THE FALLEN/ LIFE IN AND OUT OF BRITAINS MOST INSANE GROUP BY DAVE SIMPSONSKU: AC-BK080
Dave Simpson’s The Fallen: Life In and Out of Britain’s Most Insane Group is like a modern day Who Dunnit novel as it follows Dave on his quest to hunt down, and talk to most – if not all – of the official members of one of the most prolific Post Punk bands: The Fall.
The group has been immortalised as one of the most infamously idiosyncratic bands of the last thirty years: some seventy people can put The Fall under their work experience on their CV, with only one maverick remaining a constant. The answer to ‘Who Dunnit?’ is not left until the end, but is instead spelled out clearly: Mark E Smith ‘dunnit’. The mischief maker has cemented himself as the creative yet cruel ringleader of a band, who ceaselessly cast away band members whenever he saw fit.
An eclectic mix of people made the line-up. From the Westcoast to Wirral, California to Cheshire, Salford to San Francisco, the only particular requirement for the band was that you could play an instrument. Sort of. One member notes of how having never played bass before, was thrust on stage to perform in front of thousands of Fall fans as the lead bassist. Mark also often picked up the budding musicians at his local pub, only to discard them as they sounded like ‘a fucking pub band’. There’s obviously no pleasing some.
Of course in most bands line-ups change, but what makes The Fall so notorious was the car crash catastrophes of the rejection of members: some were held hostage; some were left abandoned at airports; one drummer reminiscences of how he was ‘fired’ with the wonderful present of a fish head outside of his front door. This pitiless puppeteer said it was all down to ‘creative tension’ in order to keep things fresh for the members, although it can’t be said for certain, getting blindfolded and kidnapped doesn’t sound like particularly creative experience.
The constant evolution and revolution of the band as headed by Mark is what writes them into legend. Most members, for all the tumult, often assert that they would do it all again in a heartbeat. Mark is an enduringly talented man; able to pick -up, train and push the average man into musical success. Set against a backdrop of Manchester and Northern music, Dave’s book, in a series of anecdotes, organises the unpredictable, complex, and often absurd nature of The Fall into an electrifying and entertaining read.
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