The Fall play...
Bar, Blackburn (16 Town Hall Street)
would be advantageous owing to limited capacity," according
to Ronnie Brown of the North Bar. Phone venue 01254 682670.......07790
279557 or email email@example.com
also available from Action Records (Preston); X Records (Bolton);
and Astonishing (Burnley).
Tix £12 advance; doors 19:30, Fall on stage 21:45.
Outlets: Credit Card hotline 020 - 7344 0044 (24hrs) Stargreen:
020 - 7734 8932. Also
& in person from Ticketmaster in selected HMV, Tower Records & Waitrose
stores, plus usual agents (subject to booking fee) Tickets without
bkg fee for cash from Camden Ticketshop and Astoria Box Office.
Info line: 020 - 8963 0940
Parties, Camber Sands Holiday Centre, East Sussex
Stage 2, 12:30 - 1:30 a.m.
Parties, Camber Sands Holiday Centre, East Sussex
Stage 1, 10:15 - 11:15 p.m.
Annual Wave-Gottik-Treffen goth festival in Leipzig, Germany
Dresden, Germany (phone +493514210302, doors @ 8pm)
Christiana, Copenhagen, Denmark (phone +45 3257 8422)
band at present: MES
(v.), Ben Pritchard (g.), Jim Watts (b.), Dave Milner
(d.). Ed Blaney is still the manager, despite rumours to the contrary.
The May edition of
Wire has found its way to the magazine racks of Massachusetts,
finally. What a terrific article by Simon Ford, with equally great photos
by Kevin Cummings. There's a ton of stuff in there that was news to me.
I can't wait to read Simon's book (as previously reported, out on Quartet
sometime next year).
I have permission
to reprint the article on the Fall News, but not before the magazine's
shelf-life has expired, sometime towards the end of May.
Mark was on Bruce
Dickinson's "Freak Show" ("for freaks, rockers, headbangers
and closet cases everywhere") on May 5. A couple of reviews:
It was in the middle
hour of Dickinson's show (about 50 minutes taking out the intro and
outro). They played a few records Mark brought in and chatted the rest
of the time.
It started badly
since Dickinson played 'Victoria' which he said was the only Fall record
To start with he
and Mark seemed to be talking different languages. Dickinson is not
the best interviewer in the world and he seemed to be going through
a standard list of questions which as we all know doesn't work with
Mark. He also had problems telling when he was serious or when he was
being ironic or just taking the piss.
However as the interview
went along and they relaxed and it became more freeform it got a lot
better. Mark was in good humour throughout.
It became a very
wide ranging discussion. There is a nice incongruity in a HM singer
who specialises in satanic lyrics and a singer with a progressive punk
band spending several minutes of a radio interview discussing how kids
should be brought up! Other topics of conversation included vinyl vs
CDs, MES father's musical tastes, the Internet (inevitably!), Fall bootlegs
and much else. Curiously I heard no mention of squirrels!
Once the interview
was over and MES had gone Dickinson said Mark was very tired he had
been working very hard last night - which is near as anyone could get
to saying 'my guest was pissed'. Whilst not being your average radio
interview (he'd be letting us down if it was!) I don't think he had
anything to apologise about. I enjoyed it.
Listened to it last
night. MES was on between 10 and 11 pm. The usual interview subjects
- the internet, kids today, computers, bad compilations, trusting the
band, 24 hour party people, etc. Classic joke, however - after Bruce
said that Mark resembled Steve Davis, he replied "you look like Cheggers
as a youth!", after which Dickinson didn't rib MES further. Other than
that, Mark was as incomprehensible as you'd expect, which was a treat
as my mum and brother were also listening to it.
