Issue 007 - Autumn 2009

 
 
 

 
 

 

 

Editorial

 

Hello and welcome to our quarterly look at all matters Fall, and beyond. Since the last edition the world of "Reformation" has gained a radio show where our erstwhile editor provides an hourly slice, once a week,  of Fall, Fall related, and anything else that sounds good in music terms. We are also pleased to report that various Fall alumni have been getting back into the swing of things with Martin Bramah's Factory Star (with the Brothers Hanley) gigging and doing a session for Marc Riley, Mike Leigh is now playing in Manchester band Pearl Divers, who debut in November, and the hardest working man in Salford - Ding - featuring of late in Bobbie Peru (however he is leaving the group soon), and the emerging and utterly excellent Kin. Notwithstanding that, the hardest working woman in south Manchester - Julia Adamson - continues to release a run of excellent albums from the Invisiblegirl label, including excellent new EPs from Kin and Borland, and one of the albums of the year - "Gravy on a plate of food" by Moff Skellington.
 
The disappointing news is that the new Fall album will not now be released until January, however we can bide our time with the long awaited "Last Night at the Palais" which is reviewed in this issue.
 
We have the usual eclectic mix of things kicking off with a trip down memory lane from Paul Hanley, and exclusive interviews with Moff Skellington, Ding, Tom Head, and (fellow Salford City Radio DJ) Ed Blaney. Hope you enjoy.
 
See you in three months!
 
Bob, Martin, Mike, Mark, Shayne, & Chris
 

 
 

Stuff the Superstars

 

by Paul Hanley

 

I turned 15 in 1979. I had a drum kit, I know that. I was becoming seriously obsessed with music, I know that too. Apart from that the details are a bit vague, if I’m honest. School was as soul-destroying as ever, the endless dismal days of double chemistry only lightened by the opportunity to play ‘Another Music in a Different Kitchen’ on Fr. Green’s dansette at lunch time. I also had a job in a butcher’s shop on Saturdays, as I recall, but that’s about it.

 

Regarding Saturday 28th July 1979, however, I can be quite precise as to my whereabouts. I was at Belle Vue’s celebrated (!) Mayflower, or rather The Fun House, a new wave club which occasionally squatted on the premises in much the same way as The Factory holed up in the Russell Club.

 
 

It was a memorable day, for a number of reasons.

 

For one, my brother’s band was one of the many scheduled to play that night, which meant I got in for free. Secondly, me and my mate Pete, who lived up the road in Openshaw, made our own way there, on foot. The quaintly named Belle Vue was at least as rough then as it is now, probably more. Hyde Road was as schizophrenic as it’s literary namesake, the last few visitors to the  amusement park giving way to all manner of cut-purses and ne’er-do-wells as the watery daylight surrendered to the grimy darkness (which never seemed to be far way in late seventies Manchester). We walked, because that’s what you did then. The days of parents dropping you and picking you up after the gig (which I’m afraid I’m guilty of with my 15 year old) were a lifetime and a seismic cultural shift away. Luckily we made it unscathed, physically if not mentally.

    

The gig was billed as ‘Stuff the Superstars’- a kind of indoor festival, which featured most of the Manchester bands of note (Buzzcocks weren’t there, of course – they’d signed to UA by then and were probably in London eating Lobster and chips and quaffing champagne).

 

 Nominally top of the bill were The Distractions, who I’d previously seen supporting The Fall at Kelly’s, a tiny venue in Manchester, and who were earmarked (if only by City Fun) as the next big thing, though of course they never were. We (naturally) were ostensibly there to see The Fall, although Joy Division were also a major attraction. They’d also made significant headway since I’d seen them earlier (at Bowdon Vale youth club) and they were on the verge of next big thingdom themselves.

 

City Fun Fanzine was definitely Manchester’s magazine-du-jour (if magazine is the right word).  Sold at virtually every gig (as well as Virgin and Piccadilly records) it occupied a hallowed status among the concert goers of Manchester. It wasn’t a bad read either. Admittedly it was as humourless as The Passage playing at a Funeral, but in its defence, they were humourless times. Bands these days are so desperate to convey their wit and sense of fun you tend to forget that in 1979 most bands (or certainly most Manchester bands) were primarily anxious to convey their solemnity. The Joy Division of the NME and the Joy Division in the café next to Davidson’s rehearsal room were two very different beasts, believe me.    
 

City Fun were also the organisers of ‘Stuff the Superstars’, which would explain how the appalling Glass Animals (featuring writers Andy Zero, Cath Carroll and Liz Naylor) were so far up the bill (and the fact that they weren’t booted off stage after one song.) 

 

One of the first bands we saw were the ever-brilliant Hamsters. Who said Manchester bands were humourless? (Well I did, I know, but there has to be exceptions) ‘Friday Night at the Chinese Chip shop’; ‘Ole Spain’; ‘I’m a C**t’ – I could sing them now. If I ever get to curate Meltdown (and surely it can’t be long) they’ll be first on my list.      

 

Next band were Armed Force, featuring the ubiquitous Muppet on vocals. He was at every gig you ever went to, in those days. (I often wonder what he did with his leather jacket with ‘Adam & the Ants’ lovingly rendered across the back. When ‘Prince Charming’ came out it must have broken his heart.)  I remember he had Leopard Skin hair, but I couldn’t tell you what they sounded like if you put a gun to my head. Punky, I’d guess.

 

Also on the bill that day (surprisingly low down) were The Frantic Elevators, forever known (in my house at least) as Mick Hucknall’s proper band. He had a decent set of pipes even then, though in those days he sounded more like Jon Anderson of Yes than Curtis Mayfield.  ‘Feel Like the Hunchback of Notre Dame’ – that was their big one, simultaneously more witty, poignant and catchy than anything Simply Red ever did (except possibly ‘Holding Back the Years’, but then that was an Elevators song as well).
 

 Joy Division were next on the bill. There were two things which really stuck in my mind about their set. One, inevitably, was Ian Curtis’ dancing, which, cliché though it is, really was a sight to behold. It didn’t seem linked to normal dancing, i.e. based on enjoyment of music or getting into the rhythm, at all. He just looked like some unseen force was making him do it. A man possessed, and simultaneously as exciting and disturbing as that sounds.

  Being a drummer, the other thing that stuck in my mind was Steve Morris’ ‘Syn-Drum’™, which he could make go KCHKCK! and BO! (but not at the same time). This was obviously the future of drumming. All it needed was the ability to make 20 or 30 other interesting sounds and it would have really caught on. Funnily enough, the BO! sound can be heard on lots of records of the time, like ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ or ‘It Feels Like I’m In Love’ but I don’t remember the KCHKCK noise (which sounded like someone hitting corrugated iron with a screwdriver) appearing anywhere but ‘She’s Lost Control’. SLC was always 10 times better live than either of the recorded versions. In fact, their whole set that night was a lot rockier and aggressive than their albums would suggest, almost Heavy Metal at times. Barney’s guitar in particular was noticeably diminished by Martin Hannett’s production. In any case they were astonishing, much better than the next time I saw them, supporting Buzzcocks at the Apollo. On that occasion their set was cut to about 20 minutes, presumably for fear they would upstage the headliners. Heart-breakingly, then, ‘Stuff The Superstars’ must have been about as good as Joy Division ever got, as they didn’t have long left.   

 

They were followed by Ludus, most notable (at least to me) for featuring Linder, who designed the sleeve for ‘Orgasm Addict’. I’d seen them before (and hated them), so presumably I declined to stand through another performance, as I have no recollection of their set at all.

