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Eldritch House with Green Moss – Quatermass, the Planet People and the Lay of the Land Refracted by The Fall and Mark E. Smith: Wanderings 17/26

Staying in the orbit of the final Quatermass series and Nigel Kneale’s work, which I’ve visited a couple of times this year, but wandering slightly further afield…

…not so long ago I had a personal mini-revival of The Fall’s music, and spent quite a few evenings revisiting some of Mark E. Smith and Co.’s classic eighties albums (along with almost-hit Touch Sensitive from 1999, which is probably one of the most surprising songs that I’ve ever heard soundtracking a mainstream television car advert). It was good to revisit their variously wonderfully catchy, warped, twisted, spiky and surreal work, some of which I hadn’t listened to for a fair few years. Which lead me to discover that Lay of the Land, the first track on their 1984 album The Wonderful and Frightening World Of… was inspired by the final series of Quatermass.

I’d listened to the song a fair few times back when and never made the connection, but on re-listening to it and reading the lyrics, the references are quite obvious. It begins with a set of voices chanting “Lay, lay, lay”, as the Planet People do in the series, and goes on to include the following lines, which in various ways connect with the plot of the series (albeit through Mark E. Smith’s unique filtering of things):

“Where’s the lay of the land, My son, What’s the lie of the land, My son… We’ll leave this city, Hit a quick coach, take the town in Surrey, There’s no-one here but crooks and death… Eldritch house, With green moss… Home secretary has a weird look… When the height of culture is a bad stew, Space bores… Where children circle in cycles, Giving jokes ad lib, By bearded writers, Who defected to, Higher realms…”

And what is going on with the cover art of the album? The Fall’s album covers often had a grotesque quality to them but this one is particularly unsettling and almost difficult to look at. It features what appears to be a folkloric Mr Punch-esque character tumbling through various parallel worlds of nightmare, by way of some refracted art movement from the earlier twentieth century that you can’t quite put your finger on. Brrr indeed.



Elsewhere at A Year In The Country:


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