The Fall Ownership Case In Court

Last month saw lawyers battling it out over the ownership of The Fall’s album track ‘Touch Sensitive’. The argument was between Minder Music (Mark E Smith’s publisher – to whom he assigned his one third share of the track) for the lyrics, one-time bandmate Julia Adamson, who wrote the music itself, and producer Steven Sharples. The external producer was brought in to assist with the band’s 1999 album, The Marshall Suite, after stalls in the album’s production.

He contends that he helped to “re-write” the song originally written by Smith and Adamson, and was thus owed a share of royalties from Adamson’s cut of two thirds. As reported in the Manchester Evening News, the judge was given the unenviable task of deciphering the differences between three versions of the song: Smith and Adamson’s original live recording, a radio version, and the final album track with Sharples’ edits. The judge commented that “Mr Smith delivers the lyrics in a manner which at some points makes it hard to hear the words."

She was provided with versions of the lyrics according to Steven Sharples, which weren’t, in her opinion, “completely accurate”, although perhaps understandably so: “I accept the contention that the line is not ‘And a Star Wars police vehicle Paul’s off’, but rather the more comprehensible ‘"And a Star Wars police vehicle pulls up.’" She found that Sharples’ lyrical contributions were unlikely, and that any changes in the lyrics were probably Mark E Smith’s doing, although the introduction of a newly composed string section, amongst other minor musical changes, entitles the producer to a 20 per cent stake in the track’s royalties – though a further ruling entitles him to a one third claim due to a prior agreement made with Adamson. ‘Touch Sensitive’, despite being an album track from The Fall, will have gathered up a decent amount of royalties thanks to Vauxhall’s usage of the song in a television advert of theirs from 2002.

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