Sunday, 28 January 2018

Mark E Smith - Totally Wired

Mark Edward Smith, who died aged 60 from a combination of bizarre and mundane illnesses that apparently baffled his doctors, a fact his ghost is no doubt cackling away at as I type, would of course take exception at yet another splurge of verbosity in his honour, such as this. Among the many things he professed to hate was "soft lads who blab." Oh well, he was the bloke who epitomised the old adage "never meet your heroes" after all, so being a mild irritant to his ghost is no skin off my hooter.

I first came across The Fall sometime in 1979 when subjected to their debut album Live At The Witch Trials round a mate's house. I remember thinking to myself "what a dumb racket this is", and me au fait with the punk ethos too. It's still not an album I can listen to, to be honest, although I appreciate its ramshackle DIY art terror. In those pre-interweb days it took years before my young naive self twigged what "No Xmas For John Quays" actually meant, by which time I was long a convert, my Damascene moment occurring seconds into my first hearing of  the single Rowche Rumble on the John Peel Show, probably sometime in July 1979, not more than a month or two on from that first encounter.

Rowche Rumble is four minutes of primitive glam-punk perfection with a subversive scat from Mark concerning ethical and moral corruption within government, the medical profession, and the pharmaceutical industry. And he named his band after a Camus novel, one that I bet was read by a fair number of us spotty oiks who may never otherwise have been aware of its existence. Like the band the book is hard work but ultimately rewarding.

How dare they fling this filth at our pop kids! Well they didn't because only us few wise young/old heads bought Rowche Rumble, but it started a run of four perfect anti-pop blasts from Manchester's finest that would see me well and truly submerged into the murky depths of Fall Sound, and the joy of Repetition, a tenet carved in vinyl as the third track of the same name on their debut single released on 11th August 1978.

John Peel famously said of his favourite band "always different, always the same". The glittering likes of  Rowche Rumble, Fiery Jack, How I Wrote Elastic Man, and the fabulous speedfreak anthem Totally Wired  were meat and drink to the Peel disciples, but The Fall were at their best when subverting the mainstream with covers of Ghost In My House and Victoria, which saw them make two minor dents on the real Top 40, and thereby the subconscious of the wider audience of pop pickers.

Mark's observations on life peppered with his cut'n'paste surrealism made for lyrics that were truly unique. These were delivered in his trademark drawl that as the years progressed became the often unintelligible but undoubtedly dyspeptic bark of the mad old bloke sat on his own in the corner of the pub, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. Thankfully the marvellous fan resource takes the hard work out of deciphering Smith's more mangled blasts.

"I wrote about what was around me, but some people are so daft they don't understand that writing about Prestwich is just as valid as Dante writing about his Inferno"

As a live act they were gloriously unpredictable, often veering from the sublime to the ridiculous within the same song, particularly in later years as Mark prowled the stage, fiddling with his musician's amps. Being a soundman for The Fall must have been a nightmare, which is probably why, as legend has it, they designed an on-stage monitor especially for Mark called the "DFA Amp" that the irascible frontman could muck about with to his heart's content. It didn't take him long to twig what "DFA" stood for!

The musical legacy Mark has left us with is a wonderfully primitive, visceral thing, topped off with his often incisive and frequently impenetrable stream of consciousness verbiage, and as such it has stood the test of time better than that of most of his punk contemporaries, partly because he never stopped until nature stopped him.

RIP Mark E Smith, now fiddling with Jimi's amp on the great stage in the far beyond...

The Daily Farkin' News

...and now, over to our not-popular music correspondent, Felicity Hairshirt. What have you for us today, Felicitititititity?

You really must sort that stammer out, Bob, here, have a banana daiquiri...

First up tonight from the prog puddle is news that Big Big Train's much talked about "new direction" is indeed an Earth Wind & Fire styled disco album, as I predicted in my end-of-year blog, to be recorded under the pseudonym Big Mo-reece. Turns out it was the real reason Andy Poole left, as he can't dance, unlike David Longdon, who can now indulge his Maurice White obsession to the max. You should hear Greg Spawton's fretless slap bass, in 13/8!!!

