A genius, a curmudgeon, an iconoclast, an art terrorist…irascible, irreverent, irredeemable…the late Mark E. Smith, leader of The Fall, the only band to be named after an Albert Camus novella, Manchester’s longest-running group, formed in the earliest days of punk, spurred on by the Sex Pistols’ 1976 Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs, their debut at an Arts Council bash on King Street.
As we wrote when the great man died, “The Fall were more than just another group. They were an institution. They embodied everything about the Manchester music spirit. They were anarchic, awkward, wildly amusing, incorrigible and effortlessly brilliant. They took on the music mantle left by Frank Zappa, Can and Captain Beefheart, and twisted it with Northern wit. Who else could write a lyric: “Winston Churchill had a speech imp-p-p-p-p-ediment”? Who else could devise a version of “Jerusalem” that made you weep laughter as the singer tore into the Government – all of them?.
To whet your appetite-uh, here’s an excerpt from “The Container Drivers”:
“Net cap of 58 thousand pounds / Sweat on their way down / Grey ports with customs bastards / Hang around like clowns / The uh-containers and their drivers / Bad indigestion / Bad bowel retention / Speed for their wages / Suntan, torn short sleeves …”