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I think he had a pint in his hand, y'know... fuckin' great! That was the great thing about them, there was no way the English could televise them. Yeah, I still play their singles.
What does the next year hold in store?
"I can't be sure, really, but I'm getting into the production scene more, because the sound becomes a much greater vehicle for the lyrics. Like Slates was much clearer than the previous stuff, coz you're getting rid of choruses more and more, and you're putting more literal stuff on it, and therefore it's important to have a good production behind it. Chilton, I always thought, did that great, and the album's gonna be like that, very dense and hard."
Soon it's time for The Fall to put these ideas into action, and the others quickly take their places on stage. Smith says the five of them would be totally mind-blowing without him, and by the second new song, "Into C.B.", this is obvious. Dischords like church bells are expertly overlapped, treading on each other's tails, while over them Smith chants a twisted, snarling lyric concerning Citizen's Band radio. On "Beer Park" [sic], "Hip Priest" and "Step Up," The Fall are playing the most intense, hypnotic rock'n'roll since the Velvets of "Sister Ray"; as Mark Riley keeps up a brilliant, fevered Cale organ part, Craig Scanlon batters his guitar, Steve Hanley's bass pins every beat to the floor, and the dual drum unit of Karl Burns and Paul Hanley never lets off its devastating power for nigh on ten minutes. After five of these, you feel quite simply entranced, ecstatic.
Smith sauntering about the stage with icily calculated indifference only adds to the sheer rigour of the sound. He addresses nobody, but his delivery is fanatical. Anger breaks over its surface, but a Fall gig is a vital confusion of sound and meaning, signifier and signified, a theatre of clamour and impersonality. Sometimes you can make out his words, at other times not; it doesn't matter, the challenge to both heart and mind is there.
Mark Smith and The Fall do this because they know that Pop, within the system it has created for its expansion, can only further represent itself. They know that it's time for a "popular" (or populist) but radical white rock to address itself to questions of art, culture, politics that Pop has only too conveniently ignored for too long. That Smith hs managed to do this with a severe and violent humour and a vision of incomparable breadth, and without regressing to slogans and exhibitionistic vitriol, only testifies the more to the manifold importance of this group.
Within this kind of discipline, prole art really is a threat.