Mark E. Smith of The Fall has long been a fan of William Blake (you can listen to or read a transcript of some of my earlier reflections on what Blake meant to him), and one of the clearest expressions of his fascination with the poet was a version of ‘Jerusalem’ that he recorded in 1988 for the album I am Kurious Oranj.
I am Kurious Oranj, an album ostensibly based on the 300th anniversary of William of Orange’s accession to the English throne, is as wonderfully bizarre as it sounds. Released in late October, 1988, the pictured box set came out a week or so later, on 7 November, and was a beautiful, limited edition release comprising two singles as well as a promo postcard for the album.
The above links give a more extended reading of my own reactions to Smith’s version (which I love), and here I’m simply drawing attention to the beautiful nature of the singles as an assemblage of objects – something we have very much lost in the age of the digital download.
The song(s) reached 59 in the main UK charts – some way behind The Fall’s biggest hits, covers of ‘There’s a Ghost in My House’ (30) and ‘Victoria’ (35), although much better than most Fall singles, which tend to languish in the nineties. One of the hardest working men in (indie) showbiz, Smith has nearly always been an acquired taste, though I’ve always loved The Fall. You can listen to their version of ‘Jerusalem’ in the YouTube clip below.
The Fall – Jerusalem/Big New Prinz
Beggars Banquet – FALL 2B; 2 x vinyl, 7″, 45 rpm
Box set, limited edition, numbered; 07 Nov 1988