 

Next up were The Liggers. (Think a punk 3 Degrees, none of whom could sing particularly well. In fact, they were Bananarama, before Bananarama were). They were rather good, before their time, if anything, though their choice of associates left a little to be desired. It all kicked off back stage when Craig Scanlon, the newly installed Fall guitarist, in an outrageous display of arrogance, rested his arm on one of the Liggers guitar cases. He was rewarded for this disgraceful behaviour with a flying head butt from a Neolithic skinhead (One of The Liggers liggers?) After apologies had been proffered (Craig apologised for hitting the guy’s forehead with the bridge of his nose, and for getting blood on him, and the skinhead guy apologised for being a bit forward) Mark Smith sought to pour oil on troubled waters by tripping up the aggressive cave dweller as he walked past, then denying all knowledge, despite the baldy guy threatening to rip his face off. I was seriously impressed with Mr. Smith’s bravery, if not his common sense. I was also struck how the whole band had stuck together to deal with this unprovoked attack on one of their own. That’s how bands behave, I thought. This is the life for me, then.

 

Shortly after this The Fall took the stage.  The preceding events must have fired them up, as this was as good a performance as this line-up ever presented, complete with Mike Leigh’s legendary rendering of  ‘A Figure Walks’ standing up, new single 'Rowche Rumble’ in all its ragged glory and ‘In My Area’ featuring those bloody awful rototoms. It was also Yvonne Pawlett’s last gig, according to my sources. The transformation from Witch Trial’s drilled and musicianly supergroup to the strange and quirky odd balls we all know and love was complete. Mark E. Smith, at least in those days, was as fascinating a figure to watch on stage as Ian C. had been earlier, stalking the stage, glaring angrily into the middle distance and doing that funny dance he used to do. His between-numbers patter in those days was also as entertaining as the songs.  What an absolute joy it was to watch The Fall in 1979. Someday all bands will be like this. 

 

The Distractions could only ever be a footnote, after that, though it’s a shame their lovingly-crafted pop vignettes never reached a bigger audience. The big problem was they never looked like the part, the singer and drummer especially (respectively the wrong side of 34” waist and 34 years old. It’s a tough gig this pop malarkey.) They had a male guitarist and a female bass player who wore matching outfits, I remember. They should have formed a duo, they looked great. Interesting side-note -  Legend has it that there was once a cash crisis at Island Records and a last minute meeting was called to decide whether to drop The Distractions or U2.  (They went with Distractions, by the way)

 

The ticket /flyer will tell you there were other bands on that night, Elti Fits, for instance, but I must confess I have no recollection. (At least I remember their existence, which is more than can be said of The 5 Skinners.) I must have also missed John the Postman, though I suspect he may have done Louie Louie. 

 

The evening (from the walk to the venue onwards) was imbued with the kind of tension and unease that you don’t get at gigs these days (or at least I don’t). The venue was filthy in the way that only Manchester clubs in 1979 could be. The sound was muddy, and to describe the organisation as amateurish is to be over generous.  One of the best gigs I ever attended, in summation. The Mayflower no longer exists, of course. The last gig I ever saw there was ‘Nik Turners Inner City Unit’. On that occasion me, Steve, Marc and Craig, and Bob and Moey from The Hamsters were the entire audience. Shame there’s nowhere to put the blue plaque.
 

 

Gladys Winthorpe's Emporium Of Particularly Underacknowledged Fall Compositions
 

In this, the latest in a series of what I somewhat selfishly consider to be "unappreciated" Fall songs, I'll be looking at a B-side from 1980.
 
Number 38: Putta Block
 
Smith, M. E.: vox
Riley, M: guitar
Scanlon, C: guitar
Hanley, S: bass
Hanley, P: drums
 
As the B-side of the "Totally Wired" single, "Putta Block" can be summed up in a single word: "odd". For a start, almost half of the song's playing time is taken up with live renditions of other Fall
songs [1, 2], from the opening 'dynamic entrance' of a rather embryonic sounding introduction to "The N.W.R.A." [3, 4] (duration: 80 seconds) to the suffix of sandwiched snippets of both "Rowche Rumble" (an 'independent chart money-spinner') and "Cary Grant's Wedding" ('Have you ever had a Bill Haley LP?') [5].
 
Inbetween the live extracts is 140 seconds of the real thing: the actual "Putta Block" song. There are three sections to it: the introduction is formed of a single guitar playing a strangely unmusical, repetitive riff (I'm assuming it's Marc Riley playing this - panned right - and therefore am guessing that Craig's on the left) and Paul Hanley bashing out an irregular rhythm. The main section or "verse" is more flowing: faster drumming [6], a bass riff which alternates between lying low in the mix and brief excursions into a higher register (e.g. 1:39), a murky left-panned rhythm guitar and a lead guitar line to the right which starts with a simple repeating 4-note riff before angrily rising in intensity and tone as the verse progresses. There's also a "chorus" to contrast this which in itself is odd for a couple of reasons: firstly, it's slower than the verse and secondly, it takes a step down from the verse (from D down to C).
In popular music, choruses are usually higher and faster than verses, so to use both "anti-devices" together in a song is rather unusual. This section - noticeably less intense than the verse - features both guitars and the bass playing the same repetitive riff which includes a particularly catchy 4-note descending phrase (e.g. 2:04, 3:19). After 2 repeats of both the verse and chorus sections [7, 8], the song's outro is a repeat of the introduction to give a "bookended" feel. It finishes at 3:41 with a frustrated-sounding guitar chord which doesn't feature anywhere else within the song: again, very odd!
 
Amongst all this musical mayhem, the song's lyrics are similarly baffling. Whilst there are numerous rememberable phrases here ("We had salmon on a bus", "At Epsom, no race is lost", "The complete restructure of your pretentious life") [9], it's difficult to extract any kind of linear narrative or story from them (so, lazily, I won't even try). The "three swords reversed" line may be a reference to the Tarot, where its revealing signifies "an improving situation".
Limiting the fancy production tricks to the single use of an echo effect at the song's introduction (at 1:24), the most noteworthy aspect of MES's vocals is perhaps the chorus' 3-note refrain during the repeated mention of an approximation of the song's title (e.g. 2:06, 3:17).
 
Notes:
 
[1] Out-takes from "Totale's Turns", perhaps?
[2] Anyone know what gig(s) the live stuff comes from?
[3] Duration: 80 seconds.
[4] This slightly wobbly solo (which doesn't appear in the studio version on "Grotesque") is - presumably - one of the rare occasions where Craig is actually allowed to improvise. I love the juxtaposition between the trebly tone of the solo that he plays followed by the rather drab chords that follow it (1:14).
[5] Even weirder is the fact that the CD version of the song, on the "Palace Of Swords Reversed" compilation at least, has truncated several seconds of the closing "Cary Grant's Wedding" section that appears on the 7" version.
[6] Note how the drum pattern repetitively uses the 5 hits on the snare drum at the end of each bar throughout the verse (e.g. 1:37, 1:41, 2:42, 2:46, etc).
[7] Micro-Listening [tm] students may have spotted that both Craig and, to a lesser extent, Paul almost overshoot the slower chorus after the rapid verse at 3:13!
[8] Note how the second chorus (circa 11 seconds) is markedly shorter than the first (approximately 38 seconds).
[9] One (unconfirmed) theory is that the lyrics appear to be constructed around overheard snatches of everyday conversation.
 

Fallen in love again

 

The recently published paperback edition of Dave Simpson's quest to find and interview as many ex-Fall members as he could (and in the meantime manage to fall out with his girlfriend) is substantially the same as the hardback, with the addition of  an epilogue which we will come to later. Most of the minor (though if you are fussy about the geography of Manchester, maybe not so insignificant; see here have been corrected. One addition which I would have liked to see is some kind of index, or at least to have the names of the ex-members mentioned in the chapter headings (they are discussed, more or less, in the order in which Simpson interviewed them and not chronologically according to when they played in the group, making navigation of the book a bit difficult at times). Some more fleshing out of a couple of the shorter encounters might have been worth a shot, for example that with Craig Scanlon is regrettably brief. However, as the book was planned for the general public and not just for Fall fanboys then the author may be excused not going into  the more arcane and exotic details which may well have interested readers with a deep fascination for the recording processes on Cerebral Caustic or Levitate, but which mean little to someone who wanted  juicier and less salubrious accounts of stage antics, drinking habits, eccentricities and fisticuffs. Things which, if we are honest,  Fall fans as well are prone to finding absorbing...This said, how much Simpson's own domestic travails add to the appeal of the book is something this writer in particular is still unsure about. I find I tended to skip these sections, but that may say more about my own addition to reading about The Fall rather than any explicit dislike of the more personal passages.
 
