Fall News 5 March 2001

This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet for those with weak stomachs.

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ta to biv for this

Recent news....

010128 World Bewitched details
010101 some ace Castlefield pics
001219 more reviews
001201 tour reviews, crap interviews
001110 Unutterable reviews
001021 Stanza festival, HighSmith Teeth, comedy dogs
001011 RFH reviews, new Cog Sinister releases
000912 DOSE interview, Fall calendar
000822 Portugal, Manchester gigs 
000809 bits & pieces
000723 Psykick Dance Hall, Pure As Oranj details, Triple Gang reviews
000709 few bits
000620 Ashton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Edinburgh reviews, old Volume piece
000530 LA2 reviews
000522 few old LP reviews
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


The Fall play the following European gigs in April:

5/ Sneek Bolwerk
6/ Haarlem Patronaat
7/ Amsterdam Melkweg
8/ Bielfeld (now v. unlikely)

A spoken word performance at Trinity College, Dublin on Apr 12

And, with band, back in the UK:

Apr 16/ Newport TJ's
17/ Brighton Concorde 2
18/ Maidstone The Union Bar
19/ Colchester Arts Centre
20/ Norwich Arts Centre
21/ Milton Keynes Woughton Centre
22/ Oxford Zodiac
23/ London Mean Fiddler
24/ Birmingham Academy 2
25/ Macclesfield Bar Cuba

Dublin Red Box on 24th Feb

From: Maurice Leahy

Two words:
Utter bollocks.


I do recall how a nice touch was leant to the traditional stage exits and entrances by the way there's a stairway down from backstage to the stage. and how sons of temperance was an utter shambles - couple of restarts, dat tape embarrasingly evident in background. and mark was wearing a very bright white shirt.

and midwatch. with a guest vox - wasn't gavin friday (he was in attendance - with another ex- virgin prune - called 'guppy' or something I think). midwatch was quite a surprise, sounded great too.

and f'oldin' money was a highlight - they usually fuck it up royally but tonite it sounded great. hot runes sounded great too.

two librans sounded weak to say the least, which was a real dissappointment because I was buzzing all day over the prospect of hearing it live again. no hands up billy neither. I think.

the sound throughout was all big bass and big slapping drum punches which was good. the guitars were a bit wa-wa distortion pedal sorta style, and we even got a big extended drum roll at one point.

has to be said tho' - all the non-fall-fans that came along with me were blown away, buzzed, smitten, and just might be persuaded to come again

a bread-n'-butttttre fall gig then - all pomp and too much circumstancial

So now I hear that, in fact, t'fall were onstage in Dublin with stand-ins for Adam and Nev.

From: "Dave Leahy"

First up I am not a Fall fan in any sense of the word. I have however seen them twice, the previous time was also in Dublin in the Mean Fiddler about 5 years ago. I went to the gig in the Redbox in Dublin last Saturday with 2 like minded individuals plus one die hard fan (this is an understatment to say the very least). The first time I saw them they were excellent, gave a great show and the crowd loved it. Last Saturday was in a word......tragic. They appeared on stage looking confused. When the man himself arrived it was clear he was worse for the wear of something. The band with the exception of the drummer constantly looked to each other , stopping frequently seemingly confused as to what to do next. Four or five songs ended in total confusion it seemed as the 'great man' Mark E Smith walked around babbling incorehently while messing with the amplifiers only adding to the confusion. Cryptically he drawled 'this isnt what you expected is it?' after about the fourth song. Well no Mr Smith it was certainly no what we expected. Just to put some perspective on this, the support band quite literally blew the fall off the stage and they were average. Usually this would not bother me as I say I am not a fan but the die hard *paid hard earned cash* for these tickets...is this the kind of value the hero of the working class gives to his fans. I am without doubt a lot of fans were lost that night. Left me very far from acknowledging the alleged genius and greatness of this band. I cant help thinking that this band has been like a long version of the Emperors New Clothes.

michael brown:

I thought they started really well with 'touch sensitive' and 'way round' but it definitely went a bit pear shaped with 'sons of temperance' which seemed to have picked up a nasty bug because it's a great song (they made a right mess of it)....i also thought 'two librans' would have been a lot better because i think it's an absolute classic...i thought the big disappointment of the night was that it seemed like a really short gig compared to the last few times i've seen them in dublin...also the crowd didn't seem as enthusiastic as they should have been...i lost count of the number of people who were pushing me out of the way to get to the bloody bar..maybe that's what you get when you have more music journalists around...i don't know why people bother sometimes..

...still it was the first time i've seen the new line-up and i think they're excellent....if only they'd played a few more songs.....


[The fact that they were stand-ins] explains a lot to me, as well, and I'm quite relieved to hear it. They were all committed enough but they seemed under-rehearsed and didn't have a particularly clear idea of what they were doing. The altered line-up also explains Mark's comment along the lines of "it wasn't what you expected".

