Fall News - 14 Dec 1998

logo-a-go-goThe Fall play:

Bristol Fleece & Firkin on 14 December. Tickets GBP 8, available through the NME Ticketline (0870 1212 500 - unspecified markup)

London Astoria 2 on 16 December. Support: Goldblade and Gabrielle's Wish. Tickets GBP 10.50 available from box office 0171 434 9403/4, Stargreen 0171 734 8932 ( + unspecified large markup), Ticketmaster 0171 344 4444 (+ 4 quid markup), Rough Trade, Rhythm (Camden). NME ticketline (see above); Melody Maker ticketline (0870 1212 600)

Manchester Ritz on 29 December. Tickets GBP 10 plus Booking from Piccadilly 832 1111 Virgin, HMV or Ticketmaster.


Thanks to Peter Reavy

Melody Maker: My First Gig

Name: Mark E Smith
Band: Groundhogs
Venue: Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 1971

"I used to go and see Irish show bands with my mates, but the first proper thing was the Groundhogs. I was about 13 or 14 and I went with a mate from school.

"I remember that they were very good. At the time I didn't like weirdo music, y'know weirdo long hair stuff. It was at the time of the LP 'Split' they were sort of like John Lee Hooker on acid.

"The impressive thing about them was they were these greasers in leather jackets. It was very unusual in those days. They were far more greaser than hippies and the audience were just the same, like an Alice Cooper audience, but about 30 years younger.

"They also had an album called 'Thank Christ For The Bomb' which they played stuff from. It was about the First World War, and 'Split' was about a rich man having a nervous breakdown... people used to do LPs with themes. I didn't have a record player before I went to see them, and in them days nothing like that got played on the radio.

"Punk was a big disappointment to me in a lot of ways, I thought it was heavy metal dressed-up. In a way, the Groundhogs were a lot more experimental than Yes or anything like that. Their songs weren't about getting onto an astral plane, they were about concepts.

"I saw them in London about three or four years ago and Tony McPhee [the band's singer] was great and I met him. He used to be in John Lee Hooker's band when he was dead young. Musicians like McPhee mature with age, they get better."


NME: On The Couch

Mark E Smith The Fall

Which song describes you best?
"'Race With The Devil' by Gene Vincent."

What is heaven?
"A concentration camp for all the people who work with computers and send you bills."

What is hell?
"English people in the summer shouting round the streets."

What is your earliest memory?
"Getting washed by my mother the day before school when I was about four. I don't know what happened the previous four years; I was probably locked up in a closet."

What is your greatest fear?
"I'm past that point in my life but I do throw wobblers for about a week every three months. The doctors call it the elastic band syndrome."

Who is your all-time hero?
"I've never had heroes, but I'm reading this book about Napoleon and he's pretty cool."

What's the worst trouble you've ever been in?
"Being brassic is a very underrated form of trouble."

What was the first love of your life?
"My cat is one of my best friends: he's outlasted any group member or wife. He's about 20 and he looks better than anyone I've played with since 1978. He's got a new lease of life and started jumping up and killing bees."

What's your greatest talent?
"I'm just a nice bloke. Turning the other cheek and always smiling at people; people hate you for that."

Upon whom would you most like to have revenge? Why? How?
"Revenge is a dish best served cold, if at all. Mind you, I don't believe in revenge any more 'cos it just eats you up."

What's your most treasured possession?
"Probably my cassettes and lyrics, which I write down. They keep getting stolen so I carry them around with me all the time."

What have you most regretted doing while drunk?

What's the best piece of advice you've received?
"'Women are jealous of men' - my mum told me that."

Can you read music?
"No. I think it's more important to unlearn music, to unlearn things like The Beatles and start again from scratch. It doesn't make for Top 20 singles, but it's what I believe in."

If you were invisible for a day, what would you do?
"I'm always invisible - I'm a Smith; it's one of the great advantages of having the name."

