The Coliseum

Lyrics

(1)

Coliseum. The Coliseum.
Look out, burn
You ought to know this by now.
You with the empty crane over....   (2)
They're the gatekeepers and the sentinels.
Their jokes are hum-drum.

The Coliseum

Brown brass leading up to Ionic columns.
Trust them.
Sometimes that is not enough
In the vast cavernous emptiness
That is the world of the callow.

But they stood outside at bottom
The Coliseum

Trust them.
But sometimes that's not enough
In the vast cavernous....

The Coliseum

And you have to have a good condition
To get into the Coliseum.

And the jingle jangle of this city
Makes you hunger and down.
You have to have a good condition
to get into the coliseum.

The Coliseum

Brown brass leading up to ionic columns,
But sometimes that's not enough....
Their jokes are hum-drum.

About 7:30 to 8:00,
tiredness sets in.
You want to take a little break
and get out of home.

The Coliseum

Brown brass....
You've got to have a good condition
to get into....

These people, they will never ever learn.
They are not fit to walk through
the ionic columns of
the Coliseum.
The Coliseum.

You've got to have a good condition
to get into the Coliseum.

Notes

1. Reformation points out that this is not a critically acclaimed song, and it doesn't seem to be a fan favorite either; on a poll at the Fall online forum, it has to date only garnered 4 votes out of 224 for best track on The Light User Syndrome. It isn't terrible, at the very least, with a lot of cool noises blurping and squonking around, presumably as a result of Simon Wolstencroft's "programming" (whatever that is), and a danceable beat. It is very long, and not very varied, but that doesn't stop a whole lot of other Fall songs from working. It seems to be a near-miss; MES seems to be half-heartedly aiming for the prophetic mode of delivery he adopts for songs like "Free Range" and "Powder Keg," but here he sounds a little more bleary than stentorian, and the lyrics do just enough to not do enough, and not a bit more. The Story of the Fall points out that this seems to be about a nightclub rather than Rome, and this seems quite plausible. On the other hand, Reformation identifies a Mancunian Coliseum:

The Coliseum on Church Street opened with 50 retail units in 1995 as the new place for the "excitingly different". Over the years, it housed everything from fancy dress shops to gothic horror specialists and was a home for the many tenants of the Corn Exchange shopping centre, closed after the IRA bomb in 1994. It closed down on 24th June 2002.  

The place may have re-opened, because it's still listed in online directories.

Whichever Coliseum is intended, the story seems clear: there is a place where one can go. It is desirable to get in, but only if you are shallow, because the beautiful people who decide who is in and who is out tell jokes that are not funny. 

According to MandrakeAnthrax, "The song is to co-credited to "Spencer" - I suppose it's Simon Spencer of D.O.S.E. who MES recorded the single "Plug Myself In" with, a few months before The Light User Syndrome was recorded. And [the latter] was released on the label named...Coliseum Recordings."

^

2. Harley recounts a crane-related (purported) incident which, unfortunately, (purportedly) happened about a year after the release of The Light User Syndrome:

In the Guardian on 22nd Sept 1997...  "Mark E Smith could grump for England, but he has his lighter moments. Take the time two weeks ago, when he was visiting the Notting Hill office of his publicist. He was in customarily dour spirits until he spoffed a crane parked next to the building, its operator at the top repairing its scaffolding. He entered the empty cab and spent the next few minutes gleefully raising and lowering the hapless operator. Mark E Smith is 39. Last week, he recalled the incident with the faintest shadow of a smile. "I don't like this new breed of modern workman. Always strutting around with their cranes, going up and down like that," he propounds, slumped in a Manchester pub."

To edit or to delete this comment, head to your The Annotated Fall site manager. 
 

^

 

Comments (4)

harleyr
  • 1. harleyr | 06/09/2013
'Condition' as used here is, surprise surprise, ambiguous and could also mean 'long term illness'. Perhaps Smith is imagining a club where you have to have a suitably good condition (=impressive malady) to be a member. Or perhaps it was just him expressing a dim view of the 'excitingly different' visitors to the Church Street Coliseum.
MandrakeAnthrax
  • 2. MandrakeAnthrax | 09/01/2015
The song is to co-credited to "Spencer" - I suppose it's Simon Spencer of D.O.S.E. who MES recorded the single Plug Myself In with, a few months before The Light User Syndrome was recorded. And it was released on the label named...Coliseum Recordings.
harleyr
  • 3. harleyr | 22/03/2017
>>You with the empty crane...

Might refer to this incident, recorded in the Guardian on 22nd Sept 1997...
http://thefall.org/gigography/97sep22.html

"Mark E Smith could grump for England, but he has his lighter moments. Take the time two weeks ago, when he was visiting the Notting Hill office of his publicist. He was in customarily dour spirits until he spoffed a crane parked next to the building, its operator at the top repairing its scaffolding. He entered the empty cab and spent the next few minutes gleefully raising and lowering the hapless operator. Mark E Smith is 39.

Last week, he recalled the incident with the faintest shadow of a smile. "I don't like this new breed of modern workman. Always strutting around with their cranes, going up and down like that," he propounds, slumped in a Manchester pub."
dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 22/03/2017
harleyr, comment #3.

Unfortunately that's not possible.

Light User Syndrome was released in June 1996, and that Guardian article dated 22 September 1997 is referring to an incident which happened two weeks previously.

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