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‘No Place Like It’: Read a short story by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith
09:02 am


Mark E. Smith
The Fall

The City Life Book Of Manchester Short Stories, published by Penguin in 1999, included a contribution from the city’s public fountain of bile, Mark E. Smith. The book’s editor, Ra Page, then on the masthead of Manchester’s City Life magazine, subsequently published a “making-of” diary that suggested the Fall singer’s inclusion was more Penguin’s idea than his own.

Scans of the two-and-a-half-page story have long been up at, but it was actually simpler to transcribe this brief tale than to post the images. As far as I can tell, “No Place Like It” concerns the space-wasting activities of some unhappy Mancunians. I suppose someone has to be on the business end of Smith’s withering scorn; better them than me.

PONDERING at half-step on the gross arrogance, blatant incompetence and thievery of the white trash in their late twenties, and their shaven-headed middle class imitators, FRANK circumnavigated what seemed like endless sand-holes, foxholes, spastic-convenient kerb stones punctuated by upright, kicked-over, reddy-orange and white fences on his way through the doing up of the Manchester Victoria post-bomb development.
  It had been a muggy, slowcoach taxi ride, due to the incompetent driver, who in his porn-stupefied brain had not turned left before the Cathedral, where FRANK had made an early exit.
  The only thing he remembered was the three healthy kids who’d thrown two rocks at the passing vehicles near the Rialto in Higher Broughton.
  He was getting the black illuminations again, i.e. All Is Substance – You Have Contact With None, or There’s Been Nothing on Granada For At Least Ten Minutes, Never Mind the Digital Testing.

DELIVERING leaflets 22 hours a week was just about manageable, thought JOE, if it wasn’t for those big over-powered cars making him jump every time he crossed the road – they made him remember the small metal splint in his upper right thigh from that time he’d ventured into Rusholme, pissed, and got half knocked over. He’d agreed with most of the shit on that political leaflet that other bloke he’d bumped into was giving out, apart from that repeated phrase – It All Makes Sense, Doesn’t It QUESTION MARK.
  The men in the yellow hats sniggered as he limped by, and it seemed that they’d deliberately sanded near him, sending vicious particles coupled with lime flowing through the muggy, close, damp Cheetham Hill mid-afternoon on to his forehead and into his eyes.

STEWART Mayerling sat down in the Low Rat Head pub near the bottom end of Oxford Road, trying to work out how his plans to distract and confuse his English Drama lecturer hadn’t quite worked out. Mother was a teacher, and the attention/distraction games had always worked on her. The pager going off, mid-lesson, the showbiz titbit asides in the middle of Hamlet, my vegetarianism – how the jumped-up prole sneered at that, of course not understanding my code of internal hygiene, well advanced beyond that of mere travellers and their ilk, or polytechnic balding lecturers. For that matter – I think I’ll head up to Victoria, skip the lecture.

THE MITRE Arms, adjacent to the Cathedral, and next to The Shambles was empty this afternoon. FRANK walks in, having well given up on getting past Marks & Spencer, and blanching at the apostrophe on the Finnegan’s Wake pub sign, towards the station. Picking a table was fairly hard even though – only one large eight-seater occupied by Joe.

In walks STEWART.

  ‘Is it OK to sit here?’ he asks the seated two.
  ‘It’s crap out there isn’t it?’ says JOE.
  ‘Damn right it is.’
  ‘Let’s form a Party,’ says FRANK . . .

                                        THE END

After the jump, MES reads the football results… as only he can!

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Scramble your brains with the Fall’s 1983 home video ‘Perverted by Language Bis’
11:08 am


The Fall

“And what’ll you do when the rental’s up? / And your bottom rack is full of vids / Of programs you will nay look at”

Factory Records’ video imprint, IKON, released miles (kilometers?) of quality VHS tape in the 1980s, back when videocassettes came packaged in those hard plastic cases with snap-shut lids and transparent sleeves for the cover art. IKON had it all: the posthumous Joy Division collection Here Are the Young Men; Taras Shevchenko, a tape of New Order live in the Ukraine; the Birthday Party captured in their prime on Pleasure Heads Must Burn; The Final Academy Documents, a double cassette of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin collaborations concluding with their 1982 performance at Manchester’s Hacienda; and Claude Bessy’s hilarious, can’t-be-arsed “sales” vid Bessy Talks Turkey. And that’s skipping the videos by Survival Research Labs, the Durutti Column, Severed Heads, and Hunters & Collectors.