As might be expected, the most successful interviews are those carried out face-to-face; the email ones tend to be lacking in spontaneity, there being less scope to take the conversation in more tangential directions and to witness body language and so on. Particularly interesting (to me at least) are those encounters with the lesser-known of ex-Fall members: people like  Eric McGann (Eric the Ferret) who, like Adrian Flanagan, refused to be photographed for the book. According to Eric, he resigned from the group, whereas Marc Riley (in an interview for The Pseud Mag) remembers him as being sacked. Unimportant in itself, but just a small reminder that nothing should be taken at face value, nothing accepted as the truth until verified by at least half a dozen independent sources. Witness, for example, the disparities between Ben Pritchard's memories of the chaotic 2006 tour and what Ed Blaney and MES himself (in Renegade) have to say about the incidents. Who's right, who's wrong?
 
Other interviews which repay a second reading include those with drummer Steve Davies, who had never played the drums in his life, a fact which didn't hold MES back from getting him to borrow a kit for a European tour. Or Dave Tucker, who seems to exist on dope and tea and lives surrounded by countless musical instruments. Tucker left The Fall after being mugged in Prestwich, an incident which relieved him of most of his teeth. Simpson is warned that Brian Fanning is a bit eccentric, though in fact he turns out to be level-headed enough. However, Fanning claims he left the group while Ben Pritchard says he was fired. Who's right? Who's wrong? Dave Milner has some pertinent observations to make about his former leader, especially concerning his drinking habits and his (non) relationship with his father. And so on: the dedicated Fall fan will be able to find nuggets, and in some cases whole mines, of fascinating titbits about The Fall scattered through most of the interviews in the book.
 
And so we come to the epilogue. In 12 additional pages, Simpson brings us as much up to date as publication deadlines and his own detective work allow. There's an interview with Orpheo McCord, in which the drummer is appreciative and generous towards MES. Simpson hears about Lucy Rimmer but doesn't manage to track her down, and has to rely on an unpublished (until now; see Below! Ed):  interview intended for the now defunct The Pseud Mag). He is due to do an interview with Martin Bramah, but at the last minute receives an email from him which speaks darkly and mysteriously about "a serious threat from a certain entity in the service of persons who must remain unnamed." Next is a meeting with Mike Leigh, who comes across as highly likeable and who, through Simpson, is put back into touch with Kay Carroll, Marc Riley and Steve Hanley.
 
The book ends up with Karl Burns, which is only fitting, seeing as Simpson's ongoing quest to find him provides the narrative thrust of the book (along with his aforementioned domestic problems) After a good few false leads and broken trails, emails - those sent by Burns wary and cryptic - are exchanged, and the prospect of a meeting is mooted when Burns asks to read the book before he makes his mind up . Avoiding spoilers is what any semi-ethical reviewer tries to do, and this one will be no exception,  so all I can say is that this time Simpson doesn't find the Rossendale sheep of the original hardback edition.
 
 
 

Head Roundabout

 
This interview with Fall drummer Tom Head/Murphy was carried out in February 2006 for The Pseud Mag but never got published.
 
 Could you tell us something about your dramatic and musical career up to the time you played in The Fall? I know you were an extra in Coronation Street and Emmerdale, but did you have any other TV and/or stage experience? Did you play in any other groups and was it always the drums?

I started playing the drums in 1983 when I just left school, at first I wanted to be a session musician but as we all know you have to be a good reader. I did not have any musical education at school as most of the time we spent our 70 minutes per week music lesson looking at mummies at Manchester museum, the connection being the ancient Egyptians .My first band was a punk band from Salford called Interpol, I had only been playing 4 months but I was a very fast player back then. We did a few gigs but then went our separate ways. Next I joined a heavy rock band called Karas Vision. That was a lot of fun. We did a lot of gigs around Manchester and the northwest. Then in 1987 I formed a band with my brother Steve Evets, who you must have heard of as he was another collaborator with The Fall, the word band being a mixture of theatre and music. This band was called Sneckheads and that was a lot of fun. We played the working men’s clubs and supported the Macc Lads at the international 2 in Manchester in 1988 where I had to have three stitches in my hand as we were bottled off stage (the things you do for your art). After working the clubs we managed to get our equity cards which brings me onto my films. I have been in Corrie 26 times. My first job was in a show called Brookside where I played a thug who had to beat up a taxi driver. Then I did a lot of crimewatch reconstructions. Most of the time I’ve played yobs (must be something to do with my face). I did lots more work in the 80s and 90s - a lot you may see on UK. Gold. I have done The League Of Gentlemen. I did the first two series where I can be seen in the job centre.

How did you come to join The Fall? Did you know much of their music before this time? You began at quite a difficult time for the band: was it difficult/fun/nerve-wracking? Did you have much time to rehearse before the first gigs?

I joined The Fall because Mark E Smith is a friend of my brother Steve, who had given Mark an old tape of really strange music we had done with the Sneckheads . When I went to meet mark i explained that I had much more stuff on CD; he just said “Have you got a passport.?” My first gig was at Manchester university, I was a bit scared. We did not rehearse. When I went on stage I heard someone out of the crowd shout my name. I don’t know who it was to this day and that made me more scared as Manchester is my home town. It got easier as time went on.. I don’t mind playing London or anywhere in the world as long as I know I am ok.

Did you enjoy the recording sessions for The Unutterable? How much input did you have in the actual writing of the songs? Do you think the songs were as good when played live?

Yes I did enjoy working on The Unutterable. We had more say than we did the Marshall Suite. All of the music on The Unutterable was from the Scottish tour we did .Yes, I did have input on some songs; the thing about The Fall is you just get left to it. The songs were just the same live from my point of view, I don’t like doing things in the studio I can’t do live and we rehearsed pretty well for the Scottish shows.

Can you tell us exactly what happened, as you saw it, before the Reading Festival gig in 1999, when reportedly you were sacked before being reinstated for the gig the following day at the Leeds Festival?

Yes, the infamous Reading Festival. This is what happened from the horse’s mouth so to speak. We had to meet the bus in Prestwich which was going to take us down to the festival. I was waiting in my car in Mark’s drive. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited for about an hour. I had my window down .When he turned up he smacked me across the face. By the time I got out of my car he was in his house. I followed him in and we had a bit of a scuffle. I told him he could fuck his gig, I think he thought being a unknown musician I would have still done it. No way no one treats me like that so I drove home. The next day the band were ringing from Reading. No way was I going. Once my mind is made up that’s it. After that the record company rang me. Funny that because they always seem to be out when you want to talk to them. Anyway the next day I had to go to Leeds to pick up my drum set. I saw Smith and he said, “Do you want to play?” so I said “Why not I am here.” Hope that’s put the record straight once and for all.

What were the reasons for your eventual departure from the group?

The reason for my departure is simple. After two and a half years I had to stop. I have to earn a living and at the end of the day the thing about The Fall is trying to get paid. When you do a show with The Fall, let’s say London ,you have to get there so you get a train which costs you then sometimes you find out your accommodation has not been paid so you lay out for it then you have to eat. It’s stressful .I must point out that this did not happen all the time but I think you get the gist. My last show was at the Royal Festival Hall with Dick Dale and Mr. John Peel. God rest his soul, it was a nice one to end on.

Since then, what sort of projects/drama/music have you been involved in and what have you got in store for the future?

What am I doing now? I just help people out now and again. I have just started my own band last week . It’s early days yet.