David Longdon

Moving swiftly on, changes of direction seem to be this year's thing, with shocking revelations that prog luvvies The Gift's new album is to be much rockier and more rifftastic than anything they've done before. The new sound is shrouded in secrecy, but I spotted singist Michael Mortone (dig the new "metal" name, Mikey! I know I wasn't supposed to tell anyone, but hey, wotcha gonna do?) leaving a rehearsal studio gasping and clutching at his throat after a marathon session learning how to "Cookie Monster", followed by a grinning Mikael Akerfeldt. Whodathunkit??!

When asked to comment, he couldn't, above an unintelligible hoarse whisper, but Akerfeldt chipped in with "The jackets have to go, and he'll be needing some tatts, but for now the spiky gauntlets will do".

Michael Mortone

As we all know, everyone in Scandinavia is or has been in a band at some point in their enviously contented lives. Some of them were or indeed, are in a bunch of prog noodlers called The Flower Kings. The band have stunned their fans with news that their latest album will contain 15 three-minute songs, each with a beginning, middle, and...wait for end! Guitar wizard Roine Stolt describes this as their "We Can't Dance period".

Speaking of bands who wish it were 1973ish and sound like Fragile By The Pound...on second thoughts, I can't be arsed.

Back to Blighty with the not entirely unexpected news that Bad Elephant "musician" Tom Slatter was arrested yesterday on suspicion of the murder of label PR bloke, the exiled Yorkie James Turner, after the latter's body was found up a tree in Bristol with the Oxford Book Of Puns protruding from an orifice it is not polite to mention before the watershed. As he was led away in manacles, Slatter mumbled something approximating "I'm normally a pacifisht, but Turner's constant punning pushed me off the scale, I was so tench, and  AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH...."

When asked to comment, Bad Elephant supremo,The Enforcer, aka Dave "Knuckles" Elliott, aka (that's enuff akas - Ed) would only say "I expect the new album by Wednesday, or I'll kidnap his collection of ocelots and curry 'em up for dinner, one by one."

And finally, one I'm sure you've heard, as this man has something called "a profile", a thing hitherto unheard of in these murky waters...Steven Wilson, a lifelong Catholic, was canonised yesterday by Pope Francis, becoming only the second rock musician to walk the Earth as a living saint, after Val Doonican.

Rumours that Frankie wants him to do a 10-CD/Blu-ray concept album based on the New Testament, in 7.1 felatio sound and vision, are unfounded.

And now, it's time for the weather, with Snarky McPhistle & Doug The Dog...

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Fierce And The Dead - Truck

2018 is an important year for Rushden exiles The Fierce And The Dead, as they have sunk everything into the hopeful and fully deserved success of their much anticipated new album, which will be with us as Spring puts its knickers on, makes a cup of tea, and returns as Summer.

The album launch gig in May in That London has sold out, the band are no doubt relieved to know, and here we have a little teaser of what is to come with their new single Truck.

You will be delighted to know I am not going to dissect it, as you can find out for yourself by watching the accompanying video below, that IT ROCKS!!! Be sure to turn it up to ornament-troubling levels.

Spot that riff that comes in, around 2:50?...heheh

Anyone wanting more of this huge sweaty band of renegades will find them tearing it up out there in Hackney on Saturday 3rd February, as part of an all-dayer under the heading 8 Days of Chaos. Info on this and other shenanigans in the links below.

The Fierce And The Dead
The Fierce And The Dead - Facebook
The Fierce Army - Facebook

Get the single HERE from 26th January - pay what you like...or not!
8 Days of Chaos

2019, the insanity grows...

Odd title for an annual music review, but them's the times. With these words I aim to provide you with an escape from the creeping madne...