Mark E. Smith’s gnarled delivery has stumped a judge in a copyright dispute over The Fall’s lyrics.

Former band member Julia Adamson and producer Steven Sharples were seeking joint ownership of the 1999 track ‘Touch Sensitive’, which they say is a version of a song they co-wrote and performed on John Peel in 1998.

After listening to three versions of the song, Recorder Amanda Michaels said: “Mr Smith delivers the lyrics in a manner which at some points makes it hard to hear the words.”

She agreed with Adamson and Smith’s publisher, Minder Music, that Sharples had also had difficulties transcribing the words: “I accept the contention that the line is not ‘And a Star Wars police vehicle Paul’s off’, but … the more comprehensible ‘And a Star Wars police vehicle pulls up’.”

Sharples’ claim to have co-written the lyrics was found to be “not reliable”, with the judge deciding it was more likely that Smith was the sole writer, although string passages added by Sharples were a “small but significant contribution” to the song’s authorship.

She said she would have ruled that Sharples had a 20% stake in the music, but because of a 2013 agreement with Adamson – under which she gave Sharples half of the two-thirds share she had claimed at the time – he will now end up with a third share of the whole track, as the Guardian reports.

The Fall’s 31st studio album, Sub-Lingual Tablet, came out last week on Cherry Red Records.

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