Wednesday, May 13, 2009

VIDEO: "The Fall - The Wonderful and Frightening World Of Mark E Smith" (2005 BBC Four) 60m.

"You are the worst group I've ever seen. In the history of mankind. The worst tuneless rubbish I've ever heard, even worse than Siouxsie and the Banshees. I didn't believe it was possible. Please do a Session."
--John Walters, Peel Sessions producer, in a letter to Mark E. Smith

And thus, ignominiously started the longest stretch of Peel Sessions by any artist: 24. Such are the little nuggets in this great documentary to satisfy the most rabid Fall fan. (Me, I've watched it at least ten times). It's loaded with great live footage, interviews with luminaries such as John Peel, Tony Wilson and oft-time producer Grant Showbiz, interviews with ex-band members Steve Hanley and Marc Riley (lots of great anecdotes), and of course the man himself.

I don't know if this documentary is going to change anyone's mind on The Fall but, you know, fuck them. Who cares? And sure, MES is difficult to understand. He's smoking and drinking and slurring. But I transcribed that quote up there directly from his relating the tale in the film, so it's not impossible. You just gotta... Listen.
There's great old television footage (just clips, alas), and our interviewees take us on a trip through all the ups/downs/ins/outs of The Fall from the earliest days up 'til the making of this doc, which coincided with the taping of the last Peel Session. There's great footage of them recording Blindness and I Can Hear the Grass Grow and Mark admonishing his then-bandmates ("You've got to fucking play a bit harder and you've got to be in tune and you've got to do it on the changes").
The video itself is great quality. Nice widescreen picture. It was digitally recorded and I downloaded it from some forgotten spot a couple years ago (I can't find it today). If you just want to watch the film, there is a single-download 700 MB AVI version that will play in any media player and looks just fine. If you want to archive this or burn it onto a DVD, get the uncompressed 3-part download. It's pristine. But it's an MPEG file, as I got it. But if you have the great VLC Player, which everyone should cos it plays every format perfectly (and it's free and they never bug you for donations), you will have no problems.
And last but not least: My Connection (there always is, isn't there?). This film includes footage I shot in 1998 in NYC. It was their infamous "onstage row". Karl jumps out from behind his kit and assaults MES, to which he implores us to "Bear witness, laddies". Karl, Hanley and that Tommy guy all quit/sacked the next day.
There's about two minutes of my footage and it is really crappy-looking! Granted, it wasn't one of my best shoots, what with Brownies' having just built their gigantic stage and I wasn't prepared for that (TOO close), and of course it wasn't the greatest gig (The night before at Coney Island High was phenomenal - MES positively menacing with a black eye and the band smoking - there's a still photo in the film). But the worst part is it's from a very high-generation copy. I traded this with one guy in Manchester I traded lotsa Fall stuff with, and I assume he traded his out and they traded theirs out... But you'd think a bloody BBC researcher could have easily traced it back? But then maybe it wasn't in the budget. Maybe they liked that grainy bootleg look.
Oh well, at least I can say I've got footage in a BBC documentary!
At least that's something...

The 700 MB AVI single-download is HERE.

The 1.84 GB 3-part download: PART 1 * PART 2 * PART 3
(Download all 3 parts, double click file marked ".001" to extract all 3 parts and end up with one MPEG file. Burn to DVD, etc.)

Also: check out this very excellent compilation, Songs The Fall Covered over at Doctorfuckwit's blog!

16 comments:

Rich said...

I can't help but continue to love The Fall, despite M.E. Smith's dismissal of all his seminal-era bandmates and his taking a piss on John Peel's grave. Mark is Mark. There'd be no Fall without his hopelessly muddled poetry and skewed observations.
Yep. I'm also hoping someone puts out a sub-titled version of this doc.

Peter said...

At least it ain't half as bad as trying to understand Shane MacGowan in his doc, haha.

mietek said...

somewhere on The Fall's website there is the film's script

said...

Peter,
completely off subject, but I missed the dead-line for an invitation to Young Moss Tongue, one of my favorite blogs. Do you know how to contact them & can you let me/them know. Sorry to bug about something like this but need hooked-up.
Nathan

said...

Peter,
Thanks so much. Heard from the DustDevil. I'm in. Thanks for vouching for me. Opeth not really my thang, but free & pouring beers, hellyeah.

bumkuncha said...

great post, thanks a lot!!

Anonymous said...

"John Walters wrote me a letter and said 'you are the worst group I've ever seen. Even worse than Siouxsie and the Banshees.'

He said 'please do a session'".

Peter said...

Walters / Walton, same difference...
It's funny cos after I posted that I was listening to an old Ivor Cutler record and he was talking about John Walters from the BBC and I immediately thought, "Oh shit"...

Anonymous said...

i don't know what that fellow means by taking a piss on j. peels grave??? mark has never been a particularly sentimental fellow but i don't think he ever disrespected peely outright...has he??
thanks for the movie i enjoyed it alot...especially the early footage

Peter said...

Yeah, I don't know what he meant, either. Prolly misunderstanding MES's curmudgeonness...
--P

Anonymous said...

Managed to download the 3 files ok, but when I try to extract Part 001 I get an error 'the archive is either in an unknown format or damaged' Also can't see how extracting only Part 001 will also extract Part's 002 and 003 as well ?

Am I doing something stupid ? Any help appreciated.

Peter said...

What are you using to extract it? Stuffit Expander is free and works well. If you have a Mac I recommend BetterZip, which is what I archived the file with and it's free for 30 days. I don't know what to say for Windows users...

But regardless of what program you are using, they all "find" the other parts of a split archive on their own, just make sure they are named exactly The Fall - The Wonderful & Frightening World Of Mark E Smith.zip.001, .zip.002 and .zip.003

The only other thing is that maybe a file got damaged during downloading and you'll need to re-download one. This happened to a guy downloading my Mekons video.

Good luck and please let me know how it goes!
--Peter

ps There's always the single-download version if worse comes to worse.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the reply. Looks like the problem could be the file names. Windows XP did not recognise the .zip.001 extension so I renamed them to _001.zip etc it then recognised them as zip files which I tried to extract with Winrar.

Anonymous said...

The BBC did try and research back and find less grainy vid footage of Brownies. However they hit a brick wall with the person they got it from who told them it would be betraying a sacred trust of Fall fans...I thought it was incredibly well-filmed, btw, given the circs.

Peter said...

"Sacred trust", oh that's good!
Thank you for your kind words om my videography.
My indignation notwithstanding, I was of course happy to have contributed in some small way.

Rev. Dr. Moller. MDMA, THC and BAR. said...

No problem with extracting, thanks very much, seen it a few years back but looking forward to watching it again. Cheers.