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Baker's Dozen

A F**king Joy: Aidan Moffat's Favourite Albums
Daniel Dylan Wray , April 2nd, 2015 14:15

With Aidan Moffat's excellent new record with Bill Wells just out, we sent Daniel Dylan Wray up to Glasgow to meet the former Arab Strap man/Quietus sex columnist to discuss his top formative albums. And, with the help of beers, a record player and one powerful deployment of the phrase "get to utter fuck", here's what he picked


The Fall - Extricate
I was in the Columbia Hotel, which was once a beacon for bands, and it was very popular because they had virtually no rules and they wouldn't get upset about anything. They would basically let you do what you want. I think Arab Strap may have had to pay for some damage at some point, but it was very much the idea that bands were coming to stay at the hotel and shit will happen. They would open the bar at 5 am to give you a pint and wouldn't cause too much fuss if you left a mess. I was always curious to find out who, if anyone, had been barred from the Columbia Hotel and it turns out that the only band, at this point in the early 2000s, to be banned was The Fall and Mark E. Smith was the only guy who was absolutely earmarked. Anyway, one night we were down there and we'd come down the night before to do a session in the morning, and The Fall were playing in Camden so we go and see the gig, about a week before Mark E. Smith had sacked absolutely everyone in the band and so he had a new band and the gig was kind of shite. We went back to the hotel and Mark E. Smith walks in and then I believe I stood up in the bar and shouted, "Are you not fucking barred from here?!" ,to which he responded: "Shut the fuck up". I asked him to join us for a drink and he sat with us for a very long time and it was going very well until we started discussing about how long it takes to make a record and I had suggested that we'd worked on our record for months or even years, and Mark decided to tell me that there was no reason to work on a record for more than two or three weeks; you get in, you do it and you fuck off. At that point he got a bit argumentative and I decided to leave, but I was glad, I was worried for a wee while that he was just going to be a nice guy.

Anyway, the record; it remains my favourite Fall album because it was the first album of theirs I loved and I was 16 and anything you discover at 16 you think is wonderful but Extricate still is and I think it perfectly encapsulates The Fall at a stage where they were very much The Fall, but also there was a hint that they'd done something better, a pop element. At this point, The Fall kind of threatened to break over into the mainstream; of course if you were a Fall fan, you knew that this was never going to happen. I think there's an element of sabotage in Mark E. Smith's mind where he simply doesn't want to be that well known. What The Fall have done, and inspired me to do, was to continue to do what you like on your own terms and not worry too much about where you're going or how you can project yourself to the next level. Everybody tries to and everybody wants to make more money but when you make music there is a sacrifice that comes with making more money. What The Fall taught me, or Mark E. Smith taught me, is that you find what you're good at and you stick with it and don't worry about that sort of thing. There's such a consistency to The Fall and a lack of compromise that you can't help but creatively respect. Extricate is definitely my favourite Fall record because it shows the greatest range of the band, which I think was probably their best band. It was the most exciting and eclectic sound that The Fall had.