"Behave" is (I think) the second of Chumbawamba's four anti-homophobia singles. The song is an artistic response to then-current events (this version of the song was released in 1992) and required a little bit of explanation even when it was first released. As I own the CD single version of this song, and because Chumbawamba are dear to my heart, I've taken it upon myself to give an explanation of what they meant. On this page, I have reproduced and annotated (almost) all of the text on the back of the CD single. Further information about the single and the song's context will also be archived on this site. I don't claim to have a definitive explanation of the lyrics or the context that inspired them, and I welcome any corrections or new contributions.
NB: the original layout of the CD is not reproduced on this website. If you want to see a picture of the original CD cover you can go to Discogs .
pop against homophobia!
one: behave two: behave (brittle mix) three: misbehave (brittle mix) four: misbehave
"all which was said to be good was wrong: evil was our friend all along." (homocult) 
"i'm tri-sexual. i'll try anything!" david johansen, new york dolls
"the bastard was saying i was a bloody queer, so i smacked him one."
john lennon after almost killing dj bob wooler at a party in Liverpool in 1963. 
in april 1992 jason donovan  took the face magazine  to court - winning £200,000 from the case - for the "poisonous slur" of being portrayed (albeit very vaguely) as gay. by reprinting a poster of donovan in mock-up "queer as fuck" t-shirt, the face re-opened the can of worms that is pop's in-built conservatism.  editor sheryl garratt told the court that she would have used the picture - accompanying an article on "outing" - "even if it had featured mickey mouse". the judge summed up the ignorance of a sexually-repressed establishment by replying that "everyone already knew about minnie."
around the same time, happy mondays singer shaun ryder was mouthing off in the national music press, denouncing homosexuality following a well-reported tantrum after being described as 'a former rent boy." ryder smashed up a bar before issuing a press release "confirming" his heterosexuality.  unfortunately, donovan and ryder are only the vocal tip of the iceberg. pop is still entrenched in sexist, woman-hating reactionary trash. homophobia sits neatly with this pop industry fear of dykes and queers: hetero sells! it's still a straight man's man's man's world, and it's still scared stiff of gay sexuality.
pop stars can embrace any cause, charity or issue - but still can't openly embrace people of their own sex. pop reflects homophobic culture; promotes it even. seems like someone's always telling you how to behave...
it's fashionable to hate gays and that's not just a gay problem. there's something seriously wrong with allegedly 'rebellious' youth culture that lines up with the moral right, the fuddy duddies, the religious bigots and the blue rinse anti-rock brigade to attack a section of the community because of its sexual preferences. this is the 'generation of swine' hunter s thompson warned us about - a generation that can't tell the difference between moronic conformity and rebellion, a generation which regards picking on minorities as radical, man. as lux interior of the cramps said recently:when led zep and the rest started heavy metal it was a message about freedom, being wild, without boundaries. now it seems to be about closing yourself up, being bigoted. it's like anti rock and roll...
in his hysterical attack on rock music - stairway to hell - u.s. fundamentalist rick james  claims that all rock music is "evil". he also writes:like a fly squirming to break out of a web...teens once caught in the devilish web of homosexuality are powerless to escape. when you experiment with homosexuality or lesbianism you are playing with demons.surely it's inconceivable that a rock and roll musician - a representative of a culture that at least has pretensions to towards rebel status - could side with a creep like rick?
getting the facts straight
gay people have always set standards of excellence...that's a fact. whether straight people want to accept that or not, it's true, that's it - period.
house dj frankie knuckles
he's got a point, especially about pop, rock and dance music. take any genre and you'll find homosexuals or homosexual imagery involved or extolled. when little richard whooped and hollered and pouted and leered under his teetering bouffant and heavy eye makeup, it wasn't only racist bigots he was teasing. visit the wax trax label in chicago, home of the dance core movemement, and you'll find a couple of gay guys running things. look at the men behind the british invasion of the early '60s  - face it, a homophobic rock fan makes about as much sense as a pasta fanatic who hates italians. as the british anti-bigotry comic aargh 'artists against rampant government homophobia' pointed out - if you applied retrospective homophobia to popular culture - if you actually took out the gay influence - then you'd have fuck all worth listening to.
