Fall play ...
Festival Hall, London, on the same bill as the Magic Band.
Barfly, Chalk Farm Road, London
NW1. With McLusky
and Jarcrew. Tickets were available
here, although it looks like all three London dates are sold
With Jeffrey Lewis and Ill Ease.
With Pink Grease and Selfish Cunt. Many thanks to Graeme for sending
in this Barfly flyer.
near Lancaster. Tickets £14 from the venue, or £15.50
(inc. p&p) from the Tourist Board - 01524 582808.
Brickyard, Carlisle. £14 advance, available from 01228
Irvine. With John Cooper Clarke.
Ferry, Glasgow. With John Cooper Clarke. £14 advance, available from 01698 265511
Edinburgh. With John Cooper Clarke.
West North Street, Aberdeen.
With John Cooper Clarke. Tickets £15, available in person or by phoning
Thanks to David for sending in the poster.
Nightclub, Rose Street, Inverness. With John Cooper Clarke.
Sams, Dundee. With John Cooper Clarke.
Opera House, Newcastle. Tickets £15, doors 6:30pm, showtime
7:30pm. With John Cooper Clarke. Box office
01 91 232 0899.
Hall Crypt, Middlesbrough. With John Cooper Clarke.
Room, Scarborough Spa Complex, with John Cooper
Clarke. Tickets £14.
House, York. With John Cooper Clarke. Advance tickets £14; £15
on the door. 0870 9070 999
With John Cooper
Clarke. Advance tickets £14; £15 on the door. 0870 9070
With John Cooper Clarke and Pubic Fringe. To be confirmed, according
to their website.
Academy 2, Liverpool. With John Cooper
Clarke and Pubic Fringe. Advance
With John Cooper Clarke? and Pubic Fringe. Advance
Hall, Manchester - MES spoken word. Tickets (£16.50)
0161 9079000 and online. Show will also feature Howard
Devoto, John Cooper Clarke and "special guest Pete Shelley."
Thanks to Jim for sending in the Scottish dates flyer:
I've heard that Action are sorting out a US licensing
deal for TRNFLPFCOTC and they're planning a US tour to support it.
was interviewed recently for "The Evening Sequence with Tom Robinson"
on BBC 6FM. They played some old rockabilly and Can tracks as well
as some Fall tracks, and when the show airs around mid-March,
they hope to play the b-side of the next single, which I guess will
be released soon afterwards. More details when I get them.
From the 1988 Smash Hits Sticker Collection; thanks to Nigel for scanning
thanks to Marco for scanning in this cartoon from
the latest Vice magazine. Click the excerpt for the complete version.
may remember reading about the Durutti Column
vs. The Fall photography
exhibition that took place in Manchester late last year. The Fall
photographer, Michael Pollard, very kindly sent
me several excellent
Fall photos he took in 1984/85 to publish on the
website. Thanks, Michael!
thanks to Stuart for scanning in the Allied
Propaganda MES interview from 1983. It's a little hard to read in places - most
of it's legible though.
Festival Hall, London, Jan. 23:
The Fall / The Magic Band, Royal Festival Hall, London
28 January 2004
A few minutes into The Fall's opening number, Mark E Smith saunters
on to the voluminous stage of the Royal Festival Hall, drops his jacket
by the drums and sets about dismantling his mic-stand. A dream joint
billing of two cult bands it may be, but for Smith it's business as usual,
and over the next hour he sets about recreating the off-hand menace of
a Fall gig by cuffing his bass-player, twiddling with the amps, poking
mics into the drumkit and delivering a three-note keyboard solo with
his hand behind his back, his body corkscrewed, like some malevolent
modern-dress Richard III.
In his workaday blue shirt, grey trousers and shiny black shoes, Smith
cuts the gloriously uncharismatic figure of a coach-driver on a fag-break.
His vocals are a challenging bawl of falling vowels, words indecipherable
beyond gut recognition, but Smith on stage remains a man with presence,
toying sardonically with audience expectations. You can almost see him
smile, but he doesn't, quite.
The latest version of The Fall delivers a stripped-down,
pounding set dominated by material from last autumn's Country on
the Click. There's a rousing rockabilly threesome in the middle - "Mr Pharmacist", "F-Oldin
Money" and a ramshackle cover of "Walk like a Man" that's as loose as
a torn string vest - before the band dive into "Theme to Sparta FC" and,
for the closing number, a surprise resurrection of "Mere Pseud Mag Ed".
The Magic Band open the second half of the bill
with the R&B nostalgia
of "Diddy Wah Diddy" before segueing into an entirely different universe
with "Smithsonian Institute Blues", from the era of Lick My Decals off,
Baby. The drummer John "Drumbo" French is the band's wild-eyed front
man, in white hat and trench coat, and thankfully his adoption of Captain
Beefheart's mantle is a convincing one.
Drumbo and The Magic Band fill this music to the
brim, and for the generations who have only ever heard the records
- the Captain himself abandoned ship more than 20 years ago - it
is a thrillingly visceral experience to hear the likes of "Click Clack" and "Sun Zoom Spark" in
The Magic Band are crack players; what elevates them high above the
rank of tribute band is their shared history in the making of this extraordinary
music. Beefheart may have been the dominating force and composer, but
it was The Magic Band who turned his directives into music that could
be played. All this concert lacks is the unpredictable electricity of
the Captain's presence. Like Smith, Beefheart would probably have been
more interested in testing than fulfilling audience expectations.