I'm with you about Midwatch. That was enough of a spectacle to lift it above the band's aimlessness. The two non-fans who were with us also said they enjoyed the concert so there was definitely enough happening to impress the more neutral observers. As for me, it was good to see the Fall again, but musically it was a bit of a non-event.

David Roe:

Did I write that. Maybe I'm dreaming now.

I am a Fall fan in most senses of the word. I've seen them live about seven or eight times over the last twelve years or so I think.

Last Saturday may not have been the worst I've seen them, but it was far from the best. I'd put all problems down to Mr. Smith getting royally ratarsed before the show, and also possibly a certain 'Dublin will lap any old shite up' attitude that he's shown before. Noting new there.

I think he would have benefitted from the podium that they used to lug around not so long ago. It used to give him some sort of focus, and something to hold onto at wobbly moments, and of course, he had the words right there in front of him instead of being left to mumble incoherently and then suddenly shout the first couple of chorus lines before lapsing into a rubber-faced silent grimmace.

It was my first time seeing this line-up too and I thought the sound was good. They can pump it out, but it'll be a while before they can match the sneering stomp of the linup circa White Lightnin' and High Tension Line. (89?, 90?) Better than anything since then though, I reckon.


Got a Fall digest there and was forced to read it (okay more interesting than what I was working on). Most of it was your own reflections on the gig last Saturday. I clocked the time that they played as being about 65 minutes not taking into account the time Smith shuffled off up the stairs and the curly haired guy spouted what I presume were Smiths spoken word creations.

I even noticed that Sons of Temperance fell apart in the middle, but the fact that it survived till the end section was a miracle, but it showed a sort of musical determination (oh how naive, how fey). Based on limited previous experience I would have thought Smith would have stopping the track entirely in it's, well, tracks.

"I walked a dark corridor of my heart" I noticed was used in more than one song too, he must like that lyric. I thought they mangled all the tracks, without exception. There wasn't one that sounded like the way it does on the record (I mean with the same beginning, middle and end), but then I expected that. It was sloppy and raw, and the best bit about it, and this is why it appealled to non fall fans, or just those not familiar with the new band and the new material, was the raw and funky sound. it was just one long stretch of stuff that sounded the same...but good.

Seeing as it is the only Fall gig I'll see this year I was happy with it.

From the Jan issue of The Wire, many thanks for permission etc:

THE WIRE Magazine: Adventures In Modern Music

Mark E Smith
Tested by Edwin Pouncey

Mark E(dward) Smith is the mastermind behind The Fall, the group which he formed in his home town of Manchester in the late 70s after quitting his job as a shipping clerk. Since then he has nurtured and steered the various musicians and performers he has come into contact with over the years through nearly 35 albums and 27 different line-ups. The latest Fall album (released on new label Eagle Rock) is called The Unutterable, a title which may refer to Smith's fascination with the work of American Gothic horror writer HP Lovecraft. But trying to pinpoint exactly what goes on in Smith's head is a dubious task that inevitably throws up more questions than answers. The music on The Unutterable - featuring keyboard player Julia Nagle, guitarist Neville Wilding, bass player Adam Hala and drummer Tom Head, together with a guest appearance from Kazuko Hohki of The Frank Chickens - is a giddy mix of futuristic Techno crush, razored rockabilly and punk rock machine head meltdown, all superglued together with Smith's domineering nasal snarl.

Prior to The Unutterable, the group released The Marshall Suite on Artful Records, together with a solo spoken word album from Smith titled The Post Nearly Man. This last project prompted him to give a public reading of his poetry and lyrics in London, eliciting a response that, according to him, was favourable and fulfilling.
Although he prefers to live in the familiar territory of Manchester, he avoids acknowledging that his ideas as a writer and a musician belong to any particular place other than 'Planet Mark'. "I don't know, because I'm neither British or American," he replies when probed for his thoughts on what makes UK rock musicians different from their US counterparts. "I'm not anything." The Jukebox took place one stormy December evening in Prestwich, Manchester.

"Johnny B Goode" from Let's Go Spiders (Big Beat) 1966
It's obvious what the song is, but can you tell the nationality of the group?
[After listening intently for several minutes] Japanese. You can tell by the pitch.
You're right! How does the pitch reveal where they originate?
It's not French, because the French play rock 'n' roll in a different style. They play it really over the top. The Japanese get it pretty much on the ball. That's a bit of a good one actually.
It's by a 60s group called The Spiders. Do you like the way the Japanese embrace rock 'n' roll and make it their own thing?
I like some of those attacking groups, a lot of the ones who did that Speed Metal which was like a minute and a half long. I can't remember their names but they're really good. I'm a big Damo [Suzuki, former Can vocalist] fan as well.
Do you listen to his new stuff?
When he sends it to me.