MES played some
interesting records (all vinyl, natch) - an experimental reggae one
called 'I Bust It In The Name Of Jah', some Mexican psychedelia, a weird
electronic-ish group from Berlin, and a hilarious Country & Western
record entitled 'Life Gets Tedious, Don't It?', which The Fall really
badly need to cover. And The Monks' 'I Hate You'. Possibly one more
Ticket" page currently has five tracks from the Manchester Roadhouse
March 22, 1995 gig. http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/bbcsessions/dream_ticket.shtml.
on Action Records on June
10 (cat# TAKE18CD) will comprise nine tracks recorded at the Nov. 2001
US gigs, plus three studio tracks (New Formation Sermon and Distilled
Mug Art are from the withdrawn "The Present" EP; I Wake Up
in the City was on the Flitwick freebie):
1. The Joke
2. New Formation Sermon (studio)
3. My Ex-Classmates' Kids
4. Enigrammatic Dream
5. I Wake Up in the City (studio)
6. Kick the Can
7. F-'Oldin' Money
8. Bourgeois Town
9. Distilled Mug Art (studio)
10. Ibis Afro-Man
11. Mr. Pharmacist
12. I Am Damo Suzuki
sleeve by Pascal Le Gras
You can pre-order
the CD from Action for £8.99 at http://www.action-records.co.uk/cgi-bin/tame/Action/fall.tam.
Don't forget to claim the Fall website 10% discount - just make a note
in the comments box when ordering online.
According to Amazon
UK the 2xCD (downgraded from a 3xCD box?) "Totally Wired"
(Essential #CMETD461) has been pushed back to July 15. Tracks are:
TOTALLY WIRED / NEW FACE IN HELL / FIT AND WORKING AGAIN / THAT MAN
/ CONTAINER DRIVERS / ROWCHE RUMBLE / HOW I WROTE ELASTIC MAN / AN OLDER
LOVER / CARY GRANT'S WEDDING / PAY YOUR RATES / CITY HOBGOBLINS / MIDDLE
MASS / GRAMME FRIDAY / LEAVE THE CAPITOL / ENGLISH SCHEME / NEW PURITAN
/ PROLE ART THREAT
THE NWRA / THE MAN WHOSE HEAD EXPANDED / LIE DREAM OF A CASINO SOUL
/ I FEEL VOXISH / HIP PRIEST / HOTEL BLOEDEL / WINTER ONE / LUDD GANG
/ SMILE / TEMPO HOUSE / HEXEN DEFINITIVE-STRIFE KNOT / WINGS / EAT YOURSELF
FITTER / KICKER CONSPIRACY
(sorry about the
CAPS - I didn't feel like rekeying it all)
also have a "Singles Box" 4xCD set (#CMGBX526) due for release
on the same day:
The Singles Box
Sanctuary Records Group Ltd (Record Producer)
CMGBX 526 SET (4 CD)
CD1: HOW I WROTE ELASTIC MAN / CITY HOBGOBLINS
WIRED / PUTTA BLOCK
CD3: THE MAN
WHOSE HEAD EXPANDED / LUDD GANG
CONSPIRACY / WINGS / CONTAINER DRIVERS / NEW PURITAN
Also it looks like
the Derby Hall, Bury (27apr82) gig will be out at some point on Cog
Sinister/ Voiceprint. This was supposed to be a two-gig set coupled
with the terrific Queen Mary Union, London (05feb81) soundboard and
to be sold at regular price -- doesn't look like that's going ahead
now. To make matters worse, purchasers of the recent Cog/Voiceprint
reissues of Room to Live and Palace of Swords Reversed will already
own several tracks from this Bury gig (although the discs claim the
tracks were recorded at Manchester's Band on the Wall club, they're
really from this Derby Hall gig).
In addition to his
excellent Fall at a Glance (http://fallwatch.cjb.net)
and Fall Timeline (http://liquid2k.com/fall/timeline.html)
pages, Conway Paton has taken over stewardship of the Fall Lyrics
and it looks great. Yay Conway!
Cafe Bar, Blackburn, April 19:
Bit of an adventure
So the gig's in
Blackburn, a town famous only for its 4000 holes and Jack Straw and
with only one thing to recommend it: the fact that it isn't Burnley.
Whereas places like Bury and Bolton have been forced to progress and
modernize (after a fashion) due to their proximity to Manchester, these
twin mill towns are too isolated and too far north to be to held in
the city's influence. They are a fetid and unwelcoming cultural and
intellectual black hole with a quaint line in misogyny, racism and violence.