But fulfilled they are. Drumbo's exuberant vocal
performances frame the intense instrumental heart of the set, which
draws on Trout Mask Replica and the likes of "Abba Zabba" and "Alice in Blunderland".
They are more sound-sculptures than songs, their skewed dynamics reinvigorated
by the physicality and zest of the musicianship. The Magic Band may once
have been half-starved freaks living on mung beans, but a lifetime later
they are seriously heavy dudes - less old farts at play; more a classic
band playing at the top of their game.
From the Evening Standard, January 26, 2004 (p.
It's magic, with just a hint of beef.
Byline: PETE CLARK
The Magic Band...Festival Hall
THE Fall's Mark E Smith is popular music's wild card. He strides around
the stage wearing a shirt-and-slacks combo seemingly borrowed from
an old-fashioned shop-floor agitator. Like that ancient breed, he is
always cross about something, although what that might be is open to
question as his specially constructed microphone removes all hint of
sense from the English language, leaving him free to indulge in purely
When the tension becomes unbearable, he adjourns to his jacket, which
is hanging by the drum kit, for a rummage.
My guess is that he's searching for a wad of chewing tobacco. At other
moments, a spirit of interference overcomes him as he bashes at the
tom-tom, pokes viciously at the toy keyboard, or fiddles with the bass-guitar
amp, trying to find 11.
The Fall's music remains resolutely post-punky, a cranky journey to
nowhere, but Smith remains a most unlikely alchemist, a riveting performer
who comes across as a malevolent Stan Laurel that you just want to
hug. Except that wouldn't be a good idea.
Much more huggable in every way are The Magic Band, erstwhile purveyors
of the soundtrack to Captain Beefheart's cockeyed blues dreams, and
now in the rather peculiar position of being a tribute band to their
When they were much younger men, the Captain
allegedly locked them in a small room to practise until perfect,
hour after hour, day upon day, feeding them only handfuls of soya
beans. Since that benevolent despot retired to the desert to paint,
his former pupils have kept up with their lessons admirably, but
have allowed the dietary side of life to get quite out of control.
The last time I saw Mark "Rockette
Morton" Boston on stage - around 1974, admittedly - he looked
nearly as sleek as his nickname.
Now he looks like a jolly escapee from The Beverly Hillbillies who
has eaten all the hominy grits.
The focal point of the band now is John "Drumbo" French,
the longstanding drummer who is blessed with a near facsimile of Beefheart's
With a stand-in drummer, The Magic Band gives us the
Captain's greatest hits.
French nods to his ex-boss with the choice of fedora and trenchcoat,
and his mouth-organ playing is suitably waspish, and if one's eyes
were shut during such zingers as Sun Zoom Spark or the unbearably affecting
Grow Fins, then it was almost possible to believe in real magic.
No matter, memories don't come much better than this. From the early
strains of Mirror Man, through the classic rumble of When It Blows
Its Stacks, to the essential desert-island disc that is Big-Eyed Beans
From Venus, the Magic Band led us a merry dance. It's just that missing
edge that niggles. I wonder how they'd be with Mark E Smith up front?
I'd already started booking the tickets for the Magic
Band before I knew the my all-time fave band would be the support act!
house, lots of whom were there to see the Magic Band of course. All
seater, with lots of people coming in and out during the Fall's set.
last saw the Fall in the Unutterable line-up and was very impressed.
Fall came on...... not overly impressed with the sound. The bass
was was too low range, not the driving middly sound required for
the Fall backbone. Sounded best when Ben was playing more lead-y
guitar, and when there was backing vocals. Keyboards not always audable,
but were welcome when you could hear them. Elanor had her hair down,
dark clothes,and looked good. I thought MES vocal performance was
poor, apart from Mr Pharmicist which was good.
Set list including Mr Pharmicist, Walk Like
a man, F-Oldin Money,Middle Mass, Mere Psued Mag Ed, and a bunch
of stuff from TRNFAPKACOTC. No Big Priest or Touch Sensitive for example.
were twiddled and mikes relocated. No walk-offs.
someone to the gig and trying to explain that the Fall are the best
The Magic Band were great though! It was worth the
entrance fee just for John French's coat. Drumbo is a good Captain
substitute, and it was great when he got behind the kit for the middle
section of the show.
Seeing the Magic Band play a great show without
their mentor/leader, and seeing The Fall do a lack-lustre show with
theirs makes you wonder about the credibility of the whole granny/bongos
theory. What would a collection of ex Fall members sound like doing
some sort of showcase...................?
(he writes) ATTENDED THE AND THE MAGIC BAND GIG LAST
NIGHT. And The Magic Band were fronted for a few
songs by a cap-alike in a white suit and matching
fedora (some ex-drummer?) who stayed in character for between song
raspy banter. Didn't take away from the
excellent music, just seemed like some ('man wearing
uneccesary hat' category) saddo enjoying an ego trip
in his own parallel universe who happened to be there as well. A very
easy character to identify with. A sealed unit. a thoroughly enjoyable
gig, mirror man being the highlight, truly ossom. A duffle coat was
ripped up in joy.
