Real Gone’s End of Year Round-Up, 2018

In 2018, Real Gone celebrated its ninth birthday. It’s been a long and hard road to this point, but we’re pleased to be celebrating our most successful year online to date. Hundreds of new albums have been heard and a record number of gigs have been attended. Not only has this year been our biggest success…it’s also been our favourite.

Nearing the close of 2018, it’s time to look back and celebrate our favourite events – including our top ten  album releases…

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Normally, each year has an album that’s a clear stand out. Making that distinction this time around has been somewhat trickier, so we’re awarding a joint “album of the year” to two very different albums. If that seems like a cop-out, we don’t care…there really was only a hair’s breadth between them.

Drum roll…

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Hit The North: Real Gone meets Paul Hanley

For most people, Paul Hanley will be best known as the drummer with The Fall during their “two drummers period” between 1980 and 1985. He is currently a member of Brix and The Extricated, a band comprising several ex-Fall members. In the last quarter of 2017, Paul’s book ‘Leave The Capital’, in which he looks at the history of various recordings made in Manchester, was published by Route Publishing. In March 2018, Paul met with Lee from Real Gone to discuss ‘Leave The Capital’ and more besides.

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A Beginner’s Guide To The Fall: The Essential Albums

John Peel – The Fall’s biggest and outspoken fan – famously claimed they were “always different, always the same”. In many ways, Peel was right. With each new Fall album, you could never guarantee you’d like all of the material; you couldn’t even guarantee you’d remember any of the material after the album finished, but through it all, there would be Mark E. Smith, founder and only constant member, gleefully bamboozling the listener with rambling, obtuse lyrics. A lyricist and performer like no other, Smith’s work balanced precariously between the utterly mundane and bizarre, humorous and spiteful. Such a one-off proposition that even imitators could never quite match his unique style.

Smith steered his artistic vision through forty years and over sixty members. Sometimes the addition of a new band member or even Smith’s current mood could change the sound and fortunes of a new Fall record. The Fall back catalogue is one of the most daunting of any band’s, comprising of thirty two studio albums, as many live albums and over forty compilations to date. Given that Smith himself cared nothing for quality control and released material at a frighteningly prolific rate and then expected fans to work at reaping their own musical reward, finding the genuinely brilliant material within The Fall’s oeuvre can be like panning for gold, especially for newer listeners.

Here is Real Gone’s guide to The Fall essentials!

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MARK E. SMITH – The Post Nearly Man

Modern Energy…and what it means to you and I” spouts Mark E Smith at the beginning of one of the tracks on this CD. A man with a skewed take on life, you may be forgiven for thinking a spoken word release from The Fall’s front man (and only constant member) could be an interesting prospect indeed. He goes from mentioning energy – something this collection of ramblings severely lacks – to mentioning Richard and Judy and then “Fred West’s sweaty family” in the space of less than a minute. As he does so, it becomes obvious that rather than being an outing of interesting beat or slam poetry as championed by Tom Waits, Henry Rollins or that under-rated wordsmith Mike Doughty, this is little more than a vanity project from a man who’d rather confuse and frustrate than entertain.

Most of the pieces on this CD feature just Smith’s drawling voice (which at times sounds like a self-parody, complete with ‘…ah’ uttered at the end of his lines at semi-regular intervals).  Sometimes, though, there’s musical accompaniment, but it’s hard to say whether this was designed for this on purpose, or whether it was leftover music just thrown in to relieve the boredom. You’d think that any kind of musical accompaniment would add colour, but it’s largely ugly, Casiotone nonsense.

‘The Horror In Clay’ touches on the workings of the human mind at the outset, but that’s only because Smith quotes from HP Lovecraft. After a clanking noise, the listener is thrown into a montage of tapes containing bits of random speech recorded on a tape deck, complete with hiss. At times, the speech is drowned out by aeroplanes overhead.

‘Visit Of An American Poet’ (split into two parts) may sound like an anecdote about meeting a mentor, but instead, it’s a collection of seemingly unrelated words which barely make sentences. Throwing in an echo fails to make this any more interesting; it just masks the delivery. This is punctuated by a jarring keyboard noise, over which a woman asks ‘why is there so much shit music?’ There are sounds of conversation, but aside from a couple of uses of the f-word, “…American poet…plagiarism…“, it’s near impossible to make out any intelligible words. Smith then comes back with some specially written prose: here he talks about Hitler and a dolphin restaurant but follows it with some other mostly incoherent stuff. The music stops and Mark begins to shout. It’s still gibberish, of course. Move along, there’s nothing for you here.  When his voice returns for the second half, there’s a mention of a radiator, three people, a girlfriend and a can of fifty-nine pence beer. I suspect it makes no sense to anyone but Smith.  ‘Typewriter’ as the title suggests, features a dominant typewriter noise with some speech thrown in, as if someone is doing dictation. It’s rather pointless again, although it has a pleasing bass riff in the middle…but it’s fleeting.

There’s about another half an hour or so of bits and pieces on this CD which is difficult to digest, let alone pretend to be entertained by.  Even the most patient Fall fans among you will struggle to find any real coherence in anything Smith has written much of the time; at some points he’s even reading out the punctuation, as if it helps give this any real structure. Smith seems to delight in being difficult and it is likely he loves the deliberately impenetrable qualities ‘The Post Nearly Man’ offers.

Currently, it’s one of the only Fall related items which is out of print and it’s probably staying that way. For Fall completists only…and even they should approach with caution.

November 2007