To be fair they
do make the place hard to get to; there isn't a light on the main road
into Blackburn and they stop signposting the place a safe distance out
of town. You really have to be truly determined or truly lost to get
there. Anyway, we did finally get into town, parked up and set off for
the venue. The first three people we asked for directions didn't even
pause to answer, just stomped on with fixed stare and not a step missed.
Finally we got directions from a barmaid (which turned out to be wrong)
and after a couple more conversations consisting of little more than
grunts and finger pointing, we rolled up at North at about 9:25. Manning
the door a petite middle-aged blonde and a completely hairless Brian
Glover dead ringer.
What the fuck? A
sellout. In Blackburn. They told us to give it half an hour so we retired
to a local pub. Settling down with a pint I struck up a conversation
with a thick set boss-eyed lad on the next table. He was a dj (ever
noticed how everyone you meet in pubs nowadays is a dj?) and scaffolder,
up from Manchester himself. I explained our situation and he gave his
recommendations for local clubs should we not be able to get in the
gig. And then came the classic line, "Don't go in the one round here,
it's full of pakkis and queers." So Yousef carefully hides his silver
painted fingernails and gently tries to steer the conversation onto
something less likely to get my back up.
No need in the event,
because at that very moment a dwarfish middle- aged chap chose to make
his exit by flinging a pint pot at the pool table, showering the whole
room in shattered glass. Eight bouncers (approx. twice the number of
punters in the pub) flew out of the door after him while the bar staff
began trying to relocate the shards. My two companions (both originally
from much more gentle climes) exchanged worried glances while I fished
chunks of glass from out of my pint.
We returned to the
venue at about 10pm and waited about 5 minutes to the strains of a heavy
metal cover of I'm a Believer (where do they find those support bands?)
before we were let in. The place was absolutely packed (well above capacity)
with the usual suspects: the majority 30 & 40-something spectacled ones
plus the ones that look like far too old to be there and the ones that
look far too young to be there. And where the hell do all those attractive
and seemingly unattached young girls appear from at every Fall gig?
It's safe to guess
that MES hadn't picked the intro music (Strokes, White Stripes, Joy
Division) but a swiftly removed Blue Monday suggested that he might
have been exerting some influence. A small keyboard at the back of the
stage boded well and the atmosphere in the audience was fantastic; all
those r'n'r starved Lancastrians packed into the tiny room. The indie-rock
gave way to an MES spoken word recording and the band took the stage.
Mansion opened and
sounded fantastic, full-on menace and dirty great lurching bass. "Good
evening we are the Fall. From the hills of Accrington we descend." A
great start and sadly the most lucid Smith would be all evening. A line
or two from Race with the Devil (this year's amp-fiddling, anyone?)
and the dying notes give way to the heavy metal version of the Joke.
We got a long rendition with complete lyrics, though predictably not
in the correct order. Throughout the evening MES would take a decidedly
more minimalist approach to the vocals.
An abortive Cyber
Insekt prefaced the best And Therein I've heard for a while, followed
by a full Insket, tonight complete with "Oh Christine from the FM radio
station in your knowingness" lyrics. A brief pause during which the
audience shouted requests (the best being a slightly surreal "Play whatever
song you feel comfortable with") and then a muscular 2 Librans which
set of a brief flurry of female-led slam dancing down the front and
was easily the best song of the night.
And then the rot
set in. A far-too-long Antidotes was reduced to repetition of its (or
even Kashmir's) riff and little more than its title. Microphone problems
began around this time too, MES had three mics on the go and consistently
(deliberately?) managed to sing into whichever one had been buried lowest
in the mix. It led to an amusing moment, though, when both he and Ben
bemusedly watched the abandoned one topple over in seeming slow motion
until it hit the floor with a deafening thud.
The Kick the Can/F-Oldin
Money medley was still present although I wish they'd drop the initial
segment with its horrendous sound of '68 Clapto-blues riff. Bourgeois
Town was the only other offering from AYAMW.