(and again) THE FALL WAS AN (EVEN) MORE EDGY GIG THAN
USUAL, lots of fiddling foreplay, sudden jumps in volume and carefully
stepping over mic cables which weren't actually there; the
first few songs seemed to be finished off quickly without relish, but
finally, to the relief of all present Fallinists (conscious of the
tight-lipped gaze and folded arms of the Beefheartist hairy pensioner
faction) a climax was unexpectedly reached about two thirds of the
way through the set with with an undisputably spanking Sparta. Following
this after sex cigarettes were lit and held aloft as the band gelled
and locked through janet and Johnny and a few other goodies. The children
of these rank and sweaty sheets included Pharmacist which for once
was welcomed as a Fallinist rallying point, the proud parents imagining
that they were seeing off the Beefheartists in their own terms (the
ones that had bothered to switch their hearing aids on anyway).
Result : a 1-1 draw. Fall a good performance, winning
no new fans but leaving self-respect of existing fans intact, unpredictability
keeping alive the suspicion that here is something more than an archive
of past recordings.
And the magic band - musically excellent, well preserved
and presented. Looking forward to their return in 2014.
The Sime refers to John French as possibly 'some ex-drummer'.
It should be pointed out that he was in the Magic Band for over half
of their 17-odd years, at several different points, also as an occasional
guitarist, and crucially, the transcriber/ arranger of Beefheart's
compositions for the 'Trout Mask Replica' album, so 'some ex-drummer'
does diminish his achievements somewhat!
Enjoyed the Fall too...it was interesting
seeing a 'sloppy' Fall show (with all the mike-fiddling etc) after
the Islington show last month which was fairly tight/ uneventful. Particularly
enjoyed MES dropping his mike (during 'Middle mass'?) and theatrically
declaiming the lyrics into thin air for a minute or two before resuming...
My course last week was transferred to London so I
did get to see the Fall and the Magic Band at the RFH (Nick came up
too). Very disappointed with MES and co. The band was enthusiastic
enough but Mark seemed to be not interested in it at all. There was
much twiddling on amps, keyboards and moving the drum mics to no advantage
whatsoever. Also the worst, slurred delivery I've heard from MES and
he was not bothering with all the words. This was not a patch on the
recent live recordings you've sent which seemed full of energy. Much
the same set list as recent gigs but with an awful cover of "Walk
like a Man", at least I
think that's what it was. A two minute punk thrash of "The Joke" was
disrespectful for such a classic track. The keyboard sound was pitiful,
as Nick said "Is all the new stuff so 'Rock' sounding?" Thinking
about it, apart for Mark's slurred vocal this could be any guitar/bass/drums
combo from the early eighties.
However, the Magic Band was superb. It was difficult
without the vocals to recognise some of the tracks but Drumbo did a
decent interpretation of the good captain's vocal on stuff like "Diddy
Wah Diddy", "Abba Zabba", "Electricity", "Nowadays
a Man....", "Mirror
Man" and , of course, "Big Eyed Beans...". They had
some sound problems, stopping one track just after starting it, although
me and Nick couldn't hear anything wrong. Gary Lucas did seem to be
twiddling with his guitar tuning all the time and I think some of the
dual guitar parts were missing. Amazingly both the Fall bassist and
Rockette Morton managed to unplug their basses by stepping on the cord,
Rockette during his solo, embarrassingly! Where Drumbo wasn't singing
he played some amazing drum patterns and most things came out pretty
I've only seen The Fall twice, first at C.A. London
on dec. 7th last, and again at the Festival Hall, which, for both those
reasons is why I'm writing. Their performance was first class each
time. The first wasonly better cause they played longer, but there
was definitely something special about the second. My 18 years experience
of listening to the fall told me that M.E.S. was feeling particularly
glad about something. Now this could simply have been him looking forward
to sitting back and being entertained for a change, but from the expression
on what I could make out of his face, the white of his eyes and his
teeth, as he left the stage and jumped into the darkness of the pit
I'd swear it was something a bit more manc than that. Or maybe it was
just the way that the Beefheart fans, some of whom thought the Clash
were playing that night, suddenly realized that they had no option
but to listen and accept the bombast. This whitewashing of faces from
amidst the black & leather took place gradually at first so that
by the end of Theme from Sparta FC the applause that went up was not
merely loud and fast but also in perfect timing.
In fairness I was equally
impressed by the main act although I had a vague idea what to expect
cause my big Bro's a Beefy fan. In fact he may even have been there.
Yeah. Anyway, the bass player in particular grabbed my attention when
he launched into a solo that must've been heard outside, or at least
it would have been untill he yanked out the lead to his amp., the jack
plug was obviously loose. Bleedin crew filth . He soon recovered, and
before the band got into some proper tunes they all had a little solo
stint. I wanted to hear a lot more of Mantis ( Fender, I think ) but
I had to go for a bus, really I had to go. Might get some of their
stuff in the summer tho' .
