All You Need Is Love (The JAMs Song) - Composition


The central theme of "All You Need Is Love" was the media coverage given to the AIDS crisis. The original version opens with a 15-second sample of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love", followed by Rob Tyner's cry of "Kick out the Jams, motherfuckers!" from the MC5's album Kick Out the Jams. A simple beatbox rhythm begins, along with samples of John Hurt from a British public information film — entitled Don't Die of Ignorance— about the dangers of AIDS. The samples misquote the film: "sexual intercourse — no known cure". Bill Drummond performs a heavily-accented Clydeside rap, beginning "We're back again, they never kicked us out, twenty thousand years of 'shout shout shout'", a reference to the fictional JAMs of The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Later, he raps: "With this killer virus who needs war? Immanentize the eschaton, I said shag shag shag some more!" "Immanentize the eschaton" is a reference to the opening line of Illuminatus!, referring to the end of the world, and "shag" is a British slang word for sexual intercourse.

Between verses, the rhythm is punctuated by samples of former glamour model Samantha Fox ("Touch me, touch me, I want to feel your body"), as well as a sample "Ancients of Mu Mu" (by The JAMs' associate rapper Chike) which recurred throughout the next ten years' work of Drummond and Cauty. Also heard is a rendition by children of "Ring a Ring O'Roses", rhythmic panting, and an original female vocal line concerning infant mortality. Sounds magazine stated that the deliberate placement of Fox's sexually provocative "Touch Me" alongside "Ring a Ring O'Roses" ("the nursery rhyme about the Plague") "highlights explicitly the depth of contradiction embedded in society's attitude towards death through sex". More succinctly, NME said: "'All You Need...' is by everyone" (so many samples) "and about everything" (and a variety of thematic nuances).

Drummond has said he was inspired by the hip-hop and scratch he was hearing regularly on John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show, but looking back in 1991 he said "If you listen to it now, it sounds nothing like a hip hop record, you know, it sounds a lot more like British punk... punk version of a hip hop record, I suppose."

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