Rubber Bullets

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"Rubber Bullets"
Rubber Bullets.jpg
Single by 10cc
from the album 10cc
ReleasedJune 1973
GenreArt rock, glam rock
LabelUK Records
Songwriter(s)Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman
Producer(s)Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman
10cc singles chronology
"Johnny Don't Do It"
"Rubber Bullets"
"The Dean and I"
Audio sample
"Rubber Bullets"

"Rubber Bullets" is a song by the English band 10cc from their self-titled debut album.

Written by Kevin Godley, Lol Creme, and Graham Gouldman and produced by 10cc, "Rubber Bullets" was the band's first number one single in the UK Singles Chart, spending one week at the top in June 1973.[1] It also reached No. 1 in Ireland and No. 3 in Australia, but it fared relatively poorly in the United States where it peaked at only No. 73. A tongue in cheek homage to the 1957 film Jailhouse Rock with a Beach Boys influence, the song attracted some controversy at the time because of the British Army's use of rubber bullets to quell rioting in Northern Ireland.[2]

Recording and impact[edit]

The song features a double-speed guitar solo, created using a technique also used the same year by Mike Oldfield for his Tubular Bells album. In a BBC Radio Wales interview,[3] guitarist Eric Stewart explained:

Stewart also recalled:

I was amazed, but pleased that the BBC never banned the track, although they limited its airplay, because they thought it was about the ongoing Northern Ireland conflicts. In fact, it was about an Attica State Prison riot like the ones in the old James Cagney films.

— Eric Stewart[4]

Drummer Kevin Godley, living in Ireland in 2018, also denied the lyrics were about Northern Ireland: "We wrote about it before rubber bullets were a thing in Northern Ireland, but it came out around the same time. But it was a visual story or a sound picture.”[2]

Bassist Graham Gouldman remembered:

Kevin and Lol had the chorus and part of the verse but then got stuck. We all loved the chorus and realized it was a hit in itself, so we wanted to persist with it. I chipped in the line 'we've all got balls and brains, but some's got balls and chains.' One of my finer couplets.

— Graham Gouldman[4]

Although the song was not banned by the BBC at the time of release, much later it was banned for the duration of the Persian Gulf War.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

"Rubber Bullets" was used as the theme song to the pilot episode of American animated TV series Superjail!, which aired in May 2007.[6]

The song can be heard, played on a bar jukebox, in the 1975 Finnish television film Simpauttaja, based on books by Heikki Turunen.

The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 1998 film A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries.[7]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Top of the Pops featured an anonymous cover of the song on their 31st volume.[8]
  • Ronski & Exotic performed a cover of the song on their self-titled album released in 1975[9]
  • Vicky Rosti performed a Finnish version of the song called "Puupaukut" on her 1975 album Vicky.[10]
  • The Vindictives covered the song on their 1994 album Party Time for Assholes.[11]
  • The Men They Couldn't Hang featured a cover of the song on their 2011 album 5 Go Mad on the Other Side.[12]


  1. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 287. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b Lyng, Eoghan. "The Things They Did for Love: The Top 10 Songs of 10cc". CultureSonar. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  3. ^ "I Write The Songs". Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  4. ^ a b Kutner, J. and Leigh, S. (2005), 1000 UK No. 1 Hits, Omnibus Press, ISBN 1-844-4928-34
  5. ^ Kirby, Mark (2000). "Sociology in Perspective". Heinemann. p. 5. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  6. ^ Harris, Will (3 March 2010). "A Chat with Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick ("Superjail!")". Premium Hollywood. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  7. ^ "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries - Original Soundtrack - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  8. ^ Dave Thompson. "Top of the Pops, Vol. 31 - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-08-06.
  9. ^ "Ronski & Exotic - Ronski & Exotic". Discogs. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  10. ^ "Song: Puupaukut written by Pertti Reponen - SecondHandSongs". Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Party Time for Assholes - The Vindictives - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  12. ^ "The Men They Couldn't Hang - 5 Go Mad On The Other Side". Discogs. Retrieved 8 October 2018.

External links[edit]