Thursday, 20 September 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Inch Ft Mark E Smith - Inch

Only a small number of people have featured in Song For Today more than once. The rules I have set myself mean that the same band or artist cannot appear twice, however if an artist who has already been featured has been a member of another band, or collaborated with an artist not yet featured, then I make exceptions. Of course The Fall were featured as Song For Today a while back, and now the band's legendary leader Mark E Smith makes his second appearance as part of a collaboration with Inch... This song was released as part of the 'The Inch EP' on Regal Recordings in 1999. 

The music blog Pee Pee Soaked Heck Hole reveals some info about the track... "Kier Stewart was a guitarist and studio engineer in Manchester who, with his studio partner Simon Spencer, worked with Fall leader Mark E. Smith on a one-off track called "Plug Myself In" in 1996 (the two billed themselves as DOSE - and BTW, the track can be found on my earlier Fall posting, A World Bewitched). The track was pretty well received, and Stewart and Spencer were eager to produce The Fall's next album (which eventually became 1997's Levitate). When guitarist Adrian Flanagan (a short-term fill-in for the recently departed Brix Smith, on her second and last go-round with the band) left the group in early 1997, Stewart was offered the slot and a chance to join the band. He initially refused, but Spencer talked him into it, thinking that it might lead to their being tapped as producers - which they were (sort of).

The band began recording in West Hempstead, but the sessions did not go well, mainly due to Smith undergoing personal problems that made him extremely paranoid, to the point where he'd sometimes refuse to do any vocals. Coupled with this was Smith's refusal/delay in signing a producer's agreement with Stewart and Spencer, and ongoing lack of payment. The two finally got fed up and quit the sessions as both producers and musicians; they even went so far as to wipe the tapes of the little that had been recorded up to that point. And they decided to play one last practical joke on Smith: during the sessions, Stewart and Spencer had recorded a track with Smith, "Inch", as a side project apart from what The Fall was doing. After their departure from the Fall sessions, they carefully packaged up the single and shipped it out to John Peel and various major record companies, along with a letter claiming to be from Mark E. Smith, but full of un-Smith like language along the lines of "Golly gee - we really made a super cool record! Have a listen!"

Smith arrived home to find his answering machine full of messages from recording companies, asking about the "new record" that he didn't know existed. While Smith remained confused, Spencer and Stewart got a deal for the track with EMI themselves, only later bringing Smith in to work out the final details. A version of this song, titled "4 1/2 Inch", made it onto 'Levitate'..."

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