Band: The Fall
Album: The Infotainment Scan
Year: 1993
Label: Permanent Records
Status: Still going
The Fall make this post-punk cover version of the Sister Sledge disco hit their own, somehow powering it up to something that succeeds by being barely able to hold itself together. Added to the original are typically indecipherable Mark E. Smith yelps and drawls and lyrics about refurbishing pubs, excess leading to access, snagged tabletops, and dodgy French randomness. Yet it retains as much positive feeling as Mark E. Smith is able to muster: there is still the optimism of that chorus, “Lost in music / Feel so alive”.

The original’s lyrics mentioned quitting the 9-5 job to become lost in music (in The Fall’s version it’s a 10-5 job; rock stars don’t get up so early). The line is relevant since Mark E. Smith quit his job at Salford Docks to devote himself to the band. This song therefore symbolises something about The Fall and all bands, all creatives: the sacrifice required.
And it worked. The Fall soon made inroads. Their first EP was recorded in 1977, paid for by the Buzzcocks’ manager. In 1978 they were performing on a Tony Wilson-hosted Granada TV programme. Since then they’ve maintained a prolific output (no surprise when their first album was recorded in a single day). Yet the band have been subject to ever-changing lineups. Mark E. Smith is the only constant. He’s another Salfordian poet. An earlier version of Shaun Ryder. And their influence has been felt, as they form a triumvirate with their contemporaries.

Let’s talk about connections for a second. The Fall formed in 1976, the same year as Buzzcocks and Joy Division. With the former they share longevity (both bands are still going), with the latter it was the love of literature: The Fall’s songs are full of allusions. Even the band’s name comes from a Camus novel. All three are proper working class bands too. And all three were a huge influence on later bands.

They still are. You may love or hate their style and sound – there’s not much middleground between the two positions – but John Peel’s favourite band won’t be ignored.

Extract from page 269 of 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music by M. H. Rees; used with permission. Read the whole series (25 extracts) here; or my summary post. Readers might be interested in my forthcoming novel about a man obsessed with Manchester music - confusingly, it is also called 2000 Tunes!