The origin of this line is Premature Burial, in which Ray Milland's character responds to the offer of flowers by his wife with ""Take them away!...You must promise never to bring those sickly funeral decorations into the house!" (see note 3 above)


15. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, upon discovering that she has been bitten, Mina Murray exclaims:

"Unclean! Unclean! Even the Almighty shuns my polluted flesh! I ?must bear this mark of shame upon my forehead until the Judgement ?Day."

A note in the "Literary Touchstone" edition of Dracula connects this speech to Leviticus 13: 45, which in the King James version reads: "And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean!"


16. The idea that one can "drink oneself sober" is a persistent myth among drinkers and hence a fairly common phrase. Antoine points out that it occurs in one of MES's favorite books, Under the Volcano:

"Yes, leaning over just like this, drunk but collected, coherent, a little mad, a little impatient - it was one of those occasions when the Consul had drunk himself sober..."


17. We will not learn the answer, but in any case the spectre is gone for now, and the rector seems to be dead...


Comments (168)

  • 1. Matt | 25/07/2013
Great website! Just one comment on Spectre v Rector. When this first came out I used to spend hours trying to work out what that chorus was. In the last few years various committed souls like yourself have pieced this together. There is one point however. I believe that after 'Sludge Hai Choi' in the chant section, the words might be 'church's son' (not 'choi choi son') - though I could be wrong! Keep up the good work! Matt
mister fucking bawbag
  • 2. mister fucking bawbag | 13/09/2013
" be born"
hmm......(V)IVANT scrawled on back cover ?

But the one that bugs me is :

" rape me lord "

Seriously ?!!

Did anyone think that was the lyric before they read it on the internet ?

The sibilance of the "P" in rape should be obvious, but I just don't hear it.

My best guess is "Ray Milland" who starred in a Film by "AR CORMAN"

  • 3. dannyno | 26/09/2013
That's an interesting observation. I can hear "Rape Me Lord", and it fits with the Cthulu stuff I guess. But on the other hand that part of the song is listing names, and Ray Milland would also fit - having starred in supernatural thrillers. I could hear "Ray Milland" there too, having listened to the song again and again just now.
  • 4. dannyno | 26/09/2013
It increasingly sounds like "Ray Milland" to me.

  • 5. dannyno | 27/09/2013
Bafflingly, however, this is what the second (blue, entilted "vii") lyrics book says the lyric is:

"M.R. James live on live on. You suffered grief ere long,
Than grimly, ah! come on, live on. Than grimly, ah! come on.
Sludge hatred T.T. son."

I read that and I wonder if I have plunged overnight into a parallel universe.

  • 6. bzfgt | 07/10/2013
Well, worth noting, as you'll see above. Is "Than" the book's error or yours? (That sort of thing seems more typical of the book than of you...)
  • 7. bzfgt | 07/10/2013
Danny, listen to the chorus after "I get better as I get older" where "Rape me Lord" sounds particularly clear. I can almost hear "Ray Milland" on some of the others, but never where I'd feel confident about it, and on the chorus I identified above, "Rape me Lord" seems quite certain and distinct.
  • 8. bzfgt | 07/10/2013
Sorry, mister fucking bawbag, I missed your comment for a minute there; I see there is more consensus behind the "Ray Milland" suggestion than I had thought. I am honestly entertaining the idea, but listen to the chorus I indicated to danny in my last comment and if you don't hear it there, we'll continue the conversation.
  • 9. dannyno | 08/10/2013

That's what the book says.

I know, I know. I should just burn it.
  • 10. dannyno | 08/10/2013
"Danny, listen to the chorus after "I get better as I get older" where "Rape me Lord" sounds particularly clear."

nggggg. I see what you mean. But it's not clear enough. I can get "Ray Milland" out of that. He kind of sounds like he's singing with cotton wool in his mouth in parts of the song, the syllables get muffled.
  • 11. Martin | 09/10/2013
I'll have to listen to all the live versions I have again to see if any of those can help us out here!
  • 12. Martin | 09/10/2013
So, for example: both the 29 February 1980 and the 3 May 1982 performances of the song seem to me to be clearly saying "rape me lord" and not "Ray Milland". The anunciation in the former is more obvious to me than the latter, but on this I have no doubts.cost
dj bawbag
  • 13. dj bawbag | 09/01/2014
The R. Corman / Ray Milland film "Premature Burial" is available on youtube at the moment.


Fast forward to 0045.

The discussion of flowers and funeral decoration would suggest that this film had some influence on Smith's lyrics !

Haven't had a chance to listen to the live versions yet.
  • 14. djbawbag | 09/01/2014
Should be 21 minutes, 45 seconds.
  • 15. dannyno | 12/01/2014
  • 16. Mark | 29/04/2014
On some live outings of this tune, the line "He was an exorcist but he was exhausted" refer to the hero.
  • 17. Mark | 22/06/2014
I hear "The rector is dead on the floor" after "An exorcist but he was exhausted".
  • 18. bzfgt | 24/06/2014
By golly, you're right! I never realized the rector didn't make it...

Well, I guess that settles this:

  • 19. dannyno | 25/06/2014
Holy heck, that's a great call, changes everything.

These notes are revelatory.
  • 20. dannyno | 03/11/2014
For the record, I see from the BBC's "Genome" project which I've just been playing with (i.e. scans of the "Radio Times" listings magazine) that "Premature Burial" (the Milland film quoted from) aired as follows:

BBC1, 18 May 1979, 23:30

It had previously been shown on BBC2 in 1975 and in 1977.

But given the above BBC1 showing's proximity to the first performance of the song, it seems quite likely that's when MES jotted down the quotes.

Mind you, I haven't checked the ITV listings.

