Saturday, 16 April 2011

Day 33: A hate for slate.

So I've had a request from follower of this blog 'ruiend' who points out that I haven't done anything off the oft-overlooked but much-loved 'Slates' album (or mini album type affair). This is true, so hopefully, this will re-tilt the balance as I think so far, the majority of my blog entries have been about 90s Fall tracks, although I'm not sure, hopefully you all think its a fair balance, I didn't want to be limited by chronological order, meaning I can pick at whim and will what I write about, and you can too.

Song: Slates, Slags, etc
Album: Slates

Year: 1981

So here's one of the most abrasive tracks I can think of by the group, simplistic in extremis thanks to its two-note riff that underpins what Mark even shouts at the start as a 'definitive rant' showing even this early, he was aware of his reputation as a man of words and opinion. I've no real idea of what he means by slates (except the roofing-tile material, maybe it goes right through him) but hatred is poured in buckets upon 'male slags' which I can empathise with, I'm not a macho type by any stretch of the imagination so I hate those who are for no real reason, seems MES does too.

I must mention that first and foremost, this is The Fall at their most caustic and pissed off, the production on here is scratchy, tinny, trebled up to the max and is nigh-on irritating, but therein lies its charm, to go along with some vicious lyrics, MES has engineered a horrific racket to go with it, almost anti-music to show his intentions. This chimes with a relatively recent genre, black metal, in which teens created a kind of proto-death metal sound but removed all production values and any semblance of bass. The phrase usually coined is 'wasps in a biscuit tin' by critics, I won't bang on about obscure Norwegian bands on here for long, but listen to this slice of waspness by Darkthrone and you'll see what I mean, suits their dark lyrics and themes, usually laughably sixth form fare but still sounds incredible today.

Back to slates and slags, MES focuses hate upon those he hates, this must have been very cathartic to record, lyrics like: "Male slags knock over your drink/Pay for correct amount spilt" give a definite image of the kind of people he is talking about, what I guess is the middle to upper class spods who act as if privilege is a god-given right, who as he terms 'kill the safety in our lands' and 'ream off names of books and bands'.

I guess he is grabbing out at people he can't stand, but I do wonder if there's any jealousy going on at all, I doubt there is much, but maybe a smidgen. At any rate, it almost runs like a list of things he cannot stand against this particular group of people, I love the comparison to actual slate that occurs later on: 'They are the grey ones of the state I relate' perhaps meaning that they are dull, lifeless people who make up society in a similar way to the slates that make up the structure of a roof, ever mysterious, this is just another line we could debate all day.

I like the images that come with the lines: "Okay mates/Let's get onto the valley of the weights" I can almost see two chaps in rugby shirts trundling off to a gym to get fit together, MES has obviously always had it in for the yuppies and this is only their fourth album!

Kay Carrol must get a mention here for her demented backing vocals, if anyone can do an impression of what kicking a cat must sound like, its obviously her, she adds to the cacophony wonderfully here, but unfortunately I remember her for being the bands ballsy manager from the documentaries I've seen, not as a musical contributor. My enduring image is of her calling up some promoter and effing and blinding loudly about some money they are owed while Mark sits on a sofa next to her looking uninterested, amazing.

The list idea continues through the whole song, MES attacking other 'slags' this time, female and then going on to 'Rip-off bands' who wear 'hoop shirts' and 'shitty new pants' which is hilarious, I can imagine people ripping them off almost immediately, but as MES has said, he is still around, they aren't, quite right.

I thought I'd just add at the end here who I am as I don't think I've said, I'm Mike Shields, a subeditor/journalist and I've written for a variety of music mags in the past including Kerrang!, Rock-A-Rolla and a load more, I've been a fan of The Fall since about 2004 when I got an anonymous bootleg CD in the post, quite where they got my address or name I have no idea, but it was simply called 'Not Appreciated' and had groups of three or four tracks from about 5 gigs on it, and it got me hooked. Other than that, I'm currently residing in the terrible town of Barnsley, having moved here from nearby Sheffield for a job, I'm looking to get out as soon as possible.


  1. Just sounds a lot like The Stooges to these ears...

  2. Yes! Never been a fan of them though, for shame!

  3. Well I've never been a Fall fan, so we're both shamed.

  4. Just realised who this is!

  5. alright!

    it just one of those songs i can listen to over and over

    don't start improvising for christs sake

    is a definitive fall lyrics

    although thinking about it now they had also just recorded iceland which was improvised...

    also worth mentioning is the lard backing vocals

    the female vocal is great too. seems mark always sounds great against a female

    the stooges is an interesting comparison. and iggy is still going (shirtless) too with perhaps a little less dignity than mes (he was on american idol last week very uninspired)