There are several reviews and links on the message
London, Feb. 2:
Turner wrote about the Barfly gigs for the Stereo
to Stuart for
the Time Out scan - sorry about the quality.
Highlight: The crowd grabbed a microphone and started singing along.
Annoyed bouncers wrestled
it off the crowd and put it back on stage. Mark picked it up and with
a knowing smile handed it
back to the crowd.
MES in top smiley form!
Setlist and ticket attached:
Great gig. MES didn't fuck around too much, seemed
sober and in good cheer. Played (in no order): Loco Man, Mountain,
Sparta, Contraflow, Boxoctosis, Janet, Pharmacist, Middle Mass, Mere
Pseud, White Lightning (the one and only encore).
Call yourselves bloody professionals? In almost
the correct order. Boxoctosis
/ Mountain Energei / Green Eyed Loco Man / Middle Mass / Janet + James
/ Mr Pharmacist / Sparta F.C. / Mere Pseud Mag Ed / Contraflow // White
Went to see Crawley Town FC play, due to kick off at 3, they finally
turned up at 3:45, played a blinding first half, though without using
some of their better set pieces, but didn't bother coming out for the
second period. Not to worry, it was a compact ground and I was really
close to the pitch.
I knew the Monarch from years ago when my mates used to play downstairs on a
Sunday afternoon, and was really looking forward to seeing The Fall in such an
intimate venue. Caught the end of McLusky, and they were entertaining enough
and probably played the longer set. And then the wait.
. finally, the main attraction, the opening number, Boxoctosis and the sound
is fantastic, Ben's guitar is the best thing in the band for an age, while Evets
[Dingo, not Steve Evets, I believe - ed] and the drummer drive it along
splendidly, Elini tinkering and twinkling in the corner, and then Mr. Smith,
somewhat wizened, but seemingly on fine form, smiling, chatting, twiddling. Through
Energei, Loco, onto an immense Middle Mass, dynamic Sparta and Pharmacist, a
highlight in Janet + James, Mere pseud mag, then Contraflow, a deserved and heroic
epic, and great as a centrepiece to any set, but no, that is it, the last number.
Off for five minutes, then back for a mechanical White Lightning. And that really
is it. No Xyralothep, no Xeragon, no Dr Bucks, no Big Prinz, no Past, no F...olding
and no Walk like a Man.
Feel a bit cheated. Someone, somewhere fucked up, the band; their management
or the venue, who even had the cheek to announce that the bar was still open!
So why the fifty-five minute delay? We spent more time watching an empty stage
than the band, though I didn't have the added stress of spending the last half
hour worrying whether I'd be able to get the last train home. No, I'd driven
up from Brighton, two hours there, three hours in Camden, including 45 minutes
from The Fall, and an hour and a half back. I did get to drive past my old squat
and local (the Parrs Head), and other nostalgia of NW1.
Was it worth it? Sorry to go on, but the set was even shorter than the Worthing
debacle in '96 but with neither the car crash entertainment nor a money back
offer. Nor was the set as interesting as the last Concorde show in Brighton,
half a dozen off the RNFLP, but not the most fascinating ones.
But I'll shut up and conclude it was worth it, twenty-six years since I first
encountered Mr. Smith he is still the greatest living Englishman, a national
treasure to be cherished. But a bit more effort and professionalism or this tour
could end in tears.
London, Feb. 3:
and a couple of great photos of Mark on the message
In no particular order
Like A Man/BourgeoisTown/Pharmacist/NEW BIG PRINZ (awesome)/Encore was Dr Buck's
They played for an hour and it was bloody good.
Jefferey Lewis was also highly entertaining, his Fall documentary was brilliant.
London, Feb. 4:
Many thanks to Jaffoon Jaffoon for these
Okay, I take back my Fallnet comment about the mosphit - fatter,
uglier, balder, stupider and for the most part probably even older
than me, it's a miracle these pieces of shit manage to stay upright
(occasionally) on fewer than four legs.
But what about the muzak? Well, Selfish Cunt: different, that's for sure, but
a bit disappointing, though I missed (unforgivably) the first half of their set.
Spotted a Bowie-esque influence in parts, but that's probably unfair. Loved the
suit. Isn't it time for suits again? Don't tell me, they never went away, I'm
just a sad out-of-touch git.
Pink Grease: fun, certainly - the Tubes on <insert designer drug of the moment>?
- a bit unusual as a Fall support, but then we're used to that. Haven't made
my mind up, but they're danceable, in a sort of warped sad old git kind of way,
which is all I know. Worth a listen, and nice folk. And from Sheffield, which
has a nice library school.
The Fall: Hmmmmm.... it's all been said, going through the motions etc. In fact
the COTC stuff was ace, except for Boxoctosis, which lost something in translation.
But Pleeeeeeze spare us the retrospective shit, it was great then, nowadays I
can just bung on an LP/CD, or a couple of dozen of them. Pharmacist was good,
suiting this lineup, but Ed was awful; encore Lightning shite as always, so no
thanks to fallfandave for sending in the Mark
E. Smith interview from the Feb. 2004 Jack magazine.
lots of people have pointed out the Pitchfork
review of TRNFLPFCOTC.
