Released on: Revol (Single #14) Epic Records, 1 August 1994
Peak UK Chart Position: #22
Band Ranking: #39
Also on: The Holy Bible (Album #3) Epic Records, 29 August 1994
he second single used to promote The Holy Bible is, within the album context, probably the song with the lightest theme and lightest touch – making its release as a single unsurprising. ‘Revol’ is “lover” backwards and is another of Edwards’ pieces on the subject of love as a concept. The lyricist had minimal experience of relationships and struggled to make them work, but they were a recurrent interest of his which crops up multiple times in his work.
The lyric juxtaposes the names of various political figures with sexual hangups, predilections and related phrases – all of the leaders mentioned in the first verse are the heads of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), listed in chronological order (although Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko are omitted). In Wire’s interpretation, the intended impression was that “relationships in politics, and relationships in general, are failures”. The second verse lists more varied leaders, including British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.
The song takes the musical form of a fairly heavy punk recording, with Bradfield’s distorted guitars being the main order of day, although Moore’s drum performance is particularly strong, his little cymbal crashes punctuating the ends of lines in the verses. Undoubtedly the finest moment is Bradfield’s surging, coruscating solo which starts of largely unaccompanied and almost becomes drowned by the rhythm section.
‘Revol’ has not had a good reputation either commercially or from the band themselves. It reached only a fairly disappointing #22 in the UK chart and the band ranked it as their second worst-ever single in 2011 at #39 of 40. Wire described it as a “bizarre, utter mess. Great lyric but bad song”. For his part, Bradfield has criticised the UK mix but believes the US mix to be superior.
The promo video was directed by Chris D’Adda and largely consists of the band playing in a what seems to be a warehouse in their military uniforms, interspersed with an aerial shot over a snowy landscape.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“Che Guevara, you’re all target now”
Lenin – Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924), leader of the Russian Soviet Federalist Republic from 1917 to his death and premier of the Soviet Union from 1922.
Stalin – Joseph Stalin (1878 – 1953), de-factor Soviet leader from the mid 1920s until his death. Founder of Stalinism.
Khrushchev – Nikita Khrushchev (1894 – 1971), Stalin’s successor as Soviet Premier and responsible for undoing significant parts of his legacy in the country.
Brezhnev – Leonid Brezhnev (1906 – 1982) Soviet leader criticised for his failure to reform the Soviet economy leading to its stagnation in the 1970s.
Gorbachev – Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 -) former Soviet statesman and reformer who pioneered the Glasnost and Perestroika restructuring programmes in the 1980s. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
Yeltsin – Boris Yeltsin (1931 – 2007), first president of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1999, at which point he resigned with extremely low popularity ratings. Spearheaded “shock therapy” and the extremely rapid economic liberalisation which led to concentration of wealth in the hands of oligarchs and criminals.
Lebensraum – German for “living space”. A component of Nazi German ideology used to justify territorial expansionism.
Kulturkampf – German for “culture struggle”. Term used to refer to efforts by Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck to suppress Catholicism in Germany through legislation in the 1870s.
Raus – German for “out”. The shout of “raus raus” was one of the first heard by many concentration camp inmates as they were herded out of trains by German troops.
Fila – Italian for “form a line” or “line up”. A similar WWII-era camp command.
Napoleon – Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. Eventually decisively defeated by other European powers in the Napoleonic Wars.
Chamberlain – Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940), British Prime Minister and exponent of the appeasement policy who signed the Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938.
Trotsky – Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940), Russian revolutionary and founder of Red Army. Assassinated by agents sent by Joseph Stalin in Mexico City in 1940.
Che Guevara – Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928 – 1967), Argentine revolutionary and global countercultural symbol. Murdered during his disastrous campaign to inspire revolution in Bolivia in 1967, with the support of the CIA.
Pol Pot – leader of the genocidal Khmer Rouge faction in Cambodia – see [A18] ‘Repeat (UK)’
Farrakhan – Louis Farrakhan (1933 – ) leader of the largely African-American religious group the Nation of Islam.