The Fall (band)

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"Hey there fuckface, hey there fuckface!"

—from "The Classical"

"Always different, always the same"

—John Peel

The Fall are a Post Punk band from Manchester, England. The favorite band of legendary BBC DJ John Peel, The Fall were formed in 1976 by iconoclastic weirdo Mark E. Smith, and since then the band has had more lineup changes than perhaps any band ever, with Smith being the sole constant member. Other than Smith, the band has had a handful of members that are beloved by fans and spent long tenures with the band, but bandmembers often quit or are fired with almost every album (in fact, after the release of Fall Heads Roll in 2005, the entire band quit on Smith (excluding his keyboardist wife Elena Poulou) in the middle of the night while the band was staying at a hotel in the American Southwest).

Despite the constant lineup changes, the band is extremely prolific, having recorded 29 studio albums since 1978. Their most recent album is Ersatz G.B., released in November 2011.

The Fall (band) provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Adored by the Network: The Fall were favorite band of BBC Radio DJ John Peel and its was rather good thing for the band to have one of the most respected, beloved and influential radio DJs in the world as their number one fan, as he continuously played the band's records on his shows, giving them a major Colbert Bump. Even though the band played Peel's radio show many, many times before Peel's 2004 death, he and Mark E. Smith only met face-to-face on two apparently awkward occasions.
    • When the band performed "Eat Y'self Fitter" for the first time on Peel's radio show in March 1983, Peel actually fainted from how awestruck he was by the song and his producer had to resuscitate him.
    • Peel kept a large box of singles under his bed containing his favorite singles just in case he had to leave his house and his massive record collection during an emergency. His fans and friends noted that there were absolutely no Fall singles in the whole box. This is because his favorite Fall singles were housed in a completely separate box because there were too many.
  • Archive Panic: They have released 29 studio albums since 1978. Don't rely on compilations for help either, most of them are rather poorly compiled or only focus on a certain point in the band's career.
    • What many fans and critics claim is the band's definitive release, the 2005 compilation Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 box set of radio sessions, weighs in at 6 CDs and seven hours.
  • Black Sheep Hit: The band's biggest UK chart hit is a cover of The Kinks' "Victoria", which is a bit more poppy than their usual sound.
  • Deadpan Snarker / First-Person Smartass
  • Epic Rocking: Notable examples include "And This Day" and "50 Year Old Man".
  • Face of the Band: Mark E. Smith.
    • There's a handful of long-running members that are easily recognized by the band's fanbase. Among these are drummer Karl Burns (1977-1979, 1981-1985, 1993-1998), bassist Steve Hanley (1979-1998), guitarist Craig Scanlon (1979-1995) and Smith's ex-wife guitarist Brix Smith (1983-1989, 1994-1996). Together or apart, these members appeared on most of the band's most popular albums. However, even hardcore fans can't keep up with - or can't be bothered to remember - the other members. The only current member of the band that most casual fans can name aside from Smith is his current wife, keyboardist Elena Poulou.
      • Fans of the American psychedelic rock band Darker My Love can pick out vocalist/guitarist Tim Presley (DML's own Face of the Band) and bassist Robert Barbato as members of the band during the Reformation Post TLC era of the band.
  • Humans Are Stupid: A favourite trope of Smith's.
  • I Am the Band: Mark E. Smith.
  • Mind Screw: The vast majority of their lyrics from 1979 to 1984, especially on Hex Enduction Hour.
  • Post Punk
  • Precision F-Strike: The page quote, which comes in about thirty seconds into "The Classical" just as the main riff starts to kick in. The line before it, "where are the obligatory niggers?" (a satirical line not intended to be racist) apparently scuttled an American record deal with Motown Records, who were looking to add more rock music artists at the time.
  • Revolving Door Band: And how!
    • A reporter once wrote an article about trying to find all of the ex-members (there were fifty). He subsequently turned his research into a book, The Fallen. That said, the dynamic duo of Craig Scanlon and Steve Hanley held down the fort from 1979 'til 1995, which is damn impressive.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Who Makes The Nazis?" is a very strange, very subtle one.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Mark E. Smith and keyboardist/girlfriend Julia Nagle had a major falling out in the late 1990s, tensions between the two intensified, with the two first breaking up and then Nagle leaving The Fall circa 2001. Suspiciously Similar Substitute -- and Smith's eventual third wife -- Elena Poulou became The Fall's keyboardist in late 2002.
  • Take That: Marc Riley (A member of The Fall from 1978-1982, now a DJ on Radio 6 Music) gets special mention as Smith wrote not one but two songs of personal attacks on him, "The Man Whose Head Expanded" (indie hit single, 1983) and "Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot" from the 1983 album Perverted By Language.
    • "Mere Psued. Mag. Ed" from Hex Enduction Hour is an attack on an unidentified music journalist that Mark E. Smith hated for some undetermined reason (the fact that he was a music journalist may have probably been enough).
    • "A Past Gone Mad" from The Infotainment Scan: "If I ever end up like U2 / slit my throat with a garden vegetable."
    • "Mask Search", from Ersatz GB: "But I'm so sick of Snow Patrol..."
    • The title of Reformation Post-TLC: Word of God is the "TLC" part stands for "traitors, liars, and cunts". This was the first album released after most of the Fall Heads Roll lineup quit, so just guess who that was supposed to be referring to...
  • Throw It In: "Paintwork" goes through a couple of odd, abrupt sound collage breaks where the music suddenly becomes distant-sounding and gets drowned out by a program about astronomy and later, a brief snippet of classical music. This was because Mark E. Smith accidentally taped over parts of the song.
  • Verbal Tic: Mark E. Smith is known for adding an "-ah" at the end of lines. It's not quite after every line, and generally seems to be his way of emphasizing certain lyrics. It's particularly rampant in "Repetition" - "Ah-we dig-ah, Ah-we dig-ah repetition-ah!".
    • If you heard "It's a Curse" without knowing the title, you'd have a hard time knowing what "It's a Kyass-ah!" meant.
  • Word Salad Lyrics
  • Word Salad Title: Too many songs (and albums) to list.
  • Yoko Oh No: Averted. The years when Mark's first wife Brix was the band's guitarist corresponds with the release of some of the band's most popular and acclaimed albums.
  • Younger Than They Look: Mark E. Smith is only in his mid-50's, but even in his 30's, he looked like he was far older (say, late-60's). The fact that his hair started to gray early didn't particularly help. Nor the stupendous quantities of amphetamines he's taken all his life.