... Issue 1
The Biggest Library Yet 7
the Prolapse pages)
Published: September 1996 SOLD OUT
The Thoughts of Chair Band Fall
...an approximate translation of the sleeve notes
from an 8-CD Japanese set of The Fall's Beggars Banquet
"The working class has been contemplating its worthless position for a hundred years. That's why the white working class neither believes in the state nor starts a riot. All the classes are silly academism against fascism in England. Otherwise they are intelligence of bad quality." Here is a proud Northern group. The Fall from Manchester, who look hard at realistic despair of Northern England. The Smiths, who also appeared from Manchester much later than The Fall, sang aesthetically of the melancholy reality prevailing in Northern Manchester. Compared to them, Mark E. Smith leading The Fall tells us about the mentality which maintains the people caught by philosophy of resignation. For instance, life of working class people at low wages, fanatic soccer fans, talks in pubs, the severe reality, way of life... He embodies them in his witty way.
Mark says, "We sing about the prospects of what will happen if people who are crushed with despair start a riot. Rock'n roll is a kind of criticism of a society."
The Fall is overwhelmingly popular in England. Like New Order from Manchester, they are more popular than other major artists despite belonging to Independent label. In fact. Mark E. Smith, who is their front man is significantly trusted. According to Reader's poll, annually conducted by each music magazine in England, he is one of the most frequent winners of the Best Group, the Best Singer and other awards. In this connection, according to the results of the NME published at the beginning of 1989, The Fall was the third Best Group followed by Wedding Presents and REM, and Mark E. Smith was the sixth of the Most Human Being prize. There is no wonder of their winning those prizes when you listen to what he sings about and his attitude.
NME published an interesting interview with the following three characters: Mark E. Smith, Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan (The Pogues). In the interview, Mark discussed psychology, Nietzsche, and composing music. etc. like a wise man in the rock n roll world. He showed his provocative intelligence, scornful arrogance and remarkable irony. It might not be easy to recall another artist who has such a determined policy.
Now, let me introduce the biography of him and The Fall.
Mark Edward Smith was born in Salford on March 5 in 1957. When this odd man with strong personality was born, Stranger in Paradise by Tony Benett was on the radio, his mother said. When he reached the age of discretion, he listened to Ride a White Swan by T. Rex, Paranoid" by Black Sabbath. The first album he bought in his life was Sticky Fingers by Rolling Stones. He was only about 14. He spent an ordinary boyhood which was possessed by the charm of Two-tone.
It was in 1975 when he arranged a band in Manchester after 4 years' work since he left school. Like other bands, around this time, he was directly influenced by Sex Pistols, which might not yet be known fact.
The then members were 5, including Mark, Martin Blummer and Tony Friel (former Passage, Magazine), who are core of the group. The name, "The Fall" was suggested by Friel from a novel "The Fall" written by Camus. "Unreasonable human being who become conscious of unreasonableness and is against it", "Human solidarity with rebels." Who on earth could imagine what the rock'n roll band has presented until now? I myself believe that this was an intriguing episode of their naming suggesting the stance of The Fall. Manchester in 1977 was receiving hit by punk movement which broke out in London, and showing a rise in the live house in Collyhyst Street or Bank Sundays. Among many shams of punk bands enrolled in Markie Club in London in those days, Buscockles, lead by Beat Sherry and The Fall were the bands who were standing out prominently among all.
In April, they impressed the audience at a jump in the Squat Club with the impact of spitting out "The psychiatrists must be killed" by Mark. while waving a microphone stand around. That ended in appealing to all by the editor of Fanjin, who was there to see their gig. This was their memorable first gig.
Mark E. Smith leading The Fall has pushed a
topsy-turvy. unconventional philosophy of life with his determined
vocal attack, to young people who occupy the first row and don't know
how to doubt. Is it common? It might be...
Naming Names (excerpt)...
But it is the world of rock and pop which has inspired the majority of Mark E's celeb-references.
'If we go on like this, we're gonna end up like King Crimson,' he said in Words of Expectation, a song which has also featured Howard Jones, Echo and the Bunnymen, Wah! Heat and Genesis. The album covers 'circa 1973' of the latter get a line in Guest Informant, along with Stevie Wonder and Marillion, who weren't formed until long after 1973. But who cares.
