archived on 25 February 2005
The Fall play ...
||Knitting Factory, New York City. $15 advance tickets. A surprise midnight show. The band has been in New York since late January recording for the next album, due to be released on June 28 according to Narnack.
||Civic Centre, Middleton. box office 0161 643 2389; advance tickets. A "special celebration evening," apparently.
||The Junction, Cambridge (w/John Cooper Clarke). advance tickets
||Irish Centre, Leeds (w/John Cooper Clarke). advance tickets
||Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (w/John Cooper Clarke). advance tickets, box office: 0115 958 8484. Doors 7:30pm
||Concorde 2, Brighton (w/John Cooper Clarke). advance tickets, doors 7pm.
||The Empire, Leisure Plaza, Milton Keynes (w/John Cooper Clarke). Advance tickets on ticketweb or from the Empire box office. "Trainer, Sportswear, Denim etc all OK" according to the flyer.
||Waterfront, Norwich (w/John Cooper Clarke). advance tickets
||The Forum, Kentish Town, London; advance tickets.
Thanks to Craig for sending in this phone interview with M.E.S., which appears in the March issue of the UK's Ice Magazine (not to be confused with the US's somewhat less racy Ice Magazine).
It appears that Voiceprint are on the warpath again. According to this site no fewer than five (5) Fall "Live from the Vaults" CDs will be released in April. Two are "Oldham 1978" and "Retford 1979"; perhaps the recently surfaced recording of Deeply Vale 1978 will be one of the others?
Author's Note (to The Great Shark Hunt)
Well... yes, and here we go again.
But before we get to The Work, as it were, I want to make sure I know how to cope with this elegant typewriter--(and, yes, it appears that I do)--so why not make this quick list of my life's work and then get the hell out of town on the 11:05 to Denver? Indeed. Why not?
But for just a moment I'd like to say, for the permanent record, that it is a very strange feeling to be a 40-year-old American writer in this century and sitting alone in this huge building on Fifth Avenue in New York at one o'clock in the morning on the night before Christmas Eve, 2000 miles from home, and compiling a table of contents for a book of my own Collected Works in an office with a tall glass door that leads out to a big terrace looking down on The Plaza Fountain.
I feel like I might as well be sitting up here carving the words for my own tombstone...and when I finish, the only fitting exit will be right straight off this fucking terrace and into The Fountain, 28 stories below and at least 200 yards out in the air and across Fifth Avenue.
Nobody could follow that act.
Not even me...and in fact the only way I can deal with this eerie situation at all is to make a conscious decision that I have already lived and finished the life I planned to live--(13 years longer, in fact)--and everything from now on will be A New Life, a different thing, a gig that ends tonight and starts tomorrow morning.
So if I decided to leap for The Fountain when I finish this memo, I want to make one thing perfectly clear--I would genuinely love to make that leap, and if I don't I will always consider it a mistake and a failed opportunity, one of the very few serious mistakes of my First Life that is now ending.
But what the hell? I probably won't do it (for all the wrong reasons), and I'll probably finish this table of contents and go home for Christmas and then have to live for 100 more years with all this goddamn gibberish I'm lashing together.
But, Jesus, it would be a wonderful way to go out...and if I do you bastards are going to owe me a king-hell 44-gun salutr (that word is "salute," goddamnit--and I guess I can't work this elegant typewriter as well as I thought I could)...
But you know I could, if I had just a little more time.
HST #1, R.I.P.
HST #2, R.I.P.
And judging by the emails I've received in the last couple of days, it appears that some were unaware that Totally Wired's "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro" is Hunter S. Thompson's line. It along with other HST quotes are listed in this Guardian article. There are post-suicide interviews with Thompson's wife and son in the Aspen Daily News.
The Peel Sessions box set has been put back 4 weeks to 25th April. No hidden conspiracies or anything, before you guys jump to all sorts of conclusions, it's just taking a while to get it ready for production and has missed the original deadlines. It's a big project a 6 disc box and Sanctuary don't want to rush it, so I'm afraid the wait will be a little bit longer.... but it *will* be worth it.
The Fall Forum has covered This Nation's Saving Grace and it's free for all to download from Clayts's Track Record site. Congratulations to all concerned.
Speaking of the forum, Mark was in the Narnack offices Friday night and dictated a few comments for Billy to post.
Knitting Factory, New York, Feb. 10, 2005:
some excellent photos by JasonLee and Tanghero
Had the day off from work today so went to the Knitting Factory show....one of the best shows i've seen in a long time...and one of the best fall shows..... band seemed tight,
hardly any knob fiddling by MES...who seemed in good spirits.
can't remember all the songs or the order but i believe they opened with bo doodak
two good evening we're all the falls if i heard right/boxtosis/wrong place right time into grass grow/sparta fc/clasp hands/what about us/ blindness (pisses all over the interim version) / sparta fc/ pharmacist/ didn't recognize a couple of songs that might have been
new or covers and encores were white lightening and big new prinz....
I was at the Knitting Factory show, and I agree w/ everything you wrote *except* for the "hardly any knob fiddling" part. MES fiddled with the knobs on almost EVERY song but, strangely enough, his knob fiddling often made the songs sound better. He turned off Ms. Poulou's keyboard during "White Lightning" when she started playing off key, and the music noticeably improved. He turned the bassist amp all the way up during one song, and the increase in volume made the music sound more menacing. MES even played a decent-sounding keyboard solo during "Blindness"!
> cant remember all the songs or the order but i > belieive they opened with bo > doodak
I LOVE THAT SONG SO MUCH. It was the perfect way to start the set. Come to think of it, I liked *all* of the new songs they played (with the exception of one that should be called "Return to Sparta FC").
> two good evening were all the falls if i heard > right
Yep, you heard right. There was a bit more stage banter that evening than at the other two Fall shows I attended.
> big new prinz....
I pulled a Sean O'Neal and helped MES and Ben finish "Big New Prinz." Every time I tried to stop, MES motioned for me to keep going. That was definitely a highlight of my week in NYC.
The reviews are trickling into the message board. Two new songs: Pacifying Joint and Ride Away; thus the setlist:
Bo Doodak / Boxoctosis / Pacifying Joint / Clasp Hands / Wrong Place, Right Time > I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Mountain Energei / What About Us / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Ride Away / Mr. Pharmacist / Blindness // White Lightning // Big New Prinz
Someone's taken an excerpt from Jan Svankmajer's "Virile Games" and added Theme from Sparta FC as the audio track -- to great effect. Available here; not sure how long it'll be up though.
Playlouder has an appreciation from a younger-than-your-average-Fall-fan's perspective, by Luke Turner.
Clayton Hayward is doing phenomenol work on The Fall's Track Record -- registered visitors can add their comments to any of the hundreds of entries now.
Many thanks to Jon for sending in these two clippings from short-lived UK music magazine Sun Zoom Spark -- an interview with Steve and Brix (issue 4, Oct. 1994) and an error-strewn review of Cerebral Caustic (issue 9, April 1995). In the former, I believe "Freddie Johnston" should read "Freedy Johnson."
The Fall: The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 out via Sanctuary on March 28, 2005
LONDON, UK (Santcuary Records) - Continuing Sanctuary's Fall retrospective comes The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004. This 6-CD boxed set brings together, for the first time, all 24 Peel sessions that The Fall recorded between 1978 and 2004. The set includes Job Search, recorded for John Peel's 65th birthday and a 30-page booklet featuring rare photos and a full session annotation. The set has been produced with the full cooperation of Mark E. Smith.
Earlier in 2004 The Fall's first album 'Live At The Witch Trials' celebrated its 25th anniversary. There aren't very many bands that have been together longer than The Fall and, with a few exceptions, it's difficult to think of any who, like The Fall, have released brand new material every year.
Formed at the height of the punk rock movement in Manchester in 1976, The Fall has released around 50 singles, 25 studio albums and perhaps 50 live and compilation albums. In February 2003 they recorded their 23rd John Peel session.
