The Fall

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

* special introductory paragraph!
* Peel Sessions EP
* Live At The Witch Trials
* Live 77
* Live At Deeply Vale
* Liverpool 78
* Live From The Vaults: Oldham 1978
* Dragnet
* Early Years '77-'79
* Live From The Vaults: Los Angeles 1979
* Live From The Vaults: Retford 1979
* Totale's Turns (It's Now Or Never)
* Grotesque (After The Gramme)
* Slates EP
* Legendary Chaos Tape
* Hex Enduction Hour
* Live From The Vaults: Glasgow 1981
* A Part Of America Therein, 1981
* Live From The Vaults: Alter Bahnhof, Hof, Germany
* Room To Live
* Fall In A Hole
* Live To Air In Melbourne '82
* Perverted By Language
* Austurbaejarbio
* Palace Of Swords Reversed
* The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall
* This Nation's Saving Grace
* The Fall EP
* Bend Sinister
* The Domesday Payoff
* BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
* The Frenz Experiment
* Live in Cambridge 1988
* I Am Kurious Oranj
* I Am As Pure As Oranj
* Seminal Live
* 458489 A Sides
* 458489 B Sides
* Extricate
* Live In Zagreb
* Backdrop
* The Dredger EP
* Shiftwork
* High Tension Line EP
* Nottingham '92
* Code: Selfish
* Ed's Babe EP
* Kimble EP
* The Infotainment Scan
* Crash Course '84-'92
* The Peel Sessions
* Behind The Counter EP
* Middle Class Revolt (aka The Vapourisation Of Reality)
* Cerebral Caustic
* The Twenty-Seven Points
* In The City...
* Sinister Waltz
* Oswald Defence Lawyer
* Fiend With A Violin
* The Light User Syndrome
* Oxymoron
* Cheetham Hill
* 15 Ways To Leave Your Man (Live)
* The Idiot Joy Show
* Live Various Years
* Live At The Phoenix Festival
* Pearl City
* Levitate
* Masquerade Disc 1 EP
* The Marshall Suite
* The Unutterable
* Are You Are Missing Winner
* Live At The Knitting Factory-L.A.-14 November 2001
* 2G+2
* Touch Sensitive...Bootleg Box Set
* Live At The Garage-London-20 April 2002
* All Tomorrows Parties: Live At The ATP Festival-28 April 2002
* The Real New Fall LP (Formerly 'Country On The Click')
* (We Wish You) A Protein Christmas EP
* Punkcast 2004: Live at the Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004
* Interim
* Rude (All The Time) EP
* The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004
* Fall Heads Roll
* I Can Hear The Grass Grow EP
* Reformation Post TLC
* Box Set 1976-2007
* Last Night At The Palais: Live At Hammersmith Palais April 1st 2007
* Imperial Wax Solvent
* Slippy Floor Tour CD-single
* Your Future Our Clutter
* Ersatz G.B.
28 studio albums. 36 live albums. 30+ compilations. A million singles, EPs, and bootlegs. And chances are good that they're not done yet. The Fall are a Manchester band led by sarcastic tone-deaf frontman Mark E. Smith, who has ensured musical progression over the last three decades by firing every musician who ceases to interest him. Regardless, The Fall have been mindbogglingly consistent regardless of their many personnel change-ups and musical progressions (from carnival punk to minimalist art noise to guitar pop to mellow synth dance to noisy rockabilly to bass-n-drum to garage rock to whatever the hell it is they're doing now), and have stayed true to their original vision - "Write an amazingly great simple melody, play it a thousand times in a row, pile a lot of noise on top of it, then have Mark say (or poorly sing) a bunch of stuff that doesn't make any sense." It works. Their worldwide cult following knows what it's talking about. Unfortunately Mark Smith is getting nuttier by the year, replacing musician after musician at an astonishing rate. Could a BAD ALBUM eventually result?!? Not yet, but we'll keep our hopes down.

I know that "newbies" or "new people" have a difficult time figuring out which of the gakrillion Fall CDs are actual studio albums and which are compilations or concert discs so I've been kind enough to begin each official studio release review with a note alerting you that it is a STUDIO ALBUM.

Peel Sessions EP - Strange Fruit 1987.
Rating = 9

Not released until nine years after it was recorded, this is The Fall in one of its earliest incarnations (the only person on this record who is still in the band is Mark - although I think that Karl Burns recently returned to play "second drums"). Four GREAT post-punk songs, including "No Xmas For John Quays," an intense two-note punk rant that, in fact, is the song that got me interested in this band in the first place. You can also find a recording of the poppy "Put Away" that is far superior to the muddy rendition that a later version of the band recorded for the Dragnet album, and "Mess Of My," a truly great song that they, for some reason, never released on any other record. The guitarist (Martin Bramah) played with a spiffy chorusy sheen over his guitar, sounding much more professional than Scanlon, his eventual replacement, ever would. For a more accurate description of The Fall's sound, read on!

Reader Comments (Phil Cheslett)
All good and worth it if only for "Mess of my..." (which could be "Underground Medecin" part 1 -maybe) . John Peel recorded more of The Fall than any other band and yet this is all we get! Write to the BBC! Storm the vaults_ah!,

"They're putting me away but I'll be back some day..."

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Live At The Witch Trials - Step Forward/IRS 1979.
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #1 - Sounds like British punk except, uhhh... that tinky keyboard kinda detracts from the "kick-ass" quotient. Plus, guitarist Martin Bramah sounds more like a plinky amateur Ventures fan than a Sex Pistol wanna-be. Still, that vocalist sounds awful punky, with his high-pitched British screeching and nasal "-ah" attached to the end of every line (example - "Two steps back!" becomes "Two steps back-ah!" He's done this in pretty much every Fall song to date.). Lots of great melodies here - the closest that any rock band has come to circus music since The Doors, but with a truly kickbuttock punk drummer to boot. Great punk numbers like "Like To Blow," "Underground Medecin" (their spelling), and a re-recording of "No Xmas For John Quays" share the record with longer, slower, more story-oriented songs like "Frightened" and "Music Scene" that foreshadow the stranger, looser epics that the band would be writing in a few years. A wonderfully fun debut, but if you like your singers to actually "sing," you should maybe look elsewhere.

Best lyric is at the beginning of "Mother-Sister" -
Unidentified voice: "Ehhh... what's this song about?"
Mark Smith: "Uhh...nothin'!"

Reader Comments
here's the plan:

i disagree with a few things in your review of Live at the Witch Trials. i don't really have any problem with the guitar on this record. martin braham was one of the better guitarists in the history of the shifty fall line-up. in fact, he was responsible for the arrangement of the music on that album. the keyboard noodling - i always felt - almost makes the album. it adds a really eerie feel and really compliments all of the other stuff that's going on.

i also think that it's not very fair to place this record beside other albums of the period by pointing out how much it sounds like fairly standard punk/post-punk. this may true to some extent, but i think that this album is really the beginning and end of that mode of music. yes, i said it and it's true. witch trials is the first and last punk record. not that all other music in the genre is bad, but most of it is made obsolete by this record (among some other things).

that's about it. thanks for giving witch trials a good review. most people are partial to the beggars banquet stuff and don't really give proper praise to the rough trade albums. i personally think that everything post-rough trade is fair at best (yes, even ...saving grace), and everything post-bb doesn't deserve any recognition.

thanks for a great site.
It's a heck of an impressive debut. The lyrics make a strong impression and the music stands up with the heavyweights of the day (people like Pere Ubu, prime-grade Siouxsie & the Banshees, & Wire). Unlike anything else in their catalogue and a singular masterpiece. (Duane Zarakov)
martin bramah continued doing this kind of woozy psychedelic "circus music" for at least 1 alb. and some singles with his next group the Blue Orchids. you should check em if you like this album and that Peel Session one cuz those sound more like the B.Orchids than they do like much else by the Fall. (Dave W)
I borrowed this album (along with Cut by the Slits) off a girl at school back in 1979. I had bought dragnet and sad completist that I am, was glad to get hold of anything else by the band. As memory serves I bought the vinyl copy from Norwich market a month later and when the vinyl playing device is working it frequently gets a spin. It certainly is one of the best Fall albums and at the time had the rock fans that inhabit the wilds of East Anglia reaching for their happy pills. One thing that endears it is the sheer defiance of it that leaves the majority of its contemporise dead buried and decomposing fast. I think my favourites on this are Frightened and Futures and Pasts but it's a close run thing given the sheer quality of the album.

The Blue Orchids released one album then split up but I think they have reformed sporadically to produce further albums. There was also a vinyl retrospective sometime in the mid 1990s. They did two great singles work and the flood - well worth tracking down. I have just seen an album on the web called from 'severe to serene' that may fulfil your curiosity. Or it may not. Still at least they were better than the Adult Net.
This one was a favorite of mine in college. On reflection, not all great, but still a great listen. That cheesy organ kinda spoils some parts. I love "Two Steps Back" (which my college roommate always thought said "System's Bad!" which I thought was pretty funny). "Live at the Witch Trials" the poem segues nicely into "Futures and Pasts" (chucka chucka chucka chucka chucka chucka chucka chuckaaah!). My version of the album doesn't have "Mother-Sister", but it does have "Various Times" which is a bit ahead of its time, Fall-wise. Overall, I'll give it an 8/10.

Parts of the vocal melody in "Rebellious Jukebox" perfectly match that in the verses of "Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow.
This album would be considerably better if they'd done something about that keyboard. It would've been okay if it had been on just a few tracks, or if they'd adjusted it so it didn't sound exactly the same all the time. It kind of reminds me of the band Elf, which Ronnie James Dio was in before he joined Rainbow- they were pretty good, but there was this honky-tonk piano that was on every song that got really, really old.

Rian Yirkah
No wonder everybody thought these guys were a punk band! What with that jingle-jangle keyboard, clean chorusy guitar and 8-minute epic closer? ANARCHY! ANARCHY! OI! OI! OI!

On a serious note, I was born a woman. On an even more serious note, this album is actually very punky. In fact, most of these songs---if stripped down and pumped through a distortion pedal thing-a-ma-jig---would fit comfortably on any punk album worth listening to. There's not a weak song on here. Highlights include the paranoid ramblings of the excellent mid-tempo album opener "Frightened", the catchier-than-catchy "Rebellious Jukebox", the kick-your-ass-in frantic attack of "No Xmas for John Quays", the awkward circus rock vibes of "Mother-Sister", the bouncy, keyboard-driven "Two Steps Back", and the snotty should've-been-a-classic punk rocker "Futures and Pasts". The production is superb. I mean....have you heard the drum sound on this thing? It makes me want to strip off all my clothes and walk down the sidewalk, waving my wiener at the passing auto-MOBILES. (pronounced "mo-biles" not "mo-beels" because I'm a southern gentleman with a coke problem).

There's a neverending debate among the Fall fan community about where to begin your journey into the wonderful and frightening world of The Fall---28 studio albums as of this review. "Where should I start?", they often ask me, followed by "Hey! Get your penis out of my ass!". My answer to these newbies is this album. "Just start at the beginning." This is The Fall at *arguably* their most accessible and it features the idiosyncrasies that would follow the band (i.e. Mr. Smith) throughout their career. And the hooks? This album is hookier than a pirate with a hook...FOR A COCK!!! Speaking of cocks, why is the "black people like to eat fried chicken" stereotype considered offensive? Fried chicken kicks ass! There are worse things to be called than "somebody who loves to eat the most awesomest food on the fuckin' planet". I'm no asshole. Speaking of assholes, this newcomer Mark E. Smith is awfully confident and witty for a 22-year old. He arrived ready-made as the bitter, sarcastic, lower-class intellectual that we know today.

"Live at the Witch Trials" gets a NINE! *********

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Live 77 - Cog Sinister 1999.
Rating = 7

Godawful recording, but apparently the tape has been sitting on Mark Smith's dresser for the last two decades, so please forgive one or all involved. More importantly, there are lots of rare tunes on here -- did you know that both "Oh Brother" and "Copped It" were part of the Fall's '77 set? No joke! Different music, yes, but the lyrics are pretty darn similar. Same with "Hey Student!," performed crappily here as "Hey Fascist!" Wow, huh? And a drunken "Louie Louie"! Wow, huh? And "Stepping Out"! And "Dresden Dolls"! You'd have to not like the Fall to not buy this album!

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Live At Deeply Vale - Ozit 2005
Rating = 5

Oh good, it's a gigantic ball of hiss with The Fall playing five miles down the road behind it. Seriously, somebody cheated "Hiss" out of a co-credit here because it contributed as much to this release as the Fall did. Less listenable than the worst bootleg you've ever heard, Live At Deeply Vale sounds like a 10th generation copy of a tape recorded on a Walkman hidden in somebody's shoe. You can basically hear every instrument (making it evident that the bass was terribly out of tune for half the set), but the sound is so thin and monophonic that the songs have no power at all. It's neat to hear a young, excited Mark Smith chatting between songs, but that hardly makes up for an otherwise hideous recording of a poor performance. I declare this CD a worthless piece of shit, and give it a 5 -- a higher grade than I gave eight of Tori Amos' eleven studio albums.

In conclusion, this outdoor show was performed on July 22, 1978 with a set list that included seven Live At The Witch Trials hits, three Early Fall 77-79 numbers, and two 'others' ("Mess Of My" and "Stepping Out").

I now invite you to enjoy some of the friendly pieces of banter spoken by Mr. Smith between songs:

-- "Now we're gonna knock you down, we're gonna come inside your head! Thank you and good afternoon. Right, 'Psycho Mafia' take one!"
-- "We'd like to be in tune, this being our first experience with open-air festivals."
-- "Alright, so all you skinheads like to blow?"
-- "This one's about radios, videos, a signal bed."
-- "A slow one for ya. A song of contrasts for my mother and my sister."
-- "Passing branch, reach out and tell of industrial estate."
-- "Alright, the new one. 'It's The New Thing,' la la la la la la la."
-- "We'll do 'Futures And Pasts' now? 'Futures And Pasts' now? Yeah. We're a Democratic band, you know. And we were just going for a conference, to talk about our futures and our pasts."

He says all that right before the first song, then just flips a bird at the crowd the rest of the show. But that's our Mark! "Mark The Shark," we call him. "Mark The Shark Going To The Dark Stark Park On A Lark With His Dog Clark Warning "Bark! Hark! Look Out - A Narc!," we call him. I guess it is kind of a long nickname, now that I see it all written down like that.

Henry The Dog is getting old. In Dog Years, he's about to turn 60! The summer heat is tough on him, but he still loves to swim and fish (for larvae or tadpoles or something, who knows). He's a real sweetheart. My little boy is an old man. He suffers from progeria!

Okay, he doesn't really suffer from progeria.

Reader Comments
Dear Prindle,
Once a year it is incumbent upon me to write you a sucky email with a flimsy pretext for thanking you.
"Oh good, it's a gigantic ball of hiss with The Fall playing five miles down the road behind it" is that pretext.
Thank you.
Richard, Rome

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Liverpool 78 - Cog Sinister 2001
Rating = 6

Alright, time to buckle down. Haven't written a review yet today, and it's 12:42 tomorrow morning already. Apparently last night's alcoholic bender resulted in my oversleeping until 4:10 PM (it would be FANTASTIC if nobody told my boss about this - she assumed I was 'working from home'), so what with all of my important business to attend to (taking some Tylenol, eating a couple of cookies, watching 2069: A Sex Odyssey), it isn't until this unGodly time of night that I've been able to settle down with my thoughts in front of the computer. Do you people have something you do every single day? I write a record review every single day. Presumably if I didn't do this, I would force myself to complete this fifth Mark Prindle CD that's been sitting unfinished in my 16-track mixer for over two years now. But why do that? Nobody likes my FUCKING music anyway. But my writing? God! My mailbox literally FELL OFF THE WORLD because of all the trophies filling it up every day! Sure, some nay-sayers say I should invest in a thesaurus, but in today's market? I'll stick with my trusty WorldCom stock, thanks!

Also known heavily as Live At Mr. Pickwick's (presumably not the same Mr. Pickwick whose cartoon likeness appears on the Kiddy Disko Party album I bought at the thrift store last weekend), Liverpool 78 is seriously one of the most asinine pieces of shit that any band has smeared onto its fans since the birth of peristalsis. Get this -- YOU CAN'T HEAR THE DRUMS AT ALL!!!! I mean it's like the guy isn't even THERE! Beginning with track five, you can sort of make out a bit of pish-crash-tip way off in the dressing room or somewhere but most of the time it sounds like Mark, the guitarist and the bass player - ESPECIALLY THE BASS PLAYER - are holding a practice session on your ottoman. Apparently there's a keyboard in there somewhere too, but since the cassette recorder was evidently taped to the front of the bass amp, you can only hear its jocular carnivalisms during the quieter moments.

Still, it's full of early Fall winners (6 from Witch Trials, 4 you can find on Early Years and good old "Mess Of My") and that spiky guitar tone is enough for any man or woman. Two things to notice if your OCD forces you to purchase it -- (a) the way Mark keeps joking about all the "slow ones" they're playing, (b) the way the bassist switches to a lower octave halfway through "Psycho Mafia," leading one to wonder, "Why did he do that? Did he break a string?" Well check this out matey - he DID! You laypeople might not be able to discern this subtle occurrence, but I've got an ear like a sieve and you can't sneak something like that past me. Particularly when your singer refers to his "bass player with three strings" five seconds after the song ends.

Okay, I'm done. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for your wife's weekly speleology presentation. All aboard Cave Hair!

Reader Comments
I got this about 6 months ago and I couldn't bear to listen to it more than once. A pity, since it contains a lot of early tunes that I don't otherwise have. The sound is just terrible terrible terrible! Makes me want to throw a lamp at the wall. It's not that it's muddy or inaudible or anything, it's just that it sounds like only two instruments are being picked up by the mic (vocals and something else, probably bass), and it totally fails to capture even a smidgen of whatever juice may have been in the performance. Which is all the more frustrating, since I would sell my left nut to have been able to see this performance. Though I woudn't have liked it in 78 probably. I was into other stuff then. But in hindsight, hotcha!
From your review, Mark, it sounds like this is the gig on the bonus disc for the "Live At The Witch Trials" re-issue. Like Mr Ropey I too must have listened to this the once, six months ago. It's pretty pointless, as is this comment. So I will go and kill myself, forthwith. Good luck with the new album.

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Live From The Vaults: Oldham 1978 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 8

When The Fall in 1978 decided to record a tribute album to Bonnie "Prince" Billy, the f

When The Fall in 1978 decided to play a scheduled gig at a club in Oldham, surely they must have know that this was the height of the punk rock era and mohawks, what with the Sex Pistols and The Who kicking everyone's ass with their speedcore rock and roll. So imagine the course of delight fed into the intrigue-driven sickle cells of the leather-clad bunion boys in the slipshod ma

So imagine how the crowd reacted when The Fall began their anarchy punk rock Maggie-bashing gig by shouting, "When I was on the Witch Trials of August, it was written, 'You are white crap! You are an aesthetic anesthetic! You are rarrah rarrr...' WHITE NOISE!" before performing one lopey-dopey midtempo riff for eight minutes! Yes, The Fall had some speedy punkers at the time (almost half of this set list, actually), but "Repetition" is just good solid silly humor. Did the crowd stick around to hear what came next? Was there even anybody there? If so, did they smile as largely as I did when, at the 7-minute mark, Mark announced, "This song is an endless song! It has endless possibilities. But we're gonna wind it up right in a minute, so if you'll just hang on for a few seconds...."? They should have. They should have also taken note that the keyboardist plays the guitar line most of the time (rather than the two chords favored on the studio version), and that Mark added disgraced Seeds vocalist Sky Saxon to the list of celebs who enjoy repetition.

The Oldham 1978 disc features live versions of 12 Fall songs -- 6 from Witch Trials, 5 you can find on Early Fall 77-79, and "Steppin' Out" from the Live At The Electric Circus multiple artist compilation. The guitar is still high-pitched and scratchy, the organ still sounds like it's in a circus carnival, and the bass and drums are surprisingly audible considering the potential rigors of tape degradation. All in all, a darn fine document of early Fall at their live jubilee! God do the slow songs seem to drag all the energy down to Hell though. "Music Scene" in particular -- that's not one of my favorite Fall epics to begin with, and this is an even worse version than usual. But good golly how can you not get out your happy feet to punky hooky classics like "Like To Blow," "It's The New Thing," "Futures And Pasts," "Bingo Master's Breakout," "Industrial Estate" and "Psycho Mafia"!? You CANNOT! Or rather you MUST! (depending on which is the grammatically correct answer)

Incidentally, who else remembers how easy it was to be a Fall collector back in the early-to-mid '90s before they turned into The Grateful Dead and started releasing every goddamned outtake and live gig they ever performed? Those were sweet sweet times for the obsessive. These days you get a fuckin' HERNIA lugging all their goddamn shit into your Amazon basket! There's already like six more of these Live From The Vaults things on the market and here I am at home with a hurt foot, unable to do anything about it! Sure, I could hobble over to England and demand complimentary review copies, but by the time I'd get there I'd have a really long beard and would be unrecognizable as teenage record reviewing heartthrob Mark Prindle! They'd just think I was some limpy old ZZ Top guy, whereupon they'd force me to dance around singing "She's got legs" for 14 hours a day, at gunpoint, in their seedy underground torture chamber! Or so I understand about the British from their Pete Walker films.

Alcohol is giving me terrible headaches again. I hope this isn't God's way of saying, "You're embarrassing me. Remember a few weeks back when you screamed at some woman out your taxi window that she shouldn't smoke during her pregnancy because of the danger it poses to the baby -- and it turned out that she was just really fat? I had to pretend I didn't know you the rest of the night!"

"Oh! And how about the week before that, when you angrily dragged your waitress into the men's bathroom and forced her to acknowledge the horrible Artie Lange's Beer League poster above the sink that's been driving you nuts for the past six months? That wasn't very nice."

"Nor was it terribly polite to open the building's power bill and write 'FUCK YOU!' really big on the payment portion. I know it seemed hilarious at the time, but come on."

Fuckin' God. What does he know about partying? "Oh look at me! Look at me! I've got some Plagues!" Fuck you.

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Dragnet - Step Forward 1979.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #2 - Not quite as strong as the first album, this one pretty much leaves punk behind to concentrate on the postpunk circus music that the early Fall did so well. Very lo-fi, and some of the duller songs ("Flat Of Angles," "Choc-Stock") seem to go on for years, but the standouts ("Before The Moon Falls," "Your Heart Out," "A Figure Walks") are truly impressive; the guitarist sounds like he (a) can't play worth a shit, and (b) knows exactly the right notes to hit in his amateurish manner at every moment. Mark E. is more self-assured and cocky this time around, claiming in "Dice Man" that, while other entertainers play it safe, he "takes a chance, man - do you take a chance, fan?" - and admitting in "Your Heart Out" that, well, as he puts it, "I don't sing; I just shout - ah! All on one note - ah! Sing sing sing sing-ah!" Foon-wah, as my mom is wont to say. Also, "Spectre Vs. Rector" is one of the earliest of their weird-as-hell experimental guitar melodies. Like most Fall records, this has one or two semi-dull points, and about ten or fifteen moments of pure genius. You've probably never heard them, right? You should! They're really good!

Reader Comments (Steve Cragie)
I've been a huge Fall fan from when I first heard them on the Electric Circus LP just before "Bingo Masters" came out. I have to disagree about Dragnet being inferior to Witch Trials. I reckon Dragnet was the first Fall masterpiece. You have to remember what it was like when it first came out! It was absolutely peerless. I couldn't believe anyone had made a record as good as this. I was about 16 when it was released and I listened to Dragnet many times a day for weeks on end in an adolescent obsession the excitement of which I will never forget and that can only be relived through the Fall (with any consistency at any rate. Witch Trials (although brilliant) doesn't have anything approaching the mystery and poetry of the groundbreaking sound (what you refer to as lo-fi - a term not around then). I think "Various Times" was the bridge between the old punkier Fall and the Dragnet sound. I tend to think of Dragnet as the first true Fall album (and as the first in the brilliant succession of albums which featured Marc Riley after that). (John Middle)
Must stand in agreement with Mista Cragie....most impenetrable yet rewarding of albums....has it all...Lee Scratch Perry meets a blender uptown production qualities...Also .. "don't let anyone know where this was recorded or else" combined with Specter v.s Rector recorded in haunted house at midnight mythology...nice literary references.... Luke Rheinhardts-"Diceman". Sand paper larynyx lyrics "look at me ... too much SPEEEEEEEED". Topped off with the dark consuming light album cover that would comprise any "young bands" dream. Spider descends on butterfly. To relax and slip into the cogs and gears of this sabotaged machine is bliss defined....Nice one on site Prindle.. LUV from KingShag a.k.a John Middle....A Californian who always thinks of sex....or thinks of death.
I agree that dragnet is the first (andbest) real fall album. It coincides with a new lineup, new drummer, guitarist and bassist, and ditching the keyboard. (Earle White)
I would have to break the tie and say that Dragnet is far better than ...Witch Trials (and every other Fall album for that matter). Although Grotesque is a close second, and could be seen as a continuation in formula and sound, it is no where near as menacing, scathing, daring, uncomproming, and groundbreaking as Dragnet. As band's like Pavement obviously modeled their best work (Slanted and Enchanted) after Grotesque, basically straight-up ripping off "New Face in Hell" and calling it "Conduit for Sale"......other more obscure bands such as Chicago's Scissor Girls have taken Dragnet's fucked brilliance into their own dimension of sound, as if they were posessed by "Spectre vs. Rector" (which personally, is my favorite Fall song). It's this quality of the Fall's material that I find so appealing though, that they have always changed. If you don't like this album...give it another chance...and pay special attention to the songs "Dice Man" and "Choc-Stock". Mark E. Smith is daring you to open yourmind, make your own decisions, and take a chance, fan.
I'm sure I'm the only one who noticed, and the only one who cares, but I'll be damned if The Monorchid didn't rip off "Spector Vs. Rector" in a big way on their song "X Marks The Spot: Something Dull Happened Here," but I noticed it RIGHT away.

Now that I think of it, Chris Thompson's (The Monorchid, Circus Lupus, Skull Kontrol) singing style reminds me of Mark E. Smith in a big way.

Okay, no one who'll read this will care anyway. I'll shut the fuck up. (Nick Gale)
I don't agree that this is their most inpenetrable album - it's actually one of their most accessible. Printhead? Dice Man? Your Heart Out? Neat pop tunes, catchy choruses. Even the longer songs are hypnotically catchy. The only exception is the strangely hilarious Spectre vs Rector.

Fall fans e-mail me! (Mark Rainbow)
It may be an age thing, but I have always seen "Dragnet" as the first proper Fall album. I found ".. Witch Trials" as a collection too clean, too straight, but "Dragnet" is where MES found his, umm, voice and the band found that Fall sound. Without "Dragnet" the last 20 years would have been considerably different. All this and they still left "Rowche Rumble" off!

Top site! Thanks (Simon O'Donnell)
Growing up in Manchester in the 70s, I was fortunate to have heard the Fall's album Dragnet shortly after its release. Even at the time the recording sounded 'homemade' but encapsulated all that was around me. The album whilst diverse in its lyrical content has a particular bleak quality which matched the conditions in Manchester at that time. Though in 79 and the early 80s, I played 'Dragnet' a lot and in particular 'Your Heart Out' I would never have thought that anyone (including myself) would have been playing it in the 21st century. (Dave Wells)
This was the first Fall LP I bought having heard Printhead on Radio Orwell's (Ipswich)' heavy metal show called Rocket. Bought the extended version of the LP which has just come out early in 2004 and have to say the original is still one of the finest Fall LPs. I must admit all the tracks are great and back in 1979 sounded even better as it was new. Printhead will always be a favourite but before the moon falls, choc-stock, a figure walks and Diceman all snap healthily on its heels. Lets get this thing together and make it bad!
Dragnet took a while to come out on CD, so it was one of the last ones I was able to find. It's got some doozies, for sure, but some crudesque stuff too. Great tunes: Before the Moon Falls, Your Heart Out, A Figure Walks, Spectre Vs Rector, Psychic Dancehall. So-so tracks: Dice Man, and a bunch of others that I can't recall because they don't really stick. This was the first one with Craig Scanlon, though, and I love his guitar style - he and Steve Hanley provide some of the finest Fall moments instrumentally.
Great album, I give it an 8! "Printhead" and "Put Away" annoy the hell out of me though. Just weak melodies. I like "Choc-Stock" though, its makes me smile. In fact, I love the whole album except two said songs. "Spector vs. Rector" is creepy as shit, I love it! It IS really rough and lo-fi-sounding took a while for me to get past the production (or lack thereof). I listened to it several times a day for about a week before I could really get into it. The first Fall I ever heard was The Infotainment Scan, so just imagine my shock upon hearing this! WAY different! I like em both though. My favorite Fall album right now though, is the Rough Trade Anthology, which I just got a few days ago. It's two discs of incredible Fall songs. I didn't see it on your site, but it's probably full of songs you already have.

just wanted to take some time out to thank you for turning me on to such an awesome band. Seriously... you're the sole person who convinced me to finally delve in to the huge Fall back catalog. All the things I'd read about them before from other critics went on and on about how they were "dark" and "impenetrable" and how they'd had five billion lineup changes and how Mark E. Smith was a big asshole who yelled a lot and didn't make much sense. Those things may all be true to some degree, but yours is the first website I came upon that actually took the time to describe what the albums sounded like and make me realize that they were a lot more fun than everybody was making them out to be. So now I own and love most of their albums... and it's all thanks to you, Mark. I hope if you ever start to doubt yourself or think about shutting the site down again that you think about that.

Anyway, I know you wrote those early Fall reviews a long time ago, but I just have to say one thing. "Flat of Angles" is not one of the duller songs on Dragnet. What the hell, man? It's got two killer riffs and it's about one of MES's (and most Fall fans') favorite topics: paranoia! Maybe it goes on too long at the end, but that's the only real fault I can find with it. It's one of my favorites and I always include on the "Fall sampler mixes" I make for friends.

I guess that's about all I have to say. Oh - you should also try to get another interview with MES now that your interviewing skills have improved so much since then. Apart from that, just keep up the good work.

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Early Years '77-'79 - Faulty Products 1981.
Rating = 9

All terrific songs! Punky, circusy, the whole deal! What are these, singles? I don't know, but they're great! I know that at least one of them was a single - their silly debut "Repetition." I'm not sure about the origin of the others, like the great upbeat rockers "Psycho Mafia" and "Rowche Rumble" (both of which would later be covered by Sonic Youth), and three of the best bigtop numbers they ever did - "Bingo Masters Breakout," "It's The New Thing," and the godlike six-minute three-note dance number "Fiery Jack," but I'm getting along just fine without the knowledge. What's knowledge, anyway? You memorize a lot of crap - you make a jillion dollars a minute - you die! Screw knowledge! Let's just smoke marijuana all day!
Reader Comments (Duane Zarakov)
yes they are singles,and this group's best stuff.yeah yeah all their albums at least the 1st 200 are fine but they were even better on 7",these ones on Step Forward and the next few on Rough Trade and some other labels i dont remember...GREAT LOST TRACK not on any anthologies that i know about = how i wrote "elastic man" (1980 or so) (Debbie Whitwill)
I'm driving home from another day of drudgery and banality when a sudden unexplainable urge causes me to turn left of the dial to the usually mediocre KZSC Santa Cruz. Darn college kids and their boom-de-boom. Upon reaching the station, a voice- a Tourette's victim maybe?- leaps out of the speakers. "WE'RE ROCKING THE CLUBS-AH!!" hollers the obviously trashed frontperson, over a clunky, minimalist, energetically inept backing band. "PSYCHOMAFIA!!!!" At this moment, life as I once knew it ceased. I became reborn.
The fall had incredible early stuff, and this compilation covers it! Early years 77-79 is a phenomenal compilation. It has a lot of the falls best stuff ("Psycho Mafia," "It's the new thing" "Repetition" "Diceman" and "Fiery Jack") my personal favorite probably being "bingo masters breakout" which by the way is one of my top 5 favorite fall songs, it is so cool how it has a circus drumbeat and then rockabilly leads with such bizarre lyrics. But all of the songs are great. A must buy unless you want to buy of the falls early hard to find stuff.

9.5/10 (Simon Burgess)
My CD says 'Live 77'. Those crazy people at Cog Sinister, eh?

Early Years documents one of the most interesting-sounding periods of The Fall. Top Game Boy-esque keyboard sound! My thoughts on the tracks are pretty much the same as what everyone else has written here. Still, the Fall sound seemed to have been developing quickly, as these tracks show - from the early Joy Division-ish Electric Circus performances to the totally danceable 'Fiery Jack'.
Great album. Can't describe something indescribable. Find it you fools.

According to an educated friend of mine, a saxophonist called Terry Edwards has a version of Bingo masters on a full e.p. of early Fall songs. When I have the chance I'll find out the details. Suffice to say, Bingo masters was superb. The backing band may have been Madness? Another Edwards album, 'Yesterdays' Zeitgeist' contains 'Totally Wired', 'Container Drivers' and 'Dice Man'. But you knew that, didn't you pal?
Classic. Everyone should own this compilation. I don't know much about it...except that it's mostly non-album singles most of which weren't released on any albums. A dancier version of "Psykick Dancehall" is on here, as is "Dice Man", the latter of which, as far as I can tell, is the same as the Dragnet version. Every song is incredible, it never gets old and I could listen to it all damn day. To be fair, for now...I'll have to give it a 9. MAYBE a 10, BUT I own too few Fall albums to make that final decision yet. Currently "Rowche Rumble", "Fiery Jack" and "It's the New Thing" are a few of my favorite songs of all time, and I also have to say "Last Orders" truly kicks ass.

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Live From The Vaults: Los Angeles 1979 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 7

A big mono murky ffrashy mess. Mark talks a lot; I can't understand a word. 1 Live at the with cc tirals, 7 dragnet, 2 early years, 1 electic circus; bootleg sound muffled, and you cna't hear the keyboard. Mark talks beteewwn e the songs. Scrachy scrangly guitar. The girl shousts a few words every once in a while. When you can hear hte keyboard, it's out of tune. When they play loudly, you cant hear ANYTHING. Just a big rumbling crashy mess. MOSTLY FROM DRAGNET When "Muzorewi's Daughter" happens, I sing "I'm Henry Doggy's Father!" Why can't they tune thier ASS instruments and not make the cymbal FRASHY on their bootleg tampe? Also, did you notice that in "Rowche Rumble," they actually pronounce it "Roche"? That's a drug company I used to work for! I used to work for "Roche Compuchem," who set up driig urine tests. It was only temporary work though. So don't tell Richard Hell that I listened to his band a lot during it. Eat a piece of dick. A big murky mess! That's "Dice Man." The Fall are a great bnad led by a human piece of human shit garbage. Mark E Smith is a horrible person. They rule!

These songs are great, but it's a bootleg recording so skip it. The Fall have had over 50 line-ups because Mark Smith is such a prick. FUCK YOU, MARK SMITH! I love your band, all 50 of them. He's insane. Seriously, I'm not joking. Also, my neck hurts so goddamned much and has for several days. I'm scared. What if I borke it? Why does John Lennon let Yoko sing so much on I Ate My Ass In New York?

The album is live and poorly recordeed. What the jit else do you want to know? That it was recorded on August 15, 1979? Fine. Now you know. EATS HIT! TASTES GReAT! LESS BILLING!

Condoms are for people who have sex.

Eat bpock.!

Reader Comments (James Murton)
According to Simon Reynolds' 'Rip It Up And Start Again' (a great book, for the interested), "'Rowche Rumble' got its title from Hoffman La Roche, the pharmaceutical multinational who dominated the market for antidepressants." If that shines any light on any ties between your old job and the absolutely fucking ace Fall...

I always meant to send some 'Great site!' sort of comment, but couldn't thyink of anything else worthwhile to say with it, so I kept schtum until I found this little nugget...

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Live From The Vaults: Retford 1979 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 7

As I was saying, for some reason The Fall's 1979 line-up had no conception of how to tune their instruments. At this show, which sources report took place on November 16, 1979, the bassist's G string is horribly off-key so any time he plays a high-pitched "lick" (or "riff") or "hook" (or "line") or "melody" (or "run") or "note" -- particularly "Psykick Dancehall," "Choc Stock" and "A Figure Walks" -- it's Torture On The Ears! Furthermore, the terrible bootleg sound is a big muffled mono mess of skrankly guitars, possible organ (who can tell!?), muddy bass thumping and near-buried vocals. Luckily, it does have ONE thing going for it, and that single solitary singular sole thing is several multiple bunches of lots of great songs.

Webster's Dictionary defines it as "five songs from Early Years '77-'79, six from Dragnet and two from Live at the with cc tirals," but to the rest of the world it's simply "'Rowche Rumble!' '2nd Dark Age!' 'Rebellious Jukebox!' 'Muzorewi's Daughter!' 'In My Area!' 'No Xmas For John Quays!' 'Printhead!' 'Psycho Mafia!' 'Fiery Jack!' Not so much 'Flat Of Angles.'"

I don't know how many of you frequent the MySpace online Internet community but last night was a bulldozer of a good time so let me reiterate it for you now. I was at home with the wife, drinking some spirits and enjoying a bit of Please Don't Eat My Mother! on the old DVD Wurlitzer when it suddenly occurred to me, "Say, Mark Prindle. You're not sufficiently tootie-frootied. Go have another huge bubbly mouthful of Grape-flavored Vodkar." I did as such do so and ZIMP! the lights fell down in the city of my mind, leaving nought but the urge to post a Bulletin on MySpace, that being a message that is shot outwards to every single person on one's Friends List, of which mine features 490 (mostly assholes, but don't tell them I said so). And look what my shifty alcoholic mind wrote without asking me first!

"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST1 I just realized that nobody gives a shit about my writing, my jokes, my reivews. why do i do it. should i kill myself for wasting so much time on it. am i pathetic. i'm drnk. should i kill muyself. i'm drunk. nobody gives a shit. nor should they. goodbye. are you happy, you saw me commit suicide"

Then I wrote that terrible Live From The Vaults: Los Angeles 1979 review you graciously just ignored, and after that I tried to call Kevin Rutmanis from the Cows and he wisely didn't pick up so I went, "Hay, who else's phone number do I have who would never in a million years want to hear from me? I know! David Yow Of The Jesus Lizard Fame!" So I dialed him up and he foolishly picked up the phone, at which point I told him his new band isn't as good as his others, and he laughed, "I don't care what you think!" and we all had a great time together because I was drunk and judging his entire band on two songs I listened to on MySpace one time about eight months ago. Finally he got rid of me and I sent him an apology note, then I went out to eat dinner at Uno's (formerly "Pizzeria Uno") and came home to find that the concerned emails had poured in, with people saying nice things and "Hey, lighten up" and things, and I felt like a rapscallion so I posted an all-new Bulletin:

"Sorry about that. I drank more tonight than usual. In addition to my brilliant Bulletin, I called David Yow and drunkenly talked his ear off til he told me to FUCK OFF (politely). FUckin' vodka. Fuck you, vodka! But also, I spend a lot of time on my site, so it makes me sad when I don't get any reader comments. You'd feel the same if it were you. Granted, I shouldn't have wasted 3 weeks on the fucking Hollies. Thank you if you wrote me."

Then I went to bed for 13 1/2 hours and woke up to even MORE concerned emails! So I posted a yet third Bulletin today:

"The thing is - I wasn't even feeling suicidal AT ALL last night. I was just fall-on-the-floor drunk. I haven't felt suicidal in years. See, this is the problem with the Internet. It lets you write shit when you're drunk. For this reason, it should be policed by the government and nobody should be allowed to do anything on it without the approval of Mr. George W. Bush, the greatest president we've ever had, if you go by golf rules."


Also, MAN OVERBOARD do I love "No Xmas For John Quays"! The version on here is even more anxiety-ridden than the studio version!!! And it's 7 minutes long!!!!!!!!!

My penis is also 7 minutes long.

Reader Comments
I much prefer the crazy friends o' mine who call me up drunk and homicidal than the one's who call up with that feel sorry for me type shit. You probably shouldn't drink. You're a pussy. Vodka is The Drink of The Pussy. And most likely, your a repressed homo, too (maybe not a full-blown queer, I'm sure, but I know you've fantasied about sucking cock before). Or you have a tiny dick, which could explain your obsession with male genitalia and rock dudes (and why you would call up David "Big'n" Yow). That OCD thing is gay and exists only in your mind due to your inability to overcome some simple childhood issues (are you an only child?).

Ah shit, it's either all that or it's the guilt you feel because you've finally realized that your nothing but a forth-rate Meltzer hack (a good forth-rate Meltzer hack at that, but still)...

Anyway, get over yourself. I enjoy the reviews. Keep it up!

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Totale's Turns (It's Now Or Never) - Rough Trade 1980.
Rating = 8

Hilarious intro - "The difference between you and us is we have brains" - right into a true-to-the-record run-through of "Fiery Jack." Also, this one generously offers three F@*#ING GREAT studio songs that you can't get anywhere else ("Cary Grant's Wedding," which resembles "Fiery Jack," but has a slow part, too, for diversity, "That Man," which sounds like a rockabilly cover, but I wouldn't know one way or the other, and an acoustic version of the guitar smash-up "New Puritan," which I also have an electric version of, but I have no clue where it came from!). Plus, "No Xmas For John Quays" still kicks ass, and you get to hear Mark scream at whomever the bass player was at that point, "Fucking get it together instead of showing off!" (about time, though - the song has a two-note bass line, but this guy kept doing runs up and down the neck like some kinda jerkbutt, almost ruining the song in the process). "Choc Stock" is still a snoozefest, though, and "Spectre Vs. Rector 2" goes on too damn long.
Reader Comments (Duane Zarakov)
their greatest album,could be.And all others subsequent who have attempted to utilize "rock" to confront reality on the naked plateau of ,uh,whatever it says in the liner notes of the Fugs' Golden Filth,yeah well they should just listen to this and then just fuckin HANG IT UP.other contenders for anything remotely similar are high and few...billy childish's Hangman Communications single on Kill Rock Stars is very good.most "alternative" music is just shitty pop with swearing or guitar distortion or other cosmetic ugliness,right? (Eric C. Brands)
Totals Turns is the best album by The Fall. With each song and outtake carfully selected by Mark Smith and placed in a pattern carfully documenting and putting it clear about the bands musical direction. This album was a statement above all else and I think best gets there message across. This LP mixes sharp cynical dialog with essentially bad music- but as I said before, that was the whole point of it. This record is best appreciated amongst the true Fall fans though, and perhaps other albums should be bought before this cynical disturbed masterpiece.

Paul Hanley of The Fall
Mark's actually shouting at the drummer during 'No Xmas', the lovely Mike Leigh. If you listen, at one point he does the most ridiculous drum roll to give his newly-bought 'Rotatoms (tm)' a work-out. Steve's never shown off in his life. (Steve Bouton)
The electric version of "New Puritans" referred to by Mark above is from the "Kicker Conspiracy" double 7" (also featuring "Wings" and a different version of "Container Drivers"), released on Rough trade in '83. It's from a Peel Session. Horrifyingly left off of the otherwise excellent "Palace Of Swords" comp, that track is easily in my Fall top 5 (along with "Winter", the live 'Totally Wired", and maybe 'Who Makes The Nazis?"). This particular LP, like most of their live output, is best approached warily by the uninitiated.
Another Fall record that has spent far too long neglected in the vinyl vault of the Wells household. Mrs Wells left the key about so this was rescued and after a good dusting down got a run out on the turntable. Considering this was a relatively new concept for the Fall at this time - the interim albums have now got tiresome and are not worth bothering with - this worked pretty well. The live tracks are corking and the additional tracks (work in progress if you like) are all worth possessing. According to the sleeve notes "New Puritan was recorded at home while said home was under attack by a drunk". This track appears on the Peel Sessions CD (reviewed below somewhere) and is stunning but this low-fi version is still worth your attention. That Man is a catchy bit of Fall pop that has always been a personal favourite. Live stand out track is 'No Xmas for John Quays' although 'Choc Stock' from Dragnet is also good.

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Grotesque (After The Gramme) - Rough Trade 1980.
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #3 - by this point, Smith had both Scanlon and Hanley in the band, so feel free to consider this album "the beginning of The Fall as we now know them." This is where Mark admits to the world that his musical obsession was never punk rock, but rockabilly (which, if played fast enough, sounds a lot like punk rock - you understand our mistake). "Pay Your Rates," "English Scheme," "The Container Drivers," and "In The Park" are amateurish and very British, but they're still clearly based on American country/western music - like old Johnny Cash played really quickly. "New Face In Hell" and "Gramme Friday" are slower, but also obviously rooted in rockabilly. (In fact, in his rambling liner notes, Mark calls the music "Country and Northern.") Only four tracks remain; two are experimental (one of these - "C'n'C S mithering" is about the music business, and is truly amazing), and the other two are great early Fall epics, "The N.W.R.A." and "Impression of J. Temperance."

I find this an extremely pleasing album because so much of it sounds loose and improvised, especially in "The N.W.R.A.," when the musicians sort of only play when they feel like it, and the melody only changes after Mark alerts the band, "Switch!" It sounds like they had only played the songs a few times, and weren't exactly sure how they wanted them to go. Very fresh and somewhat exciting (especially when the droning "C'n'C S mithering" suddenly turns into the ridiculously speedy "The Container Drivers" - a masterpiece of a segue). Do buy it.

Reader Comments
This was the first Fall studio album I bought (458489 A-sides was the first Fall release I bought) and I began to realize that this band called the Fall is pretty damn good. I agree on you with your point about "C'n'C's Mithering" seguing into "Container Drivers"--genius! "Pay Your Rates", "English Scheme", and "New Face In Hell" make up a perfect trio of songs to open the album. Definitely a 9!
I like your review of Grotesque. Cantankerous as I am, I really have little to argue with you about on this one. I would note that the music was becoming more obviously lyric-centered by this point than during the 1977-78 bands' work.
the fall could do any type of music they wanted too, (dance, avant garde experimentation, pop, hard rock etc.) but in my opinion the fall are truly at home when making smart, creative rockabilly. that is why I love grotesque (after the gramme). it took me forever to find also, the way I finally got it was by ordering it from the falls own cog sinister lable. when I first heard it I hated it, but I have grown to love it. my favorite songs are: "new face in hell" (a great kazoo and a wonderful evoking guitar melody), "C n C S mithering" (a hypnotic beat and convincing rant), "in the park" (insanly catchy and fun rockabilly) and "the N.W.R.A" (10 minutes long but never boring). this is my favorite fall album and one of my top 10 of all time, a must buy. (Steve Bouton)
There really aren't enough comments on these to do justice to one of the greatest bands in the world. "C-n-S Smithering" or whatever it is is my personal fave on here. Take a great chord or two, beat the shit out of it, and rant dense oblique intellectual working class poetry. Nobody's done it better since. One of their best along with all the pre-1986 (Bend Sinister) studio LPs except maybe "Room To Live". I would also nod to "Extricate" and "Shiftwork" and "Light User Syndrome".
This is getting out of hand. Whilst i should be saving my pennies to pay my rates I can't help but find myself drifting around the flea market, hunting down the CD stalls and heading straight for the 'F'. Today, amongst those dodgy compilations, sat Grotesque (After the gramme) and as I needed some change for a packet of tabs I parted with £7, (yes, seven English pounds... bargain!)

Initial impressions; the first four tracks are ropey, especially Totally Wired. Then again that does sound extremely under written, rehearsed and produced. Maybe that's the point or I'm so used to the storming version on 'A Part of America Therein' that I can't help feeling under-whelmed. (A while back I read an old review of that single by a chap called gary bushell. bushell gets attacked later on in the album so, (for a little background), let me just say bushell is one of the UK's most reviled non-entities. A filthy little scab of murdoch payed vermin. As bearded a fuck-face as you could ever imagine.

Anyhow the actual album tracks are a hell of a lot stronger. 'New Face in Hell', unbelievable... just like that Pavement song, ("I;m trying, I'm trying etc), notebooks out plagiarists indeed! When the kazoo's and keys come in I'm thinking of some super-hero type theme, (can't say why though?)

'C'n'c-s mithering' and 'Container Drivers' contain some breath-taking rants both hilarious and spiteful. I too have a wee gap between the songs and I have to wonder if the supposed, future re-release will address this as it does spoil the effect. Whereas 'Totally Wired' was a let down, 'The NWRA' delivers, although I miss the live 'CH-CH-CHOWS', the preamble concerning 'English Scheme' more than makes up for that. Even funnier is the moment where a guitar solo is started and M.E.S puts his foot down, talking over the top, and the solo just stops. You just can't help feeling sorry for whoever erred.

So, as per usual, another bloody good Fall album. Now if only I could find Levitate. Pah!

See you mate. (David Wells)
See you mate yeah see you mate
See you mate yeah see you mate
See you mate yeah see you mate
See you mate yeah see you mate
See you mate yeah see you mate
See you mate yeah see you mate

In terms of pure contempt this has to be the finest song in the whole wide world of rock and roll. Lydon managed to come close-ish on the first Public Image album.

Geez still have the original vinyl (hey kids that's how records used to be made before these new fangled CD stuff) and Fall work always sounds better with that scratch and hiss. New face in hell - sounds like an old council estate I used to live in in Lewisham London where you know you can trust no one. Container Drivers will always remind me of a container terminal (yes really!) where I used to work - there were always lots of drivers sitting around at the caravan greasy spoon emporium (trust me you need know no more). English scheme and Impressions of J Temperance another two tracks that enjoy the rotating honour with about 30 more of being my favourite ever Fall tracks. WMC Blob59 enjoys the opposite.

See you mates....
Great one here. I have to agree that this is 'the beginning of the Fall as we know them'. Dragnet lacked the focus and this is far superior (not that Dragnet doesn't have its moments). This album often gets slated for its more lyric centred approach but I don't think it is too much so. Riffs are simpler but very clever and creative as well as memorable. Think I'll go track by track:

PAY YOUR RATES - Not the song I would want to initiate anyone into the Fall with but it is awesome. The tempo changes make it an energetic start.

ENGLISH SCHEME - Lacking musically but funny lyrics: 'the clever ones tend to emigrate-ah , a-like your psychotic big brother who left home-ah'.

NEW FACE IN HELL - Hilarious and catchy with great vocal delivery. Funny story.

C' n C' - Awesome rant with that hypnotic riff, dealing with all sorts. Any Fall fan must surely love this.

CONTAINER DRIVERS - Inferior to Peel session version due to MES' weak vocals but still catchy rockabilly. Cool percussion.

IMPRESSION OF J TEMPERANCE - Goes on a bit too long but still a brilliant ending.

IN THE PARK - Cynical and very catchy.

WMC BLOB - I don't mind this actually, I like the chant and the stupid noises but it doesn't count for a song.

GRAMME FRIDAY - Dark compared to rest of album but great bassline.

NWRA - One of the Fall's best looong tracks. Bizzare lyrics about the North rising up as I'm sure many have appreciated. Musically fun too. 'Shift'.

Then there's the bonus tracks: How I Wrote Elastic Man and Totally Wired singles.

I think I probably nip-picked a bit too much and should stop mithering. Easy 9.
Grotesque was another college favorite for me. "New Face in Hell" and "C'n'C's Mithering" are alone worth the price of the album, but if you need more convincing, witness "Pay Your Rates" and the devastating "Impression of J. Temperance" (one night 8 years ago when I was drunk I wrote and recorded an original song on my 4-track that was directly inspired by this song; the next morning it terrified me so much I couldn't listen to it for months.)
I love this album, it drives my girlfriend insane. I specially like “Totally Wired” and ”In the Park”. Tons of fun.

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Slates EP - Rough Trade 1981.
Rating = 9

Six more fantastic songs on a really cool-looking 10" ep. Like those on Grotesque, these songs are both experimental and Country/Northern, but "Leave The Capitol" is something else entirely; while the noisy guitar attack "Prole Art Threat," the rockabilly "Fit And Working Again" and "Slates, Slags, Etc.," and the strangely dark "Middle Mass" and "An Older Lover Etc." push the current Fall interests a little further, "Leave The Capitol" points towards the band's future, presenting them as a catchy and creative guitar pop band. Later classics like "C.R.E.E.P.," "Cruisers Creek," and "15 Ways" can be traced back directly to this number; The Fall at their most normal and accessible yet. Good stuff. Actually, this whole thing is great. If it were a full album, it would probably be their best one. And, oooh, if it had been a double album, I mean, shooo! And oh! A box set! Well, I don't know! Hell, imagine if this had been a 5000-page novel! It would have been a FANTASTIC 5000-page novel!!!!
Reader Comments
Slates is, in fact the best Fall ever, and being on a ten inch record reinforces this rather than negating it!!!!
"Slates, Slags, Etc." is the most amazing piece of droning chugging noise that I can remember. I love it. It makes the Stooges & the Velvets sound delicate. "Middle Mass" is a great piece as well and "An Older Lover" is brilliantly crafted and strangely poetic. "Leave the Capital" is a good one too. (Kevin E.)
When I consider my favorite songs by The Fall I always include all 6 tracks of the Slates ep. Not necessarily the first six components of the top ten but certainly, without a moment of doubt, the top two songs belong to this release. "Slates, Slags, Etc." is the best Fall song recorded thus far as well as the best song of the early 1980s. "Middle Mass" is the foundation for all of their early work. 33% of Slates is absolutely perfect no matter the perspective taken on the music and the era. A recording like this is actually rather frightening; if I use this to ascertain the depth of quality of their subsequent releases, most of The Fall stock pales. (Christian Durrett)
Leave the capitol!!! Exit this Roman shell!!!!! heee heee heee heee

the last sounds are not in the official lyrics just me laughing to my self-faaaa but not out loud. internally-yaaa. but not really--- cause it's not funny-yaaa. cause mark doesn't do that-taaa.

damn. great EP. I couldn't order it anywhere. outta stock always. then I was on the fall message boards. and some guy sent me a perfect bootleg copy of it for free. complete with perfectly copied inserts. . . tsaaa. who say fall fans aren't assholes. (but actually other peeps on the list could be. dissing america was the last straw those *&$@!. I learned about 9/11 while checking the fall-list )

damn this ones great. especially when coupled with a part of america therein. SLATES is fantastic. but then I ponder. . . if you chose the best 6 tracks off any of their albums and called them an EP they'd almost all be as much a 10 as this one. well poops. it is frighteningly. these songs are a revalation. not that I won't bother to fill the few remaining holes in my collection. as much as I like washing my hands 2398 times a day.