"Faust" from Faust (Durtro) 2000
[Minutes pass] No idea.
It's music from Current Ninety Three that was inspired by a previously unpublished supernatural story by decadent writer Eric, Count Stenbock.
It sounds sort of like cheap film music. I don't think you can put those kind of stories on to film. It's all in the imagination.
Your Post Nearly Man spoken word CD opens with "The Horror In Clay", which is based on the first section of HP Lovecraft's cosmic horror story The Call Of Cthulhu. Can you tell me about that?
I changed it a bit so it was set in Penzance, which is where I wrote it. It was when the Teletubbies came out actually, so the fellow who is reading it out was like a bloke who goes mountain climbing and this sun comes up with a big evil Teletubbies baby grin on its face. It was like Glastonbury gone wrong really. I tried to zip it up a bit. Few people understood it because there's no beginning and no end to it.
[Dramatically] "The Horror In Clay"! It is good, isn't it? I'm glad somebody else likes it. You're the only one! And a couple of Portuguese people [laughs].
Do you keep returning to Lovecraft?
Yeah, very much. I still read him. I went round to Providence [Rhode Island] where he lived when I was in America and you can see it all. I thought, 'Bloody hell, there's enough material there to last you a lifetime.'
Do you like this?
It's OK, yeah. I had a tape like that called Purgatory by this group called Evil and it was the most frightening thing you've ever heard in your life. I think they were American or something. I taped over it because it was doing my head in. It was like that in a way, it was terrifying.

"Every Nigga Is A Winner" from Mr Funny (Pressure Sounds) 1972
[Turns volume up] It's like slow Big Youth. Same lyrics.
It's Prince Jazzbo.
Aw, it wasn't, was it? We were only talking about him today [calls partner in to listen]. We were talking about this LP called Prince Jazzbo Vs I Roy [Step Forward Youth]. [Sings] "I Roy you a boy, you imitate the great U Roy" [much laughter]. Great lyric. Is that new?
It's a new compilation, yes.
He has no shame, Prince Jazzbo, he just rips off everybody. On the other side of this LP it's got I Roy going [sings], "Prince Jazzbo don't bother me, you don't have an idea in your head, you taped everybody, soon you will be dead" [laughs]. It's fucking great.
That DJ battle sparked off a rash of versions.
Yeah, I know. I've got them all [looks at cover]. Can I grab that one?
Roots reggae was huge when The Fall first started.
Were you always a fan?
Well, I liked dub music, Augustus Pablo. It was the only thing around worth listening to for a while, wasn't it?

"Decomposition 002.1.1" from Untitled Ten (Extreme) 1997
There's a school of music like that in Manchester, where they play records with needles made out of wood.
It's Japanese noise. It's by Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow.
It doesn't go far enough for me. It's a bit like a Can outtake without the drums, or Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.
It's very like Metal Machine Music. Do you like that album?
Metal Machine Music just cleans your head out. I like that, it's my favourite. It's the best thing Lou Reed ever did. It was when he went bonkers, wasn't it? I had gone right off him by then. I was a big fan at one time, but after Transformer I lost interest in what he was doing. Then he brought Metal Machine Music out and I thought it was just brilliant.
Did you buy it when it first came out in 1975?
Yeah. I was buying it when everybody else was taking it back [laughs]. People were wanting their money back. Did you hear Ecstasy, his last record?
I'd like to hear it. The reviews he got for that last record were terrible and so I quite fancy listening to it.
You must hear "Like A Possum", this long electric guitar rant which is the best track on it.
Yeah, I read about that and it sounded good to me then. I think I'm definitely gonna buy it.

"4FTCAR" from Blue Jam (Warp) 2000
[Glares at CD player] Who's this?
It's from Blue Jam, by comedian Chris Morris with music by Propellerheads. It was first broadcast on BBC radio.
I don't agree with that at all. I think it's fucking crap. Comedians and actors all want to make records, as if they haven't got enough fucking musicians who want to make fucking records. You made a record didn't you?
Well you shouldn't have done, should you?
Because I said. No, I'm only kidding you. The whole thing about making music now is that it's very easy. So you've got the prime minister of this country who wants to be in a rock band. You've got a chancellor of the exchequer who wants to be a pop star. Bill Clinton wants to be a rock musician, they don't know what they're fucking talking about. I mean, Jack of all trades and master of none. I'm a singer/songwriter and that's fucking it, otherwise your quality goes down.

"It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" from So Far: The Wümme Years 1970-73
(Recommended) 1972
Many more to go now, Edwin? Are they all like this? Is it Can?
Close: it's Faust.
Oh right, right. Really? Is it new stuff?
No, old stuff. It's from So Far, their second album.
I prefer Faust Tapes or the first one to this.
Are there any other Krautrock groups you appreciate apart from Can and Faust?
I really liked both versions of Amon Düül a lot when I first heard them. Especially Amon Düül I, I thought they were very inventive.

