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Messing Up The Paintwork : The Wit And Wisdom Of Mark E. Smith

Messing Up The Paintwork : The Wit And Wisdom Of Mark E. Smith is a bathroom book if ever there was one, easily got through in around 40 minutes or so (if you ignore the poetry, as I did in the main on the bus ride out to my allotment yesterday after picking the book up). That's not to say that the collected quotes in it aren't insightful, philosophic, brutally honest, truthful and funny, just that at under 200 pages it's a quick read.

There are longer passages of prose in it which I've since dipped into but, other than Hayley Scott's thoughts on The Fall's 'Perverted By Language' album, none of that's really stuff you'll be re-reading (does it really matter that some bloke failed to once track down a short-lived member of The Fall?). The table of band members is a handy detail although a bit crap in black and white and the list of Peel Sessions & the Fall/Smith discography are sensible inclusions.

Surprisingly there're no quote(s) included from Marc Riley, given that he mentions being in the band on a reasonably regular basis on his 6music show (although the relevant table shows it to have only been for five years or so (which probably felt like a lifetime to be fair)). At least his identity's not tied up to it, unlike his colleague Guy Garvey "of Elbow". If, like me, you barely ever bought the NME (in the days it had any relevance and a print version) or such dead publications as Melody Maker etc. then the Smith quotes will all be refreshingly new to you & if they're not then you at least have them all in one place now.

Mark E. Smith was undoubtedly a genius and, given the contrary nature of the late singer, it's hard as a run of the mill (rather than obsessive) fan of his work to guess what he'd have made of the book but it's certainly a shame he died when he did, thus depriving us of his no doubt to the point thoughts on England's performance in the recent World Cup (not to mention further music).  

Ebury Press, 192pp, ISBN 9781785039850

Messing Up The Paintwork : The Wit And Wisdom Of Mark E. Smith is available from Penguin.



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