Tuesday, 11 June 2013

I like the television.


They’re making a film about Spike Island. They’ve made a documentary about the Stone Roses – they’re selling our youth back in celluloid, as there isn’t any new music to push.  We’ve got 250 hours of Glastonbury coming our way – you can watch the Stones and all those other hit making machines. You can sit and chose. 

That’s the way it is (something’s will never change – that’s just the way it is)

I’m forty two this month – looking backwards as ever to those halcyon pop moments and heady days of bedrooms and revolving records. But do I want it on film, on my television and not on the radio nor in the flesh? I only listen to the 3 and 4 you know – and catch that pirate house station when the kids are taking a bath – it’s a random dial thaaaanng.

But invariably I’ve ended my weeks with documentaries about this style and that genre – this singer and that roller.

They showed a series on BBC4 about punk rock.

They’ve showed a whole heap of programmes on this style and that. It had talking heads and clips and stuff in it - tidying up the punk movement in sixty minutes tops and following it with more footage of [raw] power guitar chords and discordant screams from the great and the dead. It’s what it would have wanted – the punk movement – its own documentary strand on digital television. I guess I’m being ironic [moronic] here – but whenever I’m watching – note watching – not listening to programmes on music I get slightly touchy about it all. Drop into anecdote mode and say that I never really liked The Clash. Which is true – I could never warm to them. Don’t get me wrong I like the dub roots, the bass and guitar scowls and howls – but I never thought they had any grace.

I didn’t want to be in them.

You see when the Pistols arrived all full of froth and posture – it was a two fingered salute – a start – that quickly went nowhere – bound to really – it’s far too easy to claim you're bored when you doing nothing to stop the rot[ten] but at least it was a start. It was clouded in this and that – it didn’t care. But clearly it resonated – clearly it was a (rolling) stone dropped in the pond. Vacancy was predicated on alienation – on reaction to the grind.

And that’s why The Fall are the most vital of all those late 70s bands. In every record by The Fall is a reaction – a working ethic that had no time for boredom – it didn’t want to speak for the youth – it had more to say- ah. (I’ll return to this – later on – down the page – because today I’m rambling – I’m the half ten rambler – I can’t stay up that late anymore)

Anyway when I was younger – which was an age ago – it was always about taking sides (I’ve said this before – but you should know that this  repetition repetition repetition’s in the writing and I’m never gonna lose it)  – wearing your heart on your sleeve and telling anyone who would listen that your favourite band was the one that mattered the most. I tended to choose the obscure – the shambling cacophony of a new band I had on tape that had just emerged from Lanarkshire – bands that would sink without a trace. I’ll write a post about The Bachelor Pad at some point (they didn’t sink without a trace – they never really made a trace did they?)


So now you’re dipping in and out of genres and styles, geography and fashion –walking that New Yawk walk and talkin’ in a manc accent depending which strand of documentary programming you’ve been exposed to that evening. I ended up watching music inspired by The Eagles the other night – all California hair and  strumming as footage from 1974 poured through my television’s speakers and moved me to inertia – to bed.

But hey ho – let’s go  - I was talking about sounds on the screen – sold back to us – to send us to itunes and download that nugget of nostalgia. I was talkin’ ‘bout PuNk on the TV.

I’ve said it before but I first became aware of the dark side of pop – the chaotic and the immediate when Paul – my brother - introduced me to The Pistols, The Exploited [I know it’s not first wave punk – but they seemed exciting and dangerous at the time], The Velvets and of course The Fall. I’d only heard them – on the radio – in a disco – on a tape from a friend. I hadn’t seen them. I hadn’t seen The Fall move – not at that point.

Now there’s a band I would want to be in – to be honest there’s a high percentage that I could have been  - I think Mark E Smith I has got through something like a 100 members. I could imagine finding myself playing out of time as Mark turned down my amp and told me to stop showing off. There’s a left field – outsider art that courses through the veins of The Fall and whenever I’m in need of blast of diffidence and difference Mark has the sounds to represent it. 

I have yet to see The (mighty) Fall.

And another opportunity has passed me by. December - full of cold and coughs and pills and powders I couldn’t muster the energy to haul myself to Islington and get a piece of the MES. It just wasn’t going to happen.  I think in ‘indie’ circles seeing the Fall must be akin to seeing The Beatles. They sit outside the whole thing yet bring everything to the ‘scene’ – heavy on the music scene. And there was John Peel championing them every night – well every other night. It feels weird writing about Peel at the moment – as sagas rage and roll about who did what – with whom – in which studio or ‘green’ room. But for now I’m just going to go with flow and acknowledge that if there was ever a champion for a band then Peel was one for The ‘mighty’ Fall. Countless sessions from garage band veterans. Multiple hits in festive charts. Tape em. Tape them.

And I missed The Fall again. This time it was the throes of Spring. I read a wonderful review over at louder than war (the best place for up to date information – not like this ole place) – but I missed them. Again. That MES scowl – that ambivalence to the modern but thoroughly up to date (mate).

So where do I get my fix of the Smith ways of the world?

I find it on clips and bits in programmes about the Manchester scene – or documentaries with the good man himself. (Well he’s not really a good man – he’s a cantankerous fucker with wit that sits to the right – but you know he never played by the rules  - why should he? We don’t want that cloth cap clutching WMC attitude of deference round here)

So perhaps they’ll make a film about The Fall playing Doncaster. 

A film of Totale’s Turn. It isn’t Spike Island. It isn’t new music. 

But as this month has my birthday in it – I can be forgiven for looking back – not listening – looking.  

So here's the first piece of film I saw of The Fall - late night on a So it goes Special. Most likely BBC2 - it's on a video tape somewhere. 

And i've put in a performance of Blindness from Later - because it's brilliant. Because it's The Fall and that's what they do