Renegade
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Renegade

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  435 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Reams of stuff have been written about me in the past, but never in my own words: this is the proper one’ Mark E. Smith Still going after thirty years, The Fall are one of the most distinctive British bands, their music — odd, spare, cranky and circular — an acknowledged influence on The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, Nirvana and Franz Ferdinand. And Mark E. Smith IS The Fall....more
Published (first published January 1st 2009)
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MJ Nicholls
A slender and typically unrepentant diatribe from MES, stretched into the only ‘official’ book we’re likely to get on The Fall. Dave Simpson’s book The Fallen gets to the heart of the fan’s obsession with the group, providing a more compassionate look at a band so beloved among writers and word-lovers. It’s a little more, um . . . balanced.

This book acts like an extension of the MES myth, sprinkling a few surprises here and there among the liquored ramblings of the great man, transcribed (and no...more
melissa
this guy is such a dick and a TOTAL eeyore, but he's also totally hilarious. only for upper-level Fall fans, i'd say.
Roderick
Drunk Manc Threat-uh.
Mark Desrosiers
This reads like a combination of I Lived to Tell it All, and KISS and Make Up. Like George Jones, Mark E. Smith doesn't seem to know where his gifts came from (or even what they are), but gives himself ample room for cranky old-fogeyisms and bibulous self-handicapping. And like Gene Simmons, Mark regrets nothing, defends his vices, snipes at ex-bandmates, and comes across like a cocksure (or maybe "tonguesure") asshole. (But unlike Gene, Mark's knack for lucre obviously ain't all there, consider...more
j. ergo
May 14, 2012 j. ergo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fall fans
He is the Hip Priest. He is the Cockney James Brown. He is the Diceman, Squidlord, and the Big Prinz. He is the man whose head expanded, the great M.E.S. He is Mark E. Smith. He is the Fall.

The Fall are unequivocally my favorite band forever, and I actually think about shit like that. This year the Fall became 35 years old. Mark E. Smith is the only surviving original member, and not by a close margin either. Upon forming in 1977, the group soon became a vehicle for Smith’s personality and his t...more
Caroline
Well, I guess it's no surprise that this book is entertaining, and lacks focus. Meandering doesn't even begin to describe the journey each page takes. And I even skipped the poetry/prose interludes. The thousands of pints Mark E Smith has had over the years have done nothing to dull this man's ego or judgmentalism. Thankfully for us it hasn't dulled his drive for The Fall. But on the prior points there is a lot of shit talking in this book, and very little praise for anyone outside of Mark's pub...more
Cole
Jul 01, 2008 Cole rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fuckfaces (Fall fans pet name for themselves)
Ostensibly the memoirs of The Fall's lead vocalist, my guess is that the writing process consisted of Mark E. Smith sitting down in a pub and spewing volumes of autobiographical vitriol to some journo with a micro-cassette recorder. Which was subsequently transcribed verbatim...

Which could've been any day in the life of Smith... but in this instance, he got paid.

Sample quote: "Degrees have a way of warping people -- it's not good for people to spend that amount of time at university, acting like...more
Albert
You're a bit barmy if yr not planning on reading this lot. The philosophies and pre-cogs of the drunken-grump of post-punk noise rockers, The Fall, Mark E. Smith tells it like he sees it, mostly how it is and some how it should be. He's not as flowery as his fellow Mancunian Morrissey, but he is Norman Mailer compared to Mozzer's Gore Vidal. Unapologetically drunk and literary, with a penchant for taking the piss out of palaver-slinging twats mithering in their own stupidity. He tends to show a...more
Eric Auld
A little rough to get through at first, until I got used to the rambling tone. Mark E. Smith obviously sat down with a tall glass of whisky and told another Manchesterite his stories and strong opinions on just about everything, from the music scenes he's been in to the drunken interviews he's given to the faults of every single person he's ever met.

M.E.S. is a curmudgeonly old bastard, but he thrives in his role. There's obviously some narcissism at play here, and the inability to take respons...more
Matt Suder
1/2 as long as Keef's bio & 2x as fun...
Guy Mankowski
The memoir takes the form of a 250 page rant, in which a loose narrative following The Falls career is interjected with sequences in which Smith vents his spleen at critics, former band mates and tendencies he perceives in our culture. These are interspersed with asynactic sequences of stream of consciousness which seem more reflective of The Fall's mystical lyrics than a straight narrative does. By his own admission, Smith’s aim for the book is to ‘create a Mein Kampf for the Hollyoaks generati...more
Margaret Cooney
I have to confess I am something of a fan girl and have loved The Fall for longer than I care to remember, so I will get that out of the way first. But I'n no obsessive in the 'he is not appreciated' camp. The last few albums have been crap and lately, Mark E Smith, as much as I love the man, has become self parodying. I really do wish he hadn't dissipated all his genius on booze, so was worried this might just be a rambling, bitter reminiscence of a drunk, but I need not have feared. It is hila...more
Jonathan Hutchins
Never liked The Fall much (and I was listening to Peel solid from 1979 for a few years) but there's no denying Mark E. Smith can't be ignored. I want to pigeonhole him as a smart-mouthed alcoholic has-been, and I can't. It's in large part a class thing - much of what he says about working-class vs middle-class attitudes in the North is absolutely spot-on. His self-comparison to Alex Ferguson is not as hubristic as it sounds - yes he routinely fucks off band members and has left traumas and lifel...more
Ben
Ghostwritten stream-of-consciousness diatribes and a few chapters of prose poetry with ellipses galore in this very entertaining volume by Mark E. Smith. What can I say? It's not a history of The Fall, it's not an autobiography or memoir in the classic sense... I guess it's closest to books like Please Kill Me or Mike Watt's Spiels of a Minuteman. It's got a lot of entertaining stories, a general outline of the impetus behind a few of The Fall's projects, some personal philosophy, and a bit of l...more
t o n y
If you've ever wondered what goes on inside the head of Mark E Smith look no further than this book. The "Back in my day this would never have happened..." and "...of course I was right all along" attitude could be a complete turn off for some people, but I loved the dark, grumbling and hilarious reminiscences of (love him or hate him) a very clever, witty man.

From a historical point of view, Renegade offers a brilliantly alternate portrait of Manchester's music scene, well outside the overly ch...more
Mike
If you expect anything different from Mark E. Smith than dry barbs of cutting humor and working-class intellectualism, you probably don't know enough about Mark E. Smith to have picked this book up. As an American, some of the finer points of his music and his references in this book are lost on me, but the personality, the wit, and the constant jabs at Oasis never fail to win me over.

Much as you'd expect, he comes across as both familiar enough to be an old guy you'd have a beer with down at t...more
Aedan Lake
Great fun: partly an autobiography, partly an extended rant against a music industry (and more generally, a Britain) dominated by middle-class, London-centric poseurs. MES has a talent for skewering hypocrisy and pretentiousness, and opening the book to any random page guarantees iconoclastic wisdom.

Page 154: Brighton is "The Guardian's version of The Prisoner" with Julie Burchill and Paul McCartney as the screws.

As well as the rock'n'roll insights (Noel Gallagher checking what brand MES's shir...more
Rob
Like Doctor Who and James Bond, people's favourite Fall albums tend to depend on the age they were when they first got into the subject. Hence, it's interesting to see which Mark E. Smith rates the highest. That apart, however, this is as rambling and incoherent a book as you would expect from the man while targets vary widely and Morrissey seems chilled out in comparison when it comes to axes to grind. The result, sadly, is tedium and inconsequence.
Matt
I don't want to gush over MES, but he's had an incredibly long career with a massive win/loss ratio. Even the duds have some gems on them. In this book, he gives you some kernels of wisdom from his years leading a band and being on the road plus some insight into his creative process and what he thinks the high points of his career are. It's written in a very fresh, MES-staccato style not unlike his best songs (Green Eyed Loco-Man, Container Drivers, Totally Wired). His 3 personal faves seem to...more
Simon King
Quite disappointing if you want to read a coherent, well-parsed biography of his career. Enlightening if you want 300 pages of continuous ranting (no different from a run-of-the-mill Fall song, come to think of it). Seeing that he didn't actually sit down to write it, don't blame MES, blame the ghost writer. (Apparently he had a nervous breakdown whilst typing up this protracted diatribe. Poor soul!)

I'd really like to see MES produce a literary work some day. I recall reading a 80s interview (m...more
Paul Saxton
Smith should have written this book a few years earlier, when he was sharper, cooler, more focused and less of an embittered drunk. Still, this collection of transcribed interviews is entertaining enough, with Smith obviously playing to the crowd a bit and living up to his image of an avuncular, although often belligerent, tyrant. Which is why it's perfect for the Guardian-reading, casual Fall fan who wants to just dip into the strange world of MES.

For those of us, however, who are a little more...more
Colin Milligan
A real rollercoaster read. Entertaining, and eloquent, you quickly get caught up with MES's 100mph mind and spend a couple of hundred pages playing along in his private drinking game.

Throuhg the eighties and nineties I bought many Fall singles as they came out - though I never bought their albums - so I was able to follow the different phases of his career easily enough. But the best bits of the book were the personal diatribes and preaching - if there's one thing MES knows, it's what's wrong w...more
C.J.
For everyone that thought The Fall's lead singer, Mark E. Smith, was an overly opinionated, arrogant bastard, this book will not change your mind. What it will do give you at least some insight as to why he thinks and acts the way he has done for his entire professional career.

The only caveat is, for all his talk in the book and elsewhere about liking to write - as if his lyrical output for the past 30-plus years wasn't enough evidence - it is too obvious that the book itself is the product of...more
Oscar
Very obviously one sided and hilarious view of what The Fall have been in a somewhat less cynical (or apparently less self aware) view than Luke Haines's Bad Vibes.
Nick
About what you'd expect from Mark Smith's (ghost written) autobiography. It reads like a drunken self-justifying rant but it's quite good when Smith's writing about his tastes in literature (he's a big fan of Arthur Machen,he prefers Ginsberg to Burroughs, he was taught English by an ex-roommate of Tolkien, leading to a protest to administration about having to read The Hobbit) and it gets laugh out loud funny after he winds up, and deservedly so, in Riker's Island on assault and battery charges...more
Chris O'driscoll
The best autobiography ever. Completely hilarious, Smith cracks me up. I read it every weekend with a few cans of Holsten Pils before I hit the pub.

A proper music book.
Mark Love
Mark E Smith is a legend. Fact. The book proves it, in case you were in any doubt.
The white crap who talks back is in full flow, turning his attention to all and everything, with trademark cynicism and deadpan humour. Celebrities, politicians and sound engineers – but mostly musicians – no one is immune from his often contrary rants.
Loosely following the history of the Fall, the splits, the egos (his) the drugs (all of ‘em) the booze, the bankruptcy – it’s all here in spectacularly random fashio...more
China Bialos
I'm a giant Fall fan, and found Smith's personality to be a mixture of all that I thought he'd be; he's quirky without realizing it, and he's surprisingly old-fashioned for someone who might've musically seemed so ahead of his time. He's preachy and fatherly and gives unwanted advice, his politics are vague, and he speaks of his former bandmates with a frankness that is not defensive but instead signals that he's unaware that he's done any wrong. He suffers from a good amount of "who, me?" But I...more
Gunnar Hjalmarsson
Mark röflar út í eitt með nokkuð línulegu samhengi. "Ég er ekki alki, drekk bara mikið, allir eru fávitar nema George Best, þegi þú, það eru bara þrír stólar heima hjá mér, einn fyrir mig, annar fyrir konuna og sá þriðji fyrir gesti. Þegi þú. Ég er ekki alki." Inn í þetta blandast hljómsveitamál og plötuútgáfur. Mark virðist ekki þola fólk sem fílar The Fall og kann best við fólk sem veit ekki einu sinni að hann sé í bandinu. Sem sé, nokkuð öfugsnúið allt saman, enda karlfauskurinn "spes". Skemm...more
William
I hope this book turns out like Mein Kampf for the Hollyoaks generation.

Mark E. Smith has been seen by many as something of an enigma for a very long time now. And so, it's fascinating to read through page after page of the man's own words as he discusses the The Fall's continued development.

It's short, almost as if it's self-consciously trying not to overstay its welcome, and whilst he comes across as quite contrary at times, it's nevertheless a revealing insight into the mind of an otherwise m...more
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“If you're going to play it out of tune, then play it out of tune properly.” 27 likes
“There was a lot of pretense floating around; not just with aunties and all that but with emotions and how people saw you. They had a point. There's a lot to learn from that generation -- the stoic approach. I think it's disgusting how they've been forgotten about in this way. It's the American hippies' fault, they saw an in there, a way of making money out of bad moods. That's all it is most of the time. You can't expect to feel cock-a-hoop every minute of every day. My mam and dad's generation understood this. They were just thankful the bombs had stopped threatening their lives. They just wanted to get on with living.” 12 likes
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