Fall News - 26 April 1999

New album The Marshall Suite is out!

The Fall 1999 tour

All venues take advance credit card booking unless noted otherwise:

Date Venue Ticket Price Phone/Booking
May 3 Leicester, Princess Charlotte £8.00 0115 912 9000
May 4

Leeds, Irish Centre £9.00 0113 248 0887
(CC booking: Jumbo Records - 0113 245 5507)
May 5 Birmingham, The Foundry £7.00 0121 643 6101
May 6 Brigton Centre (east wing), Brighton (change from Hove) £8.00 0870 9009100
May 7 Salisbury, Arts Centre £9 adv / £10 door 01722 321744
May 8 Hastings, The Crypt £8.00 01273 709709
May 9 Sheffield, University £8.50 adv/£9.50 door 0114 222 8777
May 10 Cheltenham, The Attic £8.00 01242 516645 (Credit card booking: 01242 250002)
May 11 Cambridge, The Junction £9 adv/ £10 door 01223 511511
May 12 Southend, Chinnery's £8 adv / £9 door 01702 460440 (pay on door)
May 13 Luton, Venue 21 £10adv / £11 door 01582 749740
May 14 London, The Forum £11.00 adv 0171 344 0044


From Fall central:

Mark will be on the cover of The Wire in approximately a week. NME are doing his 'Songs In The Key Of Life' next week as well...more to follow.

We are trying to get The Fall on Later with Jools Holland (who seem enthusiastic), so any calls from fans encouraging the programme to feature them would help the cause.

The next single looks like it will be 'F'-Oldin' Money' and will have exclusive B sides. I think we'll be doing a video for that track too.

Mark made a surprise live appearance on stage with Clint Boon in London this week. He sung The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' for the encore of their set. This was completely impromptu and brought the house down. This took place at The Monarch which was packed. Quote: "I've never seen him in such good voice". The audience looked astonished to see him.

XFM and GLR sessions were broadcast last week. If anyone got a tape of these, please let me know. Thanks. MES also did a bit on a Kevin Greening thing called Inside Tracks, on BBC Digital Choice, broadcast date unknown


There's RealAudio clips of Shake-Off, Antidotes, The Crying Marshal, Birthday Song up at the main web page: http://fall.cjb.net


MES was on the Radio 1 Breezeblock on Tuesday doing a dj session. He played (any hints about the dance number welcome):

gotta see jane - r. dean taylor
get a job - the silhouettes
bo diddley - bo diddley
baby blue - gene vincent
little diesel driving devil - don bowman
dated dance track - wobbly speed
how much punk do you hear in russia - artless
at the hop - danny + the juniors (intro only)
la bamba - richie valens (cut)
jungle rock - hank mizzell
summer breeze - isley brothers
white line fever - bud brewer
i ain't got no home - clarence 'frogman' henry
antidotes - the fall


From Friday's Guardian (April 23)

http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/The_Paper/Weekly/Story/0,3605,44490,00.html (you have to register)

Fall guy

Tireless grump Mark E Smith has returned with a fresh sneer and a new album, The Marshall Suite. Jonathan Romney talks to him about how he got The Fall back on its feet

Friday April 23, 1999

People who follow Mark E Smith and The Fall, his Protean, strife-racked band of 21 years, tend to have a thing about words. Visit the various Fall websites run by obsessive fans, and words is what you'll find - not just discographies and painstakingly transcribed lyrics, but strings of convincingly Smith-esque anagrams, a specially designed typeface resembling Smith's spidery handwriting, even software to convert any text into an approximation of Smith's own cryptic railing.

Smith himself has always come across as a tireless word generator, spewing out invective that is sometimes corrosively to the point, sometimes defiantly impenetrable. In often inscrutable lyrics, delivered in a uniquely belligerent Mancunian voice ranging from a screech to a slur, everyone eventually gets it in the neck: pop bands on the make, Northern dog breeders, the relatively defenceless likes of Shakin' Stevens - even, somewhat ironically, those who are "grudgeful". Legendary for his truculence, Smith comes across as part Rumpelstiltskin figure, off muttering imprecations in his own part of the forest, part premature OAP carping about how it's all gone to the dogs. "Society is top-heavy with middle management," he declares.

Not that years of being a hardened campaigner and professional sneerer haven't taken their toll. Sitting in a West London pub on a grey April morning, his face looks as leathery and sour as the cartoon lemon that used to feature on Idris squash bottles. Smith looks like a boxer on the ropes, so fearlessly punch-drunk he seems to have run a Black & Decker across his fringe by way of DIY coiffure. But he can always amaze by getting in the ring again with renewed energy. A year after the last Fall line-up fragmented rancorously, he has formed a whole new band from scratch and recorded a new, unexpectedly confident and vigorous new album, The Marshall Suite. I

t was pretty much a doddle, he seems to suggest. "I can walk down the street in Glasgow and get 19-year-olds. I don't audition people, I just go and say [he jabs his finger at a hypothetical rookie, like an imperious recruiting sergeant], 'You're the guitarist.'" But how do all these generations of disparate musicians end up always sounding unmistakably like The Fall? "Touch wood," he says, slapping the table,"I'm lucky, it's a gift. A lot of people try and imitate the way I get groups together. I don't give any secrets away, you know. I don't go through the chords with them, I just brainwash 'em." Famously intolerant towards his musicians' fantasies of democracy, Smith seems to take more pleasure in talking about losing the old Fall than gaining the new one. "The last lot were our age and they were running out of puff, basically. They thought it was about time they had their say. It's like middle-aged crisis," he says, and slips into a mocking simper: "'Ooh, I've got to start thinking about my family, so I deserve a share in this business.'" The Fall's last line-up fractured in New York last April, with three musicians - including long-term bassist Steve Hanley - walking out after an on-stage punch-up that resulted in Smith spending the night in a cell.

To everyone's surprise, his keyboard player and girlfriend Julia Nagle stuck with him after they had come to blows, and the two returned within a fortnight to honour two Fall dates at London's Dingwalls, a strictly DIY job with a terrified-looking drummer, and dancer Michael Clarke chancing it on bass. These shows were convincing, if only as a bloody-minded retort to all those expecting to enjoy the spectator sport of Smith crashing and burning. "It's the sports-bookie thing which is taking over the audience," says Smith.

Smith took advantage of the unnatural break in The Fall's history to release a largely music-free solo record, The Post-Nearly Man, a ragged slab of verbal concrete. A mix of fragmented narratives, snatches of dialogue and passages from HP Lovecraft, it's not so much a solo showcase, more as if he'd asked a collection of mates to come round and read to him while he got on with the hoovering. But why did it take 20 years for him to deliver a spoken-word record? "Ah haaa! Ah haaa!" he laughs, opening wide a dentally ravaged maw. "This'll sound like a fuckin' Hollywood star..." He does his simper again: "'Because people didn't understand it!'" Despite a largely muted public response, The Post-Nearly Man is, he claims improbably, "the most in-demand LP in Manchester dance stores. The whole fuckin' fancy idea was, it could be in WHSmith with Pam Ayres, and of course that didn't work out."

The altogether more marketable The Marshall Suite, I'm told in good faith by Smith's publicist, is inspired in some obscure way by Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor Of Casterbridge. When I ask Smith, his face folds up in disgust. "Fuck it, is that a press officer or what? Can you believe that? I was trying to explain to him that I wanted a three-sided as opposed to a four-sided LP." So there's definitely no connection with Hardy's chronicle of woe? "The connection is that he's gonna get drowned in a well, he's gonna end up in shame and defeat at the end, and his assistant will be wearing a black dress."

Smith specialises in such tilting at allies and foes alike, from bands that emulate him (like Pavement, dismissed as "cheap car salesmen") to music- business "trendies" and producers: "'Oh, you've got to have a bass overdub, you've got to have hand-claps, you've got to make it sound like T Rex.'" You'd have thought that, by now, he could pretty much do in the studio as he likes. "Oh yeah, of course, yeah. I don't want to go back to the primeval or anything, it's the way I listen to music. I don't have a musical ear. Can you tell if anything's in key or not? I can't, and who cares? It's a very conservative business, rock music."