Famously the band has gone through numerous personnel changes over the years (there have been over 30 different line-ups so far) but always present is the enigmatic Mark E. Smith - musical genius, obnoxious drunk, Salford's finest poet, journalist's worst nightmare, working class hero. Dubbed 'The Grumpiest Man in Pop', by the NME, Mark E. Smith has been carving his jaundiced signature on the music scene for the past twenty plus years. Rarely tempted to celebrate the lighter side of life, Smith uses humour and horror to illuminate vile hypocrisies and injustices and on stage will work himself into a maelstrom of contempt.
||The BBC's Newsnight page has clips of some of their on-air "bloomers," including Mark's appearance last October.
Press in connection with the BBC4 documentary...
The Guide (the Guardian's weekly listings supplement), January 15-21. Text version here.
The Observer, January 16, 2005. Text version here.
N.M.E., January 22, 2005.
Time Out, January 19-26, 2005.
The Times, Jan. 22, 2005.
By all accounts the documentary was a smashing success. There are loads of comments on the message board. I was chuffed to see that they used two of my photographs from the 1998 US tour.
The Liverpool Echo (January 22, 2005, p. 28) had the following review:
Paddy Shennan: Focus on the fright club; Granadaland stars who've got the others running scared
Meanwhile, it's probably fair to say that many people including some of the 49 musicians who have played with The Fall since the band formed in 1976 have been or are scared stiff of the group's unpredictable, obstreperous leader and sole survivor: Mark E. Smith.
Much better-made than the R&J piffle, The Fall: The Wonderful And Frightening World Of Mark E Smith (BBC4, last night) was an excellent and comprehensive account of the mercurial Manchester band's turbulent and, at times, triumphant career.
There were many priceless moments, including when MES, in response to a question about his songwriting, said: ``I don't want to give my secrets away to these f****** idiots on the BBC. ''
Hey, Mark, I think the person you were talking to might actually have been from the BBC. Hope he or she wasn't offended.
Marc Riley, who was with The Fall from 1978 to 1982 and later changed his name to ``Lard'' and found fame as an unlikely co-host of the Radio 1 breakfast show, probably summed up Smith's appeal for many fans.
He said: ``He lives in his own weird little world it's not a world I particularly want to be part of, but he's Mark E Smith and what he does is brilliant. You can never write him off. ''
Brilliant? I used to think he was always brilliant. Then, often brilliant. Now, occasionally brilliant.
Which means he is still way ahead of Richard and Judy.
Action Records has launched a new website, which now includes a box for customers to enter a coupon code; to claim your 10% Fall website discount you should enter fallnet in this box. The URL has changed slightly; it's now http://www.actionrecords.co.uk.
Voiceprint continues to release indispensable Fall product. Out on February 28 is an extended version of the Flitwick single; tracks are Rude All The Time, I Wake Up In The City, My Ex-Classmates' Kids, and Distilled Mug Art.
A few snippets from next week's Radio Times (Jan. 15, 2005) in connection with the Fall documentary (Jan. 21, BBC4), thanks to Steven:
Here's the "official blurb" the BBC is sending out to the press. I hope the version they sent to other parties was edited a little more carefully...
The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith
BBC Four 21st January 10:00pm
BBC Four focuses on one of England's truly unique and under-rated bands -- The Fall in this special documentary. One of the most enigmatic, idiosyncratic and chaotic garage bands of the last 30 years, The Fall are lead by the belligerent and poetic Mark E Smith and grew out of the fringe of the Manchester punk scene and to date have released in excess of three dozen albums, toured relentlessly, inspired two successful stage plays, recorded 24 Peel Sessions, performed with contemporary ballet dancer Michael Clarke along with various spoken word events. All this has happened under the guidance of Smith with various line-ups currently totalling over 40 different members. They have never conformed to fashion or musical trends and when asked why they were his favourite band, John Peel replied "They are always different, they are always the same." This is the first time that Mark E Smith has agreed to the story being told on television and he along with many of the major players take us through this unique English rock n roll story.