Coonce wrote about the Fall's return to California
in the Pull the Pin section of his excellent kerosenebomb.com -
scroll the right frame down a bit to read.
Been reading a review copy of Stuart Maconie's forthcoming
memoir 'Cider With Roadies'. Within, there's a chapter entitled 'I
Am Kurious, Oranj'. Here Maconie reminisces about his first NME cover
story, which involved travelling to Edinburgh to attend Michael Clark's
Kurious Oranj show and interview Mark E Smith. At the risk of breaching
copyright, here's a short excerpt.
"Over an astonishing variety and quantity
of drinks, we talked of the events of 400 years before. 'Wasn't James
the second a little mad?' I asked over a Drambuie. Smith pulled on
his cigarette and glanced furtively and anxiously \ around the room.
'That's as may be, Stuart son. But I'd watch what you say round here.'
With a quick nod of his head he indicated the almost deserted snug
bar. A man of around eighty with a West Highland terrier was doing
the Daily Record quick crossword. The day went on much like this."
He goes on to relay some hilarious MES anecdotes, including
some told to him by Dave Cavanagh, and the chapter also features a
very erudite assessment of the band and its impact. Elsewhere in the
book there's some fascinating stuff about Wigan's northern soul scene,
the Happy Mondays, late-'80s NME... It's a great read, to be fair.
Here's another excerpt:
"After one interview, Smith asked him [David
Cavanagh] if he'd care to come out for dinner, adding, 'Do you like
Turkish food?' David hungrily agreed and ended up eating a doner kebab
and drinking a Diet Coke on the plastic stools in the window of an
all-night Salford kebab shop."
The book will be published in the UK on February 5,
by Ebury Press (a Random House imprint). Here's the Amazon
The Fall have seen off almost 40 members - and counting. Tim Cumming hears the
perils of working with the band's erratic frontman
'It was like life or death," says Paul Hanley, who was the Fall's drummer in
the early 1980s. "I've never, ever come across that intensity, where every gig
was the last you were gonna do - or the first you'd ever done. It was like the
end of the world if there was a bad gig. The frustrating thing was, I could never
He laughs the weighted kind of laugh that being
part of Mark E Smith's band seems to provoke. "Sometimes there were
genuinely great performances where everything gelled. Other times
it was what was going on in his head. Which accounts for a lot of
experiences in the Fall."
Ever since the jarring, garage modernism of the
Fall's first album, Live at the Witch Trials, was unleashed in 1979,
the band - that is to say, Mark E Smith - has adopted a revolving-door
policy. Almost 40 people have at various points accompanied Smith
for the all-or-nothing ritual of a Fall gig, among them ex-wife Brix
Smith, Marc Riley (now DJ partner of Mark Radcliffe), and drummer
Karl Burns, who has joined and left the group eight or nine times
The band's recording legacy is hopelessly clouded,
but this year it should be put in working order thanks to the label
Sanctuary, which is releasing a batch of remastered albums from the
late 1970s and early 1980s. The double set of Live at the Witch Trials
is taken from the original masters and is a huge improvement on previous
releases. The second album, Dragnet, augmented with stop-start multiple
takes of Rausch [sic] Rumble, presents the furiously rough-hewn
template of what the Fall were and still are.
"He'd wind things up and then stand back and
see what happened," says
bassist Steven Hanley of his erstwhile boss, "to get a better performance
out of people. Or his idea of a better performance." Hanley preceded
his brother Paul into the band in 1978 [1979,
for the record]. He provided
the main framework of the band's sound for the next 20 years, until
his departure during the meltdown of a 1998 American tour, which ended
with Smith in jail and his ex-band on the next flight home.
Since that day six years ago, Hanley and Smith
have not spoken. He laughs the typical ex-Fall member's laugh. "It was a weird band to
have been in," he says. "I think it's totally unique. No other band
works like that. It exists in a world of its own. Everyday rules don't
A 16-year-old Marc Riley, initially the Fall's
roadie, joined up as guitarist [bassist] on the band's first [second]
single, It's the New Thing. He lasted four years. "When it really
worked it was phenomenal," he says. "But
it could be absolutely bloody awful at times. It was real hand-to-mouth
stuff. We'd release an album and tour the next one, so you'd only find,
like, three songs in the set, and the rest was new. That's how Mark
wanted it, and it was fantastic.
"Mark was already an incredible character," he continues. "He's
always been different - his ideas were always great, and his philosophy
was always great. We were like sponges, we took it all in. It wasn't
easy, and it wasn't easy for the audience, but it was an educational
thing. There was a definite choice not to sit there and keep the
plates spinning, but to let them drop and move on."
Some of those early 1980s shows are caught in
the DVD Perverted by Language: here, the intensity recalled by the
Hanley brothers and Riley is palpable, the edginess and total commitment
visible in the young faces of the band. "I don't remember the same intensity in the studio,
funnily enough," says Paul Hanley. "I don't remember the same focus
on getting your head right."
Even now, two decades later, Smith stalks his stage like a ravaged
Hurricane Higgins circling the table to pot the last colours. Around
him the new Fall cracks out industrial-strength riffs as if they were
machine parts, and only rarely are there moments of looseness before
the music hardens, becomes riveted - and riveting. For the most part
his words are indecipherable, but that's not the point. On a good night
with the Fall, Smith acts like a lightning conductor to group and audience.
