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Old before his time, Mark E. Smith died of cancer. He was the heart, lungs and brain of Manchester’s premier rock group The Fall.
Over the decades The Fall’s line-up had a huge turnover. Members came and went, were fired and rehired, changed roles, drifted in and drifted out. Somebody calculated multi-instrumentalist Karl Burns had nine separate stints with The Fall.
Smith – comfortable as a curmudgeon – remained the only constant member. He called all the shots. His ex-wife (and ex-Fall guitarist) Brix Smith described him half-jokingly as the Mancunian Castro. None of this bothered the man: “If it’s me and your granny on bongos it’s [still] The Fall”.
The group’s live performances were of variable quality, especially after Smith’s health problems worsened. By then he was making increasingly erratic decisions which he’d come to regret once he snapped out of it. But The Fall’s studio albums could be inspired.
To paraphrase John Peel , they really were quite magnificent, you know.
If they only let me pick three tracks…
(a) BILL IS DEAD
(c) THE LEAGUE OF BALDHEADED MEN
And of course from The Fall’s Golden Age we shouldn’t forget
and Hit The North
and Powder Keg
and Telephone Thing
But as stated earlier, I’m only permitted to choose three tracks.