"would there have been any beatles without brian epstein?" no bowie, no glam, no stones, no queen or elton john, no house, no techno, no morrissey, no pet shop boys, no disco, no new york dolls, no guns n' roses and certainly no punk.
if you're willing to defend anything that's positive about your culture from people who wish to destroy it, then you've got to be opposed to homophobia. there are no "straights" in rock music, we are all homo, hetero faggots...and should be damn proud of the fact. it's time to decide which side you're on. it's time to stop the crap.
written and recorded woodlands studio late summer 1992. engineered by neil ferguson. produced by chumbawamba. brittle remixes by the sexy papa brittle at southern studios...using papa vision!  engineered by paul harding. chumbawamba: better the devil you know . agit-prop records [... address and fax number, redacted].  distributed by southern studios [...address and fax number, redacted].
postcard photograph by paula solloway 
cover extracts taken with thanks from an article by steven wells 
1. I had assumed that Homocult were musicians, but they appear to have actually been a art duo or group of artists from Manchester . It seems likely that this is their YouTube channel. Judging from what I've managed to scrape up from previews of academic texts on Google Books, the poster that Chumbawamba are quoting from here read "GOOD WAS WRONG, EVIL OUR FRIEND ALL ALONG", featured a picture of Judy Garland, and appears in the book Queer With Class: The First Book of Homocult" . ↩
2. The incident in question occured at Paul McCartney's 21st birthday party. Bob Wooler was a DJ, music journalist and the MC in the Cavern Club. John Lennon was a musician and amateur wifebeater. Allegedly, Bob Wooler (who, allegedly, was gay) had said something to a steaming-drunk John Lennon about the holiday he'd recently taken with the Beatles' (gay) manager, Brian Epstein. The word "honeymoon" may have been used. Lennon responded to this by beating the shit out of Bob Wooler, who went to hospital with various injuries. John Lennon later claimed that while he'd been pummeling Mr. Wooler he'd realised that he could easily kill him, hence the reference to Wooler being nearly beaten to death. ↩
3. Jason Donovan is an Australian actor and singer. In the 80s he was one of the stars of "Neighbours", an Australian soap opera that was mega-successful in the UK. On the show he played Scott, the boyfriend and eventual husband of Kylie Minogue's character Charlene. Later, the pair released a duet together ( "Especially For You") and briefly dated. ↩
4. Trendy fashion and music magazine in the UK. famous for its innovative typography. lasted from the early 80s till the early 2000s. ↩
5. The picture in question was a poster that depicted Jason Donovan, wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Queer as Fuck" written across it. The posters had been put up around London by FROQ (Faggots Rooting Out Queer Sexuality), who claimed that they were preparing to "out" hundreds of famous gays to the news media. Outing as a tactic (revealing the identities of closeted lgbt+ people) was a hot topic in the early 90s and the plan evidently seemed plausible to the journalists who reported on it. In a press conference, the members of FROQ revealed that they weren't actually outing anyone, and it was all a hoax. They just wanted to mess around newspaper journalists that had themselves outed gay celebrities (and even random members of the public), and force them to condemn outing because self-declared queers were doing it.
In the first rush of publicity, the Face magazine printed the picture, and apparently they referred to "on-going speculation" about Jason Donovan's sexuality and wondered when he was going to come out. Soon after, Donovan sued them for libel-- he claimed it was because the magazine had made him out to be a hypocrite and a liar, not because he was upset at being called gay. He won his case and he won his money. In fairness to him, he apparently gave "most" of it back to the magazine, since otherwise they would have actually gone bankrupt. Jason Donovan's career didn't really recover from the negative publicity surrounding the lawsuit, or at least he never made it to Kylie-grade stardom.↩
6. According to this article , Shaun was interviewed on MTV Europe in 1991 and, when asked about what he did before he joined the Happy Mondays, flippantly said that he used to be a rent boy. Whether it was a joke or not, the News of The World ran a splash headline about the story as if it were gospel. Shaun then definitely did go on the offensive, judging by his (never-realised) threats to sue the paper. The bar-smashing-up did occur around this time, although I don't know if it had anything to do with the rent boy allegations. The bar that Shaun Ryder is supposed to have committed property damgage in is the Dry bar, which was then owned by their record label, Factory Records. It had large mirrors behind the bar and Shaun allegedly broke them with some sort of projectile. In late 1991 Shaun and his bandmate Bez did that interview with Steven Wells (the author of this piece), in which Bez apparently threw around a few anti-gay slurs and Shaun complained about the gays. I haven't read the piece, because I don't have a subscription to the website that currently has the rights to the article, Rock's Back Pages . If anyone does have a copy of the article, please let me know. Apparently S.Wells was less than kind about the Mondays and accused them of homophobia, on the basis that they were saying homophobic things. Shaun, Bez and various other bandmates have claimed they were stitched up and misrepresented. As I haven't been able to access almost all the source texts, I'm reserving judgment.↩
