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  1. '...going forward.' It's fine in the traditional sense, you know - like they say about Liverpool - 'They look good going forward but they're shite at the back'. It's the new usage that bugs me. 'We had a bad run of results but the team are playing well and we've got a base to build on going forward.' SO annoying. To quote George Carlin, anyone who uses it that way needs to be thrown screaming from a helicopter.
  2. Pyeongchang 2018 - Winter Olympics

    Miho got her medal in the speed skating, but she was so close to gold, so there's mixed feelings here. On the subject of speed skating, this is the best thing I've read so far about the games: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/feb/13/debunkin-g-myths-dutch-winter-olympics-speed-skating-success If Miho was close to Japan's first gold of the games, Ayumu Hirano was even closer this morning in the half pipe. Only a legend stopped him. We* might finally get one this evening with Kodaira in the speed skating 1,000 metres. Miho goes in that too, and will hoping she can get on the podium again. *Bloody hell, looks like I'm claiming honorary Japanese citizenship.
  3. Mark E Smith has died

    Those closest to him are starting to tell the inside story. This from Pamela Vander:
  4. Pyeongchang 2018 - Winter Olympics

    Greetings from Winter Olympics-obsessed Hokkaido. Japan's northern island has only 4% of the country's population, but around 50% of the Winter Olympics team. It's one compensation for spending four months of the year covered in snow and ice. Today's a massive day here. Japan has a great chance of its first medal of the games, and without giving too much private information away, someone sitting very close to me as I'm typing this is getting pretty nervous, as its one of her former students who's after a medal in the women's speed skating - Miho Takagi in the 1,500 metres: If she could win gold it would be Japan's first ever in women's speed skating. And not for 20 years has a Japanese woman won an individual medal of any colour - that was Tomomi Okazaki, who, like someone else with the same name, is famous for her dazzling smile: The biggest star of the Olympics is figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu. While the sport has been in decline in the UK and the USA in recent years, in Japan, figure skating is getting pretty close to baseball and soccer in popularity. Hanyu is the reigning Olympic champion, and seeking to become the first man to retain the title in more than 60 years. The country is in love with him - and if you watch his best performances it's easy to understand why. Here's his short programme from the last Olympics: But - he picked up an injury in November and no-one is sure if he's recovered enough to compete properly. 'Yuzuru's right ankle' has been the media topic of the last three months. Think 'Beckham's foot' in 2002 and you'll have some idea of the situation.
  5. Mark E Smith has died

    Staggering. Every day I think 'no-one can beat that', and every day, along comes an even more jaw-droppingly wonderful piece of writing: How Mark E. Smith Changed the Face of Post-Punk Forever The frontman for The Fall takes a final bow, but his furied legacy lives on. By Tim Sommer 14 hours ago Merely being an individual is an act of defiance, an artful act. Art is a weapon. A song is a weapon. Even (especially?) the idea of band — this movable, musical gang — is a weapon, but only when it’s used to oppose conformity. Art, or a song, or a band, offers you the opportunity to speak your mind with courage and originality, even when it may be safer or more lucrative to do otherwise. To hear Mark E. Smith and the Fall at their best (and even at their not-so-best) was to hear the great weapon of individuality, firing. Mark E. Smith died on January 24, at age 60. For the last forty years, he had been the leader of the Fall, a band from Manchester, England. The Fall was a remarkable ensemble of constantly shifting players who made churning, frantic, whacking noisebilly, the sound of tension, disappointment, and dark times in dying, damp cities. The belly of rock’n’roll lived inside of Smith and the Fall, who turned the feral, Hadacol spirits of Memphis and New Orleans and Dusseldorf and Manchester into amphetamine poetry. I say, without hesitation, that Mark E. Smith was one of the few authentic geniuses rock’n’roll has ever produced. Like Patti Smith and Dylan, he took the rage of an era and the bitten-off skin of the heart, turned it into prose, and set it to a beat. Smith used the story of the 20th century, askew and broken and bruised by war and progress, as a map for his lyrics, and he used human tension and chemical self-assault as a fuel for his art. There are outrageous stories of Smith’s behavior, of his abuse of bandmates and his own body, of the real-world realization of the contrarian, literate, frustrated homunculus at the center of his spirit. But these anecdotes must be entirely secondary to his monumental and original words and music, the way he turned an era’s desperation into spitting, hiccupping, hissing, barking poetry, and then drove his band to turn that poetry into inexact, fiery rock’n’roll. From first to last (regardless of who was in the