I guess I might agree this is the fall at their most normal and accessible. if you're a damn psycho. which all fall fans are. cause we're smarter than you dum dum heads.

"mark smith used to work for me. back in manchester back in 1983. stole all his ideas from me, now I'll steal them right back again from him again" -- stephen malkmus, Pavement bootleg (truly) damn that's funny hee hee
The best Fall disc, at least as far as I can tell. Mark just kicks ass all over this thing, vocally and lyrically. Get it, get it, get it.
I have long called this the best EP of all time, and I don't even own it. But in this world of compilations, I've managed to separately amass the entire contents of this fun little EP, pieced together from other releases, The more I age and decay, the more I understand the salient truth that this represents the apex of the Fall's most trailblazing period. There's only six songs, but each of them is an institution unto itself - a veritable pillar of tastiness upon which the Fall always strove to build upon. One of them is named "Prole Art Threat". Three words that neatly summarize the Fall agenda, if you think about it.

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Legendary Chaos Tape - Scout 1995.
Rating = 8

A neat live show from 1980. The mix is as good as any of their studio work at the time, and they seem really spirited. Still, they don't add a whole lot to the songs. Hear 'em studio, hear 'em live - they're great either way, but you'd probably be better off getting Totale's Turns 'cause it's got them neat bonus tracks.
Reader Comments (Michael Fotis)
this recording sucks sucks sucks. mark seems to be in rare form. but the band, particularly scanlon i'm pretty sure, butcher every song.
Make no mistake: this is a top-of-the-line live recording. For a bootleg, it sounds incredible. And the song selection is impeccable, drawing heavily from "Slates", the finest EP of all time, and Grotesque (After the Gramme), their best early record.

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Hex Enduction Hour - Kamera 1982.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #4 - Lots of folks consider this to be their best album. In fact, I'm told it was supposed to be their last album. Lucky for me, it wasn't. This is the band at their most epic. Lots of long songs (including "Winter," a one-chord wonder that is spread across both sides of the record) show The Fall pushing their loose, minimalist style even further. The guitar plays whatever - notes, chords, it doesn't matter. There are TWO drummers playing together in a spirit of peace and harmony, and the songs, although perhaps the least accessible they'd ever done, are very interesting. Lots of space and time, and very little rockabilly and carnival punk.

So what's on it? Well,"Hip Priest" is the classic (boy, it's a weird one), "Who Makes The Nazis?" has a harmonics-only bass line (unheard of since Yes's "The Fish!"), and "Mere Pseud Mag Ed" is another noisy guitar attack (which I'm 99% sure contains the lines "Heard the Ramones in '81/There was a Spanish guitar".....hmmm. I understand his disgust with Pleasant Dreams, but I don't think there's a Spanish guitar on there... hmmm. But then again, who can tell what the hell Mark is actually talking about?). A real interesting record. Or "really," to be grammatically correct. "Real," in and of itself, isn't much of an adverb, but I kind of enjoy it. "Kind of" is a dumb phrase, too, but enjoyable. Even "The Classical," which has the chords of a generic hard rock song, is performed in such a strange, fresh, and tribal manner, you don't even notice how basic the melody is. My only problem with the record is that, unlike those on Grotesque, this particular batch of songs, I think, could have used a little bit more practice. In fact, I've heard live renditions of these songs that sound much more professional than the versions on this album. Plus "Winter" doesn't hold up to repeated listens too well, and "And This Day" is a VU-style trainwreck. Still, a true Fall classic, they say.

Reader Comments
Indeed, Fall songs of this period were much better once taken out on the road and practiced. The definitive version of "Winter" is on A Part of America, Therein which you rightly call their best live album ever. It is in fact possibly my favorite Fall record of all time making it quite possibly my favorite record of all time.

Coupled with the new CD release of In A Hole (the Fall at their most playful not to mention drunk), A Part of America, Therein constitutes great, live Fall at a simpler time for them. (Dave Weigel)
This album, to quote the immortal Shakespeare, is the shit of all shits. Hex Enduction Hour was only about the sixth Fall album I heard, but in my mind this is the quintessential Fall sound. Post-punk and pre-Brix. Four minute songs plus the occasional epic--just like a "real" (i.e. popular) album! More catchy bass and guitar lines than a Foghat jam. And Mark makes no fucking sense whatsoever.

Track-by-track, she wondered? Oui, said the Belgian. "The Classical" is as repetitive and clangy as any other Fall tune, but somehow it rocks. Must be because of those "hard rock" chords Prindle mentioned. "Jawbone..." reminds me of Roy Orbison in that there are so many cool parts, you can't tell where the verses and choruses are. "Hip Priest" is one of the best songs in human history. "Fortress/Dark Park" starts with a sample of "Da Da Da", then launches into a cool prog-rock riff before mutating into a Mark Smith soliloquy and droning synth, all while some weird shit goes on in the background. In other words, the Low Maintenence Perennials.

Am I still going over the album track-by-track? Oh, what's the point? Okay, here's my point--every song rules. "Mere Pseud Mag. Ed"? It rules. "Just Step S'ways"? Kicks arse. "Winter"? Awesome. Both parts. I'll admit, "And this Day" is somewhat less amazing than Our Lord Jesus Christ (which is to say, not that good in comparison to every other song on the album, and it's too long. I'm being frustratingly obtuse, I'm sorry.) But it's still the best Fall album ever. In my opinion. Which doesn't really change anything, because you're wrong.
Parts of the album drift, but it's an hour long, and by my count posesses, let's see ... 40 - 45 minutes of complete brilliance. The 2-drummer lineup kicks majorly and adds a great deal to the sound. Both Beefheart & Pere Ubu worked with 2 drummers, and in neither case did it work as impressively as with The Fall, where the music sounded natural and powerful. Highlights to me are "The Classical" (despite the bad-taste lyrics - the music is amazing), "Winter", "Deer Park", and "Just Step Sideways". (Kevin E.)
The best pre-Brix record for innumerable good reasons. Every song on here is just great; challenging, suffocating at times, and exceptionally involving. Involving... on a rare occasion does a song both require work to enjoy and also posses the quality to allow the listener to thoroughly enjoy the work. The album is very inspired; an untouched balance of inventive music and rediscovered elements of punk. Peter Buck described one particular R.E.M. song as "simultaneously as loose and as tight as anything we've recorded." Mark Smith could take Buck's words and apply them to the entirety of Hex Enduction Hour. Greatness.
My fave Fall record... based mainly on the first half. Lets put it this way: every time I feel I can't listen to any more Fall-- you know, when you can't force yourself to listen to "Who Makes the Nazis?" simply for being so Fall-ishly obtuse-- I turn back to this album. I think it owes a lot to Leckie's production-- this is the album they nearly made with Perverted by Language. This is the album you listen to at 4am, drunk and in need of something that's loud AND intellectual AND puts fucking chills up your spine. I point, specifically, to "Elves". Yeah, they ripped off the Stooges, but you can't hold it against them-- this is actually light-years better. If only the Fall still sounded this pissed-off... Then you have side 2, which does falter a bit, but I do agree with the common wisdom that says "Disney's" is a downright lovely tune. The other stuff on side 2 isn't bad by any means, it just pales in comparison to side 1. Anyway, this really is the Fall at the height of their powers. (Zach English)
This album is a fucking killer. WHY, jesus christ, has the song "Iceland" not been mentioned?! This is one of the top five pieces the Fall ever recorded, if ya ask chilly and foreign and full of great imagery, it takes the Can influence to its logical pinnacle. Oh, and "The Classical" is far from generic hard rock; I love how the guitar plays the same melody that Mark sings ("I've never felt better in myyyyy liiiiife") over and over again. "Winter" has one of the fucking scariest bass lines I've ever encountered, not to mention the image of a pope's hat with a green fuzz skull and crossbones...jeez, Mark can get pretty far out there. I still don't like this one quite as much as This Nation's Saving Grace, but I'll snub my nose at the Prindle rule and give both albums ten ratings. (Alan Jones)
The song Hip Preist is used and credited in the film Silence of the Lambs. It's the song the psycho bloke listens to as he performs some ritual or other in front of a mirror.
Wow! Can you say masterpiece, well I can say hex enducation hour! believe me it is a great album, from the clang of "the classical" to the weird atmosphere and minimalist guitar dynamics of "hip priest" to the James Brown on acid feel of "winter" the falls hex enducation hour always gives a poetic punch of post-punk! I mean try to find a bad song you can't, they all have something about them that makes me go wild! Also this album has a feeling of one take spontaneity and endless work. 9/10 (Alan Jones)
Sorry to dissapoint you but the lyrics to Mere Pseud Mag Ed are not "Heard the Ramones in '81/There was a Spanish guitar" but "Had a beard that was wierd some time ago/And in 1981 bought a Spanish guitar". It's much clearer on the live version. (Simon Burgess)
yeah, but the lyrics are different on every version. The 'Hip Preist & Kamerads' one goes 'Heard Kraftwerk in '81/Had a WASP synthesiser'. Mark quoted the 'Hex...' one right as far as I know. (Mark and Joanna)
Only picked up the tape (2nd Hand) a few days ago, I listened to it in the car today X3, WWOOOOOOHHHH!! What !!! Why have I wasted all this time!!!! It's wicked, Ps I'm a beginner only 40 and,my first album was The wonderful....

Apologies for waiting so late..........since i first heard the Fall in 80 I've still yet to meet another fall Fan.Now How bad is that . The next Album should be called 'Lessons in Deprivation" and that would leave me Vindicated. I'm off for a Milo...... (Tom Joyce)
It is a scientifically proven fact(*) that, despite being basically normal, most human beings WILL have an allergic-type psychotic, unexplainable reaction to some particular sort of sensory experiences. This has to do with the fact that human beings in their formative stages do not have access to all of the imaginable types of sensory stimuli existing in the world, and because of this a lot of your sense receptor functions will remain in an infantile stage, all together forming an undeveloped, forgotten dormant mess in the darkest recesses of your mind. For some reason, certain specific smells or noises are connected with this mess, and once you are subjected to them, you suddenly start apprehending the world of senses around you through these infantile, undeveloped channels. Emotionally this means a sense of bewilderment and great discomfort for which you can find no explanation.

It so happens that these specific sensory stimuli in my case are the goddamn shitty horrible tuneless fucking piece of crap songs on this album. More specifically, the parts of them that are played by a Mr. Steve Hanley, who is credited on for "horrible plinky toneless bass". And don't you start suspecting that I wrote the above long paragraph just to pull your leg - that shitty, insanely hyper-active arhythmical bass-playing REALLY REALLY makes my head feel sort of swimmy, and my ears start to feel as if somebody's stuck a load of cotton wool in them. It's horrible - it sounds like he's sawed off the low end of his bass and has decided to use it as a substitute for harpsichord (the old type of piano that sounds all the notes in the same volume). And what is worst of all is that it's virtually the only instrument besides drums that you'll actually get to hear - they should've called it "Pre-Traumatic Experience" by Steve Hanley feat. Mark E. Smith.

And the songs are awful as well. Especially "Who makes the nazis?", which has, as Prindle fairly notes, a harmonics-only bassline (too-tee-too-tee-tatatatatarat) and is the most horrible song ever recorded. It's just a guy shouting something over a bunch of poorly-improvised twinklery, and the guy's not even shouting at the musicians (like I would be), he's just shouting for shouting's sake. This song is also closely approached in its awfulness by "the Classical" and "Jawbone and the air-rifle", which have some cool stuff in them but end up with the most ridiculously amateurish "refrains" ever heard this side of "Happy birthday to you".

I guess the horrible artificial-sounding rhythms, the near-total absence of any guitar and the awful awful riffs and melodies (played on bass guitar) are due to misguided conceptions of "avantgarde" and "experimental" rather than just to plain sloppiness and incompetence, but the result is basically the same. Horrible. The only enjoyable songs are "just step sideways" (which has an actual riff and is played on guitar) and the spoken-word-gone-wrong "hip priest". And while that song may be ground-breaking and highly influential, it's STILL a billion times less interesting and powerful than it's sequel, "big new prinz", which, not surprisingly, doesn't appear on this horrible horrible album.

(*) No it isn't. (Ian Galley)
Hee hee,

Mr Brain of J, you are a funny sod; and to the kids who have a hard time finding this, there is an invention called the 'internet'. Here you can track down and buy (whilst transmitting your card details to every pirate, porn merchant and castrated ox) almost anything bar the pot of gold at end of t'rainbow (those leprecorns aren't impressed by commerce, or kabuki.) Check it out!! It's well worth it as this is a fun album.

I think you must have the vinyl edition as there is no mention of the great 'I'm into CB' (which can updated to cover this latest electronic fad, the 'Internet'... I ask you! People with nothing better to do then create a pathetic pseudonym, or 'handle', and spend endless nights transmitting utter shite to all their brethren. Diseased ridden scum. No better than plague rats.)

Excuse me,

Album... 7/10.
Mr Brain of J, I thoroughly recommended a band from the US called Bon Jovi, they have great guitar riffs, solid musical structures, tuneful melodies and lyrics that actually mean something. They are all competent musicians and also have a wide ranging fanbase. Having discovered the professional sheen of their records I, for one will never listen to The Fall again.
Hex Enduction Hour is such a huge enterprise, what with both its length (one hour! in 1982!) and it's considerable reputation, that it sounds like an intimidating behemoth to this very day. I myself can't look my CD player in the face directly which I'm playing it. It's that revered. But it does have its faults. "And This Day".... what is up with that song? Was it really necessary, much less at 10 minutes long? Apart from that, it pretty much rules, though "Who Makes the Nazis?" drags a little. "The Classical" is in my top 5 Fall songs ever, and "Hip Priest" and "Mere Pseud Mag Ed" are in my top 10. "Jawbone and the Air Rifle" is a neat song too, with interesting lyrics. I agree with the 9/10, Mark. Good rating!
Although I don’t consider myself a Fall fan I do actually like them pretty much. I own only 4 of there 12,000,1229,129,893,474 cd’s (Grotesque, Hex End. Hour, This Nations Saving Grace & Extricate) Grotesque was awesome, This Nations Saving Grace Rules, Extricate is very entertaining but Hex Enduction Hour does not convince me at all. I bought it because of its reputation as being one of the essential Fall albums, but to me this is just sloppy. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the songs are bad, it’s just that I find the performances to be very poor, to the point where I just can’t concentrate on the songs much less enjoy them. I know that the Fall like to challenge listeners by making their albums sound as peculiar as possible, but c’mon guys, this is ugly, and I’m not talking Grotesque (After the Gramme) ugly, I’m talking about we-didn’t- even- rehearse- to- make- this- album- so- we- can’t- possibly- sound- tight ugly. But that’s just me.
I pretty much only listen to Winter.

This is the first Fall album I've ever heard let alone owned and I don't know if I've started into the right place. I would give this a 6, on your scale, for *now* but it must be noted that I've really really grown to like a lot of albums that left me underwhelmed at first ("Unknown Pleasures," "Radio City," "Pleased To Meet Me," "Terror Twilight.") So take this commentary with a small bag of salt.

After listening through the whole thing about seven or eight times I'd have to say that my general impression of the Fall is that I like Mark E. Smith's persona and his vocal style and his lyrics (when I can hear them...I can barely hear anything on "Jawbone And The Air Rifle"), but am very unsure about the repetitive, often monochrome backing music. A lot of it seems really colorless and, well, repetitive.....I don't know why stuff like "And This Day," even though Smith gives it vocal hooks (and gives just about every song a redeeming vocal hook or funny stray line), has to drag on for 10:21. Now to say something positive. That first song, "The Classical"? That's like exactly what I want from The Fall. That song kicked my ass to Neptune. The moment that second guitar comes in after Smith goes "hey there, fuckface!" is fucking anthemic postpunk...and of course there's the hilarious vocals. I still like Pavement's "Conduit For Sale!" which draws on "The Classical"'s rhythm pretty obviously, but the Fall song now annihilates it IMO... I also have to hand it to "Hip Priest," which sounds very strangely effective (and funny) while I'm waiting in traffic. There's also "Who Makes The Nazis?' and "Just Step S'Ways." Those are good. The atmospheric stuff like "Iceland" and "Winter" sound appropriate for their titles (and seem to have inspired some of Pavement's writing again during the "Watery, Domestic" period...think of stuff like "Greenlander" hmmmm hmmmmmm)

I'm a bit anal about getting bonus tracks and stuff, and this was a birthday present and I asked for the 2-disc reissue. Some pretty good explanatory liner notes in there, albeit spiked with the usual annoying kiss-ass writing that accompanies a lot of reissues, although not nearly as bad as, say, the liner notes to the reissue of "Are You Experienced?"--and that's, you know, ARE YOU EXPERIENCED, an album you'd think would *deserve* kiss-ass liner notes. I really only listened through the second disc of the reissue maybe's got "I'm Into C. B." and a bunch of live tracks, maybe the live version of "Deer Park" is a little better than the studio.

I am NOT giving up on the Fall though--next, I think I want "This Nation's Saving Grace." One album surely can't be enough to form an opinion on a band with as grotesque and sprawling a discography as this, and of course it's only going to get bigger as long as Mark E. Smith's ugly toothy old grimace draws breath (do a Google Image search for him, and get a load of that bitter-beer-face photo of him smiling!)
I was just watching Silence of the Lambs, and for the first time noticed that “hip priest” is playing in the background in a scene near the end. I wonder how the heck that happened.

With shit like this I really ought to have a blog.
It took me forever to get into "Hex Enduction Hour," but I feel it was worth the wait. But I should make clear that this SHOULD NOT under any circumstances be your FIRST The Fall album. This is an extremely inaccessible and difficult album, even though it's good.

The production is the best The Fall had ever had at this point in their history, but there are still problems with it; Mark E. Smith's voice is almost never in the front of the mix, instead taking up residence in the middle of the mix, so that you have to strain to hear what he's saying. Also, the instruments mostly sit together in an undifferentiated mass sonically; I feel as if I had to dig to hear the individual parts and riffs, which I never had to do with a Fall album before. On first listen, this album seems like an hour-long, blaring mass of vaguely rock-related sound arbitrarily broken up into eleven tracks, an impression which isn't helped by the arbitrary splitting of "Winter" into two halves. It took me at least three to five listens to determine that "Mere Pseud Mag. Ed." actually had a riff (and a good one). Maybe part of the problem is that there are two drummers, Karl Burns and Paul Hanley, in the band now, and the vastly increased rhythmic complexity also has the unfortunate effect of confusing and cluttering the sound on first listen. Or maybe it also has to do with the fact that Craig Scanlon and Marc Riley's guitars sound like they're falling apart on almost every track here. They often don't sound like they're very in tune with each other or bassist Steve Hanley.

But there are some amazing songs on here, chief among them "The Classical," which sounds like a late '70's punk band crossbreeding their impressions of Led Zeppelin and Can and is simply pure magic. It's a total release when Smith finally sings "I've never felt better in my life", and by that time I am usually boogieing around to the tribal drum riffing madness. A genius opener, and nothing else here really comes close to that kind of power, although "Hip Priest," with it's inimitably muffled beat, incomprehensibly lyrical Smith vocal and bizarre use of dynamics, is namechecked as the true classic here for good reason. "Who Makes The Nazis?" stands supreme as an unparalleled WTF moment in the Fall's discography, and it's hilariously rubbery, all-harmonic bass line contrasts brilliantly with Smith's strange explanations of what, exactly, makes the Nazis and the straight-out-of-"Freak Out!" glue-sniffing, retarded chain gang backing grunts. "Iceland/Island" is also a fascinatingly atmospheric, experimental piece, with beautifully repetitive piano from Scanlon, uncredited banjo from Marc Riley and Smith's tapes of the Icelandic winds howling outside his hotel window, all coming together as a gamble that really pays off. Finally, both halves of the appropriately icy "Winter" are as effectively chilling and experimental as the Fall ever got, which is really saying something. The effective dynamic buildup here is a textbook example of gripping minimalism in rock, and Marc Riley's frozen fairground organ really makes the song come alive.

Some songs on here indicate an unfortunate tendency for self-indulgence that hadn't really shown up before on the band's records, though. "And This Day" - which ends the record - is a cacaphonous, ear-splitting ten minute frenzy that shouldn't have made it to vinyl, coming off like an audaciously incompetent, fifth-rate "Sister Ray" imitation. There was no need to put "Fortress" on the record, much less perform it as an unseparated intro to "Deer Park," which doesn't even sound halfway related to the damn song, and "Just Step S'ways" feels too thrown together for my tastes.

Overall, I'd give it a B plus, because the record is exhausting and offputting, but unlike some other albums I know of (like "Trout Mask Replica"), that doesn't mean that it's avant-garde tendencies fully pay off. I hope I've fully impressed upon you that "And This Day" really, really sucks. Still, though, any record with songs as thrilling as "The Classical" and "Hip Priest" on it deserves at least a B rating.
This was my first Fall record, and (cliché alert!) it practically changed my life, together with "Trout Mask Replica" and SY's "Sister". When I bought this record about a year or two ago, I wasn't expecting much of it. My first listen didn't trigger any excitement, but still there was a certain degree of respect for the mighty Fall. My first conclusion: okay record, but not as great as people told me. Boy, was I wrong! A month later I lived by this album, and though I now feel that I've overrated it a bit in those days, I still think it's up there with all those other great Fall records.

So what have we got here? Well, up to "Who Makes The Nazi's?" an ace record with not a single bad song: catchy (in Fall terms) "The Classical" and the equally great rocker "Jawbone and the Air Rifle", the freaky tension filled "Hip Priest", the double home run "Fortress/Deer Park", the fucking tight badass killer song "Mere Pseud Mag. Ed" (one of the best Fall songs ever, hands down), the laidback "Winter", "Just Step Sideways" with that awesome guitar riff and the bass-driven "Who Makes The Nazi's?" (with MES muttering "Remember when I used to follow you home from school babe? Before I got picked up for paedophelia"; that line sends shivers down my spine). But then there's the boring "Iceland" (yawn!) and the repetitive "And This Day", which could have easily been reduced to half of its running time. Both tracks kind of blow, but at least they're no "Edinburgh Man", eh?

My rating? A low 9 would be justified, looking back, but still a 9. Still a favourite here, this "Hex Enduction Hour".
I did it. I finally did it. I bought all 28 (or so) official Fall LPs (depending whether you think Slates and Seminal: Live count as albums too - I do on both counts). So in the spirit of this, I may as well write my thoughts on each one.

All things considered, I'd say this is the best Fall record. It contains at least 20 or so moments where my jaw just hits the floor and I think 'maaaaaaaan'. How did they do all that? Reading interviews from the band around the time, they make themselves sound like a bunch of northern monkeys in the vein of Oasis, but the music just sounds like it's from another world entirely. 'The Classical' is scabrous, witty and it really rocks out. 'Jawbone...' has a lot of parts, all of which completely rule - the second, extended slowdown with the lyrics "The villagers dance round pre-fabs and laugh through twisted mouths" is particularly brilliant.

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Live From The Vaults: Glasgow 1981 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 8

Rare song alert! BEEP BEEP BEEP! It's only two minutes long but BEEP BEEP BEEP! It's called "Blob 59," but it doesn't sound at all like "W.M.C. Blob 59"! BEEP BEEP BEEP! It's a speedy bouncy throwarounder (?) that ends with Mark Smith informing the sound man, "Yeah, it'd be a good idea if you turn the P.A. on!" and singing about the "Lie Dream Of Wigham Soul." These are all British things, and wonderful to behold.

"Can you turn the monitors on, please?" Mark reiterates upon completing a ludicrously overmodulated CHOPPACHOPPACHOPPACHOPPA recording of "Prole Art Threat." Then the drummer begins "Totally Wired" at too fast a clip and must slow down for a GREAT, UNIQUE take on the track built around an entirely new, darker rhythm guitar part. But look at me, focusing on the trees again and missing the entire forest.

The forest is a live show supposedly performed on February 23rd, 1981 and featuring 5 Slates tracks (all except "Leave The Capitol"), "Blob 59" and one song each from Grotesque, Hex Enduction Hour, Dragnet and Palace Of Swords Reversed. The instruments (two guitars, organ, drums, bass) are all in tune for a G.D. change, and the bootleg recording, though monophonic, is at least not G.D. muffled (although the bass is way too G.D. quiet during a few key moments -- particularly "Fit And Working Again," a song entirely built upon the G.D. bass riff, for Jeepers' Christ!). I'm also not convinced that this disc includes the full show; it's only 37 minutes, and it usually takes Mark Smith that long just to realize he's inside a building.

But enough about the G.D. forest. Who am I, Ronald Reagan, a national hero who dedicated his presidency to the preservation of our planet's natural resources? F*kk no! I'm Al Gore and I wipe my ass with squirrels! I keep hundreds of them in a bucket next to my toilet! And you know my wife Tipper? She melts Dead Kennedys albums in the toaster-oven and suffocates baby penguins with the scorching gooey vinyl!

Track eight's title should read "English Scheme," not "English Scene." And "Slates, Slags etc." brings the set to a dull stop for 7 minutes right near the end. But on the bright side, Mark talks funny gibberish in the middle of "Printhead." He's imitating a speed freak! And by "imitating," I of course mean "a blank space where there is no word."

Lord be willing, we'll one day have access to a sub-par recording of every single concert ever performed by The Fall. So keep your fingers crossed and your crosses fingered! (if your cross has a vaginer) In the meanthyme, you may want to buy this one just for "Blob 59" and the superior version of "Totally Wired," which makes the studio version sound like a pile of sticks meant for burning.

A VERY HAPPY pile of sticks meant for burning, in fact.

Make that a STRANGE, VERY HAPPY pile of sticks meant for burning!

Mr. Witty
Homophobia Town

P.S. Hey, this is Al Gore again! I love spotted owls so much that I make my OWN! With GUNPOWDER and BULLETS! Also, Knut The Bear is ugly! So UGLY!!!

P.P.S. God bless Ronald Reagan and the charitable work he conducted on behalf of our nation's endangered species. Remember that time he nursed a beached whale back to health all by himself, in the bathtub of the White House? God bless his spirit and soul.

P.P.P.S. Gandhi used to urinate in a plastic bag and throw it at cars.

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A Part Of America Therein, 1981 - Cottage 1982.
Rating = 9

Possibly their best live album ever! "An Older Lover" is played slower, becoming even eerier than the original was, "The N.W.R.A." sounds more urgent (and practiced) than in its studio version, and "Deer Park" pumps the keyboard volume past the ear-splitting police alarm point, giving the song a sort of gospel-esque power that its studio version sorely lacked. The rest sound great, too - plus you get to hear "Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul," a wonderfully jaunty circus song that was, to this point, available only as a single (I think). If you want a live Fall album, get this one. I think the CD includes the entire Slates ep, so that'd be a pretty great purchase. Imagine! A 5000-PAGE NOVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!! AWWWW, MAN, THAT'D BE SOMETHING!!!!!!!!
Reader Comments (Kevin E.)
Live albums tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth. This is probably so because I tend to correlate the live album with Cheap Trick, They Might Be Giants, and other completely worthless musical outfits that find it absolutely imperative to repackage their greatest hits as an act of restitution. The Fall's A Part Of America Therein, however, is a different product completely. It is exceedingly difficult to find copies of "Totally Wired" and other great early material and, presumably, the live format suits these tunes very well. Indeed, the only copy of "Totally Wired" I have found has been the one version on A Part Of America Therein. In addition, the recording closes with a version of "Winter" that is far superior to the original. The entire recording, including the sub-par version of "An Older Lover", is incredibly good. (John Coan)
A Part of America Therein is rubbish and sounds like it was recorded in a The Twenty Seven Points instead for a really fresh, tight sound from the greatest British band ever on top form.
I was lucky enough to see the original Kurious Oranj stage show and I can assure you the combination of Michael Clark's ballet troupe and the Fall's music worked brilliantly (the Fall were onstage throughout, with the dancers). Good album too. (Ian Galley)
A great live album. Of course it sounds nasty, but that's the appeal isn't it?

Once again 7/10. The N.W.R.A sounds pretty much like the situation today to me. There's an in built insecurity in us northern folk that makes us believe we're somehow 'better' than those soft southern ponces. Twaddle. Too many people, cowards and criminals AND government crap, when all it takes is A HARD SLAP. Thinking forward this is a kind of twin to the epic Birmingham school of business school with kazoos! Keep breaking down those barriers lads, (is there an EU kazoo mountain? Or did they all get shipped off to poor countries? Or crack pipe retrofit? I don't fucking care.)

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Live From The Vaults: Alter Bahnhof, Hof, Germany - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 9

So here's something I had entirely forgotten about until my wife mentioned it tonight. And this is absolutely real, so feel free to tell people, "Well, I know a guy who (so and so)..." because I'm not making it up. If I were to make something up, it would be much more interesting than this, I assure you. But it's still fucking INSANE and I can't believe I forgot about it. Here it is.

About eight years ago, when my wife and I were living in a rental apartment on 81st Street (as opposed to the Buys-A-Lot condo on 91st Steetr), we had a three-bulbed lamp with three bulbs - one was white, one red and one green. This may amaze you, but we only ever used the white one. So one morning I was lying in bed thinking about things that we humans don't understand, and I looked at the (off) lamp, and thought to myself, "If there is a God, make the red light turn on RIGHT NOW." Nothing happened, of course. What am I, a dumbass? So then I thought, "Okay, if there are GHOSTS, then make the red light turn on right now." Again, obviously, nothing. It was a Fool's Paradise. So I got up, walked to the men's room, began shaving or brushing my teeth or whatever, then my wife finished up in wherever hell she was (probably showering, the cunt), and she walked in the other room, where we slept. Here's where I have to skip a paragraph it's so fuckin' nuts.

This is what I hear from the other room, in my wife's voice: "Who turned the red light on?"


It was on. Where can I go from there? I've no clue what it means, or why. But I'm not lying. How on Earth could I have forgotten about that until my wife reminded me 2nite? Man, brains are weird. Because that really happened. Yet I somehow found it less important to remember than, "Hay, the Paul Revere and the Raiders song 'Undecided Man' is on the The Spirit Of '67 LP."

"Also, tits give you a boner."

"(And vice-versa.)"

This Fall CD is live, recorded God Knows When God Knows Where for God Knows What Reason. It is muddy/murky like an old audience mono recording, but the set list that night was so unbelievably fantastic that the resultant CD rules ass-shit anyway. Look at this - "How I Wrote Elastic Man," "Fortress," "Totally Wired," "An Older Lover," "No Xmas For John Quays," "Your Heart Out," "Prole Art Threat," many many others IT RULES!!! I LOVE THE FALL!!!

Of key interest to you as a music purchaser, this double-CD features the FIRST EVER OFFICIAL RECORDING of the long-lost Fall live-only track "Session Musician" (obviously influenced by the similar Kinks track). Because I'm so hep, I've been aware of this song for a few years, in my coolness, but finally it's available on CD so everyone can hear how mediocre it is. It's LONG, it has a 50sy drumbeat, it hasan up-down up-down from normal change to one-higher ugly change. Bouncy rat-a-tta-tat chorus. The band doesn't seem to know when the changes are! I wish I could understand a word he says! At 45:30, it starts sounding a bit like an out-of-tune "C. Smithering" - bouncy 4/4 bass/guitar/keyboard.. Honestly not a great song, but it's RARE, it's worth hearing, and Here it is! tThis part slows down... KAZOO! Gets really dull as it goes, very repetitiveieve without being terribly catchy (8:30 total). But they STILL haven't released "Hey, Marc Riley!" so I'm still the coolest, like Alice Cooper on that one album.

The coolest thing about this double-CD is that the background vocals and Mark's vocals kinda merge into one so every song is sort of like "Hey, a vocal melody! Oh wait, no he's just talking. Hey, listen to that! Catchy! Oh wait, he's just squealing. Hey, nice!" etc. And sometimes the guitar disappears but usually you can hear every instrument. Isn't it nuts that you can't hear the guitar for the first few minutes of "The NWRA"? We all said so.

In conclusion, ghosts are real, and so is God. But not that stupid ass-fucking Christian one with the shit all over his tits.

Also, I love you. Stop sending me hatemail about my shitty Gram Parsons reviews.

Reader Comments
I've never heard that particular version of "Session Musician", but there was a version of it on the "Hex Enduction Hour" bonus tracks that sounds the opposite of the one you described. It's probably one of the cleaner and better rehearsed Fall recordings from that era. It has the exact same drum beat as "Hip Priest", though, and the Kazoo breakdown is a bit annoying. Anyway, you've got great site.

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Room To Live - Kamera 1982.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #5 - Another winner! On this one, apparently Mark wanted to get away from the supposed overproduction (or at least over-EFFORT, although I personally don't see it at all) that went into the creation of Hex Enduction Hour by dragging the gang into the studio to throw together some tunes as quickly as possible. To further differentiate this one from those before it, Mark forced certain players to sit out the recordings of certain tracks and kinda had the others go at it without telling them what the songs were supposed to do (or so I read on the Internet somewhere). As a result, a few of these tracks seem disturbingly directionless ("Hard Life In Country" and "Detective Instinct" in particular both shudder along spookily, threatening to go somewhere, but never do). No problem - the songs are still great. They're tighter, less abstract, and more traditionally one-drum-kit-sounding than the Hex tunes, and sort of (in a way) more accessible, I suppose, but no worse for the wear. The poppy scoo "Joker Hysterical Face" and the speedy Mancabilly title track, in fact, rule!!!

The re-release adds both sides of the phenomenal "Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul"/"Fantastic Life" single, but apparently they're available all over the place at this point.

Reader Comments
"Papal Visit" is in fact the best track on RTL and maybe in the top four or five Fall tracks for me.
Certainly not their best, but I think "Joker Hysterical Face" actually IS one of their best, and "Hard Life In Country" is a great chugging low-fi drone. (Dolores Coan)
Room to Live is commonly thought to be the worst Fall album - it's certainly the most self-indulgent, by a long chalk, and pretentious, in the worst sense of the word. Around this time, MES' head started to wander arsewards and this wasn't RECTified until Brix came along. Stop it stop it stoppit...the man wasn't a God, and the Fall recorded some real slop occasionally.....this being, as a whole, the worst example. (Greg Bougopoulos)
A great album indeed, as was the Fall's '80s custom. "Papal Visit" is a piece of crap disguised as a song and you're correct Mark that some of the songs don't have much of a true vision of what they're supposed to be. However, The Fall works very well under these conditions and "Hard Life In Country", among others, are damn good. And what's with the sax in the title track? That's quality my friend. I'll give it an 8.
got this one recently (against the advice of many a fall fan) and loved it straight away. how good is "solicitor in studio"? "marquis cha-cha"? "detective instinct"? and "papal visit" is one of the scariest things ever committed to tape. fantastic record. but then, it's the fall, isn't it.
Aughhh. This album BLOWS.

Seriously, I am appalled at how much of this album is just flat-out awful. After "Hex Enduction Hour," Mark and Co. originally hopped into the studio to just record a single, but - as was the case with "Slates" - Mark and Co. ended up recording more than a single, but supposedly not enough for a full album. (36 minutes is more than enough to count as an album for me, but whatever.) Mark, at the time, referred to it as an "aside" - like a mini-album, or something that really isn't as good as the other albums they'd released so far. He had to have known a fair portion of this was trash.

"Solicitor In Studio," the title track and "Joker Hysterical Face" are alright Fallsongs - nothing to write home about, but okay. "Marquis Cha-Cha" sounds as if it could have been the best thing here, but is just too directionless to make any real impact. The remaining songs are basically amelodic sonic doodles that are uniformly dreadful. "Hard Life In Country," "Detective Instinct," "Papal Visit" - what is this go-nowhere, self-indulgent bullshit? These recordings are so crappy that it boggles the mind. Since the "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul" single is much more widely available on the "Slates" reissue, there's no reason to give this an 8. This is a 6.
Actually only listened to half of this album at the time of writing, but really cannot see this as getting the same grade as the utterly phenomenal previous album. I mean I've always preferred my songs to have some kind of musical progression; like you know verses and choruses. I know that seems like a ridiculous thing too say with the fall. But really, if it sounds like any tone deaf savant with a slightly skewed vision of the world could have written it then It always becomes a little trying; especially when the songs go for catchiness through a complete lack of changes, rather than any tangible melodies. I think the only way to really enjoy this record is to convince yourself that mark e smith is some kind of genius. He's a drunken arsehole, whose considerable talent seems to be overshadowed by a sense of utter superiority, (at times). As much as I love discerning little snippets of his lyrics, (some of which create truly beautiful visions for me at least) he's also more schizophrenic than poet.

First song was really pretty, but I thought the little atonal riff on top of the song was almost unnecessary. Certainly a very self indulgent record; the songs don't seem to be anything more than the result of an interesting world vision, and an interesting work aesthetic, (the falls own weird sci fi, horror movie, working class, non pretentious pretentions, bile on top of more bile). But that's hardly specific to this record; here it seems like Mark e smith was just indulging in this atmosphere without acutally going on to write any decent songs to go along with it. Surely anyone could of come up with most of these songs in a couple of minutes? The Fall have generally done about as well with one riff as anyone could, (new face in hell for example) but I don't get that feeling from most of these songs. It's really nice backgroun music, especially driving music, but I feel that my frist half is utterly tedious to sit down with. Hex enduction hour was like three times better; If I had to assign grades I'd give hex a 9, (which I have actually listened too like a hundred times) while this would hardly be a six. And I'd be more inclined to halve that rather than double it if the second half is just more of the same.

Steven Savale
This is a classic album ,I never understood the stick it got at the time and continues to get .I think it's the last great super-abrasive Fall album ,where the band is a tooled - up anti-music battering ram."Solicitor in Studio" may very well be my favourite Fall track ever , it's got such a demonic ,totalitarian drive with some gleefully discordant moments .Sure some of the tracks are less developed than "Hex" but one thing I've noticed that people don't get is that The Fall are GREAT at being spontaneous in the studio ,and that MES has a spitefully subversive attitude to the recording process.People slag them , but to me tracks like 'Papal Visit" , or "WMC Blob 59" and "Get Me a Taxi !c---!" define MES's brilliance as much as anything else they've done. I love the fact that they pour derison on the idea that studio tracks have to be "produced" and "have time spent on them" etc.I love the fact that "In the Country" and "Detective Instinct" make you think they're going to burst into something else and never do.To me "Joker Hysterical Face" is the perfect image of MES tome ; a cruelly brilliant art sadist and Room To live is the band at their very best .

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Fall In A Hole - Flying Nun 1983.
Rating = 8

Another live album. Good song selection, including the ten-minute "Backdrop," which was never recorded for a studio release. As much as I dislike the idea of live albums, I can't deny that these are all great songs (except "Marquis Cha-Cha," which I've never been terribly fond of). But don't even waste your time trying to find it, unless you live in New Zealand. Perish the thought. Jeez, talk about a HELLHOLE!!!!
Reader Comments
You probably know this already, but In a Hole has been released officially in the U.K. with all the cracks and drop-outs of my vinyl copy lovingly preserved. (Duane Zarakov)
i live in new zealand ... i'll probably never leave.
Geez.. I live in New Zealand Too.. If you think New Zealand is a hell hole you've got your head up your arse!

Hey talking about New Zealand - are you ever going to review any records by the Clean (I'd suggest the early stuff) or the Chills? Surely of your caliber would be aware of the body of work these two bands have put out of the past 20 years.. (Ian Galley)
Hey! New Zealand has a lot going for it. For one my aunty lives there, so pack it in.

I love this album. It's cheeky. It's the most fun Fall album going, maybe as they're pissed but that's a bonus. Room to live is a giggler, that guitar line is a sweetie, even the popping vinyl transfer can't spoil it. The popping, by the way, adds to the record. Admit it, the sudden jump into "THE VILLAGERS ARE SURROUNDING THE HOUSE" on 'Hard Life..." had you shitting your pants (or pissing yourself with laughter.) 'The Classical' is still a dull tune, but it's livened up with some car brochure reciting and you can hear the drummer dying. Kill the drummer... he can't play, Kill the bass player, kill both bass players, kill the 3x bass expansion unit, kill the sexplayer Yeah! I'm off to Cruise Yerself!! BYe

Oh, 9/10.
First off, New Zealand is a fantastic place, so don't knock it. I've had two friends from there and both of them are cool enough for me to say, "Hmm... I like these dudes. Wherever they came from, that place must be ok. New Zealand, you say? Ah, well then!" This concert, similarly, is a nice one. My CD copy seems to have been mastered from scratchy vinyl like most of yours, but hell, what's wrong with scratchy vinyl? I've made some CDR mixes for friends that included tracks recorded from my LPs, and a lot of people make special mention of these tracks, saying they sound the best! And they're pretty flabbergasted when I point out that it's from an LP! Ha!
One of my all-time favorite live albums.
Very, very moody. The bass and drum droning on forever and Mr. Smith's hypnotic, probably drunken delivery. Fabulous.
trekked across southern england to snaffle up copy of this album. hit pay dirt in Croydon. cracking album. prized possession now under bed but still cherished. john quays never sounded so good.

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Live To Air In Melbourne '82 - Cog Sinister 1998.
Rating = 9

Starts off a little slow (literally - the version of "I Feel Voxish" that kicks off the set is disturbingly sluggish, completely lacking the sprightly energy that made the studio version such a noogie), but gets really really good really really quickly, with a mesmerizing rendition of "I'm Into C.B." which I'd always thought was a throwaway track until I heard this version. Then it goes on and on through 14 awesome tunes (though "Marquis Cha Cha" is still not exactly one of my favorites). Great stuff - sound is a bit muddy, but not too bad. Just turn up the volume, wussy!
Reader Comments
From the same tour that brought you "Fall in a Hole" I believe. This one's got tracks that later appeared on "Perverted by Language", so it's a bit unique in that regard. Sound quality is a tad better than "Fall in a Hole", and I agree with Prindle about "I'm into CB" - Smith really brings this song to life! This one's also got "Hexen Definitive", which was a highlight of their forthcoming album.
While I do like the openly self-indulgent Room To Live, the Melbourne ’82 concert blows that album’s originals right out of the water. Here they sound even more fleshed-out, self-assured, tight, to-the-point and intense. Great power shines through the whole performance: besides the seminal versions of “Hard Life In Country” and “Solicitor In Studio”, there’s the great “I’m Into C.B.” (which is, sadly, the only version I’ve got), the ever-classic “Lie Dream…”. Having said that, the opening “I Feel Voxish” admittedly IS somewhat messy and unfocused.

Their greatest live release, at least of the four or five ones I have heard. Highly recommended, even though not really obligatory. The problem with the band is that there are millions of CDs lying around and each one with “The Fall” on the front cover has at least one song you would like to hear. No such luck with “Mark E. Smith”, though. You might invest in Post Nearly Man and never really forgive yourself.

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Perverted By Language - Rough Trade 1983.
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #6 - Shortly before the recording of this album, Mark married an American guitarist named Brix and invited her to join his band. Although her presence is hardly heard on this record, you can still FEEL it. She's a poppy broad, and she helped The Fall become a poppy band.

But for now, let's talk about THIS album. Eight songs - only three of them shorter than five minutes long. "Eat Y'self Fitter" is a completely misleading record-opener - it sounds completely amateurish, silly, and, eventually, mind-numbingly dull. Howe'er, the rest of the album is mature, professional, and a patootie of a repetition-fest! "Neighborhood Of Infinity" and "I Feel Voxish" are the kickbutt pop rockers, and they're better than a lollipop; Mark even SINGS on "I Feel Voxish!" (hence the title, I suppose), and you can't beat that swank bass line. Speaking of bass lines, that's pretty much all there is to the nine-minute "Tempo House" (well, a bass line and two drummers), but, unlike "Eat Y'self Fitter," it becomes hypnotic over the course of time (instead of just boring). "Smile" reaches for emotions that it doesn't quite grasp, but, oh man, you should hear "Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot." Probably the darkest, bluesiest song they've ever written, this one conjures up some awfully disturbing images if you listen to it while you're walking down a cold deserted NYC alleyway in the cold of winter in the dead of night with no one to talk to but the soulless moon and some Mexican guy.

This is a good album, unless you've got a short attention span, in which case you wouldn't have read this far in the first place. Maybe I should get my head out of my ass.

Reader Comments
Hiya Mark! (in joke for M.Riley fans....) Decent site, decent site, plenty to take issue with here...... I find this one of the weaker lp's..... maybe it's because I'm not a massive fan of Brix. I read somewhere that the producer (forget his name, thank God) made them do several takes of "Eat Y'self Fitter" (the slogan of an advertising campaign for a British breakfast cereal....), hence they sound completely bored on the version included therein.
Actually, "Eat Y'self Fitter" is one of my favorite Fall songs .. just so you know somebody likes it .. just don't accuse me of having good taste (Mike F.)
"eat y'self fitter" is the best song the fall ever did.
You're missing out on "Eat Y'Self Fitter". I think it's a rather remarkable piece. Like much of this album it's lyrically centered, totally non-commercial, and thoroughly brilliant.
Everyone calls this the Fall's first "accessible" (i.e.: Brix) album. Some even think this album is funny. For me, it's their darkest, least commercial, haunting effort. Would be perfect, but "Eat Y'self Fitter" seems a little light-hearted and out of place with the rest of it (unless it's an indirect swipe at Hitler's vegetarianism). But how 'bout the rest! As a two-drummer piece, "Smile" is better than anything on "Hex Enduction Hour," "Tempo House" seems to precede De La Soul and all that lo-fi hip-hop by, like, six years - and "Strife Knot" ends the album on a sick/ironic note. "Strife is Life" is hardly an optimistic way to close an album that is cluttered with references to Nazism/World War II. Don't let that pink cover fool you.
Actually, Mark, Brix was in the band and then Mark married her. Ever seen the video for "Eat Y'Self Fitter"? Funnier than any episode of "Everybody Loves Rabies," mixed drinks, Halloween masks and some bouncer grabbing Mark by the shirt: a comedy cocktail for one and all! (Simon Burgess)
I'd agree that this is one of The Fall's darkest, least accessible records (ever more so than Hex - people said *that* was inaccessible? Sissies). It's like Hex in that it's really close to Mark's original musical vision, but the tunes are less memorable and the lyrics less 'tetchy' this time around.

Still great, though, especially with the bonus tracks on the recent CD release (those four tracks off the singles are fantastic, worth the price alone, etc.) 'Pilsner Trail' doesn't do much for me, though. An important album, patricularly because Smiff's mood seems to have changed noticeably compared to earlier records, now that Brix is in the group.
Thank you Mark, for talking about The Fall so damn much that I just had to break down and buy some of their cd's. I got the 2002 reissue of this one for $15, and it's got "The Man Whose Head Expanded-ah" and "Wings-ah" on it! AND THEY RUCKING FOCK!!!!!!! I've also got This Nation's Saving Grace, and it ICKS KASS! MANKS, THARK!

I'll echo that sentiment, that "Eat Y'self Fitter-ah" is a piece of aural shit that makes me vomit ear wax from mine ear-holes every time I hear it, but everything else here is extremely creative, well-thought out, catchier than a fishnet, and well....repetitive as fuck! But in a nice way. My favorite song so far is "Hotel Blodel," and goddammit, every time I hear Mark jump in with his inscrutable babblings to completely ruin the tense, leering, weirdo darkness atompeshere of the melody, I just have to crack the fuck up. 9.5! Packed full of brilliant/beautiful melodies. But what Fall album isn't?

Seriously, tell me which one! I've only got like two albums by this band. (Ian Galley)
I wouldn't go as far as give this a nine, but as I'm only getting used to it, I can only take this is drilled into your cranium by now. I too disagree over 'Eat Y'self Fitter' I think it's one of the most accessible tracks on the album, (and funny too.) 'Smile' is starting to make me sway and groan; it's death claws tighten into my shoulder, barking in my ear and shitting down my back. PROCESS. DAGGERS. HE's ANGRY. SMILE!!!!

Another fresh favourite is... TEMPO HOUSE. Mr Burns and Mssr's Hanley are way ahead of the game here. M.E.S is banging on about some serious man who's drunk too much... that bass line!!!! (Heh! Re-listen to 'The Fall' of Filth Pig (Ministry). Is it another classic rock progression? My word! There's still seven minutes left! Worth the price alone my friends.

I don't like the Brix sung 'Hotel Bloden', but check me in 2 months, (I'm very weak willed.) May give it an eight?

I was down the market last weekend and managed to pick this up for £5. Yes, five English pounds! That makes out, err 30 pennies a song, (re-issues also includes Man who's head expanded, Ludd Gang, Kicker Conspiracy and the very poor Wings), an absolute bargain. (Tempo House is still banging away! NICE END!! That needs sampling....) I do recall some friends of mine have the very video compilation which includes the video a correspondent alluded to and Tempo House... I'll look that one up for you.

Ludd Gang does bring Chant by the mighty P.I.L into mind... (Guess that's up next then)r when it is indeed one of their finest moments- it is not boring by far - a brilliantly repetative and droning rhythm. needless to say i played it at work and everybody hated it. also Hotel Bloedel is interesting- and contary to that other guy's opinion mark does not spoil the song.all the other tracks are just as good and the album does have a certain haunting sound...i think i might play it now. (David Cunningham)
best album nearly ever , if u have the c.d u get singles too, ludd gang and wings ,, blissss. other two great aswell 'sounds like headwop huh' so cool. anyway please ignore original reveiw right at the top and realize when you buy that ' eat yerself'' is a beauty and so is every song on this album ,, 'smile' is a motherfucker , 'garden' really mystifies me , it ends were he saw him he swears , jesus i think. then all the way to the end which cant remember name of 'hef dev ' something or other i give this c.d a nine. (David Wells)
One of the big events in the Wells household this week is that I have managed to acquire a record deck. This, for the benefit of you younger readers, has allowed me to play vinyl records (black 12 or 7 inches wide, circular) for the first time in two years and has (joy of joys) allowed me to revisit the more remote areas of the Fall collection not yet acquired on CDs (although I gather this format is very nearly out of date as well).

This was the first Fall LP played and it was not a welcome return. Eat yourself fitter is a fine start (and the video that made a partial re-appearance in the recent BBC4 documentary and stills appear on the record cover) emphasises the lunacy of the Fall. Hell even Smith can have a laugh sometimes. Soon after that though the album grinds down into monotony and although Smile is a fine tune this version is not as good as it could be. I seem to remember that the Fall were in the process of falling out with Rough Trade at the time and Smith stated in interviews soon after his dissatisfaction with this album. Personally I feel most of the songs sound the same although Hexen definitive strife knot is a damn fine track. The rest feels like an unremitting grinding contest with the band pummelling the listener into submission.

Although Wings was not on the vinyl album I would add that this is my favourite Fall tracks and the video was cracking - (Smith basically singing it in the pub while the band drank beer and played pool!).

For no reason other than I am bored here are my ten favourite Fall tracks in no particular order.

Theme from Sparta FC
Impressions of J Temperance
City Hobgoblins
Dr Bucks Letter
Lay of the land
New Face in Hell
Futures and Pasts
A figure walks
God, I hate "Eat Y'self Fitter" - sounds like someone's cell phone going off for 6 minutes without going to voice mail. "Smile" is ok, but needs a bit more. Apart from those 2 duds, this album is pretty much flawless. "Neighborhood of Infinity" kicks more ass than a thing that kicks ass a lot, and both "Garden" and "Tempo House" have that hypnotic thing going as well as they've ever done. And yes, "Hexen Definitive" is a doozy from the pits of hell.
A nine??!! This album is nowhere near deserving a nine. It has exactly three good songs, two of which you pointed out (Neighborhood of Infinity, I Feel Voxish), and Eat Y'Self Fitter. Yes, Eat Y'Self Fitter is amateurish and silly, but that's why I like it. It's fun, something I couldn't say for the other firve songs on here. Well, they don't suck per se, but it sounds like the band wrote them all twenty minutes before they pressed record. Garden has exactly two parts, one of which consists entirely of strumming one chord- and it's eight minutes long! Tempo House has exactly one part which consists entirely of four notes played on a bass- and it's nine minutes long! Hotel Bloedel is boring and uninsteresting and Smile sounds like a rewrite of The Classical, only without any of the things that made The Classical good. And look! Here's my impression of Hexen Definitive/ Strife Knot: (*strums e minor chord for four minutes, then strums it quietly for 2*). I guess that about covers it. But hey, when you have like 50 albums, one stinker is no big deal.

John Nisbet
Actually Tempo House has two parts, there's the 'Put your claim...' bit too. I'm not exactly a fan of Hotel Bloedel or Hexen Definitive either, but Garden and Tempo House are maybe my favourite Fall songs. Maybe some will have a genuine grouse?

It's worth getting the Castle Music 2-disc reissue. Even if you've already got the Peel sessions, there's a live version of Backdrop, about a minute longer than on Fall In A Hole. And you get the original mix of Garden (with weird spoken word bit), as well as the remix. And the title track live. (It's not very good).

