Enigma, visionary, genius. There isn’t enough room on the page to describe the enormity of the genius exuded by Mark E Smith, frontman of The Fall. But what’s most surprising about that northern goblin is that he’s – tomorrow – gonna have managed to make it to 60 years of age. 60. The big six-oh. That’s today that is, confirmation that the hip priest has reached 6 decades whilst I’m struggling to get through 2.
Normally, when it comes to music I refrain from saying people “don’t get things” because they’re too “stupid”, but those out there that don’t like The Fall are well and truly lesser minded individuals. There’s a superiority complex that comes with listening to The Fall, as you kick back in the knowledge that this is a complete artwork almost unconditionally unenjoyable to idiots.
But have you tried listening to The Fall, and just not got it? Even though you’re fairly sure you’re not an actual idiot, right? Well, come hither scumbag, this is your last chance. Hand-picked for the aural pleasure of you, here’s 5 songs by the almighty Manchester band who have been genuinely great, consistently for 40 years.
Okay, let’s start with the basics, OK? OK, not the basics, it’s in chronological order, but this is a good “let’s start with the basics” track, innit? Mark E Smith’s role as the era’s most charismatic deliverer of the vocals is so prominent here, aggressively stuttering through an intensely catchy Class A anthem. Twitchy, tetchy, it’s pretty cleanly produced, and keeps up a throbbing near-euphoric intensity throughout the build-up to Mark’s outbursts.
If ever there was a greater mission statement at the top of an album, I’m yet to hear it. Opening Hex Enduction Hour, the best album by the band, and probably any other British band ever, this is a free verse rant atop an uncompromisingly invasive bassline. A variety of one liners are spewed in this anti-industry outcry, with the bleakly funny “I’ve never felt better in my life” the most memorable. If you’re reading through the list and listening to the songs, and after you’ve put this on you feel a bit dirty in a way you can’t enjoy, stop reading this now because you really are an idiot of the highest degree and the contempt I have for you is going to build and build throughout the rest of this article. “Built with the finest British attention, to the wrong details”.
Big New Prinz
A real glam stomp, think The Jean Genie’s off the cocaine and chooses to drink 17 pints of Guinness a day instead. Mark bellows “He! Is! Not! APPRECIATED” in one of a number of songs about himself. This is maybe the most instantly confrontational Fall song, the most stomping, and just a fucking banger, really. I’m going to drop the whole character where I get angry at people for not liking the same things as me very soon, because I’m aware that people have probably stopped reading, but c’mon. If you don’t like Big New Prinz, who hurt you? If you don’t want to affectionately launch pints at balding men to this then you well and truly are a degenerate.
This came out nearly 30 years after the band first started being a thing, and they were still a thing that were perfect then. But in 2005, they released this. An eternal, transcendent moment of genius, with the greatest bassline in music. They even did this on fucking Jools. What more is to say about this song? Just fucking listen to it, pleb.
Dedication Not Medication
This is from the most recent Fall album, and whilst any ability you had to be able to make out the words died years ago, this is a work of brilliance. A chugging bassline that sounds almost like some kinda raw, unhinged dance track, and a hellish industrial synth-line that goes “vor-wow-wa-wow-wow” are what makes this an instant classic. So menacing, so angry, is this track that I’m planning on closing my next DJ set with it to scare away those normies they have these days. I’m edgy and cool and I enjoy othering people more popular than me to feel better about myself. Oh, yeah.
And if you’re not into The Fall now, don’t you dare try and initiate eye contact with me in the street.
(Written by Cal Cashin)