You may have noticed
that I haven't yet mentioned the much- anticipated keyboards but that's
only because they weren't much in evidence. The only time I noticed
them was at the beginning Ketamine Sun and I don't think they made it
to the end of the song. KS also saw an unfortunate incident when MES
started fiddling with what I presume were Jim's effects pedals. Jim
(who had already missed the first verse of Mr. Pharmacist due to bass
problems) looked extremely and genuinely pissed off, balled at Smith
and gave him a sharp shove back to the front of stage. For a second
it looked as though he was about to walk, but he strapped his guitar
back on again and led the song to a venomous finish. And good on him.
They all returned
for an encore of what I hesitate to call Dr Buck's Letter. Blaney (I
guess, he looks a hell of a lot older than he did at the Firkin) was
reading lyrics from a large white book, sample: "it's Dr Buck's letter,
what the fuck is in the letter, please tell me Dr Buck. Oh shit, open
the letter. Dr Buck, Dr What- the-Fuck." At this point Mark reached
over, took the mic from him mid- syllable, sang a couple of lines, gave
up, handed it back to him and fucked off. A couple more choruses and
that's your lot.
Strange one this,
definitely had the feel of a warm up or even a rehearsal but that would
beg the question of why Blackburn for the venue. MES, despite the occasional
grin, clearly wasn't overly enthusiastic (relying largely on repetition
of one or two lines of each song) and a lot of the songs were stretched
far and unproductively beyond their usual lengths. I almost got the
feeling that the band had been forced into the gig against their wishes
and were merely filling their slot. A shame because the tightly-packed
crowd were well up for it. They have a great, tight, abrasive sound
(and the new drummer is ace) but there isn't enough variety; 2 Librans
shone because of the contrast between the swooping verses and pounding
chorus and F-oldin Money was flawless but on other occasions (Way Round,
Joke, Antidotes etc) the endless and unsubtle repetition became tiring.
I reckon a delve into the back catalogue could be productive here, there's
so much neglected material and surely no-one needs to hear another version
of the Joke or Pharmacist at this stage. Either that or get some keyboards
in there. B- more light and shade next time please.
Therein/Cyber Insekt/2 Librans/Antidotes/Kick the Can-F-Oldin Money/Bourgeois
Town/Mr Pharmacist/Way Round/Ketamine Sun/Dr Buck
Re The attempted
reviews from Blackburn,1st of all,Mr Youseff? Who are you to call anyone
a prostitute,Let alone make comments on the venue,Town,Club even the
carpet colour and the dynamics of THE FALL,You were so wrong,Steve Evetts
joined MES on stage,The promoters wife was the Lady you referred to
on the door(who let you in by mistake)I suggest you follow another group
because you aint no real fan of THE FALL,In Blackburn The FALL had a
great time both with the fans and the venues staff who looked after
THE FALL very,very well,So next time keep out,Stop peddling MP3s and
buy a ticket otherwise go and follow Gareth from Pop idols.
Also a message from
the staff in Blackburn,Call in anytime for a drink! Wanker
I've only been to
Blackburn once in my life before and that was to see The Pogues 17 years
ago. Yousef is right though - getting into Blackburn itself is near
impossible due to lack of signs. Getting out (in the correct direction)
is worse. What a fucking shithole. In Dodge City the sheriff would take
the guns off you before entering town. In Blackburn he gives them to
you on the way in. Hideous atmosphere of latent violence and racism
shrouds the whole place.
The North Cafe Bar
or whatever was far too small. I thought at first its intimate atmosphere
might make for an interesting gig, but if you were any distance from
the front you couldn't see much and the acoustics weren't good. Smith
and Jim were on good form. Ben seemed to be enjoying himself, but I
can't really approve of members of The Fall wearing denim jackets and
chewing gum. I enjoyed bits, notably the beginning (mansion was it?)
and the end with Ketamine Sun and then Ed excelling himself on Dr Buck's
I like Led Zeppelin
as much as the next person, but Antidote sung over Kashmir? Come on
now, it's not really on!
