The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith
June 17, 2007 10:32 PM   Subscribe

"In January 2005, Mark E. Smith and The Fall (described as 'one of the most enigmatic, idiosyncratic and chaotic garage bands of the last 30 years') were the subject of a BBC 4 TV documentary, The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith." parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
posted by item (21 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

Well, I guess I won't be getting anything done tonight.

Great post-aahhh.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:49 PM on June 17, 2007

Bomb-a-tastic! And what the moustachioed one said.
posted by Abiezer at 10:52 PM on June 17, 2007

Hey, I've always wondered: how do you actually write out that Mark E. Smith vocal tic it like, this-uh, or do you go. like THIS-ahhhh. And the bizarre cadence-uh. RENDERED thusly. is almost impossible to transcribe, as witnessed lately by this most feeble replica --- a mewling attempt --- at capturing those ineffable. speech-uh patterns-ahhh. AND WHEN HE STARTS *SCREAMING*-uh, his voice clipped at the peaks, SUDDENLY bursting into bits of off-key song can it be rendered-ah, with fine British attention to the wrong. uh. details-uh? Can it be...portrayed?
posted by Tiresias at 11:07 PM on June 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

December 16th, 1984

The day after my 18th birthday and some friends and I decided to celebrate by going to see The Fall at the Hacienda in Manchester. We got the bus from our leafy Manchester suburb into town, down a gradient of decrepitude until we reached the area of empty warehouses and dis-used railway tracks that the Hacienda was in.

We paid at the desk and wandered inside. Now, this was before the whole Madchester thing. Before the Hacienda became (for a brief moment) one of the most important night-clubs in the world. Back then it was regarded as a hilarious white elephant - an example of how Factory records boss Tony Wilson could use his demonic powers of persuasion to get even such a group of hard-asses as New Order to give him money to do dumb things.

It was a large empty space, artfully laid out to suggest the interior of a car-park, with black and yellow stripes up the supporting pillars. There were small circular tables dotted around in front of the stage, all occupied by gaunt young men all of whom wore long black coats and nursed glasses of white wine as they glared at each other.

Twin screens on either side of the stage showed snippets of movies - black and white cartoons, atomic weapon survival tips, Triumph of the Will. Primitive industrial music played over everything, the horrific acoustics of the place making everything sound like Throbbing Gristle run through a cheap echo machine.

It was, of course, fucking great to us. Weird and exotic and dangerous. We went to the bar and proceeded to get hammered. A brief interlude of buying issue 1 of Debris from someone we very much later realised was a young Dave Haslam slowed the beer consumption only slightly. Various, and variously wasted, members of New Order were spotted and sneered at also.

The Fall came on late of course. They were awesome though - this was the Perverted by Language tour and they were in one of their most rock oriented formations. I seem to recall two drummers, something that worked brilliantly given the "huge bathroom" acoustics. A huge beat overlaid by a mush of guitars and Mark E. Smith, at one of the peaks of his performing life, snarling and writhing , spitting out those sinister, cryptic, sad and funny lyrics.

Imagine the whole audience chanting "Eat Yourself Fitter" exactly on cue and then imagine the chilly smile that got from Smith. In my memory (doubtless faulty) the encore was"Kicker Conspiracy" ("Bert Millichipah/Resplendent over the FAah"). This site says I was wrong, however. What I do remember vividly, though, is the huge grin on Smiths face as he took the final appplause. The Hacienda was only a stones throw from his home town of Salford - it was his territory and he had reclaimed it yet again.

It was a wonderful night. It being a Fall gig, however, it was only approriate that we left to discover that there we had missed the last bus, there was a train drivers strike and we couldn't afford a cab. So we walked home in the rain.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 11:13 PM on June 17, 2007 [16 favorites]

is almost impossible to transcribe, as witnessed lately by this most feeble replica --- a mewling attempt --- at capturing those ineffable. speech-uh patterns-ahhh.

Strange as it may seem, this curious tic isn't limited to Mark E. Smith, but is a feature of aged drunken bar room singers all over the North West of England.

