You think its the pints when it turns on the lights: A personal history of The Fall
March 2007 sees the 50th birthday of a national treasure Mark E Smith. He’s produced some of the most exciting LPs committed to vinyl, never rested on his laurels and never shied away from speaking his mind. My personal favourite quote of his was after Boy George had been exposed as a Heroin addict: there was hysteria in the British press about the example he was setting to his fans. When asked about it Mark said “Well I’m a big Elvis fan but I dont eat 20 hamburgers a day!”.
I went to St Peters Grammar school in Prestwich (2 bus journeys from Little Hulton mustve been mad!) where The Fall were from. The story goes that virtually everyone in Prestwich has been in the Fall at one time or another. I heard them first (of course) on John Peel in 1978 – How I Wrote Elastic Man which I went out and bought that very weekend. City Hobgoblins the B-side is still in my fave Fall track.
Some of the Falls stuff was truly frightening. I bought Totales Turn expecting a brace of Elastic Man type tunes..and what did I get?!! Songs recorded on a crappy tape recorder with angry neighbours banging at the door.live songs in front of a less than appreciative working mens club..totally wired!
I went to see them at an all day event at the old Manchester Poly (1/11/80) that was hosted by Peelie and also had Orange Juice on the bill. I was only 16 and being in what was supposed to be an 18s and over venue was quite intimidating. That same night, Jeff, Terry and I went to see the Jam at the Apollo on their Sound Effects tour What a day!.
I later met Karl Burns dad (see peel page) who mentioned what a character Mark E Smith was “Apparently, he’s married an American girl hes only just met”. Saw them at the Hacienda a couple of times (Oct 84 and Oct 85) and at the Festival of the 10th summer at GMEX before moving to London
I remember going mental to Australians in Europe (a tune that still gets me out of my seat and ready to go) with Digger at the front of an Astoria gig in 87 we were those nutters you always try to avoid in the mosh pit or stick out a stay elbow hoping to catch one in the ribs.
We went to see the Curious Orange show at Sadlers Wells in Sept ’88 where the band were in the background whilst the Micheal Clark Company dance group danced around in front of them. Bizzare but it worked. The 1989 Futurama 6 in Bradford had a pretty impressive line up the curry we went for afterwards was impressive too.
By now, I had a dozen or so of their LPs (does Slates slags etc. count as an LP?). 12 LPs and I still had no idea what he was on about Fantastic!
They covered the Kinks Victoria on Frenz Experiment, and it just didnt feel right to me. I remember Mark slagging off The Stranglers for covering All day and all of the night “Y’see with Victoria we deconstructed it and rebuilt it” hmmmmmmmm the faint whiff of bullshit creeping in.
I kind of lost touch with them after that. Saw them play at Cities in the Park in 91 but nothing that made me want to buy another LP. I heard the odd track on the odd Peel session over the years but it was the release of Touch Sensitive that made me sit up and listen again a work of genius! I went to see them at the Irish centre in Leeds on the strength of that track and they were truly awe-inspiring. I came out wanting to be in a band I was nearly 40 and all I could think of was that I wanted to do that! How often does that happen..
2006 30th Anniversary Gig, 2007 Mark Es 50th Birthday and youd forgive him for playing crowd pleasers and raiding his back catalogue but with LPs as strong as Fall Heads Roll and Reformation Post TLC why bother.
Bob the Chiropodist