Andy Lynes
  • 21. Andy Lynes | 30/07/2015
It may or may not be relevant but it's at least interesting that 'hai chơi' means 'two players' in Vietnamese and there are two main players in the song.
  • 22. Antoine | 22/09/2015
The line "he had drunk himself sober" appears in (the fantastic) Under the Volcano by Malcom Lowry, a book that Smith has ranked very highly on a number of occasions (found a quick reference here: http://www.pipeline.com/~biv/FallNet/articles/wire_interview.html - can't remember the other sources but I've seen a few more) : "Yes, leaning over just like this, drunk but collected, coherent, a little mad, a little impatient - it was one of those occasions when the Consul had drunk himself sober..."
  • 23. bzfgt | 15/11/2015
Yeah, that's a reaonably common saying (and myth about drinking)...
  • 24. dannyno | 07/08/2016

Worth noting that the back cover of Dragnet includes the following:

Chorazina N. - Village.Location unknown.Said to be negative Jerusalem. (from "U.Medecin" by R. Totale XVII)


  • 25. bzfgt | 03/09/2016
I want to say Blake uses Chorazin as a symbol but I cannot find it via Google. He may have an idiosyncratic spelling going, or I may be wrong; maybe it's just the kind of thing he does (like "Rahab").
  • 26. Sumsiadad | 21/12/2016
As referenced in "Wehe Khorazin", the opening track on Popol Vuh's 1981 album, "Sei Still wisse ICH BIN".
  • 27. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
I am no longer as convinced there is any "rape me lord." This requires careful thought and listening. I do seem to hear it, but often when there are two variants in a song it bespeaks our ignorance as much as anything, I think.

I think it's just such a creepy line I was a bit smitten with it. I must not let that influence anything; see "Western Medicine."
  • 28. bzfgt | 11/02/2017
Ah, but the first one i the sped up part seems to clearly end in 'd'. It's making a comeback.
George Henderson
  • 29. George Henderson (link) | 28/02/2017
What an essential website, I'm glad I stumbled here.
Here's a possible choi choi son link
First, in Madame Butterfly, the main character's real name is Ciocio-san, pronounced cho-cho san.
There is also the Chinese pirate Lai Chio San

Now, how might MES have known these names? And why put it in the song? Well, the only link I can think of is Borges' Universal History of Infamy, which I'm sure MES read but which has a different female pirate in it,Ching Shih

I don't have a copy so I don't know if it mentions Lia Chio San, but it's possible. It's also possible that this bit of atmospheric nonsense from MES echoes a half-heard aria from one of the world's most popular operas. Apart from that, how it might make sense I have no idea, but there it is.
  • 30. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
Thanks, George!!!
  • 31. bzfgt (link) | 03/03/2017
Yes I know the Borges book but can't recall the names either. I have it here somewhere, I'll go through it some time. In the mean time these comments are very promising.
The Jukebox Rebel
  • 32. The Jukebox Rebel (link) | 06/03/2017
Has MES listened to more music than he lets on? In terms of atmosphere, delivery and style, I hear similarities with "The Black Plague" by Eric Burdon and The Animals, from their album "Winds of Change" (MGM Records SE-4484, 1967).


The association struck me with the "unclean" at 2:12, 2:58
  • 33. dannyno | 06/03/2017
One of many creepy story songs, isn't it? I'm not hearing any similarities at all other than that, but I don't really have much of a musical ear, so maybe I'm wrong.
The Jukebox Rebel
  • 34. The Jukebox Rebel (link) | 07/03/2017
Or, to put it another way; the odds of two relentless, horror-trance tunes with no chord variation unusually exclaiming "unclean" by sheer co-incidence would be pretty long I reckon.
  • 35. dannyno | 07/03/2017
I wasn't really hearing the Animals as "relentless horror trance", to be honest. But it's plausible MES knew the song, of course.
  • 36. dannyno | 07/03/2017
"I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn Latin my hate is crisp"

Re: note 10

Possibly, "Latin" refers to the language, given the mention of Caesar, do we not think?
  • 37. dannyno | 07/03/2017
"I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn Latin my hate is crisp"

Re: note 10

Possibly, "Latin" refers to the language, given the mention of Caesar, do we not think?
  • 38. Martin | 13/03/2017
Mark Fisher's essay "'Memorex for the Krakens: The Fall's Pulp Modernism" (Mark E Smith and The Fall: Art, Music and Politics (Ashgate, 2010) has a fairly lengthy section about this song. I think it's reproduced in its entirety here:

  • 39. dannyno | 13/03/2017
Unfortunately he gets the lyrics wrong. "Ar Corman"? And he doesn't notice that the rector dies. But it's a good essay in general.
  • 40. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
Sometimes he says stuff that makes me think he knows a fuck-ton about music, and stuff you'd never usually hear about from him. So I think it's possible.

Martin thanks for reminding me of that essay, it's brilliant and should be linked to here. Dan despises it because of "Slates, Slags" and the name of the Lord.
  • 41. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
Why is "Ar Corman" wrong? It's R. Corman phonetically and gussied up as a kind of incantatory language, i.e. a totally plausible spelling.
  • 42. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
JR I don't know if I can explain this right. It's completely possible this was influenced by the Animals song, but not clearly and directly enough to draw the connection. "Unclean" in the context of a Puritanical religious figure could easily be coincidence.
  • 43. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
That doesn't work for me Dan, I don't know why he'd be damning the language.
  • 44. bzfgt (link) | 19/03/2017
RIP Mark Fisher by the way, poor guy.
  • 45. bzfgt (link) | 01/04/2017
One of Dan's comments ("A Figure Walks") reminds me maybe there should be a brief mention of Blake's concept of "Spectre" here, although the word doesn't seem to be meant in a Blakean sense in the lyrics. For a rainy day...
  • 46. dannyno | 25/06/2017
We haven't noted that the back sleeve of "Dragnet" has the following written in big letters (the word spacing on the first line is not entirely clear):


IVANT might be Ivan the Terrible? Or some other thing.

But also see comments 39 and 41...

  • 47. dannyno | 25/06/2017
From the "Dragnet" handout/insert of song explanations:

Part of this was recorded in a damp warehouse in M/CR-maybe industrial ghosts are making spectres redundant.
Sean Breadin
  • 48. Sean Breadin (link) | 04/02/2018
From Mark E, Smith vII : 'M R James live on, live on - you've suffered grief ere long.'
  • 49. dannyno | 05/02/2018
Sean Breadin, comment #48. See note #5 - the lyric book is in some parallel universe when it comes to those lines. Just plain wrong re: what's on the record.
Nick Canute
  • 50. Nick Canute | 06/02/2018
Could the phrase be "Such high treason" (tre- tre- treason)"
  • 51. dannyno | 07/02/2018
comment #50, hm. not to my ears.

