As you’ve probably heard by now, Mark E. Smith, the leader of iconic post-punk stalwarts The Fall, passed away last week at the age of 60. His health had been in decline for some time, as evidenced by the band’s last two American tours being abruptly canceled, as well as recent stage entrances being made by wheelchair.
Within the pantheon of WPRB, the Fall are an act of unique prominence. I can’t think of another cult band that’s existed continuously for so many years and which has been adored by so many WPRB DJs spread across four different decades. As such, when the news of Smith’s death broke, I started seeing a lot of Fall-related waxing from current and former PRB folks in my social media feeds. (A trend including content from early 80s alums, as well as folks who graduated from college as recently as two years ago.) This post attempts to gather as many of those images, words, and related gushings as possible into a singular MES/Fall/WPRB content depot.
Before we go any further, let it be stated quite clearly: Mark E. Smith was a hugely problematic character. He was arrested and charged with assaulting bandmate Julia Nagle in 1998, and there are numerous accounts of awful behavior on his part over the years. But as he was the only constant member of the band through countless lineups, any notion or idea of the Fall continuing without him is simply absurd. (As Smith once famously declared “If it’s me and yer granny on bongos, it’s the Fall.“)
As such, think of this post not as a deification of Smith—a man whose inexcusable actions should be neither forgotten nor sugar-coated—but rather, a summary of how his band’s music shaped the lives, experiences, and musical travels of so many WPRB DJs across multiple generations.
To begin, I present the above slideshow which comprises fresh scans of every piece of available Fall vinyl from WPRB’s record library. (Except the ‘Slates’ 10″, which I forgot to grab before hoofing all those records across town to scan them… apologies.) Many of the hastily taped (and re-taped) spines should give you a sense of how heavily WPRB’s airstaff has hit these LPs over the years. Note that you can pause the slideshow by mousing over any of the images.
Below are other various Fall-related pieces of media and writing from or involving a slew of WPRB DJs from the 1980s-now.
RIP Mark E. Smith. And farewell to a criterion WPRB band.