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Three men in black
The mysterious Men in Black, who always turn up after UFOs or anamalous phenomena are seen. And there are always three of them.
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Going through the motions
Co-written by British singer Ian Hunter, who also released a version with his band Mott the Hoople. The BOC's version was released as a single in Britain but barely charted. The real hit with this song was a cover done by Bonnie Tyler in the early 1980's. For some reason her version begins and ends with children chanting the chgous as if it were a nursery rhyme. It adds nothing to the song.
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Make another song for moronic holidays
The song is both a protest against and a parody of the meaningless "Euro-Hits" of the 1980's such as Black Lace "Agadoo" which in their blandness and nonsense lyrics managed to become hits all over Europe. Songs like this were popular because of their summertime feel-good vibe and the way they evoked hot sunny days in the tourist traps of Spain. (A holiday destination beloved by most of Europe). It was just that the lyrics were lowest-common denominator crap, and exhorted people to do silly dances and sing along with meaningless chants and catchy lines. TV satirical show Spitting Image lampooned this mentality
perfectly.

Side two, "I've Never Met A Nice South African", was written during the last years of the Apartheid Era and lists progressively more impossible things, the most impossible thing of all being encountering a pleasant and well-disposed White South African.
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Frederick name of care
Dedicated to her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, formerly of American rock band the MC5 ( "Kick Out The JAMS" was their best-known song)
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Look over there! (Where?)
Mercilessly parodied by the Stranglers, in their song "Peaches", which is about less romantically elevated feelings towards women. They use exactly the same line to denote the singer getting an erection over a woman in a skimpy bikini.
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They watched their Rome burn
Roman emperor Nero famously watched Rome burn for seven nights. It is said the beauty of the fire made him pick up his lyre and begin to compose music based on the burning of his city. It iis said Nero deliberately had the fire started to clear ground and remove pesky proletarians, so he could clear the ground and rebuild the city in his image.
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He got an ice pick that made his ears burn
The method by which Trotsky was murdered: beaten to death with an icepick by Stalin's assassins. The fatal blow, according to the autopsy, was behind his left ear.
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Leon Trotsky
A Russian revolutionary who lost the power struggle with Stalin to take over after Lenin died. He fled to Mexico to lead the struggle from exile and was murdered there. his name remains synonymous with divergence from the Party line and still today denotes an even more hardline, purist, form of Communism.
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dear old Lenny
Possibly "Dear old Lenin", another great revolutionary shafted by Josef Stalin?

An alternative - if the "Lenny" line is correct - is American comedian Lenny Bruce, a man hounded for the extreme nature of his act.
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The great Almyra
A mis-spelling of Elmyr de Hory, a Hungarian-born artist who made his reputation as one of the most notorious fine art forgers ever. He was the subject of an Orson Welles film, F for Fake. There are possibly up to a thousand Old Masters paintings in circulation still which are not by the Old Masters. They're by The Great Elmyr. The art world is still reluctant to admit the extent of the damage caused by Elmyr's fakery.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmyr_de_Hory
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Sancho Panza
Sancho Panza: the stolid and long-suffering companion and servant to deluded elderly knight-errant Don Quixote. Panza is the one who rescues his master from disaster and quietly saves him from himself many, many, times. (Possibly alluded to in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as "Concorde", the squire who performs much the same function for John Cleese's psychotic Sir Lancelot)
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Oh Mrs Palm
And your 5 lovely daughters
(Traditional) Because every man sometimes needs a helping hand.
Mrs Palm is, "hem-hem", Head Seamstress in Sir Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" fantasy novels.
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His truth is marching on
His truth is marching on
Adopted by Christian rock band Stryper and used as their show-stopping finale, this version has become the backing music for many patriotic American images on YouTube.
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Mine eyes have seen the glory
Of the coming of the Lord
Originally a hymn written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861, it was meant to be sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body". However, Union soldiers in the American Civil War adapted another tune, "Canaan's Happy Shore", and this became the version known today.
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Along the coast
The West Coast. California. Los Angeles. UCLA Berkeley.
And indeed anywhere else in the USA where drug pioneers go on inner journeys exploring strange new shores.
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charabanc
An archaic word for "bus" or "coach". Used here to make the line scan, or because some dialect forms of English still use the word?
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She's got me going up and down
She's got me going up and down
An indelicate reference to male masturbation. The BBC's censorship department missed this completely. The singer returns to this at the end of the song.
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Will you just take a look over there (Where?) there
This is a sarcastic response to Joe Jackson's rather more ]romantic ballad "Is She Really going Out With Him", in which a lonely wimpy guy bemoans that no attractive woman wants to know him. They're besotted with "gorillas". The form of Jackson's lyrical line is parodied here by an unashamed "gorilla".
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Down on the beaches
And the BBC also allowed this bit, even after their moral qualms concerning c**toris, s**t, and b**mers. Cornwell goes into some non-lyrical rhythmic grunting here which unambiguously suggests advanced male masturbation, possibly over all the peaches on the beaches.
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even on the end of a skewer
Oddly enough the BBC didn't notice this one, visualizing a bloody doom on the end of a knife. It passed without comment and flew under the radar.
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well what a bummer
The third line deemed unsuitable for the ears of the listening public. The line "Oh what a summer!" is substituted.
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Oh shit
Another word the band were not allowed to sing on the BBC. The radio airplay single substitutes the line "Oh, no!" Hugh Cornwell sings the bowdlerized line with very obvious derision.
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clitares
Actually, "clitoris". This is one of three words they were not allowed to use on the bbc. The single version released for radio airplay substituted the line "Is she trying to get out of that bikini?"
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They appear at the crossroads
The crossroads - the meeting place of the undead and unholy. In European lore, sucides and suspected vampires are laid to rest here in unconsecrated ground. A voodoo entity, the Lord of the Dead, is known as Baron Samedi, lord of the Crossroads. The Crossroads is also where a gifted guitar player, Robert Johnson, allegedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for superhuman musical ability. Nobody lingers at a crossroad, even in daylight.
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Speed is the game in the shadow of kings
Where the company of angels fly
Hell's Angels. Speed is used here in both its meanings - amphetamine sulfate and big powerful motorcycles. The crossroads - the traditional meeting point of the undead and unholy. Clad in darkness - black motorbike leathers?
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A symbol of good luck eminates darkness
In the American south-west, a traditional Native American "symbol of good luck" is the swastika - which indeed has been tainted with a dark shadow. An apocalyptic song about a post-breakdown California where only might makes right?
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From san bernadino these angels are racing
This night to your city
The host of angels... Los angeles
One in the great American road-song tradition? Although not named as such, a little research told me the only possible American road the Hell's Angels could be travelling on is route/Highway 210, linking San Bernadino and Los Angeles via upmarket Pasadena. The image emerges of Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter being awoken from sleep by a full chapter of Angels driving down North los Robles at three in the morning.
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Debbie Denise
Written for the band by collaborator Patti Smith, who intended it as a song of unrequited lesbian love. The BOC flipped the intended gender-roles.
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