Viddy this my droogies part 2

Following on from last issues forensic examination of all Fall gigs on Video/DVD here is the second part of Martin's overview

23 October 1995 Astoria, London:   

There is a review of this gig (both the sound only recording and the DVD) on the website: https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/gig-reviews/1995/19951023-astorialondon. I have little to add to this except to briefly pass comment that one stage invader is quickly snagged at the start of The Chiselers and that this gig was Craig Scanlon’s penultimate appearance with the group. 

  
 

31 March 1998 Coney Island High, New York:    

The images on this video, shot from left of stage, are generally good, though the colour is somewhat grainy, and there is some camera panning. The opening song, Spencer Must Die, is missing from this recording, and so we join the group as Masquerade, featuring Steve Hanley in magnificent form,  is being played. MES drinks lots of water, but lots of it! For Levitate Julia Nagle plays guitar, MES smokes a roll-up, looking at it as though it’s a bomb. Hip Priest is great; MES drinks yet more water. Oleano is invigorating, but abysmal guitar playing by Tommy Crooks drags down The Chiselers (which includes lyrics from F-‘oldin Money).   

There are some short cuts before and during the encore  (He Pep and Behind the Counter) All in all, a worthwhile document of the group on the ill-fated US tour. 

  
 

5 April 1998 Black Cat, Washington DC:   

The gig is shot from the side and the camera rarely moves, apart from at the end when it swings round to show some of the audience. MES, Burns, Hanley and Crooks can be seen pretty clear and there are glimpses of Julia Nagle until she disappears after Levitate. The images are crisp; MES stands out in a white shirt (after he has taken off a striped jumper).   

MES looks tired and grim, but in spite of this puts in a fairly disciplined performance. There are some nice dissonant keyboards in Spencer Must Die, and after what was apparently a ramshackle performance the previous night (4 April 1998, Trocadero, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) it would be hard to predict the shenanigans of the gig two days later in New York. The concert has a sudden end, however, following Jungle Rock (MES on his usual unmelodic but just-right keyboards) the singer whispers to Crooks to wind matters up and disappears off stage. 

  
 

7 April 1998 Brownies, New York: 

  
 

One of the most documented Fall gigs ever. The video is shot from low down on the left hand side of the stage; the image is nowhere near as sharp as two days previously, but nonetheless all the protagonists can be seen and there is more camera movement than at the Washington gig.   

One of the surprising things about this gig for me is that many of the performances of individual songs are actually quite good. The opening Spencer Must Die has a superb bass-heavy riff, though it is sadly cut short. However, it is evident from the start that MES is not fully engaged with the gig as he fiddles around with his jacket and other stuff lying on the floor. During Hip Priest, which is when the major altercation between MES and Burns happens, he spends most of the time with his back to the audience, and in Free Range he has a little more than desultory attempt at singing the actual lyrics of the song.   

Levitate as an instrumental works well. It’s a surprise in hindsight that MES (following a walk-off) returns for Lie Dream of a Casino Soul, but by then the accumulated effects of whatever was taxing the realtionships in the group have eliminated any possible chances of logical behaviour. That said, his performance in the song itself is again much better than one might have expected, though he does come out with a sarcastic “Well done, lads!” at the end.    

During He Pep MES plays some good keyboards while standing at the back of the instrument, and in the middle of Powder Keg (featuring MES and Julia Nagle only) he picks up a guitar but then thinks better of actually trying to play it.   

This gig, as well as contemporary accounts on Fallnews and in most books written about The Fall, has been documented in a semi fictional novel called Pan, written by Camden Joy and Colin B Morton (Highwater Books, November 2001). 

  
 

12 June 2000 Witchwood, Ashton-Under-Lyne   

This video was reviewed in issue 5 of the webzine; link follows:   

https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/reformation-post-tpm/spring#TOC-Madness-in-Ashton-Under-Lyne- 

  
  
 

21 February 2004 Renfrew Ferry Glasgow:   

There’s a nice beginning to this amateur video, as we see the ticket for the gig followed by an outside view of the venue itself.. The images in the actual video, shot from the back of the audience,  are often  of good quality (though often the group are obscured by backs and heads), but the editing leaves much to be desired and there are several breaks and cuts in the songs, most notably in Middle Mass, of which only the opening chords remain, and elsewhere in Mr Pharmacist, The Joke and Contraflow. During Mere Pseud Mag. Ed. my copy froze completely. There are no images to accompany Walk Like A Man. However, this is a high-energy gig well-worth watching. MES, wearing a chain on his right wrist, is focused and on good vocal form. The punters seem well up for a good time – lots of pogoing going on in the mosh pit. The balconies behind and to the side of the stage, also populated by spectators, lend the gig a more intimate feel.    

This video is also a chance to see soul singer and occasional Fall vocalist Dougie James in action (in Open The Boxoctosis) and a reminder of how Simon “Dingo” Archer was one of the most restless of Fall musicians, as he turns unceasingly from side to side throughout the gig. 

  
 

14 August 2004 Chorley Moorfest, Heaton Moor, Stockport: 

  
 

According to Big Chief Mango Chutney X1V in his review on The Fall Online, The Fall “spent what seemed like ages trying to set up their equipment, and they didn't seem at all happy with the set-up to me. Spencer and Ben came out first, then Steven and Jim appeared. Basically there was not enough room on stage for everyone. They had to take a lot of the speakers, and the DJ's stand, away to make room for Eleni's keyboards. She appeared and looked non-too happy with the arrangements (or, unsuprisingly, the cat-calls/wolf-whistles from the audience). Then, finally, everything got started. Ben re-appeared with MES, and they appeared to be having a heated debate about something or other.”   

We see some of the setting-up referred to above at the beginning of this video, which was shot by fallfandave from somewhere near the back of the audience. The sound throughout is mostly very clear, but the handheld camera is, obviously, prone to shaking and movement of all kinds, though at the same time the strobe and light effects in general are interesting to see. As the group itself, there are no close-ups and individual members are pretty hard to spot. One exception during the gig is Elena, who’s sporting loose hair.    

There are many excellent songs in the gig: Mere Pseud Mag. Ed and Theme From Sparta FC are but two of them. During the latter a girl climbs on stage, though in the video she is only glimpsed briefly. The gig ends with an instrumental version of Blindness. On the whole, this video is worth watching once, but once only. 

  
 

5 December 2004  All Tomorrow's Parties, Camber Sands Holiday Centre, East Sussex:   

This was Jim Watts’ last gig with The Fall; about 12 days later, he announced his departure from the group. In his own words, in a post on The Fall Online:Not amazingly acrimonious. Usual reasons. Sick of the whole credits/royalties charade. No creative control whatsoever.”   

As for the gig and video itself, this is a competent performance very well recorded by the cameraman. The images are sharp; we see all the band in great detail; and the sound is almost as good. Spencer and Watts both wear glasses: has this happened before or since in The Fall? MES is on stage early during the opener, Boxoctosis; and is does very little in the way of amp-fiddling etc., preferring to stand relatively still in the centre of the stage while delivering the lyrics.   

As I say, the set is good rather than great, but there’s a nice speeding-up at the end of Mod Mock Goth (unfortunately too short) and Blindness, the new song of that and many other moments, is highly impressive. We get a brief shot of the audience at the end, and they seem to like what they’ve been hearing.  

  
  
 

8 March 2005 The Junction, Cambridge:   

Shot at a low angle from the back of the venue, the images on this video are in the main crisp and the sound very good. There are some nice close-ups of MES, who generally remains fairly still (for him!) at the start of the gig before beginning to wander around more as the gig approaches its end. It’s a long show and features one of the best renditions of Blindness (complete with reprise and the usual wonderful keyboards from MES himself) that I’ve heard. The words “elektrisch beheizt” on those  aforementioned keyboards seem to sum it all up.   

During Assume (only the second time this song was played live) MES turns his back to the audience while consulting a lyric sheet. The encore  songs (Hit The North, White Lightning and Mr Pharmacist) are maybe hurried a little too much before a smacking version of Big New Prinz, complete with audience members being allowed to bellow into the mike, brings proceedings to a triumphant end.   