I'm the one who
always enjoys himself - I even enjoyed The Ritz three years ago but
I was not unhappy when this one finished. I was expecting something
more positive here from Yousef, who seemed to have enjoyed it. Sorry
I didn't get to the pub Paul - I didn't manage to even get into Blackburn
itself until about half nine and the venue was hard enough to find never
mind a pub! Gig number 35 won't go down as a classic and I'm never going
to Blackburn in my life again! Drinking whiskey until 3.30am with my
mate Peter in Huddersfield wasn't a good idea either, even though I
did get a lie in until 10am as I hadn't got the kids with me!
Blackburn gig was
excellent. Depends on where you were standing I guess. The sound got
lost a few rows back....but the Blackburn stuff so far is harsh and
ill informed...racist...yep probably, like Manchester isn't??? kids
in Blackburn live 30 mins from manchester and whoever thinks that this
is pure hicksville is an idiot. The towns a shit hole..carbon copy of
all towns in the north...and most of manchester...unless your sat outside
some wine bar on deansgate.
Jesus Christ fall
fans complaining about a working class shit hole.Perhaps a gig in kensington
will suit ?
Great gig tho...and
I promise you the band wanted to be there. The Blackburn Gig could turn
out to be one of the most fortuitous they have played in a long while.
A Big huge thanks
for MICK TRAVIS and his genuine top of the northern range comments,Go
on Lad! Ed
the setlist from my car. It reads:
MANSION / JOKE /
CYBER / 2 LIBRANS / ANTIDOTES / SHAKE OFF / BOURJOUIS / BEN/F'OLDIN/KICK
/ PHARM / ENIGRAM / KETAMINE / WAYROUND / DAMO // BUCKS / CLASS
Needless to say,
it wasn't stuck to. Cyber Insect was halted as it started, to be replaced
by And Therein. I don't think Shake Off was attempted, and the 'BEN'
bit in the medley refers to some brief random guitaring before the usual
Kick The Can/F'Olding/Kick The Can stuff. F'Oldin' and Mr. Pharmacist
were pretty much the only songs all night that all the lyrics were present
and correct for. We even got an improvised verse of F'Oldin' referring
to 'I went to my manager just to get a little money...'.
Damo Suzuki wasn't
played, neither was Classmates Kids, possibly due to what had happened
on stage. Toward the end of a glorious Ketamine Sun, Mark had staggered
over to Jim's brand new laptop, picked it up off the two crates it was
resting on, and thrown it to the floor. Jim looked furious, shoved MES
in the back, and took off his bass, looking like he was about to leave.
He decided against it, however, and carried on playing it as if his
life depended on it.
MES seemed to find
it amusing and smiled at Ben, but did decide to pat Jim on the arm as
they walked off stage. The encore was a piss poor Dr. Buck, with Blaney
improvising some truly god awful lyrics, based around the titles of
various Fall songs such as Kurious Oranj and Paranoia Man In Cheap Shit
Room and suchlike. Clearly not reading from the lyric folder that Mark
had offered him.
Still, it was a
bloody good gig. I've seen the Fall four times now, at the tender age
of 21 (ahem) and the only gig that was better was the Footage and Firkin
one from November. Or so I think anyway. My girlfriend was converted,
even if Mark had taken to the stage with a disturbing stain around his
Even with the stripped
down line up they do work well. It was a shame that the keyboards weren't
working, but Jim more than made up for it with his bass playing. Ben
is also a fine musician, and manages to help carry the set when Mark
is barking into three different microphones. The new drummer's not as
good as Spencer or Tom, but he does a good enough job. Mark was good
when he was trying. But all too often he wasn't...
Most memorable thing
of the night for me was the piss stain on Mark's charcoal cacks, which
was presented rather unfortunately just six inches from my face for
much of the gig. Only the second fall gig that I ever considered leaving
early from, the first being the last London one - was so uninspired
I didn't even bother ambling down to Garage even though I was in town.
Set list lying on stage was promising with Mansion and lots from Unutterable
- but of course they trotted out Joke, Pharmacist, Kick the can. Shake
off was on the list but they didn't do it - shame. Ketamine was good
- for the first while I thought it was a new track. No applause for
encore at end virtually, so a silly abortive thing with the other chappie
doing Dr Bucks (although it was an amusing take). Bourgeois Town weak,
a pale echo of the Belfast gig where I first heard that. The main problem
I have with the latest incarnation of Mark and band is that the band
settle into a riff repetition thing and then he settles into a vocal
repetition thing and it just stalls and goes nowhere - like '...just
can't find my way...' or '...you gotta kick the can...' or whatever.
