The Mixer is close to me
He turns his head and smiles at me
And I am blessed he earns my salary (1)
The Mixer of Jamaican origin
Born, raised in the US (4)
Observes the Victorian press
Clap, clap, clap
The DLVDS is over-easy on the compress (5)
[First eqipment line] [Second equipment line]
The Mixer is close to me He turns his head and smiles at me (6)
[spoken] 'It possessed the sort of bright sound microphone with audio pickup pattern. It can produce broad responses, hi-fidelity quality, no feedback and no howling etc. We can express good sound of your voice, an excellent melody orchestra, a self-contained filter control, explosive breath sounds, controlled explosive breath sounds ...... wind noises, in different locations....'
1. The Lyrics Parade has this line as "beyond my salary."
Although some lines seem to imply that "the Mixer" is a DJ at a club (in which case the above lyric could suggest that the Mixer is taking money out of the Fall's pocket by playing recorded music to a crowd, as saggy breast points out below), and we rather inexplicably find him at "Español restaurants," the Mixer is almost certainly Robert Gordon (thanks to T.L.B. for suggesting this), who co-produced the track, thus probably, all things considered, mixed it. The lyrics say he is "of Jamaican origin," and on the Peel version he is said to be from South Yorkshire (see note 4 below). Gordon just might be of Jamaican origin--he's black and has dreadlocks, and mentions Jamaica a few times in this interview with one Joe Muggs, where he is said to speak in "soft, quite high, Yorkshire tones not a million miles from Alan Bennett (albeit with an occasional Caribbean lilt)." Gordon seems to be a somewhat legendary figure; we learn that "He is the man who put the bass into bleep’n’bass – the Yorkshire sound circa 1989-1991 which was in turn the direct precursor of hardcore, jungle and so much of the most vital British music that has come since." And the document "The Secret History of Warp Records" records that Gordon was based in Sheffield, which is in South Yorkshire, as the Peel lyrics specify. (See More Information below for Gordon's comments on working with MES).
This is not to say, however, that the song is entirely about Gordon, or that everything in the lyrics refers to him. Not many Fall lyrics are about one thing, or one person, simply and completely, and there may be elements here that depart from Gordon entirely.
In parts of England, the saying "away with the mixer" means someone is dreamy or not fully present (sort of like "woolgathering" in the USA). I have not been able to discover the origin of the phrase, or what literal meaning it might have. According to nairng on the Fall online forum:
I always thought this was about a magical creature. Here in Liverpool, when someone is a bit mad, we can say he or she is "away with the mixer"....it's interchangeable with "away with the fairies" really. This magical creature theory - which i now accept to be totally erroneous - was bolstered by the illustration which accompanies the lyrics in v2 [i.e. the Fall lyrics book Volume II].
Despite his/her disclaimer, it seems possible to me that the allusion is intentional, and even if it is not, it is harmonious with the overall mood of the song: the narrator seems to be daydreaming about the mixer, rather than straightforwardly telling a story. "The Mixer" feels rather melancholy, despite nothing in the lyrics that would suggest a drag bummer going on; this gives it a certain depth which perhaps helps explain why it is regarded as a classic by many Fall fans. There is a wistful air to the whole thing which the lyrics alone do not convey, in fact which is even slightly in tension with the lyrics. This may be partially an artifact of the Fall songwriting process, but the important thing is that the result is a quite poignant song which, although it is in some ways slight, does not fade with repeated listenings but rather seems to grow with them.
According to Martin, the line "'The Mixer, he likes me, he understands me' was sung on several occasions in 1991 (and maybe subsequently). Perhaps this adds just a little more depth to the relationship between the singer and the Mixer."
The Peel version has the line "Fall insect posse crushed" which anticipates "Insect posse will be crushed" from "Free Range." "The Re-Mixer" avers "There are no interest rates in the future," which anticipates the anti-debt theme of "Hittite Man."