What are your final three wishes?
"Not to starve, not to live in squalor and action against cheap rail fares - it's a disgrace. If you book two weeks ahead you get a ticket for £8 and me, sucker here, I just get on the train when I need it for work and it costs £40."



Dean Walcott sent me a bunch of brilliant Fall photos, most of which he took backstage and onstage at the Coney Island High last March, and I've now scanned them and added a new section to my web page. I also put up my shots of the same tour.




OK, I've heard this before that the reason we know "The Fall" is a Camus ref is cos they were first called the Outsiders, so I'm not suggesting that this below has anything to do with the name, other than I've also heard that one of Smith's avowed reads is Shirer's Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, whereas I can't really see him digging Camus all that much (much less (a perv like) Genet (who was championed by Bowie)). Anyway here goes.

On page 303 of Rise And Fall, Blomberg's basic scenarios for possible armed conflict are introduced, "Strategic Concentration 'Rot'" and "Strategic Concentration 'Gruen.'" A paragraph later, he says "The 'assumption' in the first case was that the French might stage a surprise attack on Germany, in which case the Germans would employ their main forces in the West. This operation was given the code name 'Red' (_Rot_).*"

And here's what the footnote says (bear in mind, there is very little German in this book - maybe one phrase every 30 pages, so translations really stick out. This is the first time Shirer discusses a difficulty of translation.)

"* This is the first of many such code names for German military plans which we shall meet in the ensuing narrative. The Germans used the word _Fall_ (italics are Shirer's), literally 'Case' (_Fall Rot, Fall Gruen_--Case Red, Case Green--the code names for operations in the West and against Czechoslovakia, respectively) and in the beginning, according to the arguments of the German generals in Nuremberg, it was merely the designation commonly used by all military commands for plans to cover hypothetical situations. But as will become obvious in the course of these pages, the term, as the Germans used it, soon became a designation for a plan of armed aggression. The word 'Operation' would probably be a more accurate rendering of _Fall_ than the word 'Case.' However, for the sake of convenience, the author will go along with the word 'Case.'"

Okay, like I said above, I'm not seriously suggesting that this is the source for the name, or that it even was in the back of his mind. It does stick out to me as I read it of course, particularly that not only did the word mean "a plan for armed aggression" to the German generals, it was a term misrepresented by the generals at the Nuremberg (witch) trial.

Additionally, the confusion between a German word that is also a word in English - I recall that some member of the French avant-garde group the Oulipo (led by Perec of "The Void", a perfect book) composed many poems exclusively with words that were found both in French and English, he had a word for them I forget with his name (I read about this in one of Smullyan's books, "There Is No Title To This Book" perhaps, or was it a Martin Gardner book surveying people like Smullyan and the Oulipo?) - I find intriguing. Apparently German speakers will translate the name "The Fall" automatically to "case" or "operation." It would be helpful to know exactly what connotation the word currently has, and whether it has a similar military-doublespeak usage as our word "operation."

Facing page 305, incidentally, mentions for the second time the German concept "Lebensraum", which for me has always colored the song "Room To Live" to the point that the simple country song seems extremely ominous in an abstruse manner. The song to me seems misrepresenting of itself, if you will: the tight beat could be martial, the chords maintain an uneasy bitterness, the phrase "violence is just waiting for its due" is not only threatening but spoken with a certain "people get what they deserve" brutal fatalism. This is clever artistic technique, employing phrases and words that signify historical or literary concepts in the lyric, song name, lp title, or band name that appear on the surface to be unrelated to the surface meaning or obvious sound of the text / artist. Sometimes it is used to humorous effect (cf the tv show Dragnet). A song like "Flat of Angles" or "Room to Live" opens up into a vastly different thematic tonality when the listener decides to accept the connection, in the latter case transforming a comedic experience (there are several good jokes such as "they pay for what they eat", humming to the moody blues) into something quite a bit harsher.

