Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Various Artists - Not All That Terrifies Harms 7"


Another Barbara Manning-related post...

Late in 2016, I provided a requester, Jon Der, with a link to my World Of Pooh Land Of Thirst posting from a few years back, and in the process had a great back-and-forth dialogue with him about bands we were mutual fans of, including this one and The Fall (my all-time favorite band, as I've mentioned ad nauseum (and recently shown) here on this site). Jon clued me in to the news that an in-depth oral history of World Of Pooh had just been published in the then-latest issue of Jay Hinman's Dynamite Hemorrhage fanzine, a podcast/magazine devoted to underground alternative music; it was that article that sent him on a search that led him to my site.

Information on the great but obscure World Of Pooh is extremely hard to come by in this day and age, so of course I was champing at the bit to read the story. As the article was (then) not an online posting, but a print story only, Jon kindly scanned it for me from the magazine copy he had in his possession.

All in all, "World Of Pooh: The Oral History" is a superb and informative article. Band members (guitarist Brandan Kearney, bassist Barbara Manning and drummer Jay Paget) and other friends/scenesters from that time offer up their recollections and reminiscences of those heady, frenetic bygone days, the creation, rise and dissolution of an underground and generally unheralded-in-their-time rock band. The piece filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the group.

I was especially interested in the section regarding the writing and recording of The Land Of Thirst, the band's sole LP release and one of my all-time favorites. When I did my write-up on this album all those years ago, I did so under the assumption (based on clues provided in the Trouser Press Record Guide review and other sources I'd found like this blog posting from almost a decade ago) this this disc was the brilliant but intense product of a vicious, painful breakup saga then unfolding between Kearney and Manning. To quote that post:
Apparently, [they] had been dating for a while, and by the time the record was being recorded, their relationship was on the rocks. They took out their relationship strains not directly on one another, but like most other couples with problems they addressed their angers and frustrations with one another indirectly, in their case through the songs (I understand they broke up soon after this record came out - which makes sense, since the band also ceased to exist around that time).
However, in the course of reading "The Oral History", I became aware that what I considered to be gospel and the "true Hollywood story" regarding WoP and their music wasn't quite accurate.

The first (and most important) point of correction is the most pertinent and far-reaching, in terms of my understanding this band - Manning and Kearney were never a couple, per se. Sure, they spent a lot of time together in their musical and social pursuits... but this didn't develop into any sort of romantic attachment. There was already more than enough madness swirling around in their lives while they were in the band. But that craziness had nothing to do with any sort of long-term "lover's spat", and more to do with the weird, tense and uncertain atmosphere inherent in being in an obscure band playing in San Francisco's indie/underground scene in the late '80s/early '90s.

That isn't to say, however, that the members of World Of Pooh didn't play up on this boy-boy-girl dynamic. The back cover of The Land Of Thirst infamously displayed an S&M/bondage-themed photo of three people that the band found in a porn shop on Polk Street in the city, with the implication being that the picture portrayed the actual band members and their relationship (it wasn't, and it didn't). Barbara Manning said:
"We chose the picture on the back on purpose - I think it might have been my idea, even... The idea [was] that we were selling ourselves as this threesome."
Brandan Kearney continued:
"We did have some misgivings about using the photo... but it looked enough like us that it was hard to say no... Besides, we were always using sexual imagery... I sometimes worried that we were confining Barbara, or that she'd feel like we were. The picture is ambivalent, which struck me as poignant at the time. It's not very well thought out, but you could say that about any decision we made back then."
In short, the group played at being weirdos and freaks, with Kearney and Manning upping the ante by semi-pretending to be more than just band mates... and people believed it. And oddly, after a while, the members of World Of Pooh began buying into that narrative as well. As Manning observed in the article:
"I feel like we were people with a weird relationship portraying people with a really weird relationship. Over time, the distinction vanished."
In the wake of the album release, and in the process of living up to this created narrative in the city's music atmosphere of the time, tensions began rising within the group. This led to bickering and conflicts between the members that eventually began being displayed in their live performances - many times exacerbated by prodigious booze consumption before and during their act. A friend of the group provided the following memory/assessment in the article:
"[Those] onstage disagreements of whatever were literally showstoppers. The big question was always: would they stop sniping at each other long enough to play another song let alone finish the set? Intraband relations seemed to be getting worse the more shows they played, but musically they kept getting better and better... For a while they were one of the best bands in the city. Talking to other fans at their shows, we had the feeling that they weren't going to be around much longer... The last time I saw them, it was their biggest show to date and by then they were outright arguing on stage in between songs... Despite how great the music was, the set felt like a fiasco and, by the time they left the stage, I had the distinct impression that it was going to be their last show."
This friend was almost correct regarding the timing of the band's demise - it was pretty much over for World Of Pooh by the end of 1989. However, circumstances intervened somewhat in early 1990.
Brandan Kearney: "People assume we broke up after our East Coast tour, but we'd essentially broken up before the tour... the strain Barbara and I were under was not sustainable... In the midst of this uncertainty, we accepted an offer to tour the East Coast for about a week... This gave us a reason to hold things together, but I think it also gave us the sense of an attainable endpoint..."
After (and despite) well-received shows in Boston and New York in March of 1990, World Of Pooh broke up immediately after the end of this tour.  There were a couple of posthumous EP releases (G.H.M. later in 1990; A Trip To Your Tonsils in 1991), but even those led to more trouble and conflict within the group.  The tracks on the latter EP were part of a set of eight or so that World of
Pooh had been developing for a planned full-scale album follow-up to The Land of Thirst (the EP included the only four tunes closest to completion, remixed and remastered by Kearney). During the final mixing of these EP tracks, Kearney added some sound effects that Manning, when she heard it/them, interpreted as negative coded messages directed at her personally... with the result being that the relationship between the two fully ruptured, and they didn't speak for many years. Fortunately, they eventually reconciled, even reuniting for a one-off show in late 2015.