Add your thoughts?

Austurbaejarbio - Cog Sinister 1999.
Rating = 9

Recorded live May 6, 1983 in Reykjavik, Iceland, this CD shows off The Fall at a weirdbutt moment in their career. Marc Riley had quit but, GET THIS, Brix hadn't joined yet! So it's got all these old Marc Riley songs with just Craig Scanlon scrapin' along, and all these soon-to-be-Perverted By Language songs without Brix! This is INTERESTING, people!!!

Well, not to NASA, but to certain people. People who like The Fall a lot. Or Iceland. Or the Scanlon family.

TWO drummers though! And the sound is amazing. No kidding - this doesn't sound live AT ALL. Every sound and nuance is crystal clear, from the vocals through the bass, guitar, two drummers - wow! As for the set list - can't be beat with a splintery wooden dildo. "Eat Y'Self Filler" sounds menacing and actually GOOD instead of novelty-like! "Hexen Definitive" creeps along ominously without ever turning into the less ominous "Strife Knot" part! "Backdrop" somehow sounds like a *GOOD* song!?!?!?!?! How???

Goodness. That's how. Goodness. That's my statement to make. You got scratchy chimey guitars, great bass lines ("I Feel Voxish"!), Mark shouting and occasionally tapping a note on a keyboard, a splattery tap drummer in each speaker (literally - they unscrew the back and hop in while you're cleaning the maggots out of the fridge), "Kicker Conspiracy" nearly falling apart right as it starts -- NO bad spots. Possibly the best concert they ever did -- even better than that one I saw where the keyboard was out of tune with everything and they sucked!!!

I usually say "no" to live Fall albums, but this is something different. I explained the difference in the first paragraph. And I've gotten dozens of calls from NASA since that paragraph. Just a-hunting and gathering for additional information about how to get to the moon in 10 minutes like I did that time I got blasted out of Tom Cruise's faggoty asscorkdungeon.

Nothing against homosexuals. EVERYTHING against Tom Cruise.

And all his self-obsessed Scientologist loserass idiot friends like Kirstie Alley.

And hell, Sally Field too. I don't know if she's a Scientologist or not; I just feel like making indiscriminately hateful comments for no reason.


Reader Comments
you make mention that in this live album, you can hear just craig scanlon on guitar and that was different from "Perverted by Language," because Brix hadn't joined yet. hate to be a fact-checker dork, but: almost all of "Perverted by Language" was recorded without Brix. she's only playing guitar/singing "Hotel Bloedel" and singing backing vocals on "Eat Y'self Fitter". so, not all that different from "Perverted by Language."

One more thing: I have to say that the version of "The Classical" from this concert is absolutely spellbinding. It's amazingly good. Scanlon scratches and scrapes away while Mark rants many different, possibly better lyrics and the rhythm section just keeps pounding that crazy rhythm. Fantastic

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Palace Of Swords Reversed - Rough Trade/Cog Sinister 1987.
Rating = 9

Here you go! Pretty much Early Years 2: 80-83, this is a compilation filled with a bunch of great guitar-driven singles, plus a couple of album tracks and half of the Slates ep. This is the best representation of what The Fall were initially trying to do, before Brix came along and turned them into a bunch of french horns. It's got some intellectual rockabilly ("How I Wrote Elastic Man," "Totally Wired"), some catchy-as-frig early pop ("Fit And Working Again"), a little carnival punk ("Kicker Conspiracy")... ahh heck, it's got all sorts of great creative stuff - especially the single "Wings," which has one of the greatest guitar riffs that I personally have ever heard (and ONLY one - played over and over and over again...).

If you're only gonna get one Fall record, try to find this one. Before this, they were basically circus punk, after this, they were basically conservative guitar pop, and during this period, most of their album tracks were about ten minutes long, so this is a good place to start. The songs are short, smart, and all-out rockin'! (My personal favorite moment on the record: The middle of "The Man Whose Head Expanded," when Mark gets tired of the "sci-fi" keyboard noises and shouts, "Turn that bleeding blimey space invader off!!!" Seconds later, it's gone. That's power.)

Reader Comments (Mark C. Hamilton 00)
Spot on assessment of In a Palace of Swords Reversed, quite definitely the best Fall album. A matter of fact, it is the album that turned me onto the Fall (and certainly not The Frenz Experiment). If you're going to praise "Wings" for its great (and only riff), why not praise its lyrics, the best of any Fall song. It sounds like MES has really lost his mind on this one, rambling on about some time travel fantasy involving gremlins, Civil War veterans and God knows what else. This was the song that made me think, just possibly, that MES was a schizophrenic. Well, that and "Oswald Defence Lawyer." I've since realized that he is, in fact, a genius. The lyrics to "Wings" are ample proof of that. (Kevin E.)
A good amount of points have been deducted for this being a compilation despite the presence of some very difficult to find singles. Nevertheless, from the few listenings I have found the time for in the past ten days I can make some absolute statements: "Putta Block", "Kicker Conspiracy", and "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'" represent some of the best material The Fall produced in their second stage. Most definitely the terrific "Kicker Conspiracy", a testament to putting that sometimes expendable second drummer to use. As for the studio version of "Totally Wired", I'll hold on to my copy of A Part Of America Therein. Now, as far as the "Wings" guitar riff goes... someone out there should go out and buy a used copy of the mediocre album The Sky's Gone Out by seminal "goth" outfit Bauhaus. Not too many great songs but do take note of the second track "Silent Hedges"; the bass line is far, far more impressive then what (I assume) Scanlon does with the guitar here. In fact I'm quite sure that Scanlon took this bass line in question and reworked it for "Wings". At any rate, this is good as far as compilations go. By no means a good substitute for a "real" effort, however.
This was the CD that introduced me to the pre-Brix Fall. It's absolutely essential - even if you end up getting the albums that some of these tracks come from ("Prole Art Threat", "Fit and Working Again," "Leave the Capitol", "An Older Lover" all from Slates - "Pay Your Rates" from Grotesque, "Marquis Cha Cha" from Room to Live.. etc), you still get relatively rare single tracks that I haven't seen on any other CD release - live or otherwise: "Putta Block" and "Wings", both extremely worthy of your time, and which are pretty darn accessible for the early Fall! Other singles are great too - "The Man Whose Head Expanded" may have some dated keyboard sounds, but "City Hobgoblins" and "Kicker Conspiracy" (about soccer!) are both accessible, catchy movers. One of the best samplers of this period you could ask for.

Rod Miller
A brilliant record. The production crunch is particularly energetic on vinyl. Of early compilations from post-punkers, only Substance by Joy Division measures up to this level of pleasure. But just barely.

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The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall - Beggars Banquet/PVC 1984.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #7 - Good guitar rock, but not perfect. Starts real strong with the super-rockers "Lay Of The Land" and "2 By 4," but, aside from two godlike EP tracks that were later added to the album ("C.R.E.E.P." and "No Bulbs"), the only other Fall-worthy song on here is the unfathomably beautiful "Disney's Dream Debased." Without those four other great songs, the album would still deserve an 8 on the power of this song alone. Fairly reminiscent of "Leave The Capitol," but even better. The rest of the album is just OK, sad to say. And, regardless of what Brix says in the liner notes, "Craigness" doesn't even approach "Shimmering violet shimmer, twisting haunts shadow passers veil night time silvery veils swirling rustling sweep. Shining, melodious Drifting." In fact, it's just kinda dopey.

Perhaps she was thinking of "Disney's Dream Debased."

Or maybe she was just a flake.


Reader Comments
I think you're way off the mark on this one. THIS was the real turning point, finally a 'well-produced' record (although don't get me wrong, I love the scratchiness of the earlier stuff) by John Leckie who later became a big-time record producer with the likes of the Stone Roses, no recommendation I know but still, you gotta respect his bank balance. There isn't a weak track on here, and the likes of "Slang King" are just immense. "Copped It"! "Bug Day"! "Elves"! Are you DEAF Mr Prindle?!
I disagree with you on this one, a bit. I would agree with you if you were inclined to put down "Bug Day" (what a boring, waste of space) but everything else is excellent. Gavin Friday might interfere somewhat with the songs (what is he doing on the album, anyway) but the songs are strong enough as it is. "Disney's Dream Debased" is one of the most beautiful Fall songs, and basically everything else is classic Fall. And I am not even considering the singles and B-sides put on the CD reissue when making my point. They would only get better with the following year's studio album.
Well, I like it a bit more than you do. It's a strange, impressionistic album by a solid band. I think the bonus tracks on the CD are even better than the LP tracks though - "Pat-Trip Dispenser", "God-Box", the brilliant "No Bulbs", "Draygo's Guilt", "Oh! Brother" ... this seems like The Fall's golden age to me.
I can't stand hearing that guy's voice in "copped it". i have to skip the song! for me, it kind of prevents this album from getting the credit it deserves. it's crazy pop/rock done by the Fall. "Lay of the Land" and "2x4" rock hard at the outset, "Elves" is perfect (sounds like "I wanna be your dog" though), and "Disney" is one of their or anyone's most beautiful songs. Though I think it drags at times ("Bug Day"?!?!?), the swingin pop of "Oh Brother" and "No Bulbs" help lift this album to a rating of 8.5 (Charles Hodgkins)
'Craigness' signifies to me everything that is great about the Fall. Sing-song minimalism reaching a powerful and painfull climax. Does any other Fall song use a 5/4 time signature like this one? Yet it doesn't stick out like Rush or Crimson. The ENTIRE album is thick with MES' extra-sensory vocalisation similar to 'Wings,' yet there is a new confidence (plus vocal distortions) which create the impression that real demons are doing the singing.
On a whole, nowhere near as good as the subsequent album would be, but filled to the brim with amazing songs anyway. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that "Lay of the Land" would be my favorite Fall song I've ever laid my ears upon. I LOVE how the music cuts and MES just says "What's the lay of the land, my son?" and the heavy guitars just kick in right behind him, and when that cool little harmonic scrapy guitar thing comes in. Genius. "2 x 4" is great, "Elves" is surprisingly good for a Stooges rip-off, "Clear Off!" has some beautiful little wavy guitar lines, and "Slang King" is funky fun. Of course, "Disney's Dream Debased" is the kicker; just so beautiful. The rest is merely okay, I'll concur (especially the lame-lame-lame guest vocals that sound like my grandmother having a hernia), but about half the album is essential. 8/10
One of the earliest memories I have of this album (my first introduction to the Fall!) is how hard it was to fit the full title on the cassette case when I taped it from my friend. Verbosity aside, this is a very strong release. Side one is flawless - the rockabilly beat and machine gun feedback guitars of "Lay of the Land", the odd start-stop rhythms of "2x4", the absolute perfection of "Copped It" (can't even describe why I love this song so much), and the ominous chugging guitars and chanted vocals of "Elves". On the CD version, a bunch of bonus tracks (singles and EP tracks from the period) appear between sides one and two, which I feel disrupts the flow - plus most of em I can personally do without, except for "Draygo's Guilt". Side Two gets pretty darn poppy in places - "Slang King" and "Stephen Song" particularly. "Disney's Dream Debased" is a stunner worthy of John Lennon. The CD version ends with the extended version of the B-side "No Bulbs", and it's the only bonus track that's really worthy to share space with the rest of the original album. It rocks!
According to Mark Middles' book "The Fall", 'Disney's Dream' deals with a time when Mark and Brix visited Disneyland. A young girl was decapitated on a ride. Don't know if they actually saw it, or were just present at the time. After 25 years of loving this beautiful and mournful song, the ante was "up'd" when I read about that a coupla years ago. I just tried to find the passage in the book, but I can't, I'm sorry.

I was introduced to The Fall at 15, when "Nation..." came out, and went backwards from there. I couldn't possibly give a rating to any Fall album prior to "Frenz..."; they've been in my life too long. It'd be like rating my sister, to whom I give a 5-10, depending on the situation.

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This Nation's Saving Grace - Beggars Banquet/PVC 1985.
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #8 - This one's tons better (which doesn't explain why I only gave it ONE more point, but let's ignore that for now). This is the most confident-sounding album they've produced - even to this very day. Superstrong production boosts "Bombast," "Spoilt Victorian Child," and "Cruisers Creek" to anthemic levels, which is exactly where they belong (especially "Spoilt Victorian Child," featuring a "Wings"-esque creative but rockin' guitar line). In other news, "L.A." introduces The Fall to the modern electronic dance medium with which Mark would soon become obsessed, "Paintwork" presents an unfinished pop masterpiece to you exactly as Mark would like it to be - drums coming in and out, studio talking in the background, tape manipulation (but perfectly rhythmic all the while!), and "My New House" proves that even with an acoustic guitar, The Fall can sound every bit as aggressive and bitter as ....well, not G.G. Allin, but somebody. That Trent Reznor pansy maybe.

The only reason I didn't give this one a 10 is cuz I've never been too fond of their CAN tribute, "I Am Damo Suzuki," or their James Brown rip-off, "Gut Of The Quantifier." But that's just me talkin'. Most people love them. As a result, this is by a wide margin the most popular Fall album of all time (which means it's probably sold about two thousand copies - you see, they're what you might call a CULT band).

Reader Comments
"Gut of the Quantifier" sounds more like a cover version by an English noise band called World Domination Enterprises of "Funky Town" by ??????? Another classic. "What You Need" is right up there in my Fall Top Ten.
i'm one of the majority who loves 'i am damo suzuki;' i think it's the most haunting thing they've ever done. 'rollin' dany' is hilarious, 'barmy' sounds like the clash only better, and $20 says pavement was listening to 'couldn't get ahead' when they wrote 'conduit for sale!' i'd give it a 10, but i like your review...
First Fall album I got into. I think the band's sound is extremely solid and the production is pretty good too ... it's almost a little too "solid" in places. But the Beefheart-like insistence of "My New House", the Zeppelin-meets-Beefheart rhythmic flailing of "Gut of the Quantifier", the brilliantly abstract "Paint Work", the ragged swing of "What You Need", the garage classic "Cruiser's Creek", and the gothic "I Am Damo Suzuki" all work for me and make this a great record. (Kevin E.)
The random quality of this release adds an element of texture to this otherwise entertaining but Fall-lite studio effort. Not a cohesive work by any stretch of the imagination, this one succeeds on moments alone: "My New House", "Paintwork", "Spoilt Victorian Child", "Barmy", and "Cruiser's Creek" are only a few of the songs that make the Brix-era particularly memorable. The CD release includes the outstanding b-side "Petty (Thief) Lout" as well; this is a good, very solid purchase. The CD release loses points with the inclusion of the following: "Rollin' Dany", "I Am Damo Suzuki", "L.A.", "Couldn't Get Ahead", "Gut Of The Quantifier", "Bombast", and "Vixen". There is absolutely zero trend to follow in this record; the light "Rollin' Dany" is precariously placed at the conclusion of the record alongside the darkly ludicrous "I Am Damo Suzuki". "L.A.", "Vixen", and "Couldn't Get Ahead" are no-impact filler that have absolutely no direction.

If I had to reduce this recording's selling point to one tune I wouldn't hesitate in naming "Paintwork". I consider this piece to be the turning point for The Fall; at this point they were able to neatly integrate their early, droning delicacy with the super-production of their later work. Strong, remarkably original composition. Even the quality of songs like "I Am Damo Suzuki" is increased exponentially by virtue of their position in relation to "Paintwork". Which, to reiterate, is why I consider this to be a good purchase.
Great production. Killer melodies. Rapid-fire lyricism. This band has (had?) it all in one package, and I'm slowly growing obsessed with them. This Nation's Saving Grace is prime-grade Fall (at least my version with "Barmy" and "Petty Thief Lout" is). "Bombast" is the hardest rocker they've ever done, but then they could switch to flaky guitar pop like "Vixen" and do it just as well. I like Brix's voice; the California-gal thing is a great contrast for MES' choc-stock didacticism. 10/10
This nation..was the first Fall record i've bought on 19...bah!who care.Think i'm the only one fan of MES in Italy.OK! very explosive tunes!"Gut...""Spoilt Victorian" and "I am Damo.." spits good rockabilly wicked grooves.For me,the better record than ever!
Great album, in fact all go as far as saying that this nations saving grace is my second favorite studio fall album. almost all the songs are great but it goes on too long and it unlike hex enducation hour has no united feel, still the songs are amazing. one other thing the best songs on this album (L. A, cruisers creek, Rollin' Danny and couldn't get ahead) can be found on 458489 asides the only reason you should own this album is because of the brilliantly weird "paintwork" it is one of the top 5 sonic collages ever made.

If you put 20 members of Sonic Youth in a studio forever you would eventually get 'Paintwork'. Not! (Jon)
I have the one with much of the 86 fall ep on it as well. this has good songs. i think brix takes herself pretty seriously but nkroachment isnt too bad. her guitar lines are a little dopey. i am damo suzuki takes my favorite drumline from can and pumps the volume but misses the vibe of oh yeah by a ways. it is neat how they are so out of sync with the guitars and keyboards. paintwork has a great buildup to it. the guitar riff is very worthy. i cant stand vixen. i love LA and couldn't get ahead. gut and the rest of them have moments, but arent particularly outstanding one way or another. i do really like petty (thief) lout on the ep which actually does have a sort of can vibe in the beginning. rollin dany is very fun. cruisers creek is the most commercial song i have heard from them. oh brother was very good, but im not sure if it was during this period or not. (Dominic Thompson)
I picked up a white label 12 inch with a thirteen minute 'What You Need' on at a record fair in Birmingham. The other side sounds like an instrumental version of 'A Figure Walks Behind You'. Anyone know anything about this?
Great album! Every track is great except I Am Damo Suzuki and Rollin' Danny which are both interesting as well as silly but they don't blow me away. Enough mithering. My New House and Paintwork must enter my top ten, despite having only heard about a third of the Fall's output. It's not possible to make better tracks, even the Fall can't have done it surely. The riffs to some of these songs are just the best thing since sliced bread e.g. Petty Thief Lout, Paintwork, LA. The list goes on. Funny lyrics as usual like What You Need, Spoilt Victorian Child etc. Bombast is a Fall anthem.

This may be the best studio album I've heard so far by this band, bearing in mind I still haven't heard Hex, Extricate, Infotainment and Levitate all the way through yet but have been blown away by what I have heard off them. Not as good an album as Palace Of Swords Reversed if you bring compilations into the subject. Therefore, if I had to give a 10 to one Fall studio album, not a compilation, it'd be this laddy.
Damn it, damn it, damn it. This is my favorite Fall album, damn it. It was one of my first, and much later I got into stuff like "Slates", which I absolutely love, but I gotta give the upper hand to this one. This is, as Mark put it, a very confident sounding release. Everyone got their parts right, and they produced it like they really meant this to be their ultimate statement. In fact, Mark E Smith is a tad more subdued here - like he's giving the instrumentalists more room to shine. And shine they do! "Mansion" is a freakin instrumental! That's almost like having a Noam Chomsky instrumental! But it rules! But it's too short! But they reprise it at the end! Ever read Doonesbury! Next time you do, notice that most of the dialogue ends in exclamation points! It's actually pretty effective! Bombast! That's some great guitar noise, coupled with one of Hanley's finest. I could go through each track, but I won't. They did another great single ("Cruisers Creek") during this period, which is on the CD and the American version of the LP. And no one's mentioned "Petty (Thief) Lout", but that's a B-side that appears on the CD version too. I love that song - it's an exercise in contrasting dynamics with just two chords and some great guitar tones both real quiet and real loud.
I just heard this for the first time yesterday. Like all the Fall albums I've listened to, I liked it the first time I heard it. The songs on The Wonderful and Frightening World were probably catchier, but this album has better riffs and less filler material. If I had to choose though, I think that "I Am Damo Suzuki" is my favorite - I didn't read the tracklisting, and when that loud drumbeat kicked in I knew it was familiar (Can is easily one of my top 3 favorite bands) but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. And then Mark started singing, "I am Damo Suzuki!" and it all made sense. You know, I can see a lot of influence from them in the Fall's Can, the rhythm section seems to be really important, the vocals are always slurred, and above all the music has to groove.
So when is an album not an album? I have the vinyl version of this, an expanded CD version of this which inserts the additional tracks at the end of each side rather than all at the end and having loaded it onto an MP3 player, aversion which plays them in a completely random order. Technophobe that I am it is unlikely I will be able to work out how they should play – no helpful suggestions thanks.

The vinyl album was bought on release and it still remains one of their best – Mansion, Barmy and Bombast kick of a fine album and although some tracks like Paintwork and My New House could be better they are still streets ahead of anything on Post Reformation TOC (2007’s dismal release which is reviewed below). My favourite here is I am Damo Suzuki – killer Fall track extraordinaire. This stands up well as an album which is why I was a tad annoyed by the inserted single and b-side tracks on the CD release which appear at the end of each vinyl side. This changes the feel of the album and not in a positive way. Playing it in random mode on the MP3 shows that the tracks are all still good but sometimes the original album just has the edge.

In the past few years the Fall have been doing Spoilt Victorian Child in their live sets – not the best individual track from this album but always nice to hear it.

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The Fall EP - PVC 1986.
Rating = 7

Five good songs. "Rollin' Dany" is a rockabilly cover, and the others are extremely Brixy "dang dang dang" songs (That's her guitar sound - "dang dang dang." You might like it. You might hate it. 'Sup to you.). Pretty good. Kinda girly, and certainly no This Nation's Saving Grace, but still awfully catchy on a tender Autumn morn. It has "Couldn't Get Ahead," if you know that song.

What am I talking about? Where would you possibly know that song from? Just ignore me.

Reader Comments
"Rollin Danny" is a Gene Vincent cover, apparently.....
"Rollin' Dany" really rocks (hard). Furthermore "Barmy" is one of the best Fall tracks I've ever heard - the music sounds like classic Stax soul but with a madman's confession and modern "80's" production techniques over top of it. Inclusion of this stuff onto the This Nation's ... CD makes it a must-buy.

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Bend Sinister - Beggars Banquet 1986.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #9 - This album has taken an unfair beating for far too long. It's dark as hell (even the album cover!), which is kinda cool considering that this was smackeroo in the middle of their "guitar pop" period. In fact, "R.O.D.," "Riddler," and "Gross Chapel - G.B. Grenadiers" are downright friggin' fantasmo! I could listen to 'em all damn day! And what about "Shoulder Pads?" Could a band sound any more gleeful? Could a song be any more irritatingly memorable? Not terribly experimental, no, but a poop of a lot more interesting than Oasis. Ahhh, I don't need to prove anything to you. Buy it or don't. I don't give a crap.
Reader Comments
Another weak one. The Fall on autopilot. The live band around this time was awesome, however. (Michael Fotis)
the worst fall album I've heard so far on the quest to own every release. stay away. (Tom Totale)
I listened to Bend Sinister last night while in a severe state of inebriation. "ROD", "British Grenadiers", & "Riddler" are excellent. And Mark, do you ever pale at the thought of allowing Fall fans to comment interminably upon your judgements? You have created a monster.
Apart from a few dark moments (the great "R.O.D." being the best of them), this album is not as bleak as I've heard; a little moody but that's it. Anyway, pretty good, though it can't match This Nation. "Shoulder Pads" is one of the happiest sounding Fall songs ever, "Terry Waite Sez" and "Mr. Pharmacist" are great, and "Dktr. Faustus" is pretty cool as well. An 8. (Nick Walters)
Bend Sinister remains my favourite Fall album, despite the excellence of Light User and Levitate. BS is the Fall's Heart of Darkness, a lurching, sometimes ludicrous, thunderous beast. "Dktr. Faustus" has such an air of Satanic doom, knowing the play helps accentuate this. "Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers" is the sound of a hungover thunderstorm. "US 80s 90s" is the first song I heard that attracted me to The Fall; I remember thinking, "How? How did they arrive at this?" BS came from out of nowhere like a bolt of black lightning and changed my life forever. "Was introduced, by a wo-man, loose-limbed, slim..." "Bend Sinister" is the perfect synthesis of belligerence and beauty. (Josef)
I saw the Fall for the first time on the Bend Sinister Tour. This might not be the best album The Fall have ever made, but it's my favourite, mainly due to the fact that as mentioned, at this point they did some amazing gigs. Me huh? I'd give this a 9. The tape version came with a pretty fast and hectic live version of City Hobgoblins (renamed "Town and Country Hobgoblins").
I'm very new to The Fall, and i'd have to say that it was a combination of this site and Pavement reviews that lead me to finally pick up some of their stuff. I really really like's very strange. They're one of those bands where you instantly like them, or they were for me at least. Mark's voice isn't nearly as whiny as i thought it would be, it's more nasally and it sounds really awesome. I'm really looking for the Hex Enducation album, because i've heard the Classical and really loved that (what's with the N-word though?, i heard that cost them a contract with a major record label), and love Perverted by Language (same era), but as that bastard above pointed out, it's impossible to find. However, I jsut picked Bend Sinister to review because i guess it's the "underrated Fall album" (i.e. experimental jet set for sy, tromple le monde for pixies, ext). I really like Bend Sinister, and it has a great album cover (the frenz experiment has a terrible cover!). I just finished buying all 400 guided by voices albums, and now i have to go buy the rest of the fall's...these disturbingly prolific bands will be bankrupt me eventually...why hasn't there been any guided by voices talk at this site by the way?

p.s. Who'd have though Mark Prindle looks like Bill Pullman (Spencer Harrison)
I got into The Fall from listening to this album on cassette, which I loaned from my local library in Haydock, in the UK. It might not be full of pop tunes, but then again I don't really go in for that kind of thing. Some people see it as a weak album by The Fall I disagree, but everyone has their own opinion. (Ian Galley)
Bar Mr Pharmacist, this is a weak album. Why? Because it is.

2/10. (a few months later)

I feel like correcting some of the rubbish I wrote previously. Whilst I still think this is the weakest Fall album I've heard it deserves better than 2, maybe a 5. If you threw 'R.O.D', 'DKTR FAUSTUS', 'SHOULDER PADS 1/2', 'MR PHARMACIST', 'U.S. 80'S 90'S' and 'TERRY WAITE SEZ' onto a single disk you would have a legendary and indispensable e.p. The rest of the album just doesn't click with me and it's not as if they're terrible tracks; they all offer fresh directions in song writing and production, but feel under-whelming. I am ashamed to say but I find myself skipping the last few minutes of several of these tracks. Although not 'AUTO-TECH PILOT', which I hate.

'U.S. 80'S 90'S' reminds of an old Girls Against Boys e.p. which was really shit. (As if you cared.)
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this album. Shame on all you random music fans!! This album has a sound all its own. Some of the dark moods were hinted at on "This Nations Saving Grace", but overall this is the Fall's one Goth album. And better for it! WItness thou the following songs which rank among their best ever, or my name isn't Eric Robinson: "ROD", "Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers" (< As you can see, I'm excited about this album. In fact, it's the last Fall album I got excited about until "The Real New Fall LP"... but that's probably my own fault for not paying attention. Long live the Fall! 9/10

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The Domesday Payoff - Big Time 1987.
Rating = 9

Go, America! Since Bend Sinister never came out in the U.S., this record company scooped it up, dumped the two weak songs, and added three rainbowlicious British singles ("Hey Luciani!," the truly twisted "Haf Found Boorman," and a cover of somebody's "There's A Ghost In My House"), transforming a really good dark album into a really great happy album (with a few eerie moments tossed in)! I heartily recommend!
Reader Comments
'There`s a ghost in my house' was originally done by R Dean Taylor (I think) and was a minor hit in the UK I seem to remember. It was a sort of Tamla-ish track with a pseudo-Psych fuzz-guitar. The Fall brought it out as a 7" single in the UK (with a hologram cover). There was also a video that feature Brix dematerialising in some old house.... But you probably already knew this... The Fall version is pretty faithful to the original version in a twisted kinda way...

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BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert - Windsong 1993.
Rating = 8

Phenomenally poppy live show from '87. Spiffy studio-esque sound (well, it's LIVE, but in a studio.... No screaming crowds to worry about) and the happiest, bounciest ditties they could come up with - "Australians In Europe" (don't you love that bit where he keeps screaming "-ope, -ope, -ope!" into that echo effect thingy?),, "Shoulder Pads," "Ghost In My House," "Hey Luciani," "Terry Waite Sez," "Fiery Jack" (Yay!!! Who'da thought they'd be playing that ol' classic in '87???), and "Lucifer Over Lancashire." Does music get any happier than this? Generally only if it's garbage. This stuff is phenomenal. I should give it a nine, but a few of the "live" quirks (weak back-up vocals at points, sound that's not quite as powerful as on the record) bug me enough to drag my thumb over to the left a tad - you know, to where Mr. "8" resides.

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The Frenz Experiment - Big Time 1988.
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #10 - More Brix guitar pop with an increase in keyboard presence. More catchy than a damn thingy. "Frenz" and "The Steak Place" do the undistorted guitar deal swimmingly, "Bremen Nacht" is really really stupid, but I like it 'cause I'm pretty much a dumbass, "Athlete Cured" is a hilariously pointless story recited over a bass line stolen from Spinal Tap, "Victoria" is a well-played Kinks cover (by the by, the Village Voice is currently advertising 'An Evening With Ray Davies' - tickets are only thirty-five dollars!!!), and both "Get A Hotel" and "Carry Bag Man" are moody semi-tough drivin' sissy rock songs. There are other songs etched on the vinyl, as well, including the synthesizer-driven single, "Hit The North," but I've said enough. I'm certain you'll find this in a cheapy bin some time soon, so pick it up. Far from experimental, but a real good time nonetheless. Like beer, for example.
Reader Comments (Michael Eisenkraft)
OK, let's start from the beginning. As a 60's rock weenie (the Stones, Dylan, etc.) I had a hard time believing I'd like listening to a hard, punkish band with a freak for a lead singer. Well, I didn't like the Fall, I loved them. I listened to this album over 50 times on the way to work and it is great. "Carry Bag Man" is great (though I thought he says "Carry Fat Man", who cares anyway?), and so were a lot of other tracks, but I don't really want to talk about them. What I want to do is praise "Oswald Defense Lawyer", one of the best songs I have ever heard. It is more than catchy, it is almost hypnotizing. I love the voices, the guitar, hell I like everything about this song. I cannot praise it enough. If you haven't heard it, go buy this album NOW!
You used the word pointless in your review. That word sums up my feelings regarding this album when I bought it way back when, and 11 years later it still sums up my feelings. This is where things started to degrade. My theory is that the band missed Karl Burns badly. (Dave)
Wow! Great Album, definitey highly recommended. "Athlete Cured" is very humorous and Frenz is a superb piece of work. Timeless alternative pop! (Kevin E.)
Another "almost" effort by The Fall; if "Frenz" did not sound as if an 80's rock outfit were being used as a reference point, if "Hit The North" were only a bit more than the fundamental synthesizer foundation, if "Bremen Nacht" did not qualify as the dullest Fall dance number thus far then the strengths of genuine songs like "Carry Bag Man", "The Steak Place", and especially "Get A Hotel" would not be diminished. Still, this material is superior to the greater preponderance of the material on the criminally disappointing This Nation's Saving Grace. And despite the three songs that qualify as nothing but complete filler, this record works as a performance piece that is relatively easy to play daily.
This seems to be the album that Fall fans are split on the most. Obviously, it's easy to dismiss this as an annoying, repetitive pop sell out for which Brix was largely responsible. Wrong! Brix only co-wrote one song on the album - and if you look at the credits, all the best songs (Carry-Bag Man, Frenz, Athlete Cured, Bremen Nacht, and In these Times, to a lesser extent) were written by Mark exclusively. This, in fact, is the only Fall album where more than half the songs are Mark E. Smith's exclusively. Now, the point is this: for a band whose sensibility was founded on an economy of repetition, it's natural that they would make an album where every song was structured around the repetition of a three word phrase - variation could be measured against the consistency that repetition established. Didn't some guy in Spin magazine say that Mark could do more with three guitar chords than most could do with all eight. Well anyway, this album seems proof to me that you don't need much more than a three-word chant to make a kick-ass song. In any event, if you don't like this album, don't blame it on Brix.
Another slip down, but not that much. The cover of "Victoria" betters the original, and "Carry Bag Man" and "Bremen Nacht" are also among the best here. Still, there aren't really any true knockouts ("Victoria" aside) here, though nothing really bad. Score of 7.
A landmark album...and put that it bold print. Brix Brix Brix. People love to bash a Yoko or put this album on as the dividing line between what a Fall album should actually sound like. It's a Fall album, alright, and a great one. It's still Mark E's vision with just a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. And what have we learned: Mr. Smith has very few "frenz," he likes the Kinks, and that his (then) wife came up with some real catchy licks on her Ric. I've got about four versions of "Bremen Nacht" now, so I guess that makes me a retard in Prindle's eyes.
On the first couple of listens I was a tad disappointed, the whole album felt under written, too sparse on the idea front and incredibly short, (do the ten tracks fill even half an hour?) Of course, after a couple of months, I now find myself humming the tunes where ever I go, (especially Get a hotel and Bremen Nacht.) What's initially disconcerting is the utter lack of filler, the straight forwardness and very little pissing about. Maybe its my record player but there seems to be very little guitar on this album, (which isn't too bad a deal actually.) Finally, this has to have one of the worst Fall covers. Group pictures are always such a cheap and nasty gimmick, here made worse by actually obscuring, de-focussing the band members faces, (apart from MES of course,) and a nasty type face. Though on the back MES is wearing a rather fetching black sweater for his portrait. Hmm Nice.

In a chimps cock: A bargain at £5. Seven carrier bags for now.
I was watching BBC today (international version) and they're running an ad for one of their comedy hours or whatever (it's like one full hour of comedy) and there was BREMEN NACHT playing in the background! And the ad is running like every half an hour, which means that Swedish people can enjoy to ta to ta to taroto about 200 times a day! (Days are longer in Sweden because they're so boring.)

I'm so glad for Mark. He's finally made it. I know that people were saying this when Silence of the lambs came out but nobody actually ever saw that film much less heard the crappy Hex induction hour track. I image he's currently chalking up plans for a grand European tour and thinking to himself if he really should allow himself to be browbeaten into playing Theme from Sparta FC (or "Gotta get away with a stolen riff" as was the original title) with Offspring just because the ignorant assholes happened to have a smash hit with the song 10 years ago. A friendly hint though: next time you record a song in a foreign language, check the noun genders - it's DIE Nacht not das, heLLO?

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Live in Cambridge 1988 - Cog Sinister 1999.
Rating = 9

Hey, if you never write bad songs, it's hard to make bad albums! This is a late-Brix era one, right before she quit. Might as well, she sings out of tune the whole friggin album. Say, did you ever notice that the keyboard noise in "Hit The North" sounds like a duck with his bill stuck in a chimney flue? Oh then listen AGAGIN. AGAGIN.. I've loved "Pay Your Rates" a hell of a lot more since I learned that he's saying "Pay your rates! Pay your water rates!" I always thought he was saying "Pay your rates! Pay Yooooour rates!" and dragging it out. And I HATED that rhythm. But now I now he's singing even FASTER - "PAY YOUR WATER RATES!" Slurry Britishmen with drug intake.

Very poppy songs throughout of course, mostly from Frenz, but also including for GOD knows what reason "Cab It Up." Cute song, but is that one you'd really want to hear live? It sounds LIKE a conclusion. They played it fourth. It sounds like a whole bunch of credits should be rolling in front of the band as they play on stage. Oh hang on - I'm getting a shitter of an idea here.

"Norman Lear Presents: The Fall Guy!" It could feature Lee Majors and John Ritter in a hilarious story about a drugged-up British miscreant who solves crimes and has to pretend he's gay. Oh god this is GOOD. HANG ON I HAVE TO MAKE A CALL.

They said no. Okay then, there are corny keyboards in "Hey Luciani" (which is about a Pope being murdered) and isn't this live? Then why does "L.A." fade out, for crying out loud? Have they deleted some hilarious stage banter? God, I LOVE it when Mark Smith does that whole "HOW MANY OF YOU HERE LIKE TO TAKE A TASTE OF ALCOHOL?" bit. Ooh! And don't get me STARTED on "We'd like to ask that the people in the cheaper seats please clap their hands. And the rest of you rich cunts can go fuck yourselves!"

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I Am Kurious Oranj - Beggars Banquet/RCA 1988.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #11 - I feel a little weird giving this an 8, since it's basically a retread of the last album, but I still really like the songs! Maybe it's just because of all the fond memories I have regarding trips to DC with my special sweetie. Mark Smith would probably bop me in the face for singing along to The Fall with my girlfriend, but that's how life goes sometimes. If you really like somebody, you should share The Fall with them. Even if it's this sissyish Brix-period stuff.

Yes, just like The Frenz Experiment, this sounds like a modern pop/rock album with absolutely no rough edges (sounds like it was dipped in Vaseline or something), but boy does "New Big Prinz" ROCK in its cleanliness, and man, does Brix's "Overture" sound like the best song Survivor ever recorded, and girl, does "Jerusalem" have a great story about Mark tripping on a "discarded-ah banana skin-ah" and hitting his head on a "protruding-ah brick-ah chip-ah," and puppy is "Kurious Oranj" a wondermous merging of pop and reggae, and buttplug do I like "Van Plague." The rest is more of the same, and kind of forgettable, but you have to keep in mind - this was the soundtrack to a BALLET. Imagine a troupe trying to pirouette to "Cab It Up!" and maybe you'll start to understand why I gave it an 8. Still, why so predictable? Was the marriage already falling apart?

Reader Comments
Stop picking on Brix! The woman was a hell of a guitar player and brought a lot into a great band. I think it's silly to dwell on her sex. She did a lot for this band. Her "Yes O Yes" music here is brilliant I think. The one other worthwhile track hereon is the brilliant "Jerusalem". (Kevin E.)
The best, most cohesive piece of work by The Fall during the Brix-era because, at long lost, The Fall genuinely wanted to put down a complete album of songs that fit together quite nicely rather than throwing 12 singles onto a tape and calling that an effort. As far as Fall evolution goes, this is also the most sizable departure from the days of Hex Enduction Hour. The sound that the band worked with on "Paintwork" is fully developed on this sprawling masterpiece of radio-ready tunes. Although each individual song may not be the pinnacle of quality like the tunes on Slates, I hasten to mention that when listened to as a whole experience this is the most satisfying recording since Perverted By Language.
A step up from Frenz, this has a handful of great numbers. The "Overture" is pretty nice, "Jerusalem" is the fall at their doomiest best, and "Big new Prinz" and "Wrong Place, Right Time" have to contain some of the most delicious basslines in the Fall's career (can you call it a career?). An 8.
Read the liner notes and learn the horrible truth: much of this "concept" album was actually recorded during "Frenz" and qualifies as somewhat of an outtakes album. If "Frenz" were anything but a masterstroke, this would be something to get hot-n-bothered over. Since "Frenz" is so good, the leftovers sometimes taste better than the night they were cooked. Agree with the "8" rating and wish I knew what Mark E. is yelling during "Cab It Up" (sounds like man-strups) so that I could yell it at my daughter whenever she's dragging ass, getting ready for school. (Christian Durrett)
This is the worst fall album I've ever heard. It has some curious moments alright, but as an album I just can't sit through it. Props: New Big Prinz rocks my casbah. I always imagine Primus covering that song with Claypool's nasally vox replacing Mark's ranting-ah. Cab it Up! brings us the most annoyingly wonderfully catchy three word song title/lyric since "hit the north". And it is funny to imagine ballerina people dancing around to this stuff. Jerusalem always sounds kind of forced to me, although I dig the "it was the fault of government" lyric. You can find this on for 5 bucks like I did, but if you're going to pay full price get yerself another one, you carry bag man. (Stephen C.)
Just in case some of your younger readers aren't aware of this, Jerusalem is basically drums and guitar added to the famous British hymn "And did those feet in ancient time". Or, "Jerusalem". Of course since the Fall's version was meant for hip, intelligent young people, they felt they had to reduce the number of notes by a factor of about 10. Fuck you notes! Cool music cannot be written down by some silly dots on a bunch of lines!

Well OK, technically it can be, but at least you can make the dots a lot bigger since you don't need to write all those # and b's next to them, whatever they are. If I'll want something sharp and flat, I'll buy a plasma TV!

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I Am As Pure As Oranj - NMC 2000.
Rating = 8

There are so many exciting things to say about this faithful live rendition of the I Am Kurious Oranj ballet! I mean, I'm all like WOW! First of all, it has the non-Oranj tracks "Bremen Nacht," "Frenz" and "Deadbeat Descendent," yet DOESN'T have the instrumental "Theme From Kurious Oranj"!!!!! I mean, HELLO???? And don't get me STARTED on the way their instruments sound out of tune in "Bremen Nacht" or the way they introduce "New Big Prinz" with a few minutes of "Hip Priest"! I'd be talking all day!

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Seminal Live - Beggars Banquet 1989.
Rating = 7

I guess that'd be a "yeah," since they only completed one more side of studio recordings (only half of it decent) before Brix hit the road. "Dead Beat Descendant" is one of the swellest ditties she ever co-wrote (although that distorted guitar playing the cool second melody is a tad quiet in the mix, don't you think?). Actually, "Squid Law" is pretty great, too, but the other new tracks don't do a whole lot. The live stuff sounds good, though. It's basically a decent record - just completely unnecessary, that's all. Like Bob Dole.
Reader Comments
I agree with you, filler material city. (Chadwick Crawford)
Seminal Live was my first Fall, and there must be something there, because I've bought four more albums since, and will buy more when I get a paycheck that's not instantly rent-bound. Although some of the live versions contained therein are nowhere near as good as the album versions, all of them are strong (except maybe "Kurious Oranj"), and MES is trying his damnedest. The cover of "Pinball Machine" is the quintessential Country and Northern song, in my opinion. "Frenz" here is maybe better than the original. Contrary to some of the FAQs I've seen, this is not a bad first album, especially since it spans what, 3, 4 albums of material, and gives you both Brixish pop ("Cruisers' Creek," "L.A.") and scathing experimental noise ("Squid Law"). If you don't like this, you won't like the Fall.
A disappointment. The live stuff basically bites. Again, I think they really missed Karl, Simon just couldn't support the sound at this time. The new studio songs were indeed pretty good. This is like 1/2 a Fall album.
um, are you *sure* Bob Dole is live?

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458489 A Sides - Beggars Banquet/RCA 1990.
Rating = 9

All the singles from the squeaky-clean Brix era. Get it? 45s from 84 to 89? Oh, that ever-abstruse Mark E. Smith. Good compilation, especially since it has the wonderful non-album-tracks "Living Too Late" and "Oh! Brother," in addition to nifties like "L.A.," "C.R.E.E.P.," and "Dead Beat Descendant." But one warning: If you've got a girlfriend in pharmacy school, don't keep playing "Mr. Pharmacist" every time she enters the room. It will irritate her. You'll just to have to trust me on this.
Reader Comments (Kevin E.)
The release of 458489 A Sides is irrelevant for two arguable reasons: the songs included on the release include 3 cover songs. Fairly bad cover songs, at that. This one point and the following: the Brix-era material was best suited to the confines of a full studio album. I'm not certain The Fall were ever a singles-oriented band. Where 458489 A Sides is mentioned, I hark back to Pink Floyd's Works for filing under the "No Need To Purchase" heading. (Paul Stewardson)
My first Fall record! (after years of listening to other peoples Fall records I thought it was time I actually bought something by them). "Dead Beat Descendent" and "Hey! Luciani" are fantastic. Mark, the little warning about the "Mr Pharmacist"/girlfriend was the funniest thing I've heard for ages. (Anthony J. Burgess)
Has anyone else noticed that when you look at the back cover of the CD from about a foot away, all the titles in red and yellow appear raised above the ones written in blue? Freaky.
my first fall album was 458489 asides, and what a way be to be introduced to them. all of it is great happy pop. my favorite songs on here are "oh! brother" (great energy), "C.R.E.E.P" (it has one of the best tinky keyboard melodies i have ever heard), L.A. (i love that way MES mumbles and then screams L,L,L,L,L,A,A,A,A,A then brix yells "this isn't happening and it freaks me out". also it has a great dance baseline and cool synth noises), and "cruisers creek" (just exellent pop), but all of the songs are great! this is some of the best stuff the fall have come up with. this album makes the entire brix period unnecessary to get. a great buy.

9/10 (Ian Galley)
Sorry, but this mid/late eighties material just doesn't tickle me. I have no theory why, it's just crap. i will highlight 'Victoria', but that's a cover so it won't count. 'Hit the North' used to sound good played loud in clubs, but now it's too cheesy. T'other I'll mention is 'Big New Prinz'. Hey Brain of J, you're a funny guy but how is this more interesting, dynamic, blah, blah than Hip Priest? It's interest soon wears off, though the bass is brutal.

Good job I didn't buy this then. Anybody want Bend Sinister????

Here's a freebie I got told in Leeds after a night being blasted to another dimension courtesy of a Japanese noise trio, known as Boris.

What do you call a sarcastic Mexican?
Tex Piss.

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458489 B Sides - Beggars Banquet 1990.
Rating = 8

The companion piece. A double-CD set. They had some great B-sides ("Hot Aftershave Bop," "Australians in Europe," others), but a lot of these are just remixes and long instrumental versions of A Sides. Cool enough, though. I wouldn't throw it out of bed. Not with that hole in the middle.
Reader Comments (Kevin E.)
The accompanying b-sides release is almost essential, however. There are several supporting arguments to this: 458489 B Sides completely eliminates the need to purchase the reprehensibly ill-planned The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall for the b-sides collection includes the tunes that make the aforementioned studio effort somewhat acceptable. There are two additional implications of not owning The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall: the presence of one of the devil's imps singing background vocals is cut in half with the purchase of the b-sides collection. I refer to the inclusion of "Clear Off!" on 458489 B-Sides and the simple fact that, without owning The Wonderful... you absolutely eliminate the chance of hearing "Copped It". Which is an exceedingly good thing to eliminate. More importantly, 31 b-sides have been compiled on two discs. This is no small gift; this effectively retires the need of feeling it an absolute necessity to procure any of their "official" singles.
I would have to give this a 7 at best. There are many great songs here, but the majority of them are now on the reissues of the Beggars Banquet studio albums. Also, some of these songs ("Haf Found Bormann," "Acid Priest 2088", part of "Twister", for example) are crap. Still, I guess it's good to have all the songs in one set, and most of them still would be better than anything by most bands anyway.
The B-sides are better than the A-side(Untitled,God-Box,and Twister over all the rests!)
This was the first Fall album I ever purchased. Before this, I had only heard the Extricate songs, but this release cemented my love for the band. Songs like Living too Long and Mark'll sink Us were an inspiration. I think newcomers should get this or Hip Priest and Kamerads, although I think buying a compilation to introduce a band is a bit strange (Andrew Dean)
This is good. I don't know if it's good enough to pay for,as I haven't really done so - local libraries that let you hire out albums on the cheap are great,aren't they?

Still, it is good. 'Lucifer Over Lancashire' is damn good, perhaps especially since it's possible to sing 'Walk Like An Egyptian' over the top for most of it, and if, like me,you have yet to hear the albums that most of these had original versions on (The Wonderful and Frightening World... chiefly), then this is all good. This along with the A-Sides album probably would make for a great introduction to early-mid period Fall.

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Extricate - Cog Sinister/Fontana/Polygram 1990.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #12 - For some reason, I had originally only given this album a 7. I have no damned clue what I was thinking. It may not flow all that well in spots, but most of the songs are just terrific - and it doesn't sound like Frenz or Oranj at all!!!

Post-Brix. Several of these songs seem to be about her. They're not terribly flattering, either. For some reason, original guitarist Martin Bramah returned for this album, and he looks like a big sissy. He doesn't seem to be playing much, either. Still, some good songs - "Sing! Harpy" is essentially a rip-off of the Stooges's "Little Doll," but it's got a cool violin going all the way through it; "I'm Frank" doesn't sound like any Frank Zappa I've ever heard, but it's catchy in its sheer stupidity; "Black Monk Theme Part 1" appears to be a stuttering attack on Brix, but it's apparently a cover!; "And Therein" is terrific rockabilly; "Hilary" is a clever take on one of the oldest riffs in the world; and both "Telephone Thing" (which kinda sucks) and the title track (which is hilarious but for some reason was left off of the vinyl version) experiment with dance music. Some of the other songs blow, but all in all, it's really good. And no "dang dang dang" guitar for a damn change.

Reader Comments
Right up there in the Holy Trinity of LP's that Changed the Way We Listened to The Fall, with Hex Enduction Hour and Wonderful & Frightening..... A massive, massive breakthrough, grasping all sorts of new ways to sound. "Telephone Thing" is brilliant. "Popcorn Double Feature" is a fickin' SEARCHERS cover for God sake! Mark E is a genius for recording stuff like that, I heard the original version for the first time recently and it even SOUNDS like the Fall! After this, nothing came close except Middle Class Revolt.
This record mostly blows. It took several years from here for the Fall to adequately merge their garage sensibility with "modern" dance-oriented production techniques. Only thing great on here is "Sing Harpy". Again, I think you're unfair to Brix. Supposedly Marc had been through ANOTHER marriage already and these songs were more about the other woman. I think Brix is the ultimate Fall guitar player - she did some great stuff.
I picked The Fall's Extricate out of used bin for a small sum of money, and I think it was definitely worth it. Not sure how i'd rate it, but I have a big problem with it, and if you own this record you might know what i'm talking about...

During the song "Chicago Now" which is kind of drawn out, there's this guitar part where you think they're gonna start rockin' but no rockin' occurs.

It reminds me of the opening to some Pixiesesque rockin' except they don't follow through.

Every time this part in the song comes up I get all giddy like a schoolgirl because some rockin' is going to take place and every time I get let down. It's just not fair. Damn you Mark E. Smith, damn you to hell.

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Live In Zagreb - Cog Sinister 2001.
Rating = 7

How's about a riddle? Okay, here we go -- fill in the blank: "A stitch in time saves nine ____."

This CD was recorded live on the tour for Extricate (or Ecch!-stricate, as Mad magazine called it in their biting parody), and features 8 songs from that CD. As I may have stated before, Extricate is one of the only three Fall studio CDs that I'm less than thrilled with (it originally got a 7 on my site, and probably still should). Among other faults, it has some extremely generic, annoying BAD songs like "Telephone Thing," "I'm Frank" and "BIll Is Dead" - ALL OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND ON THIS LIVE CD! nOT ONLY TH - shit fucking caps lock Not only does it contain its share of stinkies, but even some great songs like "Carry Bag Man" and "Deadbeat Descendent" are (Rick) Dees-troyed by some of the shittiest mixing this side of a bar that makes mixed drinks that aren't very good. If you've heard "Carry Bag Man," you know that the song is propelled by its dark, Sherlock Holmes-style bass line. Welp, you can't hear the bass in this version. Just a really loud wah-wah guitar playing one note. And "Deadbeat Descendent" is rendered impotent by the most effeminate organ since God's Vagina.

On the plus zone, it's a mad coup to hear the anti-star Mark E. Smith sarcastically shout "OK - SOLO!" before the pigknuckled guitar break in ballad "Bill Is Dead" (I know Mark's Dad died the year Extricate was recorded - not sure if his name was Bill. Easy enough to find out - I'll just look in the phone book and see iif there are any listings for "Smith." If so, I'll give that person a call and ask about Mr. Smith.). And who expected to here "And Therein" with TWO chords in the verse line instead of just one? And don't say "Former Bronco John Elway," because I asked him and even he was only expecting one.

Bottom line - These live albums'll screw ya and screw ya good. Except for all the really good ones which, if they were a pretty girl, would screw ya and screw ya well. I too, like you, thought it would be neat to hear this era of the band perform live but, aside from a girl voice that presumably isn't Brix, it's not anywhere near as interesting as I was hoping 'twould be.

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Backdrop - Pseudo Indie Label 1994.
Rating = 7

A good bootleg. Lots of live versions of great non-LP tracks like "Lucifer Over Lancashire" and "Guest Informant," plus the hard-to-find title track (from Fall In A Hole), and three songs you can't find nowheres else! "Dresden Dolls" is an early one with that cool chorusy guitar, "Race With The Devil" is a hip garage rock cover, and "Plaster On The Hands" is a live experimental pop song from 1983 that, although certainly not something to toss a hand of joy into the stratosphere over, is still worth owning. And the weak original recording of "Hey! Luciani" is on here, too!!! And a bunch of Mark E. ramblings at the end-ah...
Reader Comments
"Dresden Dolls" appeared here in the UK on a bootleg 7" around 1987, backed with "front parlour" demos of "Psycho Mafia" and "Industrial Estate" from early 77. It's a lovely little item, not least because it demonstrates how The Fall hadn't quite found their feet. They sound more traditionally 'punk' (UK punk that is) here than they ever sounded. "Dresden Dolls" is a sludgy number with MES' Nazi fixation to the fore - although without the style and wit of later numbers. Here it's almost as if he's emulating the whole swastika shock tactic thing that was lovingly embraced by certain misguided punks at the time - Sid in particular. The record is on Total Eclipse (DRD1) and comes complete with crappy glossy photocopied cover - Smith on the back (from about 86) with titles along the side. The front cover has the bold legend: THE FALL. I've only ever seen one copy of this record - and that's mine. Your Fall review section is great although I disagree with you on a number of points. You're wrong about The Wonderful and Frightening... particularly as it contains one of their best pop numbers - "Stephen Song" - up there with "Ludd Gang" in my opinion. I think, like many Americans I've met, that you're too hung up on this 'rock' thing. Why you choose to review the likes of Aerosmith, Guns 'n' Roses, Metallica and the risible Ministry is beyond me. Why not have a go at Wire, Cabaret Voltaire or Stereolab? I know that Americans like their 'rock'... but thank god for the British invasions over the past forty years - and I don't mean Oasis. Oh, you're also way off the mark with the Velvet Underground. Despite all that, keep up the good work.