Maybe the camera is too far too often from the action to really recreate the strength of this gig, but it’s not a bad documentary of the event as a whole. 

  
  
 

3 April 2005 Concorde 2, Brighton:   

This is an excellent gig, filmed from the back of the audience (some annoying pillars often obscure our view of the group) and with quite a lot of panning throughout. There are also some half-distance shots, particularly of MES. Highlights include an 8-minute What About Us?, I Can Hear The Grass Grow, in which MES tries out different mikes before complaining about the sound at the end of the song; Ride Away, which contains some nice touches; and an excellent Touch Sensitive, one of the best I’ve heard, with a frenetically fast climax. At one point something is thrown on to the stage; MES looks at it (probably a small coin) and jokingly offers it to Ben Pritchard before tossing it away. The video is top and tailed by images of Brighton before and after the gig; a nice detail this to finish off a good recording. 

  
 

29 April 2005 Lemon Tree, Aberdeen:   

This video is divided into 6 chapters, beginning with one of about a minute in which the camera dwells on a painting of the P.S. Scotia (1861), a Cunard paddle steamer which is hanging in a pub called The Schooner, presumably one near the venue itself. Another chapter allows us to listen to Phil Schonfelt singing  “Dead Flowers For Alice” and then finally we are on to the Fall gig itself. The sound is good, but unfortunately the cameraman doesn’t manage to find a good vantage point and so we see very little of the group for most of the time. There are good versions of Open The Boxoctosis, Theme From Sparta FC and Waht About Us? Evidently, this was one of the gigs where MES failed to say “Good evening, we are the Fall” (maybe because the show started after midnight?). There was no encore, contemporary reviews of the gig blaming the lack of audience response on them having had to wait for too long and thus imbibing too many alcoholic liquids... 

  
 

10 July 2005    Feedback Festival, Parc de la Villette, Paris: 

  
 

The gig begins with Theme From Sparta FC, with MES taking a boyish delight (as he does on further occasions throughout the performance) in banging on a drum which seems to have been left behind by another artist (this was an outdoor performance at a daytime festival). The cameraman, Mark Jamieson, starts off near the front before moving backwards to capture a more panoramic view of proceedings. When this is done there is inevitable camera shake, but at the same time an impression of the atmosphere comes through, as several spectators dance happily to the music.   

Some moments to point out: MES removes two empty water bottles from the front of the stage, handing them politely to spectators. He uses two mikes in Bo Doodak and elsewhere throughout the gig, usually to good effect. What About Us? And Mountain Energie are particularly well-played and received. Blindness is excellent, ending with audience participation as MES hands them the mike. It was a great idea to have Carry Bag Man back in the set; a pity, then, that the vocal mikes suddenly stop working, with both MES and his wife frustrated in this respect. Finally, there is a nice shot of a roadie at the end of the gig carefully folding up a set list as though it were an important document (which, to some, it indeed is!) before donating it to one of the spectators.   

The gig is well-filmed and nicely produced, with a brief introduction of the band waiting to play and a conclusion in which we see the crowd dispersing, the instruments and sound equipment being cleared from the stage (Pritchard and Trafford giving a hand here) and finally a brief image of the now empty arena. 

  
  
  
 
 

The Quietest Year?

2009 has proved to be one of the slackest years for Fall gigs in a long while, with a mere 10 outings - the early months being taken up by the brief Smith & Blaney tour, and then Mark's recurring hip problems. The feedback from the handful of gigs that have been played has been good with some old chestnuts from the back catalogue re-appearinig with regularity, and some of the emerging classics from the new album getting significant gig space. At the time of writing the gigs played are as follows (with links provided to that part of the site where we look at gigs in more detail - please note that all gig reviews are not fully complete at this stage - but will be soon)
 

20090117 -- Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal 

20090331 - The Junction, Cambridge

20090401 - Koko, London

20090425 - Electric Ballroom, London

20090430 - The Arches, Glasgow

20090610 - The Forum, London

20090718 - Academy One, Manchester

20090918 - Live Festival, Belgrade, Serbia

20091001 - Theatre Royal, Windsor

20091002 - Academy, Leeds

 
 

 

Archer's Kin

Simon "Ding" Archer, bass player and producer with The Fall has a busy life. This Salford based renaissance man runs his own recording studio, and is currently playing with bands Bobbie Peru, and Kin. The release of the new Bobbie Peru album "Kill the Autopilot" in September, together with the forthcoming Kin EP "Dot, Dot, Dot" has meant a busy few months for "Ding".   
 
"Ding" took some time out from his busy schedule at 6dB Studio to answer a few questions.......
 
 
(a) The studio at Bexley Square - why that location, why Salford   what's good about the area for you?
 
My studio is located inside the Manchester MIDI School building which houses several recording studios; a mastering suite; a cd pressing company and several project studios as well as the school itself. Many of these other establishments are run by friends of mine, so there's a great community spirit in the building and passing of work between ourselves.
 
Regarding its location. Aside from the advantages provided by the quality local ale houses, we're in Salford, but only 5 minute from Manchester City Centre and it's very easy to find and I can easily target 2 cities worth of clientele.
 
(b) New Bobbie Peru album - what can fans expect, difference between this new one and the first album/ep. Where can people buy it? Have I read the thing on your site correctly are you only produocing 200 copies - or is that pre-release?
 
The new album is vastly different from our first lp, it's got a lot more fire in its belly and the band has matured greatly in the last 2 years. We stripped our lineup down to a 3 piece almost at the same time as the last LP was released, which has caused us to develop in a different direction. Our new material is less fussy and we've not gone over the top with overdubs this time, so that our live performances give accurate reproductions of the recorded versions of the songs. We've had a change of drummer too for this LP and that has also drastically changed the band's material and the genre to some extent.
 
Bobbie Peru fans will know just over half of the material from recent shows, but we've stuck a few surprises on this lp too. There's a re-working of a track off Social Suicide and a re-mix and some new material that we will be playing live for the first time in the U.K at the release party on the 25th
 
When it's out, which should be from Sept 25th, you'll be able to buy it in shops and online via CDbaby and iTunes and via our myspace/website and at gigs of course.
 
We toured the U.S in April and had a special pre-release version of the LP as it was back then printed up in a small run of 200 in order to have something to sell at shows. I think there are a few of those left, but we're having an initial press of 100 done of the full LP.
 
(c) Any obvious influence(r)s for the Bobbie Peru sound - anything listeners can refer to?
 
We have a few recurring comparisons that we don't sneer at The Stooges, Fugazi, DEVO, The Jesus Lizard, Tool, The Pixies, The Melvins
 
I can't deny that we listen to those artists, but there's never any intent to copy or sound like, I suppose it's just easy to list bands that are not a million miles away from what we're doing to be able to put across in words what we sound like.
 
(d) You are also bass player with Kin - how did you join up with her? And was Dot Dot Dot recorded at your studio? 
I got involved with Kin through Howard, her drummer. We're mates and he told me about the project and suggested I play bass ....... when I heard the material I had to agree. I've been playing in the band for over a year now and it's another project that has gone through some fairly drastic changes for the good.
 
Dot Dot Dot was recorded at my place yes. It took a very long time, for no apparent reason ??!?!?? . As in, we recorded the 5 songs pretty quickly , but then took ages getting round to mixing the tunes. We had a couple of re-records with the drums and bass and slowly they came together. The end result I'm very pleased with though, I have high hopes for Kin.
 
(e) Have you any other musical projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
 
Yeah. About 20 years ago I was in an industrial band called AAAK [As Able As Kane]. We released 2 lps in 1989 and 1990, which were fairly well received in Europe. Earlier this year I was approached by a German record label about the prospect of re-issuing the lps. This idea has since developed into re-recording them with 2009 technology and has resulted in me tracking down my band mate from 20 years ago and re-forming the band. We're currently about 2/3s of the way through re-recording for release on a double CD in December with some gigs to accompany the release.
 
