Friday, February 16, 2007

Blackpool Rock

There's a couple of Fall songs on my Friday playlist, which reflects the fact that I am currently reading - and thoroughly enjoying - Mick Middles and Mark E Smith's auto/biog of The Fall.

It started off slowly enough, with Middles insistence on placing himself at the centre of the story at the start of the book, but once he got past the burning subject of buying fish and chips in the Lake District and onto the story of the lack of a Manchester music scene in the mid-seventies, and how there were seemingly no pricks for the early Fall to kick against - wait up, stand corrected, Paul Morley's in there somewhere - the story has picked up pace and I know that I won't be settled until I've finished the book.

Natuarally enough, Motormouth Smith sits centre stage in the book with his beer on the table and his cigarette in one hand, whilst his other hand is used to direct his withering one-liners. At turns, he's startling in his autodidactism and insight but in the next paragraph strays far too close to the edge of self-parody in his calculated attempt to be the permanent outsider, but the most enjoyable part of the early chapters of the book is the interweaving of quotes and anecdotes from Middles interviews with both Smith and his mum, Irene, about Smith as a schoolboy - same taste in clothes, apparently - his dealings with his parents, finding his voice in the Fall and how the little matter of muso circumstances patterned the resultant thirty year career of Mark E. Smith and whichever 4 non-musicians happening to be picking up a weekly wage at a particular given time.*

As I'm still at the witch trials, I won't witter on too much about the book, but I loved this quote from those interviews, where Smith speaks of a particular aspect of his relationship with his mum:

" . . . she keeps tabs on what's going on. Not so much on me, but what is going on in the pop world. I may go and see her and tell her that we have a new record out or are about to go on tour . . . blah blah . . . but she will say, 'What about that Eminem? I know about him and he had a problem with his parents.' She tells me all about his problems . . . all kinds of stuff. I quite like Eminem, anyway. So it's OK. She's pretty sussed, in the Salford way. She might ask if 'dance music is like Joe Loss' but she knows, really. She sussed out Robbie Williams straight away. I mean, anyone of our generation who knows anything knows that he is a pub singer. But she grasped that straight away. She saw that he was a Blackpool act."

Btw, Lard's not turned up yet. Looking forward to the put downs from Smith, of which I'm sure there will be many.

*Don't mind me, I'm just being provocative for its own sake. At their best, the Fall's music is up there with Smith's mini-manifestos.

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