by Rob Jones
‘The Fall-It’s not repetition, It’s Discipline’ is a DVD released by Ozit Dandelion.
The Danish trio of Troels Holmstrom, Jesper Headeager and Lars Kjelfred pay homage to the mighty Mark E. Smith and The Fall-and, along the way performers and punters also contribute to a worthwhile document.
Amongst the star names that make appearances are: Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Stephen Malkmus (Pavement), Peter Hook (Joy Division/New Order), David Gedge (The Wedding Present), John Cooper Clarke and the late great presences of DJ John Peel and Dee Dee Ramone (The Ramones). To add to which Mark E. Smith fires his entertaining opinions e.g. he does not sack band members but they ‘dismiss themselves’! Smith is an awkward customer who has no respect for musicians or journalists-but, his spite of the industry within which he works adds to the appeal. Band members from a previous incarnation of The Fall share their experiences and perhaps their honesty led to a split from Smith because it is quite clear that his leadership is a ‘my way or the highway’ mantra.
Smith has been the only consistent presence since The Fall commenced business in 1976 and along the way several dozen players have acted as his supporting cast. Ex-guitarist Ben Pritchard states that M.E.S. can be ‘naughty’ on stage when another former presence Jim Watts discusses the mayhem caused by Mr. Fall with his so called live mixing! Smith demands that non-Fall fans are his recruits and he does not want any fancy ideas or flash stuff! He demands discipline-even if to the employer or listener repetition is central to the package.
However, there is nobody that does it like Smith and for that we can be grateful that he is so bloody-minded in his approach. Nearly forty years have passed since the inception of The Fall and they still stand alone! Smith keeps driving his troops forward and he gives short, sharp, shrift to the nostalgia that operates in the worlds of many acts.
Long term Fall associates Ed Blaney and Grant Showbiz know Smith well but they can only second guess at his next move-and, when it comes to the final decision there is only one winner! We can only be grateful that Smith stays on the outsides of the margins of the peripheries-and, that stance gives us a valid and reliable alternative to the fifteen minutes of fame, flavour of the month brigade!
This movie gives an insight in to the sphere of Smith-and, the grainy finish is what we would expect! It may be best to watch from the safety of your own settee because if you get close to the main man it can only seemingly make for a cliff-edge experience!
The great Danes have spent thirteen years on this project but this trio can claim credit for an endeavour which also includes plenty of live footage of the ‘Are you are missing Winner’ era staff of The Fall. There is no template for how to survive in rock n roll-but, despite the apparent intake of a unique corn flakes recipe (plus, lot’s of other danger!) there is one special sonic soldier who is still fighting his corner! Long live Mark E. Smith and The Fall!