The Wonderful and Frightening Year of The Fall


I like to think I’m a music fan, but with one massive gap. I grew up in England consuming every record I could lay my hands on, but for some reason The Fall always passed me by.

Sure, I’d hear them on the radio, or occasionally see them on TV. Mark E Smith would pop up from time to time in the music papers, usually at Christmas, filled up with alcohol and asked to comment on the events of the year. I found him interesting as a character and liked a couple of their songs, but never enough to commit myself to trying their music.

Why was this? To me, there seemed something impenetrable about The Fall. This massive body of work which seems to exist as a genre all to itself, with a set of rabid fans who worshipped at the feet of their idol. I read that no-one simply ‘liked’ The Fall – that wasn’t possible. To love The Fall meant to forsake all other bands, that once you fell under their spell, any other recording seemed meaningless. You either didn’t get them, or they demanded your total commitment. I wasn’t sure if this was something I could sign up to. Did I really want to be that person. And what would it mean, as a fan of UK indie music, if I didn’t get it.

Here we are, in 2023, and their debut single will turn 45 years old. As for me, I will be 53, about the same time as the singles anniversary. So here is the plan. Over the course of 2023, I will endeavour to listen to the entire recorded output of The Fall. Every album, every single, every EP. As a near virgin, who’s had a quick snog with a couple of songs when they turned up on Mark Radcliffe. And I’ll write about them here. I’ll say what I like, what I don’t like, and how they make me feel.

Why? Mainly because I like to write, and I work best when I have set myself a target. Like 99% of all bloggers, I have no expectation that anyone will read this, or come along for the ride, which is totally fine by me. It strikes me that it would be fitting if no-one did come across this blog. From the little I know of Mark E Smith, he did what he wanted whether people turned up to listen or not, so hopefully it will be in that spirit.

What are the rules? I have to listen to them in sequence, starting from the top. No listening to The Frenz Experiment before I’ve done Hex Enducation Hour. This means we should end up at Middle Class Revolt by the Summer. I’m not going to worry about live albums, unless one really captures my fancy. I will be using mostly Youtube or Spotify to listen to them but who knows, I may buy a couple.

So what do we predict? Will I end the year utterly obsessed? Ebaying all my other records and with a collection of only The Fall albums. Or will I be sick to death of them by March. Who can say. At the very least, I hope I capture an appreciation of a unique band, the sort that could only come from these shores. I’m anticipating a year of revised top tens, where The Fall songs will become favourites. I’m also expecting not to like everything I hear.

Whatever happens, it will be great to have the excuse to write something a couple of times a week. So let’s get started as we dive into their debut single, all the way from Summer 1978.


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