Four decades of the most creative, innovative, mysterious, weird, and downright exciting music came to an end on 24th January 2018 with the death of Mark Edward Smith, six weeks short of his sixty-first birthday.
For a week after his death I couldn’t face listening to The Fall but — once I felt able to — I played no one else for three months. Planning an hour’s DJ set for a tribute night I scribbled the names of 80 “absolutely essential” Fall songs on a sheet of A4 in five minutes. After ten minutes I was working out how to trim down 200 songs to around 20.
There is much on the net for anyone setting out to discover The Fall, primarily via what is probably the best fan-based site of any group (The Fall are a group not a band, as Smith would occasionally assert to journalists) and The Quietus, where the group has its own menu of articles and reviews.
Even if you don’t like all of it (and it’s highly unlikely you will) there will be something for you, wherever you roam among the 32 studio albums and 50-odd singles. Once you allow yourself to step into the sparkling grotto of The Fall and tune in to Smith’s sharply-observed and often very funny diatribes, great riches will unfold.
So, this is a playlist for both the beginner and also the fan. It’s not a Best Of, rather it is a chronological gazpacho taking tracks from their earliest days right up to the 2016 single “Wise Ol’ Man”. It’s more than an hour and I’d pick a different batch this afternoon and another tomorrow.
A great many personnel may have passed through Smith’s factory gates, but The Fall’s canon is a single work. A work of a maverick and wonderful genius.