Ian Gittins, "Manchester United"
MELODY MAKER, February 26, 1994, p. 7
Inspiral Carpets team-up with Mark E. Smith! For a one-off collaboration called "I Want You"! Psychedelic optimism meets psychedelic miserabilism!
THE SCENE: A MANCHESTER HOTEL
room on a grey, endless Saturday afternoon. Numerous beer cans on the floor. Mark E Smith, veteran singer and lateral thinker with The Fall, is regaling four chunky Inspiral Carpets with the account of his introduction to the video to their joint single, "I Want You." It were a live video," he rasps, in that inimitable Smithian whine. "So I got on stage and said to the camera, a plane full of Americans crashed in New York yesterday. I were dead upset. There were four empty seats on it. ..
So here we go, then.
'WE'RE pop, like The Archies,' says the Inspiral's Clint Boon. 'Or The Partridge Family. And The Fall, The Fall are ... well, there isn't a category for what they do.'
It's one of the year's odder collaborations. Baggy survivors and chart-regular Crazy Gang InspiraI Carpets team up with professional sark merchant Mark E Smith for one of the more singular, slyly thunderous singles of recent moons. Inspiral's keyboardist Clint Boon-bowl-headed no more -- thinks it sounds like The Dead Kennedys. He's not totally right, but he's not totally wrong, either.
So we're running up a rowdy rob[?] in a plush Manc suite. A tipsy Smith has ordered up five extra chairs, though nobody knows why. Graham Inspiral has knobbed off to Oldham, to report on the football match with Southampton for John Peel's radio programme.
And the rest of us, well, the rest of us are watching 'Brookside', where permed dickhead Terry has just told Barry Grant that he's going to join creepy Simon's Moonies-style religious cult, and Barry has inexplicably replied, 'Think hard, Terry lad. Even Jesus had a trade behind him.'
"Jesus had a trade behind him?", explodes an incredulous Smith, reliable as rain. 'Fucking hell, mon! They're fucking thick, aren't they, Scousers? Fucking mad bastards! I've just finished a residency in Liverpool. I've never seen so many fucking ugly people.
It's good to know that, in on unpredictable world some things simply never change.
WHAT are the worst rock collaborations you can think of?
Clint: 'Bing Crosby and David Bowie!"
Martin: 'No, Suede and David Bowie, in a fucking interview!"
"I WANT You", featuring the Inspirals' typically psychedelic tinny pop topped with Smith's trademark acerbic snarl, is a pleasant little single. This doesn't mean, however, that it isn't a fucking weird idea.
How did it happen ?
The usually motormouth Inspiral Carpets came over all bashful. 'We all like The Fall, says singer Tom. "Always have. We thought Mark would say 'Fuck off' when we asked him.
Clint: 'But he said: 'Get me a bottle of Pils and I'II be there in a minute. It was great! I've always admired The Fall. I saw 'em at the Electric Circus in 1978 and I didn't spit at 'em!"
You don't think people will see if as being to your mutual advantage? The Inspirals manage to pick up a few valuable cred points while Mr Smith gratefully scares some much-needed chart action?
Martin: 'No, that's bollocks! If we just wanted sales, we'd ask Bobby Gillespie or same fucker like that!"
Clint: "Yeah, or look at who's big in America and ask some cunt out of Pearl Jam. No, we all admire The Fall a lot. Oh it's hard to talk with brown stuff on the end of your tongue, innit?"
Inspiral's drummer Craig summarises the complexities of our on-going debate with a burst of inspired articulacy.
"We think this track is fucking great, right, and at the end of the day if any fuckers don't like it, it's fucking arse bollocks to 'em.
MARK E Smith, wary, truculent and more than a few quilts to the wind, makes it clear he wouldn't normally do this kind of thing.
'I'm very down on working with other people,' he drawls. 'I think it's fucking phoney. I put all my bands on contracts, so they can't do it."
So you're not keen an a New Order-style arrangement, where all the band members have at least one splinter group on the go?
'No, not at all. I think it's a load of old horseshit. I think it's very hippy, very phoney, like supergroups."
'And the Electronic's album's bollocks, innit?' suggests Craig, coyly. 'It's just like New Order but with Johnny Marr in it, and Barney trying to be a fucking rapper and sounding like a cunt'.
Plus, I continue, collaborations haven't been given a great name by the recent Sting/ Adams/ Stewart atrocity (I do love playing Devil's Advocate... )
"Yeah, don't you think Sting's got enough fucking money ?" wonders Smith. It's like Paul McCartney. If I were Paul McCartney, earning L300,000 a year from Beatles royalties, I wouldn't even go out of me bloody house!" He pauses, and corrects himself. 'But I've got something to say, that's why I carry on. And Mark E Smith proves the point by embarking on an epic rant to clear the air around this latest project. 'I don' like groups, right? I hate being with fucking musicians. But I like the Inspirals, I've got a soft spot for them. People say they've ripped off The Fall. But they haven't. I know rip-offs when I hear 'em. I mean, I'd never have worked with the Happy Mondays...
"I've been offered all sorts, me. People ask me to work with them all the time. Bowie. Lou Reed. People get desperate and want some help. Or they want credibility, some seriousness, cos their young fans are growing up. Blow Monkeys. Boy George. I tell 'em all fucking no.
'Nirvana have asked me. Dinosaur Jr. They all want me to sing or produce 'em. John Cale. I get millionaire bassists phoning me up saying they'll play guitar on my LP, they'll do it for nothing, they'll roadie for me. Madonna's session men. Mick Jagger's. I tell 'em fuck off, right? The last thing The Fall need is another fucking guitarist!
'So why did I do this? Cos I like the Inspirals, mon. They're pure pop and they're brilliant and you should never fucking knock them. The Fall's so different, and that's why this works.
Clint: So will you play one or two dates with us, Mark?'
Mark E Smith: 'No.'