From the back of the 12″ single:-

Having stepped from the wreckage of their 1968 Ford Galaxy American police car Rockman Rock and Kingboy D (The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu) found their ice cream van. Heading east up over the Pennine-straddling M62, they pull their ice-cream van onto the hard shoulder. Behind them to the west, they can still make out the sprawling conurbation of Greater Manchester and those surrounding Lancashire towns, proud in their decline.

Further west, somewhere beyond where Liverpool used to be, a dirty sunset sinks into the Irish Sea. To the east the sky is already dark. The Yorkshire towns seeking solace in their Pennine valleys. But up here on this unhealing gash across the backbone of England the immediate landscape is a desolate moorland, with none of the grandeur of the Highlands or the classic English beauty of the Lakes.

Three bedraggled sheep huddle for shelter in a ditch. The drizzle toughens. Then climbs to a solid rain. Heavy goods vehicles plough by. Tacographs on overload. A leaded grime smears the verges. Sodden Silk Cut packets wonder whether they are biodegrading. A crow flies north.

Through the downpour and diesel roar, Rockman Rock and Kingboy D can feel a regular dull thud. Whether this is the eternal echo of a Victorian steam-driven revolution, or the turbo-driven kick of a distant Northern rave is irrelevant.

Thus inspired, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu climb into the back of their ice cream van and work.

mp3 : The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North (Part 1)
mp3 : The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu – It’s Grim Up North (Part 2)

Wiki is good for the factual info.

“Part 1 is a 10-minute composition with two distinct segueing sections. The first 7-minute section is a heavy, pounding industrial techno track, over which Drummond gives a roll-call of Northern towns, through a CB microphone. Between verses, Drummond’s processed voice urgently alerts us that “It’s grim up North”. The instrumentation is in minor key and frequently discordant, featuring synthesised sounds reminiscent of passing heavy goods vehicles or train whistles. Although the underlying rhythm holds a 4/4 time signature, several instruments keep 3/16 and 3/4 time throughout the track, including a deep second drum line – the “regular dull thud” – which juxtaposes when the 4/4 instruments and percussion drop out.

The second section is a fully-orchestrated arrangement of Jerusalem, with the sounds of brass, strings, organs, drums and choir. The instrumentation and vocals of the first section gradually diminish to nothing over a period of nearly two minutes. Following the climax of the hymn, howling wind and crow calls are heard to fade out.

Part 2 is a 6-minute reprise of the techno themes from Part 1, without the vocals and orchestra.”

All locations are in the North of England. They are predominantly in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Scarborough is the furthest north in the list and the furthest south is Nantwich. The full list of locations in the lyrics follows:

First verse

Bolton, Barnsley, Nelson, Colne, Burnley, Bradford, Buxton, Crewe, Warrington, Widnes, Wigan, Leeds, Northwich, Nantwich, Knutsford, Hull, Sale, Salford, Southport, Leigh, Kirkby, Kearsley, Keighley, Maghull, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Oldham, Lancs, Grimsby, Glossop, Hebden Bridge.

Second verse

Brighouse, Bootle, Featherstone, Speke, Runcorn, Rotherham, Rochdale, Barrow, Morecambe, Macclesfield, Lytham St. Annes, Clitheroe, Cleethorpes, the M62.

Third verse

Pendlebury, Prestwich, Preston, York, Skipton, Scunthorpe, Scarborough-on-Sea, Chester, Chorley, Cheadle Hulme (could also be interpreted as the equally valid Cheadle, Hulme), Ormskirk, Accrington, Stanley (could also be interpreted as the football club, Accrington Stanley FC), Leigh, Ossett, Otley, Ilkley Moor, Sheffield, Manchester, Castleford, Skem, Doncaster, Dewsbury, Halifax, Bingley, Bramhall.

NB : The shortened version in the video omits the second verse.

So now you’re fully primed for any relevant questions in a pub quiz.

Incidentally, ‘Grim’ was released in October 1991 and while it reached #10 this was a little short of the chart success that had been enjoyed in earlier months by The KLF.



  1. Good to see that they agree with my assessment of Rochdale. I do have a soft spot for Preston though.

  2. Additional pub quiz knowledge:
    There’s also a “club mix” with Pete Wylie on vocals.

    There are other tribute/spoof versions out there:
    Radsonic – “It’s Weird Out West”
    G-Force – “It’s Brill Up North!”

  3. I believe popular south west ‘comedy’ outfit the wurzels also recorded a yokel version that went Crediton, Tiverton, South Molton, Hatherleigh, Holsworthy, Bideford thats inbred. Barnstaple smells and Westward has its Ho!

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