band), the music of the Fall remained instantly identifiable: It was a thumping barrel of needles and accusations, a bag of wires, howls, ire and brains that seemed birthed, in equal parts, from Captain Beefheart, Krautrock, the Monks, Johnny Burnette and the Rock’n’Roll Trio, and some fever-speed dream of Corso or Ferlinghetti. It was widely imitated – most notably by Pavement and LCD Sound System, and later, Sleaford Mods and the Idles – but always by people who might understand how it was played, but not why it was played. Fall music seemed to take in the whole 20th century: It was the sound of long lines in smoggy cities and loud arguments in moldy pubs; it was the sound of anger at right-wing ignorance and left-wing smugness, frustration with doctors and sports scores; it was the sound of the world after Eden, the world of uneven asphalt and poorly made goods. It was the gruesome (and sometimes exquisite) rhythmic excreta of a century of poetry, science fiction, tabloid headlines, and drugs by the handful. In some ways, I think Smith is best compared to artists like Otto Dix, Käthe Kollwitz, Philip K. Dick, and Hunter S. Thompson. And the sound! Imagine the early Sun Artists (tic-tocking, gnashing and panting Cash, Elvis, Perkins and Orbison) playing jazz and raging at the industrial world; yes, that’s exactly what it was. It’s the music Johnny Cash might have made if he had decided to be Sun Ra, and Sun Ra had been listening to a lot of Can. At the heart of all this was the words, compelling words full of oddity and decay. Other lyricists tell truths, small and large, and touch us, amuse us, or distract us; Smith was a brilliant, rageful, confounding and mean poet, often referencing only his full and furied mind. To encounter the astounding mysteries of Smith’s lyrics is to enter an alternative history of rock’n’roll because it is like finding another Dylan; and in so very many ways, the howling bard of the North of England and the mumbling accuser from the North Country have so very, very much in common. Mark E Smith is not “Dylan-esque” because he imitates Dylan (there is none of that); he is Dylan-esque because of the fiery, flaring, pointed, careening (but deeply deliberate) nest of words that came out of his pen. Check out an early-ish Smith piece called “The NWRA” – short for The North Will Rise Again – which is a masterpiece, yes it is, and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. (It’s tempting to quote lyrics here, but I’d rather direct you to an endlessly entertaining website called The Annotated Fall — which, with humor and detail, attempts to decode and footnote Mark E. Smith’s hundreds of songs.) But you, friend, want to know where to start. This is an exceedingly difficult question, considering Mark E. Smith and the Fall released (take a deep breath) 31 studio albums, 32 authorized live releases, and 5 combo studio/live albums. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 68 records over 39 years, not counting official compilation albums — there are 34 of those. Very, very few of those releases are dismissible; you can dip into literally any album, at any stage, and find something of value, something that draws you in aesthetically and conceptually. But let’s get pragmatic. Where to start? Try A Part of America Therein 1981, Totale’s Turns, Grotesque, Hex Induction Hour, Live In San Francisco, Re-Mit, Sub-Lingual Tablet, and/or the compilation albums 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong and A Past Gone Mad (the latter provides an interesting picture of how the Fall retained their textual and conceptual weirdness even as they adapted their music to more contemporary modes). Now, if I had to reduce that, I’d go with A Part of America Therein 1981, Grotesque, and the “Fiery Jack” 45. These show the brutal, backwards/forwards industrial poetry of the Fall at their early peak as they bridge the eras of ‘50s rockabilly primitivism, ‘60s garage d’art, and Can/Beefheart progressive Adderall autobahn blues. These records also display the Fall’s mega-significant role in laying the foundation for the noise/grunge era. There is an extraordinary moment towards the very end of 1980’s “Fiery Jack” when, in the role of a bitter, middle-aged right-wing blowhard sustained by cheap liquor and speed, Smith seems to lose himself in his character (as he so often did), and he becomes locked in a repetitive rage. While barking/hissing a strange mantra through his teeth – “eat this grenade, eat this grenade” – he whacks his lip – or maybe it’s his forehead, or his chin – against the microphone. It’s such a real moment, clearly unplanned; and there is an authenticity in that one crunch, in that loop of rage, that is everything punk rock aspired to, but never could quite reach. That one moment is more real than anything the Clash or the Sex Pistols or certainly Green Day ever recorded. It is the sound of an idea, a character, fighting to rise above the mere art form into something bigger, something that can’t be controlled by the frame of a song. Mark E. Smith expanded this moment of spontaneity and arresting, gasping genius into an entire career. Punk rock should have said: We own our own minds. Mark E. Smith always said: We own our own minds. Art can always say: We own our own minds.