Their rollercoaster story is told alongside footage of their most recent and sadly now last Peel Session recorded in August at the legendary BBC Maida Vale studios, there is also film of John playing out the session at Peel Acres a week later. Contributors include past and present band members including Marc Riley, Una Baines, Steve Hanley, Ben Pritchard and Eleni Smith plus thoughts from key fans/critics including Paul Morley, Tony Wilson, Stewart Lee, promoter Alan Wise, original Buzzcocks manager, Richard Boon and Franz Ferdinand.
Director: Dione Newton
Producer: Alison Howe
BBC 4 is presenting a Manchester themed night for this which includes
21.00 Sounds of the 60s: Manchester
21.10 Rock Family Trees: And God Created Manchester
22:00 The Fall
And at 26.35 [sic] The Fall - repeat.
A few reviews - scans would be helpful if anyone has them.
Uncut, January? 2005:
Smith and legend - Reissue of early '80s classic, plus extra CD of Peel and live sessions. (5 stars)
When Hex Enduction Hour was released in 1982, it must have felt, for the first but by no means the last time, like the Fall's day had passed. Back then, the pop intellectual money was on groups like ABC, the Associates, even fleetingly Spandau Ballet, who had cleverly evolved from post-punk into twisted, colorific meta-pop. As for Mark E Smith, still mooching and clattering obstreperously on his slagheap? Well, you know, get with the programme... Hex certainly clatters obstreperously, but triply so. As with Dylan piling in every last trick in his locker for "Hard Rain's Gonna Fall", thinking the holocaust was about to cut short his career, here Smith chucks everything and the kitchen sink into the wagon. He, too, was convinced the end of his band was at hand. This sense of last-gasp energy is evident on opener "The Classical", with Marc Riley and co playing, as throughout, like a riot in a broom cupboard. It's post-Beefheartian Northern skiffle for the ages, a music that, like Smith himself, is as recalcitrant as gristle.
Lyrically, Hex is self-aware and self-aggrandising, capturing the oddness of England's greyest, peasant-infested corners on "Deer Park" and "Jawbone And The Air-Rifle". Smith liberal-baits mercilessly (even Orwell is skewered) on "Who Makes The Nazis?", and showers acid spittle over the earliest crop of metropolitan media 'sophisticates' and middle-class slummers on "Mere Pseud Mag Ed" (when playing this song up in Leeds, I swear Smith looked me in the eye and said, "He's here tonight...").
The England of which Smith sings has long been malled over, and lines like "The Eastern bloc rocks to Elton John" have lost their ironic sting. But there's a festering, undisplaceable truth informing Hex , a potent attack on the complacently well-meaning and fashionable. Mark E Smith may look, then as now, like he's about to shrivel away. Yet he and the Fall have proven to be among the densest, most durable metals in rock's periodic table, and Hex may well be their masterpiece. (David Stubbs)
Following the review Uncut printed this brief exchange with MES:
As you'd expect, Mark E Smith takes no prisoners...
Do you still listen to Hex?
I try not to listen to old stuff but, yeah, I do. It's still relevant. I thought at the time it'd be the last Fall LP.
Do you ever see any of the ex-band members who played on Hex?
No. When you leave The Fall, you don't come back.
Have you been affected by the resurgence of interest in all things post-punk?
Oh, yeah! You go to a Fall gig now and the average age is 19. I sorted the band out recently; most of them would have been four when Hex came out. That's how it was in America. And Iceland. About 10 per cent of the population comes out to see us in Iceland. Funny, we've always been popular in Iceland. And New Zealand, ha ha!
You must have been upset by John Peel's death?
I was, yeah. I'm still upset about it now. I actually only met him about three times but ...he's gone, and when you see some of the bastards still walking around...
