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Pay Your Rates

Written by:
  • Mark E Smith
Initial Release: 
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Rough Trade ROUGH18
  • 17 November 1980

Subsequent releases:
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme) GAP Records (Australia and New Zealand)  RTGAP 1001 LP; TC-RTGAP 1001 Cassette; 1980
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme) Base Records (Italy) ROUGH 18 Y5 LP; 1980
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme) Go International (Italy) GI LP 18; 1980
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme) Rough Trade Japan RTL-6 – promo record; 1981
  • Palace of Swords Reversed, Cog Sinister COG1 LP;  COGC1 Cassette;  CDCOG1 CD; 23 November 1987
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Castle CLACD391; 8 November 1993
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Cog Sinister/Voiceprint COGVP106CD; 1998
  • Palace of Swords Reversed, Cog Sinister/Voiceprint COGVP107CD; 20 February 1998
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Castle/Esssential ESMCD640; 27 June 1998
  • Psykick Dance Hall, Eagle EEECD010; 7 August 2000
  • Totally Wired – The Rough Trade Anthology, Castle CMDDD461; 15 July 2002
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Turning Point (Italy) TPM02210 LP; October 2002
  • Totally Wired – The Rough Trade Anthology, Earmark (Italy) 40006 LP; 4 August 2003
  • Rebellious Jukebox, Shakedown Records SHAKEBX115; 10 November 2003
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Castle CMRCD883; 15 March 2004
  • Grotesque (After the Gramme), Earmark (Italy) EAR40038 LP; 13 September 2004
  • Rebellious Jukebox, Recall/Snapper SBOX015; 15 August 2005
  • Rebellious Jukebox, Recall/Snapper SMDCD578; 12 February 2007
  • I’ve Never Felt Better in My Life 1979 – 1982, Great American Music Company GAMC11422; 8 July 2008
  • Grotesque, Westworld LETV486 LP; 24 March 2017

Officially released live versions:
  • Live in London 1980, Chaos Tapes LIVE006 Cassette; March 1982 [recorded  at the Acklam Hall (now Subterranea), London, 11 December 1980]
  • Live In Cambridge 1988, Cog Sinister/Voiceprint COGVP115 CD; October 2000 (recorded at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 19 March 1988)
  • Seminal Live, Beggars Banquet BBL102 LP; BBL102 CD; 19 June 1989 (recorded in Arena, Vienna; 16 April 1988)
  • Live in London 1980, Castle/Sanctuary CMRCD1005; 27 September 2004 (reissue of above mentioned)
  • Live in London 1980, Earmark (Italy) EM307LP; 12 September 2005 (reissue on vinyl of above mentioned)
  • The Fall 5 Albums, Beggars Banquet, B00DJWUJG6; 19 August 2013 (same version as on Seminal Live; details above)

Group on initial recording: 

  • Mark E Smith - vocals; Marc Riley - guitar, vocals; Craig Scanlon - guitar; Steve Hanley - bass; Paul Hanley - drums 
First played live:
  • 12 September 1980 Cleopatra's, Huddersfield
Last played live:
  • 27 May 1988 John Anson Ford Theatre, Los Angeles, California 
Number of known performances:
  • 37
Frenetic and at the same time beautifully paced opener to Grotesque (After The Gramme), with witty and incisive lyrics to match.
Tim Ellison, writing in Modern Rock Magazine (San Diego; January 1999):
"Pay Your Rates",- the first song on...Grotesque (After The Gramme) LP (November 1980), replicates five...prior innovations: 1) The slightly dissonant all major chord progression. 2) The separate tempos for separate sections. 3) The "chorus" that is more like a separate type of verse (or, in this case, a rest stop in between the quick-tempoed verses). 4) The switch in between sections to nearby key centers. And 5) The almost-consonant tone cluster ringing out at the end. What a strange formula!
This time they go even further toward dissonance. The chord progression in the slow bridge section seems to move from the key center of G in the verses to a chord progression of F major (the new root chord of sorts, meaning again a major second modulation) to B major to A major (similar to the initial jump up followed by descending major seconds in the chorus of "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man,'"). Any of these chords, though, are likely to be dissonantly altered (particularly into an augmented chord) or played against another of the chords by the other guitar player. This can also seemingly happen at much of any time during the progression. The F chord seems as though it is occasionally some type of E chord, also (which makes for a standard 14V-V relationship between E, A, and B, but again, one that is turned dissonant by the counterpoint between the instruments playing different things and the slightly-dissonant augmentations of the chords). In a later version released on the Seminal Live album from 1989, it is worth noting that a different lineup of the band changes the chord progression in the slow section entirely into the descending chromatic progression F# major, F major, E major--a very odd change-overl The original version of "Pay Your Rates," though, is a more subtly complex cacophony (played with amazingly klunky, brash sounding guitars) that fits into The Fall's uniquely simplistic song mold nicely."
Warren Mitchell, mentioned in the Live in London version of the song, is a well-known and respected British actor; biographical details here:

Discussion of the lyrics on The Annotated Fall website: http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/pay-your-rates.html
Gigs played at:
12 September 1980 Cleopatra's, Huddersfield 
27 September 1980 Tatton Community Centre, Chorley
2 October 1980 Polytechnic, Manchester 
1 November 1980 Polytechnic, Manchester 
13 November 1980 Fan Club, Leeds 
15 November 1980 Rock Garden, Middlesborough 
18 November 1980 Boat Club, Nottingham 
20 November 1980 Cedar Ballroom, Birmingham 
21 November 1980 North London Polytechnic 
11 December 1980 Acklam Hall, London 
12 December 1980 Acklam Hall, London 
31 January 1981 Leicester Polytechnic 
25 February 1981 Bungalow Bar, Paisley
12 March 1988 Oxford Polytechnic
14 March 1988 Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool
15 March 1988 Leeds University
17 March 1988 Leicester University
18 March 1988 Hammersmith Odeon, London
19 March 1988 Corn Exchange, Cambridge
3 April 1988 Grosse Freiheit 36, Hamburg, Germany
4 April 1988 Modernes, Bremen, Germany
5 April 1988 Biskuithalle, Bonn, Germany 
9 April 1988 FBZ Buergerpark, Braunschweig, Germany
12 April 1988 Volksbildungsheim, Frankfurt, Germany 
13 April 1988  Unterfoerhring Theaterfabrik, Munich, Germany 
15 April 1988 unknown venue, Graz, Austria 
16 April 1988 Fritz Club, Vienna, Austria 
20 April 1988 Rote Fabrik, Zurich, Switzerland 
22 April 1988 Vooruit Gonzertaal, Ghent, Belgium 
23 April 1988 Het Noorderligt, Tilburg, The Netherlands 
24 April 1988 Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
5 May 1988 Maxwell's, Hoboken, New Jersey
6 May 1988 The Ritz, New York City, New York 
12 May 1988 The Channel, Boston, Manchester
15 May 1988 Peabody's Downunder, Cleveland, Ohio 
16 May 1988 St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, Michigan 
27 May 1988 John Anson Ford Theatre, Los Angeles, California