But the Fall took advantage of the full range of possibilities of the new home video format on 1983’s fabulous Perverted by Language Bis. “Scripted” by Mark E. Smith, the collection brings together the usual material—no-budget promo videos, live clips and interview footage—but spiced with visual non sequiturs and linked with snatches of insane prose. Thirty-two years later, it’s still weird.

Detail from the back cover of Perverted by Language Bis

Speaking as a devotee of the compilation Palace of Swords Reversed and the album Perverted by Language, the video also happens to catch (lucky me) my favorite period of the Fall’s now very long career, namely the years just before and after Brix joined. Along with “Hip Priest,” “Totally Wired,” “The Man Whose Head Expanded,” and several tracks from Perverted by Language, you get videos for three of the four songs from the supreme summit of the Fall’s discography, the gemlike “Kicker Conspiracy” double seven-inch. There’s the title tune, in which MES vents his spleen about something to do with English sport (beats me), the rockabilly truck-driver song “Container Drivers,” and the sci-fi time-travel story “Wings,” set to perhaps the mightiest Fall riff of all. And unlike sucker me, who paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 for this thing just to shudder under its crushing weight for the rest of my born days, you’ll be watching it for the internet’s “nice price” of zero dollars, free from physical encumbrance and joint pain.


‘TV Wipeout’: Cabaret Voltaire’s rigorously post-punk 1984 video compilation resurfaces

John Coulthart has unearthed an utterly marvelous find from the early days of mass-produced video music content—Cabaret Voltaire’s TV Wipeout, a “video magazine” that was released on VHS in 1984. Watching it today, TV Wipeout is an excellent approximation of late-night avant-garde music programming from the early 1980s like Night Flight, albeit less scattershot and more rigorously postpunk in perspective. Of course, Cabaret Voltaire were often featured on Night Flight themselves.

TV Wipeout, videotape cover
As Coulthart explains, “This was the fourth title on the Cab’s own Doublevision label which was easily the best of the UK’s independent video labels at the time.” The compilation has plenty of gems. TV Wipeout features an interview with David Bowie on his latest movie, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, excerpts from two Andy Warhol movies (Heat and Flesh), concert and documentary footage from the Fall at their creative peak, a video by Residents discovery Renaldo and the Loaf, footage of Marc Almond covering a Lou Reed song, and excerpts from cult classics like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Eating Raoul.

The footage of the Fall was taped at the The Venue in London on March 21, 1983. Their rendition of “Words of Expectation” is interrupted by an astonishing clip of the Fall’s manager, Kay Carroll, tearing the Factory’s Tony Wilson a new asshole for using some Fall music on a video without their permission.

(Click for a larger version)
On the next-to-last video, Marc & The Mambas cover Lou Reed’s “Caroline Says II” off of Berlin. For the first half of the song, Marc Almond is holding Genesis P-Orridge’s infant daughter Caresse in his arms until she starts to cry.

Coulthart also found a pretty hilarious interview in which Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder had the following to say about TV Wipeout (source: Cabaret Voltaire: The Art of the Sixth Sense by M. Fish and D. Hallbery):

Q: The next Doublevision was the TV Wipeout video which was a sort of disposable magazine compilation. It contained a fairly wide variety of contributors, from people like The Fall and Test Dept to some more mainstream groups like Bill Nelson and Japan.

Mallinder: The point was that Virgin Films were quite happy to work with us; they even gave us money in the form of advertising revenue for using some film clips from the Virgin catalogue. We were then able to camouflage them into the whole set-up and make them look as if they were part of the whole nature of the video compilation.

Q: One of those clips was a particularly inane interview with David Bowie. Was its inclusion merely a selling point?

