The Fall
Albums

  • Live At The Witch Trials
  • Dragnet
  • Totales Turns
  • Grotesque
  • Slates
  • 77-Early Years-79
  • Hex Enducation Hour
  • Room To Live
  • A Part Of America Therein
  • Perverted By Language
  • Fall In A Hole
  • Wonderful & Frightening...
  • Hip Priest And Kamerads
  • This Nations Saving Grace
  • Bend Sinister
  • Palace Of Swords Reversed
  • The Frenz Experiment
  • I Am Kurious Oranj
  • Extricate
  • Shiftwork
  • Code Selfish
  • The Infotainment Scan
  • Middle Class Revolt
  • Cerebral Caustic
  • 27 Points
  • The Light User Syndrome
  • Levitate
  • Live In Air To
  • Melbourne 82
  • The Marshall Suite
  • The Unutterable
  • Austurbaejarbio
  • Backdrop
  • A World Bewitched
  • Are You Are Missing
  • Winner
  • Country On The Click
  • 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be
  • Wrong
  • Interim
  • The Complete Peel
  • Sessions
  • Fall Heads Roll
  • Reformation Post TLC
  • Imperial Wax Solvent
  • Your Future, Our Clutter
  • Ersatz G.B.
  • Re-Mit G.B.


    The Fall
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  • adriandenning.co.uk
    album reviews

    The Fall

    1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

    Live At The Witch Trials 8 ( 1979 )
    Frightened / Crap Rap - Like to Blow / Rebellious Jukebox / No Xmas for John Quays / Mother - Sister! / Industrial Estate / Underground Medecin / Two Steps Back / Live at the Witch Trials / Futures and Pasts / Music Scene

    The Fall were formed in Greater Manchester by dock clerk Mark E Smith. Martin Bramah, Marc Riley and Yvonne Pawlett rounded off the group, with Mark E Smith singing lyrics plugged in to documenting the real world around him. The sound of this album is relatively sparse, dominated by keyboards playing the main melodies with guitars 'scratchy' over the top of the rhythm section. 'Frightened' demonstrates the sound well and is especially striking for the vocal and lyrical content. Mark E Smith doesn't have a conventionally 'beautiful' singing voice, but he tries. It's a distinctive, northern voice which sets The Fall apart all on its own. It was obvious they weren't The Clash, you know? Following five minutes of often startling lyrical imagery, we have a more rattling, punky song with 'Crap Rap - Like To Blow'. Catchy little melodies sketched out by the keyboards and bass are notable with 'I LIKE TO BLOW, CONCENTRATION ZONE!' spat out in the chorus. It's good. 'Rebellious Jukebox' keeps things simple musically, the same combination of bass, keyboards and guitar along with simple yet effective drum patterns. The whole thing is jerky, groovy and fun. 'No Xmas For John Keys' has a huge helping of lyrical humour, not a song likely to top the festive hit parade, but a great piece of work all the same. 'What's this song about?", "Er, nothing", opens 'Mother-Sister!', 'Industrial Estate' is all pounding drums, keyboards and guitars - another fine song. Marc Riley joins in with 'distinctive' backing vocals, particularly audible all through 'Industrial Estate', and there you have it.

    Side two kicks off with the searing guitar lines of 'Underground Medecin', the keyboards are still there but this is the most 'conventional' punk song on the album. 'Two Steps Back' by way of contrast is slow, with insistent rhythms, and includes a fascinating set of lyrics. It's an insidious song, another song with plenty of melody and it reaches a fitting crescendo towards the end. The title track is a bizarre spoken / shouted word piece led by Mark E Smith, 'Future Pasts' is another more straightfplenty of melodieslthough not really. What was 'straightforward' for The Fall was strangeness and eccentricity itself for almost any other group 'Music Scene' closes the album and certainly isn't straightforward by any stretch of even a twisted imagination. Eight minutes of repetitive, trying, yet strangely hypnotic repeating rhythms. There isn't a great deal to complain about really, especially for a début album. The keyboards running through every single song can get a little irritating, but on the whole, this is a fine, enjoyable record.

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    Readers Comments

    graham pollock South London
    In my opinion this is the best FALL album ever, as it manages to convey an aural landscape with a distinctive keyboard-based sound. Yvonne Pawletts minimalist-sooty show sound is quite superb,and like nothing I have ever heard in my life! Certain tracks like FRIGHTENED and UNDERGROUND MEDECIN use a guitar sound by martin bramah that is at odds with the NEW WAVE style around in 1978 onwards. MUSIC SCENE is so avant-garde that it almost a deconstruction of traditional English rock-music structures.. Marc Riley's bass playing seems to perfectly compliment Bramahs guitar sound.. I don't think the FALL ever really bettered this post punk-psychedelic sound. I am a performance poet based in south London, and have written some poetry about the FALL. my e-mail is gpollock91@hotmail.com


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    Dragnet 9 ( 1979 )
    Psykick Dancehall / A Figure Walks / Printhead / Dice Man / Before The Moon Falls / Your Heart Out / Muzorewi's Daughter / Flat Of Angles / Choc-Stock / Spectre VS Rector 11)Put Away

    Notable line-up changes occurred prior to this album. Bramah and Pawlett left, Craig Scanlon and Stephen Hanley joined on guitar and bass, allowing Marc Riley to switch from bass across to guitar. The sound of this album is worth mentioning at this point in the review. Let's just say that the engineer was thanked, 'for his trust'. The record sounds like it was recorded for £10. The sound, indistinct with quiet vocals unless Mark E Smith is shouting becomes parLetsthe records charm. It's as much part of 'Dragnet' as the sound of 'White Light White Heat' was part of The Velvet Undergrounds notoriously uncompromising second album. Bearing in mind the line-up changes, the absence of keyboards for example, we have a much more guitar centred record here. Still 'Fall' guitars by the way, well, we've a couple of guitars here now. One will pick out a simple melody, the other will scratch and thrash away before disappearing again. Something like 'A Figure Walks', all six minutes of it, iwe've got ad example of the sound of this record. 'Psykick Dancehall' arrives first of all however with funky bass, catchy guitar and furiously shouted vocals. It's exhilarating, lo-fi, stupendous and exciting. I don't actually know of anybody else who was writing lyrics quite like these - 'my garden is made of stone, there's a computer centre over the road, I saw a monster on the roof....' is just one example of many. 'Printhead' and 'Diceman' are ALL GUITARS, both short songs and both deliriously happy punk songs. We have a little rockabilly rhythm here and there and drums that sound like the drummer is about to fall apart at the end of every phrase.

    'Before The Moon Falls' is little drawn out and lacking in the catchy melodies of other songs here. 'Your Heart Out' is better, more incredibly simple yet effective guitar melodies and a classic, intriguing Mark E Smith performance. 'AND THEY TRY TO TAKE MY EYES OUT.... AND I DON'T SING I JUST SHOUT!', and so forth. 'Muzorewi's Daughter' is another great example of the sound of 'Dragnet'. Indistinct, but the band are playing loudly underneath. They switch to quieter sections mapped out by a guitar line and tribal sounding drums. 'Flat Of Angles' is hugely jerky and entertaining, sounds clearer than some of the other songs here. Not sure how, everything was recorded in much the same fashion. Well, 'Spectre VS Rector', all 7mins 49secs of it, sounds like it was recorded in a cave, underwater. A riff that sounds like somebody farting across the simple percussion. The guitar picks out a quite frankly scary sounding part and Mark is buried underneath hiss and noise and sounds at his most impenetrable thus far. If you'vfarts The Velvet Underground's 'Sister Ray' you'll have some idea of what to expect listening to this, but the lyrics are better. Something about exorcism, it's a brilliant, if disturbing listening experience. The closing 'Put Away' is all rockabilly rhythms, a jaunty song perfect to counteract the horrific 'Spectre VS Rector'. 'Live At The Witch Trials' had sold next to nowt, which perhaps partly allowed Mark E Smith to create an album as blatantly uncommercial as this. Well, the likes of 'Printhead' or 'Diceman' are commercial songs, of sorts. At least enough to earn the growing interest of Radio One DJ John Peel, who had been a supporter of the group from the very beginning. 'Dragnet' is one hell of an atmospheric record, an album that really draws you in and blocks out everything from the outside world. Yeah, that kind of record, a good kind of record.

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    Readers Comments

    Stefan Emmental TMyers7669@aol.com
    I really like how The Fall mix it up on this elpee. "Psykick Dancehall" has a repetitive and quasi-monotonous incessant guitar riff-but it's a damn good riff! "Choc-Stock" is pop music for Fall people and "Muzorewi's Daughter" is like Egyptian reggae dub...hahahaha. "Spectre vs. Rector" is madness. "Diceman" is based on a really good book entitled-wait for it "Diceman" by Dr. Lucas Reinhardt. Get it, it's fantastic. Along w/"Printhead" this tune showcases the Falls other side. Whatever that means. One for the ages.

    mark o sullivan zapay1@hotmail.com
    i could'nt agree more. i bought this album when it came out and i was always beguiled by it. the start of a lifelong love. good work, thanx for the effort.

    PennyDrunk_1 Greece
    These are some reviews - turned me into a Fall fan in a spun of 2 years. Read Dragnet's review again, though; someone's been pranking you


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    Totales Turns 8 ( 1980 )
    Intro - Fiery Jack / Rowche Rumble / Muzorewi's Daughter / In my Area / Choc-Stock / Spectre vs. Rector / Cary Grant's Wedding / That Man / New Puritan / No Xmas for John Quay

    The Fall sign to Rough Trade and this live set was the first album issued for the label. There is some interesting additional material here as well as representations of songs from both the early studio albums As expected, given the way 'Dragnet' sounded, this isn't a high fidelity professional reproduction of songs. Having said that 'Fiery Jack' does sound like its studio counterpart, only better played. The guitar and the rhythm created, and held, is a thing to behold. Simple lines, lots of melody. 'Rowche Rumble' like 'Fiery Jack' had been an early Fall single. 'Rowche Rumble' with pounding tribal drums moving into loud guitar sections and a bass just going up and down...... is a lots of melodies performance. The version of 'Muzorewi's Daughter' here sounds scary and exciting at the same time. The bass sounds deep, rumbling, frightening. The move into the faster shouted 'chorus' parts is great use of dynamics, and the transition gets to me every time. What's striking about this live album isn't how accurate the performances are, I'm not sure they were trying to replicate the studio versions. As I said, this isn't a 'polished' product but it is remarkable how many of the songs here, sound quality apart, sound so much better than their studio counterparts. It may be something to do with the bass sound. The bass guitar sounds wonderful throughout, more prominent than the studio versions on the whole.

    'In My Area' is a typical Fall repetitive, hypnotic grind, 'Choc-Stock' a little catchy thing with a great, wired Mark E Smith vocal performance. It dissolves slightly into a mess of noise, but we don't mind that, do we? A mess of noise can be beautiful. Hey? Well, it can, I think so. Speaking of messes of noise, The Fall do a live rendition of 'Spectre VS Rector' that's shorter than the studio version and features an improvised introduction from Mark E Smith. The band sound hardly together here, feedback, Mark E Smith taking lots of liberties lyrically. 'I'll break it in easy for you', he says at one point. Well, I guess I can understand that, but 'Spectre VS Rector' is the first song here that doesn't sound either magnificent, or better than its recorded counterpart. 'I SAID SHUT UP-UH!' opens 'Cary Grant's Wedding'. which once it gets going, is an enjoyable 'Dragnet' style rockabilly romp with slower sections between featuring frightening guitar parts. 'That Man' was another early single side and is performed pretty straight here, lots of catchy guitar, more changed and improvised lyrics. 'New Puritan' gives a whole new meaning to 'amateurish' music, it seems to be very much a lyrical vehicle but is a difficult thing to enjoy for three minutes. 'No Xmas For John Quays' closes the set with prominent bass and 'entertaining' drums. We get some improvisation from Mark E Smith, and the band this time round. 'No Xmas For John Quays' is seven, nearly eight minutes long as performed here, very relentless. Not an easy experience, but enjoyable for fans.

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    Grotesque ( 1980 )
    Pay Your Rates / English Scheme / New Face In Hell / C'n'C-s Mithering / The Container Drivers / Impression Of J Temperance / In The Park / W.M.C. Blob 59 / Gramme Friday / The N.W.R.A

    First impressions reveal shouted vocals and the absence of the murkiness that characterised 'Dragnet'. Further listening reveals lots of catchy guitar riffs and a helping of rockabilly. First and second impressions can both be applied to the opening cut here, 'Pay Your Rates'. A fantastic album opener that lets you know exactly what's in store for you and is also one of the finest songs on the album. The guitar riff contains exactly two notes but it's still a great song. Not everything sticks to catchy riffs and melodic, structured songs. Two of the stranger cuts here include the seven and a half minute long C'nC-s' Mithering, which features more drums than anything else, and the recorded at home speech and percussion of the strangely titled 'W.M.C Blob 59'. Keyboards return to The Fall for 'English Scheme' where the catchy guitars combine with keyboards and a kazoo. We find a wonderful shouted chorus for the deliriously enjoyable and immensely silly 'New Face In Hell'. 'Container Drivers' is an absolute highlight with it's speedy rockabilly guitars and great Mark E Smith lyrics and shouting. The fast drum rolls that appear at the end of each phrase are a joy, you keep waiting for the drummer to fail completely and make a hash of it, but he does keep going. It's just the sound of it all that appeals to me. The drum sound as demonstrated across this album would later go on to influence early Pavement, to give you some idea of what it sounds like. Oh, and by the way, I really love the little Rock N Roll guitar solo that appears two thirds of the way through 'Container Drivers'.

    'Impression Of J Temperance' is back to the deep bass lines and 'tribal' drums that characterized aspects of The Fall's previous work. 'In The Park' is incredibly catchy and addictive for a song that's under two minutes in length, 'Gramme Friday' is taken at a more considered pace than some of the speedy rockabilly elsewhere but is still a good listen and an entertaining song. All of this just leaves the sheer glory of 'The N.W.R.A', or "the north will rise again" as it's actually sung. Nine minutes of music, it takes 'Spectre VS Rector' as a template but renders it in "Grotesque's" new murk free sound quality. 'The N.W.R.A' is more focused than 'Spector VS Rector' and Mark E Smith has an awful to say vocally. You can either concentrate on the repeating riffs and farting keyboards or listen attentively to the amazing and barely believable lyrics, It's your choice. 'Grotesque' as a whole could work well as a possible entry point into the world of The Fall, but it's still not a perfect work. There are those one or two stranger moments such as 'W.M.C Blob 59'. Amusing curios, rather than anything you'd want to regularly listen to, yet this is still a mighty fine album. With such a large catalogue of Fall 'product' it's useful to have records such as this to easily recommend to the curious and the fascinated.

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    Readers Comments

    Ben P bpick99@hotmail.com
    This may be their finest hour of all. Hard to say for sure. Anyway, every song on here is a winner. 'Pay Your Rates' is a great way to grab your attention. Some great lyrics and a nice tempo change, with a highly energetic ending. 'English Scheme' is probably the most normal-sounding song on here, with a nice melody. 'New Face In Hell' is catchy as can be, with some cool lyrics about government schemes, surveillance, betrayal, I guess. Awesomely original guitar that Pavement ripped off. Now, 'C n Cs Mithering' is a great example of how Smith can take the most stripped down, seemingly boring musical background and turn it into something absolutely compelling - probably my favourite lyrics of this era of The Fall; "All the English groups, act like peasants with free milk", just full of great quotes. 'Container Drivers' is another highlight, this one about truck drivers, speeding for their wages, with their suntans and torn shirt sleeves. I guess it is appropriate for such a! driving, rockabilly song to be about, uh, drivers. 'Impression Of J. Temperance' has a cool as hell bass line, plus I like the falsetto-sounding line "Only one person could do this." This one builds up to a great climax on the strength of the repetition. 'In The Park' is kind of short, and has another of my favourite lines on this album "You thought it'd be great! You thought it's be great! But a good mind does not a good fuck make!" 'Gramme Friday' boasts another cool bass line And 'The NWRA' is an epic song - isn't it awesome when he yells "Switch!" Overall, I agree with your review that this could make a pretty acceptable entry point into their large and intimidating catalogue

    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    The Fall make modern-day folk music really, as is especially evident here. There is so much imagination, wit and creative genius bursting from this album that it remains astounding to this day. A good place to start if you are kurious...


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    Slates 8 ( 1981 )
    Middle Mass / An Older Lover etc. / Prole Art Threat / Fit and Working Again / Slates, Slags etc. / Leave the Capitol

    A six track mini album, the essence of the more straightforward side of The Fall, at this stage. Well, musically at least, the lyrics are the same brilliant strangeness as ever. And, 'straightforward' just means six short songs in this context. 'Middle Mass' is all thrashing distorted guitars amid a repeating rhythm which Mark E Smith holds together vocally. 'An Older Lover' combines catchy bass and guitar lines with a clear production sound and Mark E Smith turns in a vintage performance. This is more 'minimalist' than previous albums floods of words. 'Prole Art Threat' follows and is a glorious slab of noise, catchy guitars, pounding drums and demented vocals. When the bass comes in all melody in the middle, the guitars carry on scratching and riffing, and the whole song picks up a notch. 'Fit And Working Again' may just be the finest, 'straight' song music-wise The Fall had produced thus far. It sounds completely magnificent with wonderful melodic bass lines, and a vintage Mark E Smith vocal performance. The bass melodies are the key to the song.

