You might have seen the news item this past week reporting that, with the intention of congratulating Mark E. Smith on his 60th birthday (!—dude doesn’t look a day over 77), the BBC mistakenly tweeted an RIP notice instead. Which seems a thoroughly Mark E. Smith sort of occurrence.
Smith once explained the question of the Fall’s identity thus: “If it’s me an your granny on the bongos, it’s the Fall.” The cantankerous lead singer and songwriter has famously churned through literally dozens of bandmates, prompting the recent creation of a handy cross-stitch pattern documenting the lineup changes. And yet, most of you reading this probably think of Steve Hanley and Craig Scanlon as core Fall members—and yes, perhaps even Brix too.
John Peel clutching a beloved copy of ‘Hip Priest and Kamerads’
The Fall were famously the favorite band of legendary BBC DJ John Peel—the Fall recorded a whopping 24 Peel sessions, the most of any act, and the 2005 box set containing all of them is essential listening for any Fall devotee—the second disc in particular is fucking great.
The BBC documentary The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith obviously cribs its name from the Fall’s similarly titled album of 1984. The program documents the Fall’s origins, including their first recording session, which was financed by Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon, through their furtive (Brix-fueled) attempts at wider popularity in the 1980s, to their, or rather, his more or less current status as undeniably batshit punk elder.
The interview features interviews with past members Una Baines, Marc Riley, and Steve Hanley as well as (of course) tons of commentary from Smith himself, virtually all of which is damned hard to understand for U.S. viewers, which of course adds to the charm and mystique of it all.