Fall News - 22 May 2000

Tour Dates:

24 May London LA2
12 June Ashton Witchwood
13 June Hull Adelphi
14 June Middlesborough Corner House
15 June Glasgow King Tuts
16 June Edinburgh Liquid Room
17 June Dundee Fat Sams
18 June Aberdeen Glow 303


Ashton Witchwood tickets available through www.ticketline.co.uk




I've uploaded three great shots Graham Wrigley kindly sent me this morning, from The Warehouse, Liverpool Dec. 3 1982 gig.


If anyone has old photos they took at Fall gigs, please email them to me and I'll give them a good home.

Coming soon, a bunch of photos from the Wrexham Yales gig.


The Italian zine Blow Up has an eight and a half page spread on The Fall in its Maggio 2000 issue (#24), headlined 'The Decline and Fall of English Empire'.


Paul Saxton:

There's a free CD you (one) can order from the Peoplesound website which contains a track by our pals DOSE. It's quite good. The rest of the stuff on it is unmitigated shite. But what do you want for nothing?



Peter Reavy:

Words and MIDI for The British Grenadiers:




Subject: <fallnet> Artists at the Edge of Obscurity reviews



Artist: The Fall Title: "The Twenty Seven Points"

KFJC new album review (October 4, 1995) Recorded live from 92 to 95, the sound is pretty good with the crowd mixed very low. Some great versions, some good angst, and some throw away jokes, and rants. You know what to expect. Mark E. Smith and his affected voice, beat driven strummage that make the Fall instantly recognizable. The last CD showed some of their old tricks. I think that is a good thing. I love the sound and hope they don't change too much. They have lasted long enough to make their own genre. Big New, Pharmacist and Strychnine are just some of the gems you will want to check out. Corrected CD sequence is on the sleeve. - Hairy Kari

Artist: The Fall Title: "Cerebral Caustic" There are 3 or 4 gems in this somewhat disappointing bag of noise. Among them "Bonkers in Phoenix" and "Pearl City". - Agent 99


Paul Saxton:

The music365 website is currently running its albums of the millennium thing, where they and we get to vote and...

Anyway, there are a few Fall LPs in there. To save you the trouble, here's what they say about them:

THE FALL 458489 A-SIDES, 1990 The Fall’s residence at the major-backed indie Beggars Banquet was not only the lengthiest relationship the band enjoyed with a label, but coincided with their commercial peak, such as it was. Listening back to this complete round-up of singles they made for the label between 1984 and 1989, it seems an unjust world that let this band only have one measly Top 30 UK hit. Their cover of R. Dean Taylor’s Northern Soul classic There’s A Ghost In My House furnished Mark E. Smith’s mavericks with said hit. Great though it is, the fabulousness of so much of the rest of what’s here suggests a grave injustice has been committed. Hit The North, the Papal conspiracy tract Hey! Luciani and – in particular – the episodic masterpiece Cruisers Creek would have graced any singles chart. STANDOUT TRACKS: Cruisers Creek, No Bulbs 3 REMARKABLY: The most cacophonous track here, the one most unlikely to get on the radio, Wrong Place, Right Time No 2, was produced by Ian Broudie of Lightning Seeds fame. AB

THE FALL 458489 B-SIDES, 1990 The cliché about bands with B Sides better than A Sides has rarely been as appropriate as in the case of The Fall. This companion double album to the A Sides collection ought to be a hotbed of experimentation, navel-gazing and unlistenable tripe, but more or less everything here is wonderful. It wasn’t until their move to Beggars Banquet that The Fall even put their A Sides on albums – and even during this period, only five of their 17 singles appeared unaltered on LPs. The 25 tracks here, then, are a manna for anyone who missed the 12”-inch with free 7-inch limited edition sort of releases The Fall specialised in. And the tracks, sequenced chronologically, offer a better insight into the development of the band’s muscular, riff-laden sound than available elsewhere. Standouts are many, from the bruising Pat-Trip Dispenser and Hot Aftershave Bop (surely the “inspiration” for Blur’s Popscene) through the spacious, almost dubby Mark’ll Sink Us and on to the neo-rockabilly of Guest Informant and the televangelist-baiting Lucifer Over Lancashire.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Shoulder Pads #1B, Draygo’s Guilt
REMARKABLY: Nobody has as yet managed to compile similarly complete albums of The Fall’s brilliant pre-Beggars Banquet output. AB

THE FALL HEX ENDUCTION HOUR, 1982 Intended by Mark E Smith to be the final Fall album and, bearing in mind the awful Brix Smith-inspired lumpiness which was shortly to follow, it should have been. With a dual-drummer attack making the sound even denser than before and Smith in malevolent mood, it’s one of the scariest albums ever made – as proved when director Jonathan Demme tabbed Hip Priest for one of the serial killer’s favourite tracks in his Silence Of The Lambs. Opener The Classical is probably the greatest Fall track ever, closer And This Day is perhaps the best of their numerous Sister Ray rip-offs.
STANDOUT TRACKS: The Classical, Hip Priest
REMARKABLY: According to Smith, The Classical’s appeal “where are the obligatory niggers?” scuppered a virtually signed-and-sealed deal with Motown.