    'Slates, Slags ETC' is a harder hitting musical track with biting guitars, biting lyrics and passionate vocals. A bass line repeats throughout the song a pounding, tribal drum pattern. This combination creates a wonderful, and very loud, musical track. 'Leave The Capitol' closes the album, and if possible, is even more insanely catchy than even 'Fit And Working Again'. Once more the bass sound and melodies are a joyous thing to behold. And so we have six songs, a mini-lp. Buy it on CD, and you get 'Part Of America Therein' as well which is pretty good value for money! <

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    Benj65 benjmorgan@hotmail.com
    I think Leave the Capitol is just about my favourite Fall track. The deftness of the lyrics ("and you know in your brain you must leave The CAPITOL"), the driving rhythms and the dense layer of sound... fantastic! Me and my best mates were Fall fanatics in 1981-82 at the tender age of 16 & 17 in far off Wellington, New Zealand. Shame they didn't play LTC in August 1982 when they played my home town... but then why would they? They didn't bother playing Totally Wired despite it charting in the NZ Top 10 (!) the previous year... great concert, great days...

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    Slates is a definite 10/10 for me...


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    77-Early Years-79 ( 1981 )
    Repetition / Bingo Master's Breakout / Psycho Mafia / Various Times / It's The New Thing / Rowche Rumble / In My Area / Dice Man / Psykick Dancehall No. 2 / Second Dark Age / Fiery Jack

    This release collects together early Fall single sides in one place. Which is stating the obvious, given the albums title. Always a good singles band, The Fall. 'Repetition' is an odd way to open though, slow and grinding with plenty of, um, repetition musically. I suppose it makes a point about the groups music, of some sort. 'Bingo Master's Breakout' proves that The Fall deserved the term 'mighty' right from the start, an interesting story telling song about some bingo guy. Musically we have keyboards, guitars. The sound of The Fall circa 'Live At The Witch Trials' and a song better than at least half of that particular record. 'Psycho Mafia' opens with quickly played, pounding and primitive drums, guitars and keyboards come in, Mark E Smith arrives shouting and sounding like he's having a grand old time. I certainly have a grand old time listening to it. 'Various Times' is less enjoyable musically than it is lyrically, 'It's The New Thing' is all keyboards and guitars, 'Rowche Rumble' all tribal drums and shouted, exciting vocals. When the guitars do come in, they come in layered, creating a dense sound, a slightly different sound than The Fall usually went for during this era.

    A fascinating document this release, it covers the early era as well as it can without including any of the longer songs out of necessity. This was originally a single vinyl LP, and served a purpose rounding up singles that were already unavailable, even just a year or two after they'd first been issued. The Fall didn't have great distribution, and changed record labels several times. The material here comes from a period they were signed to 'Step Forward' records. Apart from a few stand-out cuts, the material is rather standard if compared to later Fall but still better I suspect than material their contemporaries were putting out at the time.

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    Hex Enduction Hour 9 ( 1982 ) more best albums...
    The Classical / Jawbone and the Air-Rifle / Hip Priest / Fortress-Deer Park / Mere Pseud Mag. Ed. / Winter (Hostel-Maxi) / Winter 2 / Just Step S'ways / Who Makes the Nazis? / Iceland / And this Day

    Well, The Fall leave Rough Trade for this and a subsequent album only to re-join again a year later or so later. The Fall never had much luck with record labels through their early years. They nearly signed to Motown Records, actually. A true story, it fell through once the Motown bosses had listened to about the first 30 seconds of the proposed opening song of the record. The lyrical content put them off, shall we say. After you're done, visit The Fall's official web site, the link is at the bottom of this page and go to the lyrics section. Find 'The Classical', and you'll understand why the deal fell through. Anyway, this was reportedly going to be the last ever Fall album, for reasons best known to Mark E Smith himself. It didn't happen that way, thankfully, but at the time that was certainly a serious intention. Therefore, everything was put into this album. It's very intense as a result, the guitar sound is layered and powerful. A second drummer similarly boosts the drum sound way beyond earlier Fall efforts. Sometimes the album is too intense, there isn't much let up at all, every song featuring dense guitars and very loud drums. Highlights? 'The Classical' is a great representation of the sound of the entire album, the seven minute long 'Hip Priest' which explodes from quiet to exhilaratingly loud noise is a highlight as well. 'Just Step Sideways' is the nearest we get to a straightforward, catchy little Fall song that could, in a parallel universe, pass for a pop song.

    In actual fact, picking out high-lights as I've just done above doesn't do this record justice at all. Almost everything has something to recommend about it, so I'll say a little more. 'Jawbone And The Air Rifle' makes good use of the loud and layered Fall guitar assault, and also includes a catchy chorus into the bargain. 'Mere Psued Mag Ed' is incredibly loud, fast, dense and furious. It's rather good, you know? The only song here I don't really go for is 'Iceland', which is a little too minimal compared to much else of what's here. Then again, given that the song which follows it is ten minutes of glorious pounding repetition, perhaps 'Iceland' serves a purpose after all. A great album although perhaps a little too merciless and therefore not always easy to sit through - if everything was perfect, this wouldn't be The Fall.

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    Readers Comments

    Baz
    Hmmmm...where to start. After "Eat Yourself Fitter" this was my starting point of The Fall, quite daring, but its worth it in the end. I don't think its THAT difficult to get into, much easier than say some of Tom Waits stuff. There is a few songs here that are absolute classics "The Classical" "Hip Priest" "Fortress/Deer Park" and "Just Step S'ways". All absolute gems of the highest grade. The album as a whole gels well together its just at the end it gets a little boring, luckily they sort this out on later albums i have. I should also mention that "Who Makes The Nazis?" contains beast like noises, very odd. Overall: 8/10.

    joeybougard@hotmail.com
    Apart from the fact that this album is actually called Hex Enduction Hour, this is a great review for an equally great record by Mark E. Smith aka The Fall. It's my introduction to the Fall, and it's a bloody good one too. This record is spawned with instant classics like Hip Priest (with those great quiet-loud dynamics), Jawbone And The Air-Rifle (a great guitar song with that powerful drumcombo all over the place) and the obscure and paranoid Who Makes The Nazi's? (I love the way MES pronounces "Nazi's"! Just love it!). Though it has its downsides as well, which would make a perfect rating a bit over the top. A song like Iceland keeps on dragging and dragging, and And This Day is a train wreck (which is not a bad thing, but it certainly is when you try to keep that powerful punch alive for 10 minutes in a row). So I guess your 9 is spot on. It's a must-have for every music lover around.


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    Room To Live 8 ( 1982 )
    Joker Hysterical Face / Marquis Cha Cha / Hard Life In Country / Room To Live / Detective Instinct / Solicitor In Studio / Papal Visit

    What happened? 'Hex' was intended to be the last ever Fall album, because Mark E Smith was pissed off at something or other - but lo and behold, 'Room To Live' arrived less than a year after 'Hex Enducation Hour'. We've thirty six minutes or so of music here compared to the hour long 'Hex', by the way. The first four songs at least are all prime Fall moments, so that's ok, more than ok. The closing three songs are a little more, a-hem, challenging. Still, 'Room To Live' remains the sound of essential Fall of the period, although 'Room To Live' is a little less intense than 'Hex Enducation Hour', all told. Still, less intense?? 'Joker Hysterical Face' combines all the greatest Fall elements. A simple yet catchy bass line. Scratchy guitar. Very loud indeed drums. Everything combines and the bass melody holds it together along with the charmingly simple yet still glorious sounding drums. Mark E Smith tells his story, makes the listener laugh - then screams a little a bit later. It's all here! 'Marquis Cha Cha' might just be one of the dozen or so essential Fall songs that demonstrates easily what's quite so great about them. Echoed vocals then Mark E Smith having plenty to say and saying it in very funny ways, as if he really does have some secret to the existence of the entire universe we were all previously unaware of. Yet, it sounds daft, the words and music both. Happily daft, gloriously daft. The bass line is stupendous for such a simple bass line and melody, and that my friends, is 'Marquis Cha-Cha', truly a Fall classic if ever there was one. 'Hard Life In Country' contains yet more fantastic bass guitar melodies - and you've got to give credit to a Mr Steve Hanley, the bass guitar man. The guitar scratches in true punk fashion, yet never ever, plays a single 'riff', as such. Just lots of tiny little melodies. The drums beat, and beat simply. There is a lot of space in the song for Mark E Smith to fill, but this time, he chooses to use his words relatively sparingly. "New romantics come over the hill and it gets a bit depressing." Social commentary, we have it, right here. 'Hard Life In Country' revolves and revolves and repeats and repeats yet still builds up on itself as it goes along. Hypnotic, and glorious. "The Bowie look-alikes permeate car parks", says Mark E. It's all true.

    Ah... AH! The title song is the catchiest thing on this album and one of the great Fall catchy things. If 'Hex Enducation Hour' bludgeoned you to death with its fantastic assault on the senses, 'Room To Live', the song at least - retains the feel of 'Hex' in places, yet adds a bass line that is so catchy it really should have been banned. There's a weird little time signature change and the bass just keeps on going, playing the same five notes or so, over and over and over again. Mark E Smith does his stuff. It's more than enough. After which..... 'Detective Instinct' sounds like a demo, 'Solicitor In Studio' tries, it features good guitar sounds, weird and strangeness abound. But, it falls short of anything on the first side of the LP, although it's still fairly good, all told. The very closing, five minute long 'Papal Visit' has funny lyrics and Mark E Smith himself playing violin. It sounds like he doesn't even know what a violin IS, let alone how to play it. Still, his violin along with a single drum being beat via the medium of the drummers hands and the sound of a guitar being played by a comb - is pretty much what we have for 'Papal Visit'. From beginning to end, that's it. Avant garde?? Well, yes. Great?? Ummm.... possibly, but perhaps not. It's funny, but not something you surely want to listen to very often. Which leaves, added to the other songs following the title song - an album that's only really half an album, plus clear filler. Still, what a first half.

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    Readers Comments

    Kevin Woodward kevin.woodward@lewisham.gov.uk
    Solicitor In Studio? Have to disagree with you about this one. Great song, hard and funky with some great feedback noise that blisters and burns. His voice sounds great too on this one.

    Steve Chandra Savale London
    I agree with the last post ;Solicitor in Studio is one of their greatest tracks.It's a full-on totalitarian assault ,a marauding juggernaut of Fall rhythm plus some terrifying discordant toplines .I disagree that any of this album is "filler" , in that the concept of "filler" when applied to the Fall doesn't make any sense.Fall albums ,even to this day , are all about spontaneity and accidents in the studio coupled with a gleeful subversion of the recording process itself.They don't get bogged down in the search for perfection ,far from it.Their early albums particularly are full of missed cues ,bits where someone has randomly turned a fader up,down or off(I wonder who?),random edits... On this album the vocals have been recorded without a pop-shield and are continually overloaded.The "time signature change " referred to above sounds like someone has changed the pitch control on the tape machine and then put it back again while the mix has gone down .On "Detective! Instinct" the levels generally all over the place .It's this cavalier ,willfully destructive approach to all the established norms of making music that make them the best band ever ,and "Room to Live" as great an album as any of their others.


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    A Part Of America Therein ( 1982 )
    The NWRA / Hip Priest / Totally Wired / Lie Dream of a Casino Soul / Cash 'n' Carry / An Older Lover / Deer Park / Winter

    A live set recorded in 1981 and released in a limited run through 1982. It's been reissued on CD and is now available on the same disc as 'Slates'. 'Hip Priest' is here in all it's glory and reasonably faithfully performed, although the guitars are too quiet in the mix, and the song loses appeal as a result. 'Totally Wired' opens in rather ramshackle fashion but it gets going. The bass is louder than the studio rendition although the guitars are quieter again. 'Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul' was a single released around the time of 'Hex Enducation Hour' and it remains a mighty song as performed here. The keyboards just about hold the melody together, the drums are very good and Mark E Smith does a fine job vocally, even if he does taken the chorus too slowly. Then again these are live performances, so differences in song representation are to be expected. 'Cash And Carry' is basically 'C'nC-s' Mithering' with new lyrics slagging off supermarkets. 'An Older Lover' is hilariously poor in sound quality, 'Deer Park' is better with more prominent guitars, even if the whole thing is surrounded in hiss. 'Winter' is performed well, and there you have it. Hardly an essential document, the sound quality does leave something to be desired, but what are you gonna do? As I said at the start of the review, get 'Slates' and you'll end up with this anyway. Treat it as eight bonus tracks and you'll be alright.

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    Perverted By Language ( 1983 )
    Eat Y'Self Fitter / Neighbourhood Of Infinity / Garden / Hotel Bloedel / Smile / I Feel Voxish / Tempo House / Hexen Definitive Strife Knot

    Enter Laura Elise, soon to be Brix Smith, wife of Mark E. She doesn't make any notable writing contributions as yet, at this stage she was 'just' an extra guitar player and extra vocal voice. She did have a sweeter guitar style, and that comes across on a couple of the songs here. Confidence is important in any group. Confidence was low through the recording of the previous studio album and the arrival of Brix will have shaken things up a little bit. Maybe her arrival also made things a little more interesting for Mark? The numerous Fall line-up changes have, if nothing else, made things interesting! But onto the matter at hand. 'Eat Y'Self Fitter' is 'Hip Priest' without the quiet to loud parts yet with funnier lyrics in an attempt to compensate. They don't, needless to say. The drum pattern is fun though. OK, so 'Eat Y'self Fitter' is nothing at all like 'Hip Priest', but it's not the sound of The Fall moving forwards neither. That doesn't matter I suppose if the song is great, but for me, 'Eat Y'Self Fitter' is average Fall. 'Neighbourhood Of Infinity' is nothing new either but the bass sounds fantastic, and more than compensates for the lack of a new angle. It's a heavy pounding song and lots of fun. If I've just contradicted myself somewhere, I apologise, 'Perverted By Language' is that kind of record. Other familiar 'Fall by numbers' moments include both of the closing songs. Together with 'Eat Y'self Fitter', that makes up three of the albums eight tracks.

    Things pick up. 'I Feel Voxish' has a wonderful sounding bass line running all the way through it, 'Smile' is one of the most enjoyable loud and demented songs The Fall ever produced. When Mark screams the songs title, it's scary as hell. The bass and guitars rise to the occasion with crashing cymbals somewhere in the background, and there you go. A highlight! 'Garden' and 'Hotel Bloedel' are both weird, strange, but strangely enjoyable. 'Hotel Bloedel' features Brix heavily on both guitar and vocals, a sign of things to come. From Brix we have a sweet vocal and guitar pattern over which Mark E Smith arrives and there is just something about this. The album as a whole is clearly transitional, a record on the way to something else, rather than being an accomplished work in itself. Well, that's an easy thing to say with hindsight, I suppose. This album just confuses me, so a confused review seems only appropriate.

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    Nathan Canada
    I honestly think this is the greatest Fall album...MES at his creative peak, musically and lyrically...."Garden" "The Man Whose Head Expanded" and "Hotel Blodel" being highlights.


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    Fall In A Hole 6 ( 1983 )
    Impression of J. Temperance / Man whose Head Expanded / Room to Live / Hip Priest / Lie Dream of a Casino Soul / Prole Art Threat / Hard Life in Country / The Classical / Mere Pseud Mag Ed / Marquis Cha-cha / Backdrop / Fantastic Life / English Scheme / Joker Hysterical Face / No Xmas for John Quays / Solicitor in Studio

    Another Fall live set. This one was recorded in 1982, so no it doesn't feature Brix. The 1997 CD re-issue was apparently mastered direct from an original vinyl bootleg copy.... "Good evening, we are The Fall" opens Mark E Smith and onwards we go through a pleasing selection of material featuring album tracks and singles mixed together. Unfortunately, the band sound completely out of it for a good portion of the performances. 'The Classical' is so ramshackle it has to be heard to be believed. Only a storming 'Prole Art Threat' where everybody seems to be playing out of their skins is at all engaging. Well, that's a little unfair. 'The Man Whose Head Expanded' works, the bass grooving nicely away and 'Mere Pseud Mag Ed' sounds suitably loud and demented and the little known 'Backdrop' appears to be a tuneless guitar assault that sounds like a 'Hex' out-take. So, despite a great track-list this really isn't an essential Fall purchase. The fact that it was mastered from a bootleg copy might have something to do with it, I don't know. Fall live albums are legendarily poor in sound quality as a general rule, although some overcome that better than others. Better than this release, anyway. But, I'm gonna give this a six. The set-list really is cool and there are a couple of great performances here.

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    Wonderful And Frightening World Of 9 ( 1984 )
    Lay of the Land / 2 x 4 / Copped It / Elves / Oh! Brother / Draygo's Guilt / God-Box / Clear Off! / Creep / Pat Trip Dispenser / Slang King / Bug Day / Stephen Song / Craigness / Disney's Dream Debased / No Bulbs

    A mighty seven songs were added to the original vinyl issue to form the currently available CD versions of the album. And seeing as the CD version is the only one around now that's the one I'm reviewing. Besides, the extra tracks transform a decent album into a great album. But first, this. Brix is fully integrated into the band now, co-writing nine of the sixteen songs here. The Fall also managed to sign to a fairly decent and respected record label so had a reasonable amount of money to pour into recording for the first time - it wasn't just Brix that was responsible for this records more 'radio friendly' sound, although she surely had a big influence upon it. So, 'Lay Of The Land' is six minutes of loud drums and fast guitars, '2x4' is catchier than flu and with such a GREAT guitar sound. 'Copped It' and 'Elves' share this guitar sound but aren't quite as funky or enjoyable, although both still decent songs. The pop songs arrive next, originally these were single 'A' sides and 'B' sides, but all were recorded during the same period as the rest of the album so it makes sense to consider them a full part of the record. 'Oh Brother' has lovely 'la la la' vocals from Brix, 'Draygo's Guilt' is a catchy guitar monster, 'Creep' the best pop song The Fall had written, 'Pat Trip Dispenser' is slower yet still freakishly interesting and so on and so forth. This middle section of the album is absolutely fantastic actually, even the slightly lesser songs such as 'Clear Off!' still manage to be entertaining songs. I love the little shuffling guitar part in 'Clear Off!'. I love the vocals, and shouted backup, I love the song.

