The Mixer

Lyrics

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 in Español restaurants
The people and staff they clap
The Mixer sweats
In comic type letters (2)
The voices are saying
Clap, clap    (3)
The Mixer sweats
The Mixer sweats

The Mixer of Jamaican origin
Born, raised in the US (4)
Observes the Victorian press
Clap, clap, 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....'

Mixer sweats

 

Notes

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.)

^

2. MES elaborates on the Peel version: "Sees around his head question marks in comic-type lettering."

^

3. It is difficult, but definitely amusing, to imagine a crowd actually saying "clap, clap."

^

4. The Peel version has him hailing from South Yorkshire, which strengthens the case that this is about Robert Gordon (see note 1):

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. 

^

5. This seems to stand for "dual-level low voltage differential signalling." If you want to know more about that you've come to the wrong web site.

^

6. According to Peel "His face is looking over at the Insect Posse" (see note 1 above).

^

 

 

More Information

The Mixer: Fall Tracks A-Z

The Story of the Fall: 1991

 

From the Joe Muggs interview of Robert Gordon:

 

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.

Comments (17)

saggy breast
  • 1. saggy breast (link) | 03/10/2013
"he earns my salary"

cos he's a DJ mixer innit? he's stealing money from the fall who could be playin gigs there.

it's ironic
Martin
  • 2. Martin | 30/01/2014
You are correct, of course, to put the tilde over the "n" in "Español", but MES certainly doesn't pronounce the word as a Spanish person would!
SlightlyDislocated
  • 3. SlightlyDislocated | 31/01/2014
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.)
bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 12/02/2014
Good point about Espanol (sic), Martin. And SD--excellent stuff!
SlightlyDislocated
  • 5. SlightlyDislocated | 13/02/2014
Thank for the kind remarks, bzfgt. Realized post-post that the likely reason there were no comments on "holdyerfire" &c. is that it's not part of the original 1991 lyrics, only appearing AFAIK after 1996, per the 26 June Astoria live version, the music-channel version, and The Re-mixer. Anyone know exactly when it first showed up in a live version?

Tthe gunslinger additions intensify the very qualities that set the original apart from the bulk of the Fall's output (which qualities others have noted on several occasions). One of the more substantial emendations made (by commission mind you, not omission) to any Fall lyric by MES.

Sort of the reverse of what happened with Blindness, where the Peel version is lyrically far superior to the Fall Heads Roll version, by which time MES has admitted he had lost interest.

Wish I could find high-quality audio of the acoustic music-channel version, as it is my favorite by far.
50yoman
  • 6. 50yoman | 31/03/2014
I don't know if this is the acoustic version you refer to but there is a brilliant version of this on youtube (no indication of origin I could find) - Julia Nagle on Melodica (?), and the lyric changed to ' .....of Bedfordshire origin'... Looks like mid 90's, Light User line up??
Mark
  • 7. Mark | 02/07/2014
The YouTube clip that 50yoman refers to is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddfiJDogywY
Mark
  • 8. Mark | 02/07/2014
"The Mixer": could refer to both a person and a piece of equipment, perhaps? As in a mixing desk (referred to in the equipment spoken-word bit) and the person who operates it.
Gman88
  • 9. Gman88 | 02/06/2016
The Mixer is - at least, used to be - a name for pubs in the Glasgow, and possibly Edinburgh, areas. Pubs would be called The Mixer in the same way that many pubs in England are called The Red Lion or something generic. There also used to pubs called The 1/4 Gill, named after a measure of alcohol. MES has also referenced this in songs, I think.

These pubs are what now get called 'old man' pubs; run down, old school, stink of pish, and usually found in dodgier areas.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt | 29/06/2016
Cool, thanks for the info, Gman.

"There also used to pubs called The 1/4 Gill, named after a measure of alcohol. MES has also referenced this in songs, I think."

Yes, "Edinburgh Man."
Martin
  • 11. Martin | 24/03/2017
As you know, I often look out for lyrical variants in live versions to see if they add anything to our understanding or appreciation of songs. For "The Mixer" there aren't too many additional lyrics, but one does stand out..."The Mixer, he likes me, he understands me." (sung on several occasions in 1991 and maybe subsequently; I haven't listened yet). Perhaps this adds just a little more depth to the relationship between the singer and the Mixer.
Kevin L
  • 12. Kevin L | 17/09/2018
The spotted dick line is brilliant, and is the centre of the meaning of this song. The DJs who pretend to have deep knowledge and roots of the music they play (Jamaican origin. Born, raised in US) are indeed, observing the Victorian press, just that.
T.L.B.
  • 13. T.L.B. | 04/02/2019
Maybe a few of the lyrics are to do with Robert Gordon, the producer of the track who also gets a writing credit on it. I don't know for certain, but he could easily have been "of Jamaican origin" and he lived in Sheffield, which could explain the "born and bred in South Yorkshire" change to the Peel session version.
bzfgt
  • 14. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
The one thing on the internet about Gordon is almost a jackpot:

http://petesasqwax.co.uk/post/114749496023/rob-gordon-interviewed-by-joe-muggs

He looks like he could be Jamaican and talks about Jamaicans in such a way that he could be one of them. This is very promising.
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Ah, Gordon "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." See note 4--the plot thickens!
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 16/03/2019
Gordon is our man. See the new note 1, and More Information. Excellent sleuthing T.L.B., you nailed it.
dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 17/03/2019
Excellent work!

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