The Fall dropped the life back into me this week.
During my final year of high school, the Saskatoon radio station CFCR played a then brand new track from The Fall's 'Cerebral Caustic' from 1995, and I was so fascinated, I was an instant and voracious fan. As whatever surrounded me at the time bled into my early Fall experience ('Absolutely Fabulous', Tank Girl and Battle Angel Alita comics, Skinny Puppy, Nicholas Roeg films, and Anthony Burgess), my interest in 'grumpy old man' vulnerability adopted by European film/fashion/music magazines became concentrated and broadcast through the voice of Mark E. Smith. Language and words as imprisonment and futility, which is then dragged and heaved around in huge heavy exhausted bursts of voice, amidst the humor of that very futility and flat ceremony of language. Thanks to the inconsistency of small town music stores, the only Fall albums I could acquire at the time were 'Cerebral Caustic', and the wonderfully strange 'B Sides' (more about this later). While a longer story about The Fall is really overdue, I had to re-communicate my admiration. A review of Imperial Wax Solvent is upcoming.
Others' descriptions of The Fall:
"The erratic Mr. Smith has been chronicling his own experiene of a provincial landscape since the late 70s and has pursued a wilful outsider's role (when it has suited him) in contemporary British music...there's a sense of his rolling language around the tongue, a love of the sounds of words - even when those words are second-hand and passed to him through the channels of power. Smith though is openly insolent with his refashioning of those words and his own experiences of bungling cops, wide boys, cloying nostalgia and the idiotic vagaries of fashion washing up in his native Salford. Insolant - and insular"
"Smith's signature Mancunian drawl is far more than an act of defiant regionalism (an attitude noted and emulated by some of the more astute minds of the American indie scene) — it's also the perfect medium for his half- sung poetry, which both revels in and reviles modern language and its humorous/ominous rhythms and constructions."
"sarcasm and bile"
"gargling on the intro and wandering in and out of his usual sneering deadpan"
"Smith's cracking, hysterical vocal is hilariously psychotic-- the band's oft-hidden sense of humor easy to spot...a case study in sarcastic destruction."
"The Grumpy Old Man Of Rock"
And some notes-quotes so far on 'Imperial Wax Solvent' (mainly from this site):
"Fall albums fluctuate wildly from the stunning and sublime to the sloppy and substandard"
"‘Strange Town’ is also Fall by numbers, but is salvaged by a wonderful bassline and an excellent, venomous vocal."
"50 Year Old Man’ is an early track and a particularly bizarre one. It’s almost fifteen minutes long and contains barely decipherable, yet harshly barked vocals. A hypnotic and impressive drumbeat carries the song throughout. Apart from the bits where it breaks down, that is. This occurs three times; twice for banjo solos, and once for a 60s garage beat to kick in. Smith seems to be railing against his imagined dotage on this track, as his threatening vocals deliver such treats as, “And don’t you forget, you tried to destroy me”."
"they also wring every piece of magic out of their ability to also sound like the most enthusiastic, snotty nosed indie pop band you’ve not yet heard."
"Smith informs us helpfully."