Kearney pithily summed up the rise and fall of his band, and their overall dynamic:
". . . when you scrape away the dazzling veneer of also-ran indie-rocker glitz, you're really just talking about emotionally unstable people with very little impulse control and a dangerously high alcohol tolerance."
He also had this to say regarding their only album:
"The only thing that bothers me about the album's latter-day reputation is the myth and lore of Our Unhappy Relationship, which I sometimes worry is the only reason people are still listening to it. The fact is, Barbara and I were getting along just fine when we recorded The Land Of Thirst. People sometimes present it as some indie-pop version of Rumours or Shoot Out The Lights. I know we brought this on ourselves through public displays of madness and worse, but most of that stuff happened after the LP had been written and recorded. Love it or hate it, The Land Of Thirst was the product of a somewhat crazed but extremely close and supportive working relationship, and I dislike seeing it portrayed as an album by and about people who were at each other's throats. Terrible things happened, to our eternal discredit, but most of them happened later on."
So, from the horse's mouth itself, I hereby stand corrected.

The very end of the article listed World Of Pooh's entire discography, all of the music they released on Nuf Sed and all of their compilation appearances. I knew that some of the stuff listed there (like the band's rare early-career cassette-only releases No Little Taxis Shining Their Light and Dust) I'd never have any hope in hell of ever tracking down. But as for one-off compilation tunes, my WOP collection was fairly complete, except for one selection: a cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Dominance and Submission”, included on an obscure 7" EP in 1992. Being the obsessive completest that I am, I made it my mission to track down a copy of this record and song, and after an exhaustive search, found the vinyl for sale from an overseas source - couldn't buy it fast enough.

Enjoy the Not All That Terrifies Harms 7", a ridiculously hard-to-find joint release by Ajax and Nuf Said Records in 1992, scorched off of my vinyl copy, featuring some rare releases by San Francisco bands both legendary and obscure - including Thinking Fellers Union Local 282's "Trevor" (a track otherwise only available on a 1995 Japanese import compilation) and the only source for World Of Pooh's Blue Öyster Cult cover (which, of course, is excellent).

And as an added bonus, here's a link to the entire issue of Dynamite Hemorrhage #3, now online, containing "World Of Pooh: The Oral History" - a much cleaner version of my scanned copy from earlier last year.

Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Fall - TV Appearances 1978-2004


And for my final posting in my week of Fall-related releases in the wake of the death of Mark E. Smith, here's a fan-assembled compilation (in .mp4 format) of television appearances, videos and interviews by the band over more than a quarter-century. You could say that this amalgamation serves as the visual
companion to The Fall's Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 box set, released in 2005. There are some superb and iconic performances featured here, from the band's appearance on Tony Wilson's So It Goes program in the late 1970's to the "Cruiser's Creek" video. Get ready for over TWO HOURS of Fall goodness!

