U.S. 80s-90s

Lyrics

Had a run-in with Boston Immigration (1)
And to my name had an aversion
Nervous droplets
Due to sleeping tablets

No beer
No cigarettes
Slam, spikes, gin, cigarettes
Beer in ban

The cops are tops  (2)

Welcome to the 80s 90s
Welcome to US 80s 90s

I'm the big-shot original rapper   (3)
But it's time for me to get off this crapper

Welcome to the US 80s 90s

No beer
No cigarettes
Spikes, gin, cigarettes
Whisky

Like cones of silence (4)

Welcome to the US 80s and 90s
Like 50s, 1890s

Kentucky dead keep pouring down
By death stadium  (5)
No more amused dressing room
My ambition, but one chance in three million Jack
Like cones of silence

Cast aside over-inflation theory of the panic insists
Welcome to the US 80s 90s
Look at page 19, small column, lower right-hand side
Welcome to the 1980s  

Notes

1. Max points out the obvious, which obviously should have been in my notes. Why deny the obvious child?

Actually, I didn't know about this, although, like you, I must have read about it in one of the books and forgotten it:

"This probably seems totally obvious to everyone else, but i just realised that the whole "no beer, no cigarettes, spikes, gin, whiskey" probably refers to US Immigration confiscating a load of booze and cigs off Mark, along with a penknife (spike) or similar."

Dan points out below that "spikes" is more likely to mean hypodermic needles.

And from Dan:

MES quote from the pilot issue of LM magazine (given away free with Crash, December 1986), dated January 1987, p.25: "US Eighties And Nineties is about America and how it's changed over the years. When I've been there before it was the freest place I'd ever been to in my life, but the last few times I've been it' s been a very oppressed place – as bad as Russia or somewhere." 

And finally, Brix's memoir:

In The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, Brix Smith-Start confirms that the song was inspired by the group's experiences at customs: "we practically had stickers on our foreheads saying 'Search me'... we would always get tormented by security and feel like we were entering a police state." She also says that it was "our version of a hip-hop track."

^

2. Dan: "NY cops are tops" was a pro-police slogan in New York from the 1960s. There is a reference here, for example, to Pete Townshend wearing a button badge with the slogan

Cop cars wore the slogan.

I think it's used quite commonly elsewhere too, for example Canada and Australia.

^

3. Shawn Swagerty comments: I always took the lines "I'm the big-shot original rapper But it's time for me to get off this crapper" as a slap at Lou Reed, who had a rather lame single called "The Original Wrapper" in 1986.

^

4. A reference to the classic 1960s Mel Brooks/Buck Henry sitcom "Get Smart." Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, would always insist on using a device called the "Cone of Silence" when the Chief had something top secret to impart, much to the latter's annoyance. Everthing they said would be completely inaudible within the Cone, but could be easily heard from outside.

^

5. Memorial Coliseum at the University of Kentucky in Lexington was built as a memorial to soldiers from Kentucky who had died in the two World Wars and the Korean conflict, and later added the names of all the Kentucky dead from Vietnam. As far as I can tell, the Fall never played there, or anywhere else in Kentucky, at least as of 1985. If this refers to an actual incident, I haven't discovered it.  

Dan:

There were two football stadium disasters in 1985 - Heysel and Bradford. I wonder if they are in mind here at all?

"Kentucky dead". Possibilities might include the 1876 Kentucky meat shower, however to me it looks like an Elvis reference.

In Elvis's song "Kentucky Rain", is the following:

"Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead's another town
That I'll go walking thru
With the rain in my shoes,
Searchin for you"

Also perhaps worth noting that the film "The Return of the Living Dead" was released in 1985, and was set in Kentucky. It features a deadly rain.

On the other hand, nkroached points out that the line on the Peel version seems to be "Kentucky death keep pouring down," which s/he takes to refer to bourbon. It does sound like "death" on Peel, although not definitely; it seems to me to be kind of in between "death" and "dead," maybe even "debt," but my ears aren't the best...

^

Comments (18)

Martin
  • 1. Martin | 21/04/2013

The alternative version of the song, found on the Cheetham Hill compilation, has a reference to rhinestone, a diamond simulant.

More intriguingly, it also contains this line:

"And the tryst that curtails the mill shall make us strong".

I have no idea what this could mean.