"The emotions you go through at a Fall gig are unbelievable," says
the band's current guitarist, Ben Pritchard. The first time he saw
them was at the Ritz in Manchester in the mid-1990s. "I was very naive
when I was 15, 16. All that was going on was Blur and Oasis. Then I
went to see the Fall and thought, my God, who is this guy? The energy
that came out - I'd never seen anything like Mark singing in my life."
By the time Pritchard joined the band, during
the sessions for the 2000 album The Unutterable, he had already known
Smith for a few years - but still, he says, nothing prepares you
for the experience of full contact. "You can go up there and play a blinding gig, but you're a
bit scared because you don't know what he's going to do next. I've
done gigs when he'd push the drums over, or come over and push me in
the face. But one of the great things about Mark is that the way he
is on stage is what he's like all the time. And I mean all the time." Cue
more laughter. "He purposefully winds us up. It's frightening, the
lengths he'll go to make a point."
Recording material for a new album in their bass player Ding's studio
in Manchester, the Fall have not strayed far from the blueprint set
down in Dragnet in 1979. Only the names have changed. After 25 years
and 30 albums, Smith's working methods are more or less unchanged.
"Creatively, it's the best band to be in," says Pritchard, echoing
the sentiments of many a past member. "And it's the hardest-working
band I've ever been in. But that's the price you pay." When the band
walk on to the Festival Hall stage on Friday night to open for Captain
Beefheart's legendary Magic Band, it'll be a rare chance to catch them
alongside one of their major influences: "Mark knows Trout Mask Replica
like the back of his hand," says Pritchard
When Pritchard first joined, Smith remained completely
detached, travelling separately and staying out of contact. "He never spoke to us. The only
time we'd see him was when he walked out on stage and started." But
last year's American tour broke some barriers and brought Smith closer
to his musicians, perhaps for the first time in years. "He's really
happy with the band," says Pritchard, "the happiest he's been in a
long time. And he's told us that. And the fact he's told us that speaks
Live at the Witch Trials
and Dragnet are out now [Jan. 26] on Sanctuary Records. The Fall
support the Magic Band at the Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, on
Friday. Box office: 020-7960 4242.
Marco's posted a clip of Carry Bag Man
from the Sanremo Festival in Italy, 1988, on his site: http://digilander.libero.it/vladiduna/thefallinitalia/
Pascal Le Gras exhibition in Glasgow:
Pascal: I will have an exhibition in jerome lloyd gallery
/ 200 bath street / glasgow / g2 4hg
there is a website too: www.dentalpractice.com
exhibition will start on 21th january and run through 25th february.
The Blackburn DVD (in case you've forgotten, a
camera crew recorded the Sept. 22, 2002 gig at King George's Hall in
Blackburn) is due out March 8, apparently. It's title: A
Touch Sensitive: Live.
The DVD will be out on Secret Records, who released
that unnecessary Rebellious Jukebox compilation with the MES interview
on DVD. They say the Blackburn DVD will be PAL, region 2 (i.e. not playable
on region 1-only DVD players), although the interview DVD was NTSC region
0 (playable on all DVD players).
Sanctuary Fall release update from
LIVE AT THE WITCH TRIALS & DRAGNET - Both are
on target for 26 January release, as originally scheduled. They were
at the pressing plant last week.
I've been listening to the CD masters on discman (with
good headphones) over the past three weeks and they do sound very good
indeed. Dragnet in particular is a lot better than previous CD versions.
The Voiceprint 2002 LATWT+ was pretty good; this new one is slightly
cleaner and seems to have a better frequency range. The panned toms
The alternate versions on Dragnet are very interesting and there's
a little bit of studio chatter that we all agreed should be left in
on the final mastering.
I've also reviewed the draft artwork and it looks
pretty good. 16 page fold-out booklets with notes by Daryl Easlea
on one side and track details & photos, etc on the
TOTALE'S TURNS & GROTESQUE - These are next in
line, in a couple of months time.
BEST OF - Sanctuary is doing a 40 track, 2 CD best
of for April release. For the first time ever, this is a compilation
that covers the entire catalogue/all record labels, right up to date
(The Real New Fall LP).
It is aimed at casual, first time buyers who have heard about the
band or one track and don't know what to get next. As such, it is biased
towards the singles (a lot of the Beggars A-sides) and there's nothing
new or unreleased on it.
The final tracklisting has been cleared. I'm not going to disclose
the tracklisting as it will only result in me getting about a hundred
emails from people disagreeing with the songs chosen, even though it's
PEEL SESSIONS BOX SET - This is definitely on for later
in the year. 6 CDs, sessions 1-23 complete.
Green-Eyed Loco Man came in at #26 on
John Peel's Festive Fifty, while Theme from Sparta F.C. made
it to #2 (beaten out of Cinerama's #1 spot by one vote, apparently).