Enjoy and remember what we'll all be missing, now that Mr. Smith is no longer with us. And as always, let me know what you think.

R.I.P., Mark.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Von Südenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions



In August 2004, German electronic collective Mouse On Mars released their eighth album, Radical Connector.  On this album, the group continued its shift from a pure electronic sound (evident on some of their earlier '90s albums like Vulvaland and Autoditacker) to a warmer, more poppier and almost danceable vein, a sound the band had begun fully experimenting with on their previous album, 2001's Idiology.

One of the songs on Radical Connector included a funky and thumping, although somewhat leaden and plodding, tune called "Wipe That Sound", which featured Mouse On Mars' percussionist Dodo Nkishi on vocals:


The album received generally good reviews, but it wasn't considered a significant departure from what the band produced on Idiology.

The next year, Mouse On Mars produced a Wipe That Sound EP, reworking/reimagining this track with guest vocals from The Fall's Mark E. Smith. In lieu of my own words, I'll refer to an analysis of this EP track provided by the blog Music Geek Corner:
"It's a major re-thinking: the track begins with a new drum part whose offbeat hi-hat accents work well to diffuse the original's clompiness. Smith's vocal, of course, adds a completely new texture to the track - but what's often overlooked about Smith is his skill as melodic minimalist. Smith essentially adds a two-note chorus to the song (the recurring bit about the garden), and it provides an effective hook to the track. The string synth part also makes this version more song-like (and commercial, in fact - although the multiple tracks of crosstalking MES are unlikely to contribute to that direction)."
I really didn't follow Mouse On Mars back in the mid-2000s, so I don't know when or how I first became aware of this track. But once I heard it, I thought it was fantastic, and quickly ran out to acquire the song. I heartily agree with every word of Music Geek Corner's analysis above.

I think it was sometime in late 2006/early 2007 that I got word that Smith's work with Mouse On Mars members Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner wasn't just a one-off; they had joined forces into a supergroup of sorts called Von Südenfed. At first, it seemed sort of weird to me that Smith would expend so much time on and effort with an electronic music group, a genre that in the past he'd expressed nothing but disdain for. But, after reflection, I realized that his work with the group was no weirder than his previous collaborations with other unlikely musicians, included Coldcut and Edwyn Collins. Plus, I'd enjoyed what the combo had released on that EP in 2005. So I was somewhat looking forward to hearing what this musical meeting of the minds would generate.

The collective's first release, Tromatic Reflexxions, came out in 2007; I had it rush-delivered to me via mail order. And I have to say that I was NOT disappointed. The album is actually very funky, quirky and dancable, and Smith is in fine form here. He actually sounds happy on some of the songs, perhaps because he's free of the structures (mostly self-imposed) inherent in his main group.

On this album, they even redo the 2005 version of "Wipe That Sound" (retitled "That Sound Wiped" here), and actually improve upon what I thought was already near-perfect. In the Von Südenfed version, they open up the song and the beat, allowing Smith more space to rant and croon - yes, he's actually singing here! - about the "yellow-helmeted bike messenger" who "don't look like no goddamn singer-songwriter" to him. Just a superb effort:


There are so many other great songs on this album - including the very dancable "Fledermaus Can't Get It" and my personal fave "The Rhinohead".


All in all, I found this disc to be a superb addition to the Mark E. Smith canon, and came at a time when he and The Fall were enjoying a critical resurgence of sorts, with the band's album release that year (Imperial Wax Solvent) making it into the British Top 40 (their first appearance of a Fall album there since 1993's Top Ten The Infotainment Scan). I was looking forward to hearing more from this group... but later that year, in December 2007, Smith sent out a notice on the official Fall website that he had been "sacked" from Von Südenfed. There was some confusion as to whether this was true; from all indications, Toma and St. Werner kept the door open for Smith to rejoin them. But for some reason this never happened, and now with Smith's death, never will... which is a damn shame.

At least we have their sole release as some consolation. Here's Tromatic Reflexxions, released by Von Südenfed (with group member Mark E. Smith) on Domino Records on May 21st, 2007. Have a listen, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Fall - Demos & Rarities

 

Nabbed this one donkey's years ago from an online source; I think it was The Ultimate Bootleg Experience (T.U.B.E.), although it's been so long now, I simply don't recall.