  6. There's no way the 38 game season will be changed. So expect to see the end of FA Cup replays and the League Cup semi just one match.
  7. That is so bizarre. It's not yet 6am here. I woke up about an hour ago and was having one of those classic half-asleep half-awake meandering thought journeys that led somehow to the question 'Who will be the last title winner to pass away'. And then I turn on the PC and see someone starting a thread about the same topic - who will be the last survivor!! Except it's not the same topic, as I soon realised. Perhaps I should start a thread about my question. But then we know which country has the longest life expectancy, so although he's already in his 30s, don't be surprised if, irony of ironies, he's the last man standing.
  8. Mark E Smith has died

    Mark's death has triggered an extraordinary outpouring of literary tributes. They just keep coming and coming: The Three Rs By K. A. Laity. Right noise. The sound of punk, purists proclaim, reverberates through three chords, four beats and about two minutes. One two three four and Johnny’s guitar at its heart. A simple math: it adds up to the right night but multiplied by millions across the planet and through time. As John Peel said of The Fall, “They are always different, they are always the same.” The Fall are the right noise. Right? Noise. For the detractors that’s right, it’s noise. Right? Noise. Cos we dig-ah Cos we dig-ah We dig-ah We dig repetition-ah We dig repetition-ah We’ve repetition in the music And we’re never going to lose it. A limited palette requires repetition. The sound of punk iconically the quad beat, relentless until the song is up, then beginning again, time without number until the band and the audience have wrung every reverberation out of the crash, bang, wallop. A repetition too fast to contemplate, it can only be embodied as percussive movement. Pogoing in mad chaos despite the repetition of the beat because each punk received the wisdom singularly. Individuals made one flesh by the repetition—but one heaving, twitching flesh as if mad or sick or dying. Entrainment to the music, to each other assures the twitching corpse will dance and heal itself, resuscitated by the pounding heart’s thump . All you daughters and sons who are sick of fancy music Punk came along and it was ignored. It came as garage band music in the sixties and it was overlooked. Some said it came in Dave Davies’ guitar in “All Day and All of the Night” and other said no, never—not until the Velvets. Only they can’t decide if it was hammering of “I’m Waiting for the Man” or the droning of “Heroin”—and what of The Stooges? Iggy is anointed by Lester Bangs in 1970 but is that orthodoxy? The arguments rehearsed and debated and the purists will still say no, look to the holy places. Not the enclaves of bourgeois art but the temples where the word was first heard. We dig repetition Repetition on the drums and we’re never going to lose it. But even there the church is split between East and West: did the edenic explosion begin in Saint Martin’s School of Art or at CBGB’s in the Bowery? Do we credit the Slits and the Pistols or is it Patti and the Dolls? Does it matter? Do we require an orthodoxy, some painstaking lineage to account for the progeny spread like dandelion seeds across the consciousness of the world? It’s an impossible task, but it touches on the obsession: purity of essence. Are you pure enough to be a punk? Punk is pure and yet punk is dirty. Pure intent to smash through the fancy music to get to the truth, the real the all. An explosion, a fire, a cleansing burst of energy like divine mandate or a demonic blast: it cleared the stage, swept away the clutter of prog and masturbatory solos, arena rock and smarm. An ephemeral experience, gone when the last drum beat has faded. The only way it can live again is to shout the count, hit those chords and thump the skins again. Ever dying, ever reborn, always failing, flailing. Flail again. Flail better. This is the three R’s The three R’s: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition Like Peter Cook’s manic football manager character, Alan Latchley, who preached the three Ms (Motivation, Motivation, Motivation) the triple repetition makes it stronger. As Jacqueline Susann would agree, once is not enough. The holy trinity of repetition is necessary because you have to club people over the head with obvious truths or they look behind it for more: for nuance, for sarcasm, for some kind