Mallinder: Yes, it was purely that. There are a lot of people who will buy anything with David Bowie on it. So we said “Fuck it, why not use that as a selling point!” Actually the interview is appalling, it’s terrible. Our including it was almost like a piss-take. We were saying “you really will buy anything with David Bowie on it if you buy this”.

Coulthart asserts that some clips of Cabaret Voltaire and Japan are missing from this playlist, but I think that’s not right, at least if the list posted above is right, it’s just the Japan track that is missing, and you can find that one here.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hip Priest: The Fall’s Mark E. Smith used to do tarot card readings for drugs
03:59 pm


Mark E. Smith
The Fall

The other day I was in the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio, and I came across a book I’d been hunting for a while, that being a volume on lead singer of the Fall, Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith, which turns out to be an odd little tome, a kind of catch-all of writings by Smith himself. It was this last point I only understood when I held the book in my hand; I had thought it was a reported book but in fact it’s all written by Mark E. Smith. 

One of the chapters has the remarkable title of “The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World and Eric the Ferret.” The title kind of gives away the fact that it’s about tarot, which it turns out Mark E. Smith has more than the usual interest in.

Here are a couple of key passages. I have to say I only half-believe Smith on this stuff—it’s a little hard to picture sports cars turning up at his flat all the time for readings—the whole thing is a fascinating brew of ego, half-baked erudition, superstition, and self-serving logic, a scammer’s mindset if you will:

I used to do tarot readings as well. I went through a phase of reading books on the occult. I was fascinated by it. I still believe that things leave vibrations. America, for instance; I’ve visited all these old Civil War sites and the atmosphere is incredible. You can almost reach out and feel it.

.…After a bit, when the drugs prevailed, it got ridiculous. I got more interested in the Philip K. Dick Time Out of Joint angle—the way certain pieces of writing have a power all to themselves, almost as if they can prophesize things. But I still did the readings. Kay had a lot of hippy mates, housewives with a bit of money, really, who were always seeking out people to read for them. And I had a natural talent for it. I’ve always been able to read people. My mam’s a bit like that. I never used to charge a lot, but now you can earn a fortune. When I was really skint in 2000, I thought to myself, I should be doing that again. You can earn £40 an hour.

When people did a tarot with me they’d walk away wth their life changed. But you can’t fuck around with those things too much. You’re dealing with a force. When it goes wrong you’re not being a vessel.


I did the readings for a year or two. But people started coming back too much. I had to tell them to stop. You get to the point where people can’t function without it—once a week turns into twice a week. They were driving up in their sports cars outside the flat, asking if they should go with this nice man they’d just met. A lot of fellas used to take advantage of that. Telling them they need more tarot—and that the tarot says you need sex with me.

One of the rules of the tarot is that you shouldn’t really take a lot of money for it, like psychics. It’s not good. So I’d take presents, a nice leather jacket. You’d go round to dope dealers and they’d give you two ounces of dope per reading.

Can you imagine visiting, say, Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland and running into Mark E. Smith?

Most interesting, perhaps, is that as recently as 2000, after like 20 studio albums on his resume, Smith was “skint” enough to consider taking the practice up again.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘In my headphones it sounds like the f*cking Smurfs’: Mark E. Smith vs. Kevin the Sound Engineer
12:26 pm


The Fall
Mark E Smith

Honestly, would you expect anything less from Mark E. Smith after watching this hilarious short video? I mean, really? That’s how the magic is made, right?

If you turned this video into a drinking game and took a shot of whiskey every time Mr. Smith said “fucking”... you’d be on the floor, smashed to the gills, in 1 minute and 38 seconds.

Kevin and his assistant just go with the flow. When you sign on to work with Mark E. Smith, I think this is pretty much exactly what you expect it’s gonna be like. I’m sure if Smith turned out to be a nice guy it would be… disappointing.

via WFMU on Twitter

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Watch The Fall break up into a million shards, live at Brownie’s in NYC, 1998
01:19 pm


The Fall

This exchange happened after the Fall’s gig at Brownie’s on the Lower East Side of NYC on April 7, 1998:

Fan 1: “That was the scariest thing I ever saw. Now I know who I want to go as for Halloween.”
Fan 2: “You mean Mark E. Smith? You don’t understand…he’s not usually like this.”
Fan 1: “Oh, that’s too bad. I feel like I finally saw my first real punk band! That was the greatest show I ever saw in my life.”