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The Dredger EP - Phonogram 1990.
Rating = 7

Hot on the heels of Extricate, these four songs hit the extremes of early-'90s Fall - "White Lightning" is a crude Big Bopper cover, "Zagreb" is damn close to techno (although way too pokey), "Blood Outta Stone" is a remarkable adult-contemporary-sorta song, and "Life Just Bounces" is... a little TOO cheerful, quite frankly. Kinda makes you wanna punch a guy.

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Shiftwork - Cog Sinister/Fontana/Phonogram 1991.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #13 - The Fall as easy listening. Smooth, almost non-existent guitar lines, gentle puffy production, dancey drumming, Mark actually singing. What the hell IS this crap? Well, it took some getting used to, but now I just love the songs so much, I hardly notice the sleepy quality of it all. Just smooth dance and pop, most of it really pleasant. "Idiot Joy Showland," "Pittsville Direkt," "High Tension Line," and "You Haven't Found It Yet" are my dreamtime companions, but "The Book Of Lies" is so darn strange, it might be my favorite one on here. It sounds like Tom Jones or something! Lessee... a couple of these drift by without having much effect ("Rose?" "Edinburgh Man?" Whatever, Mark...), but the mood is a truly relaxing one, plus near the end, you get to hear "White Lightning" again, and a wild (yet smooth!) punky (but with violins!) new song called "A Lot Of Wind."

I've grown to like this album a whole lot. I think it's more cohesive than Extricate, and a very interesting way to handle the post-Brix crisis. Unfortunately, it was never released in the U.S., so if you find it, it'll cost you about 20 dollars. Unless you live in England, of course, in which case, you can go to Hell, ya damn Mexican.

Reader Comments (Matt Holland)
That has to be THE most popular Fall album in the second-hand bins up here in Canada. I picked it up for about $8 (about 5 U.S. bucks!). I have yet to embrace it the way you have, the way I've embraced so many of their other albums: This Nation's Saving Grace; Code: Selfish; The Infotainment Scan; Levitate...
One of the best Fall albums, hailing the beginning of a new chapter. Edinburgh Man is one of the best Fall tracks ever.
this is one of the worst Fall record i've heard!Maybe..The Mixer is a good do-it-yourself-tune.. but not much.

oh sorry "dogs"...went a bit DMX there for a minute...i'm better now (he's a bit humourless innee? that a blooming wrestler or summink)..

matter at hand: i got this here album yesterday as part of my quest to get all The Fall's albumens. i had had one of the worst days at work EVER...proper Michael Douglas "Falling Down" steez...YELLED "FUCK THIS FUCKIN JOB!!!" at top of my lungs upon leaving the office of misery (hmmm...that could be a Fall track, "The Office Of Misery") and a woman in my path visibly flinched...SORRY! anyway, i get home and whack this shiznit on, and...AHHHHHH...that's better. it's SOOTHING...this band can do abrasive, soothing, thoughtful, rousing, whatever. basically, they can do no wrong. previous comments are right, it is mellow generally, sophisticated pop stuff. "edinburgh man" is dope, instantly hummable and somehow reassuring. for the benefit of those not from Blighty, "Idiot Joy Showland" seems to refer to the late 80s/early 90s "Madchester" "scene", spawned from the likes of The Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays, and the resulting media furore (right spelling?) refers to the baggy-jean-clad-stoned-and-hedonistic youths of the time...Mark E obviously feels this to be pretty shallow , leading to the "working class been shafted" stuff. It always interests me to try and deduce the themes in Fall lyrics, coz they are often very much a comment on life in Britain at that time. anyway, tangent...disagree wid Prindle, "Rose" is a moving, dreamy sorta track seemingly about lost love...its simplicity touched me. another great album, some nice spazzy electronic bits also. The reason the music press give The Fall that grudging respect and never really write about 'em, favouring all these new hotboys (in the case of the NME, The Vines, Libertines, Kills, Thrills, the, the, the, etc,etc) is that EVERYTHING THEY WANT TO HYPE AS NEW AND EXCITING HAS generally ALL BEEN DONE BY THE FALL...i love 'em (Ian Galley)
It's a lovely summers day and I'm going through my Fall collection, sipping lemonade and burning wasps with a magnifying glass. This is a pretty, pretty album. Very loose and understated. 'Shift Work' can trance me out, even at the most studied of times. As the great man says 'Life is nothing more than a disposable facial tissue in a brass bin (close??)


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High Tension Line EP - Cog Sinister/Fontana/Phonogram 1992
Rating = 7

If you own Shiftwork, you're so familiar with the title track of this EP that I must look like a real fool sitting here trying to talk down to/patronize you with a description of its enjoyability. Thus, I will proceed to tracks B and C. "Xmas With Simon" is a sissyish, dumb, slow, boring pop song featuring around two chords, a bouncy synth, a smooth guitar, a whistle part and Mark Smith talking. If every Fall song were this poorly arranged and lazily performed, this review page would be quite short indeed.

That gives me a crazy idea. Maybe I should begin a sort of "alternate reality" record review site, featuring reviews only of albums that don't exist, but COULD if things had gone just a little differently. For example, what if Van Halen had given Sammy Hagar the screw after his first couple albums and brought back Diamond David Roth? You see, in MY world -- my DREAMworld of the SLEEPING MIND -- For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge is one hell of a great record and earns a 9. Likewise, what if Bon Scott had fallen asleep that night in a position that allowed for maximum projectile vomiting? Perhaps the world would be a bit sadder without Back In Black but holy fuckin' SHIT would Ballbreaker be a fun record! You see, anything can happen in life: it just hardly ever does. For example -- why did Phil Collins survive long enough to become Michael Eisner's personal urinal? Or how about this -- Had Roger Waters' father survived WWII and Syd Barrett never gone crazy but simply left the band for personal reasons, would Roger have ever been able to come up with any song ideas at all? Nobody will ever know. But there's one thing we can and do know, and that is this: No band in the history of the Universe has put out more high-quality studio albums than The Fall. Those are just the basic facts. Can you show me where it hurts?

Moving on to track three -- this is the reason that Fall fans have smothered drool all over their computer screens in search of this rare EP since the day it hit the singles charts at Number Not Actually On The Chart At All. "Don't Take The Pizza" is a brooding, simplistic combination of dark descending FULL and THROBBING bass guitar, scratchy-swizzly-swashly-swirly guitar swatches, a nervous 2/2 drumbeat and Mark dramatically warning the listener NOT TO TAKE THE PIZZA from him! DON'T you FUCKING get IT? don't TAKE the PIzZa!!!!

Well, I don't get it either, to be honest. Great song though! Should have made the album (preferably in place of "Edinburgh Man").

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Nottingham '92 - Cog Sinister 1998
Rating = 6

This live soundboard recording, featuring 7 Code: Selfish tracks, 5 Shiftwork, and 1 each from Extricate, I Am Kurious Oranj and Dredger EP, stinks. The drums are far too loud for such a timid performance, the guitar and keyboard are completely out of tune with each other, and the bass player seemingly didn't even bother showing up. Furthermore, it sounds like they hadn't even finished writing the Code: Selfish songs yet! And another thing!

Craig Scanlon clearly didn't write or play lead guitar on "And Therein...," but Mark makes him play it (wrong) anyway! And another thing!

"Immortality" has one chord, and "Edinburgh Man" is the only Fall song that I absolutely, full-bodiedly LOATHE WITH ALL MY BEING! And another thing!

Hey, you know what, today's bands? LEARN YOUR FUCKING MATERIAL BEFORE PLAYING IT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE! And another thing!

People often ask me, they say "Hay Mnark, you like movies. WHy don't you write movie reviews?" Well, it's because I don't know anything about the art or science of filmmaking. Music I understand; I've written and played music for half my life, so I have a pretty good (though not very technical) understanding of what goes into songwriting, playing and recording. But all I know about movies are whether I like them or not! As such, I feel it would be a grave disservice of me to foist my ignorant cinematic ruminations upon the loyal, royal readers of Why, I'd appear as an unlearned galoot!

Actually, here - let me give a quick example of what it would be like if I were to start reviewing movies.

ALONE IN THE DARK - This is a really entertaining psycho/slasher from 1982, starring Jack Palance as one of four violent psychotics who escape from an asylum and head to their new doctor's home because Palance has convinced them of his delusion that he (the new doctor) has murdered their old doctor (who actually just moved to a different hospital in another state). It's actually very suspenseful and the four wackos are HELLA fun to watch. HELLA! I liked it lots! Donald Pleasence does a great job as the overly-trusting, naive asylum head too, who prefers to call his patients 'voyagers' instead of 'patients' or 'nutjobs'. Some great MURDERS! MURDERS MURDERS MURDERS YOU HEAR ME MURDERS! ****

ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN - Andy Warhol didn't actually have anything to do with it, but his people did. Paul Morrissey, Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier. At first I hated it because it was so campy but it really grew on me for two great reasons: (a) nobody ever even hints at the fact that the obviously gay guy is in fact gay - at no point in the movie does anybody realize this or even make reference to it, and (b) every single actor in the movie is using a German accent except for Joe Dallesandro, who speaks in his normal Brooklyn accent. Nobody calls attention to this in any way, even though the movie supposedly takes place long before America even existed! From there on out, it had me. Bloody, funny, dark... strange! ***

ANGUISH - An odd one! From 1986 or 87. The first 20 minutes are about an old woman (the tiny psychic from Poltergeist) hypnotizing her son (a guy who looks like a skinnier version of Newman from Seinfeld) to murder and remove the eyes from all of his enemies. Then suddenly it's revealed that this is actually a movie, being watched by a theater full of viewers. But then the movie they're watching ("The Mommy") uses all these visual and audio tricks to hypnotize the audience (a very queasy part of the movie), then the eye-gouging son in the movie goes HIMSELF to a movie theater and begins killing patrons. At this point, one of the hypnotized patrons from the 'real' movie theater pulls out a gun and re-enacts the actions of the guy onscreen. So it's a movie within a movie within a movie, sort of. Quite interesting, and a hilarious screwball ending! I liked it. A very odd experiment upon the traditional 'slasher.' ****

BASKET CASE - Fun silly little 1982 gore movie about a shy 20-year-old boy who carries his deformed ex-Siamese twin around in a basket. They go to NYC to murder the doctors who separated them. As a NYCer, it's always neat to see how scummy 42nd Street was before I lived here. It was scummy! Not a movie I'll remember in ten minutes, but bloody fun while it lasted! And I don't mean "bloody" in the British way, although I guess that definition would apply as well. The pathetic stop-animation (is that the term?) they use to show the monstrous twin moving around is hilarious. And it's actually very affecting to see in flashback how nice and caring the boys' aunt was, even to the monstrous twin. ***

BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE - I guess it's telling that I just watched this a week ago and can hardly remember a thing about it. It's another 'lesbian vampire' movie, although it's more about a dead vampire woman hypnotizing a live woman and bringing her under her power. There's no lesbian sex or anything. The live woman is slowly drawn away from her confused husband as the vampire woman convinces her that men are grotesque and evil and need to be murdered. It was a little slow, but interesting. Not that I can remember much of it, but near the beginning I remember that the man was in the mood for sex too much, and the wife came to really loathe him on account of it, which probably made it easier for the vampire woman to lure her away from him. One really neat scene had the vampire woman buried under the sand on a beach, with only her toes and a snorkel visible. The husband found the snorkel, scraped away the sand surrounding it, and saw her eyes under goggles. Then he kept scraping and discovered her bare breasts! She just stared at him. Very strange, interesting scene. With TEATS! ***

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN - I liked it, especially Heath Ledger's lackadaisical mumble. The sex scene was remarkably raw too. SPOILER HERE: I'm really sick of dramas killing off protaganists just to be more 'tragic' though. There was no reason that Donnie Darko had to die. I mean, I know it went along with the whole "if we act gay in public, we'll be killed" theme, but he could have survived the attack and we could have had a happy ending. It didn't make the movie any better to kill him off. At any rate, I did enjoy it. Especially Donnie Darko's hilariously fake mustache. Lots of subplots seemed to jump into the story before immediately disappearing though, which I found a little disappointing. For example, Junior wanting to move in with her father because things were getting bad at home. And what exactly was the significance of Junior's wedding announcement at the end? Was Heath hoping she'd be a lesbo or something? (I know that's not the case - I just wanted to use the word 'lesbo').***

CARS THAT ATE PARIS - Quite odd! Australian thing by a director who went on to do Witness and a few other big movies. Sort of a dark comedy mixed with a horror movie, about a small Australian town that purposely runs the cars of visitors off the side of a cliff so they can collect and sell the auto parts. Any survivors are converted by the local doctor into braindead zombie-like creatures. And the bored youth act out by building crazy violent cars and smashing them into each other in the middle of town. I liked it! It's from the '70s, a decade. ***

CHEERLEADER BEACH PARTY - Four not particularly attractive college football cheerleaders ('70s of course) find out that their star players are planning to enroll in a rival college, so they follow them to the campus and try to recruit the other schools' players by having sex with them. Wacky hi-jinks ensue (though not much sex at all, if any!). At one point, the girls pretend to be ghosts in a "Haunted House" where the guys are sleeping. At another point, they spike the punch and serve hash brownies at an important pool party hosted by the college dean and his wife. Can you imagine the hi-jinks? Christ! So many hi-jinks!***

CUT-THROAT KOMMANDO SS - More like "Cut-Rate Nazi Sexploitation Movie" if you ask me!!! 1969, I think. Some American soldiers attack and take over a Nazi brothel where some important plans are hidden. Unfortunately, their commander is a bastard who wants all his men killed so he can escape with a cache of precious jewels. It includes lots of nude scenes with people who don't appear to be part of the script at all. Like a woman walking through the woods with a framed painting, who runs into a Nazi soldier. She tries to sell him the painting and he responds by taking all her clothes off and having sex with her (she doesn't want to, but is afraid to react). When they're finished, an American soldier comes along and kills the Nazi. The woman puts all her clothes back on and walks away, never to return to the movie. It has a happy ending.****

DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS Elizabeth Bathory WON'T DIE! She keeps coming back and turning people into vampires and sucking the blood and life out of them and doing lesbian things. This is a slow-moving film, but I enjoyed it. It wasn't anywhere near as 'erotic' as claimed, but it was still an interesting movie with good actors and a gruesome accidental razor murder. ***

DEAD AND BURIED - Another really good scary horror movie, with a hilarious 'twist ending.' A big group of people in a small town keeps murdering people passing through - in really horrible ways - while taking photos of the murders. A cop tries to figure out what the heck is going on, and he begins to suspect that his wife and witchcraft are involved. There are some really gross murders in this one - like a guy at the beginning who has his head bashed in with shovels and rocks before being tied to a pole and set on fire. Then he SURVIVES, lies in a coma in the hospital for a couple weeks, and wakes up with his entire burnt body in a cast except for his mouth and one eye -- at which point somebody comes in and finishes him off with a hypodermic needle to the eye! A neat one. Recommended! ****

DEAD ZONE Fantastic! I hadn't seen it since early high school. It's really really good. Doesn't feel like a Cronenberg movie to me, but I love good old Christopher Walken. "The ICE!.... is gonna BREAK!" That's the plot. ****

DEATH WARMED UP Australian movie about an egotistical, evil doctor who comes up with a way to make dead people live again, through something he puts in their brains. Though not 'zombies,' they are very ugly, malformed, weird-looking people. And at the point of the movie's goings-on, they've all started going haywire due to some genetic mutation. Then some young people try to blah blah I'm sick of talking about it. It was quite entertaining, gross, and even scary at times. The ending came completely out of nowhere though, with a major character being killed in a random way that had nothing to do with anything.***

EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW - Released in 1974, also known as "The Sexorcist." Unforgivably dull. A woman buys a sculpture of some guy; unfortunately, it's been possessed by the Devil so it comes to life and rapes her. Then she lies in bed acting like Linda Blair with no special effects budget for 45 boring minutes. I hated the Hell out of this movie. "Sexorcist," my eye! There was like one boob shot! More like "ExorCYST" if you ask (etc)!!! *

EIGHT BELOW - Doggies!!!! Terrible movie, but doggies!!!! ***

ELSA FRAULEIN SS A particularly boring Naziploitation movie. This really bitter woman runs a whore train for Nazis, and the rooms are bugged so they can catch any non-loyal soldiers speaking out against the Fuhrer. This is the same exact plot used in a couple other movies I've already seen (Special Train For Hitler, Salon Kitty, possibly one other one too), but this one was just really lackluster. I don't even really remember anything about it. Was it good? I don't know! No, I don't think so. **

EROTIC NIGHTS OF THE LIVING DEAD Whee! Laura Gemser, Joe D'amato - how could it FAIL? Hardcore sex and zombies - the perfect combination! I enjoyed it of course, because I'm a moron.****

EYES OF LAURA MARS A 'stylish' slasher from 1978 starring Faye Dunaway as a controversial photographer whose work mixes sex and violence. Suddenly she begins 'seeing' her models and associates being murdered one by one. She sees through the killer's eyes. But who IS the killer? Is it Brad Dourif as her ex-con chauffeur? A mustache-less Rene Auberjonois as her flamboyant but short-fused agent? Tommy Lee Jones as the stoic cop and love interest? I guess we'll never know! ***

FADE TO BLACK From everything I'd read, I thought this was just a gimmick slasher about a killer who dresses up like famous movie characters before killing people. But it's actually much, MUCH better than that (for a while anyway). The first half-hour or so follows this nerdy, introverted, anxious young guy who is obsessed with the movies and has poor social skills, but is still semi-likable in a strange way. Unfortunately, his emotionally abusive aunt/mother finally drives his mind over the brink and from then on out, he's determined to get his enemies. It's interesting how he finally comes out of his shell and develops a spine after he starts killing people, but that's because he's come to believe that he's a movie character. At any rate, it's definitely NOT an average slasher. You actually know more about the killer than any of the victims, and you feel sorry for him for a while. He just lost his mind! ***

FINAL DESTINATION 1, 2 & 3 - My married wife and I enjoyed these films quite a bit. They're slasher films wherein Death itself is the slasher, killing people in hilariously convoluted 'accidental' ways. I hope this series continues, even if nobody bothers seeing them but me and my knot-tied spouse. The idea of 'the force of Death' as a slasher just cracks me up because ANYTHING can happen, and it's usually gross! Although the opening roller coaster disaster scene in the third installment is heavy on the (bad) computer effects, the rest of the movie is a hoot. A couple of dumb blondes are set on fire in a tanning salon; a weight lifter has his head crushed between two weights; an obnoxious lecher has the back of his head smashed in by the ejected engine of the car behind his; a girl falls backwards on a nailgun, which fires about eight shots through the back of her head (and through her face, from behind!); a girl gets speared and her body slides sickeningly down the shaft -- FUN, GODDAMMIT! ****

FLESH GORDON Apparently this was shot as a 90-minute X-rated film, then cut to 78 minutes for an unrated version, then further cut to 72 minutes for an R. I got the R-rated version, and it's STILL full of wall-to-wall full frontal nudity. It was also entertaining as all hell! Lots of hilarious stop-motion creatures coming after Flesh Gordon as he tries to save the Earth from Dr. Zorg's deadly Sex Rays. Very funny, stupid, naked sci-fi comedy.****

FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS - 1973 Italian mess. I really don't like monster movies per se, but this one kept me entertained because it was so dumb, I guess. It stars a caveman character called "Ook," a wily evil dwarf that rapes and murders a little girl, a gigantic dumb-looking 'monster' named Goliath, and some normal actors attempting to take it seriously. **

FRENZY Alfred Hitchcock's second to last movie - it's a slasher! Contains a couple of exceptionally gross scenes, and is a pretty good movie overall. I'm just not a huge fan of Hitchcock though.***

FRIVOLOUS LOLA Tinto Brass = successful erotic filmmaker. I can think of very few other filmmakers who could hold my interest in a light-hearted dramedy like this, but holy crikey does he crank up the non-hardcore eroticism! Granted, the woman has hairy underarms but you hardly even notice! It's about a woman who wants to have sex with her fiancee before they get married, but he won't because of religious reasons. The ending is kind of sick and immoral, but in a healthy, moral way. ****

FUNERAL, THE Another fantastic Abel Ferrara/Christopher Walken movie. Slow-moving drama, but very very good, with a tragic ending.****

GETTING INTO HEAVEN - Something Weird. Uschi Digart is an aspiring actress named "Heaven," her roommate is an aspiring actress named "Sin," Heaven sleeps with a young geeky cop so he won't give her a speeding ticket - and he falls in love with her. Meanwhile, a gross movie producer keeps "hilariously" chasing both women around trying to... well, RAPE them basically. But in a FUNNY, 1970 way! They both of course give in and love it. But he won't give them a role! Finally they're determined to get parts out of him so they (and one of their friends) set him up in a bedroom and plan to wear him out and force him to sign a contract to put them in a movie. Unfortunately, he's hilariously a zany satyr-type person, and has sex with each of them about 25 times each! (as 'hilariously' recorded on a chalkboard). In the end, they're all tired out, he's ready for more, and suddenly he has a great idea for a movie. Basically a real worthless piece of crap, but nudity aplenty. ****

HOLY MOUNTAIN - 1973 experimental art film by Alejandro Jodorowsky. I had already seen the eccentric director's fantastic "Santa Sangre," so I thought I was in the mood for some more of his visual zaniness. This film is certainly full of bizarre, entrancing visuals -- including a couple dozen frogs dressed in military gear to re-enact a war, a Jesus-looking homeless man waking up in a storeroom to realize that a company has gotten him drunk and created hundreds and hundreds of life-size plastic replicas of him, and a firing squad shooting a family dead, at which point a bunch of birds fly out of the father's chest wound. And this continued throughout the whole movie - really bizarre imagery for nearly two hours. Unfortunately, the plot is threadbare. As such, I fell asleep over and over and over. Try as I might, I simply couldn't keep my eyes open for a two-hour movie with almost no plot. Oh well.**

HOT DOG...THE MOVIE No clue why I bought this. 80s sex comedy about skiing. Not much comedy really - it's not slapstick like you'd expect. More just these dopey guys trying to help a young skiier succeed against a big evil German guy who wins the tournament every year. Enjoyable, but not anything I'll ever think about again.***

JACK THE RIPPER One of the worst Jess Franco ones I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot. This movie was so dull, it literally INFURIATED me.*

JACKASS PART TWO Hilarious! These guys crack me up. Do you like them at all? I've never seen so much male nudity in an R-rated film before. I guess somebody at the MPAA spoke up and said, "You know -- nobody is going to be sexually excited by the sight of a man getting his testicle stuck to an ice figure of a horse." ****

JOHNSONS - Interesting Danish horror movie about a set of psychotic mute septuplets created by a demented doctor in order to fulfill a prophecy involving the rape of their sister and subsequent enveloping of the Earth in pure evil. Also a really good portrait of a young girl going through those confusing puberty years. The ending's kinda lame though -- it turns out that the septuplets are very easy to kill! ***

KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE If you're drunk and have taken martial arts classes, this movie is HILARIOUS! I was laughing the whole time, even when I KNEW the gags were stupid! And 'A Fistful Of Yen' was fantastic fun! ****

KILLER NUN - A 'nunsploitation' classic from the late '70s. A nun has a nervous breakdown and starts hurting the old people she's supposed to be helping. Then MURDERS start happening and everybody blames her but she can't remember committing any of them. She keeps having blackouts. And there's nun nudity too, and lesbianism if memory serves. Because of this, I liked it! ****

LADY NINJA The Japanese are so ODD! This is from the 90s, and is a sexploitation action Kung Fu crime adventure comedy. These four Lady Ninjas battle a bunch of other Ninjas, basically for the right to MURDER the Shogun's former mistresses, who are hurting him politically by merely existing. A pretty evil premise, quite frankly, but it's easy to forget when they start doing crap like the "Ninja Power: Third Leg"! (guy grows enormous tree-trunk penis to kill woman via penetration) and "Ninja Power: Balloon"! (with tree-trunk penis in vagina, woman blows and blows and blows -- apparently from both ends? -- until the penis and testicles grow to hilarious inflated size and explode). And "Ninja Power: Poisoned Lactate" is pretty self-explanatory, I guess. Lots of silly nudity, and fun! I give it a thups umb! ***

LUST FOR FREEDOM - Troma's take on the 'women in prison' genre, full of corny '80s metal by Grim Reaper and bands like that. According to Psychotronic, this was actually an unreleased '70s movie that Troma bought, renamed, added narration and music to, and released as a new film. Ha! At any rate, it's a surprisingly entertaining 'wip' film considering Troma was involved. It's set in a small town out in California where the police and evil bounty hunters lure (or force) young women into a Women's Prison, drug them for days, set them up with fake drug arrests, and either sell them as white slaves to a lecherous old judge or force them to star in snuff films. The narrator is a female cop who falls into the trap. It features some very classy moments, especially the scene that keeps cutting back and forth between (a) two cellmates making tender sapphic love, (b) a prisoner being raped at arrowgun-point by a prison worker, and (c) a recaptured escapee chained topless to a wall and whipped by a huge muscle guy. At the end all the bad guys are killed, because it's a G-rated children's movie. ****

MADHOUSE - 1984 slasher. A woman's evil, deformed twin sister breaks out of an insane asylum, and suddenly a killer dog starts killing lots of people (including a deaf little boy! Whee!). The ending isn't exactly a surprise, but it's gruesome enough to be enjoyable. Hey, I like old slashers! Leave a guy be with his shitty movies! ***

THE MAJORETTES A late-period slasher featuring probably 15 or 20 of the least credible actors ever. They all sound like they don't even want to be in the movie! Possible murderers include an evil old German woman, a group of drug-dealing thugs, a retarded janitor/peeping tom, and a far-too-fanatic priest. In the last 25 minutes, it suddenly turns into a Rambo film, with a bare-chested high school guy blowing away the drug dealers with a huge gun he took from his father's gun cabinet. Most hilariously of all, the bad guy gets away at the end -- and his murderous obsession is shown to be progressing from high school cheerleaders to like seven-year-olds! Had it been a good film, it would have been boring. Instead, it was a lot of fun! ***

MAN FROM DEEP RIVER I constantly see this hailed as the 'first Italian Cannibal movie,' but that's a farce. There are cannibals, but only for about 10 minutes near the end. The rest of the movie is about a savage native tribe taking a Westerner hostage and eventually letting him join their tribe, at which point he falls in love, watches his wife die while giving birth, and decides to stay with the tribe to protect them. In other words, it's a fucking SLOW-MOVING LOVE STORY. Which would have been fine had it said anything about that on the box. Instead, it just bragged about horrible cannibal carryings-on that NEVER HAPPEN! **

MARQUIS DE SADE'S JUSTINE - From 1968 I think. Another Jess Franco movie! This one is actually a good one though, before he got lazy and miserable. At 124 minutes, and being a De Sade tale, I was expecting the worst sort of torture and sadness, but thankfully it was played more like a dark comedy (which I'm told is what De Sade's actual writings were like, though I've never read any). In other words, unlike Salo where you get nothing but torture torture torture and death, this one is set up so that the 'baddies' are like caricatures of baddies -- so obviously corrupt and evil that it's hilarious to watch the far-too-naive, innocent Justine fall for their lies over and over and over again. It's also nice that, although she is certainly whipped and threatened with rape and such, she never actually IS raped -- and after all of her tribulations, she winds up with a happy ending! So good work, Jess Franco. Keep it real! ****

NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES - Not anywhere near as sleazy as you'd expect with a title like this. Minimal nudity, and plot plot talking plot god the plot - 1 hr and 45 minutes worth! Luckily there's some good funny meanness and murder at the end. AL ADAMSON STINKS!!!! This is the second of his films that I've seen (the first being POSSESSION OF NURSE SHERRI) and they are really fucking bad. Just BORING! Not even bad enough to be good! Never again, Al! "I Won't Be Fooled Again," to quote the Beatles! **

NEKROMANTIK I can't believe my wife watched this with me. At one point she said, "I've never seen a movie that made me feel like vomiting as much as this one does." But she sat through the whole thing! It's hilarious. The filmmaker sets up necrophilic sexual acts as ROMANTIC scenes, with tender love music and erotic lighting -- it's really, really funny! (and purposely so) There are a couple of horrible murder scenes that kind of ruin the 'over-the-top gross sick fun' vibe, but they're kinda necessary to carry the plot to its riotously sick conclusion. I really liked this! It was different! ****

NOTORIOUS CLEOPATRA - 1970 sexploitationer about Marc Anthony, Caesar and Cleopatra. It was supposedly a 'sex comedy,' but I don't think I recall any of it being 'funny' per se. A Something Weird re-release of course, with plenty of naked women (or 'broads'). ***

REINCARNATION OF ISABEL I've never in my life seen a movie that makes as little sense as this one. There is never any explanation of what is actually going on, what is a flashback, what is a fantasy, what is a nightmare, etc. It's just a bunch of stuff going on in a scary old mansion with no explanation. Lots of nudity though, so who cares.***

RUN VIRGIN RUN Adorable silly sex comedy from Germany 1973. In this little village, all the young wives send their old husbands off to the woods once a year to breathe deep of 'The Fern,' a wind that makes them all fertile, real men and keeps the village populated with youngsters. However, the wily lasses are actually being impregnated by the town's young blacksmith, who sexually services them while their husbands are out in the woods! (My wife raised the obvious point: 'So what happens when all these kids grow up and start inbreeding?'). It's cute - full of adorable silly characters and nudeness. ***

RUTLES: ALL YOU NEED IS CASH - Much, much funnier than I'd remembered. Sure, most of their songs aren't funny, but this movie sure is. Eric Innes NAILS every John Lennon phase as "Ron Nasty," Eric Idle is an absolute scream as the wide-eyed 'cute one' Dirk McQuickly, and they cast an actual INDIAN (Rikki Fataar) to play the George Harrison character! HA! So many great parts, I can't even begin to name them. But I will! The "Ouch!" video; the Summer of Love with all the hippy bands under the influence of Tea (newspaper headline: 'Stones Party Bust: Naked Girl and a Teapot'); the robbing of Rutle Corps records; Ron Nasty's Nazi girlfriend; the 'Rutles Are Bigger Than Rod' scandal; the way the narrator keeps being dragged along mercilessly by his cameraman; the "Piggy in the Middle" video; the animated "Yellow Submarine Sandwich" sequence - and so on and so on. I was smiling the whole time! If you love the Beatles, you'll like Utopia's Deface The Music LP! *****

SAFE Strange Todd Haynes film about a 'vapid housewife' who becomes 'allergic to her environment.' Neat to watch because his directing style is so strange. Interesting that the main characters seem to have no personality at all. Some very, very funny '80s-related fashions and dialogue and such. ***

SATAN'S BED - Hilariously rotten, terrible old 1965 Michael/Roberta Findlay production starring Yoko Ono as a Japanese woman (deuhrr) who is about to marry an American drug dealer (she doesn't know he's a drug dealer). A member of the mob doesn't want to let the man retire, so he hunts down Yoko, kidnaps and repeatedly rapes her. Apparently the Findlays didn't film enough footage for a whole movie, so another director filmed a 'side story' about three drugged-up hoodlums who go around forcing sex on women in their homes, cars, wherever. The two plot strands never connect, and the film ends with Yoko running away from her kidnapper -- into the street, where she's hit by a car and kiiled. Say, that's some good filmmaking! **

SCRAPBOOK - I had read that this is a very disturbing movie about a serial killer who makes his victims write about their tortures in his scrapbook, which is also full of bloody photos, snatches of hair, etc. What I HADN'T read is that it's a shot-on-video piece of amateurish shit starring people who can't act doing stupid things and reciting boring dialogue. I made it through 10 minutes, and only made it that far because about half of it was full of tits. AVOID. *

SEEDS OF SIN - Long Island handheld low-budget shit filmmaker Andy Milligan made a movie about a creepy family having a reunion and being murdered one by one. (This was in the early 70s). He gave it to his producer, who decided it wasn't sleazy enough and responded by removing dialogue sections that bored him -- and replacing them with sex scenes starring people who aren't actually in the movie!!! It's hilarious and obvious the way he did it too because all the original scenes feature old-fashioned music and the new sex footage features sleazy sex music. So like Andy will have a scene of the homely, crazy daughter looking at muscleman magazines and taking her clothes off (establishing that she is lonely and in need of male companionship), then suddenly the music turns all funky and there are five minutes of a woman -- HER HEAD NOT SHOWN -- masturbating while muscleman magazines lie on the bed in front of her. Same with the sex scenes -- once the funky music comes in, suddenly the heads aren't in the shots anymore! Terrible yet unbelievably hilarious. Some great murders too, including acid thrown into a woman's face! ****

SILENT MADNESS Slasher. Distinguishes itself by having the psychiatrist protagonist stalked not only by a mistakenly-released homicidal maniac, but also by her own scandal-fearing employer! Very creepy hospital orderlies, mute psycho, murders, etc. Slasher, in other words. ***

SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT Here's another one that I was expecting to be a basic slasher, but nose iree! Instead it starts off as a very sad story about a child who watches his parents get raped and murdered by a guy dressed as Santa Claus, before being placed under the care of a mean old bitch nun. He still manages to grow up into a nice young man, though a little odd - and he gets really nervous at Christmastime but doesn't know why (he can't remember the incident). Finally his workplace forces him to dress like Santa, and (following a few other disappointments) he loses his mind and becomes the Santa that his childhood self saw - the murderous 'punishing' Santa. Unfortunately, he then spends the rest of the movie saying "KILL!" and "PUNISH!" in a really dumb voice before slaying people in interesting ways. So they had something going for a while, then pretty much lamed it out. I still enjoyed the second half because of the interesting, fun killings (like picking up Linnea Quigley and impaling her on a deer head mounted on the wall -- the horns go through her back and come out the front of her chest - whee!), but the character was just lame after that -- His performance was "PUNISH!"-ing, as a hilarious pun-making comedian might say. ***

SINDERELLA AND THE GOLDEN BRA - Something Weird re-release of a 1964 nudie-cutie musical. It wasn't funny and there was hardly any nudity at all, but I enjoyed it! In my drunken state, I just found it hilarious every time somebody would burst into a dumb little song. And the long sequence of the Prince and his men going from house to house trying to fit the golden bra onto every young woman in the village was of course fun. Doesn't hold a candle to CINDERELLA starring Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith though. In that one, it ain't the SHOE or BRA that fits!!! (It's the vagina) I'm not gonna tell you what it IS, but it sure ain't the SHOE or BRA!!! ***

THE SINFUL DWARF Sleazy Something Weird 1970-or-so sickie about a deranged woman and her grotesque dwarf son who rent rooms in their run-down apartment building, as well as keeping three kidnapped girls naked, strung out on heroin and locked in the attic for prostitution purposes. A failing writer and his young, nubile wife check into a room. He gets sent out of the country, she discovers the attic, and is CAPTURED! Tons of nudity and complete sleaze, along with some really dull scenes stuck in just to drag the length out to 90 minutes. Good! Especially near the end when the cop and husband find the attic room with the drugged-up naked girls, and the cop says to the husband, "Can you shoot a gun?" When he replies in the affirmative, the cop hands him a gun and leaves him alone in the room with the deranged old woman. HA! So he kills her of course, just as we all would. Good old policemen. ***

THE SLAYER Very low-budget early 80s slasher about two married couples that go to a run-down scary-looking island for a vacation. The woman swears she's dreamt about the place before, and is it turns out, she has since she was a child. There's a monster that kills people in her dreams and reality at the same time. So she keeps waking up and going, "Bill is dead!" or "Janet is dead!" because she saw them being killed. There are some really gross murders as hoped, including a guy who gets a fishing hook wrapped into his neck and is then 'reeled in' to the ocean to drown there. The script with the dream monster coming to life through the woman is pretty weak and unexplained though. Still, the atmosphere was scary and the ending is hilarious (the entire movie was the dream of a little girl -- the little girl who is the HEROINE as an adult in the movie! So she's dreaming/foreseeing her demise as a grown woman!)***

SNUFF - HILARIOUS! My sweet Jesus, Michael Findlay was the most incompetent moviemaker OF ALL TIME! How can people idolize Ed Wood Jr. when THIS guy was out there? His movies seem like no human being could possibly have made them! Was he retarded? How could he not have realized that NONE of his movies feature humans behaving in a manner in which humans actually behave? God, it's so so BAD and wonderful! He has a police interrogation take place at a desk OUTSIDE IN THE YARD BEHIND A BUILDING!! At any rate, the film is based on the Manson case, with Satanic killer hippies doing horrible awesome things while acting poorly. But it's mostly known because years after the film was completed, a scumbag producer tacked on a newly-filmed bit of the least realistic 'snuff' footage you can imagine. Shot from multiple angles! With the killer's voice rising into an ECHOED, DELAY PEDAL "HA HA HA HA!!!" as he plays with the actress's 'intestines'! The fact that people have even heard of this movie is a scream. It's so wonderfully ROTTEN! The dialogue, the dubbing, the morality (at the end, the main female protagonist is inscrutably in bed with her boyfriend's FATHER!), the whole thing is just nuts! ***

SS HELL CAMP Slow but funny Naziploitation. Apparently a studio or producer had a half-finished WWII movie, and (presumably because it was too boring to complete), they decided to spruce it up with a bunch of sleazy new footage about a Nazi-created man-beast who violently rapes and kills any woman they throw into his cage. (He's actually just an ugly hairy man making gross faces and breathing heavy!) For a while, it was pretty obvious which footage was old and which was new, but by the end I'd swear that the same actors were in both, so who knows. Either way it was funny! ***

SWEET GEORGIA - Hmm. Well, for the first hour, it's a Southern sexploitation movie about "Sweet Georgia," who has sex with everybody except her husband (including her stepdaughter!). Then suddenly an hour in, she has sex with a ranch hand in a barn, and is then KICKED TO DEATH by a horse! (off-screen, but still). The husband comes in, accuses the ranch hand of raping and killing her, and kills the guy with a pitchfork. Then he kills ANOTHER guy! Then he goes home and tries to rape his daughter! So... yeah, basically the scriptwriter got bored halfway through is what happened.***

TARZUN AND THE VALLEY OF LUST - A 49-minute film that felt about 4 hours long. With a title like that, wouldn't you assume it would be a comedy? Well, it's NOT! It's just this awful softcore jungle drama. Starts with Jane skinny-dipping, then a gorilla attacks and rapes her, then Tarzun comes along and stabs the gorilla in the penis, then he heals Jane's burning vagina by pushing a banana in and out of it, then he has sex with her, then he goes off to get fish and the gorilla comes along and rapes her again. Then he kidnaps her and runs off, and Tarzun goes after them. But then Tarzun is sidetracked by a large-breasted native, and they have sex. Finally, he returns to his search for Jane, but by this point both the gorilla and Jane have been captured by this tribe who won't stop going "hooga booga hooga booga" or some annoying chant like that, and they're planning to rape her, and by this point I was really drunk and I'm not really sure how it ended. I think Jane and Tarzun ended up free, and the native girl ended up screwing the gorilla or something. Who knows. IT WAS MISERABLE.*

THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE - Have you heard of this? I'd read it was a big influence on Quentin Tarantino so I thought, "Cool! Action!" which was foolish because I forgot how talky his movies are. At any rate, it was NOTHING AT ALL like a Quentin Tarantino movie. It was, in fact, one of the absolute strangest films I have ever seen in my life -- and that's saying a lot! It is 1 hr, 47 minutes long and involves a mute young woman who is kidnapped, hooked on heroin and forced into prostitution. After her parents commit suicide (due to a bitter assholish note that her pimp wrote and made her sign), she decides to slowly, sloooooowly, sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowly work towards revenge, by learning martial arts, survivalist fighting techniques, race car driving (?), and firearms shootingness. Then when she DOES exact her revenge, every murder takes place in very, veeeeeeeeeeeeeery, veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery slow-motion so you can watch all the jets of blood shoot from their mouths and hang out on screen for 15, 20 seconds at a time. On the 'more specific' tip, the movie is Swedish from 1974, and is paced like an art film. However, it's an art film that happens to include several brief scenes of hardcore penetration pornography at the hands of her "customers." It's very shocking when it shows up on screen (in close-up, because it wasn't the real actress performing those scenes, but a XXX stand-in), but not at all in an erotic way. I mean, she's basically being RAPED, though getting paid for it. And the entire middle of the movie goes like this: "1 or 2 minutes of prostitution/1 or 2 minutes of martial arts/1 or 2 minutes of shooting gun/1 or 2 minutes of driving race car/1 or 2 minutes of prostitution/1 or 2 minutes of martial arts/1 or 2 minutes of shooting gun/1 or 2 minutes of driving race car/1 or 2 minutes of prostitution/1 or 2 minutes of martial arts/1 or 2 minutes of shooting gun/1 or 2 minutes of driving race car." While watching it, I just kept saying out loud, "WHY ARE THEY SHOWING US ALL THIS????" I guess the director really wanted to make it clear that a lot of time was passing so that we wouldn't think, "Oh bullshit, she couldn't learn all this in 10 minutes" when she gets her revenge. Perhaps a simple "Six Months Later" would have accomplished the same goal. I mean, they showed everything, and did so with VERY little soundtrack music and a protagonist who never says a single word. Which makes everything seem even SLOWER. Having said all that, I did like the movie. It was a vision unlike any I'd ever seen. And even if I would never want to watch it a second time, I'm glad I saw it, and certain scenes keep replaying themselves in my mind. But sheesh, what the hell were they GOING for!? An art-drama-tragedy-action-exploitation-horror-porn-martial-arts-rape/revenge film? ***

TOWER OF EVIL - 1970 British thing about bloody murders on a windy, desolate island. Pretty entertaining in that the two couples who investigate are chockfull of sex-related issues (basically the women have both slept with both men, the married man is trying to leave his wife for the other woman, his wife is a slut whore who sleeps with everybody, etc), and lots of darkness and intrigue. ***

VAMPYROS LESBOS Jess Franco is a terrible moviemaker. This is a boring boring SO FUCKING BORING 'erotic vampire lesbian movie.' No plot to speak of. Bad! Good title though.**

THE VAN Dopey, worthless 70s sex comedy about a perpetually giggling young man who spends his life savings on a customized van so he can get laid. He then fails to get laid, and falls in love with a girl who thinks he's a sleazeball. It all works out in the end, probably. **

VIBRATIONS - Joe Sarno sexploitation from the 60s. This guy's movies were very interesting -- sexually-oriented but also very psychologically dark, focused on need, longing, addiction, that sort of thing. In this one, a sexually voracious woman becomes addicted to the 'orgy group' that resides in the apartment next door to her sister's. Very odd film featuring a gigantic vibrator. (not dildo, just vibrator). Good stuff if you like drama! ****

WHAM BAM THANK YOU SPACEMAN Something Weird mid-70s sleaze softcore porn about two hilariously obscene aliens who keep awkwardly saying things like, "Okay, enough masturbation. Let's fuck" before their pointy noses get really long and they insert them into Earth women's vaginas, thus pleasing the women greatly and turning them into sex-obsessed sluTTTs (as well as impregnating them with alien seed). At the end the alien babies begin being born, but it's a comedy, not a horror movie, so it's all just wacky. Basically a bunch of nudity, people bouncing up and down, and stupid alien costumes.****

WICKER MAN (original version) - I loved this!!! The whole concept made for great humor - the uptight Roman Catholic cop slowly unraveling the truth behind a nudity/sex-obsessed Pagan island - and the ending was scary as all hell! I even already knew what the ending was going to be before watching, but they staged it in such a way that it still scared the bejeezlights out of me. Seriously - fantastic movie! Weird, funny, suspenseful, scary, nudity-full. And it was only bound to get better when they remade it with Nicholas Cage! ****

WILD, WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD - Christ. Christ christ christ. For the first 30 minutes, you watch a BORING AS SHIT travelogue of Jayne Mansfield traveling around the world, being chased by fans, talking about how much she loves her audience, etc. Then suddenly all the places she visits start becoming nudity-oriented (strip club, strip beach, strip everything!), then after an hour's time, Jayne (her voice has been the voice-over narration the entire boring time) says "I really enjoyed my trip to Paris, California, (etc) and I look forward to spending more time with my fans in the future!" or something like that, over a first-person viewpoint scene from inside a car driving down a tree-lined street. Then suddenly --- ERRRRRRRCH CRASH!!!!!! And the last 15 minutes are about Jayne being killed in a car accident, complete with death footage of her corpse (AND HER DOG!!!) and scenes of Mickey Hargitay walking around their house sad-eyed, looking at photos of her. It is the most unbelievably exploitative movie I have ever seen. I mean, they found it appropriate to FAKE A CAR CRASH right when her narration ended!? Good fucking God!!! Terrible movie, but christ what a shock it was when they did the car crash scene. Even down to the happy pippy cheery music suddenly turning DARK and the camera shaking violently. Awful! **

WOMEN'S PRISON MASSACRE Actually 'Emanuelle Escapes From Hell' with Laura Gemser as the title character. In this one, a group of four homicidal thugs take over the women's prison and havoc ensues, I guess. The district attorney is involved in the drugs trade and tries to get Emanuelle killed. Some Russian Roulette here, some forced sex there, lots of blood and nudity -- I can't remember how it ends. I know the District Attorney tries to kill all the convicts and their hostages when they run out of the jail, but after that, I just can't remember. Maybe Emanuelle grabs a gun and shoots the District Attorney? I can't remember! Man, you know a movie is a classic when you can't remember the climax. "'Apocalypse Now'? Oh yeah, Martin Sheen goes down this river and sees all this violence and inhumanity, then he gets to the end and... something. I think Dennis Hopper may have been in there, riding a motorcyle. Not sure." ***

ZETA ONE - I'm quickly learning that British sex comedies of the late '60s and '70s really WERE as awful as I'd read in those books I read that time. This one is supposedly a parody of James Bond films (the main character is a British secret agent named 'James Word'), but the film moved so goddamned slowly that I couldn't stay awake. 45 minutes through, I announced aloud, "Christ! It's halfway over and nothing has happened at all!" It had something to do with a woman from outer space kidnapping earth women and brainwashing them or something. I don't know. I don't know, and I don't care! I didn't make it to the end, there was only nudity like once every 20 minutes, and the whole experience was depressing. *

ZOMBIE LAKE One of the most brilliantly inept movies I have ever seen or will ever see. Supposedly Jean Rollin directed it, but if so he must have been high on LSD the whole time because EVERYTHING about the movie is ridiculous and horrible and amateurish. The dialogue! The acting! The dubbing! The make-up! The script! The direction! Seriously, if you can find a copy of this, you MUST watch it. It just gets funnier and funnier and funnier because it's SO FUCKING BAD. And you know I've seen bad movies. This one is incredible - I literally kept thinking to myself, "Okay, it's reached its plateau. It can't get any more inept, so from this point on it will just get boring." But then it would get even MORE inept! Scenes like a little boy running up and yelling at a man, "We found Betsy! She's dead!" and then the camera continuing to film his expressionless face for like SIX MORE SECONDS before finally switching back to the man, who says to the little girl, "Did you hear that?," at which point the little girl goes into the house without saying anything. Or how about, even though the entire town knows that zombies are coming out of the lake to kill all the women, the young woman taking a leisurely topless bath out in her backyard? Or the red and green facial splotches that are supposed to make you believe the actors are zombies? Or their scuttling, foot-dragging gait! God, it's AWFUL! Oh - or the superimposed fire effects for the big finale? Or the way the girl at the very beginning walks (naked) up to a 'no swimming' sign and bothers to pull the sign out of the ground and throw it down, as if to say, "Screw you, sign! I'm going swimming!"? Or the way you can see the 'dead' people blinking when the camera films on them for too long? I know video productions are generally pretty bad, but this one was SHOT ON FILM! So it LOOKS like a real horror movie; it's just exceptionally, hilariously retarded and boneheaded. There's also a ton of full frontal nudity, which is another good reason to see it.****

THE BEAST WITHIN (1982) Okay, so this man who looks like a cicada rapes an unconscious woman in the woods, see. Then 17 years later, the woman's teenage son develops a severe pituitary gland disorder and is psychically attracted to the small town where the rape happened. Suddenly a series of grotesque murders begins to take place! I'm not going to give away the identity of the guilty party, because lord knows the title of the movie doesn't do that. But I will tell you that the film is much creepier, bloodier, violenter and enjoyabler than I was expecting, while at the same time I really felt for the poor kid. He can't even love the girl he has a crush on because the beast within (oh sorry - SPOILER! back there) him wants to slash her apart! The corrupt mayor's eventual explanation of the film's mysterious events doesn't make much logical sense, but by that point the movie has kicked so much ass, you just kinda have to let it go. ****

BIG BUST LOOPS VOL. 4 - This VHS compilation came in a Something Weird Video lot I won on ebay some time ago. Let's face it; a little 'big bust loop' goes a long way. I mostly just fast-forwarded through the 2-hour extravaganza and put it back on ebay. However, if you're a big bust fan with no interest in dialogue, color, women being attractive, or anything going on at all, this is IT! **

THE DEAD PIT (1989) Zombie/undead evil doctor movie that distinguishes itself by featuring the most incredible overacting -- everybody in the film overacts -- and most overdramatic soundtrack I've ever encountered. Although more (unintentionally) funny than scary, I seem to recall it being somewhat fun and gory. There was this one guy who did this sort of silly thing, for example. That was pretty funny. **

FANTASM COMES AGAIN (1978) Wall-to-wall softcore full-frontal nudity sex! An Australian movie in which a pair of newspaper advice columnists read through a selection of readers' letters, which then magically come to life through the magic of people acting them out. Brilliant scenarios include: a naive high school gymnast girl whose coach quite easily convinces her to practice with no clothes on - later, they have SEX; a woman who is invited to a party at her new boss's house, only to have it turn into a big ol' orgy of SEX; drive-in theater SEX (with Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith! She's dead now!); lesbian barnhouse SEX (with Uschi Digart! She gets covered in hay and the farmer comes in and accidentally pokes one in the butt!); and many other SEX scenes with NUDITY and LIGHT HUMOR. I loved it! I have no taste at all! *****

SEX CLINIC (1971) Okay, let's say you're me and you theoretically find '70s British sex comedies to be a hoot. Okay, so say I didn't read this box closely enough and it turned out to be a 'sex drama' with an extremely depressing ending. I guess I enjoyed it, in its own way. So if you like boobs and crying, feel free to bid on my ebay auction of it. Hey, my wife liked it! Said it was 'much better than the crap (I) usually watch.' Quite the ringing endorsement! **

TWO GIRLS FOR A MADMAN (1968) An obscure 'roughie' from the old 'grindhouse' days of 'Times Square' with its 'sexploitation' movies made by 'complete assholes' with 'no talent.' The bad guy is a lunatic with huge teeth who can't stop laughing. I don't even want to go into the actual plot, but suffice it to say that one of the titular two girls, after being raped by him, raves to her friend about what a "real man" he was! This girl of course dies in a plane crash at the end for no reason. Good work, classy screenwriter! ***

WHITE SLAVE (1986) This Italian film by Franco Prosperi of "Goodbye Uncle Tom" and "Mondo Cane" fame concerns an 18-year-old girl who is kidnapped by a tribe of natives in the Amazon after her parents are murdered and beheaded. As we all do from time to time, she slowly falls in love with one of the natives, who (much later than necessary) tells her that it wasn't actually the natives who murdered her parents, but a white person. She slowly comes to realize who actually committed the murders - and gets her REVENGE!!!! Unfortunately, the man she loves then commits suicide because his tribe forbids fraternizing with a murderer or something, I don't know, I was pretty TOAST-WASTED by that point. "White Slave" would have made a passable 25-minute film, but unfortunately drags on for 90 minutes for absolutely no reason at all. It's basically like an Italian cannibal movie converted into a TV soap opera. I fell asleep several times and thus had to keep rewinding the thing to figure out what was going on (it usually wasn't much). A flat boring movie with flat, boring nudity. *

WOMEN IN FURY (1984) I love Woman In Prison (or "WIP") films, and try to see every single one I can get my hands on. So far, these have included such treasures as: "Reform School Girls," "The Arena," "10 Violent Women," "Black Mama, White Mama," "Amazon Jail," "Caged Fury," "Women In Cages," "The Big Bust-Out," "Bad Girls Dormitory," "Barbed Wire Dolls," "Escape From Hell," "Lust For Freedom," "Violence In A Women's Prison," "The Big Bird Cage," "The Big Doll House," "Wanda The Wicked Warden," "Caged Heat" and this here "Women In Fury." Every single one of these films is exactly the same. But let's try to focus on the minor differences that make this one the one I'm reviewing right now. Out in a jungle or some crap, this woman is arrested for the murder of a mob king that her drug addict brother actually killed. The prison warden is connected to the mob and knows that the woman can identify another mafia figure that was in the room at the time, so he keeps trying to 'rub her out.' Most of the women inmates walk around topless all the time just like in real jail, and eventually the heroine escapes with a few fellow inmates, one of whom somehow kills like 25 cops by ramming her car into a truck that they're all hiding behind. It explodes and that's about it! Lots of dandy torture and nudity, and at the end the heroine is living happily ever after with a case of amnesia; she can't remember who she was or what she did prior to being out of prison. The movie claims to be a true story. Since every single character besides Amnesia Woman dies, it's intriguing to wonder who exactly brought this true story to the director's attention. ***

HALLOWEEN 6: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995) - Why is it so difficult for them to make a scary "Halloween" film? I still love the first one, and also enjoyed the 4th one when I saw it a few years back, but all the others STINK TO HIGH HEAVEN! They're not even silly slasher fun like the Friday the 13th films; it's like they honestly want to be scary, but are just incapable of being so! This entry tries to create a mythology behind Michael Myers involving Pure Evil, ancient Druid symbolism and sacrificial rites, but it doesn't work because the screenwriter fails to adequately develop the themes. Plus it's just fucking STUPID how they introduce this dumb Druid 'symbol' into the proceedings. Michael impales a woman on a pitchfork in an early scene, and when Dr. Loomis and his friend arrive on the scene, there's this huge symbol burned into the building. The friend asks, "What's that?" and Loomis replies, "That's his symbol. He's come home." Well gee, funny how that symbol was never shown or mentioned in any of the FIRST FOUR GODDAMNED MICHAEL MYERS MOVIES!!!! Good work, screenwriter. You're the king. The acting is miserable too. How is it that a director is unable to recognize obvious bad acting when it is taking place? Can't he just reshoot the scene and tell the person to stop acting like a tool? Having said that, there are some great murder scenes - really gruesome stuff. But that's the only decent thing about the movie, and it's not nearly enough. Oh! Also, the dialogue sounds like it was written by 12-year-olds. **

IN A GLASS CAGE (1985) - This disturbing Spanish psychological horror film centers on a Nazi 'doctor' who continues his pedophilic child-murdering ways in recluse after War's End. As the film begins, he suddenly feels a pang of conscience after torturing and killing yet another little boy, and tries to commit suicide with a leap off the roof. He survives, but is confined to an iron lung (and a spiteful wife). Then the movie really gets a-going when a Spanishman in his late teens sneaks into the house, tells the man he witnessed his final murder, and demands that he be hired as the invalid's 'nurse.' But if you think this is setting up to be a classic revenge tale, think once more! The youth is even more black-hearted and insane than the old man. The film has been compared to SALO in terms of its depiction of ultimate human corruption and cruelty, but it's much slower and more dramatic (less gross and over the top) than that one. Instead, it feels real - creepily real. Pay special attention to the invalid's little girl too; she's a fantastic actress in a very strange role. So if you're a big fan of child torture/murder and being slowly horrified, you can't go wrogn! ****

THE MAD BUTCHER (1971) - This low-budget Italian/German horror/comedy stars Victor Buono as a butcher who kills people and turns them into sausage. I don't know why I bothered watching it; it was a complete waste of time. The film was neither funny nor scary; it was just kinda.... well, it was a movie. **

SATAN WAS A LADY (1975) - Fans of directress Doris Wishman's classic '60s/'70s sexploitation films (NUDE ON THE MOON, BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL, PLEASE LET ME DIE A WOMAN, etc.) will be thrilled to learn that her X-rated hardcore movies were every bit as inept as her unrated exploitation ones! In this one, a young woman believes that she is engaged to marry her faithful boyfriend, but he is actually a sleazeball having sex with every girl he can get his hands on - including her SISTER (portrayed by good old Annie Sprinkle). Eventually the 'boyfriend' feigns poisoning at the hands of the sister, then pretends to come back to life out of his coffin, driving the naïve girl out of her mind. A policeman figures out that the 'boyfriend' was in cahoots not with the girl's seemingly evil sister but in fact her mother. As it turns out, this 'mother' is actually a STEPmother, who has colluded with the 'boyfriend' to drive the weak-hearted girl to an early grave so they can steal her inheritance. You know all that plot I just discussed? It all takes place in the last one and a half minutes of the film. The preceding 67 1/2 minutes are scenes of people fucking. But BE WARNED! Apparently Doris also made a non-XXX movie called "Satan Was A Lady." So if you want to see this one, buy the Alpha Blue "70s Porn Cult Directors: Doris Wishman" disc. Heck, buy the whole set! They're terrible! ***

STAGE FRIGHT (1983) - This British slasher (not the terrible Michele Soavi film) involves a little girl who is blamed for her mother's death, thereafter growing up to be an amateur actress with multiple-personality disorder. She kills all her victims with shards of broken glass (she always breaks a pane of glass or mirror or something before murdering), then can't remember whether the murders were real or just a nightmare. It's intriguing to watch the actress realistically go from shy&sweet to angry&rude to insane&murderous all within a few seconds of screen time, and the murder scenes look pleasingly painful and gory. The only problem is that I kept expecting the plot to lead to some great twist or revelation, but the 'revelation' turns out to be "Say, you know how that one character seems like she has multiple-personality disorder and keeps killing everybody with shards of glass? Well, we hope you enjoyed that. Have a good evening!" ***

THE WILD AND THE NAKED (1961) - This Halloween, prepare for the scare of your life if you can find a copy of this SCAAAAARRRRRY old 'classic'! Now first of all, there's no dialogue; just voice-over. But that just helps to set the SCARRRRYY mood! Okay, so this woman is a model, I guess, and she does a nude model shoot, I guess. And then she goes down to a pool and dances around it, very poorly, in a bikini. Then she goes to a hot nightspot and some creep tries to feel her up while they're dancing. She smacks him and leaves. Five minutes later, she hitch-hikes and he picks her up, her not realizing it's him until the car is already moving. Then he pulls into a deserted area and tries to rape her. She runs away, off to the beach. Certain she is now safe, since she's a good 100 feet from the guy, she takes all her clothes off and goes swimming. But oh no! Then she's attacked by a homeless man! She runs away from him and luckily the guy who'd tried to rape her earlier decides to be a hero and knock the homeless guy out with a rock or pole or something. She runs about 100 yards away, feels safe, and sits down naked. A few minutes later, the homeless guy wakes up and finds her (why didn't the attempted rapist find her first? We'll never know), and ties her down spread-eagled on the ground so he can rape her. Just then, a nice guy in a motorboat speeds up to shore and shoots the homeless guy dead. The naked girl joins him in the motorboat and they speed off as the camera foreshadowingly films THE GUN HE'S LEFT BEHIND ON SHORE!!!! However, this plot point is never brought up again. The naked girl falls in love with the guy and they go to shore and she goes skinnydipping, but then an apeman jumps out of a tree and attacks both of them. They run through the woods and are rescued by a tribe of topless women dancing around. That's how it ends. Really, really fantastic film. Won probably 16 Oscars.

