Music

The Fall

Many different musicians have passed through the ranks of The Fall since their formation during the punk era, but they will always be irrevocably associated with the highly individual character, distinctive vocal style and abstract lyrics of founder and constant front man, Mark E. Smith. Taking the name from a 1956 Albert Camus novel, Smith originally formed the band with Martin Bramah, Una Baines, Karl Burns and Tony Friel; playing a raw, avant-garde staccato style of punk music built around Smith's weird poetry. Despite - or maybe because of - their irascible front man and a regularly changing line-up, The Fall's debut EP Bingo-Master's Breakout (which included a title song about the emotional meltdown of a bingo caller) was well received, as was their debut album Live At The Witch Trials in 1979. Strongly championed by top Radio 1 DJ John Peel, who named them his favourite band, they even had a minor hit with How I Wrote Elastic Man in 1980 with what many consider their classic line-up of Smith, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley, Steve and Paul Hanley. The 1980s produced characteristically individual albums like Hex Enduction Hour, Perverted By Language and The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall and they became marginally more populist after the addition of Mark's future wife, American guitarist/singer Brix Smith. They even made a surprise move into theatre, collaborating with modern ballet dancer Michael Clark on I Am Kurious, Oranj which, among other things, reworked William Blake's Jerusalem. In 1986 Smith collaborated with performance artist Leigh Bowery on a controversial play, Hey Luciani: The Life and Codex of John Paul 1 - which voiced a conspiracy theory about the death of The Pope - and the band even broke into the UK singles chart with covers of There's A Ghost In My House (R Dean Taylor) and Victoria (The Kinks). The departure of Brix Smith in 1989 changed the dynamic but The Fall continued to plough their vigorously individual furrow with a string of edgy albums and an ever-changing line-up with occasionally disastrous results on stage. However, the addition of Elena Poulou - subsequently Smith's third wife - in 2002 gave them a new lease of life.

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07-07-2011