    'Slang King' kicks off side two of the album if we are talking the old vinyl version. Confused? You needn't be. The running order I've given above is the one you'll get if you buy this on CD now. Oh, right, 'Slang King'. Another poppy chorus, Brix with backing vocals and more sleek guitar work. What was that? Sleek? Yeah, Brix added a very different guitar sound, smoother but just as catchy melody-wise. On the other-hand, 'Bug Day' isn't smooth at all, it's strange as hell. It announces itself with a little bass line and quiet guitar and drum parts. 'Bug Day' sings Mark and he doesn't actually sing much else. Five minutes of filler this song I suppose, but the strangeness which I haven't really successfully described does keep you listening, out of curiosity if nothing else. 'Stephen Song' has the happiest guitar line ever invented, 'Craigness' is another happy song but only for the fact Mark E Smith screams out 'CRAIG' at the top of his voice and it makes you grin. 'Disney's Dream Debased' was the first true ballad The Fall had written. Shockingly, it's absolutely gorgeous and lovely. Mark E Smith makes a proper attempt at singing, no shouting here! And, he sounds lovely. It's very nice, enough to bring a little tear to the eye. 'No Bulbs' which was added to the vinyl album, actually makes a far better closer for my money than 'Disney's Dream Debased' would have done. 'No Bulbs' is all pounding bass and loud guitars. It's fun, fast and Mark E Smith sounds in fine voice. And, that's enough. This sixteen track album is more than enough, the sound of a band re-born and comes highly recommended.

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    Hip Priest And Kamerads 9 ( 1985 )
    Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul / The Classical / Fortress / Look Know / Hip Priest / Who Makes The Nazi's / Just Step Sideways / Room to Live / Mere Pseud Mag. Ed. / Hard Life In Country / I'm Into CB / Fantastic Life / Jawbone And The Air-rifle / And This Day

    Sometimes 'Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul' is my favourite Fall song, ever! The Fall circa 1982 playing a pop song complete with two-drummer line-up is just stupendous. And yes indeed the drums are wonderful, all up and down. This isn't a heavy guitar song which is unusual for a Fall song of the period. Instead we get ourselves pounding and brilliantly melodious keyboard parts. We get ourselves Mark E Smith turning in a particularly vintage vocal performance and it's bloody fantastic. But, where was I? Ah, yes. 'Hip Priest And Kamerads'. Kamera was the name of the record label for 'Hex Enducation Hour' and 'Room To Live'. This compilation covers those records, adds in a couple of singles and a selection of live tracks. The 'Hex Enducation Hour' songs sound as great as ever, more so actually because of the different company they are keeping. Of the extra material 'Look Know' is particularly brilliant with a roaringly deep bass line which the whole song hangs upon. 'I'm Into CB' was originally released as a single, the flip side of 'Look Know' and is all jarring guitars and pumping keyboards. It's also very entertaining indeed. 'Room To Live' and 'Hard Life In Country' have both been taken from the 'Room To Live' LP. The former is a classic slice of Fall bass melody with 'percussive' guitar effects over the top, the latter song is less enjoyable, although does have an interesting set of lyrics. 'Fantastic Life' rounds off the studio material being almost as fantastic a song as 'Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul'. 'Fantastic Life' was in fact the b-side to 'Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul'. Quality stuff.

    'Who Makes The Nazi's', 'Just Step Sideways', 'Jawbone And The Air-rifle' and 'And This Day' are the live tracks here. All are pretty groovy, pretty funky and very well performed. But, there is one small problem. Despite sounding absolutely frightening and magnificent, 'And This Day' has been included in a live version running to a monstrous sixteen minute length. If you didn't have a headache before listening to it, you will have afterwards. Just trust me on that. Of course, this compilation is rather 'assorted', rather haphazardly thrown together by the looks of the art-work, etc. But..... but. It's great. It's a wonderful listening experience, and one of the few places you can grab the two singles released post 'Hex' and pre 'Room To Live'. For those four songs alone it's well worth tracking this album down.

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    This Nations Saving Grace ( 1985 )
    Mansion / Bombast / Barmy / What You Need / Spoilt Victorian Child / L.A. / Vixen / Couldn't Get Ahead / Gut Of The Quantifier / My New House / Paint Work / I Am Damo Suzuki / To NK Roachment Yarbles / Petty Theif Lout / Rollin Danny / Cruisers Creek

    This is another mid-eighties Fall album that adds extra tracks to the original vinyl selection. This time, it takes away rather than adds to the experience, the closing two songs not working within the context of 'This Nations Saving Grace'. I could pretend they don't exist of course, but that would be cheating. This is the version of 'This Nations Saving Grace' that exists today. It's not like those particular songs are even listed as bonus tracks, there is nothing to indicate that they are. As 'Wonderful And Frightening World' added such tracks all over its running order it's clear these aren't bonus tracks, rather 'extra' tracks for the CD issue. The cassette versions were the same incidentally. Why The Fall made a habit of issuing different vinyl versions of their albums, I'm not sure. It may have been down to the fact if you were the kind of guy who bought albums on vinyl and a fan of The Fall, you most likely were also the kind of guy ( or gal. ) who would buy 7" singles The Fall put out. That may have the theory. Anyway, I'm rambling, I'm rambling and I've not even begun to discuss the album. Shall I? Ah, let's do it. It's good!

    Ok, a few more words might help I suspect. Here we have an album that builds up. The opening songs build and reach a climax of sorts with 'Barmy', which is all catchy guitar and vintage Mark E Smith sounding clear as a bell thanks to the wonderful John Leckie production. 'What You Need' has a repeating guitar figure but not much else, although it's still fun. 'Spoilt Victorian Child' is a fantastic and vicious song trek across the kind of delightful Mark E Smith lyrical imagery that makes getting drunk and waxing philosophically at a bar somewhere so much fun 'L.A' is spooky, hypnotic electronica, the first such instance of The Fall plugging into 'dance' technology. They do it well, mind. Sat in the middle of a couple of lack-lustre tunes is the perfect two and a half minute rocking 'Couldn't Get Ahead', 'My New House' wears a jaunty guitar very well, 'Paint Work' and 'I Am Damo Suzuki' are two of the more enjoyable 'strange' Fall song experiments. Which just leaves 'Petty Thief Lout' as a song of any substance unaccounted for. 'Petty Thief Lout' is a great, a perfect album closer but for the fact on CD and Cassette at least, two more songs follow. Dammit.

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    Readers Comments

    Craig Aberdeen
    I like the site. This Nation's Saving Grace is an amazing album, up there with Grotesque and Hex as one of their best. One thing, though - I've got TNSG on tape and the extra tunes aren't on it.


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    Bend Sinister 8 ( 1986 )
    R.O.D / Dktr Faustus / Shoulder Pads 1 / Mr Pharmacist / Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers / Living Too Late / U.S. 80's-90's / Terry Wait Sez / Bournemouth Runner / Riddler! / Shoulder Pads 2 / Auto-Tech Pilot

    Something happens to The Fall guitar sound here, something happens to The Fall, full stop. Maybe it was the growing influence of Brix but they sound more democratic, less Mark E Smith dominated. The guitars are sleek and some good songs are here too, although perhaps just not as many of them as previous Fall albums. Let's not quibble about such minor details as the two forgettable if breezy 'Shoulder Pads' songs or the very forgettable closing track. Let's just not mention them again, alright? But, what's this? 'Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers' is seven minutes long, yet unlike lengthier Fall song experiments in the past doesn't really warrant such length. This isn't the inspired hypnotic repetition of something like 'And This Day' or the hugely entertaining 'The N.W.R.A.'. This is just a song that hardly even sounds as though it exists at all. Not all is lost of course because 'Dktr Faustus, 'Living Too Late' and 'U.S. 80s 90s' in particular are as fine a triple selection of Fall songs as you'll find. The latter two build upon the electro work of 'L.A.' from the previous album, obviously so with the gorgeous 'Living Too Late', less obviously so with the storming 'U.S. 80s 90s'.

    'Mr Pharmacist' was a single, and a mighty fine one too with riffing guitars, clashing cymbals and very much a ROCK rockabilly type of sound to it. 'Terry Wait Sez' features good Brix cameo vocal parts and reaching only 98 seconds in length is perfectly timed. No more, no less. Just enough seconds to make a few catchy guitar and lyrical statements. 'Bournemouth Runner' and 'Riddler!' are by no means classic Fall moments, but both songs offer something to the listener. A demented Mark E Smith enlivens 'Bournemouth Runner' no end, lots of shouting with eye-wide proclamations that make no sense whatsoever. 'Riddler!' showcases those sleek Brix guitar lines to good effect. Well, they could be Craig Scanlon guitar lines I guess. It doesn't really matter. So, 'Bend Sinister'? It's okay. It reached a growing Fall fan-base that would put The Fall inside the UK top twenty just two years later. Wow.

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    Readers Comments

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    I'm not as much a fall fan as you Adrian but i do like bend sinister , and nations saving grace . Bend sinister especially for my favourite fall tracks mr pharmacist-living too late - us 80s 90s -dktr faustas . I was all primed to investigate this unique band further until i actually had the extreme displeasure of meeting the man himself. My Interest ended immediately and being a hot tempered scot hes extremely lucky i didnt knock him spark out ...


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    Palace Of Swords Reversed 10 ( 1987 )
    Prole Art Threat / How I Wrote Elastic Man / Totally Wired / Putta Block / An Older Lover, etc / Fit And Working Again / Marquis Cha-Cha / The Man Whose Head Expanded / Neighbourhood Of Infinity / Kicker Conspiracy / Wings

    The best Fall compilation, hands down. Yeah, it only covers the years 1980 to 1983 and due to label contractual stuff doesn't include any of the 'Hex Enducation Hour' material, but even so. This is the best Fall compilation, hands down. Songs from 'Slates', those groovy little guitar pop songs The Fall did so well in the early Eighties are added to yet more single cuts The Fall recorded during their two spells at Rough Trade. The sequencing, running order, everything about this is perfection itself. 'Prole Art Threat' for example just flows so damn well into 'How I Wrote Elastic Man' which itself is a brilliant song anyway. But, a transition between songs is extra information, an extra thrill for the listener. Given the numerous and often shoddy Fall compilations on the market, 'Palace Of Swords Reversed' at least, gets everything right. The 'Hex Enducation Hour' songs wouldn't have fitted in actually, being altogether darker than this version of The Fall. A version full of rockabilly rhythms, catchy guitars, perfect pop songs played by an eccentric alternative rock group. 'Totally Wired' is a Punk / New Wave classic, not a generally acknowledged one perhaps, but to this day it's one of the finest things The Fall ever did. 'Marquis Cha-Cha' manages to escape from the 'Room To Live' album to reveal itself to be a fine song with a shuffling rhythm, groovy bass runs and odd percussion. 'The Man Whose Head Expanded' is so very happy, but deadly seriously groovy at the same time. Mark E Smith sings with eyes open wide and sets off on a series of wonderfully bizarre lyrical proclamations whilst all the while a repeating bass line moves underneath him.

    A couple of very notable songs appear towards the end of this compilation, and these songs aren't easily available elsewhere. 'Kicker Conspiracy' has a stupendous drum sound and tribal rhythm moving up a gear for the chorus parts where the guitars join in, all melody. Mark E Smith complains lyrically about the English soccer federation, 'The F.A', so if you aren't exactly familiar with this, the lyrics won't make a huge amount of sense. They don't anyway, actually, but they remain hugely entertaining. 'Kicker Conspiracy' was just another in the long line of fantastic singles The Fall were putting out all through the Eighties in particular. And then 'Wings', one of the best songs ever. I was going to say one of the best Fall songs ever, but what the hell. And, that's it. That's your compilation. A ten, easy.

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    meldrain@AOL.com
    A lot of your Fall grades are off at this point, as some of the newer editions feature vastly different track listings. Take Perverted By Language, for instance, which has been ameliorated by assimilating a bunch of contemporaneous singles, including the incredible Wings. That alone should up the rating. Grotesque has been revamped with extra tracks including How I Wrote Elastic man, and many other albums have been heavily altered as well (like the unlisted bonuses of Lie Dream Of A Casino and Fantastic Life on Room To Live). I'm not saying you should re-review them, just pointing out that some of your assessments have sadly been rendered obsolete (not really obsolete, but incomplete. They're still good reviews, and they still give a good feel for the albums, they just don't fully reflect the quality of the new editions). I for one am really happy about these bonuses, however, as I now own every single track on Palace Of Swords Reversed without buying the damn compilation. Let's hear it for saving money.


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    The Frenz Experiment ( 1988 )
    Frenz / Carry Bag Man / Get A Hotel / Victoria / Athlete Cured / In These Times / The Steak Place / Bremen Nacht Alternative / Guest Informant / Oswald Defence Lawyer / Tuff Life Booogie / Guest Informant / Twister / There's A Ghost In My House / Hit The North

    The Fall enjoy not one but two hit singles and reach the top twenty ( number 19. ) with 'The Frenz Experiment'. Sadly, the above facts are about the only notable aspects of a below-par Fall effort. Well, six of the songs are solo Mark E Smith writing efforts which is notable, not to say unusual. The group sound asleep on many of the songs, maybe Mark E Smith felt he needed to assert himself or something? There are a few faster, livelier tracks here, the best of which could sit comfortably on almost any Fall album and not embarrass themselves. On the other hand, the likes of 'Tuff Life Boogie', the nine minute long 'Bremen Nacht Alternative' and 'Athlete Cured' are Fall on auto-pilot. 'Twister' is a horrible tuneless dance inspired mess, 'Guest Informant' better if only because Brix decides to scream the opening vocals. The guitars are pretty groovy as well, to be fair. Ah, let's talk about the hits. Not characteristic Fall moments, certainly more streamlined and commercial Fall moments, but not without charm even though both are cover versions. 'Victoria' is a reasonably faithful rendition of the magnificent Kinks song and 'There's A Ghost In My House' is just as fantastic a song as 'Victoria', Mark E Smith does his best and the guitar is cool. 'Hit The North' which has been tacked on to the end of this album is a Fall 'electro' experiment but it works, and is one of the better mid to late Eighties Fall singles.

    Highlights? We had a few. 'Carry Bag Man' has a typically brilliant catchy and addictive Fall guitar line, 'Get A Hotel' is groovy rhythmically and 'In These Times' very enjoyable indeed. It's catchy and concise pop-rock music. Pop? Rock? How times change. Well, times are allowed to change, groups are allowed to change, but this time round, the change isn't good change. The Fall miss more often than succeed with 'The Frenz Experiment', although one decent song remains that I've not spoken of. 'Oswald Defence Lawyer' is a slow guitar grind, very slow, very much a grind, but it's addictive and good to listen to.

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    I Am Kurious Oranj 8 ( 1988 )
    New Big Prinz / Overture From 'I Am Curious, Orange' / Dog Is Life - Jerusalem / Kurious Oranj / Wrong Place, Right Time / Guide Me Soft / CD Win Fall 2088 AD / Yes, O Yes / Van Plague? / Bad News Girl / Cab It Up! / Last Nacht / Big New Priest

    So, how to shake things up, how to make life interesting? Why, record the music for a ballet of course. I mean, what else are you gonna do? One thing it did do was give The Fall an actual reason to record an album, other than out of habit. As a result, although not everything here works, a good half of it works magnificently, and the rest is never less than interesting. 'New Big Prinz' opens the whole shebang and The Fall sound more wired and alive than they had for a good couple of years, at least. A couple of years for The Fall being a long time, you understand. 'Big New Prinz' is stomping, storming, hand-clapping, the works. Mark E Smith sings and shouts, the guitar is catchy as the catchiest thing ever, and there you have it. A winner. The 'Overture' is a solo Brix tune, sung by her as well. It's a very pretty guitar tune, pretty of course not being a usual Fall descriptive word, but then, this isn't a usual Fall LP. 'Dog Is Life' marries William Blake and Mark E Smith in a seemingly bizarre coupling but it works fantastically well. First of all we have Mark E Smith spitting out the 'Dog Is Life' rant after which 'Jerusalem' announces itself with strong drums and deep bass notes. When the guitar comes in, when Mark E Smith starts singing, you realise this is a close cousin to the opening 'Big New Prinz'. In actual fact, together with 'Big New Prinz' and 'Wrong Place, Right Time', 'Jerusalem' was issued as part of a three song EP by the group. All three of these songs are great, but 'Jerusalem' is particularly entertaining for the lyrical content when Mark E Smith starts to get all political on us.

    'Kurious Oranj' deserves a special mention. It's a song that's been known to disgust non Fall lovers I've played it to, though I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because the lyrics are completely daft and make no sense whatsoever. Perhaps it's because of the simplistic bass groove. It's an addictive bass groove though, once you get into it. It's a 'humorous' bass groove in line with the 'daft' nature of the song in the first place. Well, for all I know, the lyrics are dead meaningful. The end result is just sheer entertainment however, and that's alright by me. We have a number of softer, sweeter guitar songs on the second half of this record. 'Guide Me Soft' is a single exposed guitar with bare percussion and Mark E Smith half singing / half speaking. 'Yes O Yes' is the kind of song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on 'Bend Sinister' but it also shares the grinding, repetitive nature of certain songs from 'The Frenz Experiment'. 'Yes O Yes' isn't particular a highlight here but it works in context. 'Van Plague?' on the other hand just works, full stop. A greatly underrated Fall song, it's not often spoken of by fans but this is one of the sweetest Fall songs I can think of and also one of the best 'straight' Mark E Smith vocal performances. 'Bad News Girl' isn't particularly noteworthy being a tuneless dirge, 'Last Nacht' is a lively dance experiment and the closing 'Big New Priest' merely an alternative mix of the albums opening cut. I'll mention 'Cab It Up!' as well. 'Cab It Up!' isn't original, the melody is obvious and goes round and round. It's a lively track though, and Mark E Smith is particularly lively vocally. When he shouts out 'cabbing it uptown, UPTOWN!' it's a great Fall moment, for me at least. And, there you have it. 'I Am Kurious Oranj'. Difficult to come to a definite conclusion about the whole thing, other than it's entertaining. But, entertaining is good.