See? Ridiculous! So no more of this talk about me reviewing movies.

Reader Comments
Damn you've missed "Gay niggers from outer space". That's a fucking CLASSIC man! (Is real film.)
You probably get alot of recommendations but if you like trash Flesh Gordon II/Flesh Gordon vs The Cosmic Cheerleaders is a mighty beast indeed. Any attempt at explanation would give everything away.
Holy Mountain is the best film ever! You should definitely give this another chance. Actually, Jodorowksy's "El Topo" is slightly better, but all his films are great. Also, it's nice that there are other Troma fans (I met Lloyd a few months ago -- great guy -- and have nearly 100 Troma films). And it's also cool that someone else likes Anguish. Mark, I love you.

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Code: Selfish - Cog Sinister/Fontana/Phonogram 1992.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #14 - Like Shiftwork, but not quite as easy-listening. "The Birmingham School Of Business School" is one of my favorite Fall songs, with that shimmery metallic sample driving me wild the whole song through, and both "Free Range" and "Return" are punky (yet smooth) and memorable. The rest is more sedate, but still nice. I'm particularly fond of "Time Enough At Last" and "Married, 2 Kids," although for what reason, I'm unsure. Not necessarily the greatest songs in town, but still, they SOUND amazing. a dentist's office. Plus the last song is just a bunch of drunken profanity, and nothing in this whole wide Christian world beats cussing.

Reader Comments

I can't believe you don't think "Free Range" isn't terrific! An ode to Nietzsche, criticism of the fighting in Easter Europe after the Wall fell. "In 2001, life-code: it pays to talk to no one. "Also Sprach Zarathustra", reference to Straus's opera based on Nietzsche's book, and the movie that used Strass as its theme. "Europa, every second third word: Europa." A true classic.
I think Mr. Kendall should stop masturbating so much.
"Crew Filth", "Two-Face", and "So-Called Dangerous" are very weak filler, but this has plenty of great material. "Free Range" and "Return" are classics, "Married, 2 Kids" is a catchy little number, and "Gentlemen's Agreement" is almost "mature" sounding, especially for the Fall. Well, maybe not. A 7. (Gavin DeCuir)
Wha wa wawa wa wa wah wa wah wa wa WAH Wah WAH wa wah wa wa wawawa wawa wa Wah wa wa wa. WHA WA WA WAwa Wa wah wa wa wa wa Wah wa wa wa Wah.

Just in case you couldn't figure out the lyrics at the beginning of The Birmingham School of Business School. Starting off an album with screaming is easy and trite compared to the grumpy tantrum M.E. Smith launches into here. Who else could pull this off? And you just want to hug him after he goes on to tell you how stupid you are. You dumb human. (I'm trying to impersonate Mark E. Prindle's writing style here). The first 30 seconds of this song pretty much sum up the Fall's raison bran d'etre. Lovingly flippant. (That's a paradox, class). No self-respecting rock-n-roll love/hate-relationshipper should be without this one.

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Ed's Babe EP - Phonogram 1992.
Rating = 9

Three just totally awesome non-album tracks and a remix of "Free Range." The assistance I've provided here is invaluable.

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Kimble EP - Strange Fruit 1993.
Rating = 6

More Peel Sessions, but nothing terribly interesting. "Spoilt Victorian Child" is still a winner, and "Words Of Expectation" is an amusing lost ditty from yesteryear, but the reggae cover "Kimble" is a snooze-a-thon, and I still don't like "Gut Of The Quantifier."

Reader Comments (GrahamC)
"Kimble" is the finest cover they've done. The band's skewed take on reggae is nothing short of joyous. Mark comes on like some sort of Jamaican gangster and slurs the classic line 'I wear very good shoes'. He also performs some very amusing vocal effects and sounds utterly barking. Cutlery can be heard in the background and plinky keyboards of the highest order. It should have been a massive hit - in Fall terms about number 35 - but Strange Fruit weren't bothered about selling many records and the inferior "Grudgeful," another reggae-cover and distant cousin of "Kimble," was released at the same time on a major label.

The B side of the 7" "Kimble" features one of their greatest speed-rants, a Peel session version of "CnCs Mithering" retitled "CnC Hassle Schmuk" containing the golden Fall moment: 'Oh dear friends I can't go on, Arthur Askey's just been shot. We must do a tribute!' For US-based f-faces, Arthur Askey was an irritating geriatric English comedian rumoured to have once slagged The Fall.
I too think "Kimble" is brilliant and a must-own track. It's a Lee "Scratch" Perry track by the way, and as far as that goes ... I say if you haven't heard much Scratch yet, you're missing out on one of the finer things in life. The Fall definitely get into the tune, it's a brilliant cold hard groove.

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The Infotainment Scan - Matador/Atlantic 1993.
Rating = 7

STUDIO ALBUM #15 - Supposedly their "comeback" album, but actually shorter and less interesting than the last two. "Ladybird (Green Grass)" starts off the extravaganza with a wonderful almost-Brixish note-based melody (albeit with an awfully stupid drum line), and "Service" and "A Past Gone Mad" are the danciest tracks they've ever done (and good, too!), but the rest of this just doesn't kick up any dirt. A couple of weak covers, a few generic riffs, and a boring "experimental" track do not a comeback make.

Reader Comments (Al Angen)
My goodness, this one slipped past you I'm guessing. To quote Todd Rundgren, "Get your headphones on and get 'em cranked up, cause they're really going to help you on this one" Try again, Infotainment is the highpoint of the 90's for the Fall.
Not the best Fall album I've listened to, but I was never that keen on techno dance music. I personally like "Ladybird" (very tuneful), "I'm going to Spain" (strange "poppy" song), "It's a curse" (typical fall music), "Paranoia Man in Cheap Sh*t Room" (great lyrics), "League of Bald-Headed Men". I agree with your judgement, allthough I would knock it down to 6 out of 10.
Have to take issue with you about the Infotainment Scan. Terrific record! I found it cheap and bought it on impulse--I've always been a big fan of the group but hadn't really heard much new material since Oranj. This kicks--and I enjoyed it so much I'm dragging old copies of Hex Enduction and Early Years out for the first time in a while. The covers are really catchy and "It's A Curse" is one of the most bilious and on target rants I've heard in a while. The band sounds muscular and tight with just enough weirdness to keep your ears alert. Oh, well, that's what makes horse races... (Matt Holland)
"It's A Curse" has got to be one of the most hilarious, acidic Fall songs ever. It alone would serve as "comeback" if the other tracks weren't so engaging as well.
"Ladybird" is a good pop tune, one of their better efforts really. I can't stand most of the rest of this. What good tunes there are on here mostly sound better on The 27 Points. (Todd Jones)
"Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room" is one of the coolest songs ever!
This has to be one of the most accessible Fall albums in their catalog, and it is pretty good. "Service" is weird sounding, particularly for the Fall, but great. "It's A Curse" and "Paranoid Man in Cheap Shit Room" are typical classic Fall, and the cover of "I'm Going to Spain" (don't know who did the original) is a nice change of pace. Still, "A Past Gone Mad" is inferior; the version entitled "Passable" on 27 Points is much better. An 8. (Ian Galley)
"If I ever end up like Ian McShane slit my throat with a Piano Wire And if I ever end up like U2 slit my throat with a canned vegetable."

Wise words and a great dance track too. Seems the Dave Bush machine clatter has really left it's mark, Mark (Oh ho ho fucking ho), perhaps too much sequencing but it doesn't spoil the affair. Lost in Music is fairly redundant, a throw away joke track, but the band do groove. Fireworks seems to be my favourite (I can see this too is a redundant track but I like it, so go fuck yourself.) Sorry, I don't mean to be rude. I know where the delete key is but I'm too lazy, or contrary, to even bother (although i do try to auto spell check, punctuate, add metre blah blah blah.)

7/10. Only a few more maybe... I am getting attacked by a fucking HUGE wasp, fucking ying yang indeed!

Oh, if you don't know who the aforementioned Mr McShane is, check out Sexy Beast. I'm pretty sure he turns up towards the end as the steely eyed crime boss. Funny because here in Air Strip One we remember him as 'Lovejoy' (a mulleted antiques rogue with an eye for the ladies and the intrusive breaking of the fourth wall plot exposition motif) and coffee ads, (as an 'actor' prepared to take the cash off a multi national coca bean kidnapping scam.)

HEY HEY HEY HEY.... drop yer jaws. M.E.S as a corporate whore?.

We've had a series of car ads with 'Touch Sensitive' as the soundtrack AND the single was re-released with print ads saying 'From the car ad blah blah blah. Weak. Still everyone has to earn a living. I'm off to Salford with my piano wire and tinned carrots. Mark, the choice is yours.
isn't this the one with "Paranoid Man In Cheap Shit Room" on it?

That's a great song!

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Crash Course '84-'92 - Matador 1993.
Rating = 8

A promo CD - and NOT FOR SALE! Has some great songs, though! All previously-released except for a lackluster live version of "Rowche Rumble." Good song choices. Don't worry about it, though.

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* The Peel Sessions - Strange Fruit 1999. *
Rating = 10

If anybody in the English-speaking world is capable of putting together the absolute pinnacle of Fall compilationism (I disqualify non-English speakers only because we're all tired of hearing how much Idi Amin loves Room To Live), that fellow just might be the band's former bassist Steve Hanley. And this is what he statefully did back in early '99, pacifically scrounging through 17 different John Peel radio sessions conducted by various conjugations of the verbose band between 1978 and 1993 (not surprisingly, Marky "Ramone" Smith is the only band member to appear on every track). The result is both haunting, amazing, trendy, leftover, finicky, true and dreams.

Can long-time fans enjoy this? They already DID! FUCK YOU!

Sorry, my right brain ate too much pizza earlier. This is the absolute finest collection of Fall material ever assembled. And by "finest," I mean (a) representative of the greatest number of Fall eras -- it features tracks from FOURTEEN different Fall albums!, (b) exciting to both new bees and longtime Fallers -- these are brand new alternative recordings! These are NOT the studio versions you know by feart - they're brand DIFFERENT studio versions! And GREAT! BOY, is he singing off-key in "Rebellious Jukebox"! And somebody's playing a bONGO! And "Cruisers Creek" has a stronger, louder lead guitar battling against the repetitive rhythm riff! , (c) full to busting with unbelievably great classic Fall songs -- "Athlete Cured"! "M5"! "New Face In Hell"! "What You Need"! "Dead Beat Descendent"! "Free Range"! "Middlemass"! "Smile"! Others"!", and (d) including a couple of tracks that U ain't gonna find NOWHERE else except bootlegs and an earlier Peel Session release (angular, scratchy original "Mess Of My" and bit-too-clean-but-fun-anyway cover of the Sonics' "Strychnine").

Seventeen tracks good, with NO two songs coming from the same Peel Session, tracking the band from Dragnet through Middle Class Revolt (and yes, they've recorded seven studio albums since that one, but this is still the most far-reaching and all-encompassing of any existing Fall compilation that I've ever smelled with my eye).

(my SMELL-eye, that is)

If you're curious about the band and want to get a good jist of what they're all about, come visit their many, many colours on the high-flying bird called The Peel Sessions!

(perhaps you could visit them on my SMELL-eye).

Jack O'Rourke
CEO, Janitor
SMELL-eye Bakery and Snuff Films

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Behind The Counter EP - Matador 1994.
Rating = 7

Good songs to make you get excited about the upcoming release. The title track has one of the most infectious bass lines I've ever jammed my finger into (beats the hell out of "Cannonball," even!), and the others are A-O-good, too. Alternate takes of most of 'em ended up on the album, though, so you don't really need this. But you DO need....

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Middle Class Revolt (aka The Vapourisation Of Reality) - Matador 1994.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #16 - The most pleasing set of melodies they'd done in ages (and they'd done some really pleasing melodies quite recently, so I'm actually SAYING something here). Still doing the easy-listening pop thing, but no ballads this time - and the keyboards seem to be around mainly to layer piles of racket on top of the shimmering guitar - if guitars do in fact shimmer. This is definitely their best since The Frenz Experiment, and possibly even since This Nation's Saving Grace! In faq, this is my special girlfriend's favorite Fall album altogether, and generally, she's got pretty good taste, except for this Rancid thing. The Stereolab-esque "15 Ways" even made it onto MTV a few times! "The Reckoning" and "You're Not Up To Much" are similar, but use their patented REPETITION method to concoct slightly darker (or at least more cynical) soundscapes.

Man, I dig the word "soundscapes." A fella named Bob Boster introduced me to the word. Good man, that Bob Boster. If you see him, shake his hand. But don't offer him an umbrella!! Cuz he don't use 'em!!!

As the album continues, "M5#1" and "Surmount All Obstacles" bury their melodies almost completely under computer noise (but ooo! what melodies they are!). Then the title track sounds like The Cars back when they were good, which wasn't that long ago. And there are other songs too, but why ruminate? "Hey! Student" is really punky (in a clean, non-threatening, Green Day-kinda way) and there are three fairly unnecessary covers, but I've always been one to bitch about covers. I like NEW songs, dammit! I don't wanna hear some band do some old band's crappy songs!!! New! Move forward!! Fortunately, I've never heard the originals of these three covers, so they still interest me. On a related note, if you wanna hear The Fall totally butcher The Beatles's "A Day In The Life," look for the Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father compilation. Mark does his best to turn it into a Fall song (adding "-ah" to the end of every line, changing "grabbed my hat" to "grabbed my stash," shouting "FALL!" right before the classic piano chord at the end), but...uh...he fails miserably. Let's move on.

Oh! Incidentally, I interviewed Mark Smith shortly after the release of this album (big important journalist that I am), and I got him to admit that Black Sabbath was one of his favorite bands when he was about 14! So if he ever gets a little too pretentious for you, just remember: At one point, he was a dumbass headbanging little British Beavis. Oh, the little ironies life presents. Like Blues Traveller. The hell is that shit?

Reader Comments (Michael Cory)
How can you write a better song than "Hey Student"? (Dan Westoby)
Not too sure about most of the album, but I still wait for the day when I find a club good enough to play "City Dweller" at intense volume... (Matt Holland)
When Middle Class Revolt came out, one review read, "Mark E Smith seems to think that where their sound is at in 1994 comes from The Cure's sound in 1985." Or some such paraphrase.
my two preferred fall periods are Slates/Hex/Room and the immediate past (Middle/Code/Infotainment) - I think in a million years or even after a couple the mid-90s stuff'll tower over the late 80s hits. (Kevin E.)
On this release, The Fall manipulate the very good Henry Cow song "War" into something virtually unlistenable and turn the formerly unlistenable garage-friendly anthem "Shut Up" into something more. The original material is similar in the black/white mode of the cover versions; there is some truly awful work on here ("Hey! Student", "Symbol Of Mordgan") directly alongside some absolutely great work ("The Reckoning", "You're Not Up To Much"). And then there's the by-the-numbers, occasionally good evolved-Fall numbers like "M5#1" and "Surmount All Obstacles" that, if anything, ground the release. A good thing when the unimpressive "Junk Man" and the boring "Behind The Counter" destroy any chances of this being a great release. In reality, about 50% of this release isn't good at all. Stick with the later release Levitate; that's worlds better than this processed excuse for material.
Are you on crack? This is an all time low for the Fall. Clearly, you don't measure the Fall by standards of formal perfection, but you do expect at least three or four good songs on the mediocre albums (Curious Orange, Shiftwork, Code: Selfish). These guys are obviously very, very tired and in need of new jobs, except for Mark, who probably just needs new band members to terrorize. Which he got, to good effect.
an even better album; the keyboards are put in the back, bringing Scanlon up where he belongs. "15 Ways", "Middle Class Revolt", "Hey! Student",and "$500 Bottle of Wine" are the top ones here, but there's plenty other great material on this. 3 interesting covers too. A 9.

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Cerebral Caustic - Permanent Records 1995.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #17 - Well, this is a fine howdy-do! Just when you think you've got The Fall pegged as an easy-listening pop/dance band, Brix and Karl Burns come back, they dump the keyboardist, and then they record the most dissonant, amateurish album they've done since... hell, ever!!! This is one friggin' noisy album! Real good, though. "The Joke," "Don't Call Me Darling," and "The Aphid" are scummy garage rock, "Rainmaster" and "Pearl City" are poppier (but still noisy as a toaster - and just as delicious!), "Feeling Numb" sounds like a Clash/Stone Roses collaboration (Oh! I'm sorry - I meant a Rancid/Oasis collaboration), "Bonkers In Phoenix" would be a normal Brix ballad if Mark didn't chipmunk her voice and overdub a bunch of computer noises at twice the volume of the rest of the song. "One Day" is a balls-to-the-wall punk rocker; plus they do a semi-parody of "Life Just Bounces" (from The Dredger EP) and a Frank Zappa cover before ending the album with two beautiful "experimental" pieces. No, not beautiful. Ugly. But masquerading as beautiful. Like Cher, for example.

Crap, this is a good album. The drum sound could not be fresher, louder, crispier - I guess that's what happens when you have two drummers, unless of course you're the Grateful Dead, in which case you just don't write any good songs. An absolutely fun listen - like a seesaw with an adorable picture of Mark wearing angel wings. I'd give it a 9, but the melodies, as a whole, aren't quite as creative and hypnotic as those on Middle Class Revolt. Still, it's awfully exciting to be surprised by a new Fall album! This is the first time in their career that they've made a full-tilt stylistic change this quickly, but it's wonderful! Not like REM and U2 trying to prove they're young hip old bags by putting on stupid sunglasses and playing overproduced generic 90's tripe, but a very talented band who were in the mood to make a different kind of album. A very creative 17th studio album. Look at that number. 17. The Fall have made 17 great studio albums. Oasis have made 0. That's all I'm saying.

Reader Comments
Although scratchy garage-feel and lo-fi inbetweeners were partially refeshing after the tighter production of the previous few; I feel this album suffers for the basic unadventurousness of both melodic and lyrical quality. "The Aphid" is the "The Joke" re-recorded for instance. And the usual delight of Smith`s bitchy thought conceits is reduced to uninspired moaning about stocks and docs.
After about 500 listens, I've decided that "Bonkers in Phoenix" is up there in my all time five favorite fall songs. And it doesn't even sound like any other fall song, except for maybe "Hotel Bloedel" which is structurally resembles in its dialectical Mark/Brix dialogue/contrast. While Mark obviously has much left to say, it's pretty clear that he is a bit of a tired/old man, and the helium-induced lightness of Brix's vocals on this track serves as the perfect foil for his weary grumbling. And of course, this is complimented by the disparity of the two lyrical registers: on one hand, a transcendental realm of unspecified "shiny things" which remain inaccessible to monetary exchange, and a more familiar world of the everyday banalities of life in Phoenix Arizona, on the other. In some ways, then, this song is a consistent with the metaphysical pursuits of songs like "Immortality" and "Levitate". I haven't even mentioned that annoying white noise stuff which simultaneously serve to break up yet unify Mark and Brix in a musical relationship. This song is pure gold. (Ian Galley)
A very fine album. There doesn't seem to be a throw away track (North West fashion show is hilarious, do a search engine on (excruciatingly bad TV presenters) Richard & Judy if you are genuinely insane... it'll give the track more perspective / no it won't but 'Here comes Richard & Judy's bastard offspring is surreally endearing. Eh?? Great Bass riff.)

Has anybody ever tried to do the aphid? Next time its as sunny, I will (I'm assured they're more docile than wasps.)

I know Cerebral Caustic is highly derivative, but it’s also roundly irresistible. I love the way they combine punkish noisiness with all these great, numerous, unabashedly poppy hooks. Come to think of it, it may be their catchiest LP. “Life Just Bounces” makes my insides, well, bounce; “I’m Not Satisfied” is primitive and predictable, but, once again, I can’t resist; “Feeling Numb” is the best ever marriage of Prozac with insane melodicism. And as for “Bonkers In Phoenix”, I guess Smith must have listened to it and thought: too sissy-commercial, let’s muck it up. And obviously he did, but the result is still amazingly effective. Which the whole album actually is: fucked-up twee. (not that I mind)

So overall Cerebral Caustic is a clever, intuitive-sounding pop record, and extremely loose (Fall). A high 8, easily; not as good as Grotesque.

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The Twenty-Seven Points - Permanent Records 1995.
Rating = 7

This is a live double-album recorded over the last couple of years. Let me just say this about The Fall live. The first time I saw them was in our nation's capitol during the Infotainment Scan tour. The band played well, but there wasn't much to play. Early-90's Fall was a "sound" thing, and you need studio production to get that sound. As a result, the only person there who looked more bored than the audience was Mark Smith. He looked drunk, drugged, exhausted, old, tiny, decrepit - and he never smiled once. Instead, to entertain himself, he (1) continually pounded a drumstick against one of the drums off-rhythm while the drummer tried to hold the beat of the song, (2) pushed the guitar out of Scanlon's hands mid-song, prompting the axeman to shout angrily, "Get off of me!," (3) purposely messed up the keyboardist on many an occasion, and (4) tried to push over one of the huge stage monitors onto the kids at the front of the stage; they literally had to push with all of their might to keep it from falling and crushing them! I wasn't sure what to think. I was musically boreder'n crud, but spiritually, I felt cleansed. Everyone was right; Mark really WAS an asshole! I returned to Chapel Hill happy.

The second time I saw them was in our nation's capitol on the Middle Class Revolt tour. I was thrilled to see Karl Burns serving as "second drummer," but Mark looked just as bored and drunk as before, and angry, too! The keyboard kept getting cut out of the mix, so Mark thrice left the stage in bitter British protest. In fact, the band had to play a few of the hits sans-vox (with Karl playing a cassette tape of Mark's voice into the microphone) until their esteemed egomaniacal leader saw fit to return to the stage. And you know what? They sounded better without him! He was fuqtup and just kept mumbling into the mic and ruining the great songs that the band was trying to play.

My point? Don't buy this double-live album unless you're already a fan, because if this is your introduction to The Fall, you'll hate them. Fall fans will find it entertaining - lots of dumb jokes, bad poetry, and hilariously drunken renditions of what used to be songs (plus two great new songs - "A Cloud Of Black" and "Noel's Chemical Effluence") - but those unfamiliar with the band should definitely stay away from this wretched excuse for a musical product. I still gave it a 7, though. Yours is not to reason why.

Yours is just to grab my thigh!

Reader Comments
Miles better than Cerebral Caustic or Light User Syndrome, which it is sandwiched between. Doesn't even sound like the Fall live for the most part! Best 'Live' lp since A Part of America Therein. (Tom Totale)
The Twenty-Seven Points is under-represented by your review. "Return", "Ladybird", and "Idiot Joy" are superior to the recorded versions. "Big New Prinz" is a remarkable example of the powerhouse live version of this song that was performed at the time. Side 2 is perhaps somewhat scabrous and slapdash (endearingly so I think), but side 3 more than makes up for this with a stunning version of "Lost in Music". Side 4 is the best batch yet, with excellent versions of "A Past Gone Mad", "Middle Class Revolt", "War", "Strychnine", and the brilliant new "Noel's Chemical Effluence".
I strongly disagree with you. I think this is a brilliant document of a brilliant band. I had "gotten off the boat" with The Fall for a while. To me their garage sensibilities weren't merging with their post-rock production techniques - we were getting the worst of both worlds. But I heard this and said "whoa"! Now it made sense to me. There's loads of great riffy material, about 100 minutes worth, and they keep swinging back and forth between the Brix-Burns augmented band with the big full sound and the more severe 4-piece sound from earlier tours. The contrast and the constant flow of interesting material, much of it superior to studio versions, combine to make this a heck of a document. I love it, I love it, I love it. 10 stars.

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In The City... - Artful 1997.
Rating = 8

Righto, pajoly-loly! Now THIS is what the Points album should have sounded like! Untuned guitars rockin' the clown down, Brix gurgling bitter background vocals the whole time, Mark sounding somehow slightly less than completely inebriated for a change, and just a smittyload of great melodies, as you'd probably expect. Concentrating more on guitar-driven tunes like "Pearl City," "Dead Beat Descendent," and "Gut Of The Quantifier," and less on the synthy early '90s stuff that loses its hypnotic power in the concert setting, The Fall have here given us a modern Fall concert experience we can be proud to stick in the old microwave every once in a while in front of neighbors. The sound is a little thin, as per usual with concert albums, but it's not too bad. You'll be shaking your ass too much to notice anyway. If you're a collector looking for a decent reason to buy this album, and the prospect of great live renditions of more recent Fall material (recorded shortly before Craig was asked to leave, I reckon) just isn't enough for you, will it help to mention that they've changed the melody to "The Aphid"? I'm not sure why, but they have. It's even happier now! Or will it help to mention the NINE-minute rendition of "Life Just Bounces"? It should. I mean, don't spend twenty bucks on it or anything, but if you see it for 10 or less, do pick it up. You'll get a kick out of it!

But why "Edinburgh Man"? I just don't like that song very much at all.

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Sinister Waltz - Receiver 1996.
Rating = 8

Receiver put out three albums of Fall material at the same time. This one is alternate and live takes of early-90's stuff, plus a couple of dazzling Mark-free plinkers. And darn ahoy! I'm GLAD I blew thirteen dollars on it! This stuff sounds fantastic!!! Even "Gut Of The Qauntifier" sounds good here! What's up with that? Who is that? What is that? And to think - they all take shits, too!

I'll write about the other albums in a minute. Now I gotta go run in place for fifteen minutes.

As if in carefully-calculated imitation of our pointless, mindless day-to-day existence on this cold stupid planet.

Plus it keeps me skinny so chicks dig me.

Reader Comments (Eric Spoley)
If you liked Sinister Waltz, then GET the other 2 receiver discs... (Sinister Waltz was actually my least favorite!) Oswald Defense Lawyer is one of the better live things they've done (I think!) Anyways, that's my two cents!
Total shite. However, I must admit that I bought both this and Oswald Defence Lawyer * Fiend With a Violin, if just to put a few more pennies in Smith's pockets. He must need them if he's willing to let stuff like this slip out. Actually, I would like to know the full story behind these three offerings; no one is saying ANYTHING though. Why not? Hope some of this is constructive, although the danger with expressing your opinions is that you'll just end up saying no no NO. Again, your site is a decent one, thanks.

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Oswald Defence Lawyer - Receiver 1996.
Rating = 7

Okay, I finished running in place (around ten months ago), so now I can review Oswald Defence Lawyer. Well, it's LIVE!!! And that's about all I can say. It's got songs from Frenz and Kurious Oranj and whoop-de-doo. Fine sure, but why not just listen to the originals? The sound quality's better on the originals!!! There's also a horrendously non-bombastic version of "Bombast" and an early drunken attempt to cover "Just Waiting," but what is that - reason to waste this kinda money? Nah.
Reader Comments
The riff for Oswald Defence Lawyer is taken from John Lennon's cover of Be my baby. It's pretty much the exact same notes and phrasing, even the instrument combination is incredibly similar. And it's not even a good riff - why bother stealing crap and from Lennon of all people? That guy's a nut, he shoots people in the head!

Hmm, apparently word order is more important in English than I thought.

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Fiend With A Violin - Receiver 1996.
Rating = 8

This, on the other hand, is a damn fine live record. Sure, it's got another crappy version of "Bombast," but it's also got swell rockin' versions of "What You Need" and "Spoilt Victorian Child," as well as that great song "Haven't Found It Yet," which pleases me more than mere American words can say. Great songs here. Don't waste the money if you don't have it, but if you're a bonafide collector of live things, add this one to your collection, buck-o!
Reader Comments
All three of the Receiver releases are absolute shit. All three are rehashed live or alternate takes of songs already released, invariably inferior. Nobody needs a demo version of the tracks from ShiftWork. The liner notes to Fiend with a Violin plugs the title track as "never before heard." What fucking bullshit. It's a demo of "2X4". Fall fans will buy them because we're all retarded, but avoid these if at all possible.

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The Light User Syndrome - Jet 1996.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #18 - Another Fall album!!!! And (no surprise here) they're still really good! One bit of weirdness, though; longtime guitarist Craig Scanlon is GONE! I don't know where he went or why. He just left. Sigh. Still, we got Brix back! And Karl Burns! They haint gone no place!!!! Okay, then. This is one hell of an album for a band that's been around for nearly twenty years. It's very similar to Cerebral Caustic in that it's garagey and noisy and unrehearsed, but it's also got a lot more really memorable keyboard lines (especially in the gorgeous "Oleano"), more beautiful female background vocals (especially in the mindnumbingly catchy "Spinetrak," which kicks the crap out of any song currently in rotation at M-TV), and more rhythmic experimentation that gives the listener a sense that he's not just wasting his time on the same ol' generic pop crap that every other talentless shit band tries to shove up his ass on a daily basis. No, The Fall are still taking chances.

The stuff is still basically simple music, but the way that the bass and drums interact in minimalist trash rock like "D.I.Y. Meat" and "Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain" is definitely worth noting. It's like the best of every possible Fall world - the exciting, noisy, anything-goes feel of Grotesque, the wonderful boy-girl vocal interplay of the A Sides singles, the dark undertones of Bend Sinister, and even that dancey Infotainment Scan groove - all shoved together to create a hip new sound that we, the hip alternative music fans of the world, have never heard before! Real exciting.

And it's clear that these guys have a future, too! They sound so excited and energetic playing these new numbers, it's incomprehensible to think that they're actually probably all pushing forty (In comparison, those "bad boys" Oasis sound like a bunch of tired old men!). In closing, I'll admit that I'd love to give The Light User Syndrome a 9, but it gets a little weaker near the end, with a hideous cover tune and some pretty uneventful mood pieces. Still, the first ten songs are amazing, and the drunken dipsy-doodle "Secession Man" closes the work on an appropriately hilarious note. Fifteen huzzahs to the world's most prolific and consistently impressive rock and roll band.

Oh yeah. Brix quit again during the tour for this album.

Reader Comments (Chris Kovin)
Mark E. Smith will no doubt hire Scanlon back now that Brix is gone. I wish he would get together again with Riley, but apparently those bridges have been burned irreparably. The Scanlon story from the Cog Sinister office was he was sacked for "shoddy appearance and failure to maintain amps." I'm not kidding. Unfortunately, MES failed to MAKE appearance several times! (Curt)
wow. listed as "for true insomniacs" and they weren't kidding. i have just started searching on the web for fall stuff and yer site is amazing! keep up the good work. although you lose points for rating Infotainment lower than the nowhere-near-as-good Middle Class Revolt. i remember first hearing "Prole Art Threat" on WNUR in Chicago as a highschooler. i ran to the phone, called, let the fone ring about 30 times and when the "gee, i'm so bored" type of college dj finally answered i said "what was that last tune?" and he sounded like i was stupid for inquiring. "it was "Prole Art Threat" by the fall" he replied in his "ho hum yawn" tone. i've been a feverishly obsessive fan ever since. haven't picked up Light User tho. (Jason Hughes)
You never cease to amaze me. I'm still here working through my favourite bands from your very accurate list. I just don't know what you are going to say next after slagging off D Jr (legend), and then to my utter amazement, praising The Fall. At least there is hope for you. As you say still fairly unknown (not to my mates I must tell you, who have had The Fall played continuously to them for the last 8 years), but by far one of the all time greatest bands, of my era. FUCKING BRILLIANT LIVE.
Thanks for the great fall stuff.

I'd have to agree with you that bend sinister is about the poppiest (or at least catchiest) I've ever heard the fall. I don't see it as dark at all.

Similarly, I find Nation's Saving Grace as the most commercial-but-still-very-good albums.

I lost interest when they got dancey.

I set up a fall lyrics frame page @
As much as I liked Code Selfish, and was really pleased to see that Justine F of Elastica listed it as one of her faves in Rolling Stone a year or so after it came out, I must say that the Light User Syndrome is the best record the Fall have put out in a very long time. It was a record that really excited me about the Fall all over again. Its depth and greatness was also unexpected after Cerebral Caustic, which sounded to me like they were working a day job. The cover even seemed as if they had picked the first photo the record company showed them. Light User on the other hand showed the Fall to be seeming to enjoy what they were doing again. The record works on so many levels. I'm particularly fond of the way the second and third songs set up "Hostile." It is a one-two punch like Fall records of old. A record store worker at Kim's Underground put it rightly when he called the record "unrelentless."

The sound is also more full, for lack of a better word. I think the understated keyboard work on the record really puts it over the top. It paints a background that really makes songs like "He Pep," "Hostile," and "the Coliseum" stand proudly in the company of their other best work.

The increasingly tiny ripples that new Fall records make in the U.S. marketplace make me sad, though. They haven't been over in too long a time either.
Oh, I definitely give this record a 9.9! After Cerebral Caustic (which was good but those overdriven vocals are annoying as hell to listen to) I was a little apprehensive when getting Light user. Boy was I surprised! This is the best since Infotainment Scan! Track 14 (second to last?) has that gut wrenching drive that won't quit..... This record has more ball buster for the buck! anyway that's my take & love your site!
One of my favorite Fall albums & highly recommended. Why no mention of "He Pep"! in your initial review ? This is one of my all time 'faves' (although my wife could live without it).
The Light-User Syndrome is the greatest album The Fall have ever made, objectively speaking, and while I agree that there are a couple of ropey songs on side two, what do you expect for a fifteen-tracker?! The band are as tight as Kula Shaker are slack and a perfect antidote to all the tenth-rate derivative wank that passes for "alternative music" anytime. "Cheetham Hill" is marvellous, dance around the room stuff, and how a relatively old group of grumpy gets can record something as furious and catchy as "D.I.Y. Meat" is a true puzzle. "Secession Man" is GREAT, laugh-out loud, life-affirming daft boppy music, and "The Chiselers" is another all-time great that can hold its own against anything they' ve done. Bloody hell fire, just LISTEN to it, and fast-forward from that "Last Exit to Brooklyn" bollocks, to the last track. Twenty years on, the Stones recorded "Start Me Up". That's a joke. We laugh with The Fall. (Matt Holland)
"Old White Train" -- Again, hilarious. Where's your sense of humour? I understand that you don't like covers but, hey, it's The Fall. "Mr. Birdy is...Scruffed Up! Oh Yeah!"
This is, basically, one hell of an album. Shockingly good and relevant. It might be their best to this point, in all honesty. If you used to like them, you ought to give this a chance. "Spinetrack" and "DIY Meat" are penultimate Fall. "Cheatham Hill" sounds just like older Wire, it's a nice one. The cover of Johnny Paycheck's "Old White Train" is strong and wonderful. And darned near all the other songs on here are great too! 2 out of 15 don't move me. There's so much good stuff on here, and it really is different than anything else out there ... The Fall made it into the 90's ... and made some great records (27 Points, this, & the next one, Levitate). Three cheers and ten stars. (Andrew Dean)
Definitely one of the best Fall albums. Oh, and I have this scarily good memory for the unimportant trivia in life and can remember that the first time I ever became aware of The Fall, was upon reading a short review of this album in the first copy of NME that I ever bought. So, all kinds of history there.

Anyway. The first nine tracks are indeed all really good and work excellently in setting up Hostile like someone else said. Oh, and I just don't like 'Cheetha Hill'. Sorry. But, but, after that 'Oxymoron' is a great scary reprise of 'He Pep!', Secession Man is indeed cheesy happiness - and sounds very, very much like 'Ton of Love' by Devo. Which I'm surprised nobody else seems to have picked up on, especially given that on the same album is a track called 'That's Pep!'.

'The Coliseum' would be good if it wasn't EIGHT SODDING MINUTES LONG. It just gets boring very quickly. I don't actually mind 'Last Chance to Turn Around', thugh it sounds so totally devoid of energy and interest that they should have put it on 'Middle Class Revolt', really...

But 'He Pep!' is damn good, even if it does sound like Mark runs out of words too early, 'Hostile' is an epic-sounding non-dance synth & drums fest, 'Stay Away' is sort of terrible, but in a loveable, sing-along kind of way, 'D.I.Y. Meat has a great beat, a really catchy synth line and makes a near-perfect opener, 'Spinetrak' is so catchy I have to listen to it almost every day (bear in mind I only got this album about three months ago), 'Oleano' is also really good but I don't remember why right now...and half or so of 'Chilinism' is absolutely great. When it descends into slow crooning from Mark and that other chap I fast-forward, though. Brr. Not good that. Not good. The rest is fantastic though, especially that near-dance bit that repeats for a while and is only about four seconds in life.

There are two more versions of 'Chilinism' on the re-release (from the single, I think) but they aren't worth hearing, and are only slightly different. So forgetting those, out of 15 tracks there are 10 GREAT songs, and none of those five are actually BAD just weaker.

The liner notes in my version make an interesting point when they say that this is the 'one everyone forgets. It's between '27 Points' and 'Levitate'. It's the last great Fall album.' Not having heard Levitate, Unutterable or Country on the Click yet, I think I have to agree.

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Oxymoron - Receiver 1997.
Rating = 8

Receiver's getting way out of hand. It used to be that you could rudely shove a young person into a record store and say, "Buy anything by The Fall! It's all great!" It sucks that now all the Fall bins are stuffed full of these second-rate outtake releases. But dammit, even their OUTTAKES kick my ass so hard that my colon pops out my nose! It's still a ripoff, though. These are just alternate and live versions of songs that most Fall fans should already own. They're great, sure, but they're also completely unnecessary in the grand scheme of the band's fifty-jillion-release career (although "White Lines" is an awfully catchy previously unreleased dance instrumental!). Fall fanatics - save your money. But for the record, if you send a young person into a record store and he picks this one up to hear The Fall for the rest time ever, don't feel sorry for him. With great tunes like "Powder Keg," "Chilinism" and "ESP Disco (Psykick Dancehall)," this'll make a convert out of anybody. Even that jockstrap the Pope!

Jockstrap? Hell! Pile of dog poop on my arm!

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Cheetham Hill - Receiver 1996.
Rating = 8

Receiver's out to screw you and me! More live and slightly different versions of studio songs. It includes the hard to find "Ed's Babe," but nothing else on here is particularly necessary. Still rules though!!!! The Fall rule!!!!

Reader Comments (Ian Galley)
A friend of mine got this recently and it's his introduction to the Fall. I'll agree this is an unnecessary addition to a large collection, but as an introduction this is worthwhile. All I can remember is a great live version of Spinetrack (with Brix) and an unholy, LOUD bassline. You know the bit where Brix sings the title and the band drop out? Well here Stephen Hanley just POUNDS the open strings with a fury unknown to such a nice guy. I think I'll borrow this tune and rip it. From what I can recall, the rest are simple alternative studio mixes. Like watching a rough cut, or the Blair witch. Interesting but ultimately pointless.

Remember there's no need for me to go berserk if you don't scratch my nice, blue merc.

Shit. I've just realised that my Big Black & Birthday Party L.P.s have been resting against a radiator and.... I'm giving up. Ta Ta

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15 Ways To Leave Your Man (Live) - Receiver 1997.
Rating = 8

Whoo Pee. The Fall are back with another live album, their second I think. I bet it's from the Tighty-Whitey User's Syndrome tour, based on the fact that there are no songs newer than that album on here. The liner notes claim that it's from London '96, but it's definitely from at least two and at most 500 different shows. The soul within my bones is fatigued. My left heel hurts when I wear my work shoes, so I don't. After I walk up a staircase, my legs ache. My tummy keeps getting bigger. I run out of breath 1 second into Tae Kwon Do. Is this age? Is this what happens when you get old and eat nothing but Ketel One? I can't write today -- I can't even keep my eyes open without physically arching my eyebrows way up on the top of my forehead (which I'm doing right now). You people up in your ivory horsetower can talk about your starving Africans in China and your Enron scandal with Martha Stewart, but I'll tell you the real deal - the lowdown as I see it here on the mean urban streets: All politicians are honest and all celebrities are fascinating.

Brix sings on some of these, some have two guitarists (others one), some have keyboards you can hear (others don't), some have this moron gruff-voiced idiot (Mike Bennett) shouting excitedly like a four-year-old with fetal alcohol syndrome, but they all have one singular thing in common: it's neat how some of their songs sound so different live though. They play THOUR songs from Middle Class Revolt, FREE each from The Light User Syndrome and Cerebral Caustic, TOO from Code: Selfish and WON apiece from Shiftwork, I Am Kurious Oranj, Bend Sinister and This Nation's Saving Grace. I know we speak for all of us when I say it's a real drag that they didn't play anything from The Infotainment Scan, The Frenz Experiment, Extricate, The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall, Perverted By Language, Slates, Room To Live, Hex Enduction Hour, Grotesque (After The Gramme), Dragnet, Live At The Witch Trials or The Beatles' White Album.

Nobody but an obsessed collector idiot (me) would spend money on this, the seventy-five billionth live CD in the band's catalog. But that doesn't mean it's not good. It's really good! Good songs, interesting new arrangements - it's always a candy treat to hear a live CD that offers new and unfamiliar reworkings of songs you thought you knew by heart. The Fall have managed this quite a bit throughout the past decade because (a) Mark replaces all the members once a month and (b) They don't appear to practice at all. So here are some examples of this phenomenon, presented in bold living text to get you all excited about yet another live Fall CD that nobody's gonna buy.

Do you hear how "Chilinist" cruises along on full strummed guitars, and doesn't even include the three fast chords that mark the studio version? Perhaps Craig Scanlon had already left by the time they did this version. That growly-voiced Mike Bennett idiot won't shut up though and it drags on for 7 1/2 minutes. Also, the lyrical jokes fall flat as a horse when they're loud enough to hear ("Pink Floyd are short. The ninth richest country in the world -- bar none!").

And how about those two guitars playing different note sequences in "Don't Call Me Darling"? Yeah I know Brix sounds like a gruff obnoxious lesbo but so do the Kurds and now they have their own country.

"D.I.Y. Meat" features a guitar that's just making a really high ringing noise, as well as what Michael Nesmith might call a "Different Drum" pattern than the one on the studio release.

"Pearl City" - If you don't know a guitar line, don't try to play it!!! And here comes Mike Dumbass screaming the lyrics to "Secession Man" at the end. Why did Mark E. Smith put up with this crap? The guy sounds like a 55-year-old office worker overly giddy about his first chance to perform in front of a live audience. I picture him looking like that hilarious boss on The Office (British).

"L.A." - The final appearance of Mike Bennett. On a related note, when I was in 5th grade, I had a crush on this blonde girl named Gina Bennett. She rode bus number 223. I was a complete loser who never combed my hair, and that's about as far as that went. There are three vocalists on this song and not one of them doesn't sound ridiculous going "L! L! L! L! L! L! A! A! A! A!" fifty times louder than the music for ten minutes.

"Everything Hurtz" has an organ playing 4 descending notes. Was that in the original? If so, remove it from this list.

"The Mixer" sounds TERRIBLE! Untuned guitar, rolling drums, bass trying to play the right lines, synth buried - horrible! I mean, the song sucked to begin with but wait til you hear it performed incompetently!

Unlike "The Mixer," which is different in a disappointing way, "M5" too is different in a disappointing way. Because there are two guitarists, Brix has chosen to double the bass line, with the result that you can't hear the swishy guitar line that made the original so great. I don't even think there's a keyboard in there!

"Hey Student" must be a demo because Mark's voice is double-tracked and it fades out. The guitar plays the same thing the bass does, but kinda wrong. It's still a fun song though!

I have a bone to pick with people who work here. When I'm sitting on the crapper, why do so many people come into the crapper next door and literally SLAM the toilet seat down? I mean, they SLAM it! LOUD! It's so fucking rude and hateful, it makes me want to punch a hole through the partition between us and give 'em a tooth sandwich. Is it just that they're tapping it lightly and letting it fall? I know a lot of wussy office pricks are afraid of catching germs from toilet seats, so that might be it. Just letting the seat fall CLANGINGLY to the porcelain so they don't have to risk touching someone else's urine. As a co-founder and charter member of one of San Francisco's most successful piss club chains, I'll never understand the logic in this. Don't they realize that urine is cleansing? The ancient Monks of Baath believed that if you bathed in urine and rubbed it on your face before bed, you'd smell like a dick! They may have been right but that doesn't excuse little office wussies from their culpability. My headache = their culpability. Fuckers. Can't they just leave the seat up and squat over the hole? If they're so scared of what might be on the seat, why do they sit on it? Can't they just take a shit in their office drawer and leave my ears out of it? God it's pissing me off right now, just KNOWING they're out there wandering the corridors of my office. Maybe next time it happens, I'll kick down their stall door, shove their head in the pissbowl and slam the seat down on their HEAD over and over and over!!!

I have very few actual stressors in my life, you may be able to tell. Hey, do you ever do this? (*does thing*) For some reason, that gives me access to all the knowledge of the cosmos.

Reader Comments
I picked this up a few years ago, and was largely disappointed. I think the version of M5 6-7PM is one of the more heartfelt and coherent performances on here - for the rest, it sounds totally half-assed and unprofessional. I've seen The Fall twice now myself - once in a pub in Manchester where Smith was pissed, the drummer was on his first gig and didn't know the songs and they were drawing largely on songs from Are You Are Missing Winner? - and it wasn't incredibly good, in retrospect. MES kept fiddling with the guitarists amps and I've heard tales about the bassist from the year after that gig that made me think that Smith was even more of a prick than was made out. I caught them again at the beginning of last year, and it was a total transformation. The guys in the band were younger, hungrier and the tracks were loud, angry and boisterous - and Smith wasn't too fucked to perform well. Not a great live record from a band that is famed for having off nights every other night.

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The Idiot Joy Show - Alchemy 2003.
Rating = 6

An absolute MUST-OWN. You MUST OWN it. It features an October 1995 Cambridge Show with Dave Bush and Craig Scanlon, followed by segments from two shows recorded nine months later after Bush and Scanlon had gotten the old "Fuck-You." Among the cherries on this wallopping EIGHTY-minute double disc of MUST-OWNs that could have easily fit on one disc with no problem had they cut out some of the audience applause, you will find:

- "The Chiselers" with the wrong guitar line and Mark making "Brapp" noises on the keyboard

- bland-tastic renditions of the three least interesting songs in the entire Fall discography ("The Coliseum," "Edinburgh Man" and "The Mixer")

- "US 1980s-90s" without the riff

- "Pearl City" recorded on a defective tape so the audio sucks in and out -- kinda like the performance!

- Yet another rendition of Infotainment mediocrity "Glam Racket" with Brix's dumb-as-a-doorknocker mid-song rap: "You tell me you're a star/But I don't give a FUCK!/I watch your head expanding/As you're running out of LUCK!/I feel empty, 'cuz baby you suck me!" There's that word 'suck' again. Always be wary of self-fulfilling prophecies.

- An early version of "Ten Houses Of Eve" when they'd written nothing but the drumbeat

- Steve Hanley somehow flubbing up the ONE-NOTE bass line for a full three minutes of "Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain"

- The bass-driven "15 Ways" with inaudible bass and Mark starting his vocals a line early

- "Spinetrack" with the flattest Brix vocals in history, which is saying quite a lot since she can't sing at ALL

- A completely unlistenable run-through of "Powder Keg" (LEARN TO PLAY THE GODDAMNED SONG, BRIX! IT'S NOT THAT HARD!!!)

- And finally -- say, you know that really loud fuzzed-out keyboard that drives "He Pep!"? Have you ever wondered how uneventful that song would be WITHOUT that keyboard hook in there? Well, wonder no more! You see, the entire second disc of this release features no audible instruments except the drums and occasional shitty tuneless guitar godawfulry!

Yes, The Idiot Joy Show is truly A MUST-OWN!!!!

