(5 / 5)
I saw and photographed the legendary Mark E. Smith and his iconic band The Fall this past May, at a festival. He didn’t look too well. Perhaps his rider of a decent bottle of whisky and 60 fags had something to do with that!
The Fall formed in Manchester in 1976 and have had no less than 60 line-up changes in their 41-year history. With the latest one, Mark E Smith, the visionary punk poet and larger than life character, was falling back into his band members and messing about with the gear, creating lots of screeching feedback from the amps.
Mark spent a lot of the time with his back to the audience, dressed in black leather jacket, leaning over holding his mike to the amp to create lots of bloody annoying noise. His howling “vocal” like he was in serious pain, and the raucous volume of the guitar, bass and drums, created what I could imagine the soundtrack to hell sounds like!
Loyal fans who packed the woodland arena at this Spring festival this year (2017) lapped it up, even though you’d not be able to recite one line of lyric from this wall of noise. But I bet you a bottle of whisky that John Peel would have loved it! No matter though; we were in the presence of a true originator and a true living legend, so he was forgiven for almost anything that night.
Cherry Red Records celebrate the band’s singles output, with a superb three disc, 51 track collection of their A-sides from 1978 up to 2016. There is also a bumper seven disc set, which includes another 66 B-sides. I have the three-disc set to review here.
It is interesting to trace their early days where they were associated with the punk movement, but were never really a punk band as such. They have gone through many stylistic changes throughout their 41 year history. Characterised by an abrasive guitar-driven sound and frequent use of repetition, underpinned by Smith’s totally unique vocal style and often cryptic lyrics.
As of Autumn this year, 2017, they have dropped more than 32 studio albums, and more than triple that counting live albums and other releases. This is the first collection of all the Fall singles, recorded for a multitude of labels. Step Forward, Rough Trade, Kamera, Beggars Banquet, Cog Sinister, Permanent, Artful, Action and Cherry Red.
The set comes with a fully illustrated discography by Fall expert Conway Paton. The discs have been remastered by Fall engineer Andy Pearce, and come with a newly designed book in a box. Both the seven disc and three disc sets are released on the same day. Go get ‘em, Mark E. needs some more ciggies!…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’