Please don't get me wrong, I like Genet (and yes I read him in high school mainly because I liked the song "Jean Genie"), Camus more so, much more than "Rise and Fall" (if you haven't read it, it is amazing but really quite poorly organized, tendentious, unobjective; Shirer has a tendency to gloss certain key issues such as the nature of Nazi subversion in Eastern Europe, for example (Austria seems to have gone from a large electoral majority against reunification, to 95% approval, quite mysteriously), as well as ridiculous characterization by insult (every personality is introduced with something like "this dwarfish, petty opportunist")). I just think that "La Chute" is a stupid name for a band, and "The Fall (of the Third Reich)" or "Fall Rot" is much better.


Mark Harris:

I don't know whether anyone else has ever sent in the interview MES did after the Tele 5 gig (Feb 14 1989), but yer tiz anyway (a real in-depth beaut, this):

Interviewer: Mark, come over here... you can get your beer later...  (pulls MES into shot)

MES: Ha ha ha ha.

I: You're on... this ballet you did; when did you start working on it?

MES: When did I start working on it? Last spring.

I: Last spring you started?

MES: Yeah... the last time I saw you.

I: You actually performed live on a stage with the ballet. We only saw 1 dancer tonight but there was a whole troupe, right?

MES: Yeah.

I: What's the matter with you? (Translates to German audience; whilst he's doing this, MES eyes up interviewer's jacket (which is pretty horrendous) and smiles at the camera.) The dance group split or something, didn't they?

MES: What?

I (verging on desperation): The dance group... the ballet group.

MES (mumbles): You'll have to ask the dance group about that.

I looks mystified.

MES (slowly and clearly): I said you'll have to ask the dance group about that.

I: Oh right, okay (translates). Other projects of The Fall...

MES (interrupting): No, we did a tour before Christmas with just 1 dancer. We find that's better.

I: With this one?

MES: Yeah, just the dancer we got... Ellen Van Schoenburg.

I: And how did the people react on the thing with the ballet? When you did that, you did it in Amsterdam, I think...

MES: It's of no importance in the... how they react, y'know.

I: Not at all?

MES: No.

I: No?

MES: No.

I (shrugs): Okay (translates). You have any other problems like that...

MES (interrupting): No problems whatsoever.

I: Other projects... sorry, not problems, projects.

MES: You are the man with the problems.

I: I am the man with the problems. Right, okay. You are the man with the projects.

MES: Yeah.

I: Which?

MES (smiles): Which?

I: Yeah.

MES: Mind your own business... they're all secrets.

I: Secrets?

MES: Yeah... we are The Fall and we are (pause) the best.

I: The best and The Fall (translates). What do you think about Phillip Boa?

MES: Um... I think he's okay.

I: He's okay... wanna go see him?

MES: Um...

I: Right now?

MES: Yeah, well he's very popular in Manchester.

I: Is he? (translates) Shall we go over and see him? Do you wanna walk with me?

MES (sarcastically): Yeah... let's go over Christian like we really are going over there.

I: This way (moves towards stage and introduces Phillip Boa).

MES (sarcastically, just off mic): Oh great. (Grabs mic) Hi Phillip...y'arrite? (wanders off into crowd in opposite direction)

-- FIN --


Andrew Shires:

The Christmas edition of Viz has MEScon in Leonardo DiCaprio's cut-out-and-keep Bond-film-identifying device. Leonardo's Christmas present to you, or whatever.


Jon Varner:

Whilst searching the web for info on Vox Meteor guitars, I got this page:

"Openers Johnny Domino kicked on like The Fall used to when they meant it, and with meteor guitar bursts and an organ stolen from an intergalactic gameshow it was just toasty. Every now and then the singer would look in his diary to see if he was maybe meant to be somewhere else. The Sparkle sisters awarded extra points for twiddly noise factor ten."


Cog Sinister recordings are now put out by Voiceprint.


