Ladies and gents, ‘tis the season to be jolly (and stuff extra loot in your Safeway’s trolley). This is naturally an activity we do not in any way condone . But, with apologies to Tesco, Wal-Mart, five-and-dimes and corner shop proprietors everywhere, here’s a run down of the top choons for that illicit supermarket sweep.
1. The Slits – Shoplifting
The apotheosis of punk-feminist survival credo, in a field of one. Distinguished by Ari Up’s sounding of that traditional call to the hasty retreat, ‘Do A Runner!’
Put the cheddar in the pocket / Put the rest under the jacket / Talk to the cashier, he won’t suspect / And if he does . . . Do a runner!
2. Deviants – Let’s Loot the Supermarket Again (Like We did Last Summer)
From the Deviants’ ’68 album Disposable, featuring everyone’s favourite post-hippy insurrectionist Mick Farren.
Let’s get together and do this dance / Go loot the supermarket while we got the chance
3. Wilderness Survival – Shoplifting Books on How to Steal
Music by rich suburban white kids that rarely get laid. One is not being cruel – it says so on their website. The title is a nice tryst on Abbie Hoffman’s hippy manual of the early 70s.
She likes to play all those games / I never thought that I’d play / She likes to say all those things / I never thought that she’d say
4. The Business – Do A Runner
South London herberts’ ode to over-running credit limits can easily also be seen as an invitation to alternative procurement methods.
When your flexible friend just don’t want to know / And the bank that says yes starts to say no / Do a runner / Have it away on your toes!
5. The Humpff Family – Shoplifting
Dour confessional by Scottish folkies on the subject of getting caught red-handed.
His eyes knew, by then / He saw me, He saw me
6. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Razzle in my Pocket
An ode to that young man’s rite of passage, nicking his first porn magazine while the newsagent is distracted. Hey, that very nearly rhymes too. Helpfully includes sartorial advice for the well-groomed pilferer about town.
In my yellow jersey, I went out on the nick / South Street Romford, shopping arcade / Got a Razzle magazine, I never paid
7. The Smiths – Shoplifters of the World Unite
Whether this is actually about shoplifting is a moot point. Where’s that Simon Goddard book when you need it?
Tried living in the real world / Instead of a shell / I was bored before I even began
8. P.O.S. – Music for Shoplifting
Hip-hopper provides a soundtrack to retail misadventure.
We ain’t gotta worry / We’re tough / and we can deal with whatever comes up / This is for those who can’t pay the rent
9. Transmitters – Free Trade
Tucked away on Peel favourites the Transmitters’ ‘Still Hunting For The Ugly Man’ EP of 1979 was this, inspired by a shoplifting spree in Regent Street.
(lots of disembodied voices crying ‘It’s mine!’ pretty much)
10. The Briefs – Shoplifting At Macy’s
Speaking of upmarket theft, we have this from Seattle’s top noughties punk ensemble with a nice glimpse of post-cuffing contemplation.
Hand on my shoulder a voice says, son / I tried to run cos I never learn / There go my plans for the afternoon / I’m in a chair in the manager’s room
11. Kleveland – Jonny Is A Klepto
From Portland come feminist alt-rockers Kleveland and the story of a boy who can’t keep his hands in his pockets.
Taught me everything when I was just three / Stuffing that candy into my pants / Down at the Safeway, they never had a chance
12. Madness – Deceives the Eye
Though it’s not one of their best-known songs, it’s among their finest, and openly confessional.
In the earliest days of my shoplifting career / You could safely say I was filled with fear / It was nail-biting work from the very start / But several quick successes soon gave me heart
13. Angel & The Reruns – Shoplifting for Fun
Miles Copeland’s IRS led us to believe that this was an “all girl, all ex-con band”. They formed after watching re-runs of classic American TV while chumming up in county jail, apparently. All fibs of course.
Let’s go down to the mall / We’re shoplifting and we’re having a ball
14. Green Day – Shoplifter
Bonus track on deluxe editions of American Idiot talks about the inherent lack of ambition of your common or garden shoplifter
Shoplifter, you’ll never learn / With arms behind your back / Not a burglar or bankrobber / Just a kleptomaniac
15. Mott the Hoople – All The Young Dudes
The most famous song here though the below line is oft overlooked. When Bowie recorded it himself he changed the M&S reference to ‘unlocked cars’ because he didn’t think it would ‘play’ in America. Boo! Hiss!
And Wendy’s stealing clothes from Marks & Sparks
16. Straw – Shoplifting
Straw, those Blue Aeroplanes-affiliated Bristolians, riff more on the crime and punishment angle.
I’m trying hard to save your bacon / Time and time again you’re taking, taking / Shoplifting you go / A starring role in crown court
17. Anterrabae – Clever Shoplifting Tactics
Long Island metaller’s take on all this is somewhat oblique, but their dapper way with a song title gets ‘em home (though it’s not as good as their ‘A Shovel For Arch Stanton’, Sergio Leone fans should note).
I’d rather live by Sicilian proverbs than the words of a modern day saviour
18. The Beat – The Limits We Set
Two-Tone tribute to petty thievery.
Tell me which one would you prefer / One £100 fine / Or three months in prison / Me old cock sparra? / Shoplifting, shoplifting,
19. Steel Wolf – Shoplifting Bananas
What is it about Long Island and petty larceny? Their other song titles include ‘Exploring Uranus’, ‘Mistletoe Belt Buckle’ and ‘Spread The Love Mayonnaise’ – with its intriguing suffix, ‘Single Edit’.
She said thou shalt not steal / Although it’s got appeal
20. Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing
This aria to asportation comes complete with handy ‘how to’ video as well as the ultimate klepto-chorus.
I enjoy stealing / It’s just as simple as that / Well, it’s just a simple fact / When I want something/ I don’t want to pay for it.