Smith shows no false charity towards his fans, either, especially his Internet contingent. "It's ironic, everyone looks at The Fall like some antediluvian Luddite band - we've got more websites dedicated to The Fall than any group, Queen or anyone, in the world. This guy in a government department used to submit everything that was said about me. I still get it, but if I ring him up and say, 'You're a fucking twat, stop doing that,' he says, 'Oh, Mark Smith, he doesn't understand about computers.'" He sniffs derisively. "I've had this stuff for 10 years. I had a Sinclair computer in, like, 1980 and gave it away in 1984. I had enough of them."

Smith clearly relishes his image as prematurely soured curmudgeon. "Everybody says that about me, I'm a 60-year-old man in a 12-year-old man's body." But when I ask him how he sees himself at 60 (and it's quite clear that he'll be a desiccated carper to rank with William Burroughs) his hackles rise. "I don't care about that. You're coming on like a typical Guardian reader. Who cares? You're disgusting, pondering your own navels! I might get knocked down tomorrow, it's not my problem. If you want to be wise and rich when you're 60, who fucking cares? Good for you."

God forbid, in particular, that any questions should allude to his early days as Salford garage rocker, late punk's anti-fashion standard-bearer for Asda knitwear. "Come on," he snaps, "this is retro stuff for old fellows, so 40-year-old guys'll go, 'Thank you, Jonathan, for your great article last week. I remember buying the first Fall single in 1979'. I'm trying to get rid of people like that and I'm doing very well actually. I don't want them back. Our audience has been getting younger for a long time. But when you're on TV or something, we get all these old fucking ghouls from the past who come out and hover."

Smith has staked out a long-term career as Britain's most tireless malcontent, retaining long-term credibility where even John Lydon fell at the first post. But he seems amazed that people see him as a kvetcher. It' s just the way his voice is recorded, he claims. "People don't mix it properly, they can't capture me. I understand what you're saying, as an objective observer. I often feel like that; I think, God what a miserable git." A pause, and a rasping laugh. "Quite a lot of British people can't sing. That's why I like Jamaican music, for the vocals." Even Smith hasn't quite got the measure of what makes the act special. "The Fall aren't a rock band. I mean, yeah, we are, but I mean, we're not. You know what I'm saying, don't you?" Implicitly.

It's important for The Fall's credibility that they should inspire passion rather than anything so soft and showbizzy as fondness. But the band's ongoing existence somehow feels crucially important, either as a historically continuous dissident thread, or simply as testament to the unlikely possibility of such a rebarbative venture thriving. Smith has often called the Fall "an institution", which has a dangerously pipe-and-slippers air about it, as if he'd founded the Athenaeum Club. But perhaps that's not such a bad image: The Fall as some cankered, crumbling ruin of a palace, with Smith guaranteed to be found forever holding court, grouching down through the years, in its most mildewed armchair.

* The Marshall Suite is out now on Artful/Circus


michael flack posted this synopsis in the Oxford Companion to English Literature - make yer own minds up!

Mayor of Casterbridge, The, a Story of Character, 1886.

Michael Henchard, a hay-trusser, gets drunk at a fair and sells his wife and child for five guineas to a sailor, Newson. When sober again he takes a solemn vow not to touch alcohol for 20 years. By his energy and acumen he becomes rich, respected, and eventually Mayor of Casterbridge. After 18 years, his wife returns, supposing Newson dead, and is reunited with her husband. She brings with her her daughter Elizabeth-Jane, and Henchard believes she is his child, whereas she is in fact Newson's. Through a combination of unhappy circumstances, troubles accumulate. Henchard quarrels with his capable young assistant, Donald Farfrae; Mrs Henchard dies and Henchard learns the truth about the girl; Farfrae marries Lucetta, whom Henchard had hoped to win. Soon Henchard's business is ruined, the story of the sale of his wife is revealed, and he takes again to heavy drinking. Farfrae now has Henchard's business, his house, and Lucetta, while Henchard works as a labourer in his yard. Eventually Farfrae becomes mayor. Henchard's stepdaughter is his only comfort, then Newson returns and claims her and after Lucetta's death Farfrae marries her. Henchard becomes lonelier and more desolate, and dies wretchedly in a hut on Egdon Heath.