According to their blurb for Notts 92:

"Price: £7.99 Information: Cog Sinister is fully endorsed by Mark E. Smith,contrary to a recent full page Mojo piece the label has not folded. It will in fact continue to issue quality authorised Fall projects until Armagideon."

You'll no doubt also be delighted to know that, as far as In A Hole is concerned:

Vinyl Restoration - Snap Crackle and Plop!

Rob Ayling has some reputation in both finding and releasing back catalogues and rare material from artists in the 60's and 70's. Much of the material is on vinyl, some of it in a highly abused state and, with a limited budget available the job of restoration is frequently a juggling act between time, technology and the art of what is acceptable.

Vinyl Transcription.

Disks are carefully cleaned and washed with deionised water before playing to remove any soiling and dust. Using a RD80 transcription deck and an MP30 cartridge, the signal is fed into a Yamaha A320 amp using the low noise RIAA EQ section preamp. The unbalanced preamp output is converted to a balanced line using a Tascam LA40 Low Impedance Adaptor, then this balanced output is fed through a Prism AD1 A-D convertor using noise shaping at 44.1kHz. Finally the signal is transferred into a PC running our declick software.  We initially used Sound Forge, but found that the auto functions were creating audible artefacts, particularly noticable on a Fall album we were doing at the time. This meant using manual techniques to take out every click - a slow and tedious process, not helped by the somewhat pedestrian disk operation of this software. Virtually the whole of the Man 'To Live For to Die' double album was done this way. The Man albums were in an appalling condition, they looked as if someone had been playing 'frisbee' with them while decorating the room. I had to remove flecks of white vinyl emulsion from the surface of the disks and many of the scratches were severe. One album (which we didn't master) had a crater where it looked as if someone had stubbed a cigarrette out on it! It took a few months in between other jobs to complete the 'To Live..' album and was the most difficult job I have had to date. The results, although not pristine, are quite listenable compared to the unprocessed material and I think we were able to at least give good value for money, bearing in mind the state of the originals..

Snap, Crackle, Plop.

Having found the Sound Forge software unsuitable for our application, we are now running Steinberg's Wavelab. The real-time auto functions of this declick / deplop package are quite amazing for the price, although difficult material cannot be suitably restored in one pass. Manual declicking can be effected using the standard 'cut' functions at high magnification of the waveform - still tedious but manageable. I think it is important at this stage to point out that limited budget restoration must always be a compromise, silk purses are out of the question, hessian, calico and denim are perhaps possible. The most difficult sound to eliminate is crackle. Clicks as single discrete random events can be removed by Wavelab, synchronous noise such as constant hiss, deck rumble etc can be elimainated by CEDAR, but we are left with crackle which is neither discrete or syncronous and is only partly removed by either of the above systems. On good vinyl, like the Fall albums, the transfers are clean and this does not represent a major problem, but in the case of the Man album it certainly was. Large artefacts, deep scratches and track jumps, are normally treated manually by sampling another bar of music which is a repeat of that which is missing and splicing it invisibly in. Unfortunately with the Man album, by some quirk of fate, the rotation frequency of the disk was exactly the same as the tempo of the music, so the scratch always appeared at the same point in each repeated bar! It took some inginuity to find suitable samples to replace some of the missing audio and there was some which was too difficult to restore within the budget we had available.

CEDAR - The Final Frontier.

The CEDAR noise subtraction process is always performed last and is used as conservatively as possible. Over use of this process leads to a 'piping' kind of tonality called 'the Cousteau Effect' in the trade. Again it is frequently better to perform two or more low-level subtractions rather than one large one. all of this takes time of course. The final programme is then PQ'd and sent to Exabyte 8mm tape for CD production.  I hope this gives some idea of the effort and approaches which go on behind the scenes to deliver a product at an affordable price.