I'm really enjoying the chance to correct all the mistakes I made in the studio 20 years ago and blast these songs out in the manner that they deserve.
 
 
Editors Note - Ding has recently announced on his My Space page that he is leaving Bobbie Peru. This interview took place before that announcement. 
 

 

Last Night at the Palais

 
The 35th official live release for The Fall proves to be a worthwhile artefact. In both CD and DVD format the last night at the Hammersmith Palais on April 1st 2007 is captured for posterity. Aside from the three clips on the US version of Reformation Post TLC this is also the only official live release with the "dudes", albeit supplemented by Dave Spurr, and Pete Greenway. A typical set of this era as already recounted in respect of the live version unnofficial versions. The recording is crisp and clear and the interplay between Presley, Barbato, and McCord comes to the fore. Some would have this as the Fall retreading old ground, and not at thier peak. I would disagree, there is enough vitality and forward movement here to leave most contemporaries reeling in their mascara and kohl drenched sub-pop worlds. The DVD is remarkably well shot and if you get bored looking at the group you can spend your time looking for you or your pals in the audience. The unique nature of the recording is the rare capture of Zappa's "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" hitherto only released in video form on the US version of Reformation. This features an excellent guitar duel between Presley and Greenway.
 
Recommended.
 
  

Top 20 played Fall Songs of all time

As part of our ongoing forensic examination of The Fall live one of the by-products is the ability to use the old pivot table in Excel and indulge in some hyper-mathematics. Our first piece of work was to try and estimate the number of times the gruppe have played any particular song. So based on what gig lists we do have and also some guess work we can reveal that the top twenty songs played - as at August of this year - is as follows:
 
1 Mr. Pharmacist 350
2 Theme from Sparta F.C. 210
3 Big New Prinz 210
4 Mountain Energie 182
5 White Lightning 176
6 Touch Sensitive 162
7 Blindness 155
8 And Therein 155
9 Mere Pseud Mag Ed 150
10 Pacifying Joint 145
11 F'-'Oldin' Money 140
12 Lie Dream of a Casino Soul 138
13 Dead Beat Descendant 137
14 The Joke 132
15 2 x 4 128
16 What About Us? 127
17 Hit the North 127
18 I can hear the grass grow 124
19 Behind the Counter 122
20 Wings 111
 
I'd guess that there are few suprises about the number one - which seems to have been retired from the set of late - and its interesting to see "Wings" creep in at number 20 after its recent revival.
 

Last Exit from Abstercot

The Wonderful and Frightening World of Moff Skellington

"Good evening, father, and thank you. I very much enjoyed your homily (a four square bopping scansion which betrays the celt standing in your socks) and am heartened to discover another, I suspect, afficionardo of Nana Milkbottle's writing. In fact, I wondered wether I might alert you to the pleasures of an earlier work of hers entitled "Trampoline Springs of the Low Countries". I myself have only inspected the vellum bound copy preserved in the vaults of the British Library. The experience however was frustratingly numb and secondary as, owing to the bawdy nature of the woodcut illuminations I had to wear boxing gloves while reading unchaperoned."

 Released in Invisiblegirl records earlier this year "Gravy on a plate of food" is Moff Skellington's latest in a long run albums. In an exclusive virtual "innerview" between Eccles and Otley....Moff explains what he is all about.

 

Q1

Bob: What are your influences musically?    

Moff: I can probably trace the desire to do music back to a handful of records I heard in the late Seventies. The first time I ever heard music and poetry combined to startling effect was on a Hawkwind album featuring Michael Moorcock. The Wizard Blew his Horn was a very powerful piece for a sensitive adolescent like myself, taking my much loved world of sword and sorcery into a kind of apocalyptical night.

Death Disco (Swan Lake) by P.I.L. was my second life changing musical experience. It came at that period of my adolescence when I paddled gleefully in a kind of pantomime angst, and in which I developed a love for the painter Soutine. This record seemed the aural equivalent of that painter’s images and in fact, seemed closer to a painting than a song. That definitely got me thinking about new possibilities.

Then came a third revelation: Pere Ubu. It was a track John Peel played from their New Picnic Time album entitled Small was Fast. I was spellbound by every element of that song which seemed to me quite dreamlike. Not so much about a dream as a recreation of one.

Then in late ’79, early ’80 came two records which galvanized me into action. Does it Matter, Irene? demonstrated a third element that could and should be used to wonderful effect in music. As P.I.L. showed me how music could be visual, Pere Ubu how it could be dreamlike, so the Mothmen showed me how it could be regional. That record was like a little Kafka story, only set around here!

The fifth and most powerful road to Damascus experience came on hearing Bat Chain Puller (Captain Beefheart). The hypnotic rhythm, its vivid language and the rawness of the voice combined to create something close to a hallucination. I think Moff Skellington was born as soon as that record finished.

Another vital influence I think are certain tunes I heard in childhood which have remained with me ever since. These included TV music like the theme to Rhubarb, The Clangers and Q. And not forgetting Laurie Anderson.

Since then of course, influences have been constant. Being from Sheffield I loved Cabaret Voltaire, up to 1983 when they went a bit sterile. I discovered The Fall that year (1980?) with the John Peel session that featured New Face In Hell, and shortly afterward became obsessed with Irish traditional music which led to a love of trad music from just about anywhere.   

Q2

Bob: What are your influences lyrically?    

Moff: I’ve often wondered about that myself. Since my teens I’ve been an admirer of Dylan Thomas. I think he and Captain Beefheart were important models for me. Also, my Dad used to read to us from the Goon Show scripts at bedtime, recreating the voices and repeating lines he or my brother and I found particularly good. The first poem I ever wrote was for my English homework when I was 15. I’d recently read a translation of Salvador Dali’s The Great Masturbator and tried to imitate the poems tone and imagery and, I’m afraid, I even stole complete phrases from it. The strange disjuncture in Blues and Folk songs has always fascinated me. I love it when huge portions of the story are left to the imagination.

All I can say is that I really believe in surrealism as a creative device. That is surrealism in its proper sense, the uniting of the conscious and unconscious mind to reveal a more complete reality. I suppose that has been my greatest influence. 

  
 

Q3

Bob: Gravy is the latest of a long line of albums – can you list them and tell us where to get them?    

Moff: There are a series of album covers viewable in the discography picture album on the myspace page. Some albums from the full list below (those in bold) can be obtained by emailing uteruscottage@hotmail.co.uk and sending an ironed £5 note (plus p&p) per album to the secret address we tell you. Heart of Coal and Moff will then lovingly create you a copy of the discs you require.

UC01 - Edoddi

UC02 – Zabaranda (Silt Fish) – originally released by Public Eye Sore

UC03 – Ambushed by a Vacuum (Moff with Demmy James)

UC04 - Main Road Threatening Invasion (Rail Dogs)

UC05 – In Front of Our House (Silt Fish)

UC06 – The Corrosive Norm (possible future release Invisiblegirl)

UC07 – Sperm Jingle Harvest (possible future release Invisiblegirl)

UC08 – From the Chucky Egg Nest (Silt fish)

UC09 – Advice on Dating a Psychopath (not for sale)

UC10 – Blue House & Titty Bottle (possible future release Invisiblegirl)

UC11 – Gravy on a Plate of Food (only via iTunes & Invisiblegirl)

UC12 – A Book of Fretful Chums (future release– via iTunes & Invisiblegirl)

UC13 – Gliding Through Stone (Work in progress)

You may still be able to get some of those early works (UC01-08) with covers from a shop in Sheffield called Rare & Racy as a small selection was deposited there in June 2008.

The Rail Dogs and Silt Fish albums are collaborations with Andy Kirkham and Jez Quayle. A Silt Fish track was also included on a compilation album dedicated to the Bonzo Dog Doodah band Music for an Artificial Limb. You can also find Moff on the final track of The Martin Green Machine debut album First Sighting.