By the way, the sleevenote:


Could "IVANT AR CORMAN" be a phonetic rendering of Yog Sothoth's slobbering stentorian and accented demand, "I Want R. Corman!"
  • 52. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
Well grammatically it would be "You'll suffer grief ere long," and it sounds more like it too, but it still sounds more like "Yog sothoth, Ray Milland" to me. Oh I see lyrics book.

Speaking of the lyrics book, I think he actually says "Damn fatty, my hate is crisp!" I don't hear "Latin." I'm changing it for now, see if there are objections.
  • 53. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
We need to check live versions, I'm pretty sure about "fatty" here though. I can't remember if that part is on Totale's Turns.
  • 54. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
DanCould "IVANT AR CORMAN" be a phonetic rendering of Yog Sothoth's slobbering stentorian and accented demand, "I Want R. Corman!"

Yes, certainly (perhaps to film the carnage!).
  • 55. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
OK, even if it were "Damn Latin," I don't know how I failed to notice that that is the spectre addressing the detective, so my Catholic rector theory doesn't make sense anyway...
  • 56. bzfgt (link) | 17/02/2018
Nick, where would the "tre-tre-treason" be located?
  • 57. dannyno | 06/08/2018

Says direct, "this is your fall (10)
I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn fatty, my hate is crisp!

Now, over at the entry on Fantastic Life I posted a quote from a 1989 interview, which included this line:

I used to read a lot of Yiddish literature, still do.

Source: Interview with Escape (http://thefall.org/news/990314.html#escape), Spring 1989:

Why am I mentioning this in the context of this song, and in particular in relation to the lines quoted?

Because there is the Jewish tradition of the "dybbuk", a dead person's spirit which transmigrates into the body of a living person. The key literary use of the myth is "S. Ansky"'s 1914 play, The Dybbuk.

If MES read a lot of Yiddish literature, odds on he read this. The plot is clearly dissimilar, but the theme of spirit possession is shared, maybe you could see it as an Anglicisation of certain dybbuk stories. I'm not saying Ansky's play is the source of MES's story in any sense - the idea of possession is ancient - , but that there is a thematic commonality which may not be accidental, given MES's familiarity with Jewish literature (living in an area with a significant Jewish population, likely local libraries would be well stocked with Jewish and Yiddish books).

But having made a general connection to the dybbuk of Jewish folklore, I want to make a much more specific connection, to the "I've waited since Caesar for this" line. Because there is a Talmudic story, retold in various forms, in which a Rabbi (or Rabbis) are on their way to Rome to seek the lifting of repressive edicts against the Jews. On their way, a demon or dybbuk called Ben Temalion offers to help, and after some misgivings the Rabbis agree. On arriving in Rome Ben Temalion possesses Caesar's daughter. The Rabbis steps in and, as previously agreed, commands Ben Temalion by name and the dybbuk leaves Caesar's daughter. Grateful, Caesar offers the Rabbis anything - they ask for the edicts, which are torn up.

Of course, if the word in the lyric is indeed "Latin", we might also then be able to explain why a spirit from a Hebrew tradition might have a problem with the Latin alphabet.

Now, to make this connection is not to try to force the Talmudic narrative into the lyrics willy nilly, since there's no indication in the Talmud that Ben Temalion has any cause to harbour vengeful fantasies, but merely to notice something not hitherto noticed.
  • 58. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2018
That can be condensed considerably, but good stuff.
  • 59. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2018
OK I said that before I got to the end and I agree, that's a pointer for future research but we're not there yet. When you started interviewing yourself I got nervous about the length...everything has a tendency to sprawl here, it's not your problem though.
  • 60. dannyno | 20/08/2018
Ha, no, sprawl is definitely my problem - I like to use the space available.
  • 61. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
OK, "rape me lord" is gone, I don't think there is adequate evidence for it and he;s definitely saying "Ray Milland" at times, it seems now probably at all times. I do recall there is one or two that sound particularly "rape me lord"-ish but I think that was the power of suggestion.
  • 62. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
I mean, I never get sufficient credit for stuff like this:

"many of us remember him from The Lost Weekend, in which Milland's harrowing portrayal of an alcoholic writer was probably largely responsible for the ascendence of the cliché 'harrowing portrayal' in movie criticism."
  • 63. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
Still mulling over "Damn Latin." I'm surprised my note still said this means he's addressing the rector, as I thought I realized some time ago that this doesn't make sense (correct me if I'm wrong about that, see note 10). Now I think he may actually be cursing the language? It is hard to learn? Shit.
  • 64. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
OK--at some point I'd changed it to "Damn fatty," without changing the note (!). But I am not convinced it's fatty and I can't find where I was told to do that (I couldn't have initiated that, it was someone else's idea). (OK, I see above now, that was all me. I'll listen again but it seems unlikely. Someone else please listen)

Why has he waited since Caesar? Are he and the detective pursuing each other across the centuries?
  • 65. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
I see. "Fatty" makes sense in context. I will listen closely. "Damn Latin" just doesn't make any sense.
  • 66. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
It's "Says 'Die, wretch!" That is definite! Eureka!
  • 67. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
It's Latin. Where "for" appears (before "Caesar") he seems to say "to," but "to Caesar" doesn't make sense. I don't know what it is, but I don't think Caesar is in it at all!
  • 68. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
No "I waited TO....x"
  • 69. Gizmoman | 13/10/2018
Part four: detective versus rector (9)
Detective versus rector possessed by spectre
Spectre blows him against the wall
Says "Die, wretch, this is your fall! (10)
I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn Latin, my hate is crisp! (11)
I'll rip your fat body to pieces"

This seems perfect to me, not sure why there's a problem, in fact the only issue I could have in the whole transcription is "pads out his life" could be "panned out". There's far more songs on here that need work!
  • 70. bzfgt (link) | 13/10/2018
Thanks, Gizmoman...maybe it is correct. Last night "Spectre blows him against the wall" sounded wrong...I don't even want to listen to it again yet, I need to let it cool.
  • 71. dannyno | 13/10/2018
I hear "blows him against the wall". I approve of making "Ray Milland" universal.
  • 72. dannyno | 16/10/2018
The line "Damn Latin" became the name of a punk fanzine based in Nuneaton.

