Some time ago now, back when there seemed to be things around like jobs and free time and money, I embarked upon something called ‘The Dylan Retrospective’. Every week for what seemed like ages and ages I would listen to a couple of Bob Dylan albums and write what was intended to be a pithy review, which then I emailed to friends – by the end of the process I found I had written longer and longer reviews, and sent them to loads of people, some of whom I’d hardly ever met but who expressed an interest. It began as a bit of a laugh, but it soon became clear that it offered multiple rewards – it afforded me an opportunity to complete my collection of Dylan records, prompted discussion amongst my peers, allowed my to flex my writing muscles, and helped me promote and formally explore the development of the greatest singer songwriter that this fair planet has ever seen. It was, in short, a very good thing, and brought a smile to a few people’s faces.
Given that I had such a good time doing it, it’s perhaps a surprise that it hass taken me so long to do another, but this isn’t the sort of thing you indulge in lightly. It takes time, it takes effort and attention, and you know – just know – that there are going to be tough periods. In any body of work there will be average bits and crappy bits, and when you consider the length of time Dylan has been producing stuff that means you’ll have weeks here and there which are dull, and odd ones which are painful. Also, you have to be inspired at the outset by who you’re going to be listening to and writing about for the next however many months – a U2 retrospective is doomed from the outset.
In terms of other forms of artistic expression, I will be embarking on a Doctor Who retrospective this year (this will take me roughly 8 years to complete, and the very thought of it fills me with joy). I’d quite happily do a James Joyce one, would be tempted by The West Wing, or The Wire (were it not for the fact that every Guardian reading pseudo-intellectual has already done those), but in terms of music there’s only one other body of work that’s even worth considering…
I shall not bore you with a potted history of The Fall – there are plenty enough of those around, and besides, that would cut against the grain of the whole project, which is coming at something with fresh ears and an open mind. Suffice to say, I have been a massive fan of The Fall for what must be nearly a decade now, and their music never fails to surprise me. Surprise and delight me most of the time, but sometimes confuse me, repulse me, excite me, inspire me… and that’s sort of the point – the music of The Fall never fails to provoke something tangible in me. Rarely if ever am I bored by The Fall, and if I am I am usually bored and angry for being bored.
So, the time is right for a Fall Retrospective, starting from their earliest recordings up to Erstaz GB or whatever is the most recent thing they’ve produced by the time we finish this… and yes, I said ‘we’. Most pleasingly, my friend and Pisco Sour Hour bandmate Edward Peter Newton Piper is joining me on this little adventure. I am proud to say I am the person who got Ed into The Fall, primarily on our road-trip around Spain, where one of the CDs we had to keep us amused was the greatest hits compilation “50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong”, a highly recommended introduction to this most prolific of groups. And since then we’ve enjoyed learning about this mindbogglingly bizarre music together, being inspired in our own music, and often talking in code at band rehearsals, which is met with bemusement by Andy or Mary until one of us confesses ‘it’s a Fall lyric’.
So there you have it – every Monday, starting from the 19th we will be posting our ramblings about the Fall, chronologically as best we can, and with deep thoughts and insight and joy and occasional annoyance. Enjoy.