That reaction merely scratched the surface of what happened that night. An actual fight broke out between longtime Fall drummer Karl Burns and frontman Mark E. Smith midway through the set. Before the sun would rise the next morning, Mark E. Smith would be arrested for assault. Even more momentously, it would emerge that the three members of the then-quintet who left the stage in the middle of the final song had played their last Fall gig ever, including Burns, who had been with the band since 1977, and Steve Hanley, the Fall’s utterly essential bassist who had been slogging it out with Mark E. Smith since 1979. The combination of Hanley and guitarist Craig Scanlon, who had left the band in 1995, was every bit as crucial to the Fall’s elusive brilliance during the early 1980s as MES himself, as can be witnessed on such phenomenal albums as Perverted by Language, This Nation’s Saving Grace, and Hex Enduction Hour. (Few pieces of music bring me as much joy as the lengthy “Garden” off of Perverted by Language.)

It couldn’t have been easy being such a close compadre of volatile genius/crabapple Mark E. Smith for two decades, but in April 1998 frustrations boiled over. Three days earlier, tempers had flared during a show in Philadelphia; Hanley and Smith got into a “fight,” according to WPRB DJs who attended the gig, and half the band quit the stage in disgust, leaving just Smith and keyboardist Julia Nagle on the stage (which would happen again a few days later at Brownie’s). After the show there was an extensive discussion of the fracas on WPRB (this clip is very entertaining). Julia’s rebuttal, written ten years after the fact, can be found here, along with that clip:

the UK tour prior to the US had also been a shambles, as the group had received a large VAT/TAX bill and were not happy chickens (threats of houses being lost etc. were the main topic of conversation or argument). Also, regarding to the incident at the beginning of the US tour, I defended myself with my fists during an argument about sharing a room with Mark and in the morning he had a black eye from that fracas. (there were many fracas’s during this time in The Falls history and they were nothing to be proud of).

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Perverted by Language: John Peel introduces The Fall… over and over and over and over again
12:49 pm


John Peel
The Fall

“Apparently, there are some people out there who don’t love the Fall,” John Peel once said on his BBC Radio One program. “I spurn them with my toe.”

The Fall did 24 live sessions for legendary BBC Radio broadcaster John Peel, more than any other act. The group were his favorite band and he was a tireless champion of Mark E. Smith’s music, although apparently Smith was ambivalent about “Fuckin’ John Peel” in return, opining that he was “the fuckin’ worst, he’s worse than Tony Blackburn [Peel’s fellow BBC Radio 1 DJ] ever was. Bastard.”

Peel didn’t mind and brushed off the insult, noting that Smith was not perhaps “in perfect working order at the moment” (that was an understatement when Peel was still alive, and more true today) and adding that “the band have given me intense pleasure over the years, I still love ‘em madly.”

Here then, is an entire hour of John Peel introducing The Fall…

“The Fall, The Fall, Fall there, Mark E.Smith and The Fall, Fall, The Fall…”

It’s… hypnotic.

Via Holy Moly!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Becoming a hermit solves nothing’: The Fall’s Mark E. Smith writes Tony Friel, 1977
10:21 am


Mark E. Smith
The Fall

A few weeks ago DM posted a remarkable typewritten letter from Mark E. Smith, frontman, songwriter, and The Only Guy That Matters in The Fall, to his friend and co-founder of The Fall, bassist Tony Friel. That letter was written around Christmas 1976; in it, Smith gushed about The Clash, quoted the Johnny Thunders song “Chinese Rocks,” and peppered in a couple of references to the 1960s TV show The Prisoner.

