Monday’s Long Song

On his recent radio appearance with Heidi, posted here if you missed it, Andrew Weatherall dropped the news that back in 1993 when questioned for the NME’s end of year poll Mark E Smith’s nomination for Wanker Of The Year was Andrew Weatherall. He didn’t go on to say what had gone down between them other than that he (Weatherall) had been lined up to produce an album for The Fall and then for reasons unspecified it didn’t happen. If you want to dip in, it’s at around forty five minutes into the show.

Then Weatherall played this from 2005’s Fall Heads Roll, the centrepiece of that album led by a filthy, churning, propulsive bass guitar riff and chugging drums. Mark speaks into the microphone of walking bass, Aristotle Onassis, Jane Seymour, Calvary and cavalry, Prestwich, Deansgate and Moscow Road, eight minutes that once again proves Mark E Smith and whoever was playing with him at that time were indeed The Fall and that they were capable of coming up with moments of genius.


I’m Telling You Now And I’m Telling You This

‘Life can be an onward, downward chip’.

Some music from The Fall for Friday. Gut Of The Quantifier is from 1985’s magnificent This Nation’s Saving Grace, an album Mark E Smith reckoned was one of their best (or at least he said that in an interview once). The Fall line up in 1985 was Mark, Brix and Craig Scanlon on guitar, Steve Hanley on bass, Karl Burns on drums and Simon Rogers on keys. This incarnation of the band were tight as you like. Gut Of The Quantifier shows this group could cook up killer riffs (Hanley’s bass riff on the song below is immense and the guitars are wired and exhilarating), could get a proper groove on and wrote music that borrowed and stole but sounded unique. You can trace the outlines of various older songs in Gut Of The Quantifier- Junior Walker, The Doors and Lipps Inc for three, all pulped together with a semblance of James Brown. Over this amped up garage band rock MES delivers one of his finest sermons. Some excerpts follow which I won’t attempt to annotate or comment on-

‘I’m not saying they’re really thick
But all the groups who’ve hit it big
Make the Kane Gang look like
an Einstein chip’

‘Here are your wedding pictures
They are black’

‘They take from the medium poor to
give to the needy poor
Via the government poor
Give it to the poor poor
They’re knocking on my door’

‘Who are the riff-makers.
Who are they really?
How old are the stars really?
Half-wit philanthropist, cosy charity gig’

Gut Of The Quantifier

‘I’m telling you now
and I’m telling you this,
Life can be a downward chip’

Head Down

I was thinking while driving home last night about The Fall and how they’ve been part of my musical life for over thirty years. When I first started properly getting into music- buying the records, going to the gigs, reading the music press, looking for the clothes, all that kind of stuff- The Fall were there (along with The Smiths, New Order, Talking Heads, and various other indie/alternative bands). And while I’ve never been a buy-all-the-records Fall fan, their music is undoubtedly part of musical DNA. In the 8 years I’ve been doing this blog I’ve posted about them 17 times. The songs- Theme From Sparta FC, Bill Is Dead (thrice), Popcorn Double Feature, Funnel Of Love, How I Wrote Elastic Man, Bingo master’s Breakout, Two Librans, White Lighting, There’s A Ghost In My House, Rowche Rumble, Big New Prinz, Wrong Place Right Time and Squid Lord (plus I Want You by Mark E Smith and Inspiral Carpets, Mark with Edwyn Collins on Seventies Night and Rhinohead by MES with Von Sudenfed). That looks like a pretty decent compilation album right there.

On top of those I could easily have posted these without much effort- Free Range, Hey Luciani!, Repetition, Industrial Estate, Edinburgh Man, Mr Pharmacist, Hit The North, Eat Y’self Fitter, Touch Sensitive, Victoria, Cruiser’s Creek, Totally Wired, Who Makes the Nazis?, Telephone Thing, High Tension Line, Twister, Blood Outta Stone, Kimble, Trust In Me, Spoilt Victorian Child, Bremen Nacht, Dead Beat Descendent, Jerusalem and Get A Hotel. That’s just the obvious ones off the top of my head. And this one, off 1988’s The Frenz Experiment (a somewhat unloved album I think among the devotees but I treasure it. I think Brix really brought something to the gruppe).

The Steak Place

For a long time I thought there must be a subtext to The Steak Place but couldn’t put my finger on it, something in the lyrics I couldn’t work out. But on reflection I think it is just a song about a steak house.