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    Extricate ( 1990 )
    Sing! Harpy / I'm Frank / Bill Is Dead / Black Monk Theme Part 1 / Popcorn Double Feature / Arms Control Poseur / Black Monk Theme Part 2 / Telephone Thing / Hilary / Chicago Now / The Littlest Rebel / British People In Hot Weather / And Therein / Extricate

    Enforced change, unplanned sometimes scary and potentially threatening change, often works out for the best. Thus was the result of Mark E Smith and Brix Smith parting ways. Mark E Smith promptly signed The Fall to a major label for the first time in the UK, whilst at the same time, not bothering to sign to a label in the US at all. Maybe no one wanted to sign The Fall? The expectation amongst certain critics was The Fall would flounder and fail following the departure of glamorous American Brix. In any event, major label money from EMI resulted in Mark spending more time down the pub ( probably. ) and also focusing his efforts on the recording of 'Extricate', which as the sleeve-notes tell us comprised material he/they had 'held back or just wrote over and through the tendril wires and chaos of the last 14 months'. Which says it all really. Another interesting aspect of the sleeve-notes is that side one is labelled by Mark as 'subjective as usual' and side two 'objective, unusual'. All I can tell through listening is that side two has a few observational, story songs. Early fall guitarist Martin Bramah returned for this album, by the way. He'd last appeared on 'Live At The Witch Trials' years and years back. A fiddle player was hired to scrawl and wail all over the opening 'Sing! Harpy' which is all funky rhythms, good production and biting lyrics. It's also lots of fun. 'I'm Frank' is apparently "Craig's tribute to Frank Zappa". Really, it's just an addictive and streamlined Fall guitar riff. "gimmie gimmie gimmie it slowly, baby" sings Mark, and The Fall sound funky as hell. It was 1990, remember. The era of Manchester bands. Mark being responsible for The Fall, the 'original' Manchester band, no doubt was spurred on by the competition the likes of The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses provided, even if he wasn't exactly a fan of either group.

    Signing to a major label usually requires some sort of compromise. There's no compromise here that I can see. Mark even refused EMI the chance to issue the gorgeous 'Bill Is Dead' as a single because he didn't think it was a good single. It did top radio one DJ John Peels end of year fans poll for 1990. And, it features Mark E Smiths finest ever vocal performance. Can the sound of Mark E Smith singing make you cry? Can The Fall be genuinely emotionally affecting and not just write cool alternative ( very alternative ) Rock music? Why, yes they can. 'Bill Is Dead' is absolutely gorgeous. 'Black Monk Theme Part 1' is a grinding stop start guitar workout, 'Black Monk Theme Part 2' is a techno/dance track, and rather fun for the Mark E Smith vocal, although the music is rather generic stuff. These two 'Black Monk' tunes are the least interesting things about 'Extricate' for me, even if 'Part 2' is unintentionally hilarious. 'Popcorn Double Feature' is some tune, 'Arms Control Poseur' a delightfully dissonant exercise in funky rhythms and noise, with a great twisted Mark E Smith vocal over the top. Dance/Techno artists and producers Coldcut helped out with 'Telephone Thing' and it's absolutely storming. This was the most successful dance/rock mix The Fall had yet achieved. 'Hilary' follows this dance funk monster very well. 'Hilary' is a very inoffensive jaunty guitar pop song, proof enough The Fall wouldn't cease writing pop melodies after the departure of Brix.

    'Chicago Now' sounded like nothing else on earth to me back in 1990. It was the first Fall song I'd ever heard. I needed this album! I knew nothing at all about the group back then, didn't even know what Mark E Smith looked like, knew none of the history. 'Chicago Now' was just this spooky, haunting and genuinely great song I'd heard. 'The Littlest Rebel' announces itself with a blast of guitar upon which a different guitar arrives playing a patented Fall catchy as hell melody line. Mark E Smith arrives with funny, grin inducing lyrics, harmonica plays across several sequences of the song and the whole thing becomes an impossible triumph. OK, this is a simple song. That doesn't mean it's not great, though. 'British People In Hot Weather' is an hilarious observational piece from Mark E Smith, 'And Therein' a deliriously happy rockabilly inspired song with a vintage Mark E Smith vocal performance and the closing title song is another 'Telephone Thing' dance monster. What more could you ask for? Well, you could ask for the removal of a couple of songs, perhaps. I'd remove the two 'Black Monk' songs, even if one makes me laugh out loud. Minor quibbles, minor quibbles. The Fall were back, better than ever.

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    Shiftwork ( 1991 )
    So What About It? / Idiot Joy Showland / Edingburgh Man / Pittsville Direkt / The Book Of Lies / High Tension Line / The War Against Intelligence / Shift-Work / You Haven't Found It Yet / The Mixer / White Lightening / A Lot Of Wind / Rose / Sinister Waltz

    Exit Martin Bramah, enter Dave Bush on funky dance keyboards, although this is no kind of dance record. 'Shiftwork' is in fact the softest album The Fall have ever produced. That doesn't mean 'Shiftwork' is bad of course, oh no! We still get a couple of biting, groovy guitar tracks and we still get the odd piece of eccentricity. But, the fact remains, this is straightforward for a Fall LP. Good songs, though. 'Edinburgh Man' for instance follows on from 'Bill Is Dead' in that it sports a Mark E Smith actually singing, and singing sweetly too. 'Rose' and 'You Haven't Found It Yet' are both pretty mellow, 'Rose' does feature some pretty flute work although 'You Haven't Found It Yet' isn't so interesting, but we'll allow The Fall the odd song here or there that isn't great. How generous of us! They've only gone and produced a billion songs in the past fifteen years!! 'The Mixer' is another mellow song actually, but this time with the dance stuff mixed in. A dance ballad? Fiddle can be heard, Mark E Smith adopts his 'Disney's Dream Debased' and 'Bill Is Dead' voice, and this is an interesting mix of styles and sounds. 'White Lightening' and 'High Tension Line' were the singles. Neither charted of course, although 'White Lightening', an old rockabilly cover, came close. On the eccentric side we have the delightful lo-fi casio keyboards and 'farting' sound that is 'Sinister Waltz'. It has no melody at all, well, not much of a melody. It's got very few vocals..... it's got noise yet it's quiet and disturbing. It'd sound great in a horror movie, a weird horror movie that made no sense, mind. Drums kick in and shuffling bass rhythms for the brilliant 'A Lot Of Wind', as in 'he talks a lot of wind'. A fine, wired Mark E Smith vocal enlivens 'A Lot Of Wind' no end and the fiddle helps add the required dissonance.

    The title tune is a little too mid-tempo, a little uninteresting melody wise, 'The Book Of Lies' on the other hand is absolutely brilliant, Mark E Smith sounds weird vocally, different, almost like a different singer. It might actually BE a different singer. Some guy called Kenny Brady ( the fiddle playing guy ) is also credited with vocals in the sleeve-notes, so some of the vocals here could well be him. Ah, it doesn't matter. 'The War Against Intelligence' and 'Idiot Joy Showland' are both guitar led songs on an album that's light on guitar, actually. Both songs do feature biting, bitter and clever lyrical work, 'Idiot Joy Showland' especially. Fiddle pops up again through 'The War Against Intelligence' and it's an important part of the sound of this 'Shiftwork' album. The guitars are mostly standard stuff, no distortion, little riffing or catchy guitar work. The keyboards provide melodies, the bass provides melodies. Everything works together, actually. But, the fiddle screeches over the top of several songs through 'Shiftwork'. I'm glad, it reminds me I'm listening to The Fall. Which, I've just realised, is a really dumb thing to say. There's Mark E Smith shouting through a megaphone with a rag stuffed in his gob all through 'So What About It?'! Of course it's the bloody Fall!!

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    Code : Selfish 9 ( 1992 )
    The Birmingham School Of Business School / Free Range / Return / Time Enough At Last / Everything Hurtz / Immortality / Two-Face! / Just Waiting / So-Called Dangerous / Gentlemen's Agreement / Married, 2 Kids / Crew Filth

    Well, what to say about this? I mean, FUCKING HELL!! The excitement of course is fully justified. The Fall sound like the greatest band on earth for a good portion of this album. They don't keep it up all throughout, but when the likes of 'Free Range' in particular arrive, you'll be jumping around the room knocking over plants and punching the wall, and shouting out loud, screaming with joy at the satisfaction gained from listening to the best damn Rock / Dance mix you'll ever hear in your entire life. And, I mean that. When Radiohead, of the 'Kid A' era played a mix on a late night Radio One show they opened by playing 'The Birmingham School Of Business School'. All beeps, all bass guitar, percussion. Proper rock guitar, well, proper Fall guitar comes sailing through and Mark E Smith growls and sings. Growls? Yeah, he does. 'Whoaoahahaujapoaha'. Something like that :) And then we get 'Free Range'!!!!!!!! 'FREE RANGE'!! Just do yourself a favour cock and listen to this. Turn it up, turn it way up. Dance beats, fantastic guitar, very loud drum beats and one of the finest EVER set of Mark E Smith lyrics and vocals. This is The Fall. Do you hear anything in it? It's a world removed from the likes of early classics such as 'Hex Enducation Hour' of course. It's just as magnificent though, if not more so. And then we get 'Return'!!! We get even more exclamation marks in this review!! 'Return' is a classic Fall catchy melody, mapped out by keyboards this time round with the guitar riffing away. The beats come in, Mark E Smith continues and continues. It's fucking fantastic, and that's official.

    'Time Enough At Last' at last manages not to sound like the work of super beings from another planet. It's a beautiful song though, great vocals and strong melodies. 'Everything Hurtz' is cool, very cool. Biting vocals and guitars and The Fall sound positively inspired throughout. Another great one listened to loud, incidentally. The first failing of 'Code: Selfish' arrives with 'Immortality'. Well, it's still pretty decent, just a little repetitive with it's dance beats, a little lacking in the correct Rock / Dance mixture. And then, side two opens badly. What's going on? We had the best album, EVER! on our hands, and their pissing it away? 'Two-Face' is a six minute dirge of very little interest, although Mark E Smith tries his best. 'Just Waiting' is an odd cover version, pretty funny, but it doesn't withstand repeated, frequent listening. 'So Called Dangerous' is better, fast dance beats and an inspired Mark E Smith singing over little shuffling guitar parts. 'Gentleman's Agreement' picks things up even more, being an absolutely gorgeous mellow keyboard led ballad. 'Married Two Kids' has great guitar and odd rhythms amid a very fascinating Mark E Smith lyrical performance. It's haunting, it's 'Chicago Now' haunting from 'Extricate' and then some. 'Crew Filth' ends the album on an unusual note. Opens very dancey before it turns into a lo-fi home tape job where everybody sounds drunk out of their skulls. But, whatever. 'Code : Selfish' is a great Fall album, one of the best, even with it's obvious faults. We can overlook those faults to an extent, because the likes of 'Free Range' and 'Everything Hurtz' are that good.

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    Readers Comments

    Steven Gordon
    Sorry Adrian but I feel that you are well wrong in awarding a 9 for this album. I truly believe that this was the beginning of the end of the once mighty Fall. Whilst I always looked forward to having a Fall album out each year, I do not think that it is possible to deliver quality every time. Yes, Free Range and Everything Hurtz are superb, but overall, the LP is average, especially in light of the previous two albums. The next two albums had their moments, but then arrived the very poor Cerebal Caustic. That was the last Fall album I bought on issue, I fell out of love with one of my all time favourite bands. I have recently bought Heads Roll cheaply on ebay, but whilst it's good, it's not great. Maybe I have just got older and my tastes have changed. I still listen to the older Fall albums and Dragnet remains my favourite. Keep up the good work, Steven Gordon

    Brian Gregory Ealing, London
    Fantastic album. This and 'Shift work' were when I got into The Fall after seeing them at Reading. I've been reading Mark E Smith's autobiography-hillarious! and re-listening to them.I agree,'Free Range' is amazing,my favourite Fall track-love it,and the video is class too-pure attitude. As Mr Smith himself may say-'fantastic-ah'


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    The Infotainment Scan 8 ( 1993 )
    Ladybird / Lost In Music / Glam Racket / I'm Going To Spain / It's A Curse / Paranoia Man In Cheap Shit Room / Service / The League Of Bald Headed Men / A Past Gone Mad / Light-Fireworks / Why Are People Grudgeful?

    Quite why The Fall left a successful marriage with Phonogram / EMI, I'll never know. They did get paid twice for this album, though. Once by Phonogram, once by Permanent Records, their new home. Mark E Smith walked away smiling, especially when 'The Infotainment Scan' entered the UK charts at number nine!! Still, something isn't quite right here. Had The Fall met the 'zeitgeist'? Was this the pinnacle of The Fall's career, as close as they'd ever come to reaching the masses? Was it compromised? I can't answer any of those questions. All I can say is, it's good. It's by no means their worst album, but I just don't know what to say. Maybe there are too many cover versions here ( three out of the eleven songs in total ), maybe there is a little too much gloss or something? Whatever. The opening 'Ladybird' is nicely guitar led, although nothing astonishing. 'Lost In Music', which is of course a version of the Sister Sledge classic, gets given a Fall dance makeover and it's lots of fun. Mark E Smith takes huge liberties with the lyrics of course, but that's pretty funny ultimately. The best song on the album is 'Glam Racket' which contains as its title might suggest, a huge glam rhythm amid Fall guitars and typically brilliant Mark E Smith lyrics.

    'I'm Going To Spain', written by S.Bent for those of you who want to know, was once voted one of the worst songs of all time. The Fall's version isn't anything as bad as that, but it's not great either. It's pleasant, it's nice, it's safe. 'It's A Curse' is much more like it, great Fall guitars, nice keyboards parts and a biting Mark E Smith performance. 'Paranoia Man In Cheap Shit Room' joins 'Glam Racket' in being a highlight of the set. Very guitar led, very heavy and dirty and with seemingly personal lyrics as well. 'Service' is a haunting keyboard led ballad, very beautiful actually. It's elegant, not a word you would usually associate with The Fall. Both 'The League Of Bald Headed Men' and 'A Past Gone Mad' rely very heavily on dance beats even if the former also contains a dirty guitar riff. 'Light-Fireworks' is a 'Sinister Waltz' or 'Crew Filth' style lo-fi embarrassment. It lacks the charm of 'Sinister Waltz' and isn't as funny as 'Crew Filth'. And then? Good god, 'Why Are People Grudgeful' is awful, terribly cliched dance type stuff, very commercial, the most blatant attempt at reaching the pop charts The Fall had ever made. It didn't even work, didn't make the charts, it just missed out. 'Infotainment Scan'? It's not upto the quality of 'The Phonogram Years' ultimately, yet still not quite reaching the full decline that would shortly endanger the future of the group. The best moments here are worth the whole price of entry.

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    Readers Comments

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    The Infotainment Scan stand shoulder to shoulder with all the very best Fall releases-yes there is the obligatory nonsense experiment(Light/Fireworks)and Why Are People Grudgeful? was a waste of time,but...Ladybird(Green Grass)is a classic 90s album opener ala The Joke,Lost In Music is a great cover,Glam Racket is probably in the top 10 Fall Songs of all time,Service is lovely and quite poetic("corny leather jacket"and all)Paranoia Man and It's A Curse rock,and the much-maligned I'm Going To Spain is pretty good really...


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    Middle Class Revolt ( 1994 )
    15 Ways / The Reckoning / Behind The Counter / M5#1 / Surmount All Obstacles / Middle Class Revolt! / War / You're Not Up To Much / Symbol Of Mordgan / Hey Student / Junk Man / $500 Bottle Of Wine / City Dweller / Shut Up

    Doesn't the fact The Fall were signed to a label called Permanent Records strike you as being funny? It does me. Anyhows, here's another Fall album. It's not so dance oriented as the previous Fall album although a couple of the songs do continue that direction. It's no return to top form, although a few couple of the songs could pass as being fall classics. So, what have we here? We have guitars, although by and large they don't do anything interesting. They sound like Fall guitars, but 'professional' Fall guitars, if such a thing is possible. The opening '15 Ways' is pretty groovy, although once you've finished listening to it, you're not likely to remember how it actually goes. 'The Reckoning' is quite lovely though, slightly indistinct but featuring a gorgeous Mark E Smith vocal and nice keyboard lines too. 'Behind The Counter', unlike '15 Ways' is memorable, but it's not quite a classic Fall single. It does contain lots of noise, but it's hardly a 'Free Range', or going back much further in time, a 'Totally Wired'. 'M5#1' is a great guitar groove and very enjoyable, 'Surmount All Obstacles' is a very noisy Dance/Rock mix which almost, but never quite, takes off.

    Still, some salvation at least, is at hand. 'War' is exhilaratingly storming, 'You're Not Up To Much' containing the single catchiest guitar melody on the entire record and 'Hey Student' is a furious guitar monster. 'Junk Man' is very silly indeed but makes me grin very loudly for the bizarre insertion of Kazoo all through the track. '$500 Bottle Of Wine' is pretty fun and groovy, 'City Dweller' a pretty decent dance experiment featuring an inspired Mark E Smith and the closing 'Shut Up' is all noise and shouting. It's good. The album is patchy, but then, it's not all that bad. It's still The Fall, it's still Mark E Smith, Craig Scanlon and Stephen Hanley. They'd formed a core, the heart of the group, ever since 'Dragnet'. Sadly, things were about to change.

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    Readers Comments

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    Why more people don't rate Middle Class Revolt I'll never know-even the nondescript moments are better than parts of Cerebral Caustic and the best moments are wonderful-Behind The Counter,The Reckoning and You're Not Up To Much especially. Definitely an 8,but then I'd probably say that about most Fall releases(it's a curse).