  • 73. dannyno | 16/10/2018
"I've waited since Caesar for this
Damn Latin, my hate is crisp!"

An implausible connection: Emperor Constantine had a son called Flavius Julius Crispus, who became a Roman caesar.

  • 74. bzfgt (link) | 21/10/2018
I like to think this didn't influence my decision, but now that I've had time to live with both I like "Ray Milland" better, the other is a little out of tune with the rest of the chorus, although it is kind of pleasingly evil. It is remarkable how little MES cared whether anyone ever got these right (exhibit A is of course the "lyrics" books). If it was me, I'd want the world to know exactly what brilliant thing I had said!

Flavius Crispus--yes, implausible, but groovy!

I really like my note twitting Bawbag, but should I take it out of the notes and put it as an extra in More Information? I mean, you may prefer "get rid of it entirely" as I am probably not amusing anyone but myself with that stuff, but those are the options this time...
  • 75. bzfgt (link) | 21/10/2018
"Detective vs. Rector Possessed by Spectre" seems to most obvuiously suggest to me that the rector is the one possessed, but he is the one getting "blown against the wall" and the detective isn't doing anything "versus"-like if that's the scenario. And, if he's the one possessed, then it's the spectre-as-rector addressing the detective with "I've waited since Caesar for this!" Is that how you(se) see it?
  • 76. bzfgt (link) | 21/10/2018
OK, no, I don't know why I keep thinking of the rector being blown against the wall, I think it's a hangover from when I thought the spectre was calling him "Damn Latin!" It's probably the detective getting blown, hence "versus"
  • 77. dannyno | 22/10/2018
bzfgt: the Bawbag note - I like it, it's funny.
  • 78. dannyno | 22/10/2018
Hm. The rector is definitely possessed. I think it's the Rector who is blown against the wall, too. The "versus" bit between rector and detective is a confrontation, sure, but I think the spectre has is it for the Rector (which is why the title of the song is "Spectre vs Rector" not "Spectre vs Inspector").

Over on the Fall Forum I suggested a song like this exists in the shadow of the movie The Exorcist. The priest-exorcist in that has encountered the demon in the child before. Likewise in this song I think there's a reason the spectre has targeted the Rector, but we're not told what it is. But "since Caesar" hints at something. So perhaps a previous exorcism carried out by the Rector (I see no reason to think MES is using "Rector" accurately, by the way), or something going much further back in which the Rector is seen by the spectre as a symbol or representative of a wrong done to it.

It's certainly possible to hear it as the detective being blown against the wall. But who are the spectre's words directed to? Does the spectre put the detective out of action and then readdress the Rector.
  • 79. dannyno | 22/10/2018
No, I've changed my mind, the detective is blown against the wall.

The spector/Rector addresses him with "die wretch" and "tear your fat body to pieces". But the "I've waited since caesar for this" line is a "I've waited for this moment and you can't stop me" type statement rather than something that's got anything to do with the Detective as such.
  • 80. dannyno | 22/10/2018
But my comment about the significance of the song title still stands. The Rector is not a random target.
Art Simak
  • 81. Art Simak | 30/10/2018
The rhythm of the vocal bears a canny resemblance to Can's "Empress and the Ukraine King".
Jason Boyce
  • 82. Jason Boyce | 01/11/2018
It's 'M.R. James, vivant, vivant'. No way it's 'be born'.
  • 83. dannyno | 02/11/2018
Comment #82.

It has tended to sound like "be born" to me, but it's worth some re-focusing, see also comment #2 and the back cover statement:


Vivant, or Ivant? See comments above that saw this as an accented "I Want", but...

Thinking about this, perhaps the above is a clue to the lyrics.

Because, remembering that lines in the lyric are adapted from Corman's Premature Burial, it must surely be significant that the French translation of "Premature Burial" is...<drum roll>

L'Enterré Vivant


  • 84. dannyno | 02/11/2018
I mean, the French version of Premature Burial literally translates as "Buried Alive", but you know what I mean.
  • 85. dannyno | 02/11/2018
Mmm. Have listened to the lyric again a couple of times.

I could go for "vivant", but it's difficult. I'll try again later on headphones.
  • 86. dannyno | 02/11/2018
There's a danger in putting too much store by somewhat ad hoc connections, but it's never stopped me yet.

Premature Burial also features the song Molly Malone. There's no lyrics in the movie, but the song does have the refrain, "alive, alive-O". And would that not be, in French, "vivant, vivant"?!

Not that MES is much noted for French.
  • 87. dannyno | 02/11/2018
Have listened again. "vivant" does now seem like an improvement to me.
  • 88. dannyno | 02/11/2018

This line is surely wrong:

"I've waited since Caesar for this"


"I've waited to Caesar for this"

or perhaps

"I've waited to seize her for this"
  • 89. dannyno | 03/11/2018
Been listening to live versions. "Vivant" sounds right in everything I've heard.

1979-12-14 - Anticlub, Los Angeles
Sounds like "waited to Caesar". Unfortunately that doesn't makes sense. Could it be "seizure" or "seize her"? Not that they would make much more sense.

1982-05-03 - Band On The Wall, Manchester
Sounds like "waited to Caesar"
  • 90. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Art, this (Can: Empress) has been pointed out before (I think maybe Luke Haines even says this in an interview or Baker's Dozen thing?) but I am surprised to see I never mention it here...
  • 91. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
"Guest Informant" is also the same cadence as the Kinks "Give the People What They Want," as I also just noted, and was surprised to see I hadn't noted before--it seems like there have to be other instances of that rhythm being sung, but I can't think of any...

VIVANT: first of all the lyric book version is so laughably wrong it's amazing anyone ever thought MES even read it, let alone wrote it (not that he'd have cared). But that has "live on, live on."

I think "vivant" moves in the direction we see "Ray Milland" taking it, i.e. wordplay and not an imitation of spooky horror prose. We have no reason to prefer "be born" except that its already there. On the other hand, something that's already there is not a product of our imaginations, at least, so it always has a slight edge--even if it's not a product of MES's imagination either. I hate this the most about this project--the inertia of received lyrics creates a canon that has little to do with whatever the hell the Fall actually recorded. Anyway, I am carefully listening to the song and reading your comments, I hope I'll see my way clear soon to...something.
  • 92. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Damn it, last month I wanted to ax "Waited since Caesar" and you talked me out of it, now you're going after it?! Chaos and anarchy...