‘Cheap carpet lines the way
Aluminium tack door handles
Candelabra lions head
Via butchers display too

The steak place
Via a carcass row
Things are brought forward and eaten,
I see the corners filled with hitmen,
Two young lawyers they are whispering, in
The steak place
I want to stay here,
I don’t want to go anywhere,
I could remain here’

Mark E Smith

I’ve just seen a post by Dave Haslam on social media saying that Mark E Smith has died at the age of 60. He doesn’t seem to have been in the best of health recently but it still shocking and sad news. He was a true one-off, a maverick, a wordsmith and a visionary. He will be missed.

Wrong Place Right Time

There are two good reasons to post Wrong Place Right Time by The Fall today. Firstly, I bought I Am Kurious Oranj in King Bee on Saturday. I used to own it on cassette, in fact it was the second Fall album I bought back in 1988 (the first was The Frenz Experiment). The cassette version had more songs on it I think but seeing a pristine vinyl copy for a fiver was too tempting, mainly because Big New Prinz is one of my favourite Fall songs, maybe my number one. The whole of Side A is really good- Prinz, the seven minute Dog Is Life/Jerusalem. I love the dirty bassline of Jerusalem. And the first side closes with Wrong Place Right Time.

This performance of Wrong Place Right Time is from the ballet so you’ve got The Fall playing live with Brix on tambourine and Michael Clark’s dancers flitting about. Somehow, The Fall soundtracking a ballet to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of William of Orange’s ascension to the throne made perfect sense. I like the Brix era Fall- there were tunes to go with the MES vocal delivery.

The second reason is I’m meeting Drew, Fall fan and Across The Kitchen Table blogger, for a few pints tonight while he’s in town with work. Right place right time.

I fucked my back up getting out of the car at work on Friday (I know, I know) and then made it worse playing football after school the same day. It’s just beginning to feel Ok again after a weekend of hobbling about. A few pints in The Old Cock will probably aid my recovery.

The Chart Show

The Chart Show was more or less the only place to watch videos in the late 80s and early 90s, MTV being the preserve of the well off. Every week it had a specialist chart, indie, dance or metal and was required viewing, often with a hangover and a day with no responsibilities in front of you. So, make yourself a cup of tea, sit back and slip back in time…

…to October 1989’s dance chart with Electribe 101 and De La Soul…

… and to the indie chart in April 1991, with New Fast Automatic Daffodils and The Shamen, showing dance’s influence on indie…

…and from a few years later, February 1994, this top ten run down has the mighty Inspiral Carpets and Mark E Smith collaboration and Suede…

No metal charts here I’m afraid but there’s plenty more where these clips came from if you look at the Youtube sidebar.

Check The Guy’s Track Record

Anthony H Wilson presenting The Fall live in ’88, on The Other Side Of Midnight. A fairly youthful Mark E and the classic Fall line up then play Big New Prinz, my favourite Fall song. Mancabilly. The wobbly nature of the VHS does not detract from the performance- if anything it adds to it. Brix Smith, in frilly green shirt, has gone on to mix in very different circles, as you’ll know if you watch daytime fashion makeover TV.

This version, with Michael Clarke’s dancers is also making the grade. Mancabillyballet.

We are off to see Primal Scream tonight, a friend’s birthday night out. Who, on a three date tour, decided that the best date for Manchester would be a Sunday night? Eh? Support is provided by someone called Andrew Weatherall, playing records apparently. Supposed to be quite good. Chances are primal Scream won’t play this piece of C86ery..

Crystal Crescent

Stepping Out In Style

I’ve read a couple of references to this recently and have taken it as a sign it should be posted, and it follows on from the Friday night Mancabilly post. In 1997 Edwyn Collins recorded a super shimmering seventies disco tribute for his album I’m Not Following You and cajoled Mark E Smith into providing vocals. It is quite superb. Even Ctel might agree, despite liking neither disco nor Mark E Smith.

>Anglo-Franco-Germanic Disco Face Off

I was rummaging through my downloads folder recently, which admittedly doesn’t have the same tactile thrill as rummaging through a record collection, and found this- The Rhinohead by Von Sudenfed and Mark E. Smith remixed by Pilooski. I couldn’t remember a) even having it b) whether I’d ever heard it or c) that it even existed. Which shows how disposable mp3s are. Click, download, forget about if you don’t play straight away. So I played it, and it’s ace. Von Sudenfed managed to record an entire album with MES back in 2007. Pilooski takes them to a disco, with lovely swooshy bits and tic-tic-tic snares and angelic backing vocals, and at around three minutes floors them with the beat and the noise. Good stuff, even by the standards of all involved. Mark E Smith is used sparingly, which will either disappoint you (the Drew camp) or delight you (the C-tel camp). Either way, everyone’s a winner.