"Kill You" from The Marshall Mathers LP (Interscope) 2000
Any thoughts?
Is that Eminem? It sounds very tinny to me. I've heard rap stuff where the production has been much better and thicker, where it's really sub. Where you can switch off from the lyrics, like. This is like pop rap, white soul. Those rap artists, even though they ramble on about killing people most of the time, some of the levels they've got are really brilliant. Even Snoop Doggy Dogg, his lyrics are boring, but the music is really good. It's like a Stevie Wonder production or something, it's rich. This is Tonka toy rap compared to that.
He's popular and controversial. . .
It's probably because he's white. It's like Ali G or something [laughs].
There's some good black stuff like this, though.
Tell me some.
You never know their names, do you, but the radio stations in Manchester play some really good stuff. In a way this is like NWA, isn't it? When a lot of that early stuff came out it was also tinny and weak sounding, but now it's developed a lot where it's like really slow and rich. It's lovely to listen to. Now it's got a different kick to it.
Didn't you go and see Eminem perform live recently?
I was supposed to. A couple of the members of [The Fall] have got computers so they tell everybody on the Internet what they're going to see, and because it's The Fall a lot of it goes out under my fucking name. That's the trouble with the Internet: it's a Tower of Babel. Doesn't he remind you of The Monkees, though?
Who, Eminem?
At the time you'd have The Rolling Stones, Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker, and then The Monkees were the nice bit weren't they?
You think Eminem is nice? He's currently in prison for pistol whipping some guy.
[Snorts derisively] Pistol whipping some guy! 'Cause you know that sort of publicity is worth a quarter of a million dollars, that's what they said to me in America. You stay in jail in America and it's worth that amount in PR. Do you get my drift?
Didn't you spend some time in a New York jail once during a recent US tour?
It was while Puff Daddy was in there, he was supposed to have shot some people or something. The trouble was that his real name was Smith [sic - his name is Combs] and I was in the same jail. I was only meant to be in for a night, but they kept stopping my bail because they got my forms mixed up, that was just my fucking luck. He was sending in impostors dressed as him. It was quite funny actually, because they [the NYPD] don't notice, to them they all look the same. I got out of it though. I wouldn't like to be him, he was looking at seven years.
"A Trainride In Hell" from At Terror Street And Agony Way (King Mob) 1969
Is it Hunter S Thompson?
Bret Easton Ellis? Tom Wolfe? Who is it?
Supposedly, one of the tracks on your new record ["Dr Buck's Letter"] is about him.
Do you like his writing?
I like it very much. He sounds sprightly here, doesn't he?
It was recorded in the 60s by [Barry] Miles. I picked this track because it has a real rhythm to it.
He sounds really good here. The ones I've got he sounds pissed out of his head all of the time. If you go for a walk on the other side of LA, this is what it's like. The LA streets used to interest me. I used to split off from the [ex-] missus [Brix Smith] when I stayed there and go see people like Kid Congo [Powers] on the other side of town. Me and him used to tear the place apart. There's the arty side of LA, there's the film section of LA, and then there's this section that makes Salford look sophisticated. They'd be living in these flats where the big old Hollywood stars used to live, only now they were wrecked. There are all these people there that don't want to conform. Claude [Bessy - aka punk rock journalist Kickboy Face] was like that. Good people.

What do you like about Bukowski?
I can't read him, but I can hear him. I've only got tapes that my mates gave me. Kid gave me some tapes of when he was reading at a university. He'd be on stage with a fridge full of beer, which is really revolutionary. You play gigs in California, even in the hippy places, you can't have beer on stage. Yet he had a fridge full! You'd hear him deliberately open the can in front of his audience, drink the beer down and go 'Blarrp!' They had to put up with it because it was all part of his act.
Do you think Bukowski's audience are drawn to him because of what he wrote or what he sounds like?
It's the delivery, isn't it? I liked Burroughs a lot more when I saw him live in Manchester. I always liked Burroughs, but when I saw him live I thought he was knockout. He delivers it like a Southern sheriff. You could listen to him all night, just the way he was saying it. You read The Naked Lunch and it's good stuff. You hear him reading it out loud, with all the pauses, and it sounds like a press conference or some presidential address. It was surreal, yet it made his writing make a lot more sense. The old school of writers were like that too. Bram Stoker and Charles Dickens used to read out their novels to an audience, didn't they? To see how they worked before they published them. It would have been great to hear them read it out.