But don't worry - today's your lucky day! As it turns out, I have an "extra" copy that I'd be willing to pass onto you at a very reasonable price! Just send an email with the subject "I'M AN IDIOT..." (short for "I'm An Idiot Joy Show Fan Who Would Like To Purchase Your...ahem...'extra copy'") and I'll set your ass right on up-ass. Hell, mail me a few 50s and I'll throw in a whole bag of sweet cocaine, packed by my buddies down at the "General Mills."

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Live Various Years - Cog Sinister 1998
Rating = 7

It wouldn't have taken a brain man to name this album Live Various TIMES and thus have it actually refer to an old Fall song, but we're not dealing with the smartest lint in the belly button here. Incidentally, I am simply laughing my ASS off at this hilarious Mickey Katz album "Mish Mosh" right now. If you've ever thought you heard comedy, you didn't hear Mickey Katz's "Mish Mosh". Walter Winchell says about Mickey Katz: "He's the only funny Jewish comedian in show biz." And after hearing "Mish Mosh", I have to agree! Listen to some of these hilarious parodies that Mickey's come up with this time around. "Sixteen Tons" begins by explaining that the narrator owns a delicatessan, and he goes on to sing about "Sixteen tons of salami" or something. It's a scream! Moving on, we get the uproarious send-up of "That's Amore" entitled "Oi! That's Morris." Ha ha! As the liner notes explain, "the difference between being slipped a Mickey Finn and a Mickey Katz is that you get knocked out in different ways. And in the latter case, you keep coming back for more. Well, here's that more: a long-playing, high-fidelity 'mitzeah.'

"Mickey's approach to a song is simple. He grabs the nation's favorites and gives them the stamp of his unique and abundant wit. The poor unsuspecting tune suddenly" and so on. This is how "Wheel of Fortune" becomes "I'm a Schlemiel of Fortune"! This is how "Yellow Rose of Texas" becomes "Roiselle From Texas." This is how "Home On The Range" becomes "Home ofen Range," which I don't really understand but then I don't really understand a single joke on this fucking album since I don't speak Yiddish and I don't know a thing about Jewish culture. And what about "Don't Let The SCHMALTZ Get In Your Eyes"? Did anybody say "How Much Is That PICKLE In The Window"? Yes, Mickey Katz truly is one hilarious ethnic "Weird Al" Yankovic. As the liner notes conclude, "Mickey Katz is the most - with sour cream and a side order of knishes." Also, he controls the global economy from a little room at the top of the World Bank.

But enough about religion; let's talk The Fall's live ablum! It (popcorn double) features tracks from four different concerts - two from 1993, one from 1997 and one from way back from April 1988 when we all had a little more hair and a lot more sperm! Ha ha, yes those were good times. Damn good times. A fine cuisine of Fall studio albums are represented herein, with the smorgasbord of ice cream treats including two tracks each from the Swedish classic I Am Kurious Oranj and barely legal The Tight Pubeser Syndrome, plus one musical thing each from bukkake feast SemenAlive, girl-on-girl Cunt: Smellfish, German scat Shitwork, anal compilation Little Ass Revolt, curly-dick showcase Bend Itinher, first-timer gonzo Sex Induction Hour and Asian The Yen Sexperiment. I'm 32 years old -- the equal of two 16-year-old boys!

But what a goddamned ripoff this is. Two CDs, right? There's two CDs? Guess how long the entire package is. You ready? I'll tell you. SIXTY-TWO GODDAMNED MINUTES. Oh, thank GOD for the special "BONUS" CD! Pricks. At least three of the four sessions sound great. In the 1997 tape, the bass is too loud and the guitar too quiet, but otherwise this is some spiffy-sounding stuff. The 1988 set in particular kicks some major ass with a thick mean bassy sound that brings angry new life to the formerly friendly "Carry Bag Man" and "Yes Oh Yes." Who approved "Shiftwork" though? Could there possibly have been even one audience member who wanted to hear that two-chord easy listening bore while standing up in a hot smoky crowded club at 1:30 in the morning after sitting through a local Munich band? I'm no Eric Jan Hanussen, but I suppose that's a good thing in terms of my not being killed by Hitler.

Also -- why is it that whenever they play "Hip Priest" live these days, they never play the actual melody? That burns my butt like a dwarf with a cigarette. And who told Stephen Hanley to add that shitty second bass note to "Das Vulture"? That rubs me the wrong way like a hand job in a sandpaper factory. Otherwise, no complaints. Plus they throw in the non-LP covers "Why Are People Grudgeful?" and "Strychnine" and that pleases many of me. So keep on struttin', Lauren Hutton!

In retrospect, this review needs its mouth washed out with soap. Who wrote this filth? Ah yes, I remember. Former President Jimmy Carter. See what happens when you have lust in your heart? Prick. Old wrinkly peanut prick.

Add your thoughts?

Live At The Phoenix Festival - Strange Fruit 2003
Rating = 7

I returned to the office this morning after a week's vacation, only to find a literal jillion spam emails awaiting my eager, spam-happy eyes. Figuring that the quickest way to sort the "wheat" from the "chaff" ("chaff" refers to the strips of metal foil dropped by an aircraft to confuse enemy radar with false blips, so you can see why you wouldn't want that in your wheat. Tasty sandwich sure, but then the Russians shoot rockets at your large intestine for the next week) was to sort alphabetically by subject, I did so and began deleting like a crazy horse. All was fine for about 15 minutes until I suddenly reached the end of the "M" section, where I came across this intriguing set of subject lines:

Kenya S. Burr - "My boyfriend's cock keeps slipping out."
Jodie A. Ham - "My boyfriend's dick keeps slipping out."
Jan I. Buchanan - "My boyfriend's pecker is too big for my mouth."
Adrienne B. Kenney - "My boyfriend's penis keeps slipping out."
Morton J. Knapp - "My boyfriend's peter keeps slipping out."
Alphonse B. Shepard - "My boyfriend's phallus is too big for my mouth."
Monica B. Akers - "My boyfriend's shaft is too big for my mouth."
Paul C. Barajas - "My boyfriend's tool is too big for my mouth."
Marian W. Mccabe - "My new guy's penis is enormous, and my mouth is tiny."
Horacio J. Emerson - "My new guy's prick is enormous, and my mouth is tiny."
Sammy E. Newton - "My new guy's putz is enormous, and my mouth is tiny."

I saved them because they're work-related, but then there were a bunch of SPAM emails after them if you can believe that! I was all like, "Fuck you! How am I supposed to separate my important pud emails from your Canadian Pharmacy bullhockey?"

Good old Canadians, and their Bull Hockey. "Whoa, he gored the puck again!" is what you'd probably say if you attended a match.

Actually, if you attended a match, you'd probably just say, "AAAUAUGHGHGHH!!!! I'M BURNING!!!!!" but enough of my hilarious word humor.

Recorded live at the Phoenix Festival, Live At The Phoenix Festival finds The Fall performing live at the Phoenix Festival in Long Marston Airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon on July 15, 1995 and July 21, 1996. The Festival was held annually from 1993 through 1997 before being cancelled and sent to Hell in 1998 because nobody wanted to see New Order and The Prodigy, not even British people and they like that sissy crap.

This CD compilation features live renditions of 3 tracks each from The Light User Syndrome and Cerebral Caustic, two each from Middle Class Revolt and Shiftwork, and one each from The Infotainment Scan, Code: Selfish and Bend Sinister. These are likely some of the final shows featuring the latter-day Brix/Hanley/Scanlon/Burns/Wolstencroft line-up so you may want to cherish them for that reason. The mix provides good separation between the instruments, the guitars are actually in tune with the synthesizer (for once!), and aside from a few mistakes that I'm going to complain about in a moment, the disc is a delightfully enjoyable pleasantry of songiness!


- Not noticing that the lead guitar in "Chilinist" was silent due to a faulty connection for the entire first half of the song

- Allowing one of the guitarists to play the completely wrong chords for half of "Idiot Joy Showland." It's three chords, YOU BUFFOON.

- Performing "Edinburgh Man"

- Burying the "He Pep!" lead synth line so that the song's riff becomes "a person clicking a pick against their guitar strings for three minutes"


- Having ever written "Edinburgh Man"

But then again, what's a live Fall CD without mistakes? Why purchase a live CD if the songs are simply going to sound exactly like the studio versions? An even better question might be "Why purchase 32 different live Fall CDs in the first place, Mark, you tard?"

To which I can only respond, "Say! Anybody got a copy of Live At Deeply Vale 1978 they could send me?"

"Actually, while we're at it, anybody got a copy of Fink Along With Mad, The F.U.'s Do We Really Want To Hurt You?, Lifter Puller's Fiestas & Fiascos, The Credibility Gap's The Bronze Age Of Radio, Chokebore's It's A Miracle, The Chocolate Watchband's Get Away, The Creation's Psychedelic Rose: The Great Lost Creation Album, Cosmic Psychos' Off Yer Cruet!, Today Is The Day's Supernova or Sore Throat's Disgrace To The Corpse Of Side, Never Mind The Napalm or Death To Capitalist Halmshaw that you could send me?"

Hay come on I have this great Mark Prindle CD-R I could send you as a trade.

Add your thoughts?

Pearl City - Dynamic 2005
Rating = 3

I was walking down the street this morning when I suddenly espied an advert for the new Jet Li motion picture. Jet was wearing dark sunglasses in the ad, and it made me realize, "You know what? Dark sunglasses are cool." Then I thought about Bono and how cool he looks in his dark sunglasses, and the next thing you know my brain is going willy-nilly thinking about all the cool dark-sunglass-wearing people in the world (ex. Arnold Schwarzenegger; The 1984 Chicago Bears). And that's when it suddenly hit me -- eyes aren't cool.

It's true. That's why people wearing dark sunglasses look so cool - because eyes are lame and dorky, and the sunglasses do us all a favor by hiding the stupid pieces of shit behind an impenetrable wall of coolness where they belong. This is why people wearing eyepatches look half-cool. It's not because they look like a pirate, but because we only have to look at one of their geeky loser orbs all wigglin' around looking like an asshole. Which brings me to my next point.

That brings me to my next point. You know why eyeglasses make people look so nerdy? Because they emphasize the eyes. And eyes are fucken tards, when you get right down to it. Look, here's my impression of an eye: "Ooo look at me. I'm wearing a pocket protector and braces."

I'll give eyes one thing, though -- at least they don't have to listen to this shitty Fall album.

Concert CDs that sound this empty should not be released. Even the worst recordings on The Twenty-Seven Points sound like full orchestra recordings compared to these hideous "Loud Drums, Loud Vocals, One Loud Slightly Out-Of-Tune Guitar, Everything Else Playing In Another Club Across The Street" mixes. Here, let's use insulting bullet points to describe each track:

- "Intro": The "Ten Houses Of Eve" beat topped by a corny 'nighttime evil' synth line. Rare but not good at all.
- "Pearl City": A recording pulled from a defective cassette tape!!! Just listen to that monophonic hissy mess of sound suck in and out and remember fondly the years 1982-1988 when everybody I knew honestly argued that tapes were superior to records.
- "15 Ways (To Leave Your Man)": Mmm, actually no. This is "U.S. 80s-90s," which isn't named anywhere in the track listing. It does, however, do us the honor of rendering the entire rest of the track listing completely inaccurate.
- "Das Vulture Ans Ein Nutter-Wain": Perhaps it was time for Stephen Hanley to leave the band. Nearly two decades on his instrument and he couldn't correctly play a riff with ONE NOTE?!?
- "15 Ways (To Leave Your Man)": The only good performance/recording on the album. And it's not even that good really.
- "Spinetrack" - They play the chorus WRONG! CHRIST! THEY WROTE THE FUCKING SONG!!!!
- "The Mixer" - This mix is actually not that bad. Unfortunately, this song is actually not that good.
- "Cheetham Hill" - No wiggly space keyboard, plus the song is naturally kinda dopey.
- "Powder Keg" - You can't hear the bass, so it's just like one crappy guitar chord the whole song! Awful!
- "Hey Pep!" - The buzzy keyboard is far too quiet again, a boon for fans of somebody scraping a pick tunelessly across their guitar strings.
- "Chilinism" - Trebly and monophonic, with Brix killing the song's momentum with her bored monotonic backup vocals. Hear that? Monophonic AND Monotonic! (and Moronic!)
- "L.A." - Brix shouts like a tone-deaf galloot, the bass thumps shittily, an out-of-tune guitar twangs uglily, there's no synth, and only half the song is included. Nice work all!

Don't get me wrong -- the drums certainly sound crisp, and if you ever wanted a clear recording of Mark Smith's gibberish, you've come to the right place. Still, the guitar (are there two guitarists on here? It sure only sounds like one!) is tuned poorly and played ineptly, the bass is at all times either inaudible or being smacked so loudly that it overmodulates, and the keyboard might as well be buried under a road for all its impact on the audio.

Also, most of it was recorded at the Roskilde Festival in 1996, with the two monophonic tracks ("Pearl City" and "Chilinism") checking in from the same year's Phoenix Festival.

In addition, they performed six songs from The Light User Syndrome, and one each from This Nation's Saving Grace, Shiftwork, Middle Class Revolt, Cerebral Caustic and Bend Sinister. I named them not too long ago. For a transcript, send $400.00 to "Mark Prindle's Battle Of The Network Circus Of The Stars."

Also, movie posters where somebody's holding a gun are cool. Every time you see one from now on, think about how cool somebody who holds a gun is. And the reason is simple -- people who can't accidentally kill you while sneezing aren't cool.

Add your thoughts?

Levitate - Artful 1997.
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #19 - What's that I see? Why, it's ANOTHER new Fall album! And man alive, is Mr. Smith getting bizarre in his old age.... After careful consideration, I've determined that this is probably the least accessible and most experimental album in the Fall's lengthy catalog - and it's FOOKIN' ACE!!!! I think so, anyway. I understand that it's receiving mixed reviews in the UK, but I guess that's been the case since the beginning.

Okay, about the record - how to describe? Well, it's... strange! Everything sounds incomplete; the songs seem to be more like collections of drumbeats and sketchy half-riffs than actual fully-developed melodies. At first, it sounded to me like the band was just half-assing it, but then I paid a bit closer attention and now I think I've figured out the situation. See, there's one simple phrase printed on the back cover that I believe makes it crystal clear why this record is so bizarre - "Produced by Mark E. Smith."

Need I really write more, need I? I could be wrong, but I'm almost positive that this is the first time ever that Mark has produced a Fall record on his own, without a real producer standing by to say, "Umm, Mark? You can't DO that...." As such, the whole damn thing sounds like "Paintwork" - the "songs" will alternately be just a muffled keyboard noise with a funky beat, or a fuzzed-out bass with Mark talking over it, or a pretty little electric piano line with nothing behind it, or.... Oh, why go on? WHY??? My point here is that, even though these songs sound like incomplete constructions, I'd bet probably half a dollar that these ditties actually WERE at one time complete songs, but Mark purposely screwed everything up in post-production. I can just see the rest of the band (especially the two new guitarists, whose input seems to have been nearly entirely deleted from the final mix) sitting down and listening to the final product with these huge furrows in their brow as they nudge each other and ask, "It didn't sound like that when we PLAYED it, did it? I thought I remembered there being a melody in that song!"

Okay, then, anyway, I still haven't described the music too well, so I'll try - it's very drum-and-keyboard dependent. Very dancey, but not at all in that slick Infotainment Scan way. This is sort of like organic electronica, with bass fuzz, Mark's shouting, and assorted guitar planking and tinkly keyboard noises layered all atop Simon and Karl's typically topnotch trappin', hank. Some of the bits sound like rockabilly (when the guitar shows up), but the overall mood is really one of noisy and almost industrial-sounding (though it's clearly man-made, which adds a good deal of warmth to the proceedings) dance music. It makes ME dance anyway! Forget U2's Pop. Hell, for all I care, forget the Chemical Brothers and all that other Spin magazine stuff. THIS is the sound of modern innovative dance music. Dissonant, minimalist, juvenile, interesting, rockin', and FUN! I personally find the songs really catchy too, but I'll leave that up to you. Go Fall Go! Mark's still keeping the dream alive. Levitate is a great album.

Reader Comments
The Fall's best album in a long time. (Sandy)
Just as an afterthought, a note on all these Receiver releases. I'm not against remixes/lost tracks/outtakes/live versions, but they are just not original songs. When I can't find a fucking copy of Dragnet, Palace of Swords Reversed, Live at the Witch Trials or some single without literally leaving the country, I DON'T need five different versions of "Edinburgh Man" no matter how good the song might be.

Oh, and now there's another two-CD comp. called The Less You Look The More You Find which is another rip off. However, the liner notes are absolutely great.
Did any UK Fall-watchers see that bloody awful pop program with Zoe Ball (a sort of Nineties Juke Box Jury) - Marc Riley was a guest. (No, I don't know why I was watching it either...) In an attempt to embarass Riley on prime time TV they showed a 20 second clip of him playing with the Fall (circa 1980, I think...) in New York. I think they played "Elastic Man", but my memory is not to be trusted, so feel free to correct me...

Riley looked suitably unimpressed/disinterested by the whole thing, tho' I think Zoe Ball made some comment that she thought it was cool that he'd been in The Fall. People in the US who are wondering what the hell I'm on about might not be aware that Marc Riley is now a nationally-known daytime radio-DJ over here. Presumably, someone at the BBC thought it was hilarious to reveal his humble punk-rock beginnings. Yeah, right....

I saw Marc Riley and The Creepers supporting Frank Sidebottom back in the Eighties. Actually, they weren't bad in a fake Rockabilly/quasi-Fall kinda way... (Danny, Salford)
Levitate is the best Fall LP since Nations Saving Grace, It's the biggest step forward they have made in ages, "Hurricane Edward" is like nothing they've ever done and has inspired me.

I saw Zoe Ball she one of the Live n Kicking presenters said something like "Wow! That was really bad" and then 20 minutes later praising shitty tenager bands like Backstreet Boys eugh!!!

They were top at Sankeys by the way. (Paul Saxton)
The Marc Riley/Live 'n' Kicking clip was The Fall performing "Totally Wired" in New York. The whole thing can be seen on the wondrous Perverted By Language/Bis video. (Michael Davies)
your Fall review site is missing not only those two live albums was talking about but also the Hip Priest and Kamerads compilation, which is a compilation of their stuff for the Kamera label (Hex Enduction Hour, Room To Live, and two singles). there's 4 songs from Hex, 2 from RTL, and both sides of the "Look Know"/"I'm Into CB" and "Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul"/"Fantastic Life" singles. "Lie Dream" is on the reissue of RTL, but i don't think "Look Know" or "I'm Into CB" are on any other albums.

i also don't understand all these live albums when Dragnet, Room To Live, Slates EP, Early Years, Palace Of Swords Reversed are all impossible to find anywhere. i've found a bunch of distributors selling Live At The Witch Trials but not Dragnet, which is odd since they were originally released on the same label in the same year. they're even reissuing the live albums (Fall In A Hole, Legendary Chaos Tape). it's probably easier to find all the singles on Palace Of Swords Reversed than to find a copy of the album. (Matt Holland)
"4 1/2 Inch" is the most brilliant, chaotic, powerful, disturbed and (I think) accomplished Fall song I've ever heard. I get such a tremendous rush of dis-ease whenever I hear it that I think MES has finally summed up his fantastic, uncomfortable, awful raison d'etre in 3 minutes and 56 seconds. I want the whole world to hear it and misunderstand...

There are days when I simply can't get the "I'm A Mummy" riff out of my head, and I don't even try.

Too bad about all the domestic troubles, or is it? (Robert Green)
The bonus CD is so good that you must immediately buy it, even if you already own Levitate. Christmastime alone is worth the price, a brilliant song, amazing rhythms floating through the ether, etc. And the Masquerade singles are great--not only is this a great song, but the b-sides are classic. The Fall are the most consistent band in R'n'R history--I defy you to name one other band whose catalogue can be dipped into without regard for time period, line-up, etc. and nuggets of genius will result. Bowie used to be this way, maybe, but that was 18 years ago. All who are ignorant should become norant...
I like this album much more than my friends...but perhaps it's also due to the fact that this freekn' album isn't available in Canada (thank god for and they have to borrow it from me. However, there's no comparison between the album version of Masquerade and the cd single...the single just kicks right royal ass. Pick it up if you don't have it. (Kevin E.)
The sheer ire-inspiring pettiness of including the melody to "i come and stand at your door" twice in two distinct tracks is almost enough to reduce this release to the ranks of near misses. Every other song completely overshadows both "i come and stand at your door" and "jap kid"; "ten houses of eve" alone makes this entire effort a seminal example of late 90s dance music. All of this offers firm support of the "quality" argument; Levitate is as disturbingly original as Live At The Witch Trials and Hex Enduction Hour.

This is landmark material for another fine reason: The Fall have not released a truly album-oriented set of songs in well over ten years. The ambition of this project takes this statement into consideration and is further reinforced by the absolute fact that the pure lyricism of "everybody but myself" closes the record in two formats. Although this material may not be as easily digested as This Nation's Saving Grace or The Frenz Experiment it is superior to them both because Levitate represents an incarnation of The Fall that is unsatisfied with stagnating in a particular style.
the falls levitate is a masterpiece of creative techno. most techno is boring, contrived and unoriginal, this is the complete opposite this sounds like a normal fall release except that it has a stronger back beat and there are synths instead of guitars. the songs are great "ten houses of eve" is an incredible dance number and "the masquerade" takes my breath away, the sheer beauty of the piano ballad "jap kid" makes me want to cry and "4 1/2 inch" is just indescribable, absolute genius. Even the noise piece "hurricane Edward" is an extremely interesting and cerebral listen. I don't really like "I'm a mummy" (a little silly for my tastes) but it's O.K. this is brilliant album, it somehow makes dissonance extremely danceable.

9/10 (Spencer Harrison)
I didn't like this album at first, and it took me about a year to really like it. Strange really because each time I buy an album that I don't immediately like it's usually a good sign and the album is in fact a stormer that slowly reveals itself. Which incidentally was the case with this particular album.
One of the most interesting albums ever made. The most difficult part about reviewing the Fall is choosing which album gets the 10 because so many of their albums are perfect in so many different ways. Levitate gets a 10, but i might as well just say a 9 because what constitutes "my favorite/best Fall album" is subject to change often. Levitate is a trip, see. A catchy, unpredictable, bizarre collection of carefully-planned out repetitive....stuff. I won't even bother thinking of a genre. It's a bit danceable, but every time you get out there and start dancing to it, it randomly disentagrates into obscurity (in the best way)...something like "Hurricane Edward" or "Tragic Days" comes on and makes you wonder what the hell you're listening to, and why it's so interesting. It takes planty of listens to fathom how much detail and creative brilliance has been put into this. I've listened to it many times and still feel like I hear something new there each time. Every song is a joy to hear.
This Fall album is interesting in that there is absolutely no middle ground: people either love it or hate it. This is one of the few Fall studio albums that is out of print at the moment.

I personally think this is a great album, if completely bizarre, self-indulgent and out of control. It was recorded during one of the most turbulent times in the Fall's history. People say it sounds the way it does because Smith was self-producing for the first time (although some people say that Julia Nagle, the guitarist/keyboardist/programmer, had a large enough hand in the proceedings to have deserved a co-producer credit, which would explain why she stayed with Smith after the rest of the band took their leave of absence). It's too long - there's no reason to have both "Jap Kid" and "I Come and Stand at Your Door" on the same album, when both of them have the same music, and "Tragic Days," despite the great title, is just another one in the long line of irritating, really short noise pieces Smith has been slapping on albums since the fucking debut. Plus, "Everybody But Myself" should have actually had some real lyrics.

But the other songs are just killer. "4 1/2 Inch" is possibly the most deranged "song" the Fall have ever laid down...and it's almost impossible to describe. It sounds like techno music if techno music was locked in a dungeon for a decade, and it is for sure the best thing here, although "Masquerade," the equally bizarre if not quite as violent numbers "Hurricane Edward" and "The Quartet of Doc Shanley," and "Ol' Gang" come close. "I'm a Mummy" is an inspired cover - the lyrics have been tweaked to satirize Smith's public image, with Smith slyly claiming "I wish there was someone somewhere that wasn't scared of me" over a very twisted garage stomp. Most of the rest of the album isn't quite at this level, but still incredibly ingenious. The production on this album is so completely off-the-wall that it almost reminds me of a contemporary version of the Pop Group's Y, because that album, like this album, had completely insane production that made almost as extensive use of creative, incredibly strange editing and mixing as this did - the only place both albums kept it together was in the rhythmic side of things.

Nutty album. I agree with the 9, if only because I really haven't heard an album like this before. And that's a good thing.

Add your thoughts?

Masquerade Disc 1 EP - Artful 1997
Rating = 7

You know how Jello Biafra refused to let me interview him? You keep up with this stuff, right? Well, he did. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that my wife came up with this brilliant idea that I should have taken her up on: Disguising my voice and saying, "Hello, Jello Biafra! My name is Mr. Flibbles and I'm your interviewer!" I totally should have done that. I could have put a fake mustache on the phone and everything. But alack, a day's sickle whipped through the weeds of opportunity, and another chance to interview Jello Biafra was pissed down the shitter. Why? Why did I not take my wife's idea and put on a Masquerade?

Which brings us to the second Bachman-Turner Overdrive LP. You know, it's not often that a Canadian rock band will have more than one good song on an album but the day these boys (or "bruddahs") recorded "Takin' Care Of Business" and "Let It Ride," Joseph Smith must have been fucking another baboon in Heaven because t

This 4-track EP (NO NO, I MEAN IT HAS FOUR SONGS ON IT -- NOT THAT IT WAS RECORDED ON A 4-track) contains two remixes of Levitate songs, one unconscionably bad live recording of a third Levitate song, and an otherwhere unavailable leftover B-side pop song entitled "Ivanhoes Two Pence." Its piano plays a charming lilt, its guitar jangle-scrapes a light melodic chord round, and the prettiness of repetitive prettiness carries it a whiff above many a Fall album track you could chance to name ("Symbol Of Mordgan," "Devolute," "Papal Visit" - see? I chanced to name quite a several!).

There's hardly any reason at all why any owner of Levitate should spend money on this release just for one lovely b-side. The remixes are almost identical to the album mixes, the live track's a stinker and the artwork is pulled straight from its full-length cousin in the marines (Levitate - sorry, got a little vague with my diction there). But if you happen to run across it one night in a dark alleyway, RAPE THE SHIT OUT OF IT!!!!! RAPE RAPE RAPE!!!! RAPE ITS FUCKIN ASS OFF!!!!

Oh hang on, who switched the "R" and "T" keys on my typewriter?

And more importantly, how did they manage to do it while I was typing on it?

You know what? I must have gone to use the bathroom right after typing the word "alleyway." THAT'S when somebody came in here and switched the letters. Then I must not have noticed until after I'd typed several more words in all caps. THAT must be what happened.

Say! Nice rirs!

Add your thoughts?

The Marshall Suite - Artful 1999.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #20 - If you haven't been following the saga of The Fall, a couple years back they played a few shows in NYC (of which I witnessed one and was absolutely bored silly) and then dumb old Mark got drunk and beat up his girlfriend/keyboardist Julie Nagle. He got arrested, the rest of the band quit (except the abused gal, for some reason) and he moved on.... AND FOUND A NEW DAMN BAND!!!

And boy if you ever had any worries that Mark E. wasn't COMPLETELY responsible for the sound of The Fall, one listen will quell your fears. Aside from a couple of moments of ugly wah-wah and perhaps a wee bit less in the way of enormously memorable bass lines, this band sounds exactly like the last one! (and the one before that, and so on and so on).

Don't be fooled by the beginning. They start with two simplistic catchy little rockabilly tunes, but then go straight to the weird house-trance-dance poetry-noise drum-bass stuff you loved so much on Levitate. Granted, it's not quite as exciting and novel the second time around (which is the main reason this one only gets an 8 instead of a 9, although the presence of a couple throwaway experimental thingies doesn't help), but there are still some killer, killer tunes on here that you'll have stuck in your head for a long time. "The Crying Marshal," in fact, may be the most accomplished, mesmerizing and pounding dance tune they've ever done -- it rivals Meat Beat Manifesto in the headbanging department of youth!

I read somewhere that the album is a sort of rock opera, but I don't quite hear that (I also don't have a lyrics sheet). What I do hear is the ever-evolving Fall in the midst of their latest phase, still crankin' out repetitive catchy, weirdly-produced, fuzzed-out, awesomely-rhythmed music for the kids. Most consistent band of all time? If you ask me, fuck yeah.

However, I must express my disappointment in the band for not coming up with an incredibly memorable set of melodies this time around. But hey, it's been a crazy couple of years.

Reader Comments (Collette Hand)
Touch Sensitive is ace..I know..I know..I know..'they say what about the meek/I say they've got a bloody cheek'. I love that line. Foldin' Money is C'mon Everybody but this perfect day is stumbling exhausted singing(?) against a tight driving sound which works so well as they work against each other. He comes across so struggingly indifferent. Bound is catchy and poppy (it's length makes it have such a great impact and seperates it from a dtandard pop tune and a great Fall track - Fall fans will stick to it) Shake Off is great as is On My Own. This LP is much lighter than Levitate and a joy. Mark E Smith is the coolest f**ker on the planet and no-one comes close to THE FALL. Imagine the world without Mark E. Smith. I mean depressing or what. (Robert Green)
Fianally got a new car, 31 years into life, and devirginized its fine sound system (cars really are just wrappers for stereos, as far as I'm concerned) with Marshall Suite. It kills. This record is incredible. Please let them tour America with MES in a good mood, please.... (Todd E. Jones)
I think the Marshall Suite is an amazing record. It's odd yet sometimes catchy and sometimes experimental.. It has something for everybody yet it maintains the fall's vibe. Songs like "On My Own", "The Crying Marshall", "F'-Oldin' Money", and "Birthday" are amazing.. The last song on the first (out of the 3 sides) is brilliant!! I like it as much as Levitate maybe even more because the experimental stuff is not as annoying or as long... This is a wonderful comeback from the pits of jail and legal sorrows for Mr. Smith...I think this is the antidote for the crap music out there...
Folks, folks, folks.....let's not get TOO carried away here now! It just seems to me that Fall obsessives (and I'd count myself among them), were so relieved with the unexpectedly above-average quality of this L.P. after the disastrous year M.E.S. had just completed, that they were prepared to pay it WAY higher praise than it truth, it's actually pretty weak by Fall standards. The last song on it is the same as the last song on the last bloody album! And that Mad Dog thing sounds like Mark's grunting, recorded after landing home from the pub...this is self-indulgent, pretentious nonsense. It's a very short album too, and if this is the best that the BEST group of all time can muster after a year and a half's sabbatical, it doesn't bode well at all.
The Fall are the most astonishing visceral sheer obstroperous unpretentious whitenoiserockabillytechno ensemble on the planet. Though nothing since 1995 has been any good by their standards it still kicks ass by anybody else's. And even then we've had "The Joke","Das Vulture..","Inch" etc - these would be greatest hits on a K-Tel album if the world worked differently, but hey kids it doesnt....

MES is a genius and he once took me backstage after a gig and got me ratarsed on god knows what. My son is 8 and his 3 favourite fall songs are

1: I'm a Mummy
2: Hey! Student
3: Touch Sensitive (dance mix)

Mine however are (today, at any rate)

1: Mere Pseud Mag Ed
2: Container Drivers
3: Van Plague. (Matt Cahill)
This album is good, but only in the sense that it's an improvement on Levitate. I know I'm taking exception with Mark (Pringle, that is), but this is by comparison more of a balanced and concentrated effort than the last one. In fact, The Marshall Suite probably has more in common with Curious Oranj than any other Fall release.

That said, I don't particularly like this direction The Fall are taking (not that what I think influences anything). All I'm hearing in both Marshall and Levitate is an awkward dependency on production "wizardry"and l ess on the quality of the songs themselves. This was Levitate's biggest problem...the feeling that I was sitting in a recording studio at 3:30am while three stoned guys fiddled with knobs.

Hearing Touch Sensitive and Foldin' Money made me long for things like hooks, kineticism, and ... well, clarity. By that I don't mean to say "your songs don't make sense", but rather "your songs are beginning to drown in their own production-heavy, synthetic club-scene gimmicry".

Still, long live The whatever form. That, or at least let's pray for the death of Phil Collins.
Since I don’t have so much time on my hands as some better people do, I will only comment on the albums I’m particular about. The Marshall Suite, for instance, has always been a special one for me.

It may lack Levitate’s prior claim, but I almost find it the Fall’s most successful experimental album (although, technically, most of their records are experimental).

First, it’s better than the solid, but sonically half-assed Levitate. It’s more to the point, better produced and has, yes, stronger songs. Prindle complains about the lack of well-written melodies, but I don’t know. I guess there are melodies and then there are Fall melodies (would make Ray Davies cringe). And as far as the latter go, Marshall Suite is pretty spotless. “Touch Sensitive” and “F’-Oldin’ Money” are two irresistible, driving standouts, but it’s the ensuing suite (well, hardly that cohesive) that counts. And it really is one inventive, intriguing piece. A couple of mellower, more mercy-on-the-ear tunes would have been most welcome, but as a Fall listener you have to be ready for that kind of crudeness.

An 8. I’m not that easy-going about marks. Jesus.

Add your thoughts?

The Unutterable - Cog Sinister/Eagle 2000.
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #21 - One of the key rules of music journalism is that one should become extremely familiar with the work he or she is reviewing before beginning his critique, perhaps listening to it several times on several different occasions, and ruminating on how the musical work fits into the artist's catalogue as well as the entire background dialogue of popular music.

Well fuck that - I can't remember when Rich Bunnell's deadlline is for getting new reviews in, and I want to make sure that this review makes it on the page in the next couple of days, so I'm writing my lousy review after only one listen. One listen that was alternately exciting, depressing, exhilerating, boring, mindblowing, pathetic, hilarious and shitty.

See, the problem with Mark E. Smith (aside from the various drug addictions and uncontrollable misanthropy) is that he's EXTREMELY self-indulgent. Usually this works to the band's (and fan's) advantage because Mark enjoys good music (high-NRG techno, catchy guitar rock and good old '60s style garage rock) - HOWEVER, he also fancies himself an avant-garde experimentalist and poet. When he COMBINES these two urges, wonderful things happen. You dance around the room, bang your head and reel with wonder at the brilliant mass of weird noises hitting you in the brain (check out Levitate for the best example of this). However, when he separates these two facets to his self-love, you either get straightahead catchy music (Frenz Experiment, Shiftwork -- you know, all those Fall albums that the whole world hates except me) or irritating, seemingly pointless shitnoise and word poop (which is why his solo album The Post-Nearly Man doesn't get a whole lot of listens roundabouts my homestead).

Which brings us to The Unutterable. Most of the record is fucking fantastic -- exactly what I mentioned in the last paragraph -- catchy, simple, little '60s garage-pop influenced riffs smashed right on top of modern electronica-ish dance beats (i know "electronica" isn't the right word, but I don't know enough about the genre to tell you by name what it is -- "jungle"? "drum and bass"? "ragtime"?) with Nader-style ("liberal"! Get it??? FUCK YOU!!!!) amounts of ugly, indescribably tuneless synth noise wafting to and fro between the speakers. That's the good side!

The bad side is that, just like on The Light User Syndrome, it seems like 3/4 of the way into the record, Mark just started fucking around, with no thought as to how the results might sound. "Octo Realm" and "Unutterable" are that lo-fi poetry crap he's prone to subject his fans to, but that's okay because those tracks are SHORT. The real problem arrives with the last three tracks, which effectively leave a really, really, REALLY awful taste in my mouth every time I listen to it (all ONE time so far!). The first of these three tracks, "Midwatch 1953," is really interesting in theory -- it appears to be three different songs played at the same time; you can choose to listen to whichever melody you want. Neat idea? Yes, it really is! For about three minutes! Then it keeps going! For another three minutes! Then there's "Devolute," which is a 5-minute bunch of echoey synth noises with Mark spouting off two different speakerfulls of shit with no real start or finish that I can see. And finally "Das Katerer." Which is "Free Range" with different lyrics.

I realize that sounded negative -- but honestly eleven of the first twelve tracks are fantastic!!! And, like I said, "Midwatch 1953" starts cool as hell - it just drags on way too long.

About the rest of the album, a bit more I should say. Great energy. Really neat synth noises and terrific variations on the guitar styles -- much more than you might have heard from Mr. Scanlon or Ms. Brix. This dude alternates between 60s Count Five-style garage rock, 70s Dead Boys-style punk rock, 50s/70s Crampsish rockabilly, 80s Sonic Youth-style repetition and even twangy Johnny Cashish country-western hoobajoob and Johnny Hashish moody harmonics in the same song! (check out "Dr. Bucks' Letter" - nice, huh? You expect to see cowboys sitting around a fire shooting peyote mescaline into their veins, don't you?).

Final conclusion -- I really like the album, but I'd downright LOVE it if Mark would stick to bringing us all that great music in his head, instead of shitting out his worst indulgences onto tape and making us sit through it (well, he doesn't physically come to our house and hold a brass knuckle to our head -- but he should!), as if it deserved to be part of the same CD that contains such instant classics as "Cyber Insekt," "Way Round" and the fucking HILARIOUS "Pumpkin Soup and Mashed Potatoes". 8.

Reader Comments (Geoff Oval)
This is the culmination of 20 odd years and 30 odd albums and I'm a 16 year old snot nosed git again. Smith has been shuffling up to this opus since the '77 s***pile - raw, fast n loud and straight from the garage, just the way they should be. Nobody will come close to releasing anything like this, this year (Fall cliche number 206) although the influences are many - standard Smith stuff, but is that Blur I hear or is it The Fall sounding like Blur trying to be The Fall? 'Hands Up Billy' is the next great Fall football terrace anthem to rival Mr. Pharmacist/Glam Racket and check out Sons of Temperance for the ideal 'punk by numbers' template (Notebooks out - Fall cliche 245 - Offspring, Green Day and other Yankie twenty years too late bands). Smith is doggedly pursueing his intended course of 'voice as instrument' and this album is probably the definitive article so far. This detracts if you actually bother to listen to the lyrics but enhances the whole white noise effect. The Fall were never about the lyrics, errr.....this is near damn heresy in Fallintellectualcircles (sic), they are and always will be the supreme garage band. Other raves, so far, are Serum and Hot Runes.........ahhh this band it doesn't get any better. My favourite Fall album? Always the last! Why bother comparing? Damn twelve months to wait for the next one.
My first listen gave me many of the same feelings you had, but (as I'm sure you already have) listen to the damn thing again and you're fucked. It isn't leaving your head any time soon. I've finally reached the stage where I expect the next Fall album to be excellent rather than preparing for the worst. Re-write the review and give it a 9 you stingey get.

I'm going to Edinburgh for the Fall gig on 25 November 2000 because the bastard hasn't been to Dublin since '97. (Rob Green)
t’s boring, really, how good each album is, and then I have to deal with the fact that a) I will never hear anything from it on the mainstream radio, b) none of my friends care, despite my efforts, and c) I live in LA so good luck to my seeing this stuff performed live anytime soon.

This is another amazing piece of work by the way, run don’t walk to buy it now--it’s brilliant guitars lyrics rhythms reminds me a bit of Debaser by the Pixies but not exactly… (Josef)
After catching them on the recent tour and re-listening to the album this should be a 9. Listening to Fall records is a *learning* experience ya see. In 5 years time... (Robert Cook)
I've been into this band from the begining but their last gig in Newcastle was halfarsed lazy rubbish . Come on people payed a tenner " get some fuckin guts in it"
This LP is brutal, laud and wears it's heart on it's sleeve. Beutiful.
When all is said and done this is probably the best post 2000 Fall album (as at March 2006). Not only does it contain a number of very strong tracks - Dr Buck's letter is the stand out - but it maintains a strong thread throughout. In fact the only song I dislike is pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes but this at least illustrates Smith's determination to keep experimenting. For me this narrowly beats the very popular Country on the Click although in Theme from Sparta FC that contains one of the best Fall songs ever.
"Dr. Buck's Letter" has got to be one of the weirdest songs I've ever heard.
As long as it's 'uncontrollable misanthropy' it's better than uncontrollable lycanthropy, because nobody needs rogue werewolves, right?


Thoughts on the record...

"Two librans" Kick ass fukkin' ROK! Better than "Cyber Insekt" But, not the centerpiece, the coup de'Gras, the Mardi-Gras, is Dr. Buck's Letter.

But, then, it ain't no Pink Prole Threat, but, then, what is?

(Maybe How I Wrote Elastic Man?)

C'mon, 30+ albums, how can you pick one stand-out song?

Really, how?

Ya know what? I think I'm gonna go for Middlemass...

Yeah, the boyu is like a tape loop, He is the last remains of a very, very backroom brain.

That's good enough.

Add your thoughts?

Are You Are Missing Winner - Cog Sinister 2001.
Rating = 7

STUDIO ALBUM #22 - Guitar stereo separation-ah! Screwy mixing of crap-ah! 60sish-ah! Raw distorted guitar tones -- but grounded in cleanliness-ah! (Unlike Cerebral-ah!). Extremely repetitive-ah. But ten actual SONGS; no self-indulgence-ah! A whole new band-ah! Lots of simple garage rock like Cerebral or Marshall Suite-ah! Too repetitious and too few creative riffs to be a 9. But great. GReAT for FALL fans. MANCABILLY returns - lots of Brix-style simple guitar lines -- middle speaker is clean, left plays light distorted solos, right plays fuzz noise. TWO LONGS SONGS -- "Ibis-Afro Man" - 9 and a half minutes of creepy, odd upgoing bass thump-thump-thumps halfway through FADE-OUT comes back at triple-speed. "Reprise: Jane-Prof Mick-Ey Bastardo" 7 minutes fantastic jazzy drums and groovy bass line - MARK SMITH SPANISH ACCENT, tremeloey guitar great, keeps stopping completely, then a different verion pops in! FFor any fan of Pebbles or Nuggets compilations. NO ARTY SHIT. Just fucked up garage rock. I love The Fall -- They "kick the can." He replaced his entire band YET AGAIN. He is such a reliable man. Mark E. Smith has NEVER made a bad Fall album (his bad album was solo). The Fall should live forever. Production - things fuck around. Things are fucked up. Guitars abound - guitar lines are simple, but mix includes squeaks, squeals, demo versions in left speaker, etc. Nothing new, all borrowed and used, but catchy and well wroth owning. I leave "wroth" misspelled for art's sake.

I finally visited the World Trade Center site tonight. It is November 30th, 2001. The site is a mess of mangled metal, crushed concrete and way too much empty space, as I just posted on Music Babble. FIRST IMPRESSION: sickening but interesting. So wrong. So broken. SECOND IMPRESSION: look at the surrounding buildings - look at how tall they seem. Think about how tall WTC was and how people were jumping out of windows. How that must have felt. THIRD IMPRESSION: Gawkers taking pictures. Hating them but knowing I am one of them. Hating me. Stop peering through holes in barriers. I hate you. FOURTH IMPRESSION: Wall of letters from left-behinds to dead. Too much pain. I cried and cried and cried and cried. "You were the best son ever. Love, Mommy and Daddy." Too much. These people weren't soldiers. They were people just like me. They didn't deserve this. I did. FIFTH IMPRESSION: I'm stupid. Can't find subway. SIXTH IMPRESSION: Get drunk at restaurant because I deserved to die and they deserved to live. SEVENTH IMPRESSION: Came home, had sex, somehow everything is okay now. Maybe you should try OCD. Or maybe I should try real pain. I have to wear a tie to work starting Monday. My dog is kicking something wrong. Sorry this review isn't funny. I'm still drinked. Really good ablum for people who love garage rock from the 60s. BUY IT AND BUY EVERY OTHER FALL ALBUM ASIDE FROM INFERIOR PRODUCT ON RECEIVER RECORDS. THE FALL ARE THE MOST CONSISTENT BAND OF ALL TIME!

Reader Comments
We should really just love 'em, 'cos they're the Fall, and they're the greatest band ever. But MES isn't content to sit back, mature gracefully....he's of the opinion that you should rock out (albeit minimally), be HARD. So this album is the usual recent 50/50 classic/absolute mess that we've come to expect....worse than the last, better than the one before that. And next year they'll be back again, with a corker! Maybe! And how many bands can you say THAT about?

I love them. May he never die.

Todd Jones
I love The Fall and I heard horrible things about this album. When I got it, I was not expecting a classic but I was not expecting garbage. There are some incredible songs on this album but the extreme lo-fi sound quality and extremely cheap cover will throw people off. It seems like it only took 10 minutes to make the cover and it was made in my basement... Still, my favorite Fall albums include "Extricate", "Frenz Experiment", "Infotainment Scan", "Levitate", "Marshall Suite", and "Light User Syndrome". The new Fall album "Are You AreMissing Winner" is right under those albums in terms of great songs. The sound quality can't help but bring it down a bit.

"Jim's 'The Fall'" is a great way to kick the album off.

"Bourgeois Town" is a classic track! It's perfect! It has everything I love about The Fall in this song! "I'm in a bourgeois town, spread the news all around..."

"Crop Dust" has some great rhythm but does not stand out lyrically nor is it catchy. That is one reason I like it. ply

"Kick The Can" is a two-part song. The first part is slow and loud but the rward 2nd part is quick with an upbeat somewhat rockabilly sound.. "Gotta kick the can (or they'll send ya to a foreign land)".. I don't know what he says but the backing vocals of the band gives it a great touch.

"My Ex-Classmates Kids" is a great track but the vocal level is all messed up and Smith's yelling will hurt eardrums. The hook is great and will have people singing along. Too bad the mixing and levels are messed up.

"Gotta See Jane" is perfect! This cover track only reinforces that I think The Fall should put out an LP of all covers one of these days. Real catchy, real upbeat. Even with the lo-fi sound, it sounds great!

"Ibis-afro Man" is a joke. This song is so long and boring. At first listen, it's funny since the monkey sounds truly throw the listener off. But after a couple more listens, I use to do songs like this when I was 13 years old and stoned out of my mind. Sure, it's bold but The Fall has done stuff like this before and it's not needed.

"The Acute" ... another wonderful track! Garage Rock.. "Keep your.... In your pants..."

"Hollow Mind"... yet again....another wonderful track! Guitar garage rock...

" Reprise: Jane - Prof Mick - Ey Bastardo".. This is a long track that uses reprises "Gotta See Jane". I love how it stops and then starts up again.. This happens a couple of times. It's obvious that this was an improve but the whole "Svet is a bastardo" repetition is hilarious. The weird Spanish-like accent that Smith uses is fresh. He's never did that before (at least that I know of).

As a whole, I don't think this album will gain the Fall NEW fans. This is for die-hard Fall fans...really, Mark E. Smith fans. Since the old band were sacked, this is Smith and some new musicians. I wish the sound mix was better and of course, I would love it if they used some keyboards. "Bourgeois Town" uses these extremely cheap sounding keyboards but it sounds so perfect. This is The Fall very stripped down, very loud and guitar driven. It's almost the antithesis of "The Unutterable" since that album seemed like it was produced well. "Are You Are Missing Winner" with it's mis-spelled title has the 'back to basics' approach. It's not for everybody but since when is The Fall for everybody? It's another great Fall record....period.

8 out of 10
the fall have really done it this time, i thought "I'm a mummy" was the worst fall song but then i heard "ibis afro man" it is a piece of shit, i have no fucking clue why a band as smart as the fall would but something as blatantly moronic and annoying as "ibis afro man" on an album, it starts with a horrible quasi-circus baseline and repetitive lyrics about eating wild life, then they (in a sick move of perversity) put I really loud monkey yelps that are REALLY piercing and go on WAY too long. it then gets synthy in a crappy way. And ends. it is 9 minutes too long, the worst fall song ever in my book. But besides that are you are missing winner rocks, garage rock and weirdness! Yay!

I bought this c.d. at the Dublin gig, and have to say was disappointed on first hearing it. However, it really grows on you. "Jim's The Fall" is a great opener and the only track I don't like (can't listen to!) is Ibis Afro Man. 'Gotta See Jane' and 'The Acute' are great and I like 'Hollow Mind' even though as it is just a re-work of Jerusalem.

This albumIt reminds me a lot of Cerebral Caustic, again, which I didn't really take to at first but then it really grew on me. I agree with the last two posters that The Fall are fantastic, and it's great that Mark (& Co.) still tour and you get to see them live at least once a year. It's hard to believe that a band around so long can build up such an exciting and tense atmosphere when playing live.

Colin T.
"bourgeois town" is a blues standard reworked into a fall standard. (Simon Burgess)
An album with two minutes of screeching monkey noises in the middle of an otherwise serviceable song may not be 'arty', but it's still a load of shit noise bull crap. And the last track which consists of crap drums, shite guitar tremelo wankery and a bollocks excuse for a bassline which I might've been proud to have written when I was about 15, all stopping randomly and then starting again and just going on and on and on - it might very well be the worst fall track ever. This is definately the only bad Fall studio album I've heard - Mark E. Smith can suck my wang dang as far as I'm concerned. The man has tried his best efforts to piss all his talent up against the back walls of Britains crappiest pubs - he still has it somewhere buried within him, as evidenced by the occaisionally great music on here, but when he doesn't give enough of a toss to stay sober enough for long enough to record some vocals with consonants and maybe even hooks, well it doesn't show a great deal of respect for fans. When the guy can't even be arsed to make sure the cover art for his albums isn't a load mis-spelt innacurate toss typed out by some Voiceprint monkey, it doesn't betray a great deal of care or dedication. When he acts like enough of an arsehole that Spencer Birtwistle has to leave becuase he can't take it (or just straight up fired the guy, whichever), thereby losing the person who wrote one of the only half-way decent songs on the album, but he still keeps Ben Pritchard who can only come up with one song - which happens to suck harder than the latest Dyson - it doesn't display a great deal of intelligence. Why is it that this album has three covers out of ten tracks - one of which is reprised - and the actual remaining song writing had to be divvied up between five people, one not in the band, when the songs themselves largely consist of shitty-ass blocks chords which have been done so many times already that nobody actually writes them anymore, rather just calls them up from the database of aggressively overused Rock chord progressions when they realise they possess not a jot of creativity of their own? Hmmmmm?

I seriously think that this line-up has - or rather had - a lot of potential. Listen to 'Jim's "The Fall"' and marvel at how much of a kickass rythym section Spencer and Jim made before Mark drove Spen away and replaced him with some guy called Dave. Jim is the only remaining guy from the line-up who is any good (unless Dave proves to be some kind of revelation) - his riffs are actually cool and interesting, while Ben's, Ed's and Bernard's block-chord reliant bilge all sucks ass. The first three tracks from AYAMW would've made an awesome EP, even given that Mark can hardly be arsed to produce anything more than vague drunken yowling. The guitar break in 'Jim's "The Fall"' is a classic Fall moment. In spite of everything, I really have high hopes for the next album - they'll start writing as a band instead of as individuals. Mark has managed to retain some of the personnel instead of sacking them all, so they'll have had time to develop. As long as he gets an extra guitarist in, and doesn't sack Jim for at least a little while (and I'll be seriously pissed off when he does), then it could be great. Sorry about the long rant but it's only because I care. I do. More than any of those cutesy bears ever did anyway.
This is bad and charmless, especially when coming after The Unutterable which, I think, is the best LP for ages. Being prolific is not a virtue in itself, there are maybe two good tracks here but that is it. (David Wells)
When I first heard this album I thought it was one of the poorest they had done. The only track that stuck with me was Bourgeois Town which does not sound too far away from In my area (c1979) musically. The rest of the album I ignored until a recent play of rarely played CDs saw this one get an airing. Two consecutive plays and I am beginning to warm to the first few tracks - none of them storming but pretty good standard Fall type stuff. That is until you get to ibis afro man - garbage and quite honestly I tend to switch off for the remaining tracks. So out of 10 for first 6 tracks I'd give a 7 - for the rest I wouldn't bother. I note that Bourgeois Town has become Bourgeois Blues on the excellent new DVD touch sensitive. Well worth a look!
My goodness me, just got this yesterday and what is with the two diabolical tracks: Ibis Afro Man and whatever the last one is called. There is such a thing as messing with a song too much Mr Smith. I think this is one of the Fall's most immature albums due to these stupid songs. But then MES always was eccentric in some way or another.

How come no one has pointed out the mispelling of the title, which I assume is supposed to reflect the Mancunian accent.

However, Borgeios Town and Crop Dust are class. The rest are probably good too: I'm expecting them to gro on me like most Fall songs do. I won't rate it because I've not listened to it enough yet.

