ON THEIR VERY BEST BEHAVIOUR

It was in August 1992 that Chumbawamba released a single on 12” vinyl and CD entitled (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave. The sleeve contained a superbly worded essay drawn from a piece by Steven Wells (R.I.P.)  in which he highlighted how ludicrous it was for anyone involved in the arts, particularly pop and rock music, to be in anyway homophobic. The single was released on the back of two now infamous events, one being where a famous pop star of the day – Jason Donovan – launched and won a libel action against a magazine that had alleged he was homosexual and the other being where Shawn Ryder was riding the waves of fame on the back of stating openly and unapologetic that he hated ‘queers’ and releasing a press statement ‘confirming his hetrosexuality.’

The single however, was the third such version of the song in a little over six months wherein lies a fine tale.

Chumbawamba began the year with plans to release a new album that would rely very heavily on sampled music and dialogue. Said album, which was entitled Jesus H Christ, was recorded but never given an official release as it was going to prove far too costly and time-consuming to gain clearance for all the samples involved – there were more than 40 – and there was a real concern that someone would simply refuse permission and so lead to the song or indeed whole album being shelved. One of the songs was this:-

mp3 : Chumbawamba – Silly Love Songs

The music sampled on the track consisted of Silly Love Songs by Paul McCartney & Wings, Tell Me Lies by Fleetwood Mac and Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon. It also contained a snatch of dialogue involving the single word ‘Behave’ as regularly uttered by music producer Pete Waterman during his stint as presenter on the late night TV show The Hit Man and Her.

The band knew that they had written a decent batch of lyrics for the new songs and so rather than letting them go to waste they went into the studio and recorded the album Shhh with real music instead of samples under which Silly Love Songs had evolved into this very fine number:-

mp3 : Chumbawamba – behave!

Then the band came up with the idea of re-recording Behave! with a completely new lyric as part of their response to the homophobia scandals, particularly the Jason Donovan court case. There’s no little irony that his rise to music stardom was masterminded by none other than Pete Waterman whose contribution to the original version of the song was such that it had led to it being adopted as its new title when the album was released.

mp3 : Chumbawamaba – (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave

The 45 version is quite a bit different from the album version, losing the trumpets and the constant refrain of behave!, as well as having a completely different lyric. The band had high hopes for the record which was being released, as usual on their own Agit-Pop label, but there were huge disputes with the distributor whose efforts were somewhat half-hearted to say the least and indeed went about things while the band were touring in the USA and unable to give it the support they wanted to here in the UK. The issues were so intense that the band would wind the label up almost immediately and sign to One Little Indian.

The 12” and CD had three other songs listed on the sleeve although there was an additional hidden track, which was yet another alternative version of behave!

mp3 : Chumbawamaba – (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave (brittle mix)
mp3 : Chumbawamaba – Misbehave (brittle mix)
mp3 : Chumbawamaba – Misbehave
mp3 : Chumbawamaba – (Someone’s Always Telling You How To) Behave (version)

Misbehave isn’t a remix of behave!. Instead it is a brand new and ridiculously catchy song – particularly in its brittle mix form – in which the names of real people and fictional characters whose claim to fame was that they weren’t always good boys or girls are chanted over a punchy techno-lite track that once heard won’t be easily forgotten. Billy Joel and We Didn’t Start The Fire it certainly isn’t………………..

Enjoy

PS : Copies of Jesus H Christ did quietly make their way into some shops after Shhh was released; some of the owners have since put the songs out there on t’internet which is how I’ve been able to get a copy of Silly Love Songs for inclusion today…..

5 thoughts on “ON THEIR VERY BEST BEHAVIOUR

  1. Chumbawamba at their best I think. Famously this was reviewed in Melody Maker on release as a ‘cock up the arse of homophobia’.
    also just to blatantly name drop I met Steven Wells once at a Ben Folds Five gig. He bought me a pint and took the piss out of my hair. Lovely bloke.

  2. Can’t agree SWC, it has to be Pictures of Starving Children for me which curiously enough I was ripping to the hard drive at the weekend for my mate or the Fence side of Revolution, insightful funny and extremely cutting.

  3. I have a copy of Jesus H. Christ. Some may argue that it is far better than Shhh, but Shhh was such a massively important record in my life I cannot dismiss it at all. I loved this version of Behave – Lou Watts has such a lovely voice, totally at odds with the shouty polemic the band is usually known for. Oh, and thanks for the hidden version JC – I have the 12″ but I completely forgot about this!

    Incidentally, the Brittle mixes of the songs were done by members of the band Papa Brittle who toured often with the Chumbas. They were dead good and absolutely phenomenal live.

  4. A very interesting post that joined a few dots for me and great to see so much love for Chumbawamba in the comments too. I was only playing ‘Swingin’ With Raymond’ the other day.

  5. Brilliant piece of music from a much maligned band. Having heard JC and Shhh I have to say the issues they ran into forced them to make an even better album.

    Nice timing too. The Surprisingly Awesome podcast (Adam Davidson and Adam McKay) is planning an episode on Chumbawumba. I heard a preview and it sounds like it will be great.

    -E

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