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    Cerebral Caustic ( 1995 )
    The Joke / Don't Call Me Darling / Rainmaster / Feeling Numb / Pearl City / Life Just Bounces / I'm Not Satisfied / The Aphid / Bonkers In Phoenix / One Day / North West Fashion Show / Pine Leaves

    Things were indeed about to change, Brix re-joined - Craig left ( or was sacked? ) but only after the recording of this album. 'The Joke' is a good indication of what to expect over the course of the whole album. Riffing guitars, a noisy sound but not a clear sound. The instrumentation sounds a little 'mushy' to me, everything thrown together. You can make out the guitars but then the guitars have been mixed louder than anything else. 'Don't Call Me Darling' is entertaining for Brix shouting the song title in the chorus. 'Rainmaster' lacks much substance but it sounds pretty great, so much so, it's enough to make it a highlight even if the song doesn't actually DO anything. The lyrics aren't interesting, the vocals are standard stuff. There is nothing innovative or new here for The Fall, but yeah. 'Rainmaster' sounds great. 'Feeling Numb' is an outing for Brix to flex her vocal muscles alongside her former husband. Brix co-writes half of the songs on the album, in fact. No wonder Craig was pissed off concerning her sudden re-emergence into The Fall. Ah, must leave out the unnecessary speculation. 'Pearl City' has fun guitar lines but not much else. Sounds pretty groovy listened to loud, but there's a sneaking feeling Mark E Smith in particular isn't operating 100%. His lyrics are, shall we say, minimal. Throwaway. But yeah, the guitars are good. 'Life Just Bounces' was a song that had actually been 'bouncing' around for a good few years, it was an early nineties b-side. It's re-recorded here and has nice ascending then descending guitar lines, but is too much standard stuff, too much Fall by numbers.

    Two of my favourite musical artists meet for 'I'm Not Satisfied'. A Frank Zappa song performed with gusto by The Fall. Disturbingly for The Fall however, it's one of the best 'songs' on the album. Previous Fall covers were entertaining diversions at best. 'I'm Not Satisfied' just shows how uninspired much of the original Fall material is here. The whole album is pretty much style over substance bar one particular little Fall gem. 'Bonkers In Phoenix' sees Brix write a pretty guitar ballad. Mark E Smith being Mark E Smith, he decides to place effects on her vocals and very loud electronic noises bursting randomly all over the place. The remarkable thing is, the extra noise actually makes the song the delight that it is. You can listen to Brix, listen to Mark sing out the songs title, laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole enterprise. It's by far the most entertaining track on the whole album. 'North West Fashion Show', 'One Day' and 'The Aphid' are more loud guitar tracks which sound great at an instant, yet simply don't stick around in your brain very long. A disappointing album, all in all. Brix rejoining the group only seemed to make the guitars louder, rather than improve the writing or anything actually important

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    Readers Comments

    Mark Prindle mprindle@nyc.rr.com
    I know the riffs aren't the greatest on Earth, but you have no IDEA how much this album excited me when it came out. I had become dismayed at the Fall's apparently PERMANENT state of slickness and predictability, and this album blew all my preconceptions out the window. And aside from "The Joke" and "Don't Call Me Darling," I still basically enjoy every song on here. It was a necessity. Believe me, they NEEDED to get away from the clean sound. They were good at it, sure, but The Fall are NOT supposed to be predictable. And ever since they did this album, every CD they release is a surprise. You never know what you might get! That last sentence was kinda stupid.


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    The Twenty Seven Points 7 ( 1995 )
    Mollusc In Tyrol / Return / Ladybird (Green Grass) / Idiot - Walk Out / Ten Points / Idiot Joy Showland / Big New Prinz / Intro - Roadhouse / The Joke / M.H.'s Jokes - British People In Hot Weather / Free Range / Hi-Tension Line / The League Of Bald-headed Men / 95: Glam Racket-Star / Lost In Music / Prague '91: Mr. Pharmacist / Cloud Of Black / Paranoid Man in Cheap Sh..t Room / Bounces - Leeds / Outro / Passable / Glasgow Advice / Middle Class Revolt - Simon, Dave & John / Bill Is Dead / Strychnine / War! / Noel's Chemical Effluence / Three Points - UpToo Much

    A great set-list here if you love The Fall's material of the early to mid-nineties. Listening to a double CD album of live Fall material is a little trying though, too much information. Something like 'Return' suffers over its studio version because you can't hear the keyboards. 'Big New Prinz' is a delightful selection, the only pre-extricate song on this entire record. 'British People In Hot Weather' sounds like it was recorded in a toilet somewhere and Mark E Smith only gets a fraction of the original lyrics down instead preferring to repeat the songs title over and over again. 'Free Range' sounds a total mess, quite frankly. Nothing is balanced right, the sound quality is terrible, and there you have it. I could live without this massacre of a great Fall song. On the other hand, 'High Tension Line' is performed with energy and the closing song on the first CD, 'The League Of Bald Headed Men' pretty well performed and very entertaining. Moving onto the second CD we have a decent if terribly hiss covered version of 'Glam Racket'. Even 'Lost In Music' gets a live outing, 'The Infotainment Scan' obviously being very much in favour with the group at this point in time whilst the 'Middle Class Revolt' album was almost all but ignored. Strange, really. 'Passable' is an alternative version of 'A Past Gone Mad' and actually, it's bloody fantastic. The electronic dance elements are mixed well into the rock band performance here for about the first time on the record thus far.

    'Middle Class Revolt' sounds great here, better than the studio version by a mile, the guitars are loud and biting and everything is great apart from the actual vocals, but we can't have everything. 'Bill Is Dead' sounds sweet, the previously unknown 'Strychnine' sounds absolutely wonderful, very guitar heavy but full of energy with it. 'War' and 'You're Not Up To Much' are 'Middle Class Revolt' songs competently done, well, as competently as The Fall ever do anything live these days. And then, 'Noels Chemical Effluence' is a total hidden gem and earns this album a whole extra point all by itself. Six minutes long, a return to lengthier Fall song experiments, it has a strong guitar melody, deep bass, lots of care and attention to detail musically...... It also had a pretty hilarious set of lyrics and vocals. I hope the song actually is about the hideous British TV presenter Noel Edmonds. I've no evidence it actually is bar the name, but the mention of 'effluence' is a clue. Noel Edmonds is loathsome. 'Noels Chemical Effluence' is a top tune.

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    The Light User Syndrome 7 ( 1996 )
    D.I.Y. Meat / Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain / He-Pep! / Hostile / Stay Away / Spinetrack / Interlude-Chilinism / Poweder Keg / Oleano / Cheetham Hill / The Coliseum / Last Chance To Turn Around / The Ballard Of J Drummer / Oxymoron / Secession Man

    The opening 'DIY Meat' is just as lacking in substance as much of 'Cerebral Caustic' but the band are fantastic, very raw and the bass of Stephen Hanley note-worthy in particular. It carries on, too. 'Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain' is all bass groove for the first time in a Fall song since about 1985, I suspect. Noises and percussion, dissonant keyboards appear over the top - a great song, no question. Brix gets some vocal contributions on the catchy as hell 'He-Pep!' which also happens to be thrillingly noisy. If 'Cerebral Caustic' has a 'mushy' sound, 'The Light User Syndrome' has a production and mixing effort that allows you to clearly make out each and every part. Each and every part also just happens to be loud as hell and very exciting - at least for the first half of the album. The second half descends, drops badly. The likes of 'The Ballard Of J Drummer' and 'Succession Man' are a world away from the storming 'He-Pep!', or the catchy pop melodies of 'Spinetrack', or the absolutely brilliant and life-affirming 'Chilinism'. 'Chilinism' once it gets going is just a thing to behold. Layered guitars, two drummers - the return of early Fall drummer and general eccentric Karl Burns, no less. Brix sings, Mark sings. Brix gets the best line, "Pink Floyd are short". Fantastic.

    'Stay Away ( old white train )' is a weird but fun cover version where the vocals are sung by some guy called Mike Bennett. Quite why, I'm not sure, but whatever. I said a little earlier that the second half of this album 'descends'. Well, it does. Most of it is noticeably worse than 'Cerebral Caustic', very light-weight in terms of writing. 'Power Keg' does creates a cool mix of guitars and keyboards though. 'The Coliseum' although far too long, is a pretty decent dance experiment, though. There are a few songs here on the album that certainly can be classified as The Fall returning to form, but not enough. There is far too much filler for the album to be vintage Fall, yet it remains a step in the right direction.

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    Readers Comments

    Martin Greggor marting@nildram.co.uk
    how can you not mention cheetham hill -which is an excellent dance/rock crossover with MES on top lyric form?


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    Levitate ( 1997 )
    Ten Houses Of Eve / Masquerade / Hurricane Edward / I'm A Mummy / The Quartet Of Doc Shanley / Jap Kid / 4 1/2 Inch / Spencer Must Die / Jungle Rock / Ol Gang / Fragile Days / I Come And Stand At Your Door / Levitate / Everybody But Myself

    Brix left again, but a new creative force entered the group. Well, Julie Nagle had actually debuted on 'The Light User Syndrome' but following the departure of Brix The Fall found themselves reduced to Mark E Smith, Stephen Hanley and Karl Burns. Julia stepped into the breach. She played guitar, did the keyboards, co-wrote a bunch of the songs. Two session guitar players fleshed out the sound, and a new album was made. Produced by Mark E Smith, incidentally. The first Fall album that I can recall being self-produced. The sound is pretty lo-fi, and very strangely mixed. Take 'Masquerade' for instance. The programmed beats are twice as loud as everything else. It's a damn fine tune though, hugely enjoyable. 'Ten Houses Of Eve' kicks off the album with a brief burst of Jungle dance beats which are soon made to fit into a Fall song with bursts of noise and percussion and a great twisted Mark E Smith vocal performance. Everything goes quiet for a beautiful keyboard sounding like Piano interlude, before the beats kick back in. 'Hurricane Edward' is an astonishing burst of 'un-listenable' noise, and it's relentless. So relentless, so primal, it's actually pretty darn exciting. Even more exciting is 'I'm A Mummy', a cover version apparently, but it suits The Fall down to the ground. "Look what happens when I walk up to somebody!" and the bass guitar thrashes away, deep and fast, Paul McCartney is mentioned at one point in the lyrics and there's little in music to beat the shouted "I'm A Mummy" vocal part. One hell of a noisy song, a lo-fi exhilarating delight.. The strangely titled 'Quartet Of Doc Shanley' has Julie contributing a few spoken vocals to add to a few Mark E Smith mumbled vocals, whilst Stephen Hanley goes insane with a furiously wonderful bass groove. After all of this noise, 'Jap Kid' is a solo Julia Nagle keyboard piece, but pretty lovely. It works as a nice interlude on the album because the following track is even noisier than what's come before. '4 1/2 Inch' is simply brilliant. Very noisy, but structured with it. Mark E Smith appears to be totally mad judging by his performance here, whilst the sheer burst of electronic squeals, bass and guitar that appears is just, well, astonishing. A highlight not just of this album, but of at least half of the entire career of The Fall.

    'Spencer Must Die' continues the album strongly with more deep and melodic bass playing. 'Jungle Rock' is a truly bizarre cover version very badly mixed, so much so, it's actually becomes a piece of unintended humorous entertainment. 'Ol Gang' rattles furiously, 'I Come And Stand At Your Door' sees Julia reprising her 'Jap Kid' keyboard instrumental interlude whilst the closing two songs are just 'regular' Fall songs. So? A good album. The Fall were back, again.. No classic this 'Levitate' album, it's maybe a little too odd for that, but it's damn entertaining.

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    Live In Air To Melbourne, 82 ( 1998 )
    I Feel Voxish / Tempo House / Hard Life In Country / I'm Into C.B. / Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul / Solicitor In Studio / Marquis Cha-Cha

    One of just many archival Fall live releases that were put out ( and still are being put out! ) by The Fall's own 'Cog Sinister' record label. It's back to the 'Hex' era Fall for this, a bit of a jolt after listening to late nineties Fall, but I did insist of reviewing these damn things in order of release, didn't I??? As usual for a Fall live recording, the sound quality leaves a little to be desired being covered in hiss, but the performances are pretty damn great here. 'I Feel Voxish' has a tremendous bass groove and lots of scratchy dissonant guitar, 'Hard Life In Country' is stupendous!! Far more entertaining than the already pretty OK studio version. This 'Hard Life In Country' is stretched out to a seven minute length, but not a single one of those minutes is even remotely dull or boring. The performance of 'I'm Into CB' captures all of the absurdities of the studio original and adds a few more in for good measure with what sounds like somebody chucking gravel around on stage. 'Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul' is of course brilliant, I've yet to hear a version of the song that wasn't brilliant, it's a fucking brilliant song. The sound quality is terrible, but just turn it up a bit, and everything will be alright. 'Solicitor In Studio' is interesting and fun, 'Tempo House' lots of fun although a little too long running to eight and a half minutes. But, yeah. It's still fun.

    'The Classical' doesn't seem to have quite been nailed down here, a wayward performance to put it politely, but the guitars do get it absolutely right in places and Mark E Smith does sound totally insane. So, that's OK. The closing 'Marquis Cha Cha' is a speedy, manic performance from a band that sound totally wired here. Hey, totally wired.. Totally Wired?? Ah, forget it. Damn good live album, this.

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    The Marshall Suite 8 ( 1999 )
    Touch Sensitive / F-'oldin' Money / Shake-Off / Bound / This Perfect Day / (Jung Nev's) Antidotes / Inevitable / Anecdotes + Antidotes In B# / Early Life Of The Crying Marshal / The Crying Marshal / Birthday Song / Mad.Men-Eng.Dog / On My Own

    The entire band left this time, bar Mark E Smith of course but also bar Julia. Which is fairly odd when you consider Mark E Smith had gotten himself into lots of trouble for basically beating her up live on stage during an American tour. The loss of Stephen Hanley was lamented by fans initially, but not once they'd got their ears wrapped around 'Touch Sensitive', a classic Fall single if ever their was one. The album continues strongly with Mark E Smith teaching his new band the delights of rockabilly with a crystal clear sounding version of a song called 'F-Oldin Money'. 'Shake Off' opens with a wash of keyboards, Mark E Smith has plenty to say and seemed to be taking control of proceedings during an unsure period for the group. In any event, 'Shake Off' sounds brilliant with strong guitar and bass performances. A special mention goes out to the drummer here, who plays with lots of energy. 'Bound' is a classic slice of Fall catchy guitar rock, and given the fact this WAS a new band pretty much, should make you realise just how important Mark E Smith really is to the sound of The Fall - it's his sound. 'This Perfect Day' opens with drums before the guitars and bass mess together to create one hell of an enjoyable racket. 'Antidotes' is enough to make you wonder whether The Fall hadn't just found themselves a total new guitar hero in Neville Wilding. 'Antidotes' is one the loudest and heaviest guitar assaults the group have ever recorded.

    'Inevitable' has the strongest bass groove on the album, 'Anecdotes + Antidotes In B#' is another strong guitar assault, the two 'crying marshall' tunes forming almost a conceptual suite and 'Birthday Song' is a very sweet song co-written by Julia. This being a Fall album, it ends strangely. 'Mad Men Eng Dog' is a home tape job with much messing around, 'On My Own' features House beats over which Mark E Smith mumbles and sings pretty interesting lyrics. They may make no sense, but then, this is The Fall. A different Fall, but still The Fall. A triumph, considering.

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    Mark Prindle mprindle@nyc.rr.com
    I don't think he beat her up on stage, did he? It was in their hotel room, I think. I actually saw them together the night before the arrest, and they looked just like any other couple heading to the bar. And as far as I can tell, it wasn't a Tommy Lee-type incident. They were just a very violent, drunken couple. She hit him in the face with a telephone. A couple days later, he beat her up. Although I do think it's kinda neat that I saw the third-to-last show featuring Stephen Hanley, Simon Woolstencraft and Karl Burns, they put on a horrific show. Absolutely dreadful. Their organ had been stolen so Julie was playing one she borrowed that wasn't at ALL in tune with the rest of the band. And it was hiked up about twice as loud as the other instruments. Really really bad. Was Simon even still in the band at that point? Hell, I can't remember who was there. I never even knew the guitarist's name! The Fall are one of my top 3 favourite bands in the world and at this time, I can - in all honesty - name exactly one member.


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    The Unutterable 9 ( 2000 )
    Cyber Insekt / Two Librans / W.B / Songs Of Temperance / Dr Bucks Letter / Hot Runes / Way Round / Octo Realm-Ketamine Sun / Serum / Unutterable / Pumpkin Soup And Mashed Potatoes / Hands Up Billy / Midwatch 1953 / Devolute / Das Katerer

    Grant Showbiz ( fabulous name! ) producer of such notable Fall albums as 'Dragnet' and 'Grotesque' was quoted as saying prior to this release "this line-up could really do some amazing things if only they can stay together". Is there just a hint of underlying tension in that sentence? Grant Showbiz returned to produce Fall album number three hundred and seventeen and The Fall for their part manage not to change a band member from one album to the next. Of course, following the release of this album and a few tours, the entire line-up would leave ( except Mark E Smith of course ) and it was back to square one for The Fall once more. Still, for a while there The Fall were sounding like the greatest band on earth again. Yes, sir, 'The Unutterable' is a huge return to top-notch Fall form. A huge swathe of keyboards amid rattling drums mark out opening song 'Cyber Insekt'. The kind of guitar fury that enriched parts of 'The Marshall Suite' forms the basis of 'Two Librans'. Not only guitar actually, the rhythm section sound pretty darn great, Mark E Smith sounds inspired and 'Two Librans' becomes an instant Fall classic. "She studied bees" sings Mark E Smith, but whatever the hell the song means isn't important, it rocks!! The sound of the catchy and memorable Fall guitar of the 1980 to 1983 era returns for a number of songs here, most entertainingly of all with 'Hot Runes'. Slightly spacey yet utterly melodic keyboard lines add to already impressive sounding 'rock group' based instrumental tracks through most of the songs here, and it's a good sound The Fall manage to create.

