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The Fall In The Back Of My Notebook – Discovered

June 21, 2008

I think I meant to post this in April but have only just found it scribbled and lost in the back of last months notebook. I worked with Mark E Smith and The Fall in April 2008, Iread his book and I listened to their new album. Here are my scribbled notes from that time. I have transcribed them as is grammatical errors and note-form abound.

The anticipation.
Can I pare down the rider a bit? Just 40 fags and 48 cans of Holstein Pils then? Legends aren’t often as legend-like when you eventually meet them. With legends – the stories of legend precede them. Most are often embellished or misunderstood or a misunderstanding that have two sides to the story – one often unheard. The thing I have always liked about Mark E Smith is his scary ordinariness. I always liked the fact he dressed how he did/does. He has had a lot of flak about it over the years – people seem to forget that most punks in ’76 started out dressing like that. Generally, it was because most people in bands starting out were in jobs and the bands were also born out of pub rock. Punk evolved out of pub rock. So many bands have been referred to as punk like Eddie and the Hot Rods. They weren’t ever punk – they were a pub rock band. Ian Curtis was like that. He always wore smart trousers and a shirt. Same thing.

Imperial Wax Solvent starts out very unexpectedly gently with Alton Towers. I like the off-set rhythms and the nightmarish seesaw of funfair churn. A sort of musical queasiness – it sounds bewitching and entrancing but it is really very bad and a bit sinister. I’ve Been Duped –great sound and strength of sound. Raw – can hear it. Mark can sing too – and rasp and drawl. Latchkey Kid – conjures up lots of images – the boy in Kes for some reason and my revisited feeling of putting my own key in the door knowing no one would be home for hours. A slightly sinking lonely feeling in a way.

He made an entrance – behind the curtain, pink and black carrier bag, a plastic bag. Greenaway (guitar) looking terrified, Melling looking hard and Spurr toughing it out – the energy. Quick and fast and to the point. What you see is what you get. No more. No less. Was I the only one tapping my foot? One camera operator spent the whole time dwith his mouth agape in a seizure-style skeletal grin-ace. A sort of half grin half grimace. Mark E Smith moved slowly and with measured purpose. Very relaxed. Not bothered by the criss-cross of mic cables gathering around his ankles. No one flinched when he whacked up the bass amp – that’s better. He raged through Wolf Kidult. Latchkey Kid petered out with Mark E Smith deciding enough was enough and that was it. Come on kids. I saw him secretly laughing. I like the military precision of the band. Down tools, all walk off single file. Most obedient.

Alton Towers – kaleidoscopic nausea. Always on cue – every time. Fresh, exciting and new – does what it says on the tin as endorsed by MES. I went for a walk in cyberspace . Someone has bothered to make a suitcase font of Mark E Smith’s writing. For god’s sake – what would you need that for? Anyway – I have some of my own as he very kindly signed my book for me.

Keiron M (drums) looked at one point as if he was psychically trying to tell Mark E Smith that he was dying and couldn’t keep going for much longer such was the unforgiving and endless fantastic precision of his drumming. Likewise, Spurr had gone to somewhere else in finite bass land. Eleni looked effortlessly on top of everything and stood aside while Mark had one last fiddle with the Roland. Such was the energy that I felt as if I had run over a precipice Scooby Doo style – been waggling my legs round and round for 15 mins now. Suddenly – it was all over – bang crash thud to the ground. Back to un-Fall world.
I liked it over there.

© Rockmother 2008

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  1. Axe Victim permalink

    You shold do a bit more of this Romo. Great writing. I was with you. Thanks.

  2. Arabella permalink

    Love the description of the drummer.<br/>My favorite MES wisdom from his book: that you need only three chairs – one for yourself, one for the wife and one for a visitor.

  3. Good writing rockmum…’scary ordinariness’ is great. Interesting fellow Mr. Smith.

  4. Piley permalink

    great bit of writing RM, really enjoyed it.<br/><br/>So true about that ‘early punk’ look. It really winds me up when you get some naff film or tv show, thats set in 1976. 1st thing they do is get multicoloured moheakons (spelling??!) and bondage trousers… i’ve got quite a few books on punk and if you look in the crowd shots of those early days it is very ordinary clobber indeed.<br/><br/>Piley<br/><br/>ps: arabella – what about the poor ol visitors wife??!

  5. rockmother permalink

    Mr Axe Minster – cheers Axer – thank you – it really was just a bunch of freeform notes as I remembered it.<br/><br/>Arabellakins – re: drummer – he really was pleading with his eyes I could see it. I love his book but big credit to Austin Collings for putting it all together.<br/><br/>Darling Dickley – Thank you Dickley – I am flattered seeing as I think you are a brilliant writer x<br/><br/>Pilester – Cheers Piley – yep – I remember going to punk gigs (well lurking outside and not being able to get into quite a few as I was too young !) but the ones I did go to in the early days ’76 – loads of blokes had mullet hair-do’s, slight platforms and flares – the whole mohican thing didn’t kick off until a little later. Re: the visitors wife – they would probably have to linger uncomfortably, sit on the floor or be told to fook off ‘cos there’s not enough fookin’ chairs.

  6. rockmother permalink

    Piley – I meant in the early days c. 76 – I didn’t go to gigs until c. 78 although there were still a few flares kicking round then….not me I hasten to add!

  7. Axe Victim permalink

    Ah… flares…

  8. shykitten permalink

    Great stuff, really zooms in on something at the heart of The Fall as a noise and a spectacle: hyperreality of the everyday, mixture of anarchy and control, grin-ace seizure of the witness. Makes me even more eager to hear the new album.

  9. hesspartacus permalink

    Mark E Smith, terrifying guitarists since 1977.<br/><br/>Nice piece.

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