Saturday, January 13, 2007

It was not keg

The Fall - Powderkex

The White Noise Revisited has been around for nearly 6 months and we’ve written well over 70 posts, but we've yet to stick up anything by the Fall which is just WRONG! So, better late than never, here's 'Powderkex', which was exclusively featured on the excellent fourteen track compilation entitled '0161' (after the Manchester dialling code) and released in conjunction with Skam Records and V/VM's Public in 1997. 'Powderkex' is a remix by the production duo D.O.S.E. of the track 'Powder Keg', which was on the album 'Light User Syndrome' and was a co-write between Mark E. Smith and the drummer at that time, Karl Burns (who had previously played in PiL in 1979, but left after Jah Wobble set him on fire!).

Weird coincidence - the lyrics of 'Powder Keg' mention Enniskillen (the Irish town bombed by the IRA on Remembrance Day in 1987), and brought MES a bout of publicity, when half of Manchester City Centre was destroyed by an IRA bomb on 15th June 1996, just five days after the album was released. Media accusations did the rounds that he had inside information. His retort? "Well, I'm fucking psychic, fuck off." People who know far more about Fall lyrics than me reckon the song is about the Manchester drug scene ("His radioactive radio-head drips with powder"), but it is still uncanny how easily you can interpret the song to be about the bombing. Check the verse -

"Manchester city centre
Take me back
I can't get the bus
Do you know what they say
Retreat from Enniskillen
You better listen
He's a powder keg
You better listen to me"

No coincidence then that 'Powderkex' first appeared on the '0161' compilation - the album was released exactly one year to the day of the Manchester bomb blast, and the artwork featured a still from the CCTV footage of the lorry which contained the explosives. 'Powderkex', with its chopped-up junglist breaks, insistent beeping horns and nasty fucked-up bassline, fits in nicely with the rest of the leftfield noise and abstract electronics featured on the album, from artists including Jega, Gescom and Bola. MES had collaborated with remixers D.O.S.E. before, providing vocals for their track 'Plug Myself In' which was released on Pete Waterman's PWL label. I wonder if MES ever met Waterman? What an encounter that would have been...

The Unofficial Fall website
The original 'Powder Keg' is on the Fall Best Of '50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong'. Buy this and other music from the Fall catalogue from Norman Records
Buy '0161' from the Skam Records website
The Fall discography