Eight months later, in August 1977, Smith was still writing Friel Prisoner references, signing off “Be seeing you, number six.” This letter is another gorgeous slab of cranky stream-of-consciousness invective from a man who did that kind of thing exceedingly well. He mentions some interactions with “Devoto,” obviously the Buzzcocks’ Howard Devoto, in which Smith reports that Devoto admires Friel’s work on the bass. Smith mentions a visit to “Richard’s a while back”—from the context I am assuming this is a reference to Richard Boon, who managed the Buzzcocks at the time. (An aside: you have to love Wikipedia, which is the only place you’re likely to find a sentence like this: “Richard Boon went on to work for Rough Trade Records, and is now a librarian in Stoke Newington Library, Hackney, London, where he facilitates a monthly reading group on the second Tuesday of each month.” If you find yourself in Hackney next Tuesday, you know what to do.)
Mark E. Smith
The notoriously prolific songwriter Smith mentions a slew of songs that he’s been working on, but the titles aren’t familiar to me; the only ones I recognize are “Oh! Brother” and “Psycho Mafia.”

In a parting shot, Smith puts down something called the “Rivington free festival,” which apparently was held from 1976 to 1978. Here’s the poster for 1977; the event happened just a couple days before Smith typed up this missive:
Rivington Pike
“If you’d been at Rivington free festival, you would have heard enough “Musical” groups to last you a fucking LIFETIME.” What was MES doing at this thing??
I was lucky enough to find this letter on the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive; it took quite a bit of sleuthing. It came from Friel’s website, which was called Atomic Soup and didn’t have all that much to do with the Fall, which was outfit he didn’t stay in for very long. If Mr. Friel is out there reading this and would like to post any further correspondence with Mark E. Smith, we at DM would be awfully interested to see it. Write us at the “Contact Us” link above!

The Fall, “Psycho Mafia” (live, 1979)

The Fall, “Oh! Brother”:


Here’s the full text of the letter:

Augustus’2’ 77

Dear Mozart,

Why is eating meat bad for your karma? Who ‘revenges’ on behalf of dead animals? To be quite honest, I don’t like 99% of your so-called ‘top ten’ the ones I’ve heard anyway BUT as you in your new guise would say ‘do your own thing’. In other words GOOD FOR YOU. When did this Harmonic duet take place ? could you supply me with LP serial nos etc?

Yours sincerely,
A Heep Freak.

Dear Heep Freak,

Don’t ask me, you can write direct to Tony yourself : his address is:

So you have new songs eh ? Why don’t you show me them? I would be tres interested. I have some to, one is sub-reggae so get working on the Family Man Barret bass lines. AS to your referal to re-hashed chord progressions, you have 4 5th of the groups backing (incl. yrself)so what’s the trouble-DON’T expect people to do things for you-a thought pattern too prevalent in The Fall for my liking. Becoming a hermit solves nothing.

I forgot to tell you, but when i went down to Richard’s a while back, Devoto told me he thinks your bass playing is superb,and he wants to know what bass + strings you use-he’s got a X reggae bass player for his group now.

Here’s the new stuff anyway:

X ‘impotency’ ‘Lucifer Over Manchester’ + ‘Untitled’(my sub reggae thing it’s got no chorus though-do you think they are necessary ?)

Not so new but EQUALLY VIABLE:

‘Oh! Brother’ ‘Psycho Mafia’ ‘Roll the Bones’ ‘Don’t think about it’ The last one is yours, so ‘get it together’

When Richard came down last time and we asked him to boss us, your pal Herrie was there, trying to integrate himself into the group-you can do what you want with him, but watch out and if i see him again i will be very tempted to ki ck the shitheads nuts off.

Have to go now, I keep phoning your place and some comedian keeps coming on saying x ‘no money,no money no money’ Who is he?

Be seeing you, number six.

P.S. ‘E-D that’s all I can play’ read anybody EXCEPT Z-Z-Z (ILLEGIBLE, please explain)

P.P.S. If you’d been at Rivington free festival, you would have heard enough “Musical” groups to last you a fucking LIFETIME.

Mark E. Smith CONTD.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Fall’s Mark E. Smith predicts ‘The Clash are going to be very big,’ 1976
10:39 am


The Clash
Mark E. Smith
The Fall

Mark E. Smith
In this fascinating document we can see the endlessly amusing and enigmatic mind of Mark E. Smith, founder and resident genius of The Fall, not even 20 years of age and several months before the Fall’s first gig in May 1977.