From the May issue of Mojo (ta to Arjan):


The Marshall Suite

Artful /Circus

<After last year's fisticuffs and fall-outs, Mark E. Smith returns with an all-new Fall for (we think) the band's 31st album>

John Peel might disagree but classic Fall albums rarely reveal themselves overnight. The inevitable reaction since the mid-80s has been to greet the arrival of "yet another Fall album" with an insouciant shrug; only time allows works of genius like This Nation's Saving Grace (1986) and Shift-Work (1991) to stand apart from Smith's cramped canon. In that respect, The Marshall Suite is entirely predictable; it sounds exactly like yet another Fall record. But there are signs The Marshall Suite has a good future. F-Oldin Money is surely the finest song Eddie Cochran never wrote, up there with The Container Drivers and Bill is Dead, while the tubthumping, Zepp-like Antidote provides instant thrill #2. The all-important "baffle" factor is provided by the album's finale, a five-song journey visiting manic Prodigy beats, serene electro balladry, fractured lo-fi sounds and rent-a-riff techno - inspired, apparently, by Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.
Mark Paytress

MES' favourite Abba song, taken from this month's issue of MOJO:


My favourite, the real evil, pagancrypto-Nazi one. Genuinly frightening, wasn't it? They got really depraved after Fernando. I can't stand Swedes, me. They're pagans, aren't they? Liberal Nazis. I find it very weird this revival; but it fits in with the new regime we've got here: all cleanliness, no smoking, no drinking, all that crap. And open sex. All their stuff was based on The Beach Boys, the way they used to write, like, eight parts for each song. When we started out playing workmen's clubs, every fucking group was playing ABBA. The second Dark Age, we used to call it.


Paul Saxton:



The Marshall Suite

(Artful/Circus Records ARTFULCD17)

Salford's finest return in the never-ending soap opera that is 'The Fall'. After a year that even the most superhuman of beings would best describe as turbulent, The Fall return with yet another album (the 31st to be approx., but hey, who's counting?) This 1999 model comes with some adjustments under the bonnet, and it's with some pleasure that I can announce that this new edition, with it's souped up garage action, rocks like a bastard. Divided into three parts, musically, 'The Marshall Suite' knocks most of your monthly mag cover stars into a cocked hat. 'F'Oldin' Money' is Eddie Cochran rising from the dead and telling Suede to fuck off, the enormous '(Jung Nev's) Antidotes' is the sound of Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' being reversed over by large trucks, and 'The Crying Marshal' suggests that the recent excursions into beats with DOSE weren't wasted affairs.  Finally back on form after living in the indifferent twilight of the mid-afternoon festival slot, if you worship the ground that The Fall walk on, you don't need my opinion at all. However, if you're more selective and treat their back catalogue more like a drop-in centre, I strongly advise you pay this a visit. Quite what it's all about is anyone's guess.
(Four Stars - Review by Ian Wade)

Eddie Cochran "telling Suede to fuck off"? Absolutely.


From last Saturday's Telegraph mag (thanks to Mark Harris):

brix' 7

Brix Smith, 32, born Los Angeles. Former guitarist and songwriter with The Fall, then formed The Adult Net. Now TV presenter. Married to Fall founder Mark E. Smith for seven years until 1990.

"My nanny taught me my first chords on a baby guitar when I was seven. Then at high school I became besotted with British music and prayed for skinny, mannish legs so I could wear black leather and my guitar low-slung. I started singing in heinous Police and Blondie cover bands at senior proms.

My mum was a brilliant businesswoman, so I never thought there was anything I couldn't do. I formed a band in Chicago at about 18. When I went to see The Fall play, I was entranced. Mark walked into the bar after the show with a bottle of beer in each hand. We went to a party, I played him my cassette, of course, and he told me I played like Lou Reed. He asked me over to England, and then on tour in Europe as a roadie, where I had to change strings and tune guitars super-fast. I was cheery, discreet and helpful, so the band wasn't wary of me, and I wasn't the bitch-girlfriend from hell.