You can see the full results and listen in on the BBC's
Festive Fifty page.
thanks to Ponty Poolie for scanning in the following:
of Reality by
Dave McCullough, Sounds, Nov. 10, 1979 (Dragnet review)
Fall Down by Ian Penman, NME, Jan. 5, 1980 (MES interview)
in a Pit by Graham Lock, NME, Nov. 29, 1980 (Grotesque review)
Wit and the Wisdom of Mark E. Smith by Andy Gill, NME, Jan. 10,
1981 (MES interview)
Tumble and Fall Boys by Andy Gill, NME, May 2, 1981 (Slates review)
Priest: the Mark E. Smith Interview by Barny Hoskyns, NME, Nov. 14,
Curse of the Fall by Richard Cook, NME, Jan. 15, 1983 (MES interview)
at the Fall Guise by Don Watson, NME, Oct. 1, 1983 (MES interview)
Fall on Stony Ground by Jim Shelley, NME, Dec. 10, 1983 (PBL review)
Kings by Richard Cook, NME, Oct. 13, 1984 (TWAFWOTF review)
and After the Fall by Mat Snow, NME, Nov. 3, 1984 (MES vs. YYN)
Moon Rising by Cath Carroll, NME, Mar. 30, 1985 (HPAK review)
Art of Markness by Richard Cook, NME, June 29, 1985 (MES interview)
In! by David Quantick, NME, Sept. 28, 1985 (TNSG review)
Sound and the Fury: From Manchester With Love by John McCready,
NME, Feb. 15, 1986 (gig review - Liverpool, Feb. 8, 1986)
Hours? Seems Like a Decade by a bunch of people, NME, July 26,
1986 (Festival of the 10th Summer, Manchester, July 19, 1986). Includes
Festival programme printed in the July 5, 1986 NME)
Soul by Gavin Martin, NME, Aug. 30, 1986 (MES interview)
Rocker by Dave Haslam, NME, Oct. 4, 1986 (Bend Sinister review)
Within Tent by Len Brown, NME, Aug. 1, 1987 (Finsbury Park gig
- July 25, 1987)
Driver Causes Chaos - in a JCB! by James Brown, NME, Oct. 31,
Weird by Danny Kelly, NME, March 5, 1988 (Frenz Experiment review)
Dogs in the Far-Out Zone by Mark E. Smith, NME, July 30, 1988
History Man Whose Head Expanded by Stuart Maconie, Sept. 17,
1988 (MES interview)
- Outspanding by Len Brown, NME, Oct. 29, 1988 (IAKO review)
Again by Andrew Collins, NME, June 24, 1989 (Seminal Live review)
Jukebox by James Brown, NME, July 29, 1989 (MES interview)
Changing Shirt of Mark E. Smith, NME, July 29, 1989
Cold, Modern-ah! by Andrew Collins, NME, Jan. 20, 1990 (MES interview)
Gold: Top Mark by James Brown, NME, Feb. 17, 1990 (Extricate review)
from Birth by Steven Wells, NME, Aug. 25, 1990 (MES interview)
Live by Steve Lamacq, NME, Sept. 8, 1990 (Reading Festival review)
and a Half Gentlemen Please by Andrew Morton, NME, Apr. 20, 1991
Genius at Work... by Stephen Dalton, NME, Apr. 20, 1991 (Shift-work
Reading by Andrew Collins, NME, Sept. 7, 1991 (Reading Festival
Love, Love, Love, Love Your Armani by Ian McCann, NME, Feb. 29, 1992
from Crytographic Oceans by Dele Fadele, NME, March 14, 1992 (Code:
E Moan by John Harris, NME, April 3, 1993 (MES interview)
Spangle by Keith Cameron, NME, April 24, 1993 (Infotainment Scan
Man and His Grog by Johnny Cigarettes, NME, May 7, 1994 (MES interview)
Cock by Ian McCann, NME, May 7, 1994 (MCR review)
Life by John Harris, NME, March 4, 1995 (Cerebral Caustic review)
Pop Now by Sylvia Patterson, NME, Feb. 3, 1996 (MES interview)
on Up by John Mulvey, NME, June 8, 1996 (LUS review)
review by Steven Wells, NME, Oct. 11, 1997
to fallfandave for these:
Hip, Hip, Hip Priest by David Haslam, City Life, July 18, 1986 (MES
and Laughing by Mick Middles / Marking the Revolution by Graham Kay,
Offbeat #3, March 1989
Fall: Prole Art Threat by Paul Lester, Melody Maker, Sept. 1, 1990
Bending's wonderful The
Fall Multimedia Project website has Judas
Sheep by Marc
Riley With The Creepers, and a repeat of the MES slot on Virgin
Radio's Razor Cuts (Dec. 1, 2002 - seems like yesterday).
This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet for those with weak stomachs.
you have anything to say, you can mail Stefan,
but you can't mail the FallNet mailing list direct anymore. To subscribe
to FallNet, send mail to:
of UK gig reviews, Birmingham Post MES interview, details on expanded LATWT
and Dragnet CDs, recent NME Fall snippets.
reviews, HMV gig, Unpeeled interview (w/ Ben) details, Smash
Hits '87, Michael Bracewell's most embarrasing moment (and Pseud's
Durutti Column vs. The Fall photo exhibition, Permanent Years /
Rebellious Jukebox comp CDs, Fall badges, Reuben's Paintwork title page.
