Monday, 14 May 2012

'Paintwork' - The Fall (1985)

"And sometimes they say,
"Hey, Mark. You’re spoiling all the paintwork.""

Has anyone ever actually been stranded on a desert island with just a few records for company? I’ve never seen that on the news. An air rescue team spot a lone shipwrecked survivor stumbling out of the jungle clutching a half-eaten coconut and a copy of Beethoven’s’Ode To Joy’ (apparently the most requested song, fact fans).

It’s a wonderful quandary though. Which songs would you pick ? The mistake most people seem to make is they choose their all-time favourites. There seems little point in this. All my favourite songs I can remember note for note in my head - I won't need them with me. I’d suggest picking something completely new from your favourite artist – with the risk that you may hate it. Or something completely perplexing. Which is why I’d choose 'Paintwork’ by The Fall.

I’ve listened to this song for over 25 years now and it continues to puzzle and bemuse me. From the ramshackle opening, where it appears we’ve turned up early and everyone’s still chatting in the studio (or impersonating a pantomime horse in to the mic). Through to the moments where it sounds like two other songs are battling to intrude in to this ballad of the absurd – cue the flute!? Notoriously, just as the song gets going, we cut briefly to a TV documentary about stars. Legend has it that Mark E. Smith was listening to a tape of the song in his hotel room and hit ‘record’ instead of ‘stop’ – he quickly realised his mistake, but liked the result so much that it stayed on. Genius.

The song clocks in at just over six and a half minutes, but is endlessly fascinating – I’ve yet to find a site that can even fully interpret the lyrics. It would keep me perfectly entertained on that desert island – in between dodging smoke monsters and pressing that button down the hatch.

Don't we all miss inner sleeves like this?

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