"Shakin' All Over" from Avenue B (Virgin) 1999
[Taps empty lager can with pen to the beat] "Shakin' All Over". It's a fucking sacrilege, whoever it is. Who is it?
Iggy Pop.
Really? When did he do this?
It's from his Avenue B album which came out last year.
He can't get [the sound of] Mick Green [from Johnny Kidd And The Pirates] on the guitar. Mick Green did it [much better] on the original. Sacrilege.
Were you an Iggy fan?
Yeah, I still am. I'm surprised that it's him. It's a very British song, that. I once did a cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and I got a note from Iggy saying that he thought it was a great version.
What do you think is the great divide which separates British rock 'n' roll from American rock 'n' roll?
It's like people who see [and hear] Cliff Richard as a British Elvis Presley. There's a big difference, but a lot of people don't seem to see it. To me there's a big fucking difference between Elvis and Cliff Richard.
You recently played in London with 60s American surf rock legend Dick Dale. How did that go down?
It was all right [laughs]. All you heard all night was Dick Dale. He was on before us and we couldn't get away from him. Everywhere you went back stage at the QEH it was Dick Dale this, Dick Dale that. We went to the hotel and all his people were there. You turned on the radio and it was talking about Dick Dale. Everywhere you went he was there. According to Dick Dale he invented Link Wray, The Beach Boys, psychedelic Frank Zappa music, Elvis Costello. . . Dick Dale invented every sort of music, according to him.
Did you meet Dick Dale?
[Laughs] I didn't want to meet him. We were all trying to avoid him. He was Dick Dale!

"New World" from Mash The Place Up (Ambush) 1998
What do you think of this?
It sounds like The Fall backwards actually.
Was this kind of music the influence behind "Cyber Insekt" and "Dr Buck's Letter" on the new album?
You've just got to encourage the musicians until they get it right, until it's in sync.
Where did the germ of the idea originate, though?
I'm not going to tell you because it's a secret. I don't need to listen to stuff a lot of the time, I just need to work.
Do you purposefully block out influences, then?
You've got to. The group turn up with tunes and then you change them. You say, 'That's not right, you've got to do it this way. It's a good tune, but you've got to do it in this swing.'
Yet despite your influence blocking each Fall record manages to sound in tune with the times. How is that?
You hit it sometimes. But you get no thanks for it.
So Mark, out of all these records, which did you like best?
The Prince Jazzbo one was the best, I just got fed up with it [laughs].

Couple of interviews:



Paul Hopkins giives a photographic tour of Manchester:



from the march/april issue of "Heaven"

The Fall - The Unutterable

The Fall in their past 20 years (and almost twice as many records) made a habit of annoying the listener. The group from Manchester has a certain idea about songs that is self-opinioneated to say the least : they look like they were made up at the spot and with a little bit of luck might sound like rejected demos from the Stooges. The Fall sound like a solution in search of a problem. Bandleader Mark E. Smith usually ups it by - preferrably mumbled - ranting his associating lyrics. Reasons enough to conclude anyone to avoid Fall records like the plague but not so. The band have had a loyal fanbase for years. One of them is John Peel and the BBC dj must be highly pleased with The Untterable., undoubtedly the best Fall record of the past ten years. Which isn't so hard regarding the series of dogged recalcitrant records in which The Fall emphasized their own motto during the nineties. Objectively the albums were apathetic, halfhearted and messy. The Unutterable however is dynamic, solid and astonishingly good. Gone is the band which bit themselves in the tail with endless jangling songs. Almost everything on the new one has been excitingly colored one way or another, like 'Dr. Buck's Letter' whith its driving industrial rumble, a highly exciting technovariation.. There is fingerpopping swing in "Pumpkin Soup and Mashed Potatoes', 'Way Round' revolves around a James Bond-like gitarriff and the dancepop of 'Serum' is frankly infectious. What's happening? Of course Mark E. Smith opens his trap at the mody impossible moments en we do meet old contrasts at the end alas. 'Das Katerer' ends unsatisfactory and they never even tried to make a song out of 'Devolute'. But hardened Fall fans can buy this record as usual. (Harry Prenger)

Ta to Paul Saxton:

From The Mojo Collection, a book that 'presents 600 of the most enduring and important albums ever recorded', The Fall's sole entry - for This Nation's Saving Grace:

Raucous, long-serving Mancunian shower add a hint of California sun, get a decent producer and hit a career peak.

At the turn of this century, The Fall had clocked up a 23-year career. Mark E. Smith can claim to be not only the most credible survivor of the original punk era, but also the keeper of one of the most enduring visions in the history of rock. The Fall has always been Smith's vision; founder and sole original member, legendarily as caustic and difficult as he is dedicated, Smith's allegiance to punk was largely thanks to the galvanising power of its DIY ethic. The Fall's uniquely primitive sound (which has been expanded - but rarely departed significantly - from its original blueprint) owes more to the garage punk of 60s America, the raw attack of vintage rockabilly, and the hypnotic repetition of Can and the Velvet Underground. Smith's vocal style - the mad bark of a bellicose street hawker - is a one-off; the greatest non-singer who isn't Lou Reed.

In their eighth awesome year, many of The Fall's more conservative fans were resenting the creeping commercial influence of Mark's new American wife, guitarist and co-writer Brix. Although the new Fall were hardly about to upset Duran Duran, Brix was indeed staunchly in love with the pop history of her native California, which was reflected in the bright strum of her Rickenbacker and the accessibility of her melodies. "Even with the old songs," she said in a 1984 interview, "I think I add some shadow and light to them. I give it a lot of drive, as well as adding some 'glamour' to it all."