Steven Savale
I was a rabid Fall fan from 1980-1991 after which my musical world took a distinctly different turn.This last decade I've been on a voyage of rediscovery which has sped-up considerably this year.So imagine my delight at finding this gem of an album! MES is an exquisite sonic vandal .He says a big "fuck you" to the niceties of the recording process - the band is slightly unrehearsed, some of the changes are unsteady , he is clearly inebriated, the production sounds like it was wrapped up very quickly .And of course it's all the more brilliant for it .One of their best , though I admit this wasn't immediately apparent on first listening .Not only does MES say fuck off to the middle-class world ,he says it to himself sometimes too.The widescreen landscapes of the equally brilliant "Unutterable" are spat on and discarded as this version of the fall shambles into a masterpiece .A lo-fi mancabilly treat where the guitars are a thin, banjo-like rush , not dissimilar from "Grotesque".The vocals are slurred , snarling but way upfront in the mix which creates an intimacy that's quite distinct from most other Fall albums.."Hollow Mind" is a raw ,slobbering attack- dog of a song while "Kick the Can" coasts between dry psychedelia and a groovy fifties strut building on the groove of "F-Foldin' Money" .Hats off to the band for "The Acute" - how can such a simple guitar/bass and drums formation sound so twisted and surreal ?Pure genius .I've noticed that people attack "Ibis-Afro man" , but I find this track absolutely hilarious .As a touring musician myself i've seen enough Ibis hotels and the slob that Mark describes inhabiting the said hotel's nether regions has me crying with laughter .Musically it's completely random-mental , unpredictable and wonderful and is right up there with "Blob 59" and "Papal Visit" in MES's studio sadism.I can't understand why you fans attack tracks like this , for me they're definitive Fall." Likewise "Ey Bastardo" which trawls thru equally deranged territory .There's also some other innovative side-stepping here , particularly "Crop-dust" which is a loopadelic take on Electric Prunes-type garage-psych that takes a few unexpected turns . I don't think I've heard anyone go the "Nuggets" route quite like this before."My ex-classmate's Kids" is one of those rare compassionate moments in the Fall pantheon and is the first of a few "kids today" lyrics that MES has pursued over the past decade ("LatchKey Kid" , "Wolf Kidult Man").Perhaps the only weak point is the R.Dean Taylor cover "I Gotta See Jane" which suffers in comparison with the other tracks for having such a conventional arrangement . The album begins saying "we are the new Fall" - but MES hasn't made an album quite like this since, it's a one-off for sure and easily stands up with classics like Grotesque , Hex, Slates and Room to Live.

Add your thoughts?

Live At The Knitting Factory-L.A.-14 November 2001 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 5

I don't know who runs Hip Priest Records but somebody needs to kick that guy in the testicle ballnuts because this is the laziest, shittiest presentation of a live recording I've heard since 1962. And I wasn't even born til '73!!!!!!

Here, look at this shopping list of complaints I brought to Santa Claus about it:

- Terrible bootleg sound. Half the time, you can't hear the guitar at all!
- A tape cut in "Mr. Pharmacist" deletes an entire verse of the song!!
- A tape cut in "Way Round" deletes the entire second half of the song!!!
- A tape cut in "Dr. Bucks' Letter" deletes the entire song!!!!

What happened to Quality Control? What happened to The Customer Is Always Right? Live At The Knitting Factory-L.A.-14 November 2001? Yeah, more like Live SHAT The SHITting CRAPTURDy-SMELL.A.-14 NovemTURD 200DUNG!!!!

The disc features four tracks from Are You Are Missing Winner, two each from The Marshall Suite and The Unutterable and one each from Cerebral Caustic, Extricate and Bend Sinister. The guitarist adds some nice swishy psychedelic guitar effects to "Antidotes" and "Way Round," but "Cyber Insekt" is pointless without a keyboard. Stop playing it, you there with the turntable.

The greedy capitalists at Hip Priest don't care about you or me; they know that obsessive Fall collectors will buy any old sack of dirt they release as long as it has Mark Smith muttering his nonsense on top. But don't make the same mistake I did!!!! You're not supposed to crap in a bidet.

But don't make the other same mistake I did!!!! Don't buy this CD.

Back when I was a ninth-grade genius, I penned a brief nonfictional tome pithily entitled "You Never Know How Good A Friend Your Dog Is Until It's Gone." And just two days ago, I nearly relearned that lesson the hard day -- through a dog being gone.

As I'm sure you know, my wife and I took Henry The Best Dog In The World (Asshole Division) to brisk Wilmington, NY last week for a jaunty vacation in the December snow. And let me tell you something about the Animal Kingdom in general and Henry The Dog in specific: it (he) likes to hunt. Henry spent the whole week chasing deer footprints up and down the sniffy snowtrails, just as happy as a beaver clamping down on a thick piece of morning wood. The only problem was that - God this story is taking forever.

POINT BEING that one night he ran off into the woods after some deers and never came back. My wife looked for him with a flashlight and whistle for an hour, then I did the same. And Mister, you haven't felt hopelessness until you've spent an hour walking through a huge, unfamiliar forest during a blinding snowstorm with a flashlight so weak you can only see exactly where you are stepping, all the while blowing a loud whistle and screaming the name of your animal companion. I completed my walk absolutely positive that we would never see him again. The forest would not end! And it went on and on in about a dozen different directions! Sadness prevailed, as did melancholy.

But then a light unexpectedly busted out through that darkness! See, Henry has a sparkly "H" tag around his neck that includes his name and telephone number, so my wife called home to change our outgoing message to "If you're calling about Henry, please call (and then our vacation home telephone number)." And WHAMMO! Just as we prepared to head out for another hopeless journey into the Deep Murderous Wild, the phone rang! Apparently Henry had come out the other side of the woods, found a house, and cried at the door until they let him in. Good Ol' Henry! He may have the directional instincts of a corpse, but when push comes to shove, he knows how to pull out a WHINE!

So we went and picked him up, the galoot.

Well, that's my story.

I'm Brickman! I tell stories and I'm made of bricks!

And they call me "Brickman"!

I tell stories!

Add your thoughts?

2G+2 - Action 2002.
Rating = 6

ANOTHER live Fall CD. Has any band EVER flooded the market to the extreme (tacos) that these guys have been doing for the past seven years? If I were just now becoming a Fall fan, I'd INSTANTLY be turned off by all the extraneous product out there. It's the very reason I've given up on becoming a Hawkwind fan! It seems like every Hawkwind cd I run across is either a compilation, a collection of alternate versions or a live album. And, just like with The Fall, their stuff is on about 8 billion different labels.

But what am I complaining about - I love The Fall! Let's see who's in the band these days -- Looks like there's some "M.E. Smith" fellow on vocals now, that's nice. Hopefully he can do for The Fall what Gary Cherone did for Van Halen (helped them to finally reach their full potential as a GREAT rock and roll band!). Then there's some J. Watts person on bass, presumably hired by Smith in tribute to the classic Diesel album Watts In A Tank. The guitarist is one B. Pritchard. If we'd gone to elementary school together, he totally would have been right behind me whenever we had to line up in alphabetical order. Which would have been FINE with me. Believe me, I had my fill of that hyperactive prick Timothy Quick pretty early on! The Fall's drummer on this release is named S. Bertwistle. Can you imagine how hilarious today's society would be if his first name started with a "Q"? Or even better, if his full name was "John Enernieand Bertwistle?" It would be as if the Who's late (cocaine and whores) bass player was teaming up with two Sesame Street characters for the kind of project only previously feasible for such grandstanding celebs as Anne Murray and Mr. Hooper!

But what's the deal with these two other names? E. Blaney on guitar+vocal and B. Fanning on acc-guitar? Why are they only listed as "With:" instead of being full band members? Were they just people in the audience who walked up and started playing for a few minutes before retiring back into the crowd? Or were they once full band members who have been fired by MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) since this disc was recorded in November 2001? Which brings me to another sore point - it says here that this disc was recorded in 11/01 in L.A., New York and Seattle. Does that mean The Fall came to NYC in 2001 and nobody told me? That would be somewhat upsetting, even though the last time I saw them live, they put on the worst, most out-of-tune show possible without Glenn Danzig.

Getting to the topic at hand, this disc features eight live tracks and four studio tracks. The live ones include a fantastic new version of "The Joke" that DELETES the annoying counter-guitar line that's been bugging me for years, a few numbers from the last album, far too many covers ("F-Oldin' Money," "Bourgeois Town" AND "Mr. Pharmacist"), "Kick The Can" with no fast part and a COMPLETELY unexpected version of "I Am Damo Suzuki"!!!!???!?!?! The inclusion of such an old, avant-garde Fall track only cements the theory that I began formulating as I listened to the disc: that the rays were the result of something happening within the atom itself, a property I called radioactivity. I also began to feel that perhaps this latest band membership isn't going to take The Fall very far into the future. They're too simple, too plain, too rockabilly. Mark needs to surround himself with players that challenge him to take chances. Aside from "Ibis Afro-Man" - which everybody hates but I love - nothing on the last album or on this live CD even ATTEMPT to take chances. Are You Are Missing Winner got away with it because it was fun and had a few great little tunes here and there. But when you take a disc like this - where song after song after song is just like two basic notes or chords repeated for five minutes apiece, it's evident that Mr. Smith needs to reign in his love for rockabilly and get back to the weird stuff that made Levitate and even The Unutterable super, smart albums that you want to listen to over and over again. Granted, he's done this BEFORE. Both Cerebral Caustic and The Marshall Suite waddle around in rockabilly quite a bit too. And that's FINE, as one influence. But Mark E. Smith is not Gene Vincent or the Big Bopper and he's never GOING to be. So he'd might as well go back to being Damo Suzuki. Especially since he's much, MUCH more brilliant than Damo Suzuki anyway (at least when he tries to be).

As for the four studio tracks - "New Formation Sermon" is simple catchy fast rockabilly, with a strummy acoustic guitar, a distorted guitar playing three cute notes and a bass bouncin' around like a little kid on a pogo stick that he put Ben-Gay on because he saw his father put Ben-Gay on his legs before playing basketball and he thought that it would make the pogo stick jump higher too. Not brilliant, but certainly fun. "Enigrmmatic Dream" is a poem of some sort set to a bland slow dumb riff. "I Wake Up In City" is simply a different set of lyrics recited atop the music to the rockabilly "My Ex-Classmates' Kids" (a song that, incidentally, appears TWO FUCKING SONGS EARLIER ON THE DISC). And "Distilled Mug Art" is a good one - similar to that "Fiend With A Violin" ripoff that we all fell for hooklinensinker back in our younger days, with two acoustic chords ching-chugga-ching-chugga-chinging while a sci-fi sound effect and two (or is it THREE?) different Mark Smiths yell and recite above. So I suppose that's kind of avant-garde. Sure!

Speaking of numbers, I received a disc in the mail the other night at 4 AM: it was Animals by The Lot Six on Espo Records. Sounds like a young band, maybe fresh out of collegiate studies. The music is hard-edged rock that calls to mind a lot of other underground bands (Slint, Fugazi, Poster Children, Archers of Loaf, Thin White Rope) without sounding like a ripoff of any of them. They seem pretty talented musically, criss-crossing back and forth between post-punk (which doesn't mean anything, but no clearer term seems to be coming into my head), happy chord rock and even country/western (!) while always keeping an ear to the ground for interesting guitar interplay. These guitarists like to work together, but only if they get to play different things. That's interplay, some might tell you! Cooperation! Like a football team! Hence the name The Lot Six! Every member of this band used to play for the Atlanta Falcons! Look over there! It's Steve Bartkowski on electric triangle!

In conclusion, The Lot Six are from Allston, MA (home of Anal Cunt?), are named Dan, Julian, Will, Aaron and Dave, and recorded this CD in Maine. I like some of the CD, but I think college kids would like it more. I say that because I used to be a college kid and back then my mind was much more open to stuff like this -- the Grifters, Railroad Jerk, Red Red Meat -- now I'm 29 and my mind is sealed up tight against this kind of "not punk, not metal, not terribly melodic in the traditional pop sense" kind of guitar rock. Plus I really dislike a lot of the vocals. The one dude sounds like he's 13 and the other dude sounds like he's faking a lazy heroin drawl ('ya tuck mah play-ace'). At least I think it's two different guys. If it's just one, he is a master of voice disguise and should drop out of the band and go to Ventriloquist College before all their fall classes fill up. HURRY!

Reader Comments (Jon Varner)
"I Wake Up In City" actually preceded "My Ex-Classmates' Kids" as a very limited run free Flitwick single. It's a better song, what with the coughing and TV samples and Mark's more forceful delivery. The other studio tracks on 2G+2 were taken from the unreleased Present EP. This is a particularly weak Fall release, which means the next one will kick arse. Right?

Sorry you missed the 2001 US tour, because BOTH of the 2002 US tours were cancelled! I was at one of the shows recorded on 2G+2, and the band sounded much better live.
I first got into The Fall when they were on that live ep from manchester from Factory? Always checked-out what they were doing along the years, but didn't buy everything. I was in Manchester couple of years ago and accidentally saw The Fall, as in saw an advert for the evening gig on that very afternoon. It was the New Fall, and it was a gig I will treasure - rocky/guitarry and just about keeping it together to make it happen. And happen it did.

The new mostly live album does it for me. A stonking band who seem to be into it as much as Mr. Smith. And looking ahead to more guitarry music to come... (Ian Galley)
re: A Past Gone Mad

I'm going to try to be clear and concise, please stay with me....

I had been warned by proper Fall fans that the quality of compilations varies wildly and if I was to go for one, go for a Hanley picked selection. Past Gone Mad jumped into my hand as the compiler is the genuinely funny Stewart Lee. In case you don't know, he's been responsible for On The Hour, (precursor to The Day Today), Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard not Judy... (on this deranged Sunday morning show they introduced a character called The Curious Orange, who was... a giant curious orange. Each week it asked curious questions until it went mad, became an insane criminal fruit and was gorily juiced on the last show...) Check out (if it's still up) lots of streams and links to good stuff.

Anyway. This is the tracking 1)This CD In your hand.... The spoken word album mustn't have sold too well, so MES can recoup some publishing. Quite a funny little tale... I'm sure we've all sat next to Fred West's sweaty family. (note: another mention of Richard & Judy ,'NWFS', I think MES spent too much time watching daytime TV)

2)Touch Sensitive: I love this tune. Simple but effective. The video, if I recall correctly, has MES and the band on a M/chester car park roof... singing into a DV cam..Quality. Shame it's now a theme for a fucking car ad.

3)High Tension Line. Get down... There isn't enough of Shift Work here, but HTL is a good example of my 2nd favourite album.

4)Rose. Also from Shift Work. Sounds such a sweet song, but there's an underlying bitterness. Hmm, is it about Brix going off with Nigel Kennedy?? Well that's what I've been told. Probably been lied to, as usual.

5)The Birmingham School of Business School. Oh, this is MIGHTY. I've only been to Birmingham twice and it's not as bad as made out (just another English city)... but this song nails the pathetic self delusion that local councillors, dignitaries, politicians etc have to their home town. You get an EU grant, bring in all the PR gurus, architects, social planners etc and you turn your town into a giant business/industrial estate. MES delivery gets more and more bored with itself as the song drones without ever trying to resolve itself to a conclusion. Really funny. The "Olympic bidding again and again" is a bit off when Manchester, (hardly an exotic, cultural utopia itself), continues to bid for every two-bit, pissing in the gutter sporting event.... There's a guitar 'solo' too!

6)Free Range... Also Sprach Zarathustra... Wagner, Supermen, European Union and Insect posses. Another great dance tune. They must have been drowning in E at that point.

7)Lost In music. Pretty good groover, can't beat the original... MES starts ranting about Red Brick Pubs??? Throw away though.

8)I'm going to Spain. A straight ahead, indie guitar tune. funny lyrics...."I'm going to Spain, Klaus & Roman had a real fine time last year, I hear it never rains, I hope I can click with the language yeah!" Could be a cover. Well placed as a breather.

9)A Past Gone Mad. MES foresees the current obsession of the 'look back bores (pretty much the theme of Infotainment Scan). You can't watch TV nowadays without some inane 'celebrity' banging on about how great 1982 was. etc. Lovely melodies here, some big beats and clattering machines. The band are on a roll here... this may not be to some tastes (programming seems to be anathema to most guitar bores) but the depth and range blows me away. HAIL THE MACHINES!!! DEATH TO MUSICIANS.

10)Behind the Counter. Great noisy Bass riff, sounds like Faith No More... the riff... not the song...

11)Hey Student. YEAH! You're gonna get it through the head. Proper garagey rock. Bludgeons you with repetition until you accept it as genius. Another unbelievable Bass Line. That Hanley chap is good. Brain of J, put down yer fretless... buy a £50 beaten up old bass and get back to basics, punk.

12)Ten House of Eve... The only track off Levitate.. Shame, I'd love to have 1/4 inch (only heard that once or twice but it pisses over almost everything... even the mighty Aphex Twin.) Still, this is a stunning tune. Gorgeous piano interlude... bass reminds me of RevCo some how (drugs are bad.) It's a shame everything went mad and MES sacked the whole gang. This direction could have been revolutionary... now it's just another deleted album. Anyone want to rip me Levitate?? You'll be knighted. My Gran is the Queen. Really. You must of been really excited when he got busted in NY... did you go to the trial???? Hee Hee.

13)F-Oldin Money. An old rocker... okay.. not as good as White Lightning on Shift Work though. Contains a brilliant guitar solo, only nine notes long. Take heed guitarists...

14)Shake-Off. A big beat disco tune. MES advises the kids not to inject domestos, or any other chemical cleaner, into the eyeballs. Wise words. Seems to rant on about Dad's playing guitar all night.... Bit like the Mere Psued Mag Editor... though today's dads will more likely have a Fender Strat than a Spanish Guitar (damn that's a funny funny song). Even Big Tony Blair is an old rocker!! He played Strat in his college ROCK band (er...cambridge or oxbridge, not Huddersfield Polytechnic...) get this, his band was called Ugly Rumours.... bet they played fucking Genesis covers... A rock n roll PM. Sigh. We get what we fucking deserve. Still, in 10 years time we may get some ecstasy rave monster as PM. You could solve the middle east problem by holding a free mass-rave in Syria. MAKE SOME FUCKING NOISE!!! You got to dig that Eastern Scale micro-tonality? Western Scales are so last century (HEH HEH)

15)Young Nevs Antidotes... Screeching noise. Nice string section. Weak tune. I'm tired.

16)Bonkers In Phoenix. Sorry to spoil some of your correspondents ideas on this song, but it's about summer music festivals. The Phoenix was a short lived Rock festival run by the folks responsible for the Reading festival. I was there in it's first year and witnessed a mad riot, (A middle class revolt??). Anyway, the Fall would always turn up and ruin the fun for all the rock and indie kids. This is a document of that period. Brix sings a sweet bubblegum pop tune, but it's placed miles back in the mix (just like yer festival bad sound); MES barks about meat burgers, veggie burgers, car parking at GlastonburyPhoenix. Really it's a throw away, album filler... but as I hate music festivals and the inept bands whom always crop up like disease ridden whores... I like it!

17)Bill is Dead. MES gets sexy and tells us of a conquest who gets kinky with riding crops etc. "Came twice, You thrice.." really more than we need to know.
A lovely, sweet tune which should soften the heart of the meanest misanthrope. Apparently Bill was his Dad, possible mis-information.

Overall, a great album for newcomers... it showcases all the sides of the band in this period. Totally useless if you have all the albums, but I see Fall fans are completists (i try to fight that virus but I maybe failing.) Must mention the good artwork... well done art folks. Now I have spent far too much of my Saturday on this, so next time I'll go back to the usual bollocks.

Score? Oh I don't know.... my other ratings are random stabbing at the numeric keys anyway.

Au revoir

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Touch Sensitive...Bootleg Box Set - Sanctuary 2003
Rating = 5

I'm not exactly sure where Sanctuary expects to find an audience for a $49.00 box set comprised of five 2001 concerts with frigging darn blasted near identical set lists, but nevertheless they fancy one exists and here we are, face to face, a couple of silver spoons. Hoping to find some peace of mind - making it tall, touching my balls. Together! We're gonna find our way. (You and I!) Together! Taking the time each day! And there ain't no nothin' we can't love each other through (whoo-hoo!) What would we do, baby? Without us? Sha-la-la-SHIT! I JUST COMBINED THE THEMES FROM TWO DIFFERENT TV SITCOMS!!!! HOW COULD I HAVE MIXED UP TWO DIFFERENT PIECES OF ART FROM THE MOST WIDE-RANGING COLLECTION OF AURAL MAJESTY GOD HAS YET SEEN FIT TO AWARD US, HIS LEGIONS, WITH ON THIS, OUR DAILY BREAD? I'll have to chalk it up to old age, and chalk outline this body on the other side of the living room. Look - how was I supposed to know he wasn't Osama Bin Laden? YOU saw his goddamned mustache!!!!

But back to the box set, as many believe that is the reason that I brought you here today. I suppose it IS part of the reason, though I must admit the fact that I've programmed this review to create an open proxy in your computer and dial up into my Porn Hotline for $40 a minute have some appeal as well, at least for me. But about the CD. Personally, I found a copy on ebay for half-price and STILL feel a little ripped off. I feel LITERALLY ripped off! Like somebody stole me from a store! What am I doing here in this basement? GOD DAMMIT!!!

If anything though, this box set DOES make it intriguingly clear how unable (or unwilling) The Fall are to play a song the same way two nights in a row. This is partly because three of the concerts are from April 2001 (when keyboardist Julia Nagle was still in the band) and two are from November 2001 (after keyboardist Julia Nagle realized that Mark Smith is out of his bleedin' mind), but there must be something else going on in the stew too. I mean, some of these performances sound as if the band members had never even HEARD the songs the first time they played them - then learned them in time for the next show. Take "Paintwork," for example. It's an old, old Fall song from olden times performed by a completely different set of band members -- I mean this was back even before Mark E. Smith joined, when the singer was Phil Collins. On the earliest performance of that song included on this box shat (April 6th, 2001), only the three basic chords of the song are performed - no notes. Then when they attempt it again on April 17th, suddenly the guitarist (presumably Ben Pritchard?) knows the notes -- pity that Mark never bothers singing on that version because it could have been good!

Another example is "Cyber Insekt," which features an INCORRECT keyboard line the first two sets, boasts the correct one the third set and then - through lack of keyboardist - devolves into a Ramones-style one-chord punk rock song for sets 4 and 5! Three performances of "Way Round" feature the inimitable futuristic synth, but on the last two, the guitarist has to in-imitate the now-absent electronic blurble. "And Therein..." features completely off-rhythm guitarwork in set 5, after having sounded great in sets 3 and 4! Oh - the whole thing is just a rigmarole of ridiculousness, Mr. Riley (Marc)!

And some OTHER things, since we're talking about Touch Sensitive...Bootleg Box Set by The Fall -- "Antidotes" NEVER worked as a live track. It just sounds like one loud murky chord for four minutes. And why on God's Favorite Dog does Mark insist that the band perform "I Wake Up In The City" immediately after "My Ex-Classmates' Kids" in sets 4 and 5? The songs feature IDENTICAL music!!! Why perform the weak "Free Range" ripoff "Das Katerer" rather than the awesome "Free Range" itself? Why change the fantastic lyric "They say what about the meek/I say they've got a bloody cheek" to the completely nonsensical "They say what about the meek/I say they've got a fucking cheek"? And who needs FIVE GODDAMNED VERSIONS of "Mr. Pharmacist" and "F-'Oldin' Money"??? Not only are they not Fall originals - they collectively only feature about .004% of a chord!

Speaking as a guy who really likes The Unutterable and Are You Are Missing Winner, I'd be pleased and excited to have shows from these tours in my presence -- but why not just release a double-disc of the best material, rather than dragging down all life and spirituality by amassing an 80-track box set that only features TWENTY-NINE different songs???? WHY WHY WHY (IS IT SO HARD)???

I'm holding YOU responsible, Paul Revere and the Raiders!!!!

Reader Comments
Heya, the reason that the line "I say they've got a bloody cheek" is changed to "fucking cheek" is that it means much the same thing. It's not bloody cheek as in a cheek that is blood covered. It's cheek as in nerve, moxy, taking liberties, with bloody just an expletive.

I can't say the amount of times I've had people who aren't from the north of England (and I'm only from the north-middle myself) asking about that bit, when I've sent them a Fall mix-tape!

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Live At The Garage-London-20 April 2002 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 6

Hi, I'm Mark E. Smith of The Fall. You know, when I'm not busy practicing my scales or preparing a healthy vegan meal, I like to listen to old tape recordings of my band's live performances (or 'gigs,' as we call them in the music industry). But don't think me an incurable egotist -- believe me, I don't listen to them merely for the enjoyment of hearing a well-oiled musical outfit go through its paces! Indeed, I am more concerned with uncovering the occasional instrumental or pacing gaffe in order that I might hone the most polished and well-choreographed entertainment event possible. Our fans deserve nothing less. As such, you can imagine the horror I felt upon revisiting our April 20, 2002 "gig" at London's Garage and discovering that, far from the blemish-free performance that I could have sworn we were giving at the time, the show was an abominable disaster of interchangeable tone-deaf garage rock! Do I smell a saboteur?

First of all, let it be known that I purposely created what I thought was a strong set list, comprised of material from 9 different releases dating all the way back to our 1986 watershed This Nation's Saving Grace (I hesitate to revisit the pre-'86 recordings, as our early material has a raw and unrehearsed feel that would surely alienate today's sophisticated listeners). So imagine my chagrin upon realizing that "Kick The Can," "F'Oldin Money," "Bourgeois Town," "I Wake Up In The City" and "My Ex Classmates Kids" are all the same song! Why had I not noticed this before? I can only assume that my dynamic vocal hooks blinded me to the instrumental similarities between the five.

Secondly, I guess I couldn't tell through the monitors but apparently when you remove the keyboard line from "Cyber Insekt," there's no song left. Similarly, "Antidotes" doesn't appear to.... well, do anything at all, quite frankly. In retrospect, I suppose I should've been suspicious when I noticed the guitarist performing the entire track without moving his left hand.

Thirdly, as our fans know, I pride myself on bringing the occasional spot of high art to The Fall's concert performances, usually in the form of an original poem. Now, I'm willing to blame this on poor penmanship if necessary, but I'll be tarred and feathered if "Enigrammatic Dream" makes even a lick of logical sense. Did I accidentally miss every third word or something? I'm no stranger to the avant-garde 'cut up' techniques of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, but "Enigrammatic Dream" was supposed to be a heartwarming tale about a horsey. Furthermore, what's up with that wiggly electronic noise? Did somebody rest a baby on our organ? No Michael Jackson jokes please. Ha ha! This is why writers often refer to my acerbic wit.

Finally, and really this is the most damning criticism of all; I appear to have somehow sung every single word on the wrong note. Heck, at times it doesn't even sound like I'm trying at all! It would be easy to blame my poor performance on ears worn down to nubs from 25 years of high-volume orchestral rock performances, but that would be disingenuous. The truth is that I simply neglected my vocal rehearsal duties. Seven or eight hours a week is enough for your average Joe, but I aim higher and always have. In the future, I absolutely must insist on at least three full dress rehearsals prior to each 'gig''s curtain-raising.

So be sure and join us on our 2008 worldwide tour, and pre-register for a free copy of our upcoming concept album The Romantic Heartbeat of The Whale. Catch you on the flip side!

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All Tomorrows Parties: Live At The ATP Festival-28 April 2002 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 6

Transcription: Hip Priest Records, Inc. Q4 2006 Conference Call

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: I'd like to thank you all for joining me today for our quarterly conference call.


CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: I meant all of our employees and stockholders, not just you.

PRESIDENT, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Oh. I thought you said, "I'd like to thank you, Al, for joining me...." My name is Al.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: I understand. Nevertheless, I have some exciting forward-looking news for all of you, which I think will help to alleviate our Q3 challenges and guide the way towards a profitable fourth quarter recovery.


CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Lady, I just went over this with Al. Don't respond to everything I say; I'm not speaking directly to you.

COMPTROLLER, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Oh. I thought you said "I have some exciting forward-looking news for Olive Yu." My name is Olive Yu.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: So here's my idea. I'm sure you all remember the incredible success we experienced with our 2006 product "Live At The Garage-London-20 April 2002" by The Fall.


CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Now I ask you to close your eyes and imagine how great it would be if we were to release a CD of a concert they performed eight days later.

INVESTORS, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Whoa! (*drive stock price up to 5 jillion dollars per share*)

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Yes, that's right. If our customers liked the April 20, 2002 concert, can you imagine how much they'll love a show that features almost the exact same set list performed in the exact same manner? Moderator, please open the phone line to questions.

MODERATOR, CONFERENCE CALL COMPANY, LTD.: Okay, we have a call on the line from Barrington Womble of Bear Sterns.


BARRINGTON WOMBLE, BEAR STERNS: Yes, thank you Mr. CEO, it sounds like you have a great idea on your hands.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Thank you very much, Barry! And what is your question today?

BARRINGTON WOMBLE, BEAR STERNS: Will you have to make any personnel cuts in order to cost-effectively produce the billions of CDs required to meet global demand for the April 28, 2002 concert?

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Sadly, we will indeed have to decrease our manpower by roughly 99.5%.


CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Ha ha! A little Christmas Fool's Joke for you!


CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: No, but seriously. I think this CD will pay for itself, particularly since the band dropped the lackluster "Antidotes" from their set list days earlier and pumped up their performance with a full THREE songs not played at The Garage!

CIO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Sir, first of all, let me agree that this is a fantastic idea, but secondly -- I was actually at the April 28, 2002 concert and can vouch for the fact that the final track, "I Am Damo Suzuki," got a HUGE reaction from the crowd. I think this is a termendous selling point for the CD, as many long-time fans would give their left ball to hear the 2002 line-up bringing their unique spin to this classic mid-80s album track.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Okay, I'll forget to include it in the track listing.


DAVID LEE ROTH, VAN HALEN, LLC: I brought my pencil.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Another key message for this product is that it actually exceeds the April 20, 2002 CD by a full ten minutes, allowing fans of the band to enjoy a full 1/6th of an hour more music than was featured on the previous release.

ASSISTANT FLUFFER, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Will that extra value be expressed in the track listing?

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: No, in addition to forgetting to mention "I Am Damo Suzuki," I'm going to accidentally list two different songs as track 7.

ASSISTANT FLUFFER, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: I'm pleased to hear this news.

MODERATOR, CONFERENCE CALL COMPANY, LTD.: Excuse me sir, we have another caller. This is Steve Jenkins-Johnson from Stern Bear Financial Thingy.

STEVE JENKINS-JOHNSON, STERN BEAR FINANCIAL THINGY: Thank you, moderator. And thank you, CEO. My question is simple: what are the highlights of this April 28, 2002 concert? What would make my Uncle, say, or my Aunt want to go out in their car to a Record Mart and purchase this CD as opposed to all the other products on the racks, including the latest releases from such top contenders as Iron Butterfly and The Electric Flag?

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: For that question, let me turn the call over to the CFO.

CFO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Thank you, Mr. CEO. I will now read from the minutes of the April 28, 2002 performance. "Another sloppy, simple garage rock show with guitar, drums, bass and vocals. The guitarist keeps playing with his whammy bar, for some reason. Did he just get one the day before? A few songs are ruined by the guitar and bass being out of tune with each other. The bass is much louder than the guitar, but you can hear both." Should I continue?

STEVE JENKINS-JOHNSON, STERN BEAR FINANCIAL THINGY: Please do. I'm not sold on this whole concept yet. I think your pie-in-the-sky idea has its head in the clouds, and I require additional convincing.

CFO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Okay, I'll continue. "It's only been one week since the Garage show, yet somehow the guitarist has forgotten how to play 'To Nkroachment: Yarbles.'"

STEVE JENKINS-JOHNSON, STERN BEAR FINANCIAL THINGY: I'm convinced! I'll advise all my clients to quadruple their holdings immediately.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Well, I can see by the clock on the wall that it's about time to end today's call.


CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Why are you responding to me? Again, I'm speaking to the entire group here.

UNDERSECRETARY OF HUMAN RESOURCES, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Oh, I thought you said "I can see by the cock on the balls that it's about time...." I have a cock on my balls.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: No, I said "clock on the wall."

DAVID LEE ROTH, VAN HALEN, LLC: I think the clock is slow.

CEO, HIP PRIEST RECORDS, INC.: Good God, Mr. Roth! When was the last time you brushed your teeth?

DAVID LEE ROTH, VAN HALEN, LLC: I don't feel tartar.



(*guitar starts playing really fast; Michael Anthony pours barbecue sauce up his anus*)

Reader Comments

Mihajlo Lalic
I've bought this piece of poorly recorded crap online, and very much regret doing so. The cover art is crap, consisting of one sheet of paper with an ugly drawing and track listing; the sound is crap; and the set list is crap, choosing most of the least inspired Fall songs ever. The sound is poor in such an interesting manner as to render the band the most boring high school rockabilly cover act – only the most basic riffs and chords are heard through the din, none of the more interesting embellishments (normally found in „Unutterable“ material) are there, and everything sounds like four fourteen-year-olds playing interminable covers of „Hit the Road, Jack“. You can't understand a single word Mark Smith sings or says, except for the dedication to his friend who had just left a hospital (It's pure GOLD!!!), and every song sounds so similar to others that, without looking at the track listing, I thought „And Therein“ was „F-oldin' Money“, „Cyber Insekt“ „Hey! Student“, and „Kick the Can“ „Sweet Home Alabama“. This abomination of a release deserves a negative rating, as it actually made me question the studio versions of the songs performed here, as to their formerly perceived quality. I'm glad I've spent my 21st birthday drunk with my friends, and not at this show.

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The Real New Fall LP (Formerly 'Country On The Click') - Action 2003
Rating = 9

STUDIO ALBUM #23 - "So I went fishing/A note from a fish said/'Dear Dope,/If you wanna catch us/You need a rod and a line/Signed, The Fish'"

See, this is why you can never give up on Mark Smith. Just when you think he has nothing more to say, he completely surprises you by saying even LESS!

No, but that was a joke on my part (his too, obviously). The Real New Fall LP has absolutely no weak songs. No drunken avant-garde ramblings, no electronic bloops with twisted poetry on top, no half-assed rockabilly - none of the things that have slightly marred the last 15 years-worth of Fall albums. All 12 tracks are fully composed numbers, riding on slightly off-kilter, dark bass riffs, repetitive swirling electric guitar note combinations, synth noises both traditional and sickening, crisp raw drumming and old Mr. Smith vocalizing loudly and soberly enough for the listener to make out nearly every word - assuming he (the listener) can work his (the listener's) way through his (Mark's) thick accent, of (golf) course.

It's difficult to believe that this is nearly the same band that recorded Are You Are Missing Winner because it sounds absolutely NOTHING like that disc. That album, as much as I personally really enjoy listening to it, isn't OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING the most brilliant collection of tunes that The Fall has ever written. Far too many of the songs were basic, old-fashioned rockabilly chord sequences without much originality, displaying The Fall as more of a retro outfit than the futurists (or at least MODERNISTS) that even slightly earlier albums like Levitate and The Unutterable had done. But The Real New Fall LP puts them back where they belong -- in their own insane yet catchy world where four-note hooks paint oppressive soundpictures while unnerving-yet-hilarious electronic noises fight for undeserved space among the rhythmic din.

You can hear shades of earlier Fall line-ups here and there - especially in the straightforward techno-rocker "Green Eyed Loco-Man," which would fit easily onto The Infotainment Scan, perhaps between "GREEN Grass" and "Paranoid MAN"... or "EYE'm Going To Spain (Where 'LOCO' Means 'Crazy')" - but this is not a Fall that is trying to relive the past. Mainly because they're young people who didn't grow up listening to The Fall! Guitarist Ben Pritchard hasn't even heard every Fall album, and if the others have, they're probably afraid if they admit it, Mark'll fire them. (He's already fired the bassist who played on this album, btw, so don't get too attached to him)

This young, probably temporary version of The Fall simply composed the type of music that they wanted to play, then Mark fidgeted with it until it fit his vision -- which, this time around, seems to focus quite a bit on creative back-up vocals. He must have had a jolly good English time directing his friends and companions on the microphones to drown out the chorus of "Mikes Love Xexagon" in the eeriest and least beach-friendly harmonies available, inviting his wife Elini (presumably) to add haunting "Ooooo!"s to the surprisingly brooding Jesus Lizard-reminiscent "ProteinProtection," making his band imitate a group of football hoodlums for the surf-spy instant classic "Theme From Sparta F.C.," bringing low secretive mumbling men into the gleeful amateur-new wave-punk of "The Past #2" and pumping somebody's voice (Ben Pritchard's?) through a distortion pedal to recite the hilarious chorus of the rolling-drummy, guitar-plinky-strummy "Open The Boxoctosis #2" ("Open the box! Open the box! Open the goddamned box!").

When I spoke with Ben Pritchard a few months before the album came out, he stressed the band's intention to make a better and more diverse record than Are You Are Missing Winner, which even the band members found a bit lacking and rushed. But MAN! I didn't expect something THIS good! Every single aspect sounds perfect - Mark's confident vocals (not hyperactive or speed-addled, though I have no problem with that kind of vocalizing either!), the stock-lep bass/drum rhythm juggernaut, Ben's suitcase of interesting guitar tones (he whips out a wider variety of guitar sounds on here than Scanlon did during his last ten years in the band!) and Elini's always unpredictable arsenal of synthesizer whooshes, squawks, bleeps and house-beats. I could see fans of every Fall era getting into this, but it's definitely a ROCK album. Chunky guitars and cymbal-snare bashing abound, and the production (aside from track one) is wonderfully brusque and true, highlighting the honest skrank, doob and pish of the in-studio live band performance.

Theoretically, I should explain that "skrank" is a guitar noise, "doob" signifies bass guitar and "pish" is the drummer hitting his cymbal, but I like to think my readers are sufficiently pomo that such an antiquated maneuever would ring condescending.

In fact, my readers are so pomo, I think they can get the general feel of the record without me actually using any real words. Check this out - my new review of The Real New Fall Album:

La nueva caída verdadera LP no tiene absolutamente ninguna canción débil. Ningunos ramblings borrachos del avant-garde, ningunos bloops electrónicos con poesía torcida en la tapa, ninguna mitad-assed rockabilly - ningunas de las cosas que han estropeado levemente el año-valor pasado 15 de los álbumes de la caída. Las 12 pistas son completamente números compuestos, montando en riffs oscuros de la bajo-y-guitarra, combinaciones repetidoras de la nota de la guitarra eléctrica que remolinan, los ruidos del synth tradicionales y repugnantes, teclear crudo quebradizo y viejo Sr. Smith vocalizing en alta voz y soberly bastante para que el oyente haga hacia fuera casi cada palabra - asumiendo él (el oyente) pueden trabajar su manera (del oyente) con su (la marca) acento grueso, del curso (del golf).

HA HA! I totally made up my own language! It's based on the moronic jibberish I always hear those brown people at the bus stop blubbering at each other. Stupid illiterate fags!

UPDATE: Please note that there is now an American release of this CD -- it is slightly different from the version I just reviewed in the following ways: (1) they re-recorded "We Are Sparta FC" -- it's a bit speedier and friendlier now, but still great!, (2) they remixed "Recovery Kit" and completely deleted the bass line -- the ONLY MELODIC PART OF THE SONG. As such, it now sucks complete ass and ruins the album on a very sore note, (3) they added two bonus tracks: the excellent moody "Mod Mock Goth" described in my Christmas review below, and the HILARIOUS "Portugal," which relates letters to and from a particularly angry promoter sort relating to Mark Smith's assholish behavior. You can't lose with either the American or British release, but if you have your choice, I'd say go with the U.S. version for those two extra tracks. Just also be aware that "Recovery Kit" used to be a much, much better song.

Reader Comments
"So I went fishing/A note from a fish said/'Dear Dope,/If you wanna catch us/You need a rod and a line/Signed, The Fish'"

See, this is why you can never give up on Mark Smith. Just when you think he has nothing more to say, he completely surprises you by saying even LESS! carp on about? Maybe? I'm not in the slightest bit amazed that you missed that. You should be listening to the fish people by yer bus stop, then maybe you'll have a reason to fear for yer own scaly tail. 'Cos the wee fishies are gonna gobble you up. Punk!

£11 = 10/10.
I didn't realise you were a racist. Oh well. No need for me to visit your website again then is there?
Oooh, after months of seeing endless compilation and live records a genuinely new Fall one.

Very different from The Unutterable. Not as accessible but much more Fall and familiar. Happy as Larry. Who he? (Ian Galley)
"Picture-less memories dissolve in a panic.."

Hey Mr Helm, how about homophobic too? AND bringing down the public image of the bus company? Five years in a PC camp for you Mark!

After seeing Mark E. Smith feat. The Fall at Leeds' Irish Center a couple of months back I was expecting this album to be of the straight ahead rock-a-bily variety, being that they played like a straight ahead rock-a-bily band. They left all the brass section in Manchester, (for the better as it's well known Leeds' folk find brass more offensive than Scousers' dirty foreskin-like brains.)

So I was disappointed I didn't get my rock-a-bily, (that Missing Winner LP is currently harder to find than a Scouser without a criminal record) but I was overjoyed at the brew Smith and his cronies finally served up. I can't really add to your succinct review, (probably as I'm listening to Perverted by language and it's terribly distracting... and I'm pissed.)

"HA HA! I totally made up my own language! It's based on the moronic jibberish I always hear those brown people at the bus stop blubbering at each other. Stupid illiterate fags!"... Mark, get the tram... these brown people whom blabber at each other aren't stupid, nor illiterate, nor fags. And they jibber on about anarchy, beans and the quantum string theory. I take them over the fish people anytime. SMILE!!!

post-script. "Only humans carry their vests around, their past around" or "Only humans carry their past around, their pasta rounds." p.s. Mr Helm, come across to Yorkshire for a beer sometime, (that's if you're not robbing a house.)

Tempo house is up, must go... air drum a-go-go.
KICK-KICK-POW-KICK-KICK POW-POW. God Damn the pedantic Welsh! (Simon Burgess)
""Only humans carry their vests around, their past around""

I heard this as "Only humans carry their fast around, their past around", and took it to be a withering sideswipe at the internet bootlegs of the early version of the album, which mistakenly mislabelled this track as The Fast. There's more of this type of thing - the original Xexagon started with "The room was a hexagon....", which started people speculating online about wether it referred to the hexagonal studio where the band recorded their last peel session. The released version starts with him resignedly reciting "Studio was a hexagon", his tone suggesting something akin to "fuck it then, if you want to demistify everything". But that's just my interpretation. (dick master)
let's get one thing straight.. ok, cool, my framed portrait of me was a little crooked.

this album is not only good, it is gooood. it even warrants the annoying phrase "in constant rotation", followed by the phrase "you da man".

i had an incredibly drunk discussion recently with an incredibly drunk, drunk guy about the experience of hearing something that is so completely awesome that... like maaan... totally... you know.. bums you out cuz it's so fuckin' amazing and shit that yer like all... "i can't even deal with it cuz like so many people listen to such bland shit and there's THIS fuckin' album... you know?"

the album in question was trans am's latest labianation. anyway, the drunk guy in question wasn't responsible for the above remark, it was the drunk guy me... then we did a bunch of heroin.

after getting my greasy (no, i'm not mexican) hands on this little number by the fall i had one thing to do... put it on. as with any fall record, it was completely unprocessableishlike at first. i know that i'm listening to songs... but they aren't songs like i often get suckered into believing are songs... and i listen to bad prog!

days pass... it starts slipping into heavy rotation on my heavy rotation meter. hello? what's this?? hi the fall! yes, dave is here but he is taking a shower, can he call you call back? cool, later dudes. sorry.. uh, yeah... so i happen to actually pay attention while this record is playing, while not paying attention to driving and the "spartan f.c." song is going and and and POW! like running into a meridian at 70mph, it hits me... this is completely fucking, uh... good!

so continues the heavy rotation... we're talking heavy, like star jones' dildo collection heavy. sorry for the major boner i just induced.

i'm planning to see the fall for the first time in may, which i was initially excited about (or titillated - take your pick), but now i am totally titillated (if you chose excited).

i can't even deal with it cuz like so many people listen to such bland shit and there's THIS fuckin' album... you know"

mark, YOU DA MAN!
Just picked this up and I must say 'yes'. This album is a great Fall one and every song is pretty much flawless. It's really different to the early ones. There is something weird I have to ask though. Does anyone elses copy of this have the track listing with Janet, Johnny and Jimmy 7th but with the 6th song with those names in the chorus. Also, the same applies with that open the goddamned box song. Weird. Goodbye. (dick master)
months ago, in a land very far drunk, i wrote you expressing my opinion of the The Real New Fall LP. i used the phrase "heavy rotation" flippantly and i apologize. since that time, i have listened to this album nearly every single day, so imagine my utter drooling, gas-huffing glee when i learned that the US release contained not only two extra songs but two remixes! we're talking wet shoes and a trip to texaco.

actually, a trip to amoeba where i exchanged the worst piece of shit CD i've ever purchased made by a "band" who call themselves !!!. if those three exclamation marks are proceeded by the word "CRAPPY", then we'll all have something to chuckle about.

i know my days as a handsome man of taste are numbered when i engage in comic-book-guy banter about some obscure band's disparity between US and UK releases, but here i go...

the US version sucks.

whew, that wasn't too hard. i'm proud of how i didn't mention that the best song on the UK version got RE:recorded to sound flat, boring and as interesting as fake boobs. i was so sad hearing that version i had to stop hugging my stuffed bunny and had to reach for a kleenex.

ok, "theme from sparta f.c." went from the best song i've heard in years to the most annoying. what the fuck? what happened to the jackknife? why is it no longer a poem for the thin? maybe they found said jackknife and realized the old bass line was way too good so they swapped the knife for a session with dr. boring. maybe E! can do a expose on reverse turd-polishing...

don't buy the US version... the extra songs are just that, extra... as in extraneous. pointless. the UK version is better. anyone who waited to buy the cheaper US version is a fucking loser who writes tediously unfunny tirades to some jackball who likes the fall.

did i mention the UK version is better? (Greg McGill)
You're right. This album rules. By far the best version of "Recovery Kit" is from the original Feb. 2003 "bootleg" version of the album

"How can you, curve your ass, for a kiss"

Colin T.
i have the american version of this album; supposedly it's somehow different. i love it. two songs - protein protection and the the past pt.II - are what get to me the most. for some reason, the songs everyone else likes (contraflow and boxoctosis) don't do that much for me. maybe they will in some time. all in all, a very great album. very rocking and loud. also, more than a little humor. moutain energy grooves like a groovy thing should.
It just makes my heart sing with joy to know that I can still get Fall albums of this quality these days. I was a fan during the Brix era (mid-80s) and then worked backwards, but when Extricate came out, I was somehow turned off. Maybe it was because "Telephone Thing" was too hip-hop for me then.... anyway, they came out with about 12 more albums before I heard "Infotainment Scan", and I absolutely LOVED "Lady Bird (Green Grass)" but the rest of the album was kinda ehhh..... Got "Middle Class Revolt" and still nothing (except they did a good Monks cover - "Shut Up" I think, as well as a neato take on a Slapp Happy song "War"..but I digress...). Anyway, I kept seeing new Fall albums show up at random intervals for a good 15 years, and never felt they'd be worth my while - they'd gone techno, right? I don't need that! But this album came out and someone persuaded me to buy it - "it's a return to form!" And although I can't say I love it as much as those old 1986 and prior albums (basically everything before "Bend Sinister"), I gotta say I absolutely LOVE "Mountain" and "Contraflow"... I'm actually kinda verklempt...
I just picked this one up on recommendation from you. I know you're going to be disappointed by this but I actually think "Recovery Kit 2" is the best song on the album. You say the original is better but I can't find it...what album has the original version??

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(We Wish You) A Protein Christmas EP - Action 2003
Rating = 8

InFALLible! I don't know what foreskins may have driven Mark D. Smith to release a Xmas double-single, but after lots of pussyfooting (shoving my foot into strangers' vaginas), I finally broke down and bought the fucker. And it's really Christ-fuckingly good! I mean, if you're assfucking Jesus's corpse, what better

Let's try this again. The title track is a radical reworking (DUDE! RADICAL!) of the album track "Protein Protection," with haunting female church chorale vocals, a diminished bass guitar presence and new lyrics about Christmas, of all identical quarantines. Doesn't that sound like the subject line of one of these asshole new spam emails with the asshole "I'm gonna trick your spam filter" subject lines? "Identical Quarantines." I think it does. FUCKING SPAMMERS AND TELEMARKETERS CAN BITE TOLEDO AND WARM ME UP! Check this one out. Check out this clever spammer and their cleverness. I just got this one. The subject line is "insomniac monte." Then they proceeded to "outsmart" my anti-spam software (as well as the entire English language) with the following text:


Genierc Vigara and Sepur Viarga (Ciails) available onilne!
Most trusted online source!

Cilais and Vagira
takes afecft right away & lasts 24-36 huors!

Back TO the Fall. There are many Legends of the Fall that we might discuss, most of them involving Brad Pitt with sexy long hair and a rod that won't be defeated, but the one of today is the latest double-single by Mark R. Smith and company. "(We Are) Mod Mock Goth" is as repetitive as the best Fall song ever, drenched in dark, foreboding three-note guitar majesty repeated over and over and over again, growing in tension and hypnotizing with constancy and terror. I love it. Mark's voice is distorted like the Strokes! "(Birtwistle's) Girl In Shop" is an upbeat, uptempo bouncy three-note fuzzed-out Monks-like synth ditty far too repetitive for today's hit radio. NEITHER of these two new tracks change at afuckingll!!!! But they rule because of me! ME!!! MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMME No hang on - that's not the pronoun I meant.

Ah yes! "It." And I don't mean the hilarious Stephen King novella! Heh heh. Actually I do.

Side four is shit though. It must be hard to record three good songs when you're an alcoholic drug addict, because the fourth one is both pointless and no good. It's a remix of the album track "Recovery Kit" -- a BASS-driven song driven by BASS, right? This new version DOWNPLAYS the bass, which was the best part of the song! What the? Just to fuck with the bassist that he fired? Why include the track at all? In fact, why allow John Ashcroft to continue LIVING at all? Murder him, and every member of the corrupt asshole Bush family, with their Nazi grandparent scumbags and their pardoning of Henry Lee Lucas for no goddamned reason at all. FUCK YOU, THINGS THAT PEOPLE WHO WRITE BOOKS TELL ME NOT TO LIKE!!!!

Reader Comments (ru)
Hiya Mark,

Considering the amount of times I've consulted yer Fall review page over the last year or two, I thought it was only fair to mention this page to you on the off-chance it's new to you. It's 40ish Fall/MES videos culled from British TV over the last 24 years or so.

Of course if you have seen it before, just ignore me! & keep up the groovy reviewing lark!!

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Punkcast 2004: Live at the Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004 - Hip Priest 2006
Rating = 8

Up to this point, The Fall's live album career has been an incidental affair, something that has surfaced in the interludes between studio albums and tours. Their previous releases - 2006's Live At The Knitting Factory-Los Angeles-14 November 2001, 2006's Live At The Garage-London-20 April 2002 and 2006's All Tomorrow's Parties: Live At The ATP Festival-28 April 2002 - were earnest, respectable efforts that offered their fair share of pleasures but did not establish a distinct or significant new musical identity for The Fall apart from their studio albums. Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004 finds The Fall taking a giant step - not away from the shadow of the studio albums but beyond what this understandably history-bound band has been able to achieve on record in recent times.

In terms of consistency, craftsmanship and musical experimentation, Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004 surpasses all their live album work and any fall album since The Real New Fall Album (Formerly 'Country On The Click'). It does so by returning to the dance beats, big grooves and modern edge that have characterized The Fall's best work. The key to all The Fall's classics - from "Repetition" and "Green Eyed Loco Man" to "Mr. Pharmacist" and "Like To Blow" - is that they are built from the rhythm up: Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004, which was almost entirely constructed around Pritchard's rhythm guitar, is a return to that modus operandi.

The Fall has poured its heart into this album. The strongest songs - "Walk Like A Man," "We Are Mod Mock Goth," "Middle Mass" and "Mountain Energei" - are also the most candidly personal. In the past, Mark E. Smith has slipped into personae - the Hip Priest, J. Temperance, the Man of Dice - but he lets his guard down to an unprecedented degree on Punkcast 2004; the beautiful ballads draw on feelings of loneliness, vulnerability, spiritual yearning and, as always, life with the ladies.

These gains in maturity have taken no toll on Smith's inner rock & roller. The Hip Priest can still swagger at the top of his - or anybody else's - game. Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004 resembles The Fall's best albums in that it's a varied yet cohesive collection of ballads, hard rockers, and one fifteen-second bass noise that’s included in the track listing as if it were an actual song. But on this live album, they are free to cast off the blues-rock anchor that both defines and (at times) confines The Fall. The Fall heads into edgy, danceable modern-rock territory with the throbbing song about opening a box of "Boxoctosis" and the snarling, whip-crack assault of "Mere Pseud Mag Ed."

Making the most of this opportunity to stretch themselves, The Fall has recruited some outstanding band members, many of them younger artists whom The Fall directly influenced. Elena Poulou of Smith’s third marriage collaborates on the non-pop-y, unmelodic opening track, "Horror In Clay," which boasts a boring track from Mark E. Smith's first solo album being played through a tape recorder. Lenny Kravitz produces and co-writes terrible music; on a different subject, "Theme From Sparta FC" is a driving, riff-propelled rocker that evokes the punkish stomp of the early Fall.

On "Telephone Thing," one of my least favorite tracks, a wah-wah pedal helps burnish a subtle reggae- and hip-hop-inflected groove. Employing some of his most banal and nuisanced vocal phrasing, Smith confides, "I hear your telephone thing/Listening in." The lyrics portray a guy who's got it all - fame, fortune and the means to indulge any materialistic and hedonistic impulse he might divine - but is wise enough in his late middle age to know there's somebody's telephone thing listening in.

Although it is thankfully not a rocking, gospel-tinged collaboration with Bono of U2 - featuring an indelible guitar hook from Pete Townshend - "Mere Pseud Mag Ed" offers a revealing glimpse of what The Fall is seeking: "Had a beard which was weird/some time ago/Heard the Ramones in '81/Owns a spanish guitar." The mark of The Fall is overt on "Mere Pseud Mag Ed," but the band's influence subtly courses through the rest of the album; like Smith and company in the last decade, The Fall (along with producer The Guy Who Ran The Soundboard) has adapted modern rhythms and contemporary production techniques to its own naturalistic rock & roll ends.