Totally loses the point of 'we dig repetition' in my ho.
Ah there were some
highlights, and funny one-liners ('...we are the fall...we wish we could
be celebreties...') but I can't recall them. Some of the usual drama
when Mark knocked over a glass on stage, snaking leads splashing about
(don't they stop gigs for lesser hazards?), Mark fucking a mike stand
back rather deliberately at Jim (maybe pissed that Jim had deposited
the glass in that rather dubious spot), Mark covering guitarists eyes
and laughing at something I guess only he knew was funny, owner of establishment
standing at door pointing and laughing openly at Mark when the gig started
(though he and skinhead bouncer seemed to 'get' it by the end).
the band are now heavily reliant on material from the penultimate album
rather than Arse Mithering Whiner.
Garage, London, April 20:
Just got back from
the fun that was The Garage.
McLusky were superb.
And to think it
was only a few days ago that it was said that The Fall never have a
decent support band.
The Fall Band, highly
coherent, same set list as Blackburn, the same length of songs as Blackburn,
otherwise imagine Frank Sinatra, New York 1973.
Otherwise, no fun
travel stories to relate. As I watched McLusky, I had a group of five
45+ year old blokes to my right, four teenage girls to my left. The
usual Fall crowd, then.
Pretty good, MES
The Joke/ Cyber Insekt/ Two Librans (abandoned)/ And Therein/ Kick The
Can&F-Oldin' Money (medley)/ Bourgeouis Town/ Mr Pharmacist/ Antidotes/
Goes offstage. Band
return, start up playing. Ed Blamey comes on to sing "I Wake Up In The
City", then MES replaces him to "Ex-Classmates" (band continue same
tune throughout). Then play "Way Round".
SOLD OUT! but luckily
we got tickets outside for more or less face value. One tout was selling
them at 30 quid a piece and they were being snapped up. Most people
we approached en route to the door wished us luck in getting in - v.
polite Fall fans.
Nice to see venue
packed. Band v. tight. Mark stops bemused bass player at one point while
muttering something about '"the bass player and Camden".
of 'The Joke' and 'Cyber Insekt'. Great version of 'B.Town' also Mr.
Pharmacist went down really. Ed. came out first for encore 'I Wake Up
in the City' adding some improvisation (even giving the two blokes selling
t-shirts at the back a mention which had them grinning) before Mark
went into 'My Ex-Class Mates Kids'. T-shirts
pretty cool by the way. pic of MES holding fag with the words The Fall
- 2002 Tour
My girlfriend who'd
hadn't seen them since Edinburgh circa '95/'96 thought they were better
then she'd expected ("he walked off after only a few numbers last time").
Greil Marcus finally
pronounces judgement on The Fall... scroll down quite a bit or search
for my name!!
Tomorrow's Parties, Camber Sands Holiday Centre, April 28:
Just got back from
Camber Sands - excellent festival, interesting music and not having
to sleep in a tent although it must be said that Camber Sands is truly
a depressing, soulless place.
The Fall came on
10.15 pm on Sunday night and delivered a blistering set similar to recent
sets except for doing I wake up in the city (sung by Ed Blaney) which
turned into Ex Classmates when MES came back on stage. A lot of people
there were obviously not too well up on the Fall, but the entire audience
response was the best of the weekend with probably 1,500 attending.
Bougieous (i can't
spell) Town was the highlight of the evening and you had to feel sorry
for the Breeders who came on afterwards because it was impossible to
follow an excellent set by the Fall.
An 11 track CD is
available (ATPR3CD) featuring bands from the festival. Fall track included
is Two Librans. This will be available through record shops.
With your ticket,
you got a triple cd featuring every artist performing and on CD1 there
is Way Round.
Both tracks are
taken straight from Unutterable.