No matter; this is a superb collection of heretofore unreleased/hard-to-find Fall music, recorded between 1981 and 2002. Here's the track lineup:
01. Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul (1981 demo)
02. Neighbourhood Of Infinity (1983 demo)
03. C.R.E.E.P. (1983 demo)
04. Hey! Mark Riley (1985 demo)
05. Whizz Bang (1989 Peel Session, never broadcast)
06. Simon’s Dream (1990 demo)
07. Middle Class Revolt (Prozac mix, Drum Club remix 1994-95)
08. Middle Class Revolt (Orange In The Mouth mix, Drum Club remix, 1994-95)
09. Bonkers In Phoenix (1994 demo)
10. The Chiselers (1996 demo)
11. The Ballad Of J. Drummer (1996 demo)
12. The Horror In Clay (”Post Nearly Man” 1998 demo)
13. Nev’s Country (”Hot Runes” 2000 demo)
14. Rubber (”The Unutterable” 2000 outtake)
15. Weirdo (”The Unutterable” 2000 outtake)
16. Iodeo (”Green Eyed Loco Man” 2002 demo)
17. Dramatic (”Country On The Click”/”Real New Fall LP” 2002 outtake)
18. 1983 MES Interview
Not much else needs to be said regarding this offering - it's real, it's rare, it's The Fall!

So enjoy the band's Demos & Rarities bootleg, posted online way back in the mid-2000s (probably around 2006, although I'm dating it from the last song included), and a pain in the butt to track down nowadays. So it's provided here for your edification and convenience.

As always... well, you know.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Mark E. Smith And Ed Blaney ‎– Smith And Blaney


A late-2000s one-off "collaboration" between Mark E. Smith and on-again/off-again band member, manager and Fall second-in-command Ed Blaney. I use the term "collaboration" loosely, because it appears to be mostly a Blaney effort, with Smith (as vocalist) present on maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the dozen tracks. And speaking of that effort, it doesn't seem that Blaney put very much into it here - three of the seemingly half-thought out songs on this disc ("Transfusion" (a cover of a Nervous Norvus tune), "The Train" and "Ludite" (misspelled in the track list)) appear twice in various forms, or barely modified at all. Included on this track list is a version of The Velvet Underground's "We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together"; needless to say, Patti Smith's definitive cover version of this song has nothing to fear from the Smith/Blaney go at it. Frankly, in my opinion, a lot of these tunes sound like leftovers from the Are You Are Missing Winner debacle from years earlier, that Blaney was also involved in (see previous post for details on that disaster).

With that being said, there are some songs and portions that are somewhat interesting, and differ in some ways from the music The Fall generally puts out. But there's nothing truly essential on this disc; it's mainly for Fall completists only, and not worth breaking the bank over...

Instead of doing that, you can get it here for free! Here's Smith And Blaney, released on Voiceprint Records on October 13th, 2008. Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

The Fall - Country On The Click (Bootleg Version)


In the aftermath of the infamous April 1998 punch-up at The Fall's Brownies gig in New York, when most of the band (including longtime stalwarts like Steve Hanley and Karl Burns) permanently departed the group, Mark E. Smith and remaining member (and his then-girlfriend) keyboardist Julia Nagle quickly cobbled together some replacement musicians (including bass guitarist Adam Halal, drummer Tom Head and guitarist Neville Wilding) to constitute a 'new' Fall. This hastily assembled lineup somehow managed to coalesce into a unit, and released two
 well-received and critically acclaimed albums, 1999's The Marshall Suite and 2000's superb The Unutterable.

But, as usual and true to form, Smith just couldn't leave well enough alone. Due to either real or contrived reasons (some reports suggested that there was a royalty payment dispute among band members, although Halal later denied this), he sacked all of the new members in early 2001, reducing The Fall to just himself and Nagle once again. After another chaotic, haphazard scramble for new members (which was apparently too much for Nagle; she too left the band that spring), another group lineup (consisting of guitarists Ben Pritchard and Ed Blaney, drummer Spencer Birtwistle and bassist Jim Watts) was assembled. I assume that in doing so, Smith hoped he could once again recapture the same sort of creative magic he got just two years earlier, from musicians not fully initiated into the whys and wherefores, the history and mythology of The Mighty Fall. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way, initially.

