Saturday 19 June 2010

Leave The Capitol

"Showbiz whines, minute detail. It's a hand on the shoulder in Leicester Square. It's vaudeville pub back room. Dusty pictures of white frocked girls and music teachers ..." sings Mark E Smith at the start of The Fall's Leave The Capitol from the 1981 10" Slates. While the sleeve may claim it's any capital this still seems a very London song. It's a very London record actually for some illogical reasons, not least for the fact Adrian Sherwood produced one track and I spent a large part of my youth in London pub function rooms watching young hopefuls play their hearts out. I can remember buying it in the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street on its release where it was prominently displayed. There was a piece in Smash Hits too. It may have been around the time Julian Cope was a pin-up and namechecking Pere Ubu in that mag, and there was always that link between the Liverpool groups and The Fall despite the lyrics to Slate, Slags, Etc. which echo Dexys' There There My Dear. And actually Slates is the pivotal record of the 20th century, not just my favourite record by The Fall. As a 10" EP it turned out to be too long for the singles charts, which seemed like a typical Rough Trade own goal because if it had been a hit the world may have turned out a different place and we may have seen Josef K, Fire Engines et set go on to have the impact the Soft Cells, Adam Ants and ABCs did. Instead the world shrugged its shoulders, the great pop moment passed, and The Fall understandably went all perverse with Hex Enduction Hour. There's some great lines on Slates, such as passing references to Arthur Machen and Albert Finney, and the one about plagiarism infesting the land. Then there's the one about feeling like Alan Minter. There was a piece of graffiti by the side of the railway between Blackheath and Lewisham stations in south east London which simply said "I FEEL LIKE ALAN MINTER" in four feet high letters. It must have been there for well over 20 years, and may be still there now for all I know buried by the buddleia, the rail network's national flower. Just think of the number of people passing through south east London who saw it during that time who would never have heard The Fall perform Fit And Working Again or indeed any of the tracks on Slates ...


  1. This is my favorite Fall song at the mo, out of so many to choose from. The version eating my brain right now is from NYC, June 11 1981. "Exit this Roman shell!"

  2. I wish people would look up the word 'Capitol' notice it is spelt with an 'O' not an 'A'. He is singing about leaving a building not a capital city. Like London for example

    1. yeah maybe. smith did a lot of (deliberately?) misspelling & mispronouncing words so it's (deliberately?) hard to tell what he intended