In any pub where there's an open mike, you'll find an old man singing 'Regrets-ah, I've had a few-ah, but then again-uh, too few to mention-ahhh'.

I think it may stem from an attempt to emulate American vocalists.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:34 AM on June 18, 2007

MES = the Andy Kaufman of Punk.
posted by dhammond at 1:35 AM on June 18, 2007

The time was come. It was foretold many decades ago. The planets are in alignment. Night has become day. Somebody has posted a story about Mark E Smith on MetaFilter.

Nothing good will come of this. We are all doomed.
posted by humblepigeon at 2:01 AM on June 18, 2007

humblepigeon: *ahem*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 AM on June 18, 2007

item: excellent use of the feel, wrath, my & bombast tags.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 AM on June 18, 2007

I interviewed MES in 1991 and I will contribute some data points: he had an extremely limp handshake, smelled strongly of aftershave, and gave me a hug afterwards. None of these things did I expect. He was also extremely affable.

He was and remains a hero to me.

Thanks a million for the links.
posted by unSane at 4:32 AM on June 18, 2007

Psycho Mafia will be played at my funeral. But the fact that it, and Bingo Master's Breakout, isn't on '50,000 Fall fans can't be wrong' just goes to prove that they can.

I interviewed the first post-Brix line up and took their roadies' underwear to the launderette.

And I was part of the group that invented 'Mollusc in Tyrol'. Basically Mornington Crescent with Fall song titles.

Crazy days...
posted by i_cola at 5:52 AM on June 18, 2007

gawd bless you. I've seen the Fall a few times now and M.E.S. truly is a national treasure (although he terrifies me).
posted by rekka at 6:56 AM on June 18, 2007

can't wait to watch this.
posted by space2k at 7:13 AM on June 18, 2007

Excellent post. This is a very well-done documentary. I was lucky enough to get a DVD-R copy off of Usenet when it first aired. Between this documentary and the Peel Sessions Box, 2005 was one of the best years for The Fall in recent memory.

I've been rocking The Mighty Fall since the late 1980s; at one point I had over 60 commercial Fall CDs in my house and a few hundred boots. The "Rowche Rumble"/"In My Area" single will be played at my funeral.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:49 AM on June 18, 2007


What an experience to have a memory of. I'm envious.

(Excellent post too.)
posted by blucevalo at 11:10 AM on June 18, 2007

the thing that frightened me about mark e. smith was his uncanny resemblance to that little boy in "the tin drum".
posted by cazoo at 12:08 PM on June 18, 2007

Weird. I want "Leave the Capital" or "Touch Sensitive" play at my funeral...
posted by black8 at 12:30 PM on June 18, 2007

I can't believe I'm late to this thread. Mark E. Smith is my one proper proper famous person meetup story.

He was in Dublin doing a spoken word gig in Trinity College, (yeah, I know), which was being run by friends of mine. It was Good Friday. Interesting fact: you cannot buy alcohol in Ireland on Good Friday. Unless you're a resident in a hotel. Naturally we all ended up back in Mark's hotel room we all got wonderfully drunk. I told him a joke and he laughed. He laughed! It was meet-your-hero-heaven.

The cavalcade went on without me the next day - I'd had enough - but my stereo, which had been borrowed for the gig, had to be dropped back to my house. I answered the door to my friend, with stereo, and Mark, who'd insisted on making sure he thanked me personally for the loan.

He is a gent.

Another time, we met his latest guitarist after a Dublin gig. The poor guy was pretty much weeping into his Guinness. Mark had spent the whole gig saying horrible things to him and turning down his amp.

He is also, I believe, an arsehole.

I think he's great all the same.
posted by tiny crocodile at 5:04 PM on June 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Funeral music?

I might go with The NWRA, having changed my name by deed poll, as my final mortal act, to 'The North'.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:12 PM on June 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was big on the Smiths, big on JD/NO, but never really 'got' the Fall.

Yeah, I know Peelie (sainted be his memory) was big on them, but I never really got them, myself.

So thanks, thatwhichfalls. I think I get it now; I'll go off and listen some more.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:01 PM on June 18, 2007

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