Still widely thought to be their finest album, This Nation's Saving Grace catches The Fall at a moment of thrilling congruity, playing to their strengths with great clarity. Thanks to John Leckie, their first truly skilled producer, Bombast rages harder than any previous Fall song to that point, while LA uses the group's trademarks in service of what can fairly be described as a pop song. The meeting of the marginal and the mainstream proved winning here, taking The Fall into the UK Top 30, and making them look as though they belonged there.

Paul S: From yesterday's Observer, a review of the new compilation - complete with obligatory use of 'curmudgeonly':

The Fall - A World Bewitched, Best of 1990-2000

It's well known that rock boasts no awkward squad more obtuse or curmudgeonly than Mark E. Smith; that he is casually ruthless with his musicians; and that his records offer much the same rickety dissonance over which Smith barks and sneers with the panache of a drunken builder hurling obscenities from a rooftop. Naturally, then, he is revered. This double album, a mix of prime cuts and rarities from the past decade, helps explain the appeal of what the liner notes affectionately call "The Fall's gnarled Fuhrer." Choose from acerbic social commentary like Idiot Joy Showland and Middle Class Revolt; the seventies send-up of Glam-Racket; the moments, like The Mixer, when Smith teeters on the edge of melody and clarity, or demented cover versions such as Dave Dee and Dozy's Legend of Xanadu. All the rage you could wish for.

From the new Q:

The Fall
A World Bewitched

Mark Smith's 90s output whittled down to 35 tracks. Features collaborations with Elastica and Edwyn Collins.

While ex-wife Brix recently explained her 'Palm Beach Glitz Slut Look' in The Evening Standard's fashion pages, Mark Smith knows no such deviation. The 90s saw more than 30 Fall albums - which, ironically, makes the advent of one more a very useful idea. Assembled by Q's Ian Harrison, this is a vital sieving mechanism for all but the most monomaniacal Fall panhandler. The collected nuggets range from a cover of 1959 novelty rocker I'm A Mummy to Smith slurring over DOSE's electro-funk. Meanwhile, the concert version of Life Just Bounces is all the average citizen will need of the past decade's nine Fall live albums.
**** (Four Stars)

Steve Malkmus in the new Uncut, talking about Slanted and Enchanted:

"It caused a lot of bad music; a lot of lo-fi boys with their voices changing thought they could get on Big Cat. If more people from California ripped off The Fall, the world would be a better place."

Fall : The World Bewitched

Stewart Lee in the Sunday Times:

A World Bewitched
Artful Artful CD35, £14.99
Voiceprint COGVP125CD, £12.99

A LINK from the Fall's website satirises the stock descriptions reviewers apply to the band's mastermind, Mark E Smith. But the addled Mancunian art-punk visionary goblin aside, few musicians a quarter-century into their career maintain such a low profile that a summary is necessary every time they're mentioned. With typical perversity, this month sees the release of three Fall rarities collections. A World Bewitched is an ideal entry point for the uninitiated, containing enough obscure tracks to placate rabid fans alongside crowd-pleasing collaborations with Badly Drawn Boy, Elastica, Edwyn Collins and Inspiral Carpets, all bisected by Smith's barked outpourings. Voiceprint's Backdrop CD compiles impossible- to-find bootlegged tracks essential to acolytes, but Austurbæjarbíó, a curious two-drumkit-and-one-guitar line-up of the band live in Iceland in 1983, is a lost masterpiece. Sounding like a rockabilly band press-ganged into a strange art project, it is, as the excellent sleeve notes put it, "tense and sluggish at the same time". Every home should have one.

Conway brings us the full sleevenotes from World Bewitched:

Mark E Smith is indifferent as to whether you like The Fall. He will not sing, preferring to bark out of the corner of his mouth on subjects from arcane myth to pub carpark fights to surrealist satire on the state of rock and roll. Terrifying, hilarious, jump-cut scenes from the Twilight Zone of Smith's mind, the fact that these declamations can never be fully comprehended hasn't stopped him from being one of rock music's most trustworthy counsels. Similarly, the sound of The Fall can be perplexing and repulsive to the uninitiated. Break through the forcefield of distain, however, and they are revealed as being as capable of beauty as of horror, with such focus and vigour that they have never made a record to be ashamed of. This CD is the last ten years of their existence, a decade of wildly changing fortunes, innumerable binned group members, radical strategies and some of the best music of The Fall's existence. At this moment the discarnate entities that supposedly gather when someone gets a ouija board out are now circling your head. Musically speaking.