Although The Unutterable was superior to its predecessor and got outstanding reviews, its sales and chart position were significantly below that of The Marshall Suite. This was probably due to the lack of support from the band's new label; Smith attempted to parlay the success of The Marshall Suite into a better recording deal, and moved from Artful Records to Eagle Records (a division of Universal Music Group) in late 1999/early 2000. But the English label (home to ancient prog-rock groups like Deep Purple, Yes, Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer) didn't quite know how to market The Fall, with predictable results.

The result of this was that the band was in dire financial straits in 2001. So while it was necessary to get an album released that year to generate some much-needed revenue for the group, they really didn't have the funds to do a top-notch job of producing it. Feeling that they had been mismanaged and underpromoted, The Fall had left Eagle for Voiceprint Records earlier that year (the latter label had acquired Smith's own Cog Sinister imprint in 1997) - but this label wasn't exactly rolling in money either (Voiceprint's holding company ended up going insolvent a few years later). As a result, the first album with this latest lineup was recorded on the cheap, very quickly in subpar conditions. Ben Pritchard later described the wretchedness of the situation:
"It was a very miserable experience making that album. We were recording it in a studio where there were rats running around. There was a weightlifter's gymnasium above us, you'd be recording a take and suddenly you'd hear BOOM dropping barbells and dumb-bells on the floor and you'd have to stop and start again... I wasn't there a lot of the time they were recording that album. Just cos I couldn't deal with it. Ed Blaney, Jim, Spen, Mark, Steve Lloyd the producer was there. I didn't really know anyone, it was my first time recording and it was a miserable, horrible experience... [It was] rushed. Two or three weeks, it was done. He needed the album out, the group needed the money for it."
The resultant disc, Are You Are Missing Winner (released in November 2001), frankly sucked, in my opinion - full of (mostly) bad songs ill-conceived and poorly executed, recorded with a wildly uneven mix; apparently the album was pushed out the door so fast, there was little time spent properly mastering the tracks. Even Pritchard, who played on it, referred to it as a "horrible album". The critics savaged it, and it was the first Fall album since 1983's Perverted By Language to completely miss the British Top 200 charts. Are You Are Missing Winner was a trainwreck from start to finish.

In serious trouble now, the group responded by touring relentlessly during the latter part of 2001 and the first half of 2002. These shows included an extensive U.S. tour in the fall of 2001, the first in this country by the band since the Brownies debacle nearly four years earlier (I saw them play at the Knitting Factory in New York that November, during their three-night stand at that venue), along with two full-scale European tours.
This intense series of concerts produced 2G+2, a June 2002 release (on yet another new label, Action Records) consisting mostly of live material culled from their U.S. shows, along with three new studio songs ("New Formation Sermon", "I Wake Up in the City" and "Distilled Mug Art"). This album actually charted in Britain this time; no great heights (#116), but high enough to keep the wolf from the band's door for a bit.

The scheduling of this multitude of shows, one on top of the other, had another more salubrious effect; it transformed this version of The Fall into a cohesive group, with chops honed from dozens of live performances. This group was more than ready for their next challenge; to improve upon their debut studio recording debacle.

The Fall entered Gracieland Studios in Lancashire in December 2002 to begin work on this latest release, sessions helmed once again by longtime band producer Grant Showbiz. After eight weeks of recording and a month of remixing by Showbiz and Watts, promo copies of the new album, titled Country On The Click, were made from the mixing reference discs and forwarded to selected reviewers, with an eye towards an early spring 2003 release date.

However, an unnamed and unidentified individual, for reasons of his/her own, leaked these demo versions onto the Internet shortly before the scheduled release.  As Jim Watts recalled in a post on The Fall Forum about three years ago:
"I found one of the reference CDs in a drawer recently. The leak came from those CDs and if I remember correctly there were only a handful ever made. I think I worked out exactly who leaked the album in the end. I know they meant well but at the time I was just as annoyed as Mark about the leak. I think they thought by getting it out there it reinforced our version versus Mark's but it just made a bad situation worse.

