Mark E. Smith of The Fall

Mark E. Smith of The Fall - 29 albums and a vast reservoir of delightful chaos.

The Fall – In Session At Roskilde – 1996 – Past Daily Weekend Soundbooth

Mark E. Smith of The Fall
Mark E. Smith of The Fall – 29 albums and a vast reservoir of delightful chaos.

The Fall – backstage session at Roskilde Festival 1996 – June 27, 1996 – DR Radio, Copenhagen –

The Fall, led by the inimitable Mark E. Smith in a backstage session, recorded at the 1996 Roskilde Festival and broadcast by DR Radio in Copenhagen on June 27, 1996.

With the death of Mark E. Smith in January of 2018, following a diagnosis of Lung and Kidney Cancer being largely responsible for his passing, a void descended over the Music World. One of its most quirky, outspoken and terminally unique forces of nature was gone.

First associated with the late 1970s punk movement, the Fall’s music underwent numerous stylistic changes, often concurrently with changes in the group’s lineup. Nonetheless, their music has generally been characterised by an abrasive, repetitive guitar-driven sound, tense bass and drum rhythms, and Smith’s caustic lyrics, described by critic Simon Reynolds as “a kind of Northern English magic realism that mixed industrial grime with the unearthly and uncanny, voiced through a unique, one-note delivery somewhere between amphetamine-spiked rant and alcohol-addled yarn.” While the Fall never achieved widespread success beyond minor hit singles in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they have maintained a strong cult following.

The Fall was formed in Prestwich, Greater Manchester, in 1976 by Mark E. Smith, Martin Bramah, Una Baines and Tony Friel. The four friends would meet to read their writings to each other and take drugs. Their musical influences included Can (which the band would later pay tribute to on the track “I Am Damo Suzuki”), the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart and garage rock bands like the Monks and The Stooges. The members were devoted readers, with Smith citing H. P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler and Malcolm Lowry among his favourite writers. After seeing Sex Pistols play their second gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in July 1976, they decided to start a group. Smith wanted to name the group “The Outsiders”, but Friel came up with the name “The Fall” after a 1956 novel by Albert Camus. Smith became the singer, Bramah the guitarist, Friel played bass guitar and Baines bashed biscuit tins instead of drums; unable to afford to buy a drum kit, she then switched to keyboards. Their music was intentionally raw and repetitive. The song “Repetition”, declaring that “we’ve repetition in the music, and we’re never going to lose it”, served as a manifesto for the Fall’s musical philosophy.

They underwent many line-up changes, with Mark E. Smith as the only constant member. The Fall’s long-term musicians included drummers Paul Hanley, Simon Wolstencroft and Karl Burns; guitarists Marc Riley, Craig Scanlon and Brix Smith; and bassist Steve Hanley, whose melodic, circular bass lines are widely credited with shaping the band’s sound from early 1980s albums such as Hex Enduction Hour to the late 1990s.

Early in 2007 the Fall released the Reformation Post TLC album, recorded with the same lineup that salvaged the 2006 US tour. Yet another lineup released Imperial Wax Solvent, in 2008; this lineup would hold for the following three albums, and the core of Peter Greenway (guitar), David Spurr (bass), and Keiron Melling (drums) for the remainder of the band’s existence. In April 2009, the Fall signed with UK-based independent record label Domino Records. A new studio album, titled Your Future Our Clutter, was released on 26 April 2010. This was followed in November 2011 by the album Ersatz GB. In March 2012, the band were chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival he curated in Minehead, England. The Fall released their twenty-ninth studio album, Re-Mit, in 2013.

Here’s a reminder, or an introduction, of The Fall as they were when they played an informal backstage session at the Roskilde Festival on June 27,1996.

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