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The Fallen: Life In and Out of Britainís Most Insane Group [Paperback]

David Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

6 Aug 2009
Ever been held hostage in a dressing room with your parents? Ever been thrown off the bus in the middle of a Swedish forest or abandoned at a foreign airport? Ever been asked to play at one of the UK’s biggest music festivals with musicians you’ve just met who are covered in blood, or taken part in a ‘recording session’ in a speeding Transit? If so you’ve probably been in The Fall. Dave Simpson made it his mission to track down everyone who has ever played in Britain’s most berserk, brilliant group. He uncovers a changing Britain, tales of madness and genius, and wreaks havoc on his personal life.

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The Fallen: Life In and Out of Britainís Most Insane Group + Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (6 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847671446
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847671448
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The best book yet on a band that have evolved into a cross between a large Victorian family and a rehab unit. --The Times (music books of the year 2008)

The general reader will enjoy The Fallen more [than Mark E. Smith's Renegade!] --Observer (music books of 2008)

A hoot.
--Robert Sandall, Sunday Times (music books of the year)

Book Description

'The best book yet on a band that have evolved into a cross between a large Victorian family and a rehab unit.' The Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Powder Keg 10 Nov 2009
By Supertzar TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mark E Smith has been fairly derogatory about this book - his boast of having burnt it appears proudly on the front cover. And yet it's an intriguing idea: With the largely unmusical Smith consistently producing authentically Fall-sounding albums regardless of line-up (he famously said "if it's me and your granny on bongos, it's still The Fall") what exactly does he do to his musicians to help them hit what many regard as their creative peaks and what insights can they offer into the fascinating mind of this bizarre and somewhat other-worldly character?

Simpson tries to combine this worthy musical odyssey with that most recent phenomenon, the jaunty but pointless quest. It's not quite Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, but his structuring of the book as a journey towards a largely unlegendary drummer is rather contrived. The text is further 'enhanced' by an unwelcome commentary on the disintegration of his love life. These laboured narrative devices are there to serve a purpose, which is to distract the reader from the pond-skimming depth and repetition of each interview. Simpson seems so overwhelmed at having tracked down somebody who played the kazoo for one night in 1983 that he has forgotten to prepare any questions and by comparison, he makes Jools Holland look like Jeremy Paxman.

All this is a great shame, because his research is excellent and his dedication unswerving. He formulates some interesting theories along the way as to what drives Mark E Smith, but whilst many of his interviewees are legendary to Fall fans, we quickly realise that talking to the monkeys rather than the organ grinder can only yield so much. Sad to say, but if it's funny, legend enhancing MES anecdotes you're after, I'd check out Stuart Maconie's Cider with Roadies instead.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life before Gok 12 Nov 2009
This is definitely not just a book for Fall obsessives- although it could be the start of a perilous journey in that it was for the writer himself, whose capering escapades in search of the numerous ex members of the post punk band are relayed in the book.

I do like the Fall but it was really the personal stories that drew me in. All human life is here- including Brix Smith Start, now more famous for helping us choose what to wear, to people whose daily lives are equally distant from the Fall days, now as likely to be spent in salesrooms, farmyards and academia as the recording studio.

The book surveys the huge diversity of people that have been drawn into Mark E Smith's orbit, and captures their reflections on what have been mad, intense, and for many, the most important, time of their lives. They, and the author, describe how their lives have been changed, turned upside down, or for the spared few, enlivened for a few hours or days, by their connection to the infamously idiosyncratic group.

A unique perspective on a band then, but also a quirky and touching collection of human stories which captures much about modern britain, life in the north, and the importance of making and hearing music.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Fairly dull - just like ex-members of The Fall 23 Sep 2013
By Joe 90
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although there are some interesting stories and insights in here, on the whole this book promises more than it actually delivers. Simpson is too much of a fan to really be objective in his writing, and the ex-members stories rarely rise above the level of "Mark went mental in backstage and threw a corkscrew at the drummer". Highlights for me were the interviews with female members - Carol, Brix and Julia especially.

Simpson overplays the "I must be crazy trying to interview all 40 ex members of The Fall" card, to the point where it's self congratulatory, and ultimately a fairly pointless endeavor. He runs out of steam in the second half as an endless succession of musicians who played barely a couple of gigs with the band repeat very similar tales.

Fans of The Fall will want this book regardless, but I found Smith's own rants in "Renegade" much more entertaining (and annoying).
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What really went on there ... 28 Sep 2012
By seanjm
Anyone who ever stopped to think about all those other people who pack out mark e smith into a group should read this. Simpson goes through personal hell , goodbye partner to a container driver , feels somewhat hexed , yet in uncovering the back story of those members of the Fall he shines a light on the maverick tendencies of Mark e Smith. Of course the book isn't really about the people , it's about Smith. How we drags them in , often by surprise ..and how he disposes of them ...often he just leaves them dangling like jilted teenagers. The Fall are probably the most complex group of the past 30 years , the interpersonal relationships provide just one angle to this understanding. Buy it , read it , share it ...just don't let your wife see you spending too much time within !
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does anyone have the movie rights? 13 Oct 2009
I enjoyed this book - who could play Mark E Smith in the film version?

As a moderate (rather than obsessive, as the author enthusiastically is) fan of The Fall, I've been inspired to re-visit some of their stuff, and have even added to my CD collection. So, according to the author, I'm clearly falling out of favour with Mark E Smith by becoming more of a fan. Or does that only apply to prospective group members? Either way, I'm contributing to Mark E's pension fund so he ought to be glad to see the book published, rather than burning it page by page, if that's what he did!

I think the inclusion of the author's own biographical detail makes for a more interesting read - in the way that a good novel will often have plot and sub-plot. But, without getting too Lit Critty - this book is just entertaining - I reckon plenty of people who know little or nothing of The Fall would enjoy reading it - it's not a crime thriller, but it is a thorough piece of investigative journalism, and I was drawn into that process. So for any non-Fallers who might get it in their xmas stocking, and are moved to invest in a soundtrack to the book - I'd personally recommend starting with any of "the Brix era" CDs. (Note to Amazon: have I earned a commission on music sales?)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a great read. Couldn't put it down.
Published 12 days ago by Mr. Simon J. Barratt
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable ramble through Fall world
I'm not surprised to read that this started as a piece in The Guardian - it's essentially a series of interview transcriptions stitched together with a few autobiographical details... Read more
Published 14 months ago by T Westcott
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fall and Insanity
Dave Simpson describes The Fall as "insane": and mental health metaphors commonly crop up both within Fall lyrics and in commentary upon the band. Read more
Published 16 months ago by David Toube
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally Wired (well almost)
I bought this book on the strength of a good review (Q Magazine) then bottled out of reading for a while.
Why? Read more
Published 23 months ago by Barmee
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book
I really enjoyed this book. A difficult band to say the least. I had decided the band had a few good tracks but most of it was Mark E Smith waffling indecipherable lyrics. Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2012 by Ian Chamberlain
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Essential reading for any Fall fan. Dave Simpson writes in an informal style as he goes about the not inconsiderable task of tracking down 'The Fallen' ex members. Read more
Published on 12 May 2012 by Amazonian
3.0 out of 5 stars These are the three Rs - repetition, repetition, repetition
The previous 3-star review has it about right. This is a cracking idea for a newspaper article, bloated into book form. Read more
Published on 14 July 2010 by CER
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I've Ever Read!
This is certainly the best book ever written about The Fall and, coincidentally, the best book I've ever read (and I've read a few hundred thousand). Read more
Published on 31 Jan 2010 by Aged 59
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