A few weeks ago, I mentioned that White Riot had been written as a call-to-arms for disaffected youth in the UK. Eight years on, and the disaffection was still there – indeed it was increasing all the while thanks to a government whose policies were not of the caring, sharing variety. Paul Weller‘s increasing frustration with young people not willing to engage in the political process on the basis that ‘they’re all the same aren’t they?’ or ‘it’s only one vote for me and that ain’t gonna bring about change is it?’ led to him penning the lyrics to Walls Come Tumbling Down with such lines as
“Are you gonna realise the class war’s real and not mythologised?’
mp3 : The Style Council – Walls Come Tumbling Down
It was released as a single in May 1985 and its jaunty radio-friendly tune, combined with a high-profile promotional campaign with appearances on all sorts of TV shows, helped it crash into the charts at #13 after which a TOTP appearance helped climb to its highest position of #6. The fact that it dropped down the charts afterwards rather quickly was perhaps an indication that mixing pop and politics wasn’t helping the band find any new audiences. But that didn’t stop the main man continuing to get on his soap box and promise that many of the songs that had been penned for inclusion on the second LP would further attack the unfairness of life under the Thatcher government.
As it turned out, the song’s lyrics became a bit of prophesy for what would happen over the next few years in Eastern Europe with the collapse of one totalitarian dictatorship after another and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, Annie Nightingale, in her final show of the decade which celebrated some of the best and most popular songs of the 80s dedicated it to everyone in Germany whose lives had clearly changed forever more.
There were three quite different songs on the b-side of the 12″
mp3 : The Style Council – Spin’ Drifting
mp3 : The Style Council – The Whole Point II
mp3 : The Style Council – Blood Sports
The first is by far the weakest of the tracks with a bland tune set to sixth-form lovelorn poetry while the last is an acoustic and angry attack on those who supported hunting in the UK countryside and provided further evidence of Weller’s willingness to pen political material of a very personal nature.
The Whole Point II however, is something really powerful and disturbing. The tune was first used on the Cafe Blue LP with a lyric that attacked the political classes in the UK. This updated and very sad version is from the perspective of someone who is contemplating suicide by jumping into the sea…….
The lyrics have undoubtedly aged Walls Come Tumbling Down, but it is a cracking tune that demands to be danced to.