Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The Record Bar: The Fall
The sun has started to shine in Kansas City, which always gets me down, so I'm thinking of winter. Christmas seems appropriate, and the 27th greatest song never to reach number one as voted by the British public.
Kirsty MacColl's vocals are more reminiscent of the Beach Boys than the south London Borough of Croydon, where she grew up. I lived there myself briefly for a few drunken weeks but it was too sunny with cheerful offices. It's not like the parts of north London that are teeming with Irish people dressed as if in a 1970s costume drama, but there were still Irish everywhere, colonising fine English pubs.
Had her father not left her, Kirsty would have grown up in Salford up in the north of England. Before people started drawing lines on maps that would have been Lancashire. Ewan MacColl penned Dirty Old Town about his hometown of Salford, and it is always funny to hear it sung with rebellious Irish gusto. But then as the greatest folk singer and songwriter of his generation, Ewan - or Jimmy Miller as his Scottish mother used to call him - has had his songs covered by Planxty, the Dubliners, the Pogues, The Clancy Brothers, and every Irish singer who wouldn't know a herring from a sardine let alone go fishing for Shoals of Herring.
Salford gave birth to Mark E Smith and he to The Fall. There is nothing remotely Irish or sunny about them. Smith is quintessentially English and The Fall belong to that English place in time that gave us The Buzzcocks, Joy Division and Irish-blooded Morrissey. But notice that when Irish people talk about a number one record, they usually mean the British charts; the Irish charts require a qualification. And as you know, England is one of the things I miss most about Ireland
The Record Bar is clearly doing quite brilliant in its musical bookings, nonetheless I was astonished and impressed no end to see that The Fall are scheduled to play The Record Bar on Saturday 27th May
An aquired challenging taste, it's not the Chieftains, but sitting between The Pogues and Oasis, The Fall were listed by Q magazine as one of the 50 bands to See Before You Die.
Be aware that part of the legend of The Fall is Mark E Smith dumping personnel. Longevity is easy that way and goes some way to explining their eighty-odd albums. Right now three members of the group have walked out mid-US tour, but Mark and the missus are continuing with friends. For now. Check with the venue, but if it goes ahead, The Fall at The Record Bar, Wow! See, I've forgotten all about the Kansas City sunshine