of trick. Asked if The Fall had anything to do with punk, irascible TM linchpin Mark E. Smith said, “Er, yeah… no…” Oh mental hospitals Oh mental hospitals They put electrodes in your brain And you’re never the same You don’t dig repetition Repetition is all about resistance. The grinding down of the automated mechanized world of drudgery and bullshit jobs zaps your grey matter to remove the natural punk ethos of resistance and replace it with bored repetition. You give in to the pressure to normalise, to succumb to labour as a cog in the system. Your entrainment no longer an ecstatic delirium but a deadening soporific trance that allows you to accept the violence done to your body while your mind sloshes in the anesthesia of Muzak. It’s never the same but always inoffensive. No lows, but no highs either. You lose the adrenaline charge that came from the first revelation of punk, when the spirit moved in you, when the loas climbed your back and rode you new understanding. When the bright wings of chaos carried you over One Hundred Punks and you knew with every fibre of your being your truth, your Identity. President Carter loves repetition Chairman Mao he dug repetition How do you escape? How can you defy age? Punk is for the young, they say, whoever they may be. But the greying Mohican beats the faux-hican surely? Can we fight against the relentless beat of commodification in a capitalist society? When you can buy a punk wig for your Halloween fancy dress, somewhere a punk loses her wings and hurtles to the earth like another Icarus. God is change, Octavia Butler swore before her own fall. Maybe it’s inevitable. The old makes way for the new. Change form, keep the energy. But that’s not what happens: we all know about the 1% and the grip they hold upon the wealth of the world. The digital revolution was meant to change all that but musicians will tell you: they get less and less (writers know this even better). In the face of such relentless pilfering of our time, our faith, our wealth it’s easy to give in, give up, resign yourself to the blanketing effects of the Blank Generation. There is no hesitation This is your situation Continue a blank generation Blank generation Same old blank generation Groovy blank generation Swinging blank generation Yet that chord change comes along just to throw you off when you have succumbed to the repetition of the fall of the hammer, the weight of comfort and homogeneity and hypocrisy. You bow before the judge-penitent but you hear the laughter behind you. That laughter is the key. The mocking laugh of the punk is the only way to puncture the deadening beat of the bastards grinding you down. Laughter is sacred, laughter is loud. Laughter pokes through lies. Only the Fool can confront the Monarch. Only laughter breaks down the thick walls of dead hypocrisy and ruin. When Clemance hears the laughter on the Pont des Arts it tears him down and takes him back to the night when he ignored the woman who leapt from the bridge. Her fall becomes his fall. We all fall. But we rise again. We rise and sing. We laugh. We seize the power of the Three Rs, we invoke the right noise, right noise: right? Noise. (Homage to The Fall “Repetition”.) ABOUT THE AUTHOR KT Laity is the award-winning author of How to Be Dull, White Rabbit, Dream Book, A Cut-Throat Business, Lush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, Chastity Flame, and Pelzmantel, as well as editor of Respectable Horror, Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and Drag Noir. She also writes historical fiction as Kit Marlowe and crime as Graham Wynd. As a 2011-2012 Fulbright Fellow in Galway, Ireland she worked in digital humanities at NUIG. Dr. Laity teaches medieval literature, film, gender studies, digital humanities and popular culture at the College of Saint Rose, where she is also the director of the Digital Humanities Initiative. She divides her time between Hudson, New York and Dundee, Scotland.
  9. Premier League, 2017-2018 Season Thread

    West Ham game, April 2016. I was always more annoyed about the Morgan decision than the Vardy decision. You know - the 'push' that he gave a penalty for. Seemed very much like he was just guessing. In that transcript from yesterday it's weird that the linesman is speaking as if he's the authority figure and Moss the subordinate. There's that phrase about managers, isn't there - 'they've lost the dressing room'. Maybe Moss has lost not just the fans', but also his colleagues' respect.