John Howard:

Formed 1976 in Manchester, England Mark E. Smith was working on the docks when punk hit. Reacting against some of the mundane examples of the genre, he formed his own group, simultaneously informed by his love of German experimentalists such as Can and of American rockabilly. He's reputedly tone deaf, and has said his sing-songy spoken vocal style is inspired by reggae toasters--in other words, he's a rapper, with an extra "uh" added to the ends of words being his trademark. It's a gloriously confrontational style that conveys his cranky spirit even when American listeners haven't the slightest idea what he's talking about--and when the odd one-liner cracks you up, so much the better.

Debuting with one of the finest albums to come out of punk, the Fall has lasted longer than all but a few bands, and has been more productive (more than 30 albums if compilations are counted) and consistent than any of them. The group's name came from the existential Albert Camus album of the same title, and Smith makes no effort to hide his high opinion of himself and low opinion of most music fans. There's a socio-political edge to many of his lyrics, refracted so eccentrically as to avoid preachiness. Thus, after an initial progression into more forbiddingly dissonant and ragged sound, it was a shock when the group developed a cleaner style that was occasionally even catchy. An appreciation for guitar hooks and something approximating a steady rhythm remain, and there's even a bit of synthesizer, all making Smith's rants a little more accessible. The Fall is an acquired taste, to be sure, (especially for Americans), but one worth the effort.
Source: MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide </exec/obidos/ASIN/1578590612/002-2106986-9532025>

Personnel * Mark E. Smith, vocals, guitar, keyboards, tapes * Una Baines, keyboards (1976-78), keyboards * Yvonne Pawlett, electric piano (1978-79) * Marcia Schofield, keyboards, vocals (1987-90) * David Bush, keyboards (1991-present) * Martin Bramah, guitar, vocals (1976-78, 1989-90) * Craig Scanlan, guitar (1979-present) * Brix Smith, guitar, keyboard, vocals (1983-89, 1994) * Tony Friel, bass (1976-78) * Marc Riley, keyboards, guitar, bass (1978-83) * Steve Hanley, bass, guitar (1979-present) * Simon Rogers, bass, keyboards, guitar (1984-87) * Karl Burns, drums, bass (1976-79, 1981-86, 1993-present) * Mark Leigh, drums (1979-80) * Paul Hanley, drums, keyboards (1980-84) * John Simon Wolstencroft, drums (1986-present) * Kenny Brady (a.k.a Nigel Kennedy), violin (1990)


From: John Howard
Subject: <fallnet> Levitate Reviews from Amazon.Com

What the Critics Say: The fast-forward clatter at the start of Levitate is a sound alien to Mark E. Smith's previous 29 albums of curmudgeonly compositions. But within seconds even drum'n'bass is rolling over and doing as it's told. That job done, the Victor Meldrew of pop climbs aboard the clanking war-machine called The Fall for business as unusual. Except this time round the lo-fi production and bewildering lyrics jostle together to produce the finest Fall album since Extricate. Ol' Gang and Everybody But Myself are superb rattling one-string anthems, the title track recalls the greatness of C.R.E.E.P. and in the opposite corner I Come & Stand At Your Door reeks of tender sadness. Twenty years on, The Fall sound as if they're only just beginning. --Anthony Thornton -- © Emap Consumer Magazines Limited. For personal use only.

Customer Comments Average
Customer Review:
Number of Reviews: 2
A music fan from New York City , November 24, 1998 MUST HAVE MUSIC The Fall only get better with time, and this CD is great! This CD is sort of like the Sex Pistols breeding with the Chemical Brothers. Most electronic music lacks personality, but this CD gives it a unique voice...

geoffbe@ids.net from RI, USA , September 15, 1998 The Fall are a music class all their own, irreverant, gutsy. First of all, if you don't know the Fall, you don't know Rock music. The Fall have well over 30 albums in print - they release an average of two a year, and they seldom repeat much in the way of material. Yes they are a recognizable style. Mark E. Smith's vocals are not much in the way of singing, in fact, he's been said to be tone deaf, but his word barrage is unique. This is not a soundtrack for your life, this is music that demands your attention and in its rather blasphemous way it can twist your thoughts. The Fall, have always smirked at high production, and opt usually for a very low tech sound quality. When you hear the fall, you really hear a band, not a studio overdub of what some producer hopes you'll buy. They have never sold out!