The leak version was pretty much mine and Grant Showbiz's vision. We edited and mixed all the tracks. I followed Grant's lead as at that point he was the named producer of the album and I thought we had Mark's blessing. I really wanted the album to be a lot more solid than [Are You Are] Missing Winner musically and sonically. I slept on the engineers drafty living room floor for 5 days while we were mixing in London."
The unauthorized release of these album tracks enraged Smith; just as Watts mentioned above, Mark saw it as a power move by the producer to subvert his "artistic vision" of what he wanted the release to sound like:
"Mark heard that CD and was really unhappy with it. I totally understand why, me and Grant had painstakingly gone through every single utterance of Mark's from the tapes then edited the vocals very heavily. Obviously after all my effort I was quite upset too. We fell out and Mark took the album into Dingo's studio and they worked on it."
In his rage, Smith commandeered the basic album tracks from Showbiz and, as Watts mentioned, took them to Simon 'Dingo' Archer's 6dB Studios in Salford (Mark's hometown), whereupon he proceeded to remix and partially re-record the disc (Archer's bass-playing skills were utilized in the new recordings of four songs, including "Green Eyed Loco Man" and "Mad Mock Goth"). These efforts took up most of the summer (during which The Fall made another swing through the U.S., to make up for a planned late 2002 tour that fell through). At the end of this, Smith used his remastered
tracks to re-sequence the entire album, and renamed it The Real New Fall LP (Formerly Country On The Click). The disc was released in England in October 2003.

The Real New Fall LP (Formerly Country On The Click) was greeted with near-ecstatic reviews by the critics. A few examples of the praise for this album:
"If The Fall... have not just released their best record in a decade, they have certainly released a more consistent and accessible one, just in time for the tail-end of the post-punk renaissance."

"This is the sound, throughout, of a remarkable institution doing all the things they do best and sounding as alive as they ever have."

"Great by Smith's standards. Practically genius by everybody else's."

"It's brilliant."
Smith completely disowned the leaked version of this album, and as time has passed, this initial mix has faded into the background, obscured and buried beneath the torrent of praise the released version engendered. But that isn't to say that the Showbiz/Watts version is without merit. There are significant differences in the music featured on both versions, but in my opinion not enough to sway one's overall preference from one to another. I think BOTH versions are superb. And in that, I completely agree with Watts' assessment:
"I 100% support the released version as the definitive album... But I suppose more than enough time has passed now for the leaked version to be accepted for what it is without stealing the official version's thunder now."
And here it is, for you all to listen to and accept for yourself: the bootleg version of Country On The Click, the alternate mix of The Real New Fall LP, released under shady circumstances onto the Internet in early 2003. Enjoy, and as always let me know what you think.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mark E. Smith - The Post Nearly Man


In the day since Mark E. Smith's passing, there have been tributes and commentaries galore about the nature of the man and his music. In addition to the Guardian's notice I posted yesterday, here's but a small sampling of what's been published in the past 24 hours:
NPR
The New York Times
BBC News
The Scottish Herald
The Evening Standard
The Irish Times
Pitchfork
His local paper The Salford Star
The French magazine Liberation
The Dutch online newspaper NU
The Spanish daily paper ABC
... and, of course, the Times of London
I don't feel that I'm up to the task of matching this worldwide outpouring of eloquence in regards to the life and work of this man.  Nor do I feel the necessity to reiterate how much Mark and his band have meant to me over the years; I've covered that topic seemingly countless times in this blog. Smith and The Fall have been a reliable constant in my life for decades, and I looked forward to each new offering that appeared like clockwork year after year; no matter if the band's latest disc was brilliant or banal - it was The Fall, and that was enough for me. It is odd to contemplate the fact that there will no longer be any new music arriving from that quarter; Smith's voice has been stilled, and his brilliant, strange, obtuse and thought-provoking wordplay will no longer grace my eyes and ears. His death leaves a giant hole in my musical life, one that I can't foresee will ever be adequately filled again.

Enough of my overwrought prattle about a singer and band that the vast majority of people in the world were profoundly unfamiliar with, uninterested in and/or indifferent to. Mark E. Smith and The Fall's music was definitely an acquired taste; I'm just glad I was admitted to the banquet... and brave/open-minded enough to sample and appreciate the wares being offered. If you're a fellow Fall fan, you know exactly what I mean.

I think that, instead of words, the greatest tribute I can render unto the man on this blog is to provide to you all over the next few days with access to some of my favorite, most obscure works of his (either with The Fall, individually or with other artists) from my collection of Fall-orabilia. I'll start with his first solo spoken word release, The Post Nearly Man, released on Artful Records in August 1998.

Enjoy, remember, and as always, let me know what you think.

More to come...

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