(Pat Fish explains the origins of the Jazz Butcher’s indie micro-hit, “Southern Mark Smith”…)
All right, here’s the thing: The phrase “Southern Mark Smith” came up some time in conversation and was duly seized upon. I think that it may well have been some kind of reference to Gerard Langley (of the Blue Aeroplanes). We’d been to see the Aeroplanes quite early on in their career on account of a review in the NME written by our pal Campbell Stevenson, which went under the headline: “Exploding! Plastic! In Bristol???” But, you know, Mark E. Smith is so stereotypically northern that the very phrase “southern Mark Smith” comes across to me like “lush Sahara” or “wise and noble Bush.” So there’s that too.
The tune got “written” into a tape recorder during the BBC evening news broadcast on Easter Sunday 1983. References to Lady Di had already been excised by the time we recorded the single version, which was at the beginning of September 1983.
Good. There’s that one wrapped up in a tidy little package. Now if someone cares to explain “I Need Meat…”
A little later…
I saw a bit of correspondence on the internet about this “Southern Mark Smith” business. Our dear friend Mister Berman appears to have had a fair stab at explaining what may or may not have been on my mind at the time (it is, frankly, not much use asking me at this advanced stage of the game…), but then another fellow (Hank, is it?) steps in with some rather more speculative stuff about one “McGinty.”
Our pal is referring to “Pat, Trip Dispenser,” which was the B-side to the Fall’s single “C.R.E.E.P.” Towards the end of the tune, things go quiet and Mister Smith is heard intoning (and I write from memory), “McGinty thought he could fool the Fall with his imitation speed!” (My memory is about 100% on this one, though.)
Now, “C.R.E.E.P.” came out not long after we had recorded “Southern Mark Smith.” Somebody at JBC Central (Mitch?) brought home a copy. We heard the B-side and were struck down with fear, for we ourselves were not sure whether somebody was having a pop at our gang (with Lolo McGinty) or not. The man on the website clearly felt the same way, for he writes authoritatively for anyone who is paying attention that the McGinty hereinabove referred to was indeed the talented wee monkey boy who played bass for us.
You can see what is going on here – there is a “Pat” in the title, a “McGinty” in the lyric and it came out about the same time as our “Smith” record. You can see the way that Hank’s mind is working here, can’t you, Mister Holmes?
Trouble is… it’s not right. “Pat, Trip Dispenser” was already in the can before the Fall even heard our record. It is therefore definitely NOT an “answer record” to “Southern Mark Smith.” And, as ever, the clue is in the title. Those who know the history of the Fall well will tell you that the song is, in fact, a blast at infamous Manchester dealer, Pat McGinty. (Oh yeah – Pat, Trip Dispenser!) There had been a bit of customer dissatisfaction on the band’s part, and this was their way of getting back at the naughty pharmacist (no, don’t start…)
So there you have it. Not the Jazz Butcher, but some dodgy Mancunian cunt. Hope that clears things up.