Thanks to John
Blakeley for typing up this interview with MES from the Sydney
Morning Herald, July 13, 1990:
Up," by Shane Danielson
Age has wearied
them, the children of punk. Some have lapsed into an almost bourgeois
respectability, making safe, charmless records that do nothing but discredit
their history; the others, their enthusiasm withered, their resources
depleted have fallen silent, and are lost to us.
But some - a very
few - have persevered, every bit as furious and uncompromising as they
ever were. Amongst them are The Fall: for more than a decade, the purveyors
of splintered rhythms, skewed guitar lines, songs that hover at some
imprecise point between slashing anger and deranged mantra. Their fuel
is scraps of media and culture, snatched, chewed up and spat out in
a manner uniquely their own.
The creative process
enabling this - as explained by their songwriter and leader, Mark E.
Smith - is essentially one of premeditated sabotage: "We've got three
songwriters in the band at the moment, and they're all contributing
material. What usually happens is someone brings in a melody or chord
progression or something and plays it. And then," he laughs, "I get
at it and just completely wreck it."
"But to me, that
process of attacking a song is a pretty vital one. Those kind of quirks
are what distinguishes the music I like; they're what makes it interesting,
because I must admit, when I listen to the radio, most of it just slides
past me completely. It's just wallpaper - very, very predictable and
repetitive, with no surprises or risk whatsoever. And that's kind of
It was once said
of Smith that he shifted styles between each successive Fall album,
so as to alienate deliberately the fans he had won with his last. The
suggestion amuses him, though he admits: "I think it's more to do with
the fact that I'm basically a very undisciplined sort of writer, actually.
It's not much more profound than that. I write like I do simply because
I can't any other way."
With titles like
Haf Found Bormann and Shoulderpads, and lyrics that often seem designed
more to obscure than enlighten, Smith has long enjoyed a reputation
as something of a linguistic escape artist, one taking shelter in his
own strange dialect, into which ordinary English intrudes only peripherally.
"I've never believed
that there are subjects which are 'right' for songs, and the way I write
reflects that. People's reaction to my lyrics is very funny, actually.
Often, over the years, I've had these supposed intellectuals completely
at a loss to understand what the hell I'm talking about - yet as often
as not, some ordinary person working in a shop can understand it perfectly.
Which is good, because - without wanting to sound like a wanker - The
Fall has always been much more a working class band than any kind of
art band. We've never allied ourselves to any of that, with the result
that people have never known quite how to take us."
The sheer number
of line-ups the band has enjoyed over its lifetime might easily have
led Smith to give it away, yet he has remained optimistic. "In a way,
I'm almost glad that it does change often - if it hadn't, the group
would have never survived that long; it would have become too stale
and ...well, familiar, I suppose. Whereas, this way you've always got
new people coming in and bringing their own ideas with them, their own
unique way of doing things."
One question remains
unanswered: how can Smith know that his interference is for the best?
Certainly, The Fall have produced some fine music - yet who is to say
that, under his ministrations, some potentially magnificent songs have
not been smothered? "Look, it's simple: lots of people think they have
good taste, but of course they haven't. Whereas I know I have. I'm always
Never fear: Smith
is (still) here.
The Fall play tonight
at The Venue, Dee Why, supported by Tactics, and tomorrow night at Selinas,
Coogee Bay Hotel.
Thanks to Sebastian
Morlighem for telling me about this great cartoon (in French) about
a journey to a Fall gig in London at http://www.homme-moderne.org/images/graf/luz/.
And many thanks to
Olli Czoske for translating it into
Tom Hingley (ex
Inspiral Carpets) and the Lovers (including Steve and Paul Hanley) tour
May 10 hartlepool
May 11 newcastle uni 01912393926
May 18 salisbury arts festival old ale house 07799553889
May 21 life, manchester
June 27 sheffield boardwalk 01142799090
Aug. 23 scooter rally isle of wight 07774893178
Sept 14 fibbers york
Also Tom says: "more
dates to come, call 07973861540 for more details."
The Fall are at number
21 in NME's laughable 50 most influential artists list. You can read all
about it in this Guardian article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,685630,00.html.