The date is December 20, 1976. Smith is writing a letter to another founding member of The Fall, bassist Tony Friel—Smith refers to “your ‘bass’ pop guitar.” (Friel would remain in the band only for a few months.) Smith is referencing a gig held at the Electric Circus in Manchester on Thursday, December 9, 1976, featuring The Sex Pistols, The Damned, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, and The Clash—quite a lineup! (Which DM reader wouldn’t give about three toes to have seen that show? Then again, maybe one or two of you were there.....) The din of the show must have still been ringing in his ears—Smith starts the letter with a snippet from “Chinese Rocks,” the legendary Heartbreakers song jointly written by Dee Dee Ramone and Richard Hell.
Anarchy Tour
The main purpose of the letter, in addition to waxing hilarious and weird in a way only Mark E. Smith was ever capable of, was to affirm his enthusiasm about this new band The Clash, who clearly made a huge impression on Smith: “New pop group the CLASH are going to be very big,once they do a tour of the Village,and then signed on to Village records Ltd.” But he wasn’t telling Friel about the band, surely. Smith and his buddy Friel had quite probably discussed The Clash already, both having most likely seen them at the Electric Circus. Indeed, later on he adds, “Combined, The Heartbreakers and Clash were better than Sex Pistols, doncha?” As in, “Right? You agree? You who saw them too?” Smith was putting on his oracle hat and predicting great things for The Clash. Seems like he hit that one on the head.

The postscript is a snippet of dialogue (real or imagined?) from the immortal 1960s TV series The Prisoner.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

? Dec. 76

for: No. 505048A99FU
from: the new number 2

Dear Above,

‘I’m livin on a Chinese rock/all my clothes are in the pawn shop’ WRONG.

And today, the new number two is wearing a ‘Healthiflex non-restricti Collar’ dark blue in colour.

New number two says “New pop group the CLASH are going to be very big,once they do a tour of the Village,and then signed on to Village records Ltd.”

Please find attached a rough ‘set’ for the Outsiders.Apologies for any ommissions. Also find attached a little pres for you,a sticker for your ‘bass’ pop guitar.Last night I did not notice any “plain clothes policemen in pop gear” did thou?

You had better stick the fucking syticker on your ““bass”” or your ass.Or I will tell news agency Tass.

I did not get any sleep last night as i was speeeeding maaaaaan.

Combined,The Heartbreakers and Clash were better than Sex Pistols, doncha? Je tres fatigue - non dormir!

too incoherent,sorry.

be seeing you,

the new number 2

No6: “How did that typewriter get here ? At night ???”
No.14: “I am not allowed to answer that.Be seeing you.”
No.6: “Moron”.

Here’s the letter (you can see a much larger version here):
Mark E. Smith letter

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘People paint to The Fall. They write novels listening to The Fall. Strange people’
05:25 pm


Mark E. Smith
The Fall


“People paint to The Fall. They write novels to The Fall. The guy who wrote Silence of the Lambs wrote it… people like that. Strange people.”

Mick Middle’s low budget documentary about Mark E. Smith and The Fall was completed in 1994, but not seen until 2009 when it was made available as part of the Northern Cream DVD. 1994 was a good time to make a documentary about The Fall because at that point they’d been around enough to have gone through several incarnations—the group’s membership has been a revolving door since the beginning—including the Brix period of most of the 1980s when many feel Smith created his best music. That would include The Fall’s two collaborations with dancer Michael Clark. This is the period that I am the most interested in, so I thought this short film was a lot of fun.

Cigarette in one hand, pint in the other, the ever… charming Smith reveals how his father hated pop music, so there was never even a record player in the house until he was fourteen. When the kids at school talked about the Beatles and the Stones, he had no idea what they were going on about.

Asked if anything positive came of the “Manchester scene,” (i.e. The Smiths) Smith replies with characteristic bluntness: “Nowt.” He also slyly says that if you drink “out in the open” (in a pub) you “don’t become an alcoholic.”

