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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, January 08, 2006
    Fall-out recovered

    It was odd this week to be sitting in a leather chair in Gladstone's Library Common Room (a hub of Liberalism) when on live TV the Liberal Democrat leader made the statement which hastened his political demise. And to be reading at the time an article which has been begging to be written for a long time. It seems that only The Guardian has the resources and the will to send a reporter to track down all the people who've ever been in The Fall. Over forty of them, all but two (Brix Smith and Mark 'Lard' Riley) returned directly to anonymity; one or two of them disappeared without trace. It's a story to compete strongly with any shenanigans in political high office, not least because it throws some light on the motivational and directive skills of the band's one ever-present member. It seems that however badly Mark E. Smith treats his musicians, many of those he's jettisoned still hold him in high regard, as affirmed in the words of one present band member:

    “I was a terrible guitarist when I joined aged 17,” agrees Ben Pritchard, who has survived in the guitar hot seat for the past five years. “Maybe that’s why Mark wanted me in the group. The challenge is to take someone wrong for the group and make them right.” He compares the Fall frame of mind to that at “Boot Camp”. He has been abandoned at airports to make his own
    way to gigs; the band’s last tour was so stressful that, at 22, he is losing his hair. Why do it? “The Fall are making history,” he says. “I have nightmares, but it’s never boring. It’s not Coldplay.”