VIVANT: Listen to the chorus at 5:04 (Dragnet) where MES clearly pronounces a 't' at the end of the word. Unfortunately, the second time he says "it" (assuming it's one thing), a second or so later, the 't' is gone. Many of them sound like "/v or b/ee /v or b/ on." But that 't' haunts--what is it doing there, if he's not thinking of a word that ends in 't'? Unless its a one-time slip, I haven't caught him in another one yet. All the others, in fact, seem like /v,b/ee/v,b/on." Of course, the French don't really say the 't' anyway, so this could all be "vivant."

The bottom line right now for me is this: this could be totally wrong, but I am convinced that is not more wrong than "be born, be born" (or "live on, live on," but there is never a reason to take the lyrics books seriously unless it is a facsimile of something written or typed by MES). In fact, this is one of those curious cases where, even if it is wrong, it is more correct than "be born, be born."

I know I say "less wrong" or "more right" a lot, and it may sound ridiculous, but this is what I mean--if MES sings "Yog Sothoth, Ray Milland," then "Yog Sothoth, rape me lord" is less wrong, or more right, than "Yog Sothoth, ask not what your country can do for you." I hate to deal with more and less wrong, but this is where we are. Hence, "vivant" is going in, at least for now. May Yog Sothoth have mercy on our souls...
  • 93. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Or, as Dan said, "an improvement."

Dan: see my comment #67:

"Where "for" appears (before "Caesar") he seems to say "to," but "to Caesar" doesn't make sense. I don't know what it is, but I don't think Caesar is in it at all!"

I see it wasn't you but Gizmoman who objected that it's correct as it stands.
  • 94. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
Although if it's "vivant," the blue book is closer semantically. He might sneak some English in once in a while too...but we must also keep in mind this is an incantation, and the sense, and even the actual pronunciation, could drop out as the words are there to induce a trance or summon a demon...
  • 95. bzfgt (link) | 15/11/2018
A couple more thoughts:

1. The notes as they now stand may be a little awkward, I tied myself into knots having to discuss R Corman before note 5 now, and didn't want to gut the latter, so if nothing else note 2 is a little convoluted and some of it gets repeated. I can't look at it any more right now though.

2. I said something about "angular guitars" above, and now I feel unclean--UNCLEAN!!--as I hate rock journalist-ese. Can someone suggest a paraphrase?

3. It is now "vivant vivant", "I've waited til/to Caesar/not-Caesar" still needs to be addressed.
The artist formerly known as djbawbag
  • 96. The artist formerly known as djbawbag | 16/11/2018
I do find the bawbaggery comments quite amusing and have shared them with friends and acquaintances.

Interesting that "vivant" is now gaining acceptance five years after I first suggested it.

Much respect must go to Dannyno for his research and diligence.
  • 97. Martin | 16/11/2018
In the first (known) live performance of the song (15 September 1979) MES definitely sings "vivant", sometimes pronouncing the final "t".
  • 98. bzfgt (link) | 21/11/2018
Wow, it seems like "vivant" is starting to be a landslide, although Mr. Marshall is fighting a rearguard action for "live on"...I want to hear from him again but for not it's "vivant"
Art Simak
  • 99. Art Simak | 28/11/2018
Bzfgt: Cadence! The word I was
scrabbling for. Also (less) similar to: "The NWRA", "Into CB",
"Jawbone and the Air Rifle", parts of.
Alan Hutton
  • 100. Alan Hutton | 08/12/2018
Definitely 'live on' and not "vivant'
  • 101. George | 28/12/2018
I never thought that MES might have been referring to Ray Milland. But if so there is a connection between RM and Lovecraft - or at least Stephen King thought so with reference to "The Man With The X-Ray Eyes". Here's what King says in his "Danse Macabre" book:

".... when Milland dons shades for the second half of the movie, we become increasingly nervous about what might be going on behind those shades. In addition, something else is happening—something that elevates The Man with the X-Ray Eyes to a rather higher plateau of art. It becomes a kind of Lovecraftian horror movie, but in a sense that is different—and somehow purer—than the sort of Lovecraftiness used in Alien. The Elder Gods, Lovecraft told us, are out there, and their one desire is to somehow get back in—and there are lines of power accessible to them, Lovecraft intimates, which are so powerful that one look at the sources of these lines of power would drive mortal men to madness; forces so powerful that a whole galaxy aflame could not equal its thousandth part.
It is one of these power sources, I think, that Ray Milland begins to glimpse as his sight continues to improve at a steady, inexorable pace. He sees it first as a prismatic, shifting light somewhere out in the darkness..... this bright core
of light Milland sometimes sees gradually grows larger and clearer. Worse still, it may be alive .. . and aware it's being watched. Milland has seen through everything to the very edges of the universe and beyond, and what he has found there is driving him crazy."
  • 102. bzfgt (link) | 12/01/2019
Live on is making a comeback. I hear "vivant" as much now as I didn't hear it before. We'll have to see where this all ends up.

Excellent quote, George! I haven't seen that movie but if that's what's happening to Milland, that really does sound Lovecraftian in just the way King suggests!
  • 103. dannyno | 29/07/2019
The last paragraph of note 3 says:

it will be noticed in the comments below that Matt was the first to propose this lyric change here

Unfortunately, no such thing will be noticed as Matt's only post here is comment #1, and his suggestion there is about something else entirely.

I believe bawbag must take all the credit.

Perhaps you can still find some way of saving the bawbag + sidekick comedy in the note.
  • 104. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2019
Huh...OK, Matt's credit is deleted, but he can still be the hunchbacked assistant...
  • 105. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2019
Poor Matt will probably be really perplexed if he ever reads that note, especially now...maybe he'll assume I'm talking about another Matt though.

I really should move that down to More Information, maybe I'll do that when i have the energy.
  • 106. dannyno | 26/01/2020
Even as he spoke a dust devil suddenly arose and struck him

Part four: detective versus rector
Detective versus rector possessed by spectre
Spectre blows him against the wall
Says "Die, wretch, this is your fall!

