- 13 Feb 18
Paul Nolan pays tribute to the late Fall frontman Mark E. Smith, whose groundbreaking approach to songwriting and performance made him one of the most influential artists of his generation.
with the recent passing of Mark E. Smith, music has lost one of its most brilliant and gifted mavericks. Having been in ill-health during the last years of his life, The Fall’s singer passed away on January 24, aged just 60.
Following a working-class Lancashire upbringing, Smith formed The Fall in Greater Manchester in 1976. His main inspiration for gettáing the band together was the Sex Pistols’ ’76 performance at Manchester Free Trade Hall, a gig that has taken on a significance akin to Moses’ descent from Mount Sinai (among the other attendees were future members of Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks, as well as, er, Mick Hucknall).
From the very beginning, The Fall were conspicuously talented and original. Their debut EP, 1978’s Bingo Master’s Breakout – with its memorable cover of a demonic S&M figure – heralded the arrival of a singular outfit. Central to their appeal was Smith, whose soon-to-be-trademark vocal delivery (complete with accentuated “ah!” at the end of each line) was heard to full effect on the Bingo Master track ‘Repetition’, a bonkers art-rock excursion that mesmerised with its twists and turns.