ZigZag, February/March 1978, pp. 7, 8, 38
Ah the Fall! My mind fell on a quote that was all I knew of the name, something like '...there's hardly another band fit to lick the Fall's plectrum...' and as Tony Parsons is the only person I'm likely to digest I was glad when The Doll lost the toss. I had been with the Shams for a week and had seen enough dross as support acts to put to rest all this action points North crap (now fully convinced that the sandman hadn't just visited Londinium), when up pops a name to stop me going back to that Welshman's guest house and kakking out. At last another band!
The Doll rattled off their sound-check, they started together and finished together and that was that. I sat back in stuffed up misery in the wooden seats at the back of the hall and watched Mark, Una, Jonnie, Karl and Martin sort themselves out. I was waiting to be blasted away like a dopey consumer. ENTERTAIN ME! Just don't ask me to contribute anything.
Una banged a couple of times on one of those electric pianos that always make you think of the Doors and the bass boom boomed a few. The Fall began. I think it was 'Dresden Dolls'.
"Dresden Dolls are back in style/ With a clockwork walk and a backward smile, Dresden Dolls don't hear a sound/ They're programmed to jump up and down, Up and down, (round, round) Tapping feet to formless sound..." (U. Baines c1977)
The rare peaks of seventy-seven had had their price paid in numbing my brain. Bollocks and pretensious bullshit have dragged guts and thought down to their own level. That type of fArt writing had unconsciously made me feel it was all flowing beyond me and prejudiced me whenever I saw the word 'clever'. The Fall made me realise again that I, and you, are at the centre of whatever I chose to be involved in. You don't need your degree or cliques, though christ knows it seems sometimes that that's all there is; a field year for Pseuds Corner is up! It's the burning of the Art Decode books: John Savage (Jonathan Sage) telling all those fanzines where THEY stand! Middle classes of the world unite, you got nothing to use but your brains! AND THAT'S WHERE WE'RE ONE UP ON YOUS! Shit I feel Greeaat again! Thank you Fall, thank you!
Meanwhile at the soundcheck I was still on my island. I tapped my foot. It was only later whilst watching the hideous antics of the crowd that the Fall fell into place. I knew that whatever I said was gonna be without punch, cos I read those reviews too, week after week. Shit, this can't be just another 'go and see 'em' review. But in the end, it's gonna be right? ARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHi
"Psycho Mafia/No soul in the Discos! No rock in the clubs, Won't let us in the pubs/And the city joys/ Spitting on the streets, Shot heads and teeth/Our eyes are red/Our brains are dead, I'm talking 'bout electrodes and Psycho Mafia..."
The Welshman at the guest house, after the soundcheck, assured us that, shucks, Huddersfield is a friendly town. Well that night has, apart from this treatise, prompted me to try to get to grips with a piece on football supporters (you can find me over the next few weeks with the Millwall CBL, our locals, that's me with the tape recorder!).
It was later and I'd taken a powder and felt better fast. Back at the Poly it was just above half full (only seventy students had snapped up tickets which goes to show, like the man said, you can be the most brilliant mind in the world but have no idea what's going on). There was one crazy with a Mother's Pride wrapper over his head desperately peering thru two eye holes as if he meant it to look that way (which, it strikes me, reverses the bit about brilliant minds). And then there was 'the lads'. 'The lads' were obviously well known. The Huddersfield business in fact. They must've been, because all the way through most of the night they were oblivious to what was going on preferring their own games of human pyramids, piggy backs etc., all done right in front of the stage. About ten of them scrawked, scrambled, hooted, belched and fell down. All around people just gave them space and played the English game of sipping tea while the walls tumble down, no matter how hard they got shoved, no matter how wet their clothes got.
One bloke then appeared on stage and hung on a mike. He was obviously a local celeb (in fact he is in a band which I have heard of but right now forget), I had heard him speaking in Fluent Yorkshire but on stage it seemed Rotten drawl was in order. "Right noww I wan yooo tooo meet my favourite baannd int whole worrld The Doll!"
How everyone cheered!
Well, the Doll tore away with Black and Decker guitars and drums like one falling downstairs, 'the lads' continued to play the rugger field scene in Tom Brown's Schooldays and I left. Outside was the bloke who'd done the intro for them.
"Thought they were ya favourite band?!'
"Naw, they joos ass, me ta say that. Bluddy row int it?"
Wandering into the bar with tuppence in me bin (like all college bars it was a big kitchen), I saw at the far end table, looking fairly miserable, The Fall.
"Formed end of '76/Smith/Friel/Branch - did first gig in May '77 with terrible drummer, Una joined straight after and things went from there -- Buzzcocks support gigs (E.G. Vortex puke), RAR etc. Despite "reputation" still struggling for a year -- we don't dig promoters, backhanders, publicity (bought that is), backers, agents etc.
"Our aims vary -- we would like to be self-sufficient and alter the DNA of the nervous system (you did ask us to write what we liked!). We are opposed to compromise, fascists, rich revolutionaries and cars. Our message is not contrived nor preached it just comes out that way! We think ninety percent of the New Wave is crap, though we don't like to adopt a superior attitude. A lot of the bands who fancy themselves as "alternative" are developing. No offence, but the bulk of the vinyl shit seems to come out of London. The Pistols are OK -- especially McLaren's great piss take of the media.
"Success, Una'd hate it, Martin ignore it and Karl think it shit hot. We are managed by Kay Carroll who feels insignificant amongst those "hypnotic merry innovators" and whose main aim is to fend off bullshitters."