Ian Penman's Fall/MES interview/feature All Fall Down, from NME, 5 January 1980, pp6-7:

"Oh! Brrr! Grrr - The poor fellow covers his face with his hands and almost tears his eyes out with vicious rubbing. For even as he spoke a dust devil suddenly arose and struck him. His mouth is filled. He spits some out, but swallows more. His eyes are blinded. Poor wretch! In a day or two he will be in hospital, with that terrible ocular disease brought on by the glaring sun and the deadly dust."

- from Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War

That was the bit where we normally talk about 'influences,' by the way.

So it's pretty clear that some lines of the lyric has been borrowed from Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War.



Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War, Vol 1, in archive.org: https://archive.org/details/cassellshistory00danegoog/page/n6/mode/2up

[Link to relevant bit]
  • 107. dannyno | 26/01/2020

Note 3:

"hunchbaked assistant".

Probably you mean "hunchbacked".
  • 108. dannyno | 26/01/2020
My comment 106. Note that the two volume Cassell's History of the Boer War compiled the original series of 49 booklets. So MES' source may have been the earlier original publication.
  • 109. dannyno | 27/01/2020
bzfgt: re note 3, despite my observation in comment 103 and your comments 104-105, Matt is still inappropriately credited!
  • 110. bzfgt (link) | 01/02/2020
Yeah I know, print the legend and all that. I'm going to extricate that one of these days and put it down in MI and smack Matt down.
  • 111. dannyno | 01/02/2020
Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War bit from Ian Penman's piece, in context:

  • 112. dannyno | 01/02/2020
Broken footnote link alert!

Footnote link #12 generates a 404 error message.

The link is currently set as:

So I guess you should have had a # rather than a @?
  • 113. bzfgt (link) | 01/02/2020
I don't know why these links suddenly break sometimes. The old ones follow different rules than the new, but they're usually grandfathered.

And note 12 made reference to note 10, which is now note 11. That can be damnably hard to catch.
  • 114. Nairng (link) | 04/08/2020
Reluctant as I am to dredge up the "vivant" controversy, I just thought I'd mention this as I can't see anyone else has. I watched The Haunted Palace last night - directed by R Corman, it is an adaptation of HP Lovecraft's Case of Charles Dexter Ward story. In it, Vincent Price is trying to bring his old mistress back from the dead by using a Latinate incantation which concludes with a repeated "vivat...vivat". Not with an 'n' before the 't', though; it's a clear 'at' sound. But still. Sorry if it's been mentioned already!
  • 115. Nairng (link) | 08/08/2020
Also I have the Borges story The Widow Ching - Pirate. It does not mention La Chio San. So there
  • 116. bzfgt (link) | 16/08/2020
WOW--"vivat" I'll bet that's it!!
  • 117. dannyno | 16/08/2020
The song debuted in September 1979.

As already noted, Premature Burial was shown on BBC 1 on 18th May 1979.

The Haunted Palace was shown on ITV Granada on 14 July 1979.

While both films will have been shown before, that they were shown so close to the first performance of the song indicates to me that that's when MES watched them and they became lyrical sources.

Well spotted, Nairng!
  • 118. dannyno | 16/08/2020
Matt is still getting credit that is not his! :-)
  • 119. dannyno | 16/08/2020
And if you do watch the movie, the opening credits feature a spider building a web in which a butterfly gets caught.


  • 120. dannyno | 16/08/2020
Movie currently online here:

  • 121. dannyno | 16/08/2020
Not youtube, dailymotion!

  • 122. dannyno | 16/08/2020
Better screen capture:

  • 123. bzfgt (link) | 23/08/2020
I think vivat is more likely than "be born," or maybe "vivant" which is back in play as a possible mishearing of "vivat"...have to think about this
  • 124. bzfgt (link) | 23/08/2020
Fuck it, I'm going with "vivat." I don't think "be born" fits the lyric really, it's too generic and there is lots of circumstantial evidence against it. I already think it sounds more like "vivant" or something like it. But Mr. Marshall is going to be pissed (in the American sense)!
Kathryn Jolly
  • 125. Kathryn Jolly (link) | 12/09/2020
"Vivat hoch!" is a common exclamation in German, it means roughly, "hurray". When approaching this kind of decipherment it would be most helpful to forget that you are Americans, if you are, and therefore supposed to be ignorant of Latin.

I reviewed Spector Vs Rector off the Fall's Live album for XLR8 magazine in 1980. To review it (God knows why) I listened to the song over and over again. I heard "Yog Sothoth, Ray Milland" and said so in my review. Thanks for assuring me that it wasnt a "mondegreen" or misheard lyric. FYI, I always took the "slaughter of innocents" line in "Cary Grant's Wedding" to refer to Grant's propensity for marrying younger women and bossing them around. Thanks for this extremely helpful website. Cheers, Kathy
  • 126. bzfgt (link) | 13/09/2020
Thanks Kathy, I'm glad we could vindicate you--sorry it took so long!
  • 127. dannyno | 02/10/2020
comment #125, annotation is an international hand-across-the-ocean project for global human solidarity. bzfgt is American, but I guess contributors are from all over. I'm English.

You were definitely ahead of the listening curve back in 1980. I see there are some images of XLR8 on the internet, but nothing with the review you mention. I don't suppose you could post it, or remember what issue it was in so we can track it down?! I like tracking things down...

  • 128. Anon | 14/11/2020
On the recording: Cool (fanzine), Issue 2, February 1980

'Spectre Versus Rector sounds like there's a TG element there.

MES: I don't like that stuff, I don't listen to it really.

Cool: How did you record that?

MES: Craig'll tell you.

SH: Well it was recorded in an old warehouse and that's the way it came out on the cassette. Then the vocal was overdubbed, but with the original vocals in the background .... sounds like an echo.'[i][/i]
  • 129. dannyno | 15/11/2020
Link to the fanzine quoted in comment #128: http://thefall.org/gigography/80febcool.html
  • 130. Bunk | 14/12/2020
Someone touched on it somewhere in the thread, but MAN this song is one of, if not the roughest track in the bands catalogue. I loved The Fall the first time I heard them about 16 or 17 years ago. "In My Area", the live version on Totales Turns. Finding The Fall and Joy Division maybe on the same day even, I couldn't get enough. I would have bet money at the time that those two bands, especially Fall, were huge fans of Can. That paranoid rambling feel over repetitive, cleverly syncopated drum rhythms and hypnotic bass. I discovered the "I am Damo Suzuki" track years later.

