The Fall are an English post-punk band, formed in 1976 in Prestwich, Greater Manchester. They have undergone many line up changes, with vocalist Mark E. Smith as the founder and only constant member. The Fall's long term musicians have included drummers Paul Hanley and Karl Burns; guitarists Marc Riley, Craig Scanlon and Brix Smith; and bassist Steve Hanley, whose melodic playing is widely credited with shaping the band's sound from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s.
First associated with the late 1970s punk movement, the Fall's music has undergone numerous stylistic changes, often concurrently with changes in the group's lineup. Nonetheless, their music has generally been characterised by an abrasive guitar-driven sound, tense bass and drum rhythms, and Smith's cryptic lyrics, described by critic Simon Reynolds as "a kind of Northern English magic realism that mixed industrial grime with the unearthly and uncanny, voiced through a unique, one-note delivery somewhere between amphetamine-spiked rant and alcohol-addled yarn." While the Fall have never achieved widespread success beyond minor hit singles in the late 1980s, they have maintained a strong cult following.
The Fall have been called "the most prolific band of the British post-punk movement." They have released thirty-two studio albums as of 2017[update], and more than three times that number when live albums and compilations (often released against Smith's wishes) are taken into account. They were long associated with BBC disc jockey John Peel, who championed them from early on in their career and described them as his favourite band, famously explaining, "they are always different; they are always the same."