    The dirty riffing guitar of 'Two Librans' and the previous albums 'Antidotes' returns for the likes of 'Sons Of Temperance' and the remarkably autobiographical ( or so it would seem ) 'Dr Bucks Letter'. The Fall return to Dance for the entertaining 'Way Round'. "I hate roundabouts" sings Mark E Smith as the dance beats and keyboard lines move forwards, sideways, and generally have a grand old time. 'Serum' and 'Octo Realm' are lesser moments stuck in the middle of the album, the former a far too messy sounding dance/rock mix, the latter a song in two parts neither of which are particularly interesting, although the second half is at least funny. The title song features what sounds like a guy bashing pots and pans whilst Mark E Smith does a minute long spoken word piece over the top. Thing is, remarkably, it works. This sudden change of ambience throws you completely and leads perfectly into the 'Extricate' and 'Code Selfish' sounding 'Pumpkin Soup And Mashed Potatoes'. So, we've had the sound of The Fall circa 1981, The Fall circa 1992? What else? We have 'Dr Bucks Letter' a song quite unlike any The Fall have done before. "I lost my temper with a friend" sings Mark, and you believe him given the tumultuous recent history of The Fall losing band members left right and centre. 'Hands Up Billy' is a punk song song which Mark E Smith neither writes, sings or plays on. The rest of The Fall get the chance to do something minus Mark E, the result of which is a loud sounding, pretty decent punk song.

    Of course, this wouldn't be a 'proper' Fall album without its share of stranger, more eccentric oddities. 'Midwatch 1953' runs a casio keyboard alongside computer beeps, drums and Mark E Smith. Remarkably it works amazingly well and even manages to become a highlight of the entire album. 'Devolute' is an incredibly noisy sounding dance track with Mark E Smith doing his best to turn it into unlistenable noise. All he actually manages to achieve is to inject a huge chunk of personality into the thing, rescuing it completely. The closing 'Das Katerer' is a Fall group performance of a song that previously appeared on a Mark E Smith spoken word album. The programmed dance/drum beat from 'Free Range' re-appears. Groovy bass appears and Mark E Smith twists and stretches his vowels, "stick with me, stick with me, I am the caterer" - the drums beats boom and blare out, and that's it. Silence, so reverse back to 'Cyber Insekt' and play the album again. You'll want to, believe me.

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    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    Play Joni Mitchell's The Jungle Line (from The Hissing Of Summer Lawns) back-to-back with Dr. Buck's Letter to see where The Fall got the music for that track from...


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    Austurbaejarbio 6 ( 2001 )
    Tempo House / The Classical / Eat Yerself Fitter / Hexen Definitive / I Feel Voxish / The Man Whose Head Expanded / Garden / Kicker Conspiracy / Look, Know / Backdrop

    A live album recorded in Reyjkavik 1983, it covers much the same ground as previous live Fall releases. Quickly running through, we get a nine minute version of 'Tempo House' to open, a song I've never been terribly fond of - the best part of this version is Mark E Smith opening with 'Good evening, we are The Fall', the same greeting he's used for every Fall gig ever as far as I can tell. 'The Classical' gets an eight minute workout but the guitars sound far too quiet. 'The Classical' needs LOUD GUITARS. Dense, layered and thrilling guitars. This version doesn't have those. Now, that may just be down to the mixing, I don't know, I wasn't there to say it was any different 'in person'. 'Eat Y'Self Fitter' reaches eight minutes as well, but this is rather entertaining. "What is a computer?", "Eat Y'self Fitter." - and then the guitars riff away and Mark E Smith sings words, starts making 'br br drrr drrr!' sounds! It's all here!! 'Hexen Definitve' is welcome if only because it's the first song here under five minutes in length, 'I Feel Voxish' suffers from poor mixing, the guitars virtually non-existant. 'The Man Whose Head Expanded' is fun, if only because this is the only live version of the song I've heard. The same can be said for 'Garden' which is actually a total triumph, if not a song that obviously lends itself to a storming live rendition. And then 'Kicker Conspiracy'.. It's groovy, fun and glorious. 'Look Now' is perfunctory the closing 'Backdrop' twelve minutes of guitars and bass although very little discernible sense of melody. And, that's it. Not one of the finer Fall live releases, it must be said.

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    Backdrop 5 ( 2001 )
    Marquis Cha-Cha / Bremen Nacht Run Out / Mark'll Sink Us / Lucifer Over Lancashire / Hey! Luciani / Wings / L.A. / U.S. 80's-90's / Guest Informant / The Man Whose Head Expanded / Backdrop / Dresden Dolls / Strychnine / Race With The Devil / Plaster On The Hands / Mark E Smith Interview Segment

    A compilation covering alternate versions, live tracks, etc. This was originally a bootleg released in 1994. Come 2001, Mark E Smith, deciding there weren't yet quite enough Fall albums for the fan to chose from turned the bootleg into an official Cog-Sinister archival release. 'Marquis Cha-Cha' is the regular studio version, 'Bremen Nacht Run Out' is just the guitar groove from 'Bremen Nacht' of The Frenz Experiment drawn out to a four minute length. The word 'inessential' doesn't even begin to describe it. 'Mark'll Sink Us' is an old Fall b-side from the eighties given a live performance, 'Lucifer Over Lancashire' the same sort of thing. The latter has some entertaining guitar groove, the former is totally forgettable. Mid-Eighties single 'Hey Luciani' ( originally a glorious slice of Fall pop music ) appears here in an alternate mix. Well, it could be a live version. The sound quality is so tinny it's hard to actually tell. 'Wings' 'La' and 'US 80s 90s' are all weak live performances and it's not until 'Guest Informant' we get a great Fall live rendition, a 'Frenz Experiment' song, surprisingly. It sounds totally glorious here, far better than the original studio version. And, oh joy. What's this? Why, it's 'Backdrop'. This is the same recording as appears on the 'Fall In A Hole' set as far as I can tell. It's better than the 'Austurbaejarbio' version at least.

    'Dresden Dolls' is a Fall song previously unknown to me. Mark E Smith sounds like he's singing in a shed. 'Strychnine' is noisy as hell and 'Race With The Devil' is a live recording of a Gene Vincent song performed for Radio One DJ John Peel's fiftieth birthday. Mark sings in his best 'loud impenetrable mumbling' style, the bass is good and this is OK. 'Plaster On The Hands ( Pilsner Trails )' is a nice slice of Fall guitar whilst the closing 'Mark E Smith Interview Segment' makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. This album makes no sense, the bootleg nature of this release just 'shines' through and nothing that appears here comes anywhere close to being essential Fall.

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    A World Bewitched ( 2001 )
    Sing! Harpy / I'm a Mummy / Idiot Joy Showland / Powder Keg / M5#1 / Inevitable / Immortality / Arid Al's Dream / The Mixer / 4 1/2 Inch / The Caterer / One Day / Middle Class Revolt / Glam Racket / Black Monk Theme / Strychnine / Noel's Chemical Effluence / Light-Fireworks / Theme From Error-Orror! / Blood Outta Stone / Why Are People Grudgeful / Ed's Babe / The Real Life of the Crying Marshall / Kimble / The Legend of Xanadu / Seventies Night (Edwyn Collins & MES) / Calendar (The Fall feat. Badly Drawn Boy) / Now I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Clint Boon Experience with MES) / I Want You (The Inspiral Carpets feat. MES) / Repetition (Tackhead feat. MES) / The Heads Of Dead Surfers (Long Fin Killie feat. MES) / Plug Myself In (DOSE feat. MES) / KB (Elastica feat. MES) / Happy Holiday / Fistful of Credit (Mild Man Jan & MES) / Life Just Bounces

    American group 'Tackhead' completely miss the entire point of The Fall with their cover of a very early Fall song, 'Repetition'. Mark E Smith guests on a live performance of Fall influence Iggy Pop's 'Now I Wanna Be Your Dog'. It's easy to tell Iggy was an influence when you listen to this, Marks vocal is so spot on, it's scary. 'Plug Myself In' is a fantastic dance track on which Mark E Smith provided vocals and 'I Want You' by The Inspiral Carpets provided one of the televisual highlights of the entire 1990's when Mark E Smith finally got to appear on 'Top Of The Tops'. The memory of which is etched onto my memory. The studio audience looked positively appalled at this tramp top twenty single charting regulars The Inspiral Carpets had 'dragged' on stage with them. Mark had a megaphone through which he sang all of his vocals. Well, if my memory is playing tricks on me, I apologise. In any event, IT WAS AN EVENT! Mark E Smith on 'Top Of The Pops'? It happened. The glory of the collaboration 'I Want You' was also evidence Mark E Smith could work with virtually anybody and turn them into The Fall. Which, given subsequent goings on, is just as well. The first CD of this compilation purports to be a Fall 'best of the nineties' but it's really no such thing. Given a similarly flawed 'Best Of The Nineties' style Fall compilation had been released just months earlier, the selection of tracks was of necessity, limited.

    A glorious reason or two to own this compilation? 'Kimble' is fantastic, a slice of The Fall doing reggae that never fails to make me smile. 'Ed's Babe' was one of the very finest early nineties Fall singles which ludicrously was only released on 12" in a very limited run. Believe me, though. It's totally fantastic with lovely backing vocals and a gorgeous melody. There's a bunch of really obscure stuff here on the second CD, which for the most part is dubious listening, but nice to have in one place all the same.

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    Are You Are Missing Winner 8 ( 2001 )
    Jim's "The Fall" / Bourgeois Town / Crop-Dust / My Ex-Classmates' Kids / Kick The Can / Gotta See Jane / Ibis-Afro Man / The Acute / Hollow Mind / Reprise: Jane - Prof Mick - Ey Bastardo

    The Fall are back. One strange thing. In the first song, I'm sure they sing 'we are the new fall'. Now, THERE's optimism for you! First impressions? Apparently there was too much 'art' on display on their previous 'Unutterable' album for Mark E Smith's liking. So, you may well go into this album brimming with optimism that here will be a straightforward set of songs in the best Fall pop stylings. No! This is actually one of the most bloody difficult and irritatingly wonderful set of recordings he's ever put out. 'Jims The Fall' which contains the lyric mentioned above is actually a straightforward moment on here. Short and with a good guitar sound. Mark E Smith's vocals are pushed a little into the background to emphasise the guitar work. 'Bourgeois Town' is a cover, mid-tempo and very bare. You notice a complete lack of keyboards at this point. No keyboards. A pure guitar record. All their albums since god alone knows when have featured keyboards. 'Crop Dust' has a really weird eastern sounding riff amid an intense dirge of an atmosphere. It sounds incomprehensible but repeated listening reveals it's charm. Very addictive, actually. 'My Ex Classmate's Kids' is one of the more straightforward moments here. It would be even the more impressive than it already is if it wasn't a re-recording of 'I Wake Up In The City'. That particular song came out on a limited edition 7 inch given away free and was MUCH MUCH BETTER! Damn Mark E Smith!

    'Gotta See Jane' is a cover done as only The Fall can. It's full of charm and makes you smile. Now, we move onto....'Ibis Afro Man'. You thought their 'Spectre Vs Rectre' was long, strange and challenging? This is like ten minutes long, a song in sections. Lots of noise, samples, weirdness. Very very funny nonsensical lyrical bits from MES. He wanted less 'art'? What the hell was that then?! I was smiling, then frowning, then grinning and off in a hypnotic daze. Some achievement, actually. Although, and I must stress this, VERY VERY challenging listening. On the other hand, two songs that follow this 'The Acute' and 'Hollow Mind' are straightforward, feature good playing and are both pretty wonderful, actually. Good job too as the closer is another long weird grin inducing work-out. Grin inducing but not a good entry point into The Fall. It does sound unique but makes you laugh and cry in equal measure. This is another good Fall album though, and for that, we should all be thankful.

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    Steve H steve.herries@btopenworld.com
    I am an old fan of the fall I bought bingo masters break out blah blah just got are you missing winner for £5 in Fop records this pm I agree with your review it is a good fall album iS there a bad one? Keep up the good work Mark e Smith nomination for rock and roll hall of fame NOT


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    The Real New Fall LP formerly 'Country On The Click' 9 ( 2003 )
    Green Eyed Loco Man / Mountain Energei / Theme From Sparta FC / Contraflow / Last Commands Of Xyralothep Via M.E.S. / Janet, Johnny + James / The Past#2 / Open The Boxoctosis#2 / Loop41 Houston / Mike's Love Xexagon / Proteinprotection / Recovery Kit

    Always different, always the same, always The Fall. Delayed for five months because reportedly, Mark E Smith was unhappy with the mixes. Featuring seven song co-written with the groups bass player, Jim Watts. He's apparently, so I've heard, the reason behind the delay. M.E.S. was unhappy with the mixes - Jim Watts duty at the time. M.E.S. has apparently overseen an entire remix of the album himself. The #2's next to two of the songs interest me as well. I can guess these two songs were changed more than others, but I don't know. Anyhow. Mr Jim Watts sounds pretty good, in this new mix, at least. Not like Fall bass players of old ( step up and take a bow, the immortal Stephen Hanley ) but rather just... Oh, I don't know. Playing something interesting. Melodies and stuff like that. The guitarist does fine things in places, not least all through track four, 'Contraflow', but more of that later. If you are wondering what's changed since the last LP, well, I'll tell you right now. Mark E Smith's new girlfriend plays keyboards. The return of keyboards into the sound is most welcome. The Fall sound urgent throughout the LP, betraying their age as a group. What is it now? Is 2004 the 25th anniversary of The Fall? Will they have a big tour featuring all seven hundred and twenty two former members??!?!? I'm joking and being silly, and besides, Mark E Smith probably doesn't go in for that kind of thing.

    Good god, I'd love to know what the lyrics are to 'Contraflow'. Well, we've got the chorus down pretty well. It's a giant god of a Fall chorus, an immortal refrain to lend the album it's theme and title, I suppose. But, ah, ah, AH! This is one fine song, an instant Fall classic to rank right alongside the finest of their many classics through the years. "I hate the countryside, oh so much. I hate the countryfolk, oh so much" sings M.E.S. Then, the guitar kicks in. It kicks in and really grooves. The rhythm section are ultra cool, electronic sounds enter. Mark E Smith goes off on a classic Mark E Smith rant. The Fall sound so very vital. They sound as good as they ever have done. Modern, brilliant, genius. That's 'Contraflow'. The other piece of Fall classic genius here is the sparkling, funny and downright too good to exist 'The Past#2'. A classic Fall sounding keyboard riff punctuates and raises a smile. Mark E Smith is prominent in the mix and growls and mumbles and has an awful lot to say. The guys ( and girl ) behind him join in with chanted backing vocals. It's very very good, another all time Fall classic, what can I say?

    Elsewhere, nothing quite reaches those giddy heights, but several songs get fairly close to doing so. 'Mountain Energei' sports a fine Mark E Smith lyrical performance. 'Theme From Sparta F.C.' sounds like a Fall pop song, albeit one performed in a typically non-commercial Fall style. Non-commercial though? These crunching and riffing guitars. These very simple and so very melodic keyboard lines. The chanting of the backing vocals, like cheerleaders. It's some combination. Makes you smile, makes your day. That's what the music of The Fall is for. The Fall at their best make you think, they make you laugh out loud. Often in the same song. They've also been responsible for writing some of the best songs of the past, well....twenty five years. I don't dislike a single thing about this album. The Fall are mighty again. Cherish them, cherish him.

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    IB IanandMel@nithsdale.fsnet.co.uk
    Not been off my turntable for a few days - agree with the comment that that the best Fall moments make the listener laugh - it's that good. One of their very best albums. Hope the next tour features it heavily.

    gfrancis@companieshouse.gov.uk
    This is up there with the best work the fall has ever done. Just recently saw them tour the album and they were awesome. In fact the album sounded quite subdued after the live outing.


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    50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong 10 ( 2004 )
    Repetition / Industrial Estate / Rowche Rumble / Fiery Jack / How I Wrote Elastic Man / Totally Wired / New Face In Hell / Prole Art Threat / Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul / The Classical / Hip Priest / The Man Whoose Head Expanded / Kicker Conspiracy / Eat Y'Self Fitter / C.R.E.E.P / No Bulbs / Spoilt Victorian Child / Cruiser's Creek / US 80s 90s / Mr Pharmacist / Living Too Late / Hey! Luciani / There's A Ghost In My House / Hit The North / Victoria / Telephone Thing / High Tension Line / Free Range / Why Are People Grudgeful? / Behind The Counter / M5 / Feeling Numb / The Chiselers / Powder Keg / Masqurade / Touch Sensitive / Crop-Dust / Susan Vs Youthclub / Green Eyed Loco-Man

    The title and album cover are a deliberate play on the similarly titled ( although with more zeros in the number of fans, in Elvis's case ) Elvis Presley album. To replace Elvis in his gold-lame suit, we have Mark E Smith. Scowling out fifteen times from the front of the CD sleeve. Wearing a jumper sporting a fetching diamond pattern, obviously the height of fashion. Well, The Fall never were. Although this compilation, the first ever to draw together material from every label and every era, sports three UK top forty singles, two of those were cover versions. The sole fall-penned song to reach the singles charts was the storming 'Free Range'. Well, the very detailed ( so detailed they include an entire Fall discography ) sleeve-notes tell me 'US 80s 90s' was also a top 40 single, but I never remember that being the case. I may be wrong, Fall history is now so long and twisting, what with well over 40 members coming and going, then occasionally coming back again, dozens of different labels and hundreds upon hundreds of songs, it's easy to miss something along the journey. Journey towards where? Well, wherever it is The Fall are journeying towards, I suppose. One constant has always remained, the fertile imagination and non-commercial bark of vocalist and genius, Mark E Smith. A Mark E Smith who recently declared that he currently knows less than he did when he first started the group - a musician he is not. He has a layman's ear and a knack for finding a hook, then generally scribbling avant-garde techno rockabilly punk energy all over said hook. At the end of the process, what started as catchy material may no longer even resemble Rock, in the standard homogenised sense of modern rock, at all. What it will resemble, quite simply, is some of the most brilliant music ever made. Not always, but every Fall song has its moments.