SlightlyDislocated contributes the following highly suggestive note:
Interesting that no one has mentioned the interjected chorus "Hold your fire, hold your fire!" "Count your fire, count your fire!" which sounds, to me, as an American who grew up with movie and TV westerns, like nothing other than the instructions for a rifle brigade, in particular one besieged and running out of ammunition. I believe there is a sequence in the semi-historical John Wayne film, "The Alamo", in which he crawls about the parapets asking the defenders how many rounds they have left. May have also happened in "Zulu", the Michael Caine film from the same period. At any rate, if this is part of MES's conscious or unconscious intent, "the Mixer" may not only be the DJ but also the soldier who compounds the remaining gunpowder for the riflemen. Consider the aforementioned "wistful" quality of the music, especially evident in the wonderful acoustic version of the song with late-model Brix strumming away urgently and Julia Nagle on the mellotron, sounding very much like a harmonica. The moment when the Mixer "turns, and smiles at me" becomes especially poignant, as it is the tacit recognition that neither he nor the narrator may be there much longer. (In this light the "Insect Posse" line has a different cast as well.)
Born and bred in South Yorkshire
Is close to me
Observes victorian press
And is puzzled by the spotted dick
The mixer sweats.
But I have no idea how the US gets into it. Again, a Fall lyric is rarely simply "about" one thing...
Thanks are in order to marvell78 on the Fall online forum for deciphering these lyrics. Spotted dick is a kind of pudding made out of suet and dried fruit.
So that was the kind of frustration that drove you away from production and back to soundsystems? When did you stop with the production?
The last thing I remember producing was The Fall, a Fall album calledShift Work.
And, erm, how were they? Mark E Smith is not renowned for being the easiest person to work with…
[giggles] I really enjoyed it. It was a change. I got warned off but I enjoyed it.
Mark E Smith is someone with a very different vision of production to most, though.
Oh yeah, but he’s right. He’s right. It’s just you’ve got to be good enough in production to understand what he’s on about. I’ve just been through this with Ross Orton, you know, he’s a Sheffield producer?
Yes, he works with Toddla T, MIA, people like that?
Yeah, yeah, that’s Ross. He’s doing a Fall album, and I’ve spoken to him since he’s started, and I’ve had to warn him – but he sees it, he knows, he says “he’s sharp as a razor”. But that’s what it is, people who don’t understand him [Smith] are way far behind, so far behind they ought not to be there. [giggles again]
I did a long interview with Smith once and found him fine company!
Yep, fiiiine company. I’ve heard all the criticisms, but I’ve seen it. If you go and try and sell him some bullshit you’ll probably get punched, but that’s just how it is.
Heh, well, he kissed me. But he talks a lot in terms of soundsystems too, he just wanted to talk about soundsystem music, not rock’n’roll bands.
Well he’s old enough to remember what a good sound sounds like. I mean I’ve missed half of it, I’m 43 and I missed half of it. I remember saying to some old guy in a guitar shop – I were trying to rip him off or something by going “oh can you get me some valves?” “Oh, what like?” “Mullards?” - which are like posh hi-fi valves and you have to get old ones, so I was trying to sniff out this guitar shop – but he was like [suddenly slightly shrill and camp] “ooh have you seen the price of them on the net?” [loud chuckle] and I was like “oh damn.” He was like “oh yeah, hi-fi guys like them don’t they, oh do you like hi-fi stuff too?” And then he launches into what he’s got as a hi-fi system and telling me I should be soldering the wires into my mains plug and this other stuff, and then I said what system I’ve got, and in my studio I’ve got what they call Yamaha NS-1000s which in hi-fi terms are regarded as a bit of a holy grail. So he goes “oh, I remember those!” - I mean he had a much more expensive system than me, but he stopped when I went “Yamaha NS-1000s”, he went [excitable] “oh, I remember those!” and I’m feeling a bit better, and he says “yeah I remember when they used to have them in the clubs!” I went “WHAT?”, he went “in the clubs! Yeah, they’d have banks of Yamaha… three-ways… big black box… yeah… they’d have loads of those hanging from the roofs in the nightclubs!” [drifts into a reverie for a second]
That were the second time that happened to me. The first it happened there was this Amcron amp, this particular DC300 or something that I use for Kabal parties [underground club nights and raves were old-timers from the early Sheffield rave days like Winston and Parrot play alongside newcomer Toddla T], you get those amps and they’re [mimes] big, and they’re only 300 watts but the sound, so I got this amp – and then it came out [from the vendor] “oh yeah, Peter Stringfellows [sic], he had ninety-something of those, in the early ’70s…” [gobsmacked look] So yeah, I’vemissed the sound, most of that era of sound, and 99.9% of what people get now is garbage – but Mark E Smith, he’ll remember sounds. But I understand what’s going on a bit more now, I understand a little more. There’s a lot of people making a lot of money selling junk.