Mr. Robinson’s Quango

After the huge success of Parklife, “Mr. Robinson’s Quango” offered the first taster of where the band were heading when it was performed at the Alexandra Palace towards the end of 1994. This performance appeared on the videotape Showtime (where’s the bleedin’ DVD already?!) some six months before The Great Escape.

When it did arrive in all its glory on said album, it did so with a rather dubious placement of the apostrophe; Mr. Robinson was called Mr. Robinsons all of a sudden. Whether this was done intentionally or not I’m not aware of, but a look at the lyric sheet suggests it a mistake. In any case, on later releases Live At The Budokan and the single for “The Universal” the punctuation mark moved to the left again, the opposite of Mr. Robinson’s political preference.

We know a lot about Mr. Robinson. In fact, like a proper tabloid journalist Damon seems intent on revealing as many details of the man’s private life as he can. So much for discretion. During the course of the song we find out that he’s got a hairpiece and health problems (one of ’em is semi-cleverly rhymed with his choice of baldness concealer), likes to sexually harrass his secretary and is a confirmed transvestite (unlike Tracy Jacks who’s just rumoured to be one) with a penchant for damaging state property.

A Quango, by the way, is a Quasi-Autonomous Non-Gouvernmental Organisation. In this particular one members are doing tango’s. While this may just be a case of “well, it rhymes and sounds nice” it also echoes Morrissey’s “National Front Disco”; the dance, the uniform and methods are different, but there are more than a few similarities.

The song itself is a stomper, and as good a summary of Blur’s music at the time as can be found; inventive guitar by Graham, keyboards subtly and unsubtly adding colour, a brass section, a little waltz, and little things that keep popping up on repeated listens.

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Published in: on June 1, 2007 at 9:30 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Huh. You know, I like this song and love this album, but I always just assumed a Quango was some sort of cheap European car I’d never heard of. I clearly should have listened closer! These days I think they’re called NGOs, which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

  2. I forgot about this one. That Ally Pally show rules – we watched it quite a few times in the day.
    Looking forward to following your blog – cheers!


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