Not as good as the Fall: Approximation of a Playlist §71

3 02 2018

Artists not wholly despised by Mark E Smith



Having commented on a collection of previous Fall-related posts I was reminded of the fact that MES was notoriously scathing of other musicians and bands but in his autobiography he did name a perhaps surprisingly eclectic group of artists of whom he didn’t wholly disapprove. Although none of them were a patch on the mighty Fall of course. There are some interesting inclusions…

The Kinks
Sex Pistols
The Stooges
Led Zeppelin
The Las
Chuck Berry
John Cooper Clarke
Happy Mondays
Stone Roses

And, perhaps most surprisingly

Alvin Stardust
Gary Glitter

plus, in a recent interview, he did express some enthusiasm for Sleaford Mods

It’s certainly an interesting list.


Falling for the Fall

27 01 2018

I started this blog back in September 2004 and named it after my favourite Fall Song.

I first fell for the Fall thanks to my very good friend Robbie Foy who played them continuously on a car journey from Edinburgh to Truro – Palace of Swords Reversed and Bend Sinister three times each I think. A very compelling and persuasive induction and after that I was hooked.

There have been plenty of obituaries of the late, great Mark E Smith but this one in the New Statesman is one of the better ones (still waiting for the Economist one) and there was a nice piece from Dave Simpson too (see also below).

Anyway, in recent years, there have been a number of books about the Fall, some of which I’ve covered here:

This entertaining autobiography from Brix Smith Start covers her time in the Fall and marriage to MES.

Dave Simpson’s book on tracing every former member of the Fall is a key record of the band’s development.

Steve Hanley, one of the longer lasting Fall members, does a great job in The Big Midweek of making the insanity of life in the Fall sound almost like a normal job.

And then there is Smith’s own autobiography. Not a great read to be honest but entertaining in places, including his views on other artists – primarily negative of course.

So, no doubt there will be more reflections in future but in the meantime there is one heck of a back catalogue to revisit.

And then there is this old BBC Documentary, The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith,  which has recently been revived and is well worth a look


Go between days

12 08 2017

Grant & I by Robert Forster

In early ’77 I asked Grant if he’d form a band with me. `No,’ was his blunt reply.” Grant McLennan didn’t want to be in a band. He couldn’t play an instrument; Charlie Chaplin was his hero du jour. And yet, when Robert Forster wrote Hemingway, Genet, Chandler and Joyce into his lyrics, McLennan couldn’t resist a second invitation to become 80s indie sensation The Go Betweens. The friends would collaborate for three decades, until Grant’s premature death in 2006. Beautifully written – like lyrics, like prose – Grant & I is a rock memoir akin to no other. Part `making of’, part music industry expose, part buddy-book, this is a delicate and perceptive celebration of creative endeavour. With wit and candour, Robert Forster pays tribute to a band who found huge success in the margins, having friendship at its heart.

As a fan since first being introduced to the Go Betweens by an Aussie friend (thank you Andrew Rohl) back in 1983 or thereabouts I couldn’t wait to read this. It’s a lovely but melancholy tale which is a true and heartfelt memoir about love, loss and music and quite like nothing else I’ve read in this genre.

Bit of a fanboy rating therefore but it is genuinely a really good read.

Red Wedgy

24 06 2017



Walls Come Tumbling Down by Daniel Rachel


Walls Come Tumbling Down charts the pivotal period between 1976 and 1992 that saw politics and pop music come together for the first time in Britain’s musical history; musicians and their fans suddenly became instigators of social change, and ‘the political persuasion of musicians was as important as the songs they sang’. Through the voices of campaigners, musicians, artists and politicians, Daniel Rachel follows the rise and fall of three key movements of the time: Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone, and Red Wedge, revealing how they all shaped, and were shaped by, the music of a generation.

Composed of interviews with over a hundred and fifty of the key players at the time, Walls Come Tumbling Down is a fascinating, polyphonic and authoritative account of those crucial sixteen years in Britain’s history.



Pop, politics and nostalgia collide in this rather unusual book which documents the development and disintegration of three big musical and political movements of the 70s and 80s. Commendably, the author has recorded and combined a series of first person accounts from all those who were there at the time (apart, I think, from Paul Weller who is represented by quotes from back in the day) and through these stories we learn about the remarkable force of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge. Inevitably perhaps participants want to claim these movements genuinely changed society and, while there are some reasonable claims about impact (with the anthemic ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ arguably the strongest), music and politics can’t coexist successfully for long. Did anything really change? Yes and no, but there are some great stories on the way and some great memories too. Slightly disappointed about the limited coverage of the Red Wedge shows in Edinburgh which I can remember distributing leaflets for but you can’t have everything.


For the Fans: Approximation of a playlist §70

17 04 2017

Football team nicknames

Some football teams really do have rather odd nicknames (others are a bit more obvious though):

I’m Your Villain – Franz Ferdinand

Go Now – The Moody Blues

Ram jam – Black Betty

White winter hymnal – Fleet Foxes

Canary In A Coalmine – The Police

Good Technology – Red Guitars

Green Hornet – Al Hirt

If I Had A Hammer – Mel Torme

Royal correspondent – Manic Street Preachers

Tiger Feet – Mud

Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

Buffalo stance – Neneh Cherry

The Birds And The Bees – Jewel Akens

I Ran (So Far Away) – A Flock of Seagulls

Rockin’ Robin – The Jackson 5

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Tight Fit

Bootie Call – All Saints

Magpie – Abraham

Darlin’ – Frankie Miller

Baggy Trousers – Madness

Ride A White Swan – T.Rex

Hey Dude Kula Shaker

Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton

A Forest – The Cure

Back of My Hand – Jags

I’m sure there are plenty more.

Chinese New Year: approximation of a playlist §69

28 01 2017

Songs concerned with the Chinese Zodiac

A mildly topical playlist…

Black Horse And The Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall

Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions

Digging Your Scene – The Blow Monkeys

Rat Race – The Specials

The Size Of A Cow – The Wonder Stuff

Rabbit – Chas ‘n’ Dave

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys

Who Let The Dogs Out – B-Boyz

Union Of The Snake – Duran Duran

A Horse With No Name – America

I Wanna Be Your Dog – The Stoogesthe_rolling_stones-little_red_rooster_s_2

Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag – Pig Bag

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – U2

Tiger Feet – Mud

Sheep – The Housemartins

Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones

Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night

Monkey gone to heaven – The Pixies

Spanish Horses – Aztec Camera

Diamond dogs – David Bowie

And Dreams of Sheep – Kate Bush

Rat Trap – The Boomtown Rats

Mansize rooster – Supergrass

Ox-ford Comma – Vampire Weekend

Goatman – Goat

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones


Happy New Year!

Helpful advice: approximation of a playlist §68

11 01 2017

Songs concerned with providing helpful advice


Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing – Incognito
You Can’t Hurry Love  – Diana Ross & The Supremes
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones
Don’t Marry Her – The Beautiful South
Honey Be Good – The Bible
Don’t look back in anger  – Oasis
Your Mother Should Know – The Beatles
Don’t Sleep In The Subway – Petula Clark
Treat Her Like A Lady – The Temptations
Don’t put your daughter on the stage Mrs Worthington – Vic Reeves
Drive Safely Darlin’  – Tony Christie




Handle with Care – Travelling Wilburys
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
Your Mother Should Know – The Beatles
Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time – Nancy Sinatra
White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel
Don’t cry for me Argentina  – Julie Covington
You Should Be Dancing – Bee Gees
Billy Don’t Be A Hero – Paper Lace
Don’t talk – 10,000 Maniacs

Wise words indeed.

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