THE FALL I AM KURIOUS ORANJ, 1988 For some unknowable reason, The Fall spent most of 1988 writing, recording and performing live music to accompany an avant garde ballet about William Of Orange named after a notorious pornographic film. Shortly thereafter Brix Smith took off with Aston Villa-supporting violinist Nigel Kennedy and the mainstream’s dalliance with The Fall ended. Perhaps this brush with the snobbish highbrow cultural world was doomed from the start. Performed in Amsterdam and London’s Sadler’s Wells, I Am Kurious Oranj was the brainchild of classical dance’s enfant terrible, Michael Clark, who enjoyed outraging the staid ballet world by dancing in a costume with his bum hanging out. The Fall’s music underwent no real radical changes to fit Clark’s artistic vision, although there’s a certain reining in evident here and it’s far from being one of the band’s better records. A typically unrecognisable adaptation of William Blake’s Jerusalem (“It was the fault of the government”, spits Smith, relating how he’d tripped over on the pavement and cut his face on a loose brick; “I was very let down with the budget – I was expecting a million quid handout. I was very disappointed”) shares space with daft things like Win Fall C.D. 2080 and the rudimentarily effective Wrong Place, Right Time.
STANDOUT TRACKS: New Big Prinz, Cab It Up!
REMARKABLY: Some people took it all very seriously at the time. AB

THE FALL SLATES, 1981 “Here’s the definitive rant/Slates drive me bats/Therefore I say/Hey slates give us a break,” begins the title track, and although the listener has not the foggiest what Mark E. Smith is on about, it seems churlish to disagree given the vigour with which the lines are delivered. The rest of this seminal 10-incher is the sound of a band at the top of its form; Smith, full of piss and vinegar, preaching over a slack-but-tight rhythm section including future Radio One DJ Marc Riley. It all concludes with the masterful Leave The Capitol, a bile-ridden tribute to London which makes Smith’s amphetamine-ridden North Manchester manor seem positively tempting by comparison.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Prole Art Threat, Slates Slags Etc
REMARKABLY: British middleweight boxer Alan Minter is lauded on Fit & Working Again for stepping back in the ring following his punishing 1980 destruction by Marvellous Marvin Hagler. SA

THE FALL THIS NATION’S SAVING GRACE, 1985 After a decade spent experimenting with repetitious, noisy, acerbic rock, Mark E Smith’s ever-changing retinue of Mancunian musicians found themselves ensconced, mid-‘80s, on a major affiliated label and with the serious prospect of chart success looming. The Fall had attained some sort of stability of line-up, Smith’s American wife, Brix, adding a touch of glamour, while Beggars Banquet’s WEA affiliation meant the band had some money to spend on studios for the first time. It was against this backdrop that the band recorded what is generally held to be their most consistent, coherent, complete long player. This Nation’s Saving Grace, in truth, isn’t a particularly accessible record, really being only the sum of The Fall’s experience and the natural end product of the continual honing of their particular creative process. Smith still barks through a megaphone, ranting apparently incoherently but with focused barbs shot out in all directions at once. Its acceptance was really more to do with the rest of the world catching up with Smith and beginning to understand what he and his by now excellent band were doing rather than a result of any compromise on their part.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Gut Of The Quantifier, Bombast
REMARKABLY: In My New House, Smith waxes lyrical about creosoting the fence. AB


Paul Hopkins:

I thought I remembered reading a fairly interesting MES interview in the Irish mag Hot Press around 82'ish, so I emailed their back issues dept. They couldn't come up with it, but they did fax me their very peculiar HEH review and a gig review from the same period. So here they are:


The Fall: "Hex Enduction Hour" (Kamera)

The Fall are a British underground comic book, an ever-shifting sequence of surreal, often badly drawn pictures of moles floating over machine-cities with obscure speech bubbles emerging from their mouths: "What of it, eh?"