    One hugely satisfying aspect of this compilation is the fact the song selection is so objective and democratic. It doesn't favour or deny any particular Fall era, each one is represented equally. Every Fall fan could make their own '39 Golden Greats' Fall compilation. Some Fall fans may pick 39 entirely different Fall songs than the ones that have made their way onto this compilation. That's the beauty of The Fall, of course. I'm particularly pleased to find 'Hey Luciani' here, as I don't own it in any other form, and it's always been such wonderful Fall pop of real quality. As it is then, the song selection here, whilst certainly not picking itself, suddenly seems like the only way any 39 track Fall compilation should be. It's enough to satisfy anyone, even if their particular Fall favourite may not be here. This compilation flows from classic to classic, right through to 'Green Eyed Loco Man', the lead track from their return to premier form,'Country On The Click'. Of the songs selected on the second CD, songs 'US 80s 90s' onwards, 'Touch Sensitive' really stands out. Mark E Smith lost his entire band, recruited a new one. Came back with a classic Fall single to resound across the years and ages. Yes, that much is true. If rock fans are still speaking of the likes of Captain Beefheart, The Stooges and The Velvet Underground, to name three Fall influences, some 40 years after those bands produced their first/classic work, then the same happy fate is sure to follow The Fall.

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    GAZZA Edinburgh
    By far the best fall compilation out there . I can pass easily on a lot of the really early stuff but tracks from hex enduction ,nations saving grace,bend sinister and most of disc 2 make a pretty decent fall compilation for the ipod . "cruisers creek" in particular remains an amazing track it has to be said . Even though smith is a bullshit merchant and an arsehole of the highest order their is no denying hes carved a unique niche in british music .


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    Interim 7 ( 2004 )
    All Clasp Hands / Blindness / What About Us? / I'm Ronney The Oney / Green Eyed Snorkel / Mod Mock Goth / Wrong Place / Sparta FC No 3 / Mere Pseud Mag Ed / Spoilt Victorian Childe / Boxoctosis Alarum

    This hodgepodge compilation titled 'Interim' is mostly an excuse to showcase the current and almost certainly temporary incarnation of the longest running soap opera, in what I hesitate to term as' alternative/punk'. The first Fall LP not to be previewed by the late John Peel - although songs were heard in the 24th Peel Session - begins with three magnificent new tracks. These appear to be rehearsal and live takes, rather than finished productions. It hardly matters at all, as soon as the opening 'All Clasp Hands' fully gets into gear, with its true classic Fall guitar line, with its stupendously groovy and typically Fall bass-line, all is well. Very well indeed, this particularly line-up of The Fall seeming to be a vintage one. 'Blindness' is absolutely stunning, a haunting slice of mid-tempo bass groove over which MES adds assorted noises and usual magnificence. 'What About Us?' has melody, although it's somewhat difficult to make out very much beneath the atrocious sound quality. Atrocious sound quality? Doesn't sound like The Fall whatsoever, that description..... a-hem!! Other 'new' material? Well, 'Mod Mock Goth' was apparently a fairly recent single b-side. It's not classic Fall, but good to have, all the same. You wouldn't wish it away.

    Of material that's 'old' material, 'Sparta FC No 3' has changed quite a lot from the version that appeared on 'The Real New Fall LP'. One thing that strikes me upon listening to this 'Interim' album, is that The Fall truly do sound wonderful as a punk band, a band with raw production values. Sounds like a stupid thing to say, but you know what I mean? A Fall with really raw production values. I'd love an entire new Fall album that sounds as raw as 'Interim'. Oh, the version of 'Spoilt Victorian Child' that's here betters the original by some distance. A vintage new Fall line-up? Seems like it to me. And, for those of you who remember disappointing previous Fall 'pieced-together' releases such as 'Seminal Live' or '2g+2', don't dismiss 'Interim', please. It's well worth adding to your already hopefully bulging Fall collection.

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    The Complete Peel Sessions ( 2005 )
    1. 15.06.78: Futures And Pasts / 2. Mother-Sister! / 3. Rebellious Jukebox / 4. Industrial Estate / 5. 06.12.78: Put Away / 6. Mess Of My / 7. No Xmas For John Quays / 8. Like To Blow / 9. 24.09.80: Container Drivers / 10. Jawbone And The Air Rifle / 11. New Puritan / 12. New Face In Hell / 13. 31.03.81: Middlemass / 14. Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul / 15. Hip Priest / 16. CnC Hassle Schmuck

    1. 15.09.81: Deer Park / 2. Look Know / 3. Winter / 4. Who Makes The Nazis? / 5. 23.03.83: Smile / 6. Garden / 7. Hexen Definitive Strife Knot / 8. Eat Y’self Fitter / 9. 03.01.84: Pat Trip Dispenser / 10. 2 x 4 / 11. Words Of Expectation / 12. CREEP

    1. 03.06.85: Cruiser’s Creek / 2. Couldn’t Get Ahead / 3. Spoilt Victorian Child / 4. Gut Of The Quantifier / 5. 07.10.85: LA / 6. The Man Whose Head Expanded / 7. What You Need / 8. Faust Banana / 9. 09.07.86: Hot Aftershave Bop / 10. ROD / 11. Gross Chapel GB Grenadiers / 12. US 80’s-90’s / 13. 09.05.87: Athlete Cured / 14. Australians In Europe / 15. Twister / 16. Guest Informant

    1. 31.10.88: Deadbeat Descendant / 2. Cab It Up / 3. Squid Lord / 4. Kurious Oranj / 5. 01.01.90: Chicago Now / 6. Black Monk Theme / 7. Hilary / 8. Whizz Bang / 9. 23.03.91: The War Against Intelligence / 10. Idiot Joy Showland / 11. A Lot Of Wind / 12. The Mixer

    1. 15.02.92: Free Range / 2. Kimble / 3. Immortality / 4. Return / 5. 13.03.93: Ladybird (Green Grass) / 6. Strychnine / 7. Service / 8. Paranoia Man In Cheap Shit Room / 9. 05.12.94: M5 / 10. Behind The Counter / 11. Reckoning / 12. Hey! Student / 13. 17.12.94: Glam Racket Star / 14. Jingle Bell Rock / 15. Hark The Herald Angels Sing / 16. Numb At The Lodge /17. 22.12.95: He Pep! / 18. Oleano / 19. Chilinist / 20. The City Never Sleeps / 21. 18.08.96: DIY Meat / 22. Spinetrak / 23. Spencer / 24. Beatle Bones N Smokin’ Stones

    1. 03.03.98: Calendar / 2. Touch Sensitive / 3. Masquerade / 4. Jungle Rock / 5. 04.11.98: Bound Soul One / 6. Antidotes / 7. Shake Off / 8. This Perfect Day / 9. 13.03.03: Theme From Sparta FC / 10. Contraflow / 11. Groovin’ With Mr Bloe / 12. Green Eyed Loco Man / 13. Mere Pseud Mag Ed / 14. 12.08.04: Job Search / 15. Clasp Hands / 16. Blindness / 17. What About Us / 18. Wrong Place, Right Time / 19. I Can Hear The Grass Grow

    Oh my, oh my. Wipes away tears in the eye. Remembers those late nights? Under the bed-sheets. Uncle John, brother Mark. Mysterious songs so harsh yet soon, under your skin. As if nothing else could ever be or had been. 'Words Of Expectation' is absolutely mighty. The Fall provide us with Xmas cheer. A very frighteningly long ten minute version of 'Garden'. The story is right from the beginning to the end which has not yet come for one, but sadly did for the other. The final session features three songs that have yet to appear on a Fall LP proper. 'Clasp Hands' is a nifty slice of catchy punk, 'Blindness' is just absolutely astonishing. It was, what? Late last year I first heard the track? Mark E Smith reaching into his own back-catalogue, 'Chicago Now' in this case. And coming up with something genuinely exhilaratingly fantastic. Ah, I wouldn't start a Fall fan off with this box-set, although you could, quite happily. No, get the '50,000 Fall Fans' compilation, and if you like it? Buy this. The two together provide an utterly definitive view of one of the greatest bands there has ever been. Uncle John? We miss you. Peelie, we miss you. The Fall? Get that new album ready, already!

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    Fall Heads Roll ( 2005 )
    Ride Away / Pacifying Joint / What About Us / Midnight Aspen / Assume / Midnight Aspen Reprise / Blindness / I Can Hear The Grass Grow / Bo Nemmick / You Wanner / Clasp Hands / Early Days Of Channel Fuhrer / Breaking The Rules / Trust In Me

    The only change in line-up I can detect from the previous Fall album proper is the fact they have a different bass-player now. For The Fall, this is a time of stability unknown since the days of Hanley, Scanlon and co. In addition to this, you know what? This version of The Fall are great. The band are on a roll, giving sterling live performances and now creating a run of recent albums that have nearly all been uniformly excellent. Still, a few of these songs have been doing The Fall rounds for a while now. 'Clasp Hands' and 'Blindness' to name but two have demanded to be included on a fall album proper for a good year, at least. 'Clasp Hands' is sterling, very catchy and has proper Fall guitar lines. 'Blindness' is based on 'Chicago Now' from 1990s 'Extricate' and lasts for seven and a half minutes. It sits slap bang in the middle of this latest Fall LP and sounds superb. The distorted bass sound is glorious, the band just really do sound utterly magnificent. The two songs I've discussed are not however, the finest songs from this LP. Song five is titled 'Assume' and although fails to make much literal lyrical sense to me, is one of the finest pieces of Fall music I can think of. Again, Ben Pritchard, the geetar man, does great things. The new bass player keeps his distorted bass sound which works really well. MES has a lot to say and a lot to say that needs interpretation, but boy, do those words strung together sound great. Another mighty highlight higher than either 'Clasp Hands' or 'Blindness' has to be the ultra catchy 'I Can Hear The Grass Grow'. A simple enough song, but here, enhanced by MES and enhanced by a kick-ass sounding Fall group of musicians. Deserved to be number 22 at least in the singles charts. At least. We can dream of a parallel universe. Uh.

    I'll switch for a second to the very start of this LP. A five minute long piss take with hilariously funny keyboard melodies and very funny MES vocals and lyrics. Kind of slow rockabilly, a audacious way to open an LP. Eg, get everybody scratching their heads in utter confusion within the first 60 seconds. Anyway, the thing about this LP is, it has fourteen songs lasting nearly an hour, and all the songs are good. Every single one. The overall atmosphere the album gives off falls just short of 'Unutterable' or 'Country On The Click' for me, but boy, do The Fall sound so consistently kick-ass garage-punk rock here. The sound is led by the guitar lines, the rhythm section of decent drums and distorted bass really works. The keyboards add the necessary oddness, melody and variation that was missing in 'Are You Are Missing Winner'. It's another, yet another, fantastic Fall LP and the only downer is that John Peel isn't around to hear it.

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    islwynpaul s wales
    The first track you describe as kinda slow rockabilly but I hear the influence of the great Lee Perry here. It is a reggaefied C&W song to my ears and although not your usual opener to a Fall album is brilliant. The Hey Hey lyric as sung is so funny. The rest of the album is prime Fall stuff and adds to the continuing portfolio of excellent music that Mark E continues to produce.


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    Reformation Post TLC 8 ( 2007 )
    Over Over / Reformation / Fall Sound / White Line Fever / Insult Song / My Door Is Never / Coach And Horses / Usher / Wright Stuff / Scenario / Das Boat / Bad Stuff / Systematic Abuse / Outro

    Another year, another Fall LP, another Fall lineup. The previous line-up likely got beaten up by Mark E Smith so he hastily recruited a new line-up consisting mostly of American musicians nearly all of whom have already left the band as I speak now. So, what conclusions to we draw from this? Well, this line-up clearly aren't as talented as the previous line-up, so the songs and sound of the album has been designed to compensate. Everything is slightly murky, bass much to the fore. Fall songs used to be like this anyway, bass guitar going round and up and down and providing the lead instrument. It's much the case here. Mark E Smith remains Mark E Smith and sounds committed, and probably should be. Fall fans, such as they are, will greet this new Fall with trepidation and some always resent change. It's funny when a group change all the time, yet remain sounding the same, whilst also changing their sound.... you can go round in infinite circles with The Falls mighty back-catalogue. What can we conclude? The Fall are Mark E Smith and this new Fall line-up sound like a group of hastily ( perhaps? ) indoctrinated Mark E Smith musicians playing Fall music. That's it, really.

    The first sound heard is Mark E Smith laughing in a rather sinister fashion. A bass riff soon begins and all is well. A seven year cycle begins every day sings Mark E, I think it's over now, I think it's beginning perhaps a comment on the daily line-up changes the band seem to suffer from these days. Whilst 'Over Over' sees The Fall in familiar territory, 'Reformation' is fairly stunning to these ears. Even more remarkable for the line-up being brand new, all new. A thunderous and exciting bass riff underpins everything, Mark E Smith spouts absolute nonsense poetry over the top, like a drunken tramp swaying in the streets of your local town. The noise and the excitement increase. Mark E Smith and his very presence sit right in the heart and centre of the song. It's a song that never changes and goes round in circles and could last two minutes or twenty and still sound great. The aptly named 'Fall Sound' is just that and suddenly I'm struggling to find anything wrong with the album. Well, it's The Fall and this inevitably always happens when a new Fall LP pops it's head around the door.

    There are a couple of things wrong with the LP though. A couple of the fourteen tracks fail to convince. I'm not going to say which ones they are though. Ah, the suspense is so.... um.... suspenseful. That's not even a word, yet has Mark E Smith mentioned Richard and Judy on a song yet? I'm sure he has, but I can't immediately think of which one. Answers on a postcard, please. 'Insult Song' demonstrates how easily MES could create another 'Hex Enducation Hour' tomorrow if the wind was blowing in the right direction, he had the right musicians and exactly the right amount of beer in the studio. It's a hilarious song, in any case. I believe it's MES commenting on his new musicians. I believe he played them 'Trout Mask Replica'. Well, we'll never know. If it is a song directed at his new ( or maybe his old? ) musicians, he does see fit to call them 'a bunch of twats', so that's alright..... Hey!!! 'The Wright Stuff' is indeed 'The Wright Stuff'. Stupendously catchy bass-riff once again. Some 'do-dee-do' backing vocals. Is it the new rumoured wife, the keyboard player ( is she his wife? ) singing lead? Mark E Smith is nowhere to be seen or heard, yet this is Fall in full force all the same. I wonder how he does it? There's several lengthy tunes on the album actually. The eight minute long 'Systematic Abuse' could describe what The Fall have been inflicting on less enlightened listeners all these years. Who knows? Whatever, it's damn groovy and I like it a lot. Why does this always happen? First listen, I hated this album. You'd think a hardcore Fall fan of some 17 years standing would know what to expect by now, wouldn't you? Well, that's the beauty of The Fall. They always throw something new into the mix, even if it's always impossible to detect or explain what that is. Not vintage Fall by any means, although Mark E Smith is indeed god - it's about time everybody acknowledged this.

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    Stephen stephendfall@yahoo.co.uk
    Richard and Judy are mentioned in North West Fashion Show (from Cerebral Caustic, 1995) & Mark E. Smith's solo track The CD in Your Hand (from The Post Nearly Man, 1998) Richard Madely only is mentioned in: A Past Gone Mad (some live versions, mid-1990s)

    Claws-on claws-on@o2.co.uk
    I will acknowledge that MES is God.

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    Mark E Smith is in the best form he's been in since at least the Permanent days,if not since the heady Hex/Perverted/Wonderful World era,and this album is proof-3 greats in a row!not many people of Smiffy's age can still make great music.

    Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    I agree pretty much wole-heartedly with the review of this album. I like it more than "Fall Heads Roll" as it's more shambolic - an essential ingredient of The Fall. Having been a fan now since who-knows-when I can relate to Adrian saying about being disappointed on the first listen but then playing it again & again & eventually loving it - it's the same with every Fall album I've listened to.

    Man Whose Gut Expanded craigt68@yahoo.co.uk
    Yep agree with Adrian that a couple of the fourteen tracks fail to convince. RPTLC is not as consistent a its two predecessors across all tracks the first 3 tracks have to be the strongest opening sequence to any Fall album this decade. 'Reformation' and 'Fall Sound' are simply sublime.

    Bob
    Yes - she is his wife....can't for the life of me see how you can say the American musicians are not as good as the previous album. Orpheo McCord is a very stylish and professional drummer.


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    Imperial Wax Solvent ( 2008 )
    Alton Towers / Wolf Kidult Man / 50 Year Old Man / I've Been Duped / Strange Town / Taurig / Can Can Summer / Tommy Shooter / Latch Key Kid / Is This New / Senior Twilight Stock Replacer / Exploding Chimney

    If 'The Real New Fall LP' was positively bristling with tension, 'Imperial Wax Solvent' isn't. Now, we can look at that in two ways. Either, 'Imperial Wax Solvent' is dull and boring or that actually, it's merely the result of Mark E Smith ( hopefully ) having a band of musicians he can work with for more than three months without sacking them all. Now, in exciting 'real time', the next sentence will be written after I've researched how many of these musicians are still in the band, as I speak.....

    Right! The last album featured : Mark E. Smith - vocals, Tim Presley - lead guitar, Robert Barbato - bass guitar, Dave Spurr - bass guitar, Elena Poulou - keyboards, vocals, Orpheo McCord - drums, vocals, Peter Greenway - rhythm and lead guitar, Gary Bennett - rhythm guitar, St. Eitel - "presence"

    This album features : Mark E. Smith - vocals, Peter Greenway - guitar, Dave Spurr - bass guitar, Elena Poulou - keyboards, vocals, Keiron Melling - drums

    It appears that the lineup who have recorded this album are holding. They've been joined in recent gigs by the addition of a second bass player, Simon 'Ding' Archer, who previously spent some time in The Fall circa 2004/2005. Actually, The Fall Band Members List - Utterly Exhaustive is recommended reading. It's enlightened me since I wrote many of the reviews on this page. For example, Craig Scanlon, legendary Fall guitarist and still many fans favourite? He got sacked for "failure to maintain amps and slovenly appearance". What? He's now thought to be working in a Social Welfare office in Manchester. We should find out which one and slap him on the back, give him our support and thanks. Also, the mini-biog for producer Grant Showbiz? Born 1956. Production duties on Dragnet, Grotesque, Slates, The Unutterable, Country On The Click, Imperial Wax Solvent. Also live sound mixer in the early 1980s and various times since. That man also deserves a medal. Why? Well, he's produced a bunch of The Fall's finest EVER albums. You spotted he produces Imperial Wax Solvent? Good. You see, I knew I was going to get back to the point sooner or later.