  10. I noticed on a Guardian thread today that an old Spurs myth about 2015/16 had reared its ugly head once again. That old canard about TV scheduling in the title run-in. I'll quote the post verbatim: Leicester played first something like 6 weeks in a row due to TV schedules. Didn't come to it of course,but would have been interesting to see what might have happened had Spurs had the opportunity to apply some pressure by playing first occasionally Now it's true that we did play first several weeks in a row in the title run-in. Four times in a row in fact, with our games against Sunderland, West Ham, Swansea and Man U. We also played first the following weekend too (the Everton game), but we were already champions then. So although the guy exaggerated a bit, it looks like he has a point, right? Well, he says would have been interesting to see what might have happened had Spurs had the opportunity to apply some pressure by playing first occasionally. But if you look at the four matchdays immediately before the run of games above, you see that in three of those four, Spurs did have precisely that opportunity to apply pressure by playing first. Why doesn't our Spurs fan mention those fixtures? Well, it's becaue they don't fit the theory. Let's have a look at the detail: 1) With just 10 games to go, Spurs had the chance to finally go top if they could beat Arsenal in the Saturday lunchtime game. Despite being 2-1 ahead for that famous 14 minutes, and despite Arsenal being down to 10 men, they allowed a late equaliser, and later that day we took advantage at Watford, going five points clear. 2) With just 8 games to go, they had the chance to reduce the lead to two points if they could beat Bournemouth. They did - they won 3-0. But what was our response to this pressure? We beat Newcastle on the Monday night to restore the five point lead. 3) With just 7 games left, Spurs had the chance again to get within two points by beating Liverpool in another Saturday lunchtime fixture. They failed, with Poch famously beating the Anfield turf in frustration. We responded by beating Southampton and moving seven points clear. To sum up, in the title run-in, Spurs dropped points in four crucial games. Two of those were in fixtures where they played before us (as mentioned above), two were in fixtures where they played after us (West Brom and Chelsea). So the theory is basically bollocks. They bottled it when they played first, they bottled it when they played second. The only constant is not the scheduling, it's the bottling.
  11. Mark E Smith has died

    From the Man City programme last week:
  12. Mark E Smith has died

    Can't choose between: 1) The very early 'collective' (before Mark became dictatorial) with Una Baines' scary keyboards 2) The 'Dragnet' era with Marc Riley's nursery rhyme guitar lines 3) The 'power' combo of the mid 80s 4) The early 90s after Brix left I somewhat lost touch after about 1993, though I've been filling in the gaps in the past week, with stuff people have recommended. Really like that Vauxhall Corsa advert using 1998's 'Touch Sensitive': By the way, some of the later obituaries, written at leisure away from the media rush, have a wonderful depth: http://wearecult.rocks/mark-e-smith
  13. Mark E Smith has died

    Yep - here's another bit from that YYN interview: You signed to In-Tape Records? DH: It was Marc Riley from BBC 6Music’s label which he formed when he was in the Fall with a guy called John. We sent him a tape thinking that we had absolutely no hope of getting signed, but he got back to us and picked up on a lot of our ideas. To bring it up to date, we just did a 6 Music session in Manchester/Salford, so it was nice to go back years later. We have raised the bar since we got back together, and he was totally blown away. You can catch it on BBC iPlayer. I just posted part of the interview coz it's very long. Here's the links to the original interview and the 'Leicester Polytechnic' track I was talking about (it's the third track on the Peel session): http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/magsitepages/Article/6848 http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/words-of-expectation.html Hope you enjoy 'Wonderful and Frightening', Alf, I've been realising this week what an incredible album it is.
