The first time I heard this artist, he scared me to death. In the early 1980s, before Aids was discovered, the main thing which was terrifying the life out of people was the prospect of all out nuclear war.
The possibility of dying in a swift and uncontrollable war preoccupied those in music as much as anyone else. Gillan’s ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ was brutal and to the point, whilst anyone who thought that Nena’s ’99 Red Balloons’ was about the aftermath of a particularly vigorous birthday party was barking up completely the wrong tree.
At the time, one of the television channels – probably Channel 4, as they were into that short of thing – ran a spoof show named ‘Channel 8’, which was supposed to be about a television channel in the years after a nuclear World War 3.
I remember the show featuring a particularly deranged Spike Milligan at one point, in an interview which went:
Interviewer: So, what part did you play in the Third World War
Milligan: Second Trumpet
Interviewer: Second Trumpet?
Milligan: There wasn’t time for anything else
And then they showed Tom Lehrer playing ‘We Will All Go Together When We Go’, and I didn’t sleep well for weeks, so badly was I affected by the lyrics to that song.
Fortunately, I discovered this song later, at this show. Lehrer is a comedy genius. But a pretty scary one, too.