    Where was I? Ah, yes. Bristling with tension? 'Imperial Wax Solvent' ( great name, MES! ) is energetic, exciting but sounds together in a peculiarly Fall-type way in a fashion The Fall haven't worn for a very long time. Very little showboating, although a guitar solo or two must have had Mark E Smith worried. If you suddenly play a few gigs with The Fall and end up thinking you're Keith Richards, you're not likely to last very long. Also it seems, if you want greater credit than Mark E Smith is willing to give you? Don't even ask. Just appearing to be slovenly can be a sackable offence, let alone wanting royalties and such-like. Anyway, 'Imperial Wax Solvent' lasts approximately forty seven minutes, eleven of them taken up by '50 Year Old Man'. Now, this song, rather stupidly, appears as the third song on the album. I guess this isn't an album Zavvi will be lining up on their Jukeboxs, then? No matter. Mark E Smith creates a call to arms for 50 year olds everywhere. After the initial four minutes of furious riffs and furious vocals, a banjo solo appears, apparently for no reason whatsoever. After this, the song returns, suddenly sounding like a demo of the first half of the song. Mark E Smith has a go at Virgin boss Richard Branson. Squall and noise arrive around the seven minute fifty mark. Some backwards tape work, rumbling bass runs either forwards or backwards, I'm not quite sure. Nine and a bit minutes in, everything changes again. A little catchy fall-esque riff appears, joyously. Now, '50 Year Old Man' is going to be either your favourite or least favourite track on the album.

    There are a few things on 'Imperial Wax Solvent' that make you sit up and wonder if The Fall aren't stumbling their way to greatness again. Well, the album is pretty great anyway, but hear me out. 'Alton Towers' for example is a very weird way to start the album. All spooky noises, subdued atmosphere, utterly bewitching Mark E Smith lyrics. It's hypnotic and worthy and has layers in a way a Fall song hasn't done for quite a-while. Whilst it's great when The Fall bash out some punk type thrillingly noisy thing, a return to MES sounding mysterious and the musicians sounding avant-garde is also more than welcome. It's some kind of horror-movie vamp and also sees fit to get in a dig at a former editor of 'Loaded' magazine. 'Wolf Kidult Man' proves this line-up can play. Groovy guitar and bass, solid drum work. Again, Mark E Smith seems inspired. This is good and perhaps can be put down to the fact he's actively been writing. He's written tons for his autobiography, as a writer of no repute whatsoever myself, one thing I can say is that practice actually does help. Spending days writing hundreds of terrible lines are more than worth it when the good one appears.

    Some great two minute and something songs are on this album. 'Is This New' is glorious, absolutely brilliant. I was provoked! sings Mark E Smith. 'Taurig', oh my sweet, electronic, weird, amateurish yet great 'Taurig'. The wife ( his, not mine ) sings the lead on 'I've Been Duped'. It's so catchy, I'm expecting it to appear backing a series of hilarious home videos on 'You've Been Framed' hosted by Harry Hill very shortly. That is a compliment, by the way, although I prefer his burp. 'Tommy Shooter' is another supreme highlight with very catchy guitar, very good bass. Indeed, we've a good combination here, These guys have a chemistry. I'm not sure what reducing your knees to noodles has to do with anything, but it's possible this is some kind of anti-war song. Well, wings of chickens coming home to roost? This is why Mark E Smith is inspired again. Maybe it was the Von Sudenfed stuff, but it's clear he's putting some actual effort in.

    It's also clear this review is quite long enough. Final words for the final two songs. Both have wonderful Mark E Smith song titles. 'Senior Twilight Stock Replacer' is either about the credit crunch or a guy working at Sainsburys. Perhaps something else? Whatever, it's addictive and hilarious. 'Exploding Chimney'? Well, with a title like that, who cares about the song? For the record, it's distorted. Much credit to Grant Showbiz, much credit to Mark E Smith and current band. Every edition of The Fall forever is now merely your granny on bongos, yet it's good to have this particular granny on bongos around to support a wired and lively Mark E Smith. How many of this band will be around next time? I'm being adventurous and guessing three.

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    Craig Aberdeen
    It's absolutely bonkers! They've mixed half of it in mono! Songs just change direction willy-nilly like nothing since 'paintwork'. You can just imagine Mark wandering about the studio tinkering and turning things off like a drunken imp. And the lyrics to '50-year old man' are superb. A man at the top of his game.


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    Your Future, Our Clutter 9 ( 2010 )
    O.F.Y.C. Showcase / Bury Pts. 1 + 3 / Mexico Wax Solvent / Cowboy George / Hot Cake / Y.F.O.C-Slippy Floor / Chino / Funnel Of Love/ Weather Report 2

    First Impressions.

    The title track, which leads the album, almost sounds like a new Fall. It's basic garage but the band sound.... young. The band sound.... naive. 'Bury' unhelpfully opens with what sounds like an old 30 year old cassette recording from a cave wrapped in cardboard. After a minute or so we 'switch to the studio' yet things hardly improve. Well, 'OFYC Showcase' sounds like a big mush of every fall song and lineup ever just whammed together, stuck in one of those machines that makes sausages and out pops... something that looks like someone's poo. Now, I’m a very strong supporter of The Fall and always have been, but so far this time out, they've lost me completely. 'Bury' continues and something weird happens, this unthinkable nonsense starts to make sense. Mark E Smith has plenty to say whereas recently he's not had much to say. I like those wordy fall songs of the past. So, whilst the music remains resolutely unimpressive, albeit weirdly modern garage, is Mark E Smith flexing his muscles over this music? Well, former members of The Fall almost never go onto do anything once they leave The Fall and so far, 'Our Future, 'Your Clutter' has me wondering whether the current bunch are actually just crap, rather than cleverly rebelling against 'professionalism', yet Mark E Smith? Well, you can never entirely write him off. I'm thinking I need a tune soon, though.

    He's got a bunch of pub musicians!!! 'Mexico Wax Solvent'? My arse stuck to a wall by solvent, more like. Ah, Mark E Smith has been 'cleverly' mixed down so when playing these songs live, nobody can tell the difference if he's singing or not. He'll be moving around, turning up and down amplifiers, turning some of his band off altogether then moving around waving his arms before returning to the microphone, to apparently little effect. Hey, 'Cowboy George' is quite good. Very 'Speedy Gonzalez'. What is Mark E Smith's thing with Mexico anyway?

    'Hot Cake'? 'Shit Cake' more like. Ah, I’m messing with you. 'Hot Cake' is interesting actually, in a very uninteresting way. It reminds me of Captain Beefheart and his tune 'Ice Cream For Crow' when you had a bunch of guys all young enough to be his nephews if not quite his sons, grooving around the desert. Mr Beefheart did his thing but seemed singularly bored by it all and soon gave up on music altogether. Moving back to The Fall, has Mark E Smith just gone too far this time? Has his hearing been affected or rather, when producing absolutely great music to little fanfare, this time around he's just decided to.... well.... what the fuck attitude? Most critics are too stupid to spot whether something is rebelling against something or is just genuinely amateur stuff. Mark E Smith has put his name (The Fall) to this new effort. It sounds like it was jammed in a day and recorded the following day. Some may incorrectly suggest past Fall efforts like 'Dragnet' were done the same way. Those people would be wrong. You wouldn't confuse this eight hundred and eleventh Fall album with any other Fall album, which you could say is a laudable thing.

    'Chino' has a great groove and also a really scary section where this version of The Fall could give Nine Inch Nails a run for their money in the doom mongering stakes. You could imagine Napalm Death doing a cover of this tune and turning this five minute noisy monster of a Fall track into a thirty second blast of pure angst and anger. And what's this? Some weird electronic guitar noise? Have The Fall gone blues but reinvented it so totally that it sounds like nothing on earth? For the first time this album, I’m genuinely impressed. A Fall classic, no less. A Fall classic that sounds nothing like any other Fall ever. Wow. 'Tunnel Of Love' is lots of fun which means either The Fall are being contrary again and putting all the best songs at the end or that.... I’m getting used to their new style. We shall see which is which when I sum up after half a dozen more listens. Second listen? Already better. This is an album that pulls no punches and sounds great when turned up loud. No compromise whatsoever, particularly to anybody that's ever liked The Fall before. Now, doesn't that sound just like Mark E Smith?

    'After half a dozen more listens.'

    The first two songs are GREAT! Eleven minutes of unrelenting guitar NOISE. Riffs, rolls, punk rock and nothing even approaching anything you could call commercial, or even, indie which really these days is just another word for commercial. This is so gloriously alternative that you couldn't even dream it could exist. 'Mexico Wax Solvent' goes bump, bump, fizz, fizz, thud, thud. It goes round and round and round and Mark E is central to the interest in this song, an unrelenting series of sounds. He makes it work, nobody else could even try. Scrap all the noise above, this album is getting better every time I hear it, always a good sign. I mean, 'Cowboy George' is one of the most insane things ever put to tape and suddenly the overall approach to production the album presents reminds me of something. It's a Joe Meek thing, not in terms of the invention, of which really there isn't much, but in terms of the cloaked, muffled sound that seems so cheap yet so attractive, that you'd have to spend a year and a lot of money just trying to get something to sound this muffled and cheap. I mean, you could make a case for sharpening up the sound and bringing out the clarity in 'Cowboy George', yet where would the fun be in that? 'Hot Cake' just adds to the feeling of this being a dangerously unhinged Fall lineup. Jack White and his stripes couldn't even begin to dream of sounding this great and this genuinely alternative. This? My mum would run a thousand screaming miles in piles of pain and end up getting piles, at the same time. 'Chino' remains wonderful yet I am still at a total loss as to where to 'rate' or 'place' this album in the grand Fall scheme of things. Of course 'Weather Report 2' ends with nonsense. Why wouldn't it?

    Postscript.

    We could all create our own Fall songs, remixed from all the other songs they've ever done. We could add nonsense samples and noise and smile, pleased with ourselves. We could listen to this though and realize nobody else sounds remotely like this album does in the entire world right now. That my friends, is quite something.

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    Pat Palatiani, Athens
    It's a consistantly brilliant record, you could take each of the tracks, listen to it and admire it for what it is, then listen the whole thing working and creating its own little world, like all great records do. 'Bury' is made from the same pot of those strange addictive stomping-guitar Fall tunes of '80-'81,and since I mentioned that, the album is pound for pound equally delicious to Grotesque. In it's own distinctive way,of course. The band indeed sound young and snotty. Superb rhythm section, consistently clever and energetic, is keeping the tunes kick-ass,no matter what. I love the strange spacey sounds at the end of Cowboy George,quite a change from the tex-mex riff that strolled throughout the song. Reminds me why I love this band. The keys have all those mysterious sounds, those kraut rock sounds. Hands down, the best garage rock band of our times, Jack White is not even close. 'Weather Report' is the greatest Fall track since 'Chicago Now' from '90,also t! he ideal closing track for this unique album. And their best closing track since 'The NWRA'. I'm telling you, the album is as good as Grotesque. THIRTY YEARS LATER! Now Mr Smith, keep them lads in the band, wait for 2 years to get brutal enough and treat us with a Hex-like masterpiece. We know you can. Always different,always the same. The Fall are dominant, it's about time someone took notice. I think they will. Wait 'til April. And if they don't, that 'll be cause we don't deserve rock n roll.


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    Ersatz G.B. 8 ( 2011 )
    Cosmos 7 / Taking Off / Nate Will Not Return / Mask Search / Greenway / Happi Song / Monocard / Laptop Dog / I've Seen Them Come / Age Of Chang

    Pete Greenway is currently absent on paternity leave, for this crime his name is missed out entirely on the sleeve under the band credits. He co-writes four of the ten songs by the way and has created something of a signature sound for himself, his guitar lines frequently free-flowing, fantastic bursts of imagination and freedom. The rhythm section of Keiron Mellings (Drums) and Dave Spurr (Bass) have now molded themselves into a force to be reckoned with and lest we forget Elena Poulou with her delightful handling of keyboards and electronics, always managing to lessen the fury of the other musicians. 'Ersatz G.B.' has been mixed in order to capture a certain murkiness which lends depth to the music, music that is generally speedy and tight - streamlined riffs, pounding bass and drums and MES himself utilizing a variety of vocal inflections and lyrical styles. Yes, MES grumbles and yelps, uses found phrases, makes up stories and observes the variety of the human race and the often baffling things we do. Can, The Stooges and The Velvet Underground remain Fall musical influences, added to which are forms of harder rock, thrash and metal. The Fall are never going to be convincingly hard rock of course, that's not really a purpose of them. They remain true to their roots whilst enjoy skewing obvious reference points to fit both old and new shapes and styles.

    The music for 'Greenway' was written by a group called 'Anorimoi', a Google search reveals their song 'Gameboy' to be the source of the rather scary riff that runs throughout. 'Anorimoi' have been described by at least one source as a Greek comedy metal band, for those of you that desperately wanted to know. The MES penned lyrics for 'Greenway' feature several memorable moments, most notably certain slang for being penniless. Mark E Smith then proceeds to growl and splutter out his lyrics, a contrasting style to several other songs here where he takes a cleaner approach - whatever the song demands, I guess. 'Nate Will Not Return' has often hilariously (and one suspects deliberately so) full rhymes revolving around the Nate of the title. 'Ersatz G.B.' does have moments you feel that border on self parody, musically the drum style/pattern deployed during 'Mask Search' has been done often before by The Fall and this initially sprightly and enjoyable concise set of riffs becomes stale quicker than much of the rest of the LP. The opener 'Cosmos 7' is wonderfully bass heavy yet seems too urgent to race itself towards its own, rather underwritten, musical ending.

    The eight minutes long 'Monocard' is arguably The Fall classic of the set, a song that initially could be seen as dull and rather pointless, yet for me it echoes back to an earlier time, roughly 1980 to 1983, when The Fall as a live experience did produce seemingly ponderous and monotonous moments yet, something magical would occur entirely because of this hypnotic style. 'Monocard' if you also pay close attention has subtly running throughout and also a few false stops where it seems to end, but they wind back into things, maintaning a momentum of suspense and wonder. 'Happi Song' is sweetness itself, a touching ode sang and penned by Elena. The development of 'Ersatz G.B.' reportedly gave Mark E Smith sleepless nights, he need not have overly concerned himself. The sequencing is astute enhancing repeat playability, and whilst this album is never going to win awards for musical diversity, there's more than enough going on for you to pick up something new, whether fourth listen or tenth. It may not be the most exciting Fall release ever, yet it's still an essential listen, and lesson, for us all.

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    Re-Mit ( 2011 )
    No Respects (Intro) / Sir William Wray / Kinder of Spine / Noise / Hittite Man / Pre-MDMA Years / No Respects Rev. / Victrola Time / Irish / Jetplane / Jam Song / Loadstones

    Nothing to see here, same line-up as the previous three LPs. Is Mark E Smith getting soft in his old age? Probably not, but he ain't thirty-something any more. I love the fact he'll probably still manage to release FALL lps from beyond the grave, but will the national art museum or some other such institute, like Ken Bruce, step in and collate the completed works of Mark E Smith and friends to preserve for the nation? Never appreciate until they're gone. Like a particularly bad football manager, Mark E Smith has stated he didn't like at least half of the last LP, as if trying to motivate the tracks on the new LP into being even better than they are, in a particularly misguided fashion. So, four albums with the same line-up? Some commentators are stating this makes the new LP safe and predictable, as if The Fall have suddenly turned into a latter day David Bowie record. Much as some like to think otherwise, Fall records don't actually exist in a seperate bubble-universe, they do occupy the same world David Bowie, Coldplay and U2 exist in. The fact that thirty four years after their first album, The Fall still sound as different to the mainstream as they ever did in the first place can be viewed as being a remarkable acheivement. Wait a minute, I was listening to the new album at half-volume, let's try again, I was about to damn it with faint praise. Well, it's probably not the greatest Fall album ever, but has enough moments to consider it worthy. A mixed message - what, me or Mark E Smith?

    'Sir William Wray' is great, tight, simple riffs float over the top (or should that be underneath?) and Mark E Smith and Elena Poulou tap into what The Fall are all about, little keyboard noises, grunts and shouting and marvellously impenetrable lyrical content. 'Sir William Wray', alongside the closing track 'Loadstones' are the more immediately approachable moments the album contains. As such, I prefer 'Kinder Of Spine' with it's shouts of 'Under the duvet' and 'SPIDER SPIDER!!!' accompanied by Elena's keyboards , and a few drums, leaving the other band-members not sure what to do, but they do it anyway. Other, even more experimental sketches arrive with 'Noise', which is actually anything but, rather more akin to 'Grotesque' from 1980, albeit with barely audible guitar and the entire band actually turned down into a settled muffle. 'Pre MDMA Years' is one of those silly, spoken word random moments Fall fans wait for and 'Jam Song' is pretty much that, although I was hoping it would be about sandwiches - perhaps it is? Again, it's Mark E Smith turning the band down, changing the formula - got to keep those kids on their toes! Which leaves 'Irish' and 'Jetplane' worth of mention, both classic Fall in that they fail to accomodate any sensible listener, leaving just the ones who aren't sensible at all - Fall fans to a man. 'Irish' is a bit Captain Beefheart and 'Jetplane' bass-heavy and with some of the most audible and utterly listenable Mark E Smith lyrics of recent years.

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    this page last updated 19/05/13


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