There are many examples of the path Mark E. Smith ambles along: at its worst the path branches off to certain aspects of performance art where the artist's self-satisfaction appears to be the be-all and end all, at its best it follows the crooked highway of James Joyce and William Burroughs, where what is presented has a magic of flow and craftsmanship and unconscious appeals, although to go deeper one must be prepared to spend laboured hours working over and over to glean whatever gems of information/inspiration might be buried beneath a surface of complex illusion.

I gasp at the pretension that seems to lurch forward from that paragraph. Eeek! Why can't I say "This is pop: good/all right/bad/redundant (tick whichever best applies)"? But the fact is, it is The Fall themselves who take us out of our familiar hunting ground and into another. The Fall are at a certain extreme of art, i.e. where anything goes. But though such extremes are intellectually appealing (going where no man has gone before) they are often of the least value, either to artist or listener: The Fall are more common artists. They con many people into believing they have something to offer and possibly con themselves, possibly not. Call me a charlatan but call me a cab, I have to get straight to another paragraph.

Without getting into arguments on the nature and purpose (etc.) of art (boundaries cannot and should not be drawn), the lack of value in the Fall is that they do not communicate. Musically they provide barrages of noise and guitar riffs that work most effectively (as on "And This Day" and "Jawbone and the Air-Rifle") when they come closest to standard rock. Elsewhere they are neither particularly new nor particularly intellectually or emotionally affective. It's just half-cocked punky chants of the type concocted by numerous jokey support bands. If it is meant to be minimalist or primitive then it fatally ignores the true primativism of the strong melody and accessible lyrics found in folk music.

Lyrically The Fall have nothing to boast of. There is no Beefheartian sense of joy in the words. There are no great insights, no real communication, no evocation of feelings. There is only Mark E. Smith's melodramatic drawl, delivering such profundities as "And this day no matter what and never or who fills baskets or who's just there, the whole earth shudders/ You show me the bloody poor bores/ The surroundings are screaming on the roads, so you even mistrust your own feeling/ And this day, the old feelings come back: Big basket full s'-park s'mart/ Everywhere just no fucking respite for us here, John Kidder/ And this day, it will soon heal up."

Oh yeah? Mark E. Smith drawls words filled with promise, but promises that are never fulfilled. He does not communicate. He does not evoke. He baffles.... and he enjoys doing so.

The worst thing about the Fall is their bullshit. Their scribbled sleeve-notes serve no purpose but to confuse further: "Lie-Dream 80% of 10% OR 6% over no less than 1/4 = ??????" is what they have to say about the track "Just Step S'ways". Their press release proudly proclaims that "'And This Day' intends to intimidate the listener into the Fall's intelligence thru noise waves". They also rather proudly include two reviews of this album which seem to treasure the fact that they cannot comprehend what's going on there. Collin Irwin of Melody Maker writes almost boastfully that he has no idea what the title "Hex Enduction Hour" represents, 'I've already spent two sleepless nights and a thousand theories on the significance of that one', and writes of the lyrics that 'Smith's vocals are mixed so low that the task of decipehering his crumbs of lyrical genius becomes a job for MI5 codebreakers'.

What is supposed to be the point of all this worrying and deciphering? Are you seriously supposed to approach the Fall like a scholar, piecing together the garbled noises and phrases until WHAM! Everything is one. The meaning of life is clear. "Two sleepless nights and a thousand theories" demonstrates only that "Hex Enduction Hour" has no significance.

Irwin writes that "tolerance and intelligence are put to ever more stringent tests", but there is precious little tolerance or intelligence on display. I have listened to this l.p. a number of times and find no use for it as either entertainment or information. Colin Irwin would appear to have listened to it a lot more and while having made as little of it as I have, he treats it with reverence, because he believes there is something there in the spoutings of hip priest Smith. I believe there is nothing of great value: no great pop music, no great art.

Commercial art is the most maligned of art directions. Mark E. Smith is doggedly uncommercial and often treated as some kind of genius for it, but the path he forges is probably the easiest of all. If anything can go there, one short Mancunian is not going to have too many problems.

Neil McCormick

The Fall (McGonagles)

I don't agree with Neil McCormick's estimate of The Fall (as elaborated in his review of "Hex Enduction Hour" last issue) but I can empathise with his reasons. "Hex Enduction" benefits from the second-guess environment of the studio and Richard Mazda's clipped incisive production. At McGonagle's, they didn't have such amenities. I've heard the album so I can't agree with Neil but if I had only caught them at that date, my opinions could have been reversed.

