Marc E. Smith’s The Fall divide opinion perhaps like no other band I can think of. On the one hand you have a devoted to the point of obsession fanboys, whilst on the other you have folk that just don’t get them. I fall (no pun intended) somewhere in the middle which is a bit of a cop out some may say. I do sort of understand the attraction of the band that formed in Manchester in 1976 and whose sole constant member is Smith, but then I buy their records and then think…why?

The-Fall-Wise-Ol-Man

This incarnation of the band is Peter Greenway (lead guitar), Keiron Melling (drums), Elena Poulou (keyboard and vocals), David Spurr (bass) and of course Smith himself on vocals and it has a distinct punk aesthetic that reminds me somewhat of Butthole Surfers…this is a good thing. There’s strangled guitars, odd electronic sounds and, of course, Smith’s brutally delivered vocal that I find impenetrable and slightly disturbing. Track three Dedication Not Medication (Remix) nods its head to abrasive punk-electronica and is a very good tune indeed, if a little ‘uncompromising’, and I suppose this one word sums up The Fall very nicely…uncompromising!

Venice With The Girls is a splendid tune that’s not a million miles away from the early tunes of Joy Division. Facebook Troll/No Xmas For John Quay is a seven minute tune that begins with buzz bass and builds to be a corker of a song that should have broader appeal than just The Fall fans, but then descends into musical (ordered?) chaos that is utter genius to my mind.

The final tune on the EP is All Leave Cancelled which is really rather a beautiful tune in a ruthless and caustic kind of way. It’s structured, repetitive and has a menacing synth growl that cuts through the unyielding bass line and drums, whilst the lead guitar builds and builds. It’s an instrumental tune and possibly my favourite on the record.

Here’s the thing, Marc E. Smith is unyielding, obstinate and uncompromising. He has brilliance and genius that go beyond the meagre rock star outpourings of lesser men and he is something of a national counter-culture treasure. Whilst many of his peers have succumbed to the likes of oven chip advertisement voiceovers, Marc E. Smith has continued to plough a furrow more stubborn and more pig-headed and all power to him for this!

Highly Recommended and not just for fanboys!

Stuart D. Smith (No relation)

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