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…


Can
The Kinks
Sex Pistols
The Stooges
Led Zeppelin
The Las
Chuck Berry
John Cooper Clarke
Buzzcocks
T.Rex
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.

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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

 





Heaven knows I’m autobiographical now

25 01 2014

Autobiography by Morrissey 

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The most ridiculous blurb for this one:

Steven Patrick Morrissey was born in Manchester on May 22nd 1959. Singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Smiths (1982-1987), Morrissey has been a solo artist for twenty-six years, during which time he has had three number 1 albums in England in three different decades.

Achieving eleven Top 10 albums (plus nine with the Smiths), his songs have been recorded by David Bowie, Nancy Sinatra, Marianne Faithfull, Chrissie Hynde, Thelma Houston, My Chemical Romance and Christy Moore, amongst others.

An animal protectionist, in 2006 Morrissey was voted the second greatest living British icon by viewers of the BBC, losing out to Sir David Attenborough. In 2007 Morrissey was voted the greatest northern male, past or present, in a nationwide newspaper poll. In 2012, Morrissey was awarded the Keys to the City of Tel-Aviv.

It has been said ‘Most pop stars have to be dead before they reach the iconic status that Morrissey has reached in his lifetime.’

Oh dear.

Autobiography covers Morrissey’s life from his birth until the present day.

I must admit I approached this with real trepidation, almost as fearful as if I actually had to meet the great man. Most of my anxieties were indeed well-founded.

So, four chunks to this book really. An extended reminiscence of an absurdly Dickensian-sounding childhood – well-crafted but surely over-egged. Sadly dull descriptions of the early days of the Smiths followed by ranting at Rough Trade ineptitude. Then there is the barrack-room lawyering and the railing against the system. And finally we have the just rewards – the recent years of solo adoration which turns into just a bit of a tour list.

But basically everything is everyone else’s fault. It’s all a bit reminiscent of what could be regarded as a companion piece – Mark E Smith’s contribution to the autobiography genre.

In the acknowledgements for the book (unsurprisingly there are only a few) he adds: “whatever is sung is the case”. On balance I suspect it would have been better if he had let the songs speak for themselves. Whilst not exactly miserable, I’m not much happier now.

2 star





Rebel Rebel

14 06 2009

Renegade: The lives and Tales of Mark E Smith

Renegade

Not that he would care about what anyone thought about this, but large parts of this book read like a transcript of a monologue of some old pissed bloke in the corner of a dodgy pub. Really don’t care too much about his childhood, early working life or what his Grandad was like but the details about the Fall are what this is meant to be about. His views on the unreasonable demands for credit from former band members are quite entertaining as are his comments on other bands:

When you’re mired in the shit of the times with bland bastards like Elvis Costello and Spandau Ballet, you start to question not only people’s tastes but their existences.

It’s all a bit of a mess though – despite his protestations about the importance of a strong work ethic, it does seem to have escaped Smith and his ghost writer during large chunks of this book.

2 star








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