Also from Amazon.com:

Influenced by:
Sex Pistols
Velvet Underground
Gene Vincent

Influence on:
* Joy Division
* Public Image Ltd.
* Sugarcubes
* Sonic Youth
* Swans
* Pavement
* Trumans Water


Grimm of the Week (ta Chris Kovin)

The Simpleton

There was once a lad who was simple and, though he did whatever his mother told him, he always did it wrong.

At length he went to work. His master told him to go into the fields and sow, saying, 'Every fruit a hundredfold!' On the way the lad met some people carrying a dead body, and he said, 'Every year, a hundred!' Hearing this they gave hima hiding, and he went home and said to his mother, 'Oh Mother just think what's happened to me! Yet I only repeated what the master told me.' His mother replied, 'You ought to have said, "Rest in peace!" '

He set out afresh. Along came a knacker with a dead horse, and the lad said, 'Rest in peace!' The knacker resented his remark and he, too, gave him a hiding. So he went home and complained to his mother, who replied, 'You ought to have said, "Away with the carcass!" '

Once more he went into the fields, and a wedding party came along. 'Away with the carcass!' said he, and they, too, gave him a hiding. 'Oh Mother,' he said again, 'what a dreadful time I've had!' and told his tale. She replied, 'You ought to have said, "Here is our joy and happiness!" '

[Peter Reavy: Something tells me there may be a paragraph missing just before the bee incident. It's a reckless guess but perhaps he came across a fire, said "Here is our joy and happiness!" and received a hiding.]

Next he passed some beehives, and, remembering the bucket of water, he poured one over the bees and killed them all. At that the beekeeper picked up a stick and drove him off.

'Oh Mother, what a dreadful time I've had!' She replied, 'You ought to have said, "Give me some too." ' Then he happened to pas a byre where they were cleaning out the dung.

The lad took off his cap and said, 'Give me some too.'


And, a recipe of the week (also from Chris)

MMMMM----- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.01

Title: Stuffed Frogs
Categories: Filipino, Frogs, Ceideburg 2 Yield: 2 servings
6 lg Edible frogs, skinned, whole 1 c Finely chopped pork
1/2 Head garlic, chopped fine 1/4 Vinegar
1 Heaping teaspoon brown sugar Salt and pepper to taste

And just when you all thought it was safe to go back into the water... The infamous clothesline-dried frog recipe!

Mix pork with garlic, vinegar and seasonings. Stuff body cavities of well cleaned frogs. Rub with seasoning and hang in the sun to dry. Fry in deep, hot fat until frogs are a golden brown.

From "Recipes of the Philippines" compiled and edited by Enriqueta David- Perez, 1962. Capitol Publishing House, Quezon City. Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; July 9 1992. MMMMM

Recent news....
981206 Dazed and Confused interview
981130 Nottingham 92 sleevenotes
981123 NME and MM news items
nothing special
981109 Peel session reactions
981102 Melody Maker singles review, Action Records details
981026 St Bernadette's Hall reviews, Astoria ticket details, Nottingham 92 album
981019 various
981009 NME interview, TBLY #13
981005 F-olding Money lyrics, couple of PNM reviews, Simon Rodgers' career
980927 Live Various Years details/review, 1994 interview
980920 more snippets
980914 bits & pieces
980907 NME interview, Post Nearly Man reviews, Mojo's How to Buy The Fall, Something Beginning With O
980831 Inertia tour details
980825 various snippets
980817 Observer interview, Manchester and LA2 gig reports
980811 Melody Maker interview, Live Various Years details, previews. Rick.
980802 Spoken word LP press release, Northern Attitude key & sleevenotes, Edwyn Collins, TBLY #12 details

Old stuff: Nov 1997 - July 1998

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