When the interviewer asks Smith about the group’s fanatical American fans, particularly in California, he replies that “It’s funny, America… your’re talking about twenty countries there, in one country. Like the time we went to Cleveland and they hated our guts.” Smith says he thinks Los Angeles is the “most boring town in the world. The most boring city I’ve ever been to in my life.”

He just doesn’t know the right people here.

Fun fact: “Hip Priest” is used in the film adaptation of Silence of The Lambs, during the scene when Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) hunts down Buffalo Bill in his home.


Bonus clip: The twin drum attack of “Eat Y’Self Fitter” caused British DJ John Peel to claim that he’d fainted on air and had to be revived by his producer.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Nijinsky with a mohawk: The edgy collaborations of punk ballet dancer Michael Clark and The Fall

Although he and his dance troupe have performed choreography set to the music of Wire, Glenn Branca, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Igor Stravinsky and others, it is his work with The Fall that the work of Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark will always be the most closely associated with.

The classically-trained Clark has said that hearing the manic, rubbery, jagged-edged relentlessly repetitious music of Manchester’s post-punk bard Mark E. Smith was a sort of clarion call for him as a young man to start doing his own work—if punk bands could do their thing, then that same ethos and attitude (and shock value) could go into creating a new form of modern ballet. Clark’s vision of ballet happened to incorporate Leigh Bowery wielding a chainsaw, syringes strapped to his dancers and sets festooned with fried egg trees . Clark seemed touched by the gods. His angular, asymmetrical, yet bizarrely graceful form of movement caused a sensation in the dance world. He was Nijinksy with a mohawk.

Michael Clark as Caliban in Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books

The Fall and Clark’s company appeared together on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1984 in a provocative performance of “Lay of the Land” that saw Clark prancing around in a Bodymap leotard that exposed his ass cheeks to the nation as the group made a mighty roar behind him.

They collaborated more formally in 1988 when The Fall provided the live soundtrack for Clark’s ballet “I Am Curious, Orange” at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London (The Fall’s LP was called I Am Kurious Oranj). Some tantalizing looks at what that production was like come from Cerith Wyn Evans videos for “Wrong Place, Right Time” and “New Big Prinz,” which were apparently shot at a rehearsal.

Below, “New Big Prinz”

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Kicker Conspiracy: Mark E. Smith reads football scores in his inimitable Mancunian drawl
09:22 am


Mark E. Smith
The Fall

Anyone who’s grooved to “Theme from Sparta FC” from the Fall’s 2003 The Real New Fall LP (Formerly Country on the Click) has probably figured out that postpunk legend Mark E. Smith is a serious fan of football, or as we say in the United States, “soccer.”

“Theme from Sparta FC” is a fanciful meditation on the existence of a soccer team in ancient Greece, quite possibly one of the Fall’s more immediately comprehensible compositions. Since 2005, much to the BBC’s credit, the song has been used as the theme music to the “Final Score” section of BBC television’s Saturday afternoon sports coverage.

On November 19, 2005, the producers of the show invited Smith into the studio to read the day’s results. For anyone who has indulged in the Fall’s indelible catalogue, Smith’s scarcely modulated rendition of the scores (“Reading 3, Hull City 1 ... Sheffield United 2, Millwall 2 ... Southhampton Town 3, Leeds United 4” ...) needs little more than a typically hypnotic Fall bassline to become an accepted part of the Fall canon.

The Mancunian‎ Smith, not very surprisingly, is a Manchester City fan, and it is to be presumed that he despises his club’s crosstown rivals, the far wealthier and more successful Manchester United. On that particular day Manchester United bested Charlton Athletic 3-0, whereas Manchester City had to settle for a 0-0 draw against the Blackburn Rovers. Later in the clip, Smith calls Manchester City’s performance “hopeless, as usual.” Smith also makes fun of the haircut of host Ray Stubbs and disparages England’s national team as a collection of eleven millionaires rather than a cohesive unit of cooperating players.

In 2010, Smith recorded an earnest (for him) World Cup ditty titled “England’s Heartbeat” for reasons unknown, that includes a sing-along chorus and the inspirational phrase “Like a rainbow through a storm.”

