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Everythlng has to start somewhere, even a group that seems to have been around forever. This month marks *"l25th anniversary of The Fall's first live srformance. Fittingly for a group that soon became a word for credibility among members of the musical iderground, the performance took place in a ssement space in central Manchester. I t was the *imal scene that set The Fall on the road to creating body of work which has been described by Michael racewell, in his 1997 book England I s Mine, as being 3s important to the history of English pop as cubism as t o the development of European painting" - quite Iachievement for a bunch of disenfranchised, orthern working class youths. But who were these people hnd how did they meet? i e oldest member of the group, Mark Edward Smith, as born on 5 March 1957 in a quiet, leafy avenue in restwich, about five miles north of Manchester city ?ntre. The name of the area derived from the Old nglish words 'preost' and 'wic', meaning 'priest's !treat' or 'the dwelling of a priest' - a fitting lair for be future Hip Priest of legend. Smith was a smart kid. Ipassed his 11-plus exam and went to Stand rammar School in nearby Whitefield. Among previous )Id Standians' was Lord Clive of Plassey (1725-74), imous for his role in the expansion of the British mpire into India. From an early age Smith was healthily immune to the blandishments of pop music, preferring instead anything that sounded strange or different: Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", The Grwndhogs, Van Der Graaf Generator. He left school in the summer of 1973 and enrolled as an A-level student at St John's College. One of his fellow students at the College was Una Oaines. The two had already met during the summer at fair in Heaton Park. "When I met Mark I was still earing my black satin Marc Bolan jacket and was into owie and stuff like that," Baines recalls. "But it was 4e I was outgrowing that sort of stuff; the glam scene had become just too commercial. Mark introduced me to The Velvet Underground."

Baines was a month younger than Smith. They both )und studying at St John's College financially difficult nd soon left. After a stint working as an office clerk, aines began training as a psychiatric nurse. She left ome and rented a flat with an attic on Kingswood oad, just round the corner from Prestwich Hospital. mith, meanwhile, was working as a clerk in an nport-export business on Manchester Docks. I t rovided a steady income at a time when nemployment in Manchester and the rest of the Duntry was growing. His desk job also provided cover )r his writing, and he took full advantage of his reaks to use the office typewriters, tapping out short tories and poems, fragments of which he would later transmute into lyrics, inspired by the 'weird' tales of HP Lovecraft and the strung-out science fiction of Philip K Dick.

One day in the mid-70s (no one remembers when exactly), Smith and Baines were relaxing on the couch at Smith's parents' house, listening to The Velvet

THE WIRE 29

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