Never Mind the Ballots
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|Never Mind the Ballots|
|Studio album by Chumbawamba|
|Label||Agit-Prop Records (UK)
Reprise Records (France)
Never Mind the Ballots (occasionally called Never Mind the Ballots... Here's the Rest of Your Life by fans and distributors) is the second studio album by anarchist punk band Chumbawamba. Most of the songs centre on lying politicians and their search for more voter control. It was originally released as a cassette and LP, then re-released in the '90s as half of the Chumbawamba compilation CD First 2, which was a combination of their first two LP albums released on a single CD.
The lyrics to all the songs are direct, largely undisguised political commentary describing at the same time the futility of democracy in general and the political situation of the three major parties in Britain at the time of recording. This piece, like the band's earlier album, Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, is all based on a single theme, rather than confronting a range of themes, issues and ideas as was typical of their later albums. In terms of style, lyrical content and political focus, it was a follow up to the earlier album and is more similar to it than any subsequent work by the band.
To about the same extent as their earlier record, the album features "characters" that the vocalists assume for certain songs. The two most prominent characters are "The Candidates". The Candidates appear together on two tracks, "Always Tell The Voter What the Voter Wants to Hear" and "The Candidates Find Common Ground" (as well as in the Epilogue on the cassette version). The male candidate, or at least a character very much like him and also played by Danbert Nobacon, appears on "Today's Sermon." The female candidate, played by Alice Nutter, appears alone singing some parts of "The Wasteland."
The male and female candidate are shown to be two equally uncaring political candidates who seem to have opposing view on subjects at first, but essentially want the same things. This issue is discussed in "The Candidates Find Common Ground" where the two discuss how their means of solving a problem may differ, but they seek the same ends; for example, while one candidate wants "conventional weapons, to kill people nicely," the other candidate wants "nuclear weapons, to keep the peace". In the end they reason that they need "weapons, definitely; either way, [they] must defend [them]selves."
The artwork used in the promotion of the album, its liner notes and its cover, was based on artwork designed by French artists in the late 1960s. The image on the front cover pictured above is similar to that which appears on the alternate cover, although the alternate cover features a starker image (closer to the one used on T-shirts) with the higher hand being identical, but nearer the lower hands, which are pointed straight up; the alternate cover also uses black and white as opposed to black and cream.
The slogan especially used on T-shirts promoting the album read (alternately in French and English) "THE VOTE CHANGES NOTHING! THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES!" or "LE VOTE NE CHANGE RIEN LA LUTTE CONTINUE". The liner featured other French images with slogans connected with anti-capitalist movements, including: "Continuons la lutte le capitalisme sombre" [Let us continue the fight the capitalism is sinking], Retour a la normale" [Return to the normal], Brisons les vieux engrenages [Let us break the old gears] and many others.
This imagery was used prominently in performances by the band and the concept of the "Cross in the box" (as seen in two promotional images and referenced in the lyrics of Always Tell The Voter What the Voter Wants To Hear) was used heavily. One photograph taken at a concert depicts Alice Nutter, blindfolded (the blindfold has a red "X" on it), wearing a blue prize ribbon and a red "X" T-shirt.
- "Always Tell the Voter What the Voter Wants to Hear" – 2:51
- "Come on Baby (Let's Do the Revolution)" – 1:39
- "The Wasteland" – 4:23
- "Today's Sermon" – 2:28
- "Ah-Men" – 2:29
- "Mr. Heseltine Meets His Public" – 3:51
- "The Candidates Find Common Ground" – 4:29
- "Here's the Rest of Your Life" – 13:22
Cassette demo version, Un Toast A La Democratie
This version of Never Mind The Ballots, recorded as a live set, was released under the title Un Toast A La Democratie in 1986, the year before the more widely known LP version was finished. The production quality is very amateur, and, while not recorded at a concert, people speaking and shouting are audible in the background of side A track 5.
(Significant differences from vinyl/CD release are noted in italics)
- "Prologue" (omitted from other versions)
- "Always Tell the Voter What the Voter Wants to Hear"
- "Come on Baby"
- "The Wasteland"
- "Today's Sermon"
- "Mr. Heseltine" (Ah-Men and the first part of Mr. Heseltine Meets His Public)
- "Us & Them" (The second half of Mr. Heseltine Meets His Public)
- "The Candidates Find Common Ground"
- Epilogue (Generally included on other releases as the ending to The Candidates Find Common Ground)
Here's The Rest Of Your Life is absent from the cassette version
- Lou Watts – Vocals, guitar
- Harry Hamer – Drums, percussion, vocals
- Mavis Dillon – Bass guitar, trumpet, vocals
- Alice Nutter – Vocals
- Danbert Nobacon – Vocals
- Boff Whalley – Guitar, vocals
- Dunstan Bruce – Vocals
- Simon "Commonknowledge" Lanzon – Keyboards, voice
- Neil Ferguson – Engineer, Keyboards
- Patrick Gordon – Engineer