There was nothing quite like the sound of Mark E Smith yelling (in later years, somewhat incoherently) about all manner of mundane situations and bizarre concepts. This was set to a trademark repetitious backing track of buzzy keyboards, chugging guitars and taut drums and bass. He would drive his bandmates to distraction; wandering over to their amps and playing with all the knobs. It must have been a nightmare at times, to be in The Fall.
Smith was always prepared to speak his mind. He never held back, whether his wrath was misplaced or not.
Who could forget his famously brutal verbal assault on Pavement. He labelled them a Fall “rip-off” and said they didn’t have “an original idea in their heads”.
Then there was his apparent dislike of Thurston Moore, saying “he should have his rock licence revoked”. Not forgetting that he “might just pull an injunction on mentioning our name” when discussing Franz Ferdinand.
Despite risking his wrath, there has continued to be a slew of bands who take influence from the Henry VIII of rock (sacked, insulted, resigned, sacked, insulted, survived).
There is an indelible mark left on some of the most exciting and/or popular bands of the last couple of years; Idles, Black Country New Road, Fontaines DC, Life Drawings and Dry Cleaning being just a few that spring instantly to mind.
The only difference now is that Smith is no longer around to take them apart with his malice.
A legend in his lifetime, albeit always on the fringes, Smith is never far from the mind of a post punk obsessive. I’ll always remember the time he took over announcing the BBC football results.
“ Tottenham Hotspur postponed, West Ham United one H”.
His influence will no doubt stretch far beyond his lifetime.
In honour of The Fall, Bob Stanley and Tessa Norton have produced a book via Faber, titled “Excavate! The Wonderful and Frightening World Of The Fall”.
The blurb explains: “Bringing together previously unseen artwork, rare ephemera and handwritten material, alongside essays by a slate of fans, EXCAVATE! is a vivid, definitive record – an illumination of the dark corners of the Fall’s wonderful and frightening world.”
To celebrate the release of the book, Rough Trade are hosting a streaming Q&A event with the editors on 1st April.
Tickets are available here: