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The Fallen: Life In and Out of Britain's Most Insane Group

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  276 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The Fallis one of the world's most iconic groups, led for the last30 years by the inimitable and enigmatic Mark E. Smith. They have released nearly30 studio albums, with in excess of 50musicians passing through their ranks. They are the Fallen; this is their story. Dave Simpson has spent two years of his life tracking down everyone who has ever played in the Fall. The resu ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Canongate UK (first published September 1st 2008)
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Jun 19, 2010 Buck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Buck by: Mark Desrosiers
This is Mark E. Smith:

He’s pretty much what he appears to be: a half-crazed, edentate alcoholic. He’s also a musical genius. Or so says John Peel, and so says just about everyone who’s ever worked with Smith, including those who want to stick a knife in his guts. All I know is, I’ve been listening to The Fall on a daily basis for years, and I still can’t decide whether I like them or not. But then, nobody likes The Fall: either you hate them or they end up changing your life.

The premise of The F
Paul Bryant

I spend too much time trying to get myself to like The Fall even though I think they're one of the most annoying bands ever, annoying because everybody I respect loves The Fall, and yet they sound like a cruddy unfunny cacophony fronted by a violent loudmouth with obvious mental problems, the guy you'd take one look at and quietly leave the pub in case he caught your eye. Actually that all sounds pretty good on paper, but in your he
Mark Desrosiers
Jun 17, 2010 Mark Desrosiers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Unfortunately Dave Simpson shoots himself in the foot by getting all mushy about his girlfriend just as she's obviously glarin' at his side of the bed while packing to leave. Empathy is not a major trait among Fall fans, let alone twitchy-eyed misanthropic readers of music journalists in general. Then, to make matters worse, there's this ridiculous chapter comparing Mark E. Smith to religious cult leaders, based on his browsing some books on the subject -- I'm guessing it's this part (not the bi ...more
MJ Nicholls
The Fall are a post-punk institution: an avant-garde band of shambolic renegades controlled and manipulated by enigmatic Mancunian mastermind Mark E. Smith. Their music is dissonant, unpleasant, thunderous, venomous, cerebral, and remarkably inventive. Smith is widely recognised as being one of the most original writers in the history of rock music.

Smith presaged the legion of cryptic alt-rock wordsmiths that followed in the ‘90s and ‘00s, his influence imprinted upon the songs of Pavement, Guid
May 27, 2011 Lee rated it liked it
Required reading for fans who've read Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith. Gets repetitive after 100+ pages but otherwise mindless rubbernecking enjoyment. The artificial narrative drive re: the difficulties of finding drummer Karl Burns seems tacked on at the end of chapters and gets a wee bit annoying, as does the continual reinforcement of the very well-established notion that life in "the weird and frightening world" (an annoyingly repeated phrase) was exciting, hyper-creative, pe ...more
Jun 28, 2011 mcgob rated it liked it
I would have liked this a whole lot more if the author hadn't felt it necessary to include his own sub-Nick Hornby manchild nonsense. Definitely worth it for Fall fanatics, though.
Stuart Douglas
Dec 04, 2009 Stuart Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In equal parts funny, self absorbed, painful and just plain odd this is the perfect accompaniment to listening to the Fall back catalogue.
Henry Withers
Jul 07, 2010 Henry Withers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best music book I ever read
Simon C
Jul 27, 2011 Simon C rated it really liked it
A great collection of interviews and stories about the Fall, probably for fans only.

I thought that in this book Dave Simpson put together a very impressive set of interviewees and captured the essence of a diverse group of people who once shared a stage with the enigma that is Mark E Smith.

Simpson is a huge fan himself and this shines throughout the book, although the elements about his search for former Fall members driving him mad and jeopardising his relationships are a bit far-fetched and
Dan Cohen
Jul 12, 2014 Dan Cohen rated it liked it
Great book for any Fall fan - you get to read lots of stories about the group and MES, get some insights into the various members of the Fallen and maybe MES himself. I say "maybe" because, although the author's conclusions are plausible, I wouldn't say they're proven. For me, the most notable thing was getting a realisation of just how chaotic the Fall are. Sometimes I've been to gigs and wondered why something was done a particular way, and now I realise that it's close to a miracle they ever ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Kurt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty fascinating account with a great premise; "What if I track down and interview all of the (40+!) ex-members of The Fall?"
However, by the end of the book, for me, it sort of crumbles under it's own weight. I am not a Fall obsessive, as is the author, and probably most of the intended audience, so his temptation to find relevance to The Fall or Mark E. Smith in seemingly every waking (and probably dreaming/sleeping) moment, is the very definition of "obsessive." It is interesting t
Liam H. Blues
Feb 02, 2011 Liam H. Blues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
A fantastic book about one of the greatest bands Britain has ever produced. Many tall tales and intriguing stories exist about The Fall, but almost all of them have been filtered through the bands mouthpiece and sole remaining original member, Mark E. Smith. In this book Simpson attempts to track down and interview the 40+ other musicians who have all gone through and then back out of the Falls revolving doors, and get their take on the Fall legend.

I thouroughly enjoyed this book, the interviews
Jun 19, 2013 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fallen has been on my to-read shelf for a while, but it was The Fall's new release, Re-Mit that made me actually pick it up. Variously storming and shambling, Re-Mit forcibly recalls legendary BBC DJ John Peel's oft-quoted praise of the band, "always different, always the same." Lead single "Sir William Wray" sounds like it would have been at home on The Frenz Experiment, whereas "Irish" and "Noise" could almost have been found on Slates. The whole left me wanting to immerse myself in things ...more
Apr 26, 2011 Jlawrence rated it really liked it
The Fall is a group that's been around for 30+ years (and still going) and the only constant has been frontman Mark E Smith with his hilariously caustic and cerebral wordplay and rants, and the Fall 'sound' that's been maintained even though MES himself is not a musician and the group has had amazing turnover through the years. Dave Simpson took on the quest of tracking down all 40+ ex-members of The Fall, and for the most part succeeded, even with people who were band members for all of one gig ...more
Chris O'driscoll
Simpson can't write for toffee, and the over-use of 'weird and frightening world' is aggravating. The only things worth reading are the quotes from past-members, yet Simpson seems to think his life is just as interesting. And the Karl Burns stuff was tedious and cringey.
Alex McGhie
Jul 29, 2015 Alex McGhie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough investigative piece from a huge fan of the band. Tracking down 43 ex-members is no mean feat, a real labour of love. Superbly written too with great anecdotes from the one-time Fallers.
Scott Jacobson
Very interesting, obsessive history of the band and Mark E. Smith, but maybe a bit too comprehensive. Some of the former members Simpson tracks down are fascinating and fun to spend time with, but most -- for instance, some poor kid who stumbled into Smith's path and ended up playing bass for a week -- are there only to fulfill the book's stunty premise. Still: entertaining even for a non-diehard fan.
This book is a journalistic ploy to throw shite at someone who can duck & dive & not even catch one fragment of the nonsense. Simpson claims to be fan of The Fall but seems to be trying to make money out of cheap journalistic trickery = its like one of those documentaries about Bigfoot that never actually finds Bigfoot or even a reallly convincing footprint.
Gunnar Hjalmarsson
Elst er við fyrrum meðlimi The Fall (eitthvað um 50 talsins) og þeir rekja sögu sína í bandinu. Flestir eru á því að Mark E Smith sé æðislegur snillingur þótt hann sé geðveikur harðstjóri og fyllibytta. Þokkaleg bók en skrifuð með alltaf mikilli nördavirðingu fyrir byttunni.
May 10, 2011 Blane rated it really liked it
Shelves: music, 2011, pop-culture
Fun book for the obsessive Fall fan. Since there really are no other kinds of Fall fans & you've gotten as far as to find out about the book, read it--you will enjoy it. Just don't expect any major revelations or insights into MES's Wonderful and Frightening World outside of his enigmatic personality and behavior, which you probably already know.
Jun 30, 2011 Pierre rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mark Smith. Clever man. Genius. Bully. There ain't any point reading much about the others (Exception Scanlon, S Hanley, Riley). My mum's got better anecdotes about my dad than most of this lot have about their time in The Fall.

This book fizzles out like a damp squib the closer you get to the end.....
K.A. Laity
Jul 04, 2011 K.A. Laity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb: Simpson details the high attrition rate of this singular band as his own live unravels, because as all Fall fans learn, it's an obsession. Striking that almost all of the "Fallen" will gladly return to the fold should they be called by the curmudgeonly MES. Of course, of course: and that's why it's the Fall.
Robert Brokenmouth
Pretty damn good introduction to the man Mark E. Smith and The Fall. About the only thing you need to do now is to dig out everything you can find, probably best in chronological order to get the full dirty impact. Astonishing lyricist, Smith.
Phil Overeem
Jun 06, 2011 Phil Overeem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just started reading this this morning and I can tell I will consume it as if I had just emerged canteenless from the desert. One man goes in search of everyone who was ever in The Fall--and in search of Mr. Mark E. Smith. Great even after 15 pages!
Phil Overeem
Jun 06, 2011 Phil Overeem rated it liked it
Fascinating if at times repetitive and draggy (Hey! just like The Fall!), this book indirectly documents the genius/madness of Mark E. Smith's punk programme. I'd mildly recommend it, though it's a must for hardcore Fall fans.
Nicholas Hunter
The story of The Fall, one of Britain's most long-lived and influential groups, told through the stories of the dozens of musicians who have been kicked out of the band over the years.
Jul 05, 2011 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
much like the band itself, it was quite repetitive...something that works much better for music than books. a noble concept, though. and a giggle.
Dec 08, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You probably shouldn't read this unless you really like The Fall. And if you really like The Fall, you have probably already read this.
Jul 30, 2013 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abit 'The Fall: A Soap Opera' but very entertaining. I love music but rarely read music books. This one has inspired me to read more.
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