With the sad passing of Mark E. Smith last week there was a genuine outpouring of grief from all over the world, there were the usual sycophantic tributes and reviews, but most were truly heartfelt as anyone who knew about this unique character and his band could not have failed to be affected by his death.
“A late incarnation of the band that over time has had nearly 70 members in it”
Inevitably then came along all the on-line posts about the virtues and competence of him as a musician, songwriter and entertainer which I felt a need to address…
Yes, he was a professional drinker and a well sauced one at that with his live performances often erratic, unpredictable and dangerous but just typing these words I feel quite excited about the thought of that….
But It’s his music that really brings out the inevitable and naive comments like “I don’t really get The Fall” “The Fall have only get a few tunes and the rest are shit” and the one I really liked “Don’t know why all these Punks liked The Fall they are not fucking Punk” …
32 studio albums and countless live ones, one-off recordings, Peel sessions and covers and you “only like a few tunes” …….
The Fall are a band that you must explore, you must immerse yourself in them (maybe with a beer or 3) you have to read the lyrics and you have to stick with because it is deliberately challenging at times.
Look Rock n Roll is great, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-verse-double chorus is fantastic, it’s pure, it’s constant and it’s beautifully simple and most of the time that is enough …….
Discordant music however is another approach. When music doesn’t follow a natural pattern, it can be hard sometimes as it’s goes against the way you automatically think it will, but it can open paths in your mind and your soul that you maybe didn’t realise were even there.
Now you can’t really put The Fall into any category apart from they are The Fall, John Peel famously said,
“They are always different. They are always the same” …..
They did have a sound of their own and on every single album there is something completely unlike anything else you would have heard ever from anyone let alone them but they did also produce many catchy “pop” songs, even getting on Top of the Pops in the 80’s. There are a few songs that sound like they were put together in the time it took them to get blurted out but even that is a part of the fabric of The Fall … who ever knew what was coming next.
To me it was always exciting getting a new Fall album because everyone really is a trip and aren’t the best trips the ones to somewhere new……
So I say to anyone who doesn’t really like The Fall or has only heard a few songs and didn’t like them or doesn’t even know anything about them at all, watch the documentary below about Mark E Smith, to get an insight into the man himself, then go through their discography on line, pick an album , randomly download a song, listen to it, then carry on doing this from all 32 and when you have heard one song from every album repeat the procedure .. then do it again… then again… until you can stand no more……. But if you do start to like what you hear and feel you literally have hours and hours of enjoyment ahead…. (Buying the albums outright is advised too)
I’m not gonna list my favourite tracks or try and be clever by making up a list of the most diverse ones or anything I just implore you find them out for yourself …
R.I.P Mark E Smith – R.I.P The Fall
“The Fall’s first album Live at the Witch Trials – 1979)
“The Fall’s last album New Facts Emerge – 2017”