Manchester, Leeds gigs, book reviews, 1997 MES interview, new LP and single
19sep03 Uncut interview, book reviews,
"No Place Like It" transcript, a few old press clippings, Bingo
Master's 25th anniversary, War Against Intelligence cd, Bootleg Box Set
review, book launch party, Masked and Anonymous, Jack magazine, The Lovers
on tour, Johnny Cash
18aug03 Prindle int. w/Ben, Hip Priest reviews, Live at Phoenix
cd, War Against Intelligence cd, Brix int. 1994, Lovers single, web-enabled
22jul03 US tour reports (second half: Cambridge
Dallas), New Yorker cartoon, Simon Spencer RIP, "Idiot Joy Show," Words
of Expectation review
01jul03 US tour reports (first leg, thru
Cleveland), PBL dvd & User Guide reviews, Jim Watts interviews
John French, 1999 MES int., Voiceprint clearance sale
19jun03 Canada, ATP cancelled, the fall
uk, Fall books, Damo vs. USA, MCR's greatest frontman, Meltzer, Bad Man
Wagon, Adult Net debacle, comp reviews, Brix '87int., MES '82 int., "Idiot
27may03 PBL/Leeds DVD reviews, Aarhus
gig, great 1981 MES interview, Smiths Week, Woog Riots tribute, Sanctuary
CDs, Rubber Banana Fall radio show
29apr03 ATP, PoSR review, Peel Session
& Step Forward CDs, Made in the NW, Jeremy Vine show, bits
28mar03 Jim Watts sacked, Country on the
Click details, Peel Session, Turkey gig, 85 & 88 gig photos, Luz's
"The Joke" comic, Pascal LeGras new work, MES T-shirt, Fall
on emusic, Fall Tattooing rip
24feb03 news about books, Mojo top 50,
Claus Fall guitar, Beggars vids, Corsa ad link, 9feb83 + 88oct8 photos,
'78 So It Goes clip, Hanley bros interview, several early music press
scans, other bits
9jan03 Independent interview, Early
Singles, Listening In, UK chart placing history, Razor Cuts, Pascal
LeGras video, Record Collector, ring tones, Blue Orchids CDs, Peel's
4dec02 Electric Ballroom gig, Virgin
Radio, Fall vs. 2003, MES death row picks, Conway's wallpaper
8nov02 PPP review and lyrics, Dave Harrop,
Manchester Online soap opera
15oct02 UK gig reports, 1983 photos,
Fall press kit
20sept02 loads of upcoming releases,
jigsaws, Vauxhall advert, Mark Prindle int., couple of music press
scans, Slates movie clip, Fall Tattooing
23aug02 singles box and Totally Wired
reviews, Rocking Vicar, lots of old music press scans
3july02 2G+2 reviews, 6FM mp3, Bourgeois
13jun02 2G+2, Wire 25th anniversay piece,
custom Fall gig, PDFs of four old articles
16may02 Blackburn, London, ATP gig reviews,
BBC 6FM, Sydney 1990 int., French cartoon
19apr02 US tour cancelled, Mojo article,
Select (June 91), bits & pieces
19mar02 Euro tour reviews, Record Collector
interview., Wire review, new Fall discog., misc.
13feb02 comp results, Athens review,
Bournemouth Runner, Pan
13jan02 Timekode, Pan, bad German translations,
NME 2/25/89 interview
02jan02 album reviews, ancient Usenet
12dec01 MCR gig reviews, album reviews,
28nov01 mammoth US tour edition
13nov01 first batch of AYAMW reviews,
London Forum gig reports
5nov01 Euro gig reports, Knitting Factory
19oct01 UK gig reports, studybees interview
30sep01 tour / booking details, 1979
9sep01 not much
28aug01 Flitwick single, 82/83 gig pics
31may01 Dublin pics, Cash for Questions, Guardian
29apr01 IR, UK gig reviews
9apr01 NL gig reviews
3mar01 Dublin gig, Invisible Jukebox
28jan01 World Bewitched details
1jan01 some ace Castlefield pics
19dec00 more reviews
1dec00 tour reviews, crap interviews
10nov00 Unutterable reviews
21oct00 Stanza festival, HighSmith Teeth, comedy
11oct00 RFH reviews, new Cog Sinister releases
12sep00 DOSE interview, Fall calendar
22aug00 Portugal, Manchester gigs
9aug00 bits & pieces
23jul00 Psykick Dance Hall, Pure As Oranj details,
Triple Gang reviews
9jul00 few bits
20jun00 Ashton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Glasgow,
Edinburgh reviews, old Volume piece
30may00 LA2 reviews
22may00 few old LP reviews
2may00 bits & pieces
24apr00 TBLY #19 details, Prop details
8apr00 more Leeds reviews. WSC interview, other
26mar00 Doncaster, York, Leeds reviews, BravEar
interview (plus others)
14mar00 various reviews, old Liz Kershaw i/view
24feb00 Past Gone Mad details
13feb00 few bits & pieces
30jan00 tour details, Tommy Blake stuff
20jan00 TBLY #18 details, Hanley in Mojo
10jan00 Dragnet doylum, New Year message, etc
older news: Nov 1997 - Dec 1999