But for a while Spectre v Rector was just too rough or dark for my taste. After maybe a year I went back to it and I totally understood, it's not much different than Muzorewis Daughter which I always loved, it just sounded like it was recorded in a metal garbage can to cassette and then left outside for a couple days after a rain. The Fall are one of the reasons I love lo-fi. It takes real balls to make music like that on purpose. Some people just equate lo-fi sound design with poor musical quality overall. And respectively I usually think very little of most hi-fi music. It's the 30Mb lo-fi FLAC tracks I don't understand lol.
  • 131. dannyno | 25/12/2020
" a dust devil suddenly arose and struck him"

We know that this line was borrowed from Cassell's Illustrated History of the Boer War (see note 9).

But I wonder if MES also has a Aleister Crowley connection in mind.

From The Confessions of Aleister Crowley (1969, revised edition 1979), Chapter 66:

The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual. The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word — that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real. These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, “I am I!” though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth.

Source: https://hermetic.com/crowley/confessions/chapter66
  • 132. bzfgt (link) | 09/01/2021
Yeah I feel like that has been itching at the back of my mind too, although more specifically The Vision and the Voice (Liber 418) where I believe Crowley invokes Choronzon. I don't know, I was interested in that stuff years ago but it's been a long time.

I may have never even had the subconscious thought but it just seems so now. But it feels there's something right about it.
  • 133. bzfgt (link) | 09/01/2021
Heads across the sky...
  • 134. dannyno | 17/01/2021
I should have been more explicit. In the passage quoted in comment #131, we have both Choronzon and a dust devil.
  • 135. dannyno | 31/01/2021
"Van Greenway"

Van Greenaway's 1973 novel The Medusa Touch was made into a film, with the same title. Directed by Jack Gold, it was released in 1978.



Starring Richard Burton, it features Lino Ventura as Inspector Brunel.

I've watched the film and there's no apparent lyrical or other connection to this song.

But the film came out the year before the live debut of this song and the release of Dragnet on which it appears, which I think is notable.
  • 136. dannyno | 31/01/2021
The Medusa Touch is viewable via the Internet Archive:

  • 137. SRH | 17/02/2021
I love The Medusa Touch 'cos it shows Bristol Cathedral falling to pieces!

Surely the refrain "Sludge hai choi choi choi son" reflects/rhymes with the "Drudge Nation" lyric in Scene Five, Scene Five. "A nation of no imagination/A stupid man is their ideal/They shun me and think me unclean/Unclean" Could MES be identifying himself with the "hero"? On the version on Totale's Turns MES says "This is The Fall and this is a drudge nation" before the song mutates into 'New Puritan', continuing "Your decadent sins will reap discipline/New Puritan/You shook me/I wash every day but still it's/but still it's unclean unclean."

Imagine if the track was 'Spector vs Rector'. Do you think mad Phil would have liked the production? - it's certainly a wall of sound, possibly from the same source as the sounds in 'The Stone Tape' (involuntary shiver).
  • 138. SRH | 18/02/2021
Just wondering aloud if IVANT on the rear cover of Dragnet is Ivan Turgenev. He certainly wrote some supernatural stories. For example: From 'Phantoms' -

"I turned my head in the direction in which her trembling hand was pointing,
and discerned something ... something horrible indeed.

This something was the more horrible that it had no definite shape.
Something bulky, dark, yellowish-black, spotted like a lizard's belly, not
a storm-cloud, and not smoke, was crawling with a snake-like motion over
the earth. A wide rhythmic undulating movement from above downwards, and
from below upwards, an undulation recalling the malignant sweep of the
wings of a vulture seeking its prey; at times an indescribably revolting
grovelling on the earth, as of a spider stooping over its captured fly....
Who are you, what are you, menacing mass? Under her influence, I saw it,
I felt it--all sank into nothingness, all was dumb.... A putrefying,
pestilential chill came from it. At this chill breath the heart turned
sick, and the eyes grew dim, and the hair stood up on the head. It was
a power moving; that power which there is no resisting, to which all is
subject, which, sightless, shapeless, senseless, sees all, knows all, and
like a bird of prey picks out its victims, like a snake, stifles them and
stabs them with its frozen sting....

'Alice! Alice!' I shrieked like one in frenzy. 'It is death! death itself!"
  • 139. dannyno | 10/03/2021
Jermyn Temperance
  • 140. Jermyn Temperance | 24/06/2021
Hai Choi is a leaf from a Chinese dandelion type plant that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, was it thought to have hallucinogenic or psychoactive qualities? Or even used in exorcisms?
Emma James-Vivant
  • 141. Emma James-Vivant | 29/06/2021
The guitar riff that comes in at 0.25 is the same three note formation (played slightly differently) as the twilight zone theme, more noticeable when it ups an octave at 0.47.
TwZone F#GF#C
  • 142. dannyno | 11/12/2021

Van Greenway, R. Corman
Sludge hai choi choi choi son

I am assuming we are correct in taking "Van Greenway" to actually be "Van Greenaway".

I've been reading Van Greenaway's 1975 novel Doppelganger (in paperback form, published 1977).

If so, then can it be coincidence that Doppelganger features a character called Mr. Sludge, a medium?


  • 143. dannyno | 11/12/2021
I cannot yet account for the hai choi.

  • 144. dannyno | 12/12/2021
See also my comment #48 on In My Area, which suggests a possible lyrical references in that song to an incident in the same book.
  • 145. dannyno | 05/01/2022
I mentioned The Medusa Touch, above. It came out in 1978 and was based on a Van Greenaway novel.

However, on the night Penetration cancelled their gig at the Manchester Apollo, 18 May 1979, at which The Fall would have supported, The Medusa Touch was in fact showing at the venue's "mini cinema".