Moffs photo Gallery:

http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=258510697&albumId=1047806   

Q4

Bob: How did you get in touch with Julia Adamson (or vice versa) – what attracted you to Invisiblegirl as an organisation?    

Moff: I read about Julia and her label in Mick Middles book on The Fall and instinctively felt she would be sympathetic to Edoddi, especially when considering her work on Levitate. Up to then I’d approached a number of experimental and alternative folk labels, all of whom seemed prejudiced towards a house style. Not Julia. I sent her a demo and my intuition proved founded.   

Q5

Bob: You use a vocoder type effect a lot on the album, is there a reason for this?    

Moff: The high voice belongs to Gordon Fletcher, a sailor glove puppet who is acting as my conscience and nemesis until I get proper ones. The low voice is that of ‘other people’.   

Q6

Bob: Animals are a common theme in your lyrics…. Care to expand on that?    

Moff: In the proper Celtic tradition, I like to confuse the word with the object. If I write ‘cow’ then suddenly there is a big, dozy, loveable lump among the other flotsam that comprises the poem.

As an admirer of Taoist philosophy, I’m well aware how difficult it is for modern humans to live by it’s principles. However, animals are a different kettle of fish – natural Taoists all, unconcerned with pretence, embellishment or shame. They are each a-piece un-carved blocks and I salute them for it. And dogs chase you in your dreams, often in slow motion.   

Q7

Bob: Explain Edoddi to our readers….    

Moff: If you combine a person’s lyrical reflections on their fetishes, phobias, dreams and everyday reality with the wild natural jingles that escape them while washing up or showering, you have Edoddi. It is folk music for an age of anomy and alienation, concerned with the individual rather than the group.

On the ceilidh and folk club circuit I met a lot of middle class people who desperately craved the fictional mystique and pseudo historical context that folk music conferred. Why should folk music, ie: music by ordinary people inspired by the realities of life, be rooted in a half imagined past? These poor rootless bourgeois types could be heir to a very special tradition: that of their own lives. I mean, look at me my music is authentic even though my Dad’s a physicist and I wasn’t allowed to watch ITV when I was little.

Also, with Edoddi you don’t have to have any musical training. The painter Jean Dubuffet once commented: There is only one way to paint well, but a thousand ways to paint badly. I believe this is true of all the arts.   

Q8

Bob: Can people see you live? Where do you play? How can you reproduce the wonderful sounds of the albums?    

Moff: To date, my live appearances have, to paraphrase M.E.S. been just enough for one hand. However, you never know what the future has in store. Reproducing the recorded stuff is a huge problem – I think a live set will feature brand new arrangements.   

Q9

Bob: Aside from yourself, who plays on the album?    

Moff: It’s all me, I prefer to work alone on the Moff albums, building them up as one would a painting. 

  
 

Q10

Bob: The new album ‘Book of Fretful Chums’ seems to have a bovine theme…is there a reason for this?

Moff: As an intermittent agoraphobia sufferer, I never leave the house for weeks on most days. However, last time I had to make myself go for a walk I met a small congregation of cows by a fence. We chatted for nearly an hour. On my return I discovered my musical glands to be turgid with fresh bovine tunes and lyrical suggestions were incorporated too, like sweetcorn.

In times of stress cows are a tonic. The painter Jean Debuffet befriended some cows on his trips to and from a hospital that looked after his poorly wife. The paintings that came were very fond and moving. I’d recommend them all.   

Q11

Bob: How long have you been making music?    

Moff: For about thirty years: I’ve been messing around with tape recorders since I was sixteen when my lifelong friend Andy Kirkham and I decided to make a cassette album. Andy K played the one remaining string on his grandad’s banjo, and I said or sang things over the top. We’ve done something similar ever since in the form of Silt Fish, though Andy K has become a very fine guitarist. My solo projects have run concurrently with Silt Fish, jobs and trying to be a painter.   

Q12

Bob: Your artwork is stunningly good – can this be accessed / acquired or viewed anywhere?    

Moff: Thanks. I paint under the name Andy Quayle. Galleries give me the willies. You can view canvases in progress and some finished works on my wife’s flickr.com site. We have an Etsy.com shop as well, but at the moment the store is empty. I am also working on illustrated lyric books to accompany Gravy and Chums but they are someway off completion. ‘Andy Quayle’ website is a work in progress but will offer in the future original prints and postcards of the images shown.   

Andy Quayle website:

http://www.abeldesign.com/andyquayle/

ACQuayle – Completed and works in progress

http://www.flickr.com/photos/meeshy_meesh/sets/72157618462851042/


Albums you might want to listen to whilst (still) waiting for the new Fall release

With the exception of releases from Messrs Smith/Blaney and the much delayed "Last Stand/Night at the Palais" (see above)  this has been a frustrating year for Fall fans waiting for a new album. All the signs are now pointing towards a January release for the next studio album so what can Fall fans do in the interim bar listening to live recordings of the new songs? Well fret not as it has been an exceptional year for new material which bucks the mainstream trend.
 
As I always to tend to drift towards the vocal iconclasts (Smith, Van Vliet, Waits, Newsom etc) I've been mightily impressed by the raft of albums released/planned from Julia Adamson's Inivisible Girl lable and none more so than the work of Moff Skellington (see above interview) with his Gravy on a plate of food album. With Waits reducing himself to retreading old material in an increasingly low baritone, Van Vliet in a campervan painting, and MES remixing the Moff release is a refreshing, out of kilter with the accepted music trends of the moment, look at life through a pair of unique eyes, an iconoclast who fits easily into the pantheon of the aforementioned artists. Moff's unique talent is the adoption of the particular mores of folk music and then adapting and converting them into something singular and compelling. Lyrically we are in a world slightly to the left and up a notch from our own, where the use of language and emotion are vital and important. Musically we have the unique melange of mid-era Waits, Beefheart at his most obtuse, and an eclectic mix of instruments creating a new idiom which Moff describes as Eddodi. To me this adds a new artist to the rich history of English, and particularly Northern. music. The album is detailed on the Invisiblegirl site and can be downloaded from I-Tunes. Moff's next album Book of Fretful Chums has been trailed on my radio show and continues the rich vein of material.
 

Friends in the Bank

 
Sadly Bobbie Peru's - Kill the Autopilot - would appear to be the last album by the group with bassist Simon "Ding" Archer (see interview in this issue). "Ding" announced on Facebook recently that he was leaving the group. This muscular album starts with a real statement of intent with "Hiroshima Fire" a blistering statement of intent for the rest of the material to come. Here we have a powerful trio of guitar, bass and drums operating at full tilt  more or less throughout. My favourite is the wonderful "Skyscraper Race". You can get a taste of bands sound on their web page. Also here is a vidchip of the band live at the Melkweg with a track from the album.
 
"Dot Dot Dot" by Kin featuring the aforementioned Mr Archer is a stunning EP of new material which is required listening if you want to know where music is going next. Effortless journeys between glitch synth mutterings, mutant blues, guitar stylings and powerful songs with a iconoclastic vocal style make this the must have I-Tunes purchase of the autumn. Five exceptional songs with five different moods and a range of subject matter captivate this listener. The internal construction and dynamics of each song are excellent shifting from whispered word play into vibrant and intense passages of total music with a rhythm section to die for. Kin are Invisiblegirl artists.
 
Also on Invisiblegirl and  similarly "Octopop" by Borland features Kin on vocals on the opening and excellent The Glitch and then takes a progressively ambient journey across a digital soundscape created by Ian Breen and Rob Gregg. Effortless synthetic washes of sound intermingle to create an atmospheric series of layers. If you wanted to know where ambinet music was journeying too here is the Manchester idiom of expression and experiment pushing it up to a new level.
 