  14. Mark E Smith has died

    Mark E Smith - the Leicester connection (of sorts): In the track 'Words of Expectation', Mark sings 'Leicester Polytechnic is scheisse', which always tickled me. I hadn't realised the back story, though. It seems that in the early 80s the Poly had it written in to their regulations that they had to book the Fall once a year! Here's an interview with Yeah Yeah Noh that takes up the story: Yeah Yeah Noh formed in Oadby near Leicester in the early 1980s. They reformed last year and played a few select shows, including a rather rammed intimate show in Leicester, where Pennyblackmusic caught up with the band. The current band is Derek Hammond (vocals), John Grayson (guitar), Tom Slater (guitar) Dermot O'Sullivan (bass), Eva Landsberg (keyboards) and Antony Cook (drums). PB: Why did you name yourselves Yeah Yeah Noh? DH: It comes from the Beatles and “She loves you/Yeah, yeah, yeah...” DO: Derek has a problem remembering lyrics. DH: And frankly there was no chance of anyone loving us back in '83. So, I thought that clever inversion would thrill our small group of fans. PB: You formed in Oadby. Is it or was it a rock and roll town? DH: I just happened to be from Oadby and John, our guitarist, was at Leicester Polytechnic, He was in digs in Oadby, and we were both bar maids at The White Horse there, but John was sacked after a few weeks because we spent the whole time talking about music and ignoring customers. The guy who ran the pub was an old RAF fighter pilot, and he was very strict. It was something of a feisty pub, and he ruled it with an iron fist. We just used to drink and talk about music, so he had to sack one of us, and I was much more of a crawler than John, so it had to be him, but we kept in touch. That would have been about 1981. PB: Had you left school by then? DH: No, I was still at school then, but John was at polytechnic. PB: What were your influences other than obviously the Beatles? DH: John isn't a Beatles fan. At the time, I liked them, but that was a long time ago now and we left that behind. They are a good band though. PB: By 1980/1981, post punk had kicked in.... DH: That was what we were into, John used to go to gigs all around the country. He was a bit more advanced than me, and he had already seen loads of bands. I had by then seen less but that's what we talked about a lot. His number one band at the time by a mile was the Fall. I wasn't so sure about the Fall. I liked Adam and the Ants, so I used to go around his house, and he would smoke dope, and I would watch and play music. He liked Funkadelic and Teardrop Explodes. Those were John's influences, all the contemporary post punk stuff. He had everything and I taped it PB: After listening to the records, did you decide to form a band? DH: No, John always had a guitar, and he had an ambition to learn to play it, but he used to put on bands on at the poly, He was on the committee, and this is true – it was written in the Leicester Poly handbook to book the Fall every year. Then some of John's mates at polytechnic said, “Let's form a band.” There were about seven or eight of them who were going to be in this band, and he said to me, “You can be in it too.” And so I became one of the singers. The people in the band hadn’t actually all met each other until we went on stage and played our first gig, but I wrote some lyrics for two songs. One was called ‘If You Ever Go Down to Kidderminster’, and I can't remember the other one. There were two bass players. One guy could only play ‘The James Bond Theme’, and so they played a few songs, and I went on, and did the Kidderminster song, and it went into ‘The James Bond Theme’, and there was a woman whom came on afterwards that sung ‘A Final Day’ by Young Marble Giants because they could all play that. PB: And that was the start of it all? DH: It was. Then John became friends with the Deep Freeze Mice, so we borrowed them as our backing band. Alan (Jenkins-Ed) played bass and John played guitar - Well, he had a guitar strapped to his chest - and they played a lot of three chord songs. They were pure rip offs, but they became our first things, I don't like to spoil anyone’s feelings, but ‘Cottage Industry’ is ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ played double speed and ‘Bias Binding’ is ‘C'mon Everybody’ by Eddie Cochran, And that is how we started. We did one gig in 1983, and then things changed for us, John got a grant through the poly to put out a local bands’ record called 'Let's Cut a Rug', which sells for about £50 on eBay now. We had one track on that. John Peel got a hold of it and started playing it every night, so then we had to put a band together.
