Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Day 51: I'm the carry bag man.

It's amazing how Mark E Smith can repeat a word over and over and have it melt into your mind for a few days after. Where people may see lack of talent singing-wise, MES always makes up for it in planting the most absurd lyrics into your head.

I know for one, whenever I see someone with a plastic bag, I always think of this song, but I'm sure it's more than a simple quirk that Smith chose to sing about something so uniformly used by everyone. I wonder if he ever uses them, I can imagine him refusing one when offered politely in a supermarket, although knowing how he hardly ever eats, I doubt he gets to the local Asda or Lidl much (former Fall members have stated that if they ate a meal on tour, they were mocked for being 'fat bastards').

Song: Carry Bag Man
Album: The Frenz Experiment

Year: 1988

So this is off the transition from the brutalist Fall of Bend Sinister to the ballet-soundtrack artiness of I Am Kurious Oranj, I'd say this is the Fall taking the foot off the pedal, as it flies by at a much more serene pace and actually sounds very pop (Brix is present, no surprise there then). This particular song is the second track and rumbles along nicely, the music is uniform, the drumming exemplary, its swift snare fills make it pop and crackle and the production is a great improvement on Bend Sinister's wall of noise and walkman-mastering glory, right production for the right set of songs on both counts I reckon. This is crisp and warm, whereas that album could well give you tinnitus. I like the use of loud-hailer on this track, gives the song a sing-along aspect (which I presume translates well live). It reminds me of the repetitive grooves of later songs like Pacifying Joint or Touch Sensitive, not only the music, but Mark's wailing vocals for each one of them, the drawl he brings out of his mutter and into sustained lines is great, the great anti-melodic nature of it all is fantastic.

The lyrics, now the sing-along part is obviously the title sang and chanted all the way through, but there's some brilliant conspiracy theory/surreptitious lines running through it. The idea of a man hiding carrier bags around a cityscape is quite amusing, planting them behind bushes, shop doorways, park benches etc. The lines: 'I don't make waves, I hide bags in graves/No cash is earned straight nowadays anyways/Please all you onlookers understand/So make gangway for Carrier Bag Man' sounds like a rallying call for hoarders, like it is this fictional 'carry bag' man's mission to save items in a Womble-like state. Maybe Mark is using his sage-like powers of prediction here and envisions the TV shows we have been plagued with for years like Grime Fighters and How Clean Is Your House?


  1. fantastic song, love the way it builds...

    keep up the fine work, mike

  2. According to something I read Carry Bag Man was Brix & Marcias nickname for Mark, as he always carried stuff in a carrier bag...not sure if its true!

  3. I heard the same as Bev from a very trustworthy source. There's a great clip on You Tube of this song played live in Italy.