Guest Informant Tommy Reckless on 40 Odd Years Of The Fall
We’ve given our guest informant, Tommy Reckless, free range to tell you about the current crowdfunder for his book 40 Odd Years of the Fall, which comes to an end next week. We’d really like to help him get ahead, read on to find out how you can too…
Funnily enough, I first heard about the death of Mark E Smith from Frankie Boyle. I went on the twitter and the first post I saw was Frankie posting the video for Lost In Music by The Fall. I retweeted it, saying it was the best cover version ever. Then I looked down my timeline and saw a whole screed of posts about MES and my heart sank.
I knew he hadn’t been keeping well for a while, but I was heartened by what turned out to be his final public appearance at the QMU in Glasgow. Even though he was in a wheelchair and his arm in a sling, it was a blistering performance from the gruppe that night. The power surging from the stage was enervating and joyous. Mark’s stage entrance, always a thrilling moment, was particularly touching and a tad comic that night as he very slowly emerged from below the side of the stage on a chair lift to be wheeled out by his girlfriend, Pamela Vander in a shimmering gold coat (Pamela, not Mark). She also joined the band during a couple of numbers clicking a pair of drumsticks together, proving yet again that there’s always a funny side to the bombast.
It was this often overlooked funny aspect of The Fall that I intended to highlight when I first started my Story Of The Fall website back in 2006. Having consumed all The Fall’s output from 1977 onwards, I thought I’d try and convey my joy through the medium of a daily music blog, reviewing one Fall song a day, starting from the very first and including live versions and John Peel session versions. It was a fun task and not at all arduous. Just one song. Once a day.
One of the many useless tasks facing Fall fans is trying to persuade others of the group’s brilliance. It’s hopeless. Not many get it and most give you a funny look and decry your obsessive zeal. But there really is no other group like them. I think it was Henry Root (the acerbic writer William Donaldson’s pseudonym) who coined the measurement scale of visceral enjoyment known as the Tingle Quotient. That feeling at the back of your neck, when listening to a piece of music, like hair raising or goosebumps, but so much more. The Fall have a TQ of ten out of ten. Apparently some people never experience this. I pity them.
Anyway, I called the blog The Story Of The Fall and it became really popular amongst Fall fans. I plugged away at it, day on day, until June 2008 when I’d caught up with their output so far. After that, it was just a case of reviewing each new song as they came out. Which gave me a bit of a respite.
The first time I saw The Fall was in 1977 in Birmingham. I was still going to most of the Scottish gigs when I was writing the website and also playing at being The Foul – the only one man Fall tribute group from South Queensferry. Then, in 2017, a chance tweet from a publishing company requesting pitches for books, prompted me to send a 140 word pitch for the book of the website. They liked the pitch and were initially interested but the cowards then backed down. I told my friend and arch deviant, Greg Moodie about this and he immediately offered to publish the book himself.
How do you know Mr Moodie? I hear you wail. Well, in a previous life, I used to play songs on the Scottish comedy circuit as The Sensational Alex Salmond Band which took me to exotic locations all over Scotlandshire and the occasional trip down south. I retired from the live scene in 2014, but continued to run the Daily Reckless – the paper that sings the news: www.dailyreckless.com – doing a topical song a day. I still do the very occasional benefit gig and special occasion and when Mr Moodie asked me to sing at a couple of his book signing jamborees, I duly trudged along. So impressed was Mr Moodie at my yelping and strumming that we eventually ended up making a CD together called Bam Glam – a cult classic available here, pop pickers: https://tommymackay.bandcamp.com/album/bam-glam
We soon discovered that, as well as a mutual infatuation with Sparks, we shared an obsession with The Fall which lead to our latest project, 40 Odd Years Of The Fall. Greg has drawn 42 lavish illustrations for the book with cunning references to the songs hidden amongst them. There are also many rare items and songs featured therein which were only ever played live, and an excellent foreword by Aidan Moffat which kicks off the book beautifully with ‘The only time I ever met Mark E Smith, I told him his band were shite.’ A perfect start to proceedings. Anyway, you can help crowdfund the book here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/40-odd-years-of-the-fall