  15. Mark E Smith has died

    I've spent almost a week just buried in Fall - the music, the interviews, the memories (I did surface briefly on Saturday to watch the highlights of the Peterborough game on youtube). Here's the very best obituary I've come across, from the Village Voice: He went and did it. At the age of sixty, Mark E. Smith ****ed right off. He seemed like Manchester’s Keef, armored against himself, smoking and drinking into the sunset like someone’s nan. But he was an Elvis, working through the pain and leaving his body behind. Smith seemed older than everyone when the Fall released their first single, “Bingo-Master’s Break-Out!,” in 1978, when he was twenty-one. Maybe aging was like ballads for Smith — something that simply made no sense. Smith was all speed and forward forward forward. He liked rockabilly, remorseless and fast. Pauses were for jazz guys. Smith delivered non sequiturs like a hanging judge and the band found a small country in repetition. The Fall were unfailingly hard, and their songs were mantras of disdain. They just banged and banged and banged. Before the Eighties were out, Sonic Youth had spent an entire Peel Session on Fall covers and Jonathan Demme had used “Hip Priest” as the soundtrack for a tour of Buffalo Bill’s dungeon. The Fall weren’t even that old and they were elders. It took time for the legend of Mark E. Smith to reach America. We didn’t know he was closing down pubs and terrorizing everyone he worked with (before firing them). There were just these Fall records, covered with Smith’s handwriting, a tip-off that we’d need clues to find the clues. Being a Fall fan meant accepting help. Pink press threat! MAN WITH CHIP: I’m riding third class on a one-class train. I’m cranked at nought like a wimpey crane. I’m a pink prole threat. GENT IN SAFE-HOUSE: Get out the pink press threat file and Brrrptzzap* the subject. — “Prole Art Threat” (1981) (* = scrambled) Unscrambling the Fall was a daily practice. It felt like the Turin Shroud was being sold at the Gap when a small German press put out a book of Smith’s lyrics in 1985. A Fall lyrics site got its start in 1993 and it became the earliest thing I ever bookmarked. It still works on its own, just as words and artwork, no sound. If someone didn’t need or love the Fall, they at least knew The First Mark E. Smith Joke, the idea that he appended -ah to any word ending a sentence. It doesn’t matter that he did more than that, because it was a fast way to mark Smith as someone whose voice changed anything near it. Which leads to The Other Mark E. Smith Joke: If it’s your granny on the bongos and Mark, it’s still the Fall. And that one is true, not just because he told it. Any pairing of repetition and Smith’s voice creates Fallness, a complexity wrought from what should not be enough, but is. The first time I saw the Fall, in 1986, they were all majesty and thunder. It wasn’t even particularly weird — the Fall were going through a period of being almost popular. The next time, at Coney Island High, in 1998, there was nothing left but bluster and Steven Hanley’s bass. A week later, Smith brawled with the band onstage at Brownies and that was it for Hanley and drummer Karl Burns. The last members of the original Fall were gone. When I saw them in Manchester, in 2010, Smith spent more time adjusting his bandmates’ amps than singing. It was comedy and it was still the Fall, but it wasn’t why we cared. This is not the only way in which Smith was like Prince, a thing he seemed to know. Smith started with musicians that he might have regarded as physical manifestations of what his words could do, but they built the Fall together with Smith in one psychic struggle. Without anyone from the original cohort, Smith was destined to front different kinds of Fall cover bands, some of them close to great. Letting Fall fans join the Fall was a rare lapse for Smith, the killer of sentiment. Even his biggest fan, John Peel, the man who told people to buy every single Fall record, couldn’t get a descriptor warmer than “objective” from Smith after his death. But then, that was part of the mission, to eliminate a spectrum of emotions from consideration. Smith seemed to feel that the tyranny of emotion dragged music to easily predicted places. There are no happy Fall records and there are no sad Fall records. The Fall are less inducers of feeling than the guarantee of a physical sensation, something cold and medicinal pinched out of a bottle on a stranger’s dresser. The Fall were only the Fall if they were stubborn, and Smith made sure that if the Fall weren’t great, they were still the Fall. There was glee in his anger, so many moments when Smith would frustrate everyone who wanted to believe the Fall were a religion you could practice. (Against type, Smith loved releasing a dance single when he could.) Smith was creating multiple bodies of work at the same time. The yowl and the spit of the vocals is a living, recorded thing. All the words Smith said or sang or destroyed have their own life, as the things he typed. It seems unwise for anybody to duplicate whatever string of behaviors became Smith’s life, rising out of ash every morning with a pint glass and a bucket, but everybody should want to complete an assignment the way Smith did, allergic to both praise and nostalgia, convinced there was language left to discover. A hall full of cards left unfilled Ended his life with wine and pills There’s a grave somewhere only partly filled A sign in a graveyard on a hill reads Bingo-Master’s Break-out — “Bingo-Master’s Break-Out” (1978)