As an impressionistic kid, I initially had The Fall figured so wrong that I continue to not feel qualified to opine on them with any semblance of credibility. In a nutshell, while I’d heard their name bandied about in tandem with several other favorite bands, when I took a look at them -- with their pointedly un-“punk” haircuts and their cardigans –- in my youthful idiocy, their faillure to adopt the ridiculous tonsorial and sartorial shenanigans of, say, GBH or Siouxsie & the Banshees mistakenly led me to believe that their music couldn’t possibly be very interesting. How very wrong I was.
As described in this ancient post, all it really took was a cursory airing of “Cruiser’s Creek” to get me to change my ill-informed tune on this strikingly original, maddeningly prolific band. After that, my new quandary was: Where does one start trying to infiltrate the strange world of The Fall?
As it happened, shortly after that (well, 1990), Beggars’ Banquet saw fit to release a tidy pair of A-Side and B-side compilations from their ample arsenal of singles. A great starting point, for those seeking to investigate same, is 458489 A-Sides, a 17-track selection of The Fall at arguably their most user-friendly.
This is all prompted, of course, by news today that Mark E. Smith, the Fall’s inimitably gruff lead singer and conceptual nucleus, passed away today at age 60. By all accounts a unique talent and a rousingly disagreeable character (he makes his fellow Mancunians in Oasis seem positively obliging), Mark E. Smith cut a distinctive profile, and we assuredly shall not see his like again.
Drink the long draught and pour one out for Mark E. Smith. If you weren’t a fan or even aware, let his passing be your motivation to seek our their music and shake up your preconceptions.