(above excerpt verbatim from letter from the band)
The Fall couldn't have been facing a worse set up if they'd had to play to a packed Northern Soul crowd, although tonight that's a fine line only the badges are different.
Jonnie Brown (great name) had joined three days previous and had yet to prove himself, like me the band were skint and earlier had seen the Prefects, who finally showed, pelted and drenched by the lunatics with a full tank inside. The Doll's particular brand of James Hunt rhythms earned an encore. More beer goes down, more rollicking thundering sport on the dance floor, more anticipation of the main band (who incidentally were none too sure how the crowd were gonna react to Jim's cockney oral lambastings judging by the expression on bassist's Dave Tregannon's face as he exited from The Doll. As usual the worrying was needless).
The effect of a five piece playing quirky, cutting, fuck it, INTERESTING ten minute songs was, as far as Oooodersfeeld was concerned, farting in class. Memories of John Cooper Clarke and the Vortex Gang. Mark Smith (above the howling of slack bottom jaws), "Let me introduce to our NEW bass player. He's from YORKSHIRE! And I am a patronising creep who will go to any lengths to win an audience."
I remember seeing him look out over the crowd at staring faces, screaming cases and of course 'the lads' who carried on acting the tourist in Spain throughout their set (thereby creating a large space at the front of the stage which is all a band can see). No fun to play to a bunch who don't acknowledge you're there, just keep building rugby scrums, and then saying to no-one in particular, "Thank you, thank you, our next selection is called Repetition,
"We did repetition in our music and we're never gonna lose it / We dig it! / We dig it! / We dig it! / We dig it in West Germany -- simulataneous suicides! / The Three R's... Repetition... Repetition... Repetition / All has been forgotten as repetition is forbidden" (M. Smith c1977)
Probably one of the greatest songs I've ever witnessed. Simple as that.
"This is our last song..." (huge cheer), my one regret is driving here tonight, this is Hey Fascist!"
There is no anger on the band's part just a sort of dry disgust. Nothing to do with "you should appreciate us" thinking but a sort of what is the fucking point? I remember I was standing at the front and feeling totally in league with a group who under atrocious conditions (though luckily not soundwise) had me feel angry/passionate and useless and wanting to burst among these morons playing British Bulldog and do the decent thing like Sir Donald Woolfit in am old film. But, of course, I just stood and clapped loudly.
I could describe the set and the music at length but you tell me words I could use that would make you feel. After all we've all just come out of 1977 (well most of us) and how many reviews have you read that end in "Go and see em" or "Miss these and it's your loss"?
Maybe the only thing is to appeal to your sense of cultishness (!) and say it's hip to see them before they get BIG. But, God knows that would be silly when they've been around a Year and I've just seen them.
"When I'm looking for work / Always you seem to meet / Car coat on / Steel boots on your feet / Write your letters to the Evening News / Finger my knife / Sing this tune / Hey fascist Hey fascist Hey fascist / Your gonna get it through the head / The dead director of the BBC / I'm sure he would have loved to see / Swastikas in swimming pools / Finger my knife / Sing this tune / Hey Fascist Hey Fascist Hey Fascist / I said a wok-a-too-ma!"
I think that was the last song and I remember feeling it was disappointing musically. A bit wonoofreeforish. But no matter. I had been disturbed and stimulated.
I clambered up and rushed behind to the 'dressing room' spouting off and being generally twitish on the rush of it all. Stuff your cheap comment I know what I felt.
"Manchester's pretty healthy at the moment, although it'll probably go the same as London eventually (eg cliques!). The music should not be kept in the clubs. We play pubs, youth clubs, benefits by choice. It's a total contradiction to have New Wave in places where the under-eighteens can't get in, i.e. Rafters where the audience is often solely piss artist posers and punk personalities. We try to avoid colleges as we dislike privileges and monopolies on rock music (Huddersfield's organisation was ok tho').
"When we played the Marquee it was great but The Frightened Ones threw things. "Under Heavy Manners" objected to our posturing, but we don't take criticism from white honkies trying to identify with Jamaican culture very seriously anyway.
"Our old bassist, Tony Friel, is now with Magazine's old keyboard player and into experimental music. Una's pretty into feminism but thinks we should all march under our own banners ("WE ALL DO!")
"An EP is out soon on New Hormones. Tracks: "Psycho Mafia", "Bingo Master's Break-Out", "Frightened" and "Repetition". It lasts for 17 minutes. People have tried to tell us volume will suffer and "Frightened" is out of time slightly. If people couldn't turn the volume up they wouldn't buy it!
"However now it's clean new watered down new wave coutesy pop beat. Watered down diary already. "It's a hung jury" (R Boon), The Manchester Underground. "Take notice of me I probably work for a record company" D L Travis
"All he sees is back of chairs / In the mirror lack of hairs /A light realm which he fills out/ Hear the players all about / Bingo Masters Break-Out! /A hall full of cards left unfilled / Ended his life with wine and pills / There's a grave somewhere only partially filled /A sign in a graveyard reads Bingo Master's Break-Out!" (M. Smith c77)
I've asked you once; what can I say to make you feel enough to emphasise how important this band are to rock music and me and hopefully, you. Probably you'll turn the page and that will be it, I don't blame you, I've read too many reports like this as well.
"Ain't many bands fit to lick the Fall's plectrum," I wish I had said that, I have told you the absolute truth how I feel. This is a thirty pence magazine.
Fair enough, turn over.
January 29: The more I think about it. I don't care if you LISTEN or not.