"Janet, Johnny And James," featuring three peoples' names in the title, and "I Am Damo Suzuki" are fierce, biting rockers. No one struts or wags a tongue as sharply as The Fall, and "I Am Damo Suzuki," in particular, stands out as a blistering, arena-ready, hard-rock singalong. The absurdist lyrics find The Fall poking fun at scenes from Damo Suzuki's celebrity life: "What have you got in that paper bag?/Is it a dose of vitamin c?/Ain't got no time for western medicine/I am Damo Suzuki!" The tight blues shuffle "Mr. Pharmacist" is highlighted by some brief but fiery drum playing from Dave Milner. Like a good blues workout, it leaves you hungry for more, and this masterful use of tension and restraint is part of what makes Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004 so beguiling.

It may seem a truism, but it's worth noting that Mark E. Smith is - along with John Lennon, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and Bono - one of the great male rock voices of this age. And he is in exceptional form on Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004. If anything, Smith's voice is rounder and warmer than ever, and he brings a new richness of phrasing to the heartbroken, confessional "Mike's Love Xexagon" and the terrible closing tracks, "Dr. Buck's Letter" and "Loop 41," which is not the song "Loop 41" at all, but simply a bass loop emanating from a delay pedal for about fifteen seconds.

After all of the excursions undertaken on Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004, The Fall brings it all down the toilet with these last two numbers, which are musically poor and lyrically reflective wastes of space in the grand tradition of such Fall travesties as "telephone dub" and "league moon monkey mix." Smith offers unabashedly human, vulnerable sentiments on "Dr. Buck's Letter" (which features no background vocals): "I never leave home without:/1 sunglasses: I wear them all year around, I seem to need them more often, it’s a habit/2 music: cassettes cds/3 palm pilot: it’s my lifeline I think it’s my p.a.’s computer, she rules my diary and I download it/4 mobile phone/5 AmEx card; they made such a fuss about giving it to me that I spent more time getting it turned down."

It is a clear-eyed and inspired The Fall who crafted Punkcast 2004: Live At The Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004, an insuperably strong record that in time may well reveal itself to be a classic. World, meet Mick Jagger, solo artist.

- Jann Prindle
Rolling Prindle
December 14, 2007

Reader Comments

Jim Laakso
what the rump?! there's this crazy old gray-haired dude who films EVERY FUCKING CONCERT in nyc and self-releases them as dvd-r's. his "business" is called punkcast. i betcha that the label that put out the fall cd you reviewed just took the audio from said dvd-r and dumped it onto the market. haw haw!

last i knew he was selling those dvds for about $5 a pop... i bought an oneida, a luna, and an oakley hall. huge list here:

hilarious review, by the way!
jann wenner's review is the worst piece of writing I've ever come across in a respectable publication. it must have become something of a legend, as i've seen it mentioned on several music sites on threads detailing really poor music journalism - and now this.
i propose that the reason the musical portion is so much better than the "usual" here, is cuz Smiffy wuz confined to a wheelchair at the time and so couldn't muck about ( as per usual) with the equipment and otherwise terrorize the band..whom consequently got down to the bizness at hand..btw the vid of this show is a scream and really i think MES looks pretty durn dignified sitting on stage,,it's a good look for him.

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Interim - Hip Priest 2004
Rating = 7

The title is a warning: The Fall have not yet completed a new album for release, so in the INTERIM, please enjoy this pile of old socks. The front cover is a warning: "Rehearsals + Live." The writing under the tray liner is a warning: "Comments will be ignored. These recordings consist of the group in INTERIM back-end of 04, live + in rehearsal mit new rhythm section. The Results are up to you to decide to decide." The track listing is a warning: 7 of the 11 titles are slight variations of pre-existing Fall song titles ("Green-Eyed Snorkel," "Wrong Place," "Sparta FC No:3," "Boxoctosis Alarum," "Spoilt Victorian Childe"). In fact, the only thing that's NOT a warning is that confounded import price - !al-al-hoo

That last word was designed to be displayed in front of a mirror or reflective object (mirror). If you view it as suggested and a few of the letters end up looking backwards and stupid, that's a sure sign that your mirror is a "3-way" mirror through which the FBI are watching you right now. But you know, for a pile of throwaway filth, garbage and refuse, this CD actually isn't bad at all! It doesn't START all that well, with three forgettable-to-slightly passable-to-just-shitty previously unreleased tracks that recapture the half-written rock'n'roll/rockabilly feel of Are You Are Missing Winner but worse. To save you collectors a bit of stress and wonderment, I'll describe each of these tracks in slick detail:

-- "All Clasp Hands" is an uptempo live early 60s-sounding rocker with out of tune keyboard accompaniment. I was actually surprised to see that this was a Fall original, as it totally sounds like one of their Eddie Cochran or Gene Vincent covers. It's cute and energetic, but too generic and messy to be considered "good."

-- "Blindness" is three generic cliched bass notes, keyboard noise, and three e-bowed guitar notes. Not good at all. Poorly written. They discovered a bombastic booming bubbly bass tone, and blew it on a basic boring butt balloon bicentennial. Bitches! Bastards! Speaking of "Blindness," did you know that Stevie Wonder is BLACK!? That's right! He can't see a thing!

-- "What About Us?" features both a mid-song ping-pong game and Mark E. Smith announcing "We are The Fall!" but its three generic Rolling Stones choogle-chords wear ass-way thin over the course of a never-changing under-ending SIX AND A HALF MINUTES (and TWO different recordings!). "What About Us?" More like "What About Bob?"!

From there on out it's all pretty smooth sailing though, as far as boats. The Early Pink Floydy instrumental "I'm Ronney The Oney" introduces a string of reswizzled Fall KKKlASSiKKKs (four from Real New Fall Album and one each from Nation's Saving, Hex Enduction and Kurious Oranj). Highlights include "Mod Mock Goth" with an uptempo 4/4 beat added for dance headbang power, a cool swingin' rework of the previously nerdy popper "Wrong Place, Right Time," a fast frantic smash-through of "Mere Pseud Mag Ed," an early version of "Boxoctosis" that features repetitive incomplete lyrics and an unexplained beeping noise in the middle that TWICE made my wife think that our smoke alarm was going off, and a valiant though incorrect attempt on Ben Pritchard's part to perform the ringing guitar riff in "Spoilt Victorian Child." Though it's disappointing that he doesn't play the high note in the third bar of each verse (he's probably only heard the original version once or twice and hasn't even NOTICED the high note yet!), it's really cool to hear him play the song the way HE learned it -- using his finger to slide up and down one string between notes rather than picking out the lick on three different strings. This is why it can sometimes be so interesting to listen to live albums by bands that change members often. Like there's a cool Yes bootleg from the Big Generator tour in which you get to hear Trevor Rabin performing a bunch of old Steve Howe-written Yessongs, and it's just neat because see if you didn't WRITE a song, and if you're learning it from EAR rather than sheet music prepared by the original author, chances are good that you're going to teach yourself to play it in a slightly different manner than its original author intended. Sometimes this works to the detriment of the song (for example, the recent Bad Company live album which finds the new guitarist displaying absolutely NO FEEL AT ALL for Mick Ralph's riffs), but other times - as on this record - the new guy brings something odd and delightful to the song. A little something weird, wet and wild, you might say! Woolly? HELL NO! FUCK YOU!

So if you just can't wait for the next hot batch of official The Fall studio mechandise, grab yourself a copy of This Album. It may not bowl you over like an official release would, but in the meantime it serves quite well as a surrogate, and you can't really beat it as far as improvised makeshift provisionals go, if you're in the market for temporary stopgaps. And you don't have to pad your stereo with a sanitary napkin like when you listen to a Paul Simon album.

Add your thoughts?

Rude (All The Time) EP - Hip Priest 2005
Rating = 6

Just about the most unnecessariest release the Fall have done yet (and they've done a LOT), Rude features:

(a) The exact same version of "Distilled Mug Art" that appears on 2G+G: a great experimental throwback for sure and I hadn't even noticed the delicious Spanish lead guitar licksplittery before, but COME ON!

(b) Yet another rendition of "I Wake Up In The City," which is itself simply a re-recording of "My Ex-Classmates' Kids" with different lyrics. Great buzzing trebly guitar and thick bass, but COME ON!

(c) Five minutes of Mark and his band talking on top of each other in thick British accents. Great song title ("Where's The Fuckin Taxi? Cunt"), but it's just indecipherable muddy chit-chat! A few acoustic chords here and there, but COME ON!

(d)The fifty-five zagillionth version of "My Ex-Classmates' Kids," which incidentally we just heard two tracks earlier as "I Wake Up In The City." Sure it's a ton of fun little rockabilly number, but COME ON!

Supposedly all four of these tracks were recorded one night in Salford when Mark Smith had his leg in a cast, hence the subhead "The Wentworth Session's." A horrible waste of time and money. Limited edition and THANK GOD. Not even worthwhile for collectors. I give it a 6, which is more than I gave most of Tool's catalogue. I like every Chuck Berry song that the Rolling Stones covered, but COME ON!

(Little joke for all the Chuck Berry/Rolling Stones fans out there.) Incidentally, just this week I finally caught an extremely rude joke that The Fall made on their Levitate album. At the time, I remember wondering why the hell they used the same exact music for both the cover "I Come And Stand At Every Door" and the instrumental "Jap Kid." But it finally hit me like a laserbeam as I drifted away on a cruise through the balmy Alaskan isles. You see, "I Come And Stand At Every Door" is an old protest song, written from the point of view of a child who has lost his life to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in WWII. Hence, when they decided to include a reprise of its musical theme later in the album, they of course titled it... the tackiest, least sensitive thing Mark could think of.

(*shakes head disgustedly at Mark Smith's 'sense of humor'*)

(*waits til everybody leaves; laughs uproariously at Mark Smith's sense of humor*)

Add your thoughts?

The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 - Castle 2005
Rating = 8

Hullo and welcome to Mark Prindle's Book Of Lists! Today we take a "list-tastic" look at the box set we've all been waiting for since 2004, The Fall's Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004. this 6-disc, 97-track Featuring every single goshdarned BBC session that the Fall ever recorded for famed late DJ Mr. John Peel, said box features:


- 24 Peel sessions
- 30 different band members
- 98 different songs (though two are programmed as one, just to fuck ya)
- 1 booklet discussing each session
- 1 cardboard box suitable for framing

Though I'm not certain the opinion of David "Have A Marijuana" Peel, his namesake and possible father John "Peel Sessions" Peel loved The Fall, and even though he and Mark Smith only actually met a few times, Mark certainly appreciated all the attention and airplay. Enough background though - let's move on to a LIST! Spanning the band's entire career (to date), the set features material from every single Fall album except:


Room To Live
The Unutterable
Are You Are Missing Winner
Early Years 77-79

And WOW! I mean CHRIST! WHAT A BUNCH OF GREAT SONGS!!!! Although many Fall songs appear on multiple compilations in various states of disrepair, if one counts only the first appearance of each song on a Fall LP, the box set features alternate versions of this many songs from these many albums:


6 Witch Trials
1 Dragnet
3 Grotesque
1 Slates
6 Hex Enduction
4 Perverted
2 Wonderful & Frightening
1 The Fall EP
5 Nation's Saving
4 Bend Sinister
1 Frenz
3 Kurious
2 Seminalive
3 Extricate
4 Shiftwork
3 Code: Selfish
4 Infotainment
4 Middle Class
1 Cerebral
5 Light User
3 Levitate
5 Marshall Suite
3 Real New Fall
3 Interim
1 Totale's Turns
2 Hip Priest And Kamerads
1 Palace Of Swords Reversed
1 A-Sides
5 B-Sides
2 Kimble
1 Masquerade Pt. II EP
1 Popcorn Double Feature EP
1 Backdrop

There are also a few rarities to be enjoyed, including:

LIST FOUR - RARITIES by Mark Prindle

- A couple of rotten, rancid Christmas songs
- A cover of The Move's terrific "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" (did anybody notice that The Fall quote that song in the intro to "Hilary"? I sure didn't!)
- A horrifyingly generic Bangles-like fuzz-pop woman-sung atrocity called "The City Never Sleeps"
- A surprisingly 'spot-on' cover of Captain Beefheart's "Beatle Bones 'N' Smokin' Stones"
- Good old "Mess Of My," which has been available for years on that really old Peel Sessions EP but not anywhere else.

Although I still feel that the single-disc Peel Sessions CD is the greatest possible introduction to The Fall that a potential new fan could ask for, this box set is an absolute must-own for anybody who is already a fan. Many of the tracks were recorded before they were finalized for studio album recording, so it's neat to hear how they sounded in earlier incarnations (often with earlier band line-ups as well!). Some of these gems include:


- "Industrial Estate" with a much clearer and more difficult guitar line
- An electric guitar version of "New Puritan"
- "C'N'C S. Mithering" deteriorating into a parody of some British song called "Do The Hucklebuck"
- "Who Makes The Nazis" with the bass harmonics performed on an out-of-tune toy guitar or ukulele or something
- "Garden" with an exciting third note in the guitar riff!
- "Hilary" with a power-packed fourth note in the bass line!
- An early version of "Butterflies 4 Brains" entitled "Whizz Bang"
- "The War Against Intelligence" featuring those odd electronic tones from I Am Kurious Oranj
- "A Lot Of Wind" with a slightly different - though still rollicking - bass line
- "Behind The Counter" wherein the guitarist keeps bending his guitar neck for riotous bendy hilarity
- "Glam Racket-Star" with Brix censoring her shit poem to intone "You say that you're a star, but I don't give a UHH!"
- A quiet confused version of "Oleano" that features an entirely different mood than the LP version, as well as a hilarious top-of-throat SCREEEEEEEAM from Brix halfway through for no reason

However, nobody said that The Amateurish Fall are perfect, and they do a fine job of fubking up quite a few great tunes as well, including:


- "Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul" is so out of tune, the producer should have shot himself as penance. Who the hell is playing the horn - a sea urchin?
- A version of "Hip Priest" WITHOUT THE MELODY. Sure, I love the drumbeat too, but nine minutes of tuneless assfuckery is a bit much to bear. Not that I'm calling you a bear.
- A messy, overlong, ineffective run-through of the previously screamadelic sirenable "Deer Park"
- "Deadbeat Descendant" with overloud dumbass sissy keyboards
- "M5" ruined by failure-riffic whoosly keyboard tone
- "Hey! Student" turned to shit by guitarist repeatedly hitting an open note and making the bass line seem less catchy
- "Chilinist" reduced from three chords to a much more manageable two; Brix singing in dumb sped-up voice
- A version of "Masquerade" that never gets cooking; Mark sounds as bored as I, Mark, am!
- "Antidotes" entirely free of melody of any sort

So you see, lists are a wonderful thing from which we all can learn to get along with each other more safely and providedly. Have a good evening, and be sure to:


- Put out the cat (in front of a car)
- Wash the dishes
- Dash the wishes (of your children)
- Close the toilet before urinating
- Take a shower. If you're a baby, take a baby shower.
- Set the alarm clock
- Clock the alarm set (fuckin' alarm set, with their big fancy alarms)
- Tune in tomorrow for more of Mark Prindle's Book Of Lists, brought to you by Mark Prindle of Mark Prindle's Book Of Lists by Mark Prindle (Featuring Mark Prindle of Mark Prindle's Book Of Lists with Mark Prindle) starring Mark Prindle

Reader Comments
10/10 (David Wells)
1 Best Review ever
2 Remember to wash
3 Get out more
4 11 out of 10.

Jawbone and the air rifle - who'd have thought they could have harmed anyone?
Blimey, this album only has songs from the Light User Syndrome on it! That's sort of disappointing, since the Fall have released a lot of albums besides that one. Plus a box set has 40 tracks or something, and Light User Syndrome has only 10. So that's all the songs 4 times over. And it's really shocking that the great song Container Drivers isn't here. I understand that the concept was to fill the box-set with studio versions of songs from one single album, but they could've indulged an old woman and included Container Drivers anyway, since it's so great. The song "Homer" also isn't here, but that's because it's not by the Fall.

And here's the old woman I mentioned with her comments:
Blimey the last reviewer (princess) here seems to have got off on the wrong foot with this one. The whole point of radio sessions is not to reproduce exactly what is on the last or forthcoming album but to push the boundaries. Some songs of this have been recorded for the first time and the Fall have become infamous for releasing interim albums full of early versions of songs that turn up on later albums. Because the Peel sessions were always restricted to 4 tracks there is bound to be some favourites missing - Princess's missing list contained two or three of my all time favourites but equally her hate list contained at least one of my favourite Fall sings ever - "Container Drivers". There are lots of songs that better the originals here anyway - Jawbone and the Air Rifle and especially New Puritan from "totales turns" which was very rough on that album and is an absolute stunner on the Peel sessions CD. I find it difficult to find fault with this album - something I know Mark does not agree with - but for what it is, the sheer breadth of material and to my mind the number of superior versions then this remains a firm favourite. One thing I would also say is that 'the Unutterable' is an excellent album. Hope the blisters are healing nicely - you could always buy 50,000 Fall fans can't be wrong for lots of top Fall tunes or resign yourself to the fact that you just have to buy everything they have ever released like the rest of us.
Only with The Fall could you have a six disc box set without one crap song on it.This is including the xmas carol's as well.

Dan Brookes
I just worked my way through this at last. If you're going to buy one item to capture the essence of this wildly diffuse and complex band, this would be it. 'Greatest Hits' don't really cut it because they omit the murk and weirdness that makes this band so truly compelling. For me, the first 12 songs on disc one would make a record worth '10', but The Fall go beyond numbers because you're either in the boat or you're not. You're either listening to every shit live record and deciphering the lyrics, or you're just not bothered. 98 tracks; don't be fooled by those who say there aren't bad tracks or half-arsed tracks - but that's The Fall. And for every minor drop-off, you have a barnstorming version of a track like 'M5', a tune buried deep in their discography that hardly ANYONE knows that slays pretty much anything out there today. An excellent work, and I reckon you can pick this six-disc effort up pretty cheaply nowadays too.
Someone here said about his wife complaining “no, not another Fall album, they all sound the same”. God, don’t I know where that comes from!..

Some might be scrolling up and down Prindle’s Fall page, madly: “Jesus, where do I begin, where do I end, where do I?..” I can understand that. Some say that the best way to start with the band is the 10000 Fall Fans compilation (long gone are the days when I bought it at some London CD store and thought that’s it, everything I need – naïve me), but I cannot imagine anyone feeling really satisfied with it. Despite having 37 complete winners (of 39; “Eat Y’Self Fitter” is okay, while “Why Are people Grudgeful?” is a really bad track, isn’t it?), you will either hate it or want to go buy them all.

I’ve come to realize, though, that the Complete Peel Sessions is the only decent one-stop shop. It might miss some indispensable classics (say, “Wings”), but it well traces the Fall’s history and development. You get about a hundred songs, with only 5 or so stinkers. From CD 1, which is confident, defiant and so goddamn addictive, we move along to CD 2, which is looser, meandering-but-that’s-the-point, groovy as hell. And since then they’ve only gotten more and more adventurous (with some detours to catchiness, weirdness, catchy weirdness and, most importantly, weird catchiness). Smith might be the snotty asshole he is, but I can’t really care.

Also, I really don’t know where this here Mark got that uncertainty about Peel’s attitude to the Fall (why would he invite them oftener than Go-Betweens, anyway?), but I would have to agree to the extend that they are the most downright fantastic, consistent band ever.

Let all plague be like the Fall. (what an incredible double-sided allusion on Camus)

Add your thoughts?

Fall Heads Roll - Narnack 2005
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #24 - UPDATE: I originally gave this album a 7, probably because my expectations were so high after the last studio album. I listened to it recently, however, and realized it was much better than I'd thought. So ignore this 7-rating review coming up here.

Continuing The Fall's 28-year history of perplexing all expectations, nearly the same exact line-up that recorded one of the band's most well-received and consistently hooky records ever (The Real New Fall Album) returns three years later with one of the band's absolute weakest studio releases -- tied with The Infotainment Scan for overall lack of consistency, though this album is longer with more good songs (and more bad, but hey) so it's definitely the superior purchase. At any rate, how disappointed can you get in a band whose 'worst album ever' still deserves a 7/10 on any decently-eared music fan's scale? If you're that kind of asshole, go listen to Public Image Ltd's "Disappointed" and slam your head in a piano.

First things -- there is nothing overtly 'weak' about the band's performance on this record. They play with tons of energy, good humor and varied quirky guitar and organ tones, plus Mark's voice is getting even odder in its old age. Confidence abounds as well, with no trepidation in the performances whatsoever. The production is equally strong, providing that raw, crisp and loud rock and roll sound and making sure that every instrument is audible and zesty, nothing is digitally smoothed over ala Infotainment Scan, and there's never an issue of over-trebliness or lo-fi rigmarole a ler Dragnet.

The problem lies with the songwriting. Or rather... the refusal to do any. Half of these riffs are generic, cliched chord sequences pulled from mid-60s garage rock songs. And since Mark just says everything as usual, there's no vocal melodies either. If you're unconcerned by originality in songwriting, you'll love this record because it sounds GREAT. I unfortunately can't ignore the lazy fact that "Pacifying Joint" is E-G-A, "What About Us" is E-A-G, "Assume" is A-C-A-G, "Youwanner" is Bflat-A-E, and "Blindness" is SEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES of G-Bflat-F. And I'm aware that it's easy to go back through the Fall's history and pick plenty of songs that only have two or three chords, but these particular chord progressions are so dated and overused throughout the history of garage rock, it's an embarrassment to hear The Ever-Creative Fall relying on them in 2005 of all years. It's the same kind of crap you can find on any of these retro-garage CDs on Estrus and Gearhead and labels like that. Add to these five retreads a two-minute 'reprise' of an earlier song on the record and a cover of The Move's "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" ruined by Mark's warbliest, least melodic vocals EVER, and that's an entire half of the album down the somewhat disappointing drain.

So half of the CD is decent but melodically uninspired. That's the negative. But don't move a muscle because the other seven songs are up to all possible Fall standards, running the diversity range from pissed off aggression to bubblegum pop to sad minor-key waltz to cheery rockabilly to wistful hippy-folk arpeggios to bass-heavy Bo Diddley/mancabilly (with Mark sounding like an OWL!), with "Ride Away" serving as the most minimalist and silly opener since "Eat Y'self Fitter." The latter half of the record sounds particularly good after the up-and-down former, and the last four songs might actually be the best on the record. Let's hope they recorded them in the order they wrote them and now they're on a hot cooking spell!

It feels a little strange calling an album with 7 great songs "one of the weakest in the Fall catalog," but as I said, too much of this material sounds like the band couldn't come up with their own riffs so they just took 'em from old records. Plus the piercing, wiggly guitar tone in "Assume" is unbearable, making it possibly my least-favorite Fall track in recorded history. If I wanted to pierce my ear, I'd do it with a dull rusty nail, thanks!

Reader Comments

Colin T.
the rock songs are the weakest things about this record. at least the ones on the first half. everything else is dandy! i agree that the second half of the album is superior; one of the best songs might be the last, which mark hardly even sings on.... still, it sounds like the fall is getting better at being diverse and worse at what they know.
I'm surprised that you've given this a 7 and the frankly interesting but mediocre " Are You Are Missing Winner " an 8. I think this is as good, if not better, than Country on the Click. You complain about the repetitive chord sequences yet the heading of the Fall section is Repetition Repetition Repetition......?? To be honest initially I thought the same thing, i.e. these riffs are too simple and they don't really go anywhere, however on repeated listenings the songs just get better and better. Although I think the Peel seesion version of blindness is far superior than the one on this release, nothing new there. Maybe you just need to give Fall Heads Roll a few more listens. Assume (far from being unbearable as you state) is one of the best songs on this lp. 9/10 (Dave Wells)
This is one of those records that change with every listen - and it just gets better and better. My first feeling was probably akin to Mark's in that this was a disappointment but several repeated listens (and my 6 year old son Mark Edward (yes really) rates "assume" as his favourite tracks "because I can go duh duh duh duh") later this is rapidly ascending my favourite Fall LPs. Ok there are some misses - Aspen and then Aspen reprise. How about not Aspen at all. The last song sounds like a rework of Realm of Dusk (from Bend Sinister) in places and is probably one of the best. Clasp Hands is a cracker but the cod reggae of Ride Away leaves me cold. Probably better live this one. I've never quite understood Mark P's allocation of stars - 8 stars for the Peel sessions? Especially when the single disc Peel sessions CD gets 10 and in the review for the 8 starred 6 disc he states "Although I still feel that the single-disc Peel Sessions CD is the greatest possible introduction to The Fall that a potential new fan could ask for, this box set is an absolute must-own for anybody who is already a fan"

And 9 for perverted by language?? I ask you!

Is this man rational?

Do we care?

Is this CD worth only 7?

That's 3 nos (or 2.6 if we apply Mark's marking).

I'm off for a lie down. This is a great album especially the bits where you can go duh dh duh to.
Can't compare this to "Are You Are" because that's one of the two Fall records I still don't own. But how dare you bash Infotainment Scan?? Anyway. Well, I like this one and I agree with most of your criticims. But it's still the forking mighty Fall, so I am pleased. Not the stunner that "Country On the Click" was but I'll take Mark E. rehashed garage rock anyday of the week over the current top 10 weakage playlist on the local college radio station. I mean this in the best way, but it makes better hypnotic background music than any other Fall record. Not so engaging it is. Well I bought on John Peel day (yesterday) and have no doubt the man is smiling and rocking and well pleased in the afterlife.

To the above commenter: you named your son Mark Edward? Please forego showing him a current picture of his namesake or he'll be waking you up every night crying about the horrifying Mark E. monster under his bed or in his closet--taaaaaaaaaa.

I have not purchased a FALL CD since Frightening and Wonderful. In the 70's/80's I was a huge huge Fall fan. I thought them number one.

Grotesque, Hex Induction, and Dragnet are some of my favorites of all time. So I decide to buy this here record, which I am not disappointed by. The driving bass drum chord progression thing is new to the Fall for me. Mark Smith sounds like he recorded every song after a healthy shot of Heroin. It's quirky but not quirky enough. Either that or he has false teeth?

I like it but, it's not their best. I give it a 6 3/4.
This album is mostly cruddy garage rock really well performed and recorded. I think people are giving this above a six because they're almost congratulating Smith for not making a sabotaged or subpar record on purpose, as we know he prone to doing. 'Mountain Aspen', or whatever it's actually called, is nice though. You're right on Prindle; one of their weaker releases. I paid top dollar for this and haven't listened to it much at all.
There’s just one problem with the Fall: too many of their albums are worthy of an 8. Yes, there is Grotesque and there is Country On The Click (both goddamn classics), but I can hardly get over the somewhat frustrating feeling that, more often than not, it could have been even better. On the other hand, maybe it’s that inconsistent consistency that is so charming about The Fall.
Anyway, be as it may, Fall Heads Roll is another 8-balls winner from Smith and the boys (for some random reason the more or less same ones). I agree with Mark to the extent that they could have used a bit more of that imagination and inventiveness, but, quite frankly, I can’t care less. It’s all driving, exciting, classic Fall material, and the fact that “Blindness” is three chords over and over again should NOT distract anyone from the fact that it’s up there with the band’s greatest songs ever: yes, "Elastic Man", "New Face In Hell"... I could listen to that murky, jerky, minimalist groove for eight more minutes, easily. The opener is indeed somewhat misleading (much like “Eat Y’self Fitter”), but otherwise it’s got diversity (those lovely ballads), energy and style. Not fantastic, but an eight.
Also, for all Fall admires out there, I would strongly recommend to hear John Cooper Clarke, who's also into some spoken-word ass-kicking profanity.
Also, I congratulate Prindle on his wonderful take on Jann 'Tasteless' Wenner's review of Jagger's bullshit record. Thanks, really delightful, although my affection for that magazine (all of you English NME-bashing readers, stop there!) began with Christian Hoard's amazing little review of Ween's Quebec. Bit by bit, the man unconsciously explains what's so wrong with the Rolling Stone and the country in general. That Celine Dion line is particularly priceless.
Also, are we to expect Ween's new album this year? Well, but I'm a Kate Bush fan, so why should I bother.

Add your thoughts?

I Can Hear The Grass Grow EP - Narnack 2005
Rating = 3

When Roy G. Biv of The Move decided he wanted to impress Jeff Lynne of The Traveling Wilburies, he immediately thought about the black asshole bird who greeted him every morning by shouting, "How you doin', ass butt?" The resulting track, "I Can Hear The Crass Crow," became a moderately enormous success on British FM Radio for generations to come. Unfortunately, Mark E. Smith of The Fall can't sing and hardly even makes an effort to do so. This is all fine and dandy if he's reciting one of his own British rants, but it kinda sucks all the... you know, MELODY out of a great '60s pop nugget like "I Can Hear The Grass Grow." The band's energy is nice, and it's great how they've finally admitted to completely stealing the intro to "Hilary," but surely there were better potential singles on Fall Heads Roll? Plus, the two supposedly 'non-LP' tracks are in fact a slower, even POORLIER-sung version of "I Can Hear The Brass Brow" and an alternate take of Heads Roll's "Bo Diddley Derek" or whatever that repetitive, go-nowhere piece of repetition was called. I give it a 3 or much, much lower. Buy this ripoff and you'll be hearing from my lawyer.

Hey, check this out -- when I put my ear up to your bottomside, I Can Hear The Ass -- OW!

Say, what's with the pointy turd?

Add your thoughts?

Reformation Post TLC - Slogan 2007
Rating = 7

STUDIO ALBUM #25 - That makes 25 full-length studio albums, NONE of which have earned less than a 7 out of 10 on the Mark Prindle Scale Of Grading Scale. Am I just an earless fanman or is The Fall truly the most consistent band in history? As an earless fanman, I vote the latter. Even The Ramones stunk up my dick with Subaverage Jungle and Ass Eaters, but The Fall are still, to quote their 1989 hit single, "Hangin' Tough."

As you can see, RPTLC is another "7"-album, joining the ranks of Extricate, The Infotainment Scan and Fall Heads Roll as 'least incredible Fall studio albums ever.' But you're not going to hear me complain this time, because this should've by all indications been not only the first weak Fall album, but one of the worst albums ever recorded, period. By anybody. If you haven't been following the latest twists in the brutal, embarrassing Fall saga, please.... allow me.

Because Mark Smith is a speed-using abusive drunk, his entire band quit in the middle of an American tour last year. Except his wife, of course. For some reason. At any rate, Mark refused to give up and return to Britain a broken man. Instead, he called his U.S. record company and requested a new band. They provided a drummer, who then recruited a bassist and guitarist from an L.A. band called 'Darker My Love.' This line-up then practiced together for one day before their first gig as 'The Fall.' Mark was so thrilled with their performance that, after literally like five shows together, he rushed them into the studio to record a new Fall album. When you consider that the previous line-up took months and months to write and record the relatively disappointing Fall Heads Roll.... HOW GOOD WAS THIS PIECE OF MADE-UP-ON-THE-SPOT SHIT GOING TO BE!??!

The answer is -- surprisingly not bad at all! There's certainly a reliance on simple, repetitive and (unfortunately) somewhat derivative garage rock riffs, but they never sound completely generic or old-fashioned like the rockabilly throwbacks on Fall Heads Roll (and Are You Are Missing Winner) (oh, and Cerebral Caustic). Instead, this is mid-60s Nuggets garage music: the riffs might not be innovative, but the energy level is high, the beats are almost all uptempo, the mood is fun and bouncy, and the album has a unique, raw and exciting sound. There are dozens of varied guitar tones and warbly synth noises interacting with each other, a recurring heavy fuzzy melodic instrument that is either a distorted bass or oddball keyboard, and a few tracks that even spotlight two bassists playing different riffs at the same time! Furthermore, this is the loosest playing that Mark has allowed on a Fall record since maybe as far back as Hex Enduction Hour. The lead guitarist is seemingly given free reign to play whatever types of licks, leads or noises he'd like atop the melodies, which keeps the lengthy, repetitive vamp/jams from growing tiresome.

It's also a surprisingly diverse album, with the reliable garage rock action regularly broken up by such departures as jokey children's song "Over! Over!" (2011 UPDATE: "OVER! OVER!" IS AN UNCREDITED RIPOFF OF "COMING DOWN," RECORDED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN 1967); smooth melodic "White Line Fever" (their most honestly musical cover tune in ages -- Mark even SINGS!), Byrds-esque arpeggiated minor-key Nugget "Coach And Horses," bass harmonic improv jazz "The Usher," Elena-sung new waver "The Wright Stuff," overlong but funny ad-libbed rant "Insult Song" (a 6-minute mess concluding with the punchline "Little did they know they were paying by the minute for the tape they were wasting!") and 11-minute avant-garde piece "Das Boat," which I personally quite enjoy for about half its length but even Mark Smith admits, "It just got out of hand, that track. I was going to take it off, but people love it." I find that hard to believe, but must admit that The Fall has never come closer to approximating the pointless, aggravating artsiness of a Lennon/Ono album. 'Ee-ee! Ee-ee!' indubitably!

Again, it's not melodically creative enough to warrant more than a high 7, but in terms of fun, raucous, idiosyncratic, experimental rock'n'roll, it's pretty goddamned good for a band that didn't exist one month prior!

Will Robert Barbato, Tim Presley and Orpheo McCord ever play on another Fall album? Will Elena Poulou finally wise up and become Mark's 7th ex-wife? Check back this time next year for the next chapter of The Fall serial saga.

Mark Smith just turned 50, by the way, so be sure and send him an "I Can't Believe You're Not Dead Yet" card.

Reader Comments
Dear Mr. Prindle,

I don't think that the album they originally recorded is the one they ended up releasing. I remember going to the unofficial fall site late in 2006 and in the upcoming releases column that had something along the lines of:

"The Master tapes for the new album have been lost so Mark's going to head back into the studio and ante up from scratch."

On a side note, I saw the below awhile ago, and the inclusion of interviews from both Weird Al Yankovic and Jello Biafra made me think of you.

The US version of Refomation Post TLC will be released on Narnack on 3/27/2007. The tracklisting is the same as the UK version on Slogan, although Das Boat is retitled Das Bootuboat and The Bad Stuff is called Tim's Song, for reasons known only to Markie Smif. Also, the US version has longer edits of Reformation!, Insult Song, and Das Boat. In addition, US copies (initial ones, at least) will be "enhanced" CDs with live videos of Hungry Freaks Daddy (Zappa cover), My Door, Scenario, and Theme From Sparta FC, all from the November 4, 2006 gig at the Hiro Ballroom.

You probably already know all of this but I thought your readers might be interested. And no, I have no connection to Narnack Records, either financially or emotionally--just a hopeless Fall fan like you.
Got this the day it came out in the US. I'd personally give it an 8, but you're right about the somewhat lazy songwriting here. I mean, I like this album a lot, but does the repetitive 2-chord "Reformation" really have to be 7 minutes long?? "Das Boot" would have been a decent 6-minute experimental ambient piece, but over 10 minutes of shouting and fuzzy keyboard noise? Come on! Ahh whatever I can still enjoy those songs despite my complaints. The weak, generic "My Door is Never" is the only song I really could have done without. "Over! Over!", the Captain Beefheart-inspired "Scenario", "Systematic Abuse", "The Bad Stuff" and far-too-short "Coach and Horses" are damn classics! (David Wells)
“What another Fall album” my wife exclaimed with a mixture of disbelief, outrage, annoyance and err even more annoyance “Haven’t you got enough of them?” A moments silence followed “I mean they all sound the bloody same”.

So that’s the wife’s review of the Reformation Post TLC done with.

Too understand the Fall’s music it needs to be a grey day somewhere in Northern Britain and it is inevitably raining. Listening to this on a sun drenched beach surrounded by bikini clad lovelies is not quite the right setting for the latest offering (although I am willing to give it a try!). In York (old York for you American readers) it is raining, it is grey and it is in the north (although the wrong side of the Pennines).

To business then.

On ‘over over’ Smith sounds like he is singing one song whilst the new band are doing another. In truth it’s not a strong start although it does get better with each listening. It does build towards ‘Reformation’ which is a strong song although the following ‘Fall sound’ gives us the first highlight. Then it’s the obligatory poor comedy cover version in the shape of Merle Haggard’s ‘White Line Fever’. Why Smith keeps doing these crap cover versions is beyond me – I struggle to think of one decent cover since the reasonable 1980s cover of R Dean Taylor’s “Ghost in my house”. ‘Insult Song’ seems to be about the struggle his new American band have had adjusting to life north of Manchester and has a nod to Smith’s Beefheart influence in it. ‘My door is never’ is just a standard Fall track – grumbles along, lots of repetition – so ticks all the right boxes there.

‘Coach and Horses’ is another similar song followed by the short and strange ‘The Usher’. For me this is the other highlight – it really recaptures the early promise of the Fall circa Dragnet and Grotesque.

‘The Wright stuff’ sees a vocal outing for the current Mrs Smith with swirling keyboards and gritty bass line. Its not a bad song – just overlong and after a while my attention wandered somewhat. Normal service is returned with ‘Scenario’ which is another cracking Fall song. It is clear that the new Fall is taking Smith to different musical places and the beginning of ‘Das Boat’ is a case in point – distant solo guitar over a harsh rhythm. In fact this song appears to stop after two and a half minutes before restarting and unfortunately after that it is crap. No escaping it - this is pretentious crap at its worst and a contender for one of the worst Fall tracks ever. Perhaps they should have stopped after the potentially interesting first two and a half minutes rather than keeping going for the additional 7.5 minutes.

When the opening chords of ‘the bad stuff’ chime in, it’s a welcome relief and this is a musically upbeat song spoiled by the fact the vocals have been put through the Smithian mincer to be even more incomprehensible than usual. ‘Systematic abuse’ is more standard fare – I can see this being a really strong Fall song in years to come although it seems strangely muted here. ‘Outro’ is seconds long and not worth any other mention.

So overall a very uneven offering. Not their worst but somewhere in the lower middle order of Fall albums. The problem is that when Smith’s bands get confrontational with him his own pretensions are curbed and we get better offerings. My feeling is that this band go along with him and as a result a lot of this album is lazy, self indulgent and in places plain awful. Strip some of the crap out and you are on the way to a decent album. If this took two years to put together then I for one will not be looking forward to the next release although as sure as eggs are eggs I will be at my local record shop money in hand, on release day. A news item in UK newspaper ‘the Guardian’ dated June 2nd stated he was about to start work on the new album although the interview was about his new project Von Sudenfelt.

For some reason, I find myself loving Reformation Post TLC. I've bought every Fall album at least once (and usually more than once thanks to all the reissues) and this one has stayed in rotation longer on my CD player than all the others. Yeah, I know it's sloppy and "lazy" and rough sounding, but I find myself enjoying it each time it comes on. In theory, it might only "deserve" an 8 or 9, but in terms of replay value, I'd give it a 10.

I don't know how Mark E. Smith does it, churning out album after album, without mellowing out or becoming formulaic. He's awesome. So is Mark Prindle for all these funny reviews. (Hunter)
Y'know, as it goes, I like The Fall less and less every time I buy one of their albums, and I've bought five of them now (Hex Education Hour, Perverted By Language, This Nation's Grace, Levitate, Extricate). It isn't because I don't find their music (on some level) interesting, or lacking in creativity, I just feel like, regardless of what I'm listening to, I don't fully get it. I tend to just hear a bunch of repition. Creative, esoteric, but some how more often than not emotionally unreasonating (if such a word exists) repition. What is there, while unique, just doesn't seem to be enough more often than not. It seems like the songs should be shorter, which, when they are, I love. "Ludd Gang"? "Spoiled Victorian Child"? Great songs, not long. Anything over 3 minutes? Not at all. And I mean, I have tried. As you can see by the albums I've listed, I've kind of gone for the "fan favorites" which I'd assume would be The Fall at their most accessable (or exciting), but honestly with the exception of "Levitate", which sounds (as you well put it) like organic dance music, I have a hard time making great distinctions between one album or another.

(For the record, "This Nation's Saving Grace" happens to be my favorite album, for all those (none) interested. Shorter songs! Catchy! Short!)

So Mark, being that you are an avid fan, could you tell me what it is about the music that appeals to you? Any of you other Fall fans wanna tell me what the appeal is to them? Any recomendations on maybe approaching the music differently? I like all sorts of wierdo kookie art music, it seems like I ought to like The I just not? Eng? Hmph.
Hi Mark,

I think that this is the first legitimately shitty Fall album that has been released. I've tried very hard to get into it but it just is not convincing. The production is so muffled and crummy, and everything sounds like it's farting out of the speakers. There are only a handful of songs I can actually make it to the end of when I throw this on.

"White Line Fever" is beautiful and it's quite adorable to hear the old grumpus sing for once.
"Fall Sound" is as typical as a Fall song can sound, but it isn't painful.
"Over Over" and "Reformation" are both plodding numbers that are pleasant enough.

But the rest sounds so bloody lazy and weak. I can't see how you can rate this at the same level as Fall Heads Roll. While that record is not the best set of songs they've ever put out listen to the production. That fucker rocks. It's so tough and muscular. "What about us?" Shit, man.

I guess he's about to release Imperial Wax Solvent soon with an entirely new band. I hope to heck they inject some life into the whole Fall situation.

Oh, and I think "Insult Song" is one of the most painful listening experiences I've ever subjected myself to.

But: I do agree with most of your other reviews. Long live the mighty Fall. Maybe they were trying to restore the sloppy-ness and anti-production of Dragnet? Now THAT'S a Fall record.


Add your thoughts?

Box Set 1976-2007 - Sanctuary 2007
Rating = 8

If you haven't done so, I urge you to run to England and buy The Fallen: Searching for the Missing Members of The Fall by Dave Simpson. In this upsetting work, ex-Fall member after ex-Fall member after ex-Fall number describes life under Mark E. Smith as an abusive living hell. Apparently one of his key strategies for keeping the band fresh is to rule by tyranny: not telling them the set list until right before they hit the stage, constantly berating them even when they're playing well, playing band members against each other, being friendly one day and hateful the next, etc. Upon completing the book, I honestly worried that I could never enjoy The Fall again. How could I listen to their music without hearing the misery of the participants? Why did Mark have to be so MEAN!?

But then - slowly, over the course of a month - three things happened:

1) I remembered the testimony of former drummer Simon Wolstencroft in The Fallen. He and maybe two other ex-members (out of 30+) remember their time in the band as great fun because Mark was hilarious. They didn't take him or their place in the band seriously (Simon even admits he wasn't a Fall fan!), so his bullying antics just struck them as a clever and witty way to shake things up.

2) I remembered that Mark Smith spends 24 hours a day in an alcoholic stupor and an additional 48 hours a day tweaked out on amphetamines. How naive would you have to be to expect a normal working relationship with a man whose brain has been that far removed from reality for over three decades straight!?

3) I found an affordable copy of Box Set 1976-2007, a five-disc retrospective that kicks off with 27 great songs in a row.

The first four discs cover the band's recorded history through a combination of album tracks, singles, alternate takes, remixes, songs from V/A compilations and solo Mark Smith projects. The fifth, entitled "Live Rarities," offers a mixed bag of songs that were never released in studio form (some for obvious reasons!). The package also includes a 60-page booklet outlining the history of both the band and every song featured in the box set. The unquestionable highlight of this book is page 41's write-up of "Last Commands of Xyralothep Via MES":

"'Our drummer wrote it - it's a good tune. It's a really, really good song, but the idea of the song is that it's just one riff. It's one guitar riff and it just builds up. The drums come in, and the drum parts change, and the bass comes in, but playing it on stage is just an absolute nightmare' - Ben Pricthard, 2003 ("

So I'd like to thank the copy editor for not only spelling the guitarist's name wrong, but also directing potential new readers to a web site about boats.

Because I'm a county lad, I've counted the following:

- 42 album tracks (note: some are demo versions and alternate mixes): 4 from The Real New Fall Album; 3 each from This Nation's Saving Grace, Bend Sinister and The Frenz Experiment; 2 each from Grotesque, Hex Enduction Hour, Extricate, The Infotainment Scan, Middle Class Revolt, Levitate, The Marshall Suite, The Unutterable and Fall Heads Roll; 1 each from Live At The Witch Trials, Dragnet, Room To Live, Perverted By Language, The Wonderful And Frightening World, I Am Kurious Oranj; Shiftwork, Code: Selfish, Cerebral Caustic, The Light User Syndrome and Reformation Post-TLC; and NOT A SINGLE THING from Are You Are Missing Winner! I consider this a bizarre oversight. Why go to such lengths to cover their entire career and then overlook 1 of the 26 studio albums? Was it a mistake? Did the compiler simply not have a copy of that record? Or is it so universally loathed that he couldn't bring himself to include even one little tune from it?

- 25 songs from singles/EPs/live albums (ditto for previous note)

- 18 previously unreleased songs (mostly on disc five)

- 3 songs from various artist compilations (the smooth pretty electro-pop "Arid Al's Dream," half-written bass-driven "Theme From Error-Orrori" and surprisingly tuneful cover of "A Day In The Life")

- 3 Mark E. Smith spoken word pieces (all terrible)

Although I certainly understand the concept of making the box set more appealing to collectors who already own all the Fall albums, pointless and boring remixes like "Hit The North Part 4," "Telephone Thing (Alternate Version)," "A Past Gone Mad (Alternate Version)" and "Touch Sensitive (Dance Mix)" essentially just take up space that would've been better spent on.... well, songs that don't drag on for 8 minutes with one lyric sampled over and over. Aside from that, it's difficult to argue with the track listing - not only because it's pretty great but also because the booklet itself admits, "It's everything you want and all that will peeve you for not being here."

But I know what you REALLY want! You want to know about this disc 5 - this "Live Rarities" disc. Well, the booklet warns that "it's something to cherish, even if, quite frankly, you'll hardly play it." And be truth toldly, it's definitely the least consistent of the five discs. But it's still pretty good! Highlights include: a Deep Purple cover (!?); a hilariously unpracticed cover of "Brand New Cadillac" that predates The Clash's cover of same; creepy early track "My Condition," which could've been a standout had they put a bit more work into the arrangement; wonderful little punker "Pop Stickers," whose delightfully bizarre melody alone should have ensured it a spot on record; a 'Stars On 45' version of "I'm Into C.B." that incorporates musical snippets from "Psykick Dancehall," "Fiery Jack," "Rowche Rumble" and "Leave The Capitol"; a pair of super-catchy instrumentals ("Countdown" and "The Boss"); and at long last the official release of "Hey! Marc Riley." Lowlights include the rest of the disc in its entirety! Forgettable originals, uneventful covers and little snippets of time-wasting noise. Well, except "Middle Mass Explanation," which is Mark Smith talking for 15 seconds before the band plays "Middle Mass." What the hell it's doing on a disc of "Live Rarities" I've no idea.

Since the box set retails for EIGHTY GODDAMNED DOLLARS, I've no idea who they expect to buy it. I found a copy for $30 though, and it's certainly worth that much - even to somebody like me who already owns all their records. The mixes are incredibly pristine (were they remastered!?), the song selection is mostly on-the-money (obviously not every great Fall song is on here, but a good plenty of them are!), and most importantly, it may help you forget that the band's driving force is a loathsome, belligerent creep.

Add your thoughts?

Last Night At The Palais: Live At Hammersmith Palais April 1st 2007 - Sanctuary 2009
Rating = 8

36th time's the charm!

Sure, they've tried the whole "live album" thing a few times before. Remember that godawful Live 77 recording? Ha! Don't make me laugh! Too late! I was already laughing! Nevertheless, you made no effort to stop me, and for that I will forever hold you responsible. Sure, maybe you weren't standing here on the balcony next to me, forcing me to roar my head back in delight and crack the skull of the ex-President standing behind me. But when I finally dig a tunnel out of here with the help of my trusty spoon, there's only one person I'll be coming after for revenge, and that name is YOU.

Sorry, I fell into an exciting alternate universe for a second. Now back to sitting at the computer in my underwear typing bullshit about a stupid live album nobody's ever going to buy.

Oh no! My left ball fell out! (*runs down hall after errant ball*)

Okay I'm back. As I was saying, "Remember that godawful Live 77 recording?" Sure, it was GOOD and all, but no thanks! Then there was the brutally mediocre Live At Deeply Vale - who needed that one? That certainly wasn't a "go-to" recording for your average punter. Your average fullback perhaps, but the punter needs a REAL go-getter action live album -- and that's where Liverpool 78 comes in! Or would, if it didn't stink. What's that? Did somebody say "Live From The Vaults: Oldham 1978"? Well, that's as may be and that says "maybe," but -- say! That WAS a good one! So let's not dwell on that one, because it invalidates my whole point. Moving on, did anybody hear/give a listen to Live From The Vaults: Los Angeles 1979? That thing was so poorly recorded it's as if one of the many, many smelly Mexicans dwelling in Los Angeles shoved a microphone up his la cucaracha and taped the whole show with his la bamba up his aye yi yi! Still, it was a veritable 5,000-track Bob Rock production compared to Live From The Vaults: Retford 1979. Then along came Totale's Turns (It's Now Or Never), the very first Fall live album.

Then after their first live album was their eighth, Legendary Chaos Tape. And legendary it was! So let's move on because I hate legends. Paul Revere? Bah!

Wait, here's a great joke:

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Live From The Vaults: Glasgow 1981!
Live From The Vaults: Glasgow 1981 who?
Live From The Vaults: Glasgow 1981? You misheard me; I said A Part Of America Therein, 1981!

To be completely honest, A Part Of America Therein, 1981 is probably the best Fall album on the market. But come on, that was 28 years ago! Times have changed and so have my pants! (once)

Then again, Live From The Vaults: Alter Bahnhof, Hof, Germany is pretty amazing too. Curses, I'd forgotten that so many of these Fall live albums were so good. I'm starting to feel like a right fool-di-doo for saying "36th time's the charm." Especially with Fall In A Hole, Live To Air In Melbourne '82, Austurbaejarbio, BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert, Live in Cambridge 1988 and I Am As Pure As Oranj all kicking fifteen flavors of ass during the '80s. But you gotta admit -- Seminal Live, Live In Zagreb, Nottingham '92 and The Twenty Seven Points didn't exactly scream "Quality is important to us." In The City... was surprisingly good, but Oswald Defence Lawyer didn't seem necessary. Fiend With A Violin? Sure, whatever. Ditto for 15 Ways To Leave Your Man (Live). These are fine, fine live albums, and only a nut would deny it so. My initial point has proven flawed. 36th time's not the charm at all.

I mean, yes it's better than The Idiot Joy Show, Live Various Years, Live At The Phoenix Festival, Pearl City, Live At The Knitting Factory-L.A.-14 November 2001, 2G+2, Touch Sensitive...Bootleg Box Set, Live At The Garage-London-20 April 2002 and All Tomorrows Parties: Live At The ATP Festival-28 April 2002, but that's only because 36th time's the charm! And sure, Punkcast 2004: Live at the Knitting Factory-New York-9 April 2004 was pretty impressive too, but that's because 35th was also the charm!

In conclusion, The Fall have released a live album for every year I've been alive. Thanks, Grateful Dead!

But before we begin, let me tell you a little bit about this live album. With 56 minutes of mostly recent material, you'd think the disc would blow jobs right off the employment chart, but shockingly the band really rips it up and tears it down. Apparently it was the last performance ever at the Hammersmith Palais of Motorhead and The Clash fame, so The Fall pulled out none of the stops and performed 5 Reformation Post-TLC tracks, 2 Fall Heads Roll ditters, a non-LP Frank Zappa cover, and 1 song each from I Am Kurious Oranj, The Real New Fall Album, Shift-Work and the at-the-time unrecorded Imperial Wax Solvent. The sound is crisp, loud and extremely full (there is no empty space here), and the energy level is adrenalizing! (or, more accurately, amphetamizing) The songs are of course repetitive and also overwhelmingly modal, but man those catchy garage rock hooks are galoring out of sight! "Hungry Freaks, Daddy" might've worked a bit better had they taken the time to learn the chorus (rather than just repeating one simple blues-rock riff for five minutes), and "Senior Twilight Stock Replacer" certainly would've gone smoother had they finished writing the song before performing it live, but hey when you're rarin' to go, don't let a song's incompletion stop you, that's my motto!

That's not really my motto. That'd be like the dumbest motto in the world.

Seriously, can you imagine having that as a motto? "When you're rarin' to go, don't let a song's incompletion stop you!"!? You'd have to be the biggest dumbshit in the world to go around saying that. Unity and secularism will be the motto of my government. We can't afford divisive polity in India.

So suck it!
Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister, India

P.S. I'm Manmohan Singh, bitches, so up your ass!! (*whips out giant Indian dick, pisses on bald head of bound Lal Krishna Advani*)

(Editor's Note: This is the last time I'm going to hand over a review to a foreign statesman. Manmohan said he'd keep it clean.)

Add your thoughts?

Imperial Wax Solvent - Sanctuary 2008
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #26 - Upon first listen, I punched Mark Smith in the face, calling him "You Lazy Asshole" and "Guy Whose New Album Sounds Like A Bunch Of Demos." But upon repeated listens, I realized that -- as messy, drunken and ridiculous this album is -- it's also fun as hell and tons less predictable than the last two. There is NO WAY that this shambling collection of disconnected 'whatever's is going to earn The Fall any new followers, but if you're already a fan and are okay with the fact that you're not getting The Real New Fall Album II: The Real Newer Fall Album (Formerly Country On The Click II: Countrier On The Click) here, I implore you to turn on the lighthouse of your soul and guide this latest disaster to the shores of your shelf.

What exactly do I mean by "disconnected 'whatever's"? Well, they ARE songs, absolutely; this isn't a Mark E. solo album or another Levitate. But the pacing, the order, the arrangements, the fact that all these songs are on the same record -- