Watched this hour-long documentary on BBC4, Friday night. the programme blurb is after the jump since I'm not sure how long it'll be on their site.
The Fall have been one of my favorite bands since the early 80's, although Fall purists will probably mock my selection of Perverted by Language, Bend Sinister and The Frenz Experiment as favorite albums. I remember spending a substantial part of 1988 gutted because I couldn't afford to go see I am Curious Orange (Michael Clark was consciously absent from the programme). And I must be the only person I know who actually liked Brix Smith.
And the documentary was great!
Mainly consisting of old footage & video clips, the band recording their last Peel session, and Mark E. Smith scratching himself in his local pub, the film offered a potted history from the people involved. Disturbingly, we learn that The Fall's success is largely predicated on Mark E.'s ability to groom underage northern boys, bully them mercilessly, and then kick them out of the band when they start to answer back. You can't really argue with the results though. The film was peppered with fantastic tunes: How I Wrote Elastic Man, No Christmas for John Quays, Hit the North, Totally Wired, Eat Y'self Fitter etc etc. & surprisingly few pointless bystander commentaries (No clue why Franz Ferdand guy was in there, but Paul Morley was really good for once, adding a necessary touch of doubt to the whole proceedings).
Does contain swearing, for instance Mark E. speaking to camera: "I don't want to give me secrets away to those fucking idiots from the BBC", but the real warning should be something like:
Warning! Contains Mark E. Smith looking like the belligerent old grandad-git you've always suspected him of being.
The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith
A special documentary looking at one of the most enigmatic, idiosyncratic and chaotic bands of the last 30 years.
The Fall are led by the belligerent and poetic Mark E Smith and grew out of the fringe of the Manchester punk scene. To date they have released more than three dozen albums, toured relentlessly, inspired two successful stage plays, recorded 24 Peel Sessions, and performed with contemporary ballet dancer Michael Clarke, along with performing various spoken word events.
All this has happened under the guidance of Smith with various line-ups, currently totalling over 40 different members.
For the first time Mark E Smith has agreed to the story of The Fall being told on television, and he, along with many of the major players, takes us through this unique story.
Contributors include past and present band members including Marc Riley, Una Baines, Steve Hanley, Ben Pritchard and Eleni Smith, plus thoughts from key fans and critics including Paul Morley, Tony Wilson, Stewart Lee, promoter Alan Wise, original Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon, and members of Franz Ferdinand. Contains strong language.