7. The author of "Stairway to Hell" is actually named Rick Jones -- I assume this a typographical error, or perhaps a joke. At least, there is a book that covers the threat of secular culture to teenagers, called Stairway to Hell, that's by a guy called Rick Jones, so I assume that that and the book mentioned here are one and the same. There are a couple of preachers called Rick Jones A preview of Stairway to Hell is available on Google Books, if you can stomach it. The section about getting "trapped in the web" of homosexuality is from page 114 to 116, if you're interested. The book was first published in 1988 by Chick Publications, who are better known for publishing Chick Tracts , those often-parodied Christian cartoon strips that are left in public places across the world much like how bibles are left in hotel rooms by the Gideon Bible Society. However, their website indicates that they no longer stock Mr. Jones' books. ↩
8. A lot of gay men were involved in UK pop music in the 60s, back before the pop music industry became a respectable profession. When it comes to the beat music explosion in particular, prominent behind-the-scenes figures include the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, the Yardbirds' manager Simon Napier-Bell and one of the Who's managers, Kit Lambert. Jon Savage has written some interesting stuff on gay men and pop music in the 60s, see this article for more information. ↩
9. Southern Studions was/is a recording studio owned by friends of Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher. Southern recorded many albums by Crass and associated acts. Later, Southern started distributing records for independent labels, including Chumbawamba's very own Agit Prop label. As far as I can make out, the sexy papa brittle wasn't a man but a band, Papa Brittle. Apparently Papa Brittle were "Basingstoke's most successful home-grown band". They were former punks who played political pop music and released a single ("Obey, Consume, Marry and Reproduce") on the Agit Prop label, according to this Usenet group post from 1996. An extensive history of the band can be found here , and some of their music videos are available online through the magic of YouTube. Southern Studios was in suburban London whereas Woodland studios appears to have been (and may still be) in Yorkshire. At the time of writing (June 2020), the only Neil Ferguson who turns up in a google search is the hapless epidemiologist of the same name. Update (1 July 2020): Neil Ferguson was Chumbawamba's sound engineer and sometime member of the band. He also apparently produced Black Lace by Agadoo. The more you know. ↩
10. I'm giving a footnote for this because I didn't know about it until I started researching this: "Better the devil you know" was the title of a Kylie Minogue single from 1990. ↩
Agit Prop was, of course, Chumbawamba's record label, which they used to release all their albums until "Showbusiness!" in 1994, as well as a few singles and other bits for friends of the band. The name came from agit prop, a term for left-wing cultural propaganda that's probably most commonly used in the UK about "agit prop theatre". I'm sure that about 90% of Chumbawamba's activities, including the time Danbert Nobacon poured paint over Joe Strummer, could technically be described as Agit Prop theatre. I've decided to redact these addresses and fax numbers to prevent the (very unlikely) eventuality that publishing those details would result in a flood of nuisance calls and/or faxes. ↩
12. I've had some personal correspondence with Ms. Solloway, who's a professional photographer. She explained that in 1992, she was working for the same newspaper as Alice Nutter, and took some photographs of the band that were turned into a postcard. I assume the postcard was included with the single, but my copy (bought second-hand) didn't come with a postcard and there are no pictures of it on Discogs. There is, however, this promotional white label which came with a press release covered in black-and-white photos of the band. ↩
Steven Wells was a long-time friend and champion of the band. Like Chumbawamba, had been begun his "career" in the "music" "scene" in Leeds, West Yorkshire, which in the late 70s and early 80s was a hotbed of alternative music. Wells started out as a fanzine editor and a "ranting poet". He was the support act at various punk gigs and released a couple spoken word EPs, including a split with Attila the Stockbroker. By the mid-80s, he started writing for the NME, then Britain's best-selling music magazine and (allegedly) an institution that was able to shape critical consensus about albums, bands and even whole musical genres. Wells wrote for them in various capacities until the early 2000s, as well as making music videos, writing for comedy, releasing a novel etc etc. He then started writing about sport as well as music, moved to Philadelphia, got cancer and died, age 49, in 2009. Interestingly, one of the comments on his final piece for the Philadelphia Weekly was left by a Neil Ferguson -- it's comment 129. I think there are a few more familiar names in the comments as well... ↩