Just thought that was an interesting coincidence, and somewhat closer to this song's debut.
  • 146. dannyno | 06/01/2022
Notice that 18 May 1979 was the same night that Premature Burial was shown on TV!
  • 147. aidsnarl@hotmail.com | 26/02/2022
Could it not be" such hatred churches's son"instead of sludge hai choi etc
  • 148. dannyno | 11/03/2022
Comment #147. It doesn't sound like it, to me.
  • 149. dannyno | 11/03/2022
The version of the lyrics in the blue lyrics book, by the way, appears to have been eccentrically transcribed (presumably by Dave Luff) from Live In London 1980/The Legendary Chaos Tape, i.e. the performance at Acklam Hall, 11 December 1980 (thanks to Fall Online Forum member Tranny-on-Bongos).

Also worth noting that the song title, if most likely not all the lyrics, is an early one, since it appears in a list of "unrecorded songs" in a letter from MES to Tony Friel dated 25 January 1977 concerning what was then called The Outsiders Group.


Source: http://thefall.org/gigography/gig77.html
  • 150. Dozy | 14/03/2022
Premature Burial is getting a rare run-out on Talking Pictures TV on 1.4.22.
  • 151. dannyno | 19/03/2022
Comment #149. Note that as well as Spectre Versus Rector appearing on that MES > Friel letter from 1977, there is also a "unrecorded song" with the title Exorcist.

I wonder if in the end there were two ideas there which ended up in the one song.
  • 152. dannyno | 19/03/2022

A stupid man is their ideal

Shades of Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky's The Idiot, perhaps?
  • 153. dannyno | 21/04/2022
Re comment #57.

Any connection is still weak, but just to note that the play The Dybbuk was performed by the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre Company circa February 1978.

There was also a performance on BBC Radio 4, broadcast 30 March and 2 April 1979.

And a TV version, BBC 1 on 24 February 1980.
John Reardon
  • 154. John Reardon | 16/06/2022
Re note #6: I beg you to change this wording to "Hampshire is a county in southern England" - nobody refers to Hampshire County. Official!
John Reardon
  • 155. John Reardon | 16/06/2022
Although I have ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that the rather great Leeds/NYC band The Dustdevils took their name from this song, let the record show that they covered Hip Prest (and Bad Education) so file under "Distinct possibility".
  • 156. dannyno | 22/06/2022
John Reardon, comment #155.

It's a nice idea, and I'd be prepared to buy it if it were not for the fact that Michael Duane told the WFMU blog in 2010 that the name came from Aleister Crowley:

What inspired you to form the Dustdevils, both on a musical level and on a personal one? Where did the name of the group come from?

Well, I'd been playing with that bloke David Gedge from The Wedding Present for far too long and I needed a change, as he's a bit of a tyrant. I had met Jaqi [Dulaney], decided to play and part of that play turned into DUSTdevils, which in retrospect, seems like a project to describe our highest highs and lowest lows. The core of what we were doing was to create music that had never been heard before, sometimes we managed that. The band was about us and none other, we made music for us...

The name of the band came from a poem by Aleister Crowley called "Dust Devils"... It seemed to make sense at the time...


Of course, there are Crowley connections to the Spectire... lyric noted above, so we can enjoy several levels of coincidence.
  • 157. dannyno | 06/07/2022
Note 1 cites Can's The Empress and the Ukraine King and says that it was a track MES was likely familiar with.

In fact, MES refers to it in the interview in the book Tape Delay, edited by Charles Neal:

there's a Can track called 'The Empress and the Ukraine King', and it's some mad story about, you know... I don't know what it's about but it's really like, it's just so stimulating compared to like, you know, anything else that was.
For the record
  • 158. For the record | 28/11/2022
I think the live take at Dudley on the 1970s box set removes any doubt that it is "Vivant", he practically spells it out. I'd also venture that V Price says "Vivant" in the film but that's a rabbit hole probably best avoided. The copy I have has no subtitles sadly
For the record
  • 159. For the record | 30/11/2022
re #158 not Dudley at all, it's YMCA London. Mere geography.
  • 160. dannyno | 03/12/2022
Agreed, that's the clearest I've heard it.
  • 161. Alex | 04/03/2023
As far as I hear every time he says MR James it's followed by "vivat vivat" yet a lot of this says just "vivat".
George Henderson
  • 162. George Henderson (link) | 23/05/2023
Just to add a little fuel to my Madam Butterfly idea about Choi Choi Son
- there's a butterfly on the cover of Dragnet.
There aren't many butterflies on Fall album covers, just sayin'
If the Haunted Palace spell is to bring Vincent Price's old mistress back from the dead, and also re the Premature Burial, Cho Cho San dies at the end of the opera.
George Henderson
  • 163. George Henderson (link) | 01/06/2023
Taking this Madame Butterfly thing about as far as it can go, Christian Google assures me that the butterfly is a symbol of the Resurrection. Would a C of E rector know this?
And a real biologist said
"A caterpillar is born and dies; a butterfly is resurrected from its juices."
  • 164. dannyno | 03/06/2023
comments #162 and 163. But the butterfly in the spider's web comes from the opening credits to The Haunted Palace, as noted earlier in the comments. I'm not sure that further explanation is required in terms of the symbolism.

However, I've done some more digging, just to show willing, and can report the following:

The Northern Ballet Theatre (based in Manchester) put on a ballet version of Puccini's opera at the Royal Northern College of Music (Oxford Road, Manchester).

Oh, when?

May 1979.

Exactly the same time period as the TV broadcast of Premature Burial.


They subsequently took it on tour.

So it seems likely that even if MES didn't go to the see the ballet, or was unfamiliar with the opera, the Manchester Evening News or something might have discussed the performance. Something to look into, anyway.
  • 165. dannyno | 26/02/2024
RE: Madame Butterfly, the Manchester Evening News of 9 May 1979 included the following:

a feature about the production's costume design (p.6)


and a review of the show (p.10):


Read at newspapers.com:

Read at newspapers.com: https://www.newspapers.com/article/manchester-evening-news-madamebutterflyb/142168577/

Doesn't help any.
  • 166. dannyno | 26/02/2024
Let's try that again.

The review (p.10):


Newspapers.com: https://www.newspapers.com/article/manchester-evening-news-madamebutterflyb/142168577/
  • 167. dannyno | 26/02/2024
  • 168. dannyno | 26/02/2024
Here's the "funeral decorations" clip from The Premature Burial:

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