The Fall materialised more than two decades ago, in time for punk but resolute in ignoring it. Thereafter, it's not fanciful to say that they spent the '70s and '80s laying the groundwork for most of what's quaintly known as the 'alternative' music that followed. As recent admiring noises from the big-selling likes of Elastica, Suede and Bush has suggested, back then there was simply no-one else to listen to. But if lesser bands would have begged for death after 13 years of ruthless productivity, by 1990 The Fall were hitting what can only be described as their populist phase. If there had always been an element of inspired formula to their sound, here their chugging, bass-riff speed-punk was allied with ambivalent machine noise and unfamiliar stuff likes choruses and pop tunes. Extricate (1990), Shiftwork (1991), Code: Selfish (1992) and The Infotainment Scan (1993) bear out ex-bassist Stephen Hanley's assertion that you can tell if the group were happy or not by the sound of the records - regularly touring and recording with the line up of Hanley, guitarist Craig Scanlon and drummer Simon Wolstencroft, The Infotainment Scan got to number 9 in the LP charts and the following year Smith even appeared on Top Of The Pops with The Inspiral Carpets, singing his bilious half of 'I Want You' from a lyric sheet. Being a coherent, earthbound part of the musical landscape soon evaporated though. The return of long-term drummer Karl Burns and Smith's guitarist ex-wife Brix seemed to augur flux. While Middle Class Revolt (1994) began to show cracks in the accessibility, there followed the full-flight unlearning process of Cerebral Caustic (1995), the roaring vastness of The Light User Syndrome (1996) and the point-of-collapse vampirism of 1997's Levitate - all these records are exhilarating documents of entropy. In April 1998 - the year after Smith got the NME's 'Godlike Genius' award and left it on the podium before appearing to tell radio's Jo Wylie to "fuck off" during an interview - the band topped a period of uncertain record deals, nefarious live performances and other internal pressures in fine style. They split up, live on stage at Brownie's in New York. Tales of GBH, $1000 bail and irreconcilable rancour followed, as did the extraordinarily revealing spoken word album The Post-Nearly Man. And soon a new line-up coalesced around The Fall's gnarled fuhrer. The Marshall Suite was recorded, TV's Adam and Joe got a Smith battering, and the Chemical Brothers manager had to abruptly become The Fall's drummer when Smith sacked Tom Head at the 1999 Reading festival. In late 2000, The Unutterable was released to critical delight. The tours continued as normal - visceral rock thrills and audience baiting, doled out by the shrunken man in the polished shoes and sensible shirts with a mouth like a burnt-out fusebox and teeth like half-chewed toffees. We are still hopelessly spooked.

For all the easy curmudgeon-rockabilly-krautrock-vorticist shorthand, The Fall's music eludes description. They are not as other bands. In their inverted cosmos of threat and mistreated H.P. instruments, only Smith's telegraphic statements and reptile humour show the way. The monitoring and scourging of pop-cultural idiocy, scrambled and decoded, is one such area of enquiry; 'Glam Racket' eyes the cult of seventies revivalism with Basilisk gaze, while 'Idiot Joy Showland' sized up, four years in advance, the pestilential 'New Lad' phenomenon. Every one of these songs could be dissected at length. Was 'Arid Al's Dream' about Einstein? Why was the startling 'Noel's Chemical Effluence' hidden on the double-live set The Twenty Seven Points? Did 'Powder Keg' predict the IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996? God knows, but the live cover of The Sonics' 'Strychnine' is as good rock and roll scabrousness as you could wish for. It's also worth noting that the covers included here all sound like Fall songs, even though 'Black Monk Theme' was first recorded 24 years earlier by The Monks as 'I Hate You' and 'I'm A Mummy' was originally performed by Bob McFadden in 1959.

The second half of this CD is the concurrent story. Anomalies to satisfy the cravings of the infected, here are collaborations, cover versions and other surprises. 'Calendar', for example, features guitar and co-writing from Damon Gough, alias Badly Drawn Boy. There's the single version of 'Why Are People Grudgeful', a cover of Joe Gibbs retort to Lee Perry's reggae-inventing 'People Funny Boy'. 'Plug Myself In' - a crashing broadside of raw beats and cheapo keyboards - was made with the men who lasted two days producing Levitate. It's relation, 'The REAL Life Of The Crying Marshall', was intended to be the follow-up to the Filthy 3's rap version of The Sweeny theme; Smith once performed this song in a Manchester club in the presence of Frank Sidebottom, a stripper in a cage and Nigel Pivarro off Coronation Street. The Long Fin Killie and Tackhead collaborations are even stranger. Later on is the ghostly pink vinyl seven-inch 'A Fistful Of Credit', made with Mild Man Jan. Here is the antagonistic, contradictory sole constant - the mighty Smith persona - showing why The Fall have endured when all around have jacked it in. Maybe this is what Smith meant when he declared that not being mentioned on a Manchester rock TV show was "a major achievement".

So "cult" the term has become meaningless, The Fall's permanent invention is a lodestar for rebellious intellects and twisted music makers the world over. It is also a world that will never be fully penetrated, possibly explaining their status as the only band with fascination and mystery left. When the great clearing out of twentieth art happens - and future generations will laugh long at the stuff people went for - The Fall will remain. They will always be around.

