Yeah, yeah, people have been quoting this all day – just as they have every year since I’ll Meet You In Poland came out in 1984. The version I’m going to play is from MALE!, circa 1992. You could argue (and many have) that the original take, from the album HOLE, is superior – since it is basically a capella with Thirlwell’s voice looped and chopped into dozens of layered samples to provide the “music”. His voice there sounds harsher, slightly deranged, whereas the MALE! version is simply beautiful. The first time I heard the latter was the first time I realised I was in love with Thirlwell’s voice – one of the very few acts where I’ve been sold on a band purely from the music without knowing anything else about them.
(Well, obviously I knew about the remixes. And I guess I loved Thirlwell’s voice from the opening bars of Throne Of Agony – NAIL was the first album I heard – but I don’t recall thinking what a beautiful voice until then.)
I’ve told you before, my friend worked at Big Cat and she loaded me up with my Foetus fix, including a double audio-cassette of MALE. I think BOIL is the only thing I’ve never replaced – no idea what happened to that. I can’t actually remember whether she gave me the vinyl or whether I bought it myself, but it was most likely that I bought Bedrock and she gave me Finely Honed Machine, etc.
So, MALE!, … Poland. It’s much blunter than its earlier incarnation – all pummelling drums and stabby violin. (The Foetus live band at that point was basically Swans.) The verses are just string-and-voice with the occasional intermission of full-on onslaught. I still find the Hitler samples jarring. Can’t listen to them. I normally skip those bits.
Oh yes. Those.
The song is World War II as metaphor for a lover’s tiff. They both promise not to cheat, and they both cheat – just as both Hitler and Stalin broke their promises to each other. It’s a laughably overblown comparison, but put yourself in the shoes of the cuckolded lover: IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!
THIS MEANS WAR!
Besides, Thirlwell’s never been one to lay off the melodrama – he did have opera bits on the last record, remember. That was about the end of the world, too. Eh, I don’t know what I’m expecting him to sing about
but he sure does have a pretty voice.