The star of C.R.E.E.P liked ABC. Lloyd Cole and the Kane Gang were not appreciated. Least appreciated of all must be Shakin' Stevens who Mark E. wanted to 'land one on' for the heinous 'massacre of Blue Christmas' in Ludd Gang. A rare favourable reference comes in Putta Block where Mark E. reminisces how he used to have a thing about Link Wray. Indeed, he used to 'play him every Saturday'. Many years later, he was to meet his hero in an NME-arranged interview. In Putta Block, meanwhile, we are asked if we have ever heard a Bill Haley LP. One-time Can member Damo Suzuki got the Fall tribute treatment in 1985 on I am Damo Suzuki. Students, it is well-known, all masturbate while listening to Pearl Jam in their rooms (Hey! Student) whilst wearing their Shaun Ryder faces. Velvet Underground covers bands get a sneering put-down in the unreleased Session Musician. And I thought you couldn't tell Lou Reed from a mule (Shoulder Pads)but it turns out to be Doug Yule.
There are many more. Take a bow Adam and the Ants (Middle Mass), Dexy's Midnight Runners (Pay Your Rates), The Doors (It's a Curse), Dickens, possibly (Big New Prinz), Bob Dylan (Cab it up), Moody Blues (can't remember), Louis Armstrong (Hexen Definitive), Elvis Costello (Copped it), Elvis Presley (Cab Driver), Iggy Pop and the Brothers Copeland (What You Need), Freddie and the Dreamers (Idiot Joy Showland), Elton John (I'm Going to Spain), Peter Gabriel and Bono (A Past Gone Mad), Gene Vincent (New Puritan and Prole Art Threat?), the Ramones and Alien Sex Fiend (Mere Pseud Mag. Ed.), Joe Strummer and Jake Burns (Cary Grant's Wedding), and Johnny Rotten (who MES didn't sound like in C 'n' Cs Mithering or anywhere else), the Worst (debatable entry in It's the New Thing), Pink Floyd and the Stones (The Chisellers) and even dear old DLT (Mess of My).
But beware: the 'Suede' in Glam-Racket is the fabric not the band, says MES. And he should know. Frank Zappa was the inspiration for I'm Frank, apparently, although I can't hear it myself. And Captain Beefheart imitators come in for a telling-off in Deer Park, which also mentions writer Colin Wilson.
My favourite Smith pop-spotting line, and one which neatly encapsulates the spirit of the early 1980s, comes from Hard Life in the Country: 'D. Bowie look-alikes permeate carparks.' The laughing gnome also appears in 1996's He Pep! There is a case for including Hey! Marc Riley in the unreleased song of that name. And of course MES is not averse to name-dropping himself in a song or two. In Reckoning, he berates someone for 'sleeping with some hippy halfwit, who thinks he's Mister Mark Smith.'
Note that some of these names only crop up in live
or session recordings. Doubtlessly there are more, lurking in the
nooks and crannies.
Das Unmodisch Volkommen Gesund
28 June 1996, The Astoria, London
The streets of London did reverberate with drunken satisfied men (and women). The band came on after making a joke of current sell-out cabaret act The Sex Pistols, by playing a 20-second snatch of 'Anarchy in the UK' on their intro tape. I for one understood and appreciated this irony. The first song was Das Vulture ans ein Nutter-Wain, my favourite off the new LP. The sound was amazingly sharp and hard, the bass especially heavy and distorted.
Seeing as the England-Germany match was on at the same time I think the German references conspired to make this a good night. I saw a Krautrock guardian angel handling he mixing desk. It disappeared later - probably to ensure its country succeeded elsewhere.
We were treated to US 80s-90s, L.A. and Idiot Joy Showland, which I thought was generous of Mark to please those of us in the audience with advanced symptoms of 80s art rock dementia.
Mark E. Smith's art of stagecraft - the art of more is less - really worked well tonight. About three times during the gig he sauntered off, dissatisfied with the sound. The band continued to play and a roadie or part-time band member stood in for vocals (Mike Bennett?)
Then the sound man ran on, grabbed the radio mike, went behind the scenes and handed it to Mark, who sang his vocals from the dressing room or wherever! he did this two or three times, his ghostly voice coming from nowhere, and the audience greeted his reappearance with increasing appreciation. I can't help but think this was part of the intention. James Brown used o do it and come on in a new outfit each time. Mark did it differently - with a cigarette. there were four encores and I wanted to shout 'where's Craig?' but I was so lost in music I forgot.
Thanks to The Fall for coming down and making this crunchy fucked racket, we need it in our lives. It's the only oasis in a musical desert.
Here's another true confession... I'm deeply envious of Mariah Carey's seven-octave vocal range.
Mark is a big fan of megaphones and the only person to manage to drag Coldcut down the pub!
J. More, Coldcut