Untangle the threads of the two themes. First we've got another species of art-damaged rock. It isn't yet as pernicious as the now rightly condemned, ghastly and misconceived seizure of classical efforts by 70's rockers but it's potentially as dangerous because less forthright and identifiable. Concept is all and though The Fall muscle out their space of independence, they aren't untouched by the syndrome. Methinks their audience is highly willing to join the numbers and submit The Fall to the definition of "ART". Do I detect a mutual flattery?

The comment's only made because certain shared assumptions that promote The Fall as folk-artists of the new industrial age (or whatever else caption their fans decide they're trading under this week) allow them to present a lazy set that makes a fetish of their poverty.

In the beginning, The Ramones re-ordered the live set, dedicating themselves to furiously concentarted onslaught. Now bands faced with a backlog of material can't be so economic, but if dry ice and all such technoflash mannerisms have been prudently foresworn, no new disciplines have been developed. Instead they're neither primitive nor polished. Just like The Fall, who started with grating relish, then got exhausting.

I got sucked in and then began to lose it as they stuck in the same gear. Mark Smith slyly orated against their savage patchwork and by "Hip Priest" he had caused mucho provocation with a punky sector of the audience who objected to this tourist's jeers. From her vantage point at the mixing desk, Fall Manager Kay Carroll alternately cursed and cheered as the unbelievers threatened pre-emptive action. "This time I'm prepared to overlook it", said the victim.

If later the guitars choked the speakers and needed attention, that was no mortal blunder. But as the double-drummered Fall banged on, Smith's singing telegrams became inaudible. After such broadsides and broadswords, I longed for a rapier.

Entrenched in their own private world, The Fall demand intense belief and this nightwatchman's agnosticism was not on the agenda. So it goes as long as The Fall accept that for live performance reversing the terms is not changing them.

Bill Graham


Philip Johnson

From 'Hail The New Puritan', Channel 4, 1986. I'm transcribing this from an audio tape, but as I remember this sequence simply featured the three of them sitting together in front of a dark background.

Note: at several points shown here in square brackets their voices are double-tracked, mostly saying the same thing out of sync, but with occasional variations.


MES: The refusal of genius to fulfil its destiny has been a problem of mankind's since 1911. Pap-art nor ghoulish tinkering is not science. That old geek philosopher Alvin Stardust once said "Bob Geldorf (sic) for President, that's my motto." This denial of [creation towards/creation gave] M. Clark, a man who doesn't know where that reality is, or where that hack lives, but gleans that [something/something] is future, and unbeknown but half-told has the [quirk that makes him] innovate.

Brix: How can we quantify the mongolisation of [class and soccer via Frankie Goes To, and Ipswich]/Oxford United [gross imposition of obscenity?]

MC: I'm the Scottish yin. I cannae recompense for my glory-grabbing. Read 'gold', no glory.

MES: How can we quantify the destruction the Polish have wrought on us? Some wash so much their features are eroded. Stick that in the gut of your average British ad anti-aye(?) Leftist qualify merchant.

Brix: Round my rein (reign? rain?)... (starts laughing)... they all embrace the persuaders of Lavender Hill, (laughing) fireworks in hand, like perfume pelt from rooftops gathered. The windowsills on smokeless South-West homes.

MES: Mm, but computer trust will be the death of the American brain. Can we, er, rise out of this? Can we shirk the republican bog?

MC: Menfolk were deft, but the real populist was steeped in panache. I glittered with spirits of cheap liquor and newsagent perfume. And newsagent perfume. And newsagent perfume.

MES: Well, Mike, this is the scab you must take on. The computer hamlets, inefficient in their cock-ups, are not something to dance past.

MC: Thank you.



Leigh Panlilio:

Subject: <fallnet> BOC are short...

A quote, believed to be by Eric Bloom, was printed in *Raves* magazine: "We're one of the shortest bands in rock." So, here are the heights of the original members (shortest to tallest):

Buck Dharma - 5 feet, 2 inches
Albert Bouchard - 5 feet, 3 inches
Joe Bouchard - 5 feet, 4 inches
Eric Bloom - 5 feet, 7 inches
Allen Lanier - 5 feet, 8 inches

Recent news.... logo-a-go-go

000502 bits & pieces
000424 TBLY #19 details, Prop details
000408 more Leeds reviews. WSC interview, other interview snippets
000326 Doncaster, York, Leeds reviews, BravEar interview (plus others)
000314 various reviews, old Liz Kershaw i/view
000224 Past Gone Mad details
000213 few bits & pieces
000130 tour details, Tommy Blake stuff
000120 TBLY #18 details, Hanley in Mojo
000110 Dragnet doylum, New Year message, etc

Old stuff: Nov 1997 - Dec 1999

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