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The fourth track of This Heat's 1981 post-punk masterpiece; the war-themed 'Deceit'. The SPQR node goes into detail about the acronym, suffice to say it is "Senatus Populusque Romanum"; meaning The Senate and People of Rome. The closest most E2 users would have come to this collection of letters (apart from the alphabet) is in Asterix books - Turn to the front (where the map is) and look at the top of the big pole stuck into France. Got it? Good.

The song is based around an amazing percussion performance from Charles Hayward - a flurry of what sound like ride cymbal blows backed with a solid 4/4 kick drum give way to the occasional crash cymbal or snare strike, with some of the snare notes treated to echo heavily. Fills of sorts are included, before the whole performance gives way and the song tears itself apart. Matching the drums is Charles Bullen's guitar, which plays one frenetic chord each bar, changing every so often to match the chanted vocals. Gareth Williams' provides subtle keyboard and bass throughout the song, additions to the song that could missed in the speedy delivery, but which make a large difference.

S.P.Q.R. could almost be considered a punk song (it is definitely the most fitting of that description on the album) if it weren't for the thoroughly inventive (not to mention rather unconventional) way their instruments are used and the strange vocal delivery. The vocals are chanted by all the band members, fitting in with the song's subject matter, and acting here more as another instrument than a way to deliver a message. This Heat's strong point has never been lyrical prowess, but this song is not a bad effort by any means, fitting in in a wonderfully non-obvious way to the war theme of the album. When performed live, the opening keyboard noodling from This Heat's 'Triumph' is sometimes used at the end of the song.

S.P.Q.R.


Amo amas amat, amamis amatis amant (1)
We're all Romans, unconscious collective
We are all Romans, we live to regret it
We are all Romans and we know all about
straight roads
Every straight road leads home (2)
Home to Rome
Two plus two, equals four, four plus four equal eight
We organise via property as power
Slavehood and freedom, imperial purple Pax, Romana! (3)

Suckled by a she wolf
We turn against our brother (4)

Bella, bella bella bellorum, bellis bellis (5)
Veni, vidi vici I came I saw I conquered
We are all Romans, unconscious collective
We are all Romans, we live to regret it
We are all Romans and we know all about
Straight roads
Every straight road leads home,
Home to rome
Two plus two, equals four, four plus four equal eight
We organise via property as power
Slavehood and freedom, imperial purple Pax, Romana!

Suckled by a she wolf,
We turn against our brother

Bella, bella bella bellorum, bellis bellis
Veni, vidi vici I came I saw I conquered
We're all Romans


(1): This is the conjugation of the present tense Latin verb amare; 'to love'. Literally, it translates as "I love, you love, he loves, we love, they love".
(2): Reference to the saying "All roads lead to Rome"
(3): "Pax Ramona". Literally; "Peace Romans". Oh the irony.
(4): Suckled by a she wolf, we turn upon our brothers is a reference to Romulus and Remus, mythical brothers who were raised by a wolf after being abandoned by a king who feared they might be a threat when older. Romulus went on to kill Remus.
(5): This is a conjugation of the plural set of words for the Latin noun bellum; 'a war'. Translated: "Wars, wars, wars, of wars, for wars, from wars". The first three are subjective, spoken, and objective conjugations in order.

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