Mr. Odd
  • 2. Mr. Odd | 01/05/2013

I think I heard a live version where Mark sang "90s 000000s" instead of "80s 90s". Can anyone confirm this?

dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 20/07/2014

I'm not hearing 1980s at the end, though it does go impossibly murky as the chorus thing is repeated over and over.

Dan

dannyno
  • 4. dannyno | 20/07/2014

Isn't "Welcome to the U.S.A" what is printed on US immigration forms?

dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 20/07/2014

"Kentucky dead keep pouring down
By death stadium"

There were two football stadium disasters in 1985 - Heysel and Bradford. I wonder if they are in mind here at all?

"Kentucky dead". Possibilities might include the 1876 Kentucky meat shower (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_meat_shower), however to me it looks like an Elvis reference.

In Elvis's song "Kentucky Rain", is the following:

"Kentucky rain keeps pouring down
And up ahead's another town
That I'll go walking thru
With the rain in my shoes,
Searchin for you"

Also perhaps worth noting that the film "The Return of the Living Dead" was released in 1985, and was set in Kentucky. It features a deadly rain.

dannyno
  • 6. dannyno | 20/07/2014

I'm confident of this one.

"The cops are tops"

"NY cops are tops" was a pro-police slogan in New York from the 1960s. There is a reference here, for example, to Pete Townshend wearing a button badge with the slogan: http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/rock/who-69.php

Cop cars wore the slogan.

I think it's used quite commonly elsewhere too, for example Canada and Australia.

Titfordshire
  • 7. Titfordshire | 22/07/2014

The live version on 'Time Enough to Last' has these extra words amongst others:

welcome to U.S. 1990s
welcome to Euro U.S 1990s
welcome to the the U.S. UK 1990s

No cheese, no tomatoes

My ambition is to walk to work
one chance in 3 million Jack

What have you learnt son?
Read summat you fool.

A leisure society
of severe preponderance
And my fists are bruised
And I cannot write properly

welcome to the UK 2000s
No beer, no cigarettes, no slam, gin, sausages...

No this,
No that,
Like bank holidays in England.
No wonder there's a recession

A very important political statement
Rhinestone, gemstone.

bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 21/09/2014

"Isn't "Welcome to the U.S.A" what is printed on US immigration forms?"

I have no idea...

nkroached
  • 10. nkroached | 02/02/2015

Kentucky death keep pouring down in Peel session.

I thought this was the Whisky(sic) Bourbon.

Max Williams
  • 11. Max Williams | 21/04/2015

This probably seems totally obvious to everyone else, but i just realised that the whole "no beer, no cigarettes, spikes, gin, whiskey" probably refers to US Immigration confiscating a load of booze and cigs off Mark, along with a penknife (spike) or similar.

dannyno
  • 12. dannyno | 09/07/2015

Image

dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 23/02/2016

MES quote from the pilot issue of LM magazine (given away free with Crash, December 1986), dated January 1987, p.25:

http://pitchandputtproductions.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/mark-e-smith-interview-from-1986.html


US Eighties And Nineties is about America and how it's changed over the years. When I've been there before it was the freest place I'd ever been to in my life, but the last few times I've been it' s been a very oppressed place – as bad as Russia or somewhere.

dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 19/03/2016

Note 1:

"Spikes" would be needles, not penknives.

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 24/03/2016

Yes, that seems totally obvious, I'm surprised I repeated that interpretation without pointing (pun?) that out.

dannyno
  • 16. dannyno | 04/05/2016

In The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise, Brix Smith-Start confirms that the song was inspired by the group's experiences at customs:


we practically had stickers on our foreheads saying 'Search me'...

... we would always get tormented by security and feel like we were entering a police state.


She also says that it was "our version of a hip-hop track".

dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 07/05/2016

Just to expand on that, Brix writes in her book about a specific incident at Boston immigration, where the group were questioned about sleeping pills given to Mark and Brix by her mother - the prescription were in her mother's name, hence the problem. And hence the first few lines of the song.

Shawn Swagerty
  • 18. Shawn Swagerty | 14/06/2017

I always took the lines

"I'm the big-shot original rapper
But it's time for me to get off this crapper"

as a slap at Lou Reed, who had a rather lame single called "The Original Wrapper" in 1986 -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1Am45JrwQ4

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