The Glitch

 Finally "Into the comet" by Day for Airstrikes - also featuring the aforementioned Ian Breen is the long awaited post-rock masterpiece that the band has always promised. Drawing on the post-rock idiom but taking it past there into a progressive, sometimes anthemic, sound world we have the combination of excellent musicianship with a clear sense of how to form melodic structures, and intense percussive interludes, into memorable listening experiences. In the context of Tortoise's recent release, and similar output from Mono this stands up on its own as taking this particular musical genre into a different direction. Ian advises that the band were listening to a lot of Genesis before recording this and the echoes of Trespass and Foxtrot definately, but not obviously, weave their way into the mix. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Yip Yop Man

 
Interview with Ed Blaney by Martin Peters
 
How did you get into music in the first place? Did you have any formal lessons or did you teach yourself to play the guitar?

My love for music stems back to my upbringing in Salford, my grandparents (Maggie & Jim Riley) often sang and played piano together all over the pubs in Lower broughton during the 2nd world war and up to the 1970s. None of those pubs remain which is sad. I remember my mother used to sit me down in front of the television to watch Top Of The Pops; from the age of 3 I knew it's what I wanted to do. My Dad was a real influence also; arriving in England in the 50s from Derry, he had a collection of real songs from the isles and always played them morning noon and night. Parties in our house were fantastic for any child, all my relations would arrive with instruments from Ireland and have a real good sing song.

As for lessons, no I had none. I remember in infant school I really wanted to play the violin, but being not so well off it wasn't to be, the other well off kids would be called out of class for music lessons, I was always excluded and remember feeling hard done by. High school was a joke, I left at 14 years old. I did enjoy the practical lessons in music where we had to sit and listen to "Peter and The Wolf" on vinyl; again that inspired me. Eventually at the age of 19 I bought my 1st guitar, a left hander that I never got my head round. I then learnt to play on a right handed guitar upside down and that seemed to work.
 
 
Were you in any bands before Trigger Happy were formed?
 
No, the only band I was in was Trigger Happy.
 
 
What is the status (if any) of Trigger Happy today?
 
Well I always say you never know. I am writing some of the best stuff I've ever written at the moment. I may form a new band but I'm happy out performing on my own at the mo. To surpass Trigger Happy would be tall order in band terms.
 
 
What was the idea behind My Ex Classmates Kids and I Wake Up in the City, which are two versions of the same song but with different lyrics - was this something MES insisted on?
 
No Mark didn't insist on it, we both just thought it was a good idea that worked and to link them up live was truly amazing with the spoken word in the middle.
 
 
Did you play the Jew's Harp in Distilled Art Mug?
 
Ha ha I love the way things are transplanted from one road to another. I played a distorted classical on that track and messed with the sound on the mix.
 
 
What's the story behind the 2005 EP "Rude All The Time" from which the title track is missing? Why was this? And can you tell me your reasons for including "Where's the Fuckin Taxi? Cunt" which many might see as a bit of a rip-off?
 
Ok I blame the pressing plant. The Rude version should have been on there; maybe it was fate. As for the taxi cunt tune, a bonus track that we never as I remember allowed or gave permission to be used, I think its funny. The B. Fanning bit is top and Mark asking for the taxi number, great memories of many a crazy night in my house.You can't please everyone.
 
Looking back, do you think Are You Are Missing Winner stands up well? Do you prefer it when the production is, say, rougher, as on this album?
 
Its a strange one for me, one because the fuckin band hated playing the tunes I wrote,or they didnt put in a lot of effort which I reckon comes accross on the recording. Hollow Mind suffers. Over all I think some of the tunes are ok, but the stiltskin effort by Pritchard(c'mon). However yeah we said a big fuck off to the norm in production terms and yes I wanted it to go the complete opposite way from the album before, which it did, so yes I think it still stands up and in general it was a cool period for The Fall as you can hear in "2G+2".
 
As for the "Smith and Blaney" album, how old were the songs on these and do you have plans for any more?
 
All the songs were new, apart from "When We Were Young" although it was recorded in 2005 as an instrumental for "Job Search". We never finished it, so it was good to use and add vocals in 2008. There may be another album of Smith & Blaney, we both enjoyed it and had a buzz doing it. Freedom is everything and no politics, just being creative and different.
 
Were you happy with the chapter on you in "The Fallen"? I was wondering if there was anything that he missed or left out which you would have liked him to include?
 
The band I looked after all really, apart from Ben, often thank me for the good times they had. I did my job, some promoters were really cheeky, but Mark taught me well.I am happy with the way I come across (thanks to Dave). I am loyal always and protected all the staff under my watch and made sure they got paid and played to the best of their abilities, and the bits about the great parties we had never got mentioned, pity really because there were some top parties from Salford to L.A and back.
 
 
Did you enjoy playing with The Fall and do you think there's any chance of playing a role with the group in the future, or maybe doing some guest vocals?
 
My time in The Fall was always a privilege and a pleasure. Mark and I are and will always be top pals, on and off stage. Mark's the chief, you'd have to ask him but yep I am always around and up for joining The Fall on any stage.
 
 
What plans do you have for the future? I know you do a radio show; would you like to continue with this?
 
Well I am writing and producing and managing all under the same roof, also I am planning Salford's 1st real music festival for August 2010 in Salford, I love doing the radio show because I get to play anything I want to, and giving new bands airplay and hope makes it all well worthwhile as a volunteer. (Salford City Radio the best community radio station in the universe....biased Editor)
 
The Fall Rule,yip yop,Ed Blaney

Smith/Blaney : The Train Part Three

 
Catalogue number VP503CD
Release date 19/10/2009
Format CD
Label Voiceprint
 
 
Forty minutes and forty five seconds of sound imagery. The original acoustic led song from the first Smith/Blaney album is chopped and altered into a continuous loop of a swirling sound palette, with ambient and atmospheric noises layered over. Dub/echo effects are used with some notable effect. Spoken word is interpolated, in broad Salfordian, by both Blaney and Smith. Guitars, both acoustic and electric, are strummed, riffed and picked as an atmospheric, dream like journey on a train proceeds. Key written pieces slip in and out - with the music business trains,football, and journey's being the key subject matter. Snippets of MES poetic imagery are thrown in the mix, with words from "Sparta" and "CD in your hand/Bo Demmick" appearing.
 
Conversations are held, train sounds drift in and out, around 23 minutes in the content shifts to a feedback layered spoken word section of some note. Pastoral strumming, the returning train sound motif, and chittering under noises provide the highlight of the piece.
 
John Robb makes a very short appearance in conversation with Ed.
 
Best described as experimental, as it does not comform to normal rock mores. As a listening experience it is captivating and entertaining. My only concern is that the whole piece is recorded as one slab and other than the use of the pause button, the listener needs to set aside the full forty minutes and cannot select key elements.
 
This could be seen as the natural successor of "The Post Nearly Man" and "Panda, Pander, Panzer". For example towards about a third of the way through spoken word "Idiot Joy Showland" makes an appearance.  In respect of the former spoken word efforts this is a development as, despite the seemingly random nature, there is a broad structure here and a piece of sound art this is both contemporary and vital. It , of course, deals with the usual Smith topics, but does it in a unique way, with a sort of perverse repetition, albeit an organically growing repetition, with some notable effect.
 
If you are expecting a standard Fall album then you will be disappointed. If you like genuinely left field sound collages with elements of Mark Smith's writing and some singing included then you should enjoy this.
 

Letters

Dear Fall Fanzine,

I travelled to London in the early nineties with my girlfriend (now wife) at the time.

We were at Euston station waiting to go back to Glagsow and I spotted Mark E. Smith at the ticket desk. I said to my wife that I was going to approach the said Mark E. Smith but he was giving the receptionist pelters for one reason or other. I decided I better not introduce myself for fear of provoking him further. It was a chance gone and I have somewhat regretted the day ever since. All was not in vain however because as I walked down the platform to board my train I spotted Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt from the seminal rock band Status Quo. The lesson I learned from that day was it doesn't matter if you don't meet your heroes, Status Quo will keep you smiling with their cheeky
grins, long hair and denim.

Andrew McPherson


 
Next Issue will be out in January
 

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