When Mark actually asked me to join the band, I was petrified. Not only was he notorious for changing things on stage but I was his wife, for God's sake! It was like jumping into a vat of boiling oil. I stood at the back for the first year, often with my back turned so I could concentrate. The NME gave me the Linda McCartney Dishrag award, and there was me dreaming of being Debbie Harry. Eventually, though, singles I'd written became acknowledged as classic Fall songs and people came round to me.

Some still claim that I ruined The Fall; other that I saved them. I got poetry sent to me, letters asking why I'd married Mark, and had lots of Brix clones. But I also had stalkers and annoying change-your-number phone calls. Mark got death threats, so we had to have bodyguards sometimes. I was very idealistic about our marriage and never got the bounty of the groupie, though part of me enjoyed making Mark jealous by flirting. My trade secret was that when I was on stage I'd think about sex - I'm sure Elvis and Jim Morrison did too - often with someone in the audience. It was a release projecting this sex image and combining it with playing like a man. The Fall played their instruments hard - it was like having a freight train behind you - so I couldn't be fey and girly. My white Rickenbacker guitar would end up splattered with blood from my fingers every night. I needed to be healthy and compos mentis to play, so I'd have a vitamin B12 jab before tours and a glass of champagne only after the show. I did develop a Rohypnol habit, though. It was legal then and a good crutch.

I often felt left out. The boys once went to a brothel in Hamburg in an underground car-park. The girls there wore big heels and a belt. I was fascinated! I wasn't asked along so yet again I sat in the hotel bar with the bad piano player, ordering another Diet Coke. I'd gone from home straight into marriage entwined with career, and having people around to do everything for me, from washing my clothes to signing my cheques. It was very closeted and I had no time to reflect on it all. I learnt the hard way. People think I left Mark for Nigel Kennedy, but, in fact, he left me for the teenage daughter of his best friend. When it came to my solo career with The Adult Net, the men-run record companies looked at me like a piece of meat and told me that mini-skirts would look right. You have to fight against being packaged."


alan mcbride:

sorry - couldn't resist. classic stuff. read fast and stocatto and to the drum beat from shake off.

>> http://www.slip.net/~scaruffi/vol4/fall.html > You can run it through the translator at > http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com.

Mark Smith and its Fall has been one of the influential groups piu` on the evolution of the pop " independent ", that is on the groups that have reinterpretato light music in the optical of u rock shares and sgraziato, compound, played and sung in approximate way, but without to renounce to its qualita` of bottom: the melodia. Come from the ethos of the punkrock, the Fall has soon brought to light of qualita` piu` the originals, that they go from the primitivista tribalismo to one " industrial " experimentation.

To the origins the Fall was punk of birreria arrogating sluices and that they represented po' an ideological anger of the ' 77, po' a myth of the social autonomy. Alternatives (of Manchester exited from the circuits) in order to only pour on public the sguaiate harangues. They were road artists, saltimbanchi straccioni that told history of lived life staggering drunk in periphery alleys, or that they harangued the people of the pub in the malfamati quarters piu`; clown intellectual whose suburbano, raw and unaesthetic language musical, s' inserted in the traditional nonconformist current of the British radicals.

Esordirono in 1978 with the EP Bingo Master, but divennero celebrates with the anthem to 45 turns of the year after, Fiery Jack and Rowche Rumble. The structure of Fiery typical Jack e` of their approach: a blues-a-billy caracollante, arrogating and amatoriale, on the falsariga of the first Captain Beefheart, with inserti striduli from musichall of the guitar and a stentoreo rhythm of the ritmica section, while Smith chases without stopping with its " talking blues ".