'Old Sarge'


Reviews THE FALL: A World Bewitched (Artful Records)

Collection of greatest hits and rare unreleased gems from Britain's most shambolically brilliant band

'A World Bewitched' is perhaps not the most apt title for this collection of the best of The Fall's output of the last decade. In their twenty year history The Fall, ruled by the leering, wrinkled creature from the netherworld that is Mark E Smith, have steadfastly remained an enigma. They may captivate the devoted faithful, but they leave the wider listening public bemused and more than a little afraid.

But 'A World Bewitched' goes to show that The Fall are a band that exist utterly within their own time and on their own terms as they retain an air of aloofness from the musical world around them around them. And for those who don't wish to mortgage their house or spend years trawling through second hand record shops, 'A World Bewitched' provides a ready welcome to the strange inner mind of the nation's greatest genius-drunk.

More than anything else it highlights how, in a decade where guitar music was based largely on regurgitation, The Fall went on doing their own bloody-minded thing. While some embraced the new technology of dance in a contrived attempt to appear cutting edge, The Fall used electronica to enhance their aural dystopia, as evidenced by 'Middle Class Revolt' and 'The Caterer'. But at the same time they still sliced up the punk'n'rockabilly roll to tortuous effect with the likes of 'Strychnine', 'Immortality' and 'The Mummy' along with a rendition of The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' that sees Smith almost out-Iggying Iggy Pop.

'A World Bewitched' will awaken the uninitiated to the knowledge that The Fall are a scabrous, fetid boil on the pert and pretty arse of the British music industry. Long may they remain unlanced. 8/10
Luke Turner

Did you know... - Legend has it that Damon Gough (who appears on 'A World Bewitched' track 'Calendar') possesses a pair of Smith's false teeth after the Fall frontman left the chompers behind after drunkenly clambering into Gough's car thinking it was a taxi.

- Mark E Smith's former partner and bandmate Brix Smith left him for 'punk' violinist Nigel Kennedy.
- Back in the 80s Motown record's UK arm were interested in signing The Fall. Mark E Smith sent them a copy of 'Hex Induction Hour', the first track of which features the lyric "Where are the obligatory niggers?" Motown quickly lost interest.

If you like this, try these...
PAVEMENT: Terror Twilight (Domino)
GANG OF FOUR: Entertainment (EMI)
THE TEARDROP EXPLODES: Kilimanjaro (Mercury)

This has been on:

Thursday 15 February BBC Radio 2
10.00 The Mancunian Way

Mark Radcliffe presents a new six-part series on the music of Manchester, the city that spawned Joy Division, Oasis, the Smiths, Herman's Hermits, New Order, the Buzzcocks, Simply Red, the Hollies and countless others.

#1: The punk revolution of 1976, with input from Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, Mick Hucknall, Mark E Smith and Peter Shelley.

found this 1981 interview on a new 'rock critic website' called Rocks Backpages

From: Afcboscombe:

My favourite Fall moment came at the Bournemouth Town Hall gig where my mate Terry nicked the backdrop (only to be caught by bouncers). Hence the song, 'Bournemouth Runner'.

Stuart Mackie:

Direct quote from "Nico - The life and lies of an icon" by Richard Witts:

"Jackson Browne had been born in Germany exactly ten years later than Nico. Two Librans."

Following the discovery of a highly suspect piece of fan fiction involving Bobby Gillespie and 'Bernard', anon of Fallnet contributed the following excerpt to the genre........

The rain was driving hard as I stumbled into the Queen's Head in Ambleside. It was just a refuge really, any place to get out of the vile weather that the Lake District was famous for. But then again, I would enjoy a pint or two. I got my pint of Robinson's and sat down near the fire when who should I spy but MES himself. Quiet, all alone, sat at a table in the corner of the bar. I must have waited for, ooh, at least ten minutes before I plucked up the courage and wandered over.

"Watcha cock" was my opening gambit, but no such luck. He was going to make me wait. "Sit down-ah" he replied. We chewed the fat for hours, discussing his enormous pulsating discography at length. By now the weather was clearing and I tentatively suggested we could ascend Scandale and go down Caiston Glen back to my place. We could have taken the high route over Red Screes but the weather was still fragile and it was getting late.

We set out, squelching through the puddles and retained water. MES wasn't really dressed for it, and even though it never really rained properly, he got soaked anyway by the constant drizzle. It was worth it, though, to get that view down into Patterdale with the man who wrote "Frightened". At long last, my heart beating hard, we arrived at the Brotherswater camp site. I unzipped .... the front of my orange Vango force 9 and ushered MES in. I gazed at him, breathing heavily, and said "Come on Chuck, you're soaked. Let's get you out of those wet things"

TBC, but preferably by someone else (or maybe you have your own favourite story about meeting Mark Riley in the Adirondacks or Yvonne Pawlett in a Super K-Mart). I can gardly type I';m shgakijng so badf ,.. ,..