Can’t believe we’ve reached ABON 0049 without posting a Fall track.
Without a doubt The Fall are one of the most important and influential groups of the last 30 years. They released their first single in 1978 and whilst there have been several points at which they looked like they might implode, they are currently still firing on all cylinders – 28 studio albums, 51 live albums and 24 John Peel sessions into their recording career.
I say ‘their’ career but actually since their inception there have been over 50 members of The Fall and only one of those has featured in every line-up. Come on down, founder, singer, Manchester City fan, lyricist, poet and Greatest Living Englishman Mr Mark E. Smith.
So where to start? There are so many Falls and so many things that I could write about each one. And be warned…I will…over time. But let’s begin in a less than obvious place – with ‘The Container Drivers’ from 1980′s ‘break-through’ album ‘Grotesque (After The Gramme)’. Less than obvious because it’s not one of their songs that gets talked about much. But it is a perfect exemplar for two of The Fall’s many many brilliant game-changing claims to fame.
First, it’s one of a handful of late ’70′s/early ’80′s Fall tracks that effectively invented a whole new genre. The punk-who-can-only-just-play-a-musical-instrument-meets-Bill-Haley-in-a-Manchester-pub-carpark school of music that we’ll call Punkabilliy for short. Out of literally nowhere. Whilst everyone else stood back and wondered what the hell they were playing at, The Punkabilly Fall took Rock’n'Roll and reduced it to its bare essentials. And in doing so recaptured the original excitement and purity of Rock’n'Roll. In this case in the form of the only known ode to long-distance container lorry drivers. With percussion that sometimes sounds like it’s been created by crashing a fork lift truck into a heavy object and sometimes sounds like a bag of builder’s tools being thrown from the back of a truck.
And secondly it introduces us to the unique, wonderful and sometimes frightening imagination of Mark E. Smith as expressed through his take on the English language. Sounding more like a Shop Steward addressing a workers’ rally than a pop group vocalist, Mark proceeds to reel off opinionated-rant-that-just-might-also-be-a-pin-sharp-insight-into-the-life-of-the-British-working-class-man after opinionated-rant-that-just-might-also-be-a-pin-sharp-insight-into-the-life-of-the-British-working-class-man.
Rock music in 1980 didn’t seem that comfortable with lyrics such as:
“Communists are just part time workers
And there’s no thanks from the loading bay ranks”.
And even after 30 years of Mark E. Smith’s assault on what Rock music believes it should and shouldn’t be talking about it still isn’t. But that’s Rock’s loss in my book.
Available on the CD ‘Grotesque (After The Gramme)’: Amazon