Sunday Times (Cultural Supplement), January 9, 2005:
Album of the week
Hex Enduction Hour
By 1982's Hex Enduction Hour, Mark E Smith had led the Fall out of the Manchester punk-scene playpen into a territory of their own. Twenty-three years ago, I thought it was the greatest album ever made. But as the decades have passed, it has become clear that one's evaluation of cultural artefacts, especially at 13, is inevitably prejudiced by a pervasive ignorance, a general lack of context and a certain hormonal excitability. Perhaps Highway 61 Revisited was really the greatest album ever made? Or Kind of Blue? Or maybe even Sgt Pepper's, as magazine surveys insist? Listening to Hex again, in Sanctuary's rarity-bolstered double-CD reissue, I realise that it actually is the greatest album ever made after all. It out-Stooges the Stooges, it digs deeper than the Velvet Underground, it rivals Dylan for lyrical dexterity. And Mark E Smith's withering analysis of contemporary trends is at once timeless and prophetic, making the Clash look like adolescent revolutionary fantasists. Deer Park details the gentrification of former no-go zones, style journalists crumble in Mere Pseud Mag Ed, the far right rumbles in Who Makes the Nazis? and the abstract vamp of Iceland rambles round Reykjavik in endlessly fascinating impressionistic shards. Hex is ugly, and it is beautiful. It is often incomprehensible, sometimes disarmingly direct.
It is full of raw, sneering hatred and, we now realise, a terrible, naked pity. Recorded by a band still in their early twenties, in Hitchin and Reykjavik, Hex is infused with a frosty clarity. The Fall can still surprise today, but they have never equalled this amazing recording. Perhaps they flew too near the sun. Five stars STEWART LEE
Mojo, January? 2005:
Mark E. Smith's mystical masterpiece comes in from the cold.
If you were to make a case for Mark E. Smith as a William Blakean lyrical visionary, you'd start here. One of the three mighty buttresses that hold the Fall myth in place, along with Grotesque and This Nation's Saving Grace , 1982's Hex Enduction Hour remains Smith's most oblique work. Conceived in part after Smith was "humbled" by the alien landscape of Iceland, it boasts glacial calm, volcanic vitriol and elfin weirdness aplenty. With two drummers, the Fall were rarely as forceful as they were on the furious The Classical or Fortress/Deer Park, but it is the curiously serene urban travelogue Winter - split into two parts - that represents the album's fresh-snow-crisp core. A second CD of Peel sessions, B-sides and scrapings from the bottom of the live material rabbit hutch barely complements the majesty of Smith's original conception. (Jim Wirth)
The Observer, January 9:
Hex Enduction Hour (Sanctuary)
Fall fans can argue long and loudly about which is the Fall's finest album. For many people's money, though, it could well be Hex Enduction Hour , from 1982, reissued this week with a welcome bonus CD of Peel sessions, the hard-to-find 'I'm Into CB' single and live tracks from the same era. From its sublime title on in, the elements that made the Fall unique coalesced particularly auspiciously on Hex . Mark E Smith's band had moved on from their scrappy, atonal beginnings into a loose, flowing form of their own. Guitarist and Smith's wife-to-be Brix had yet to beam her strange California sunshine into the Mancunian murk. Smith's vitriol is by turns gnomic, tetchy and funny, especially about music critics on 'Hip Priest'. The long-suffering Craig Scanlon and Marc Riley (subsequently a successful radio presenter) accompany him with shards of guitar riffs and a surprising amount of rhythm: opener 'The Classical' even points ahead half a decade to the Happy Mondays. Kitty Empire
Many thanks indeed to Hans for sending in these two photos of the Nijmegen gig of May 9, 1981:
Mark has announced his 2005 New Year Honour's List (a list of contributors to the Fall Forum compiled by his friend David Luff, who's at work on a second volume of Fall Lyrics). Clayts has the audio and visual documentation on his site. Maybe I'll get one next year <sniff>.
A message from Paul Hanley:
I'd be much obliged if you could mention the upcoming gig by Tom Hingley & The Lovers, at the Carling Academy, Islington on 22nd January 2004, on your esteemed website. It's the day after the Fall documentary is aired and Steve assures me he's available for any questions that anyone may have about the programme or The Fall in general!
More details are available here:
Impact Merchandising has several "retro" Fall T-shirts and badges.
Claus Castenskiold has launched a website where you can purchase this PBL poster and browse his artwork (Fall and otherwise).
25 Feb. 2005
This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet and elsewhere 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
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07jan05 Jim Watts resigns, UK gigs, Pseud Mag, Festive 50, Deeply Vale, documentary, City Bar "fall-out", Polaroids on the Fall, Wipe That Sound, Narnack sampler.