Live At Witch Trials (Step Forward, 1979) e` shared between dark litanie that are dragged in the tedio piu` dissoluto (I rave chasing Not Xmas, the funeral black putting of Two Steps Back, the sortilegio threatening and ipnotico of Frightened, the cantilena anemic of Rebellious Jukebox) and culminate in along the cadaverous one sabba of Music Scenes, and one manciata of sguaiati rock and roll seviziati from riff psychotic of Marc the Riley (blues " beefheartiano " the Futures And Pasts, the minimalismo rock of Crap Rap). Iterativita` ossessiva and the recitativa formulation coins a shape of progressive song that not e` unaware of of the vanguards, but mutuata above all from the deliriums abrasives of the Velvet Underground, for via of the lisergico organ of One Baines and of tamburi tribali of Karl the Burns.

Lost both and rifared the formation, Smith directed then, beginning from Dragnet (Step Forward, 1979), towards a sound less veemente and stormy and instead piu` creative (To Walks Figures), ritualistico (the dance pellerossa of Muzorewi`s Daughter), epico (the offensive Cock-stock) and manufacturer (the disarticulated delirium of Spectre Vs Rector).

Grotesque (Rough Trade, 1981) door to the excess their austera atonalita`, the amatoriale climate and the flow of conscience of Smith in a series of jam/comizi to rhythm rockabilly that they remember David Peel (stornello folk of road Elastic Man and the rockabilly demenziale of Pay Your Rates as an example). The country-vaudeville stralunato of Fit And Working Again (on the EP Slates, 1981, one of their easy things piu`) and novelty the Lie Dream Of The Casino Soul (45 turns coevo), seem to limare the sourness, but with the return of Burns (and therefore two batteries) the incisivita` and the aleatorieta` they double.

Hex Enduction Hour (Kamera, 1982), an other of their apexes, in spite of the long declamazione of Winter, eccelle in ballad (the Classical) and rock and roll (the Jawbone), many sgangherati to affect, avvicinandosi to second Pere Ubu.

Room To Live returns instead to a rockabilly little ritmato and prevails in a samba sgangherato (Marquis Cha Cha). The classic of the period e` Totally Wired, sabbah for the nasal song of Smith and the atonal guitar of Craig Scanlon.

The personal rituale of Smith continues with the unconnected tribalismo of Man Whose Head Expanded (1983) and " blues-a-billy " the demenziale Kicker Conspiracy (1983), than they always approach it piu` (respective) the psichedelia and Beefheart; as they confirm the tremendous one cantilena of Smile, the gag zappiana of Eat Yourself, the lyric Bloedel Hotel and the nine minuteren of House Time on Perverted By Language (Rough Trade, 1983), with the moglie Brix to the guitar.

E' the preludio to The Wonderful And Frightening World (Beggars Banquet, 1984), with the dragging industrial dance Not Bulbs, the spiritato one voodoobilly of Lay Of The Land and 2 By 4, the melodica and dance Creep, piece the surrealistic Bug Day.

The epic of the Fall continues with an other peak of creativita`, This Nation' s Saving Grace (Beggars Banquet, 1985), the apex of this phase, accessible, progressive, poles-ritmico, marked from the chitarrismo piu` moderated of the consorte, but still full of guerrila graffiti ( *** TRANSLATION ENDS HERE ***Cruiser's Creek), di voodoobilly catastrofici (Bombast, Spoilt Victorian Child), di kitsch zappiano (Mansion) e di psichedelia mistica (la sinistra dance-trance di L.A. e lo yodel ipnotico di My New House). In brani come Gut Of The Quantifier si evidenzia la parentela del loro sound con gli esperimenti della scuola minimalista, in particolare quelli dei Sonic Youth; mentre in altri un tribalismo surreale (What You Need) o una ballata pastorale (Paint Work) vengono manipolati con tecniche timbriche simili a quelle impiegate dai Residents. Culmine di questo sperimentalismo e` I Am Damo Suzuki, che gioca con i poliritmi e le dissonanze elettroniche.

Il piu` cupo Bend Sinister (Beggars Banquet, 1986), dominato dagli arrangiamenti del poli-strumentista Simon Roger, confermano la tendenza verso un melodismo piu` pronunciato (come in Shoulder Pads). Fra un'opera teatrale (Hey Luciani, 1987) e un balletto (I Am Kurious Oranj, 1989) e un funky-rap (Telephone, 1990) la saga di Smith si trascina con immutata onesta` e lucidita`.

L'arte dei Fall vive nella schizofrenica alternanza di minacciosi ritualistici (i voodoobilly alla Fiery Jack, Elastic Man, Kicker Conspiracy, Lay Of The Land, Bombast, e le dance-track alla Muzorewi`s Daughter, Man Whose Head, Bulbs, L.A.) e ambizioni piu` sperimentali. Le seconde sono sempre state un po' confuse e quasi mai hanno apportato contributi sostanziali. I Fall riescono meglio come protagonisti di una sotto-cultura rock amatoriale che non ha pretese e che in qualche modo, fra le maglie del loro boogie sarcastico, esprime l'insofferenza e l'alienazione dei kid nella metropoli industriale.

Frenz Experiment (Big Time) del 1988 segna l'adesione a moduli piu` professionali del far musica. Un'insolita musicalita` (oltre al solito senso dello humour) contraddistingue anzi il blues incalzante di Get A Hotel, le ballate folk di Frenz e The Steak Place, che in fondo non fanno che ripetere le varianti usuali del loro sound. Il fattore tribale si esprime nel boogie di Carry Bag Man e nel voodoobilly di Athlete Cured, con i soliti riferimenti a Velvet Underground e Cramps. Mettendo a frutto tanta fantasia e ricchezza ritmica, il complesso suggella il disco con Hit The North e Bremen Nacht, due delle loro danze piu` paradossali e due dei loro capolavori. Brix Smith (chitarra), Simon Wolstencroft (batteria), Steve Hanley (basso), Craig Scanlon (chitarra ritmica, le cui gloriose dissonanze sono qui un po' in ombra) e Marcia Schofield (tastiere) costituiscono una delle formazioni piu` affiatate e talentuose della carriera di Mark Smith. Alla fine Frenz Experiment risulta uno dei loro dischi meglio riusciti, con materiale di tutto riguardo e arrangiamenti (per loro) quasi di lusso. Il coevo singolo Popcorn Double Feature non e` da meno.

Dello stesso periodo e` il balletto documentato sull'album I Am Kurious Oranj (Beggars Banquet). I Fall scimmiottano un po' se stessi, e non tutto splende, ma cio` che splende e` degno del repertorio migliore: altre esaltate danze voodoo (Jerusalem), altre solenni sarabande (Kurious Oranj) altri marziali proclami (New Big Prinz) e persino un bluesrock sincopato alla Rolling Stones (Wrong Place Right Time).

Il Seminal Live segna purtroppo la fine di quella fase, la fase che era in fondo iniziata con Perverted By Language, a causa del divorzio (personale e artistico) fra Mark e Brix.

In compenso, pero`, Extricate (Cog Sinister, 1990) segna il ritorno all'ovile del chitarrista Martin Bramah. E` un'altra prova di gran classe, forte di un tributo al blues-jazz come Chicago Now, di un'imitazione della psichedelia e del soul-rock degli anni '60 come I'm Frank, e di canzoni argute come Sing Harpy e And Therein (con il caratteristico ritmo saltellante delle chitarre, qui spinto ad eccessi da manicomio). Smith non perde occasione di aggiornarsi ai suoni moderni, pur rimanendo fedele alla sua "poetica" clownesca, come dimostrano i brani da ballo, che sono forse il meglio del disco: la novelty alla B52's (coretto scipito, organetto stridulo) di The Little Rebel, il surreale Black Month Theme (un blues/rap balbettato su un organo gospel e un violino miagolante), il voodoobilly sgangherato (e deturpato da ogni sorta di campionamenti-spazzatura) di Extricate. Sono brani in cui la sua fantasia ha modo di sbizzarrirsi nelle trovate piu` ingeniose ed esilaranti. Lo humour e` naturalmente incontenibile: Smith ne approfitta per mettere in pista qualche sketch del suo iconoclasta musichall, magari rifacendo il verso a Lou Reed (Hilary), parodiando il synthpop (Popcorn Double Feature) o ironizzando sui costumi dei suoi compatrioti al passo di un trascinante rhythm and blues (British People In Hot Weather). Si tratta forse del suo disco piu` vario e composito, e certamente uno dei piu` ispirati, e sarebbe la colonna sonora perfetta per un circo di musica rock. E` come se l'uomo fosse rinato.

Perso nuovamente Bramah, oltre a Schofield, e acquisito Kenny Brady al violino, Smith registra Shiftwork (Fontana) e dimostra, nel continuo cambiare di formazioni, che i Fall sono lui: The Mixer, So What About It e il Sinister Waltz ripetono per l'ennesima volta la sua poetica musicale. In fondo il suo segreto e` sempre stato una forma deviante di infantilismo: ritornelli che si fanno canticchiare da soli e cadenze che fanno muovere le gambe da sole.

Free Range, su Code: Selfish (Cog Sinister), anticipava la svolta commerciale compiuta con The Infotainment Scan (Atlantic, 1993): una cover di discomusic e una cover di reggae e una parodia del techno (A Past Gone Mad) occultano quasi del tutto la verve di Smith. Il quale ha comunque modo di esprimere il suo genio eccentrico anche in questo formato, da Paranoid Man In Cheap Shit Room, un bizzarro incrocio fra synthpop, heavymetal psichedelia e rap, a Ladybird, sorta di accrocchio armonico al confine fra il boogie e la Venus degli Shocking Blue, passando per il jug elettrico di Glam-Racket (con echi di Spirit In The Sky di Norman Greenbaum). Il sound fragoroso e super-prodotto di questo disco e` pero` l'antitesi dei primi Fall.

Il singolo Behind The Counter (Permanent) prelude al nuovo album del 1994, Middle Class Revolt, lavoro impegnato che pero` fa temere che Smith, a forza di giocare a fare il dj (City Dweller), si sia dimenticato come si fa il punk (15 Ways).

Negli ultimi dieci anni, in pratica, Smith e` vissuto della sua abilita` di comporre "danze" rituali a uso e consumo personale, lontane da tutte le mode, confezionate secondo una variante stracciona del tradizionale "wit" britannico, ma cio` nonostante altrettanto contagiose (e vendibili) di quelle di moda.

La carriera si Smith e` insolita poiche` non e` contrassegnata da periodi creativi e periodi di crisi. Smith ha la prerogativa di produrre un capolavoro ogni circa tre/quattro anni (Witch Trials, This Nation's Saving Grace, Hex Induction Hour, Frenz Experiment, Extricate), alternandoli con opere distratte, raffazzonate o commerciali.


Speaking of efficient tyranny, let us consider Friday night's plastic bag maneouvre as an example of a perfectly executed four-stage attack.

1. Threaten victim by showing him inside of bag.

2. In pincer movement, encase victim's head in polythene.

3. Flick ash on victim's head and punch it a couple of times.

4. Conclusion: adopt triumphant pose as if modelling for portrait by Jacques-Louis David.



Recent news.... logo-a-go-go
990419 more Marshall Suite reviews, NME chat, live at Sound Republic XFM session, tbly#15 out
990411 Couple of Marshall Suite reviews, Live 77 details, 1985/1987 interviews
990330 Touch Sensitive reviews, Marshall Suite details
990320 Shake-off lyrics, tour details
990314 MES Escape interview
990308 Ashton Tuesday reviews, Falling Through Time part 1, Dragnet reissue
Ashton Sunday and Monday reviews
990221 LP announcement, Inch reviews
990214 not much
990207 various stuff
990128 Peel Sessions CD review
990118 Uncut pieces, Marcia interview, NZ art collection
990110 NME LA2 review, modern rock sociology
990103 Manchester Ritz reviews
981220 Bristol F&F and London LA2 reviews, cut-out-and-keep guide to recent reissues
981214 NME & MM short pieces
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

This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet for those that can't deal with the usual FallNet volume of mail. If you want to be mailed whenever something changes here, fill in this box below: 
Enter your e-mail address to receive e-mail when the news gets updated!
Your Internet e-mail address:

Mail Stefan, or mail FallNet. To subscribe to FallNet, send mail here with SUBSCRIBE FALL YOUR@E-MAIL-ADDRESS in the body. 

Return to The Fall homepage