Mark E Smith with Austin Collings - Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith (4 stars)

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Mark E Smith with Austin Collings - Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith

(Viking)

MUSIC BIOGRAPHY

The real joy of Mark E Smith and The Fall has always been expecting the unexpected. His music has always stuck to a rigid formula but is somehow never formulaic, and he’s survived every British musical subculture since punk with his dignity and C&A sweater intact. Renegade is a chronological dig through his 51 years via 32 albums, an apprenticeship down the docks, reading the football scores on Grandstand and languishing in American prisons, nuggets which reveal as much about the psyche of the British working classes as they do his own inner workings.

Brutal, funny, caustic and honest, he candidly acknowledges lean times – financially, spiritually and creatively – in between berating the dozens of former Fall members’ egotism, childishness or general ineptitude, a conflict which he seems to thrive on. Smith rants and rambles like that supposedly nutty geezer in the pub corner but actually makes a fair bit of sense in the cold light of day.

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