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pop singer Samantha Fox reviews The Fall, 1986
01:28 pm


The Fall
Samantha Fox

I don’t think she liked them.

Via Post Punk Tumblr

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Fall’s Mark E. Smith does his Courtney Love impersonation, 1994

From Mick Middles’ 1994 documentary on The Fall’s early years.

I nearly spit out my coffee when I watched Mr. Smith’s spot-on impersonation of Courtney Love.

I don’t think the perpetually drunken Mancunian elf-lord had much love for Los Angeles, either.

With thanks to Xela Ttun!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Mark E. Smith: A brief tour of Edinburgh

Mark E. Smith has occasionally claimed that Edinburgh is his favorite city. He lived there between 1988, when he performed I Am Kurious Oranj, with The Fall and Michael Clark’s Dance Company at the Edinburgh Festival, until around the mid-nineties, when he returned to England. Edinburgh has long captured the imagination of writers and artists - in part because of the city’s mythic history and role as “the Athens of the North” during the Enlightenment. But also because of its darker and more murderous associations.

This symbolic division is reflected in the city’s design of Old Town, with its original fortress and fishbone wynds off a cluttered HIgh Street; and the New Town, to the north, with its Georgian and Victorian splendor. This physical division symbolically underlines the duality at the core of the Scottish psyche and literature.

It was G Gregory Smith who first noted and defined the division in Scottish psyche and literature as Caledonian Antisyzygy - the “idea of dueling polarities within one entity”:

“...[Scottish] literature is the literature of a small country…it runs a shorter course than others…in this shortness and cohesion the most favourable conditions seem to be offered for a making of a general estimate. But on the other hand, we find at closer scanning that the cohesion at least in formal expression and in choice of material is only apparent, that the literature is remarkably varied, and that it becomes, under the stress of foreign influence, almost a zigzag of contradictions. The antithesis need not, however, disconcert us. Perhaps in the very combination of opposites - what either of the two Thomases, of Norwich and Cromarty, might have been willing to call ‘the Caledonian antisyzygy’ - we have a reflection of the contrasts which the Scot shows at every turn, in his political and ecclesiastical history, in his polemical restlessness, in his adaptability, which is another way of saying that he has made allowance for new conditions, in his practical judgement, which is the admission that two sides of the matter have been considered. If therefore, Scottish history and life are, as an old northern writer said of something else, ‘varied with a clean contrair spirit,’ we need not be surprised to find that in his literature the Scot presents two aspects which appear contradictory. Oxymoron was ever the bravest figure, and we must not forget that disorderly order is order after all.”

This notion of “a zigzag of contradictions” was further developed by the poet Hugh MacDiarmid who saw it as a key influence on Scottish Literature, for example R L Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. It was also a theme in MacDiramid’s greatest poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, in which he wrote his own definition:

“..I’ll ha’e nae half-way hoose. But aye be whaur extremes meet – it’s the only way I ken…”

Jekyll and Hyde may be set in London but it is one of the best novels about Edinburgh and the Scottish psyche. Here is a fictional representation of such infamous Edinburgh characters as Deacon Brodie, who was a cabinet-maker by day and a burglar by night, or its Resurrection Men (Burke & Hare), and indeed, of Stevenson’s own experiences as a visitor to brothels with his student friends, one of which, a respectable family man, was implicated in the murder of a prostitute. This split continues today Irvine Welsh and his Edinburgh of Trainspotting, Filth and Porno.

Unfortunately, in this quirky and very brief tour of Edinburgh, Mark E. Smith only highlights his rather superficial likes and dislikes. His main dislike is the statue to Field Marshall Douglas Haig, the First Earl Haig, on the Castle Esplanade. It was Haig’s whose mismanagement during the Battle of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres, that led to the needless slaughter of thousands of soldiers during the First World War.

However, Smith does like the military statue to Blackwatch Regiment, situated at the top of the Mound. Smith’s old man was in the Blackwatch, and he claims he likes to visit it when he feels sentimental. But it’s the Scotch Malt Whisky Society that Smith describes as favorite location in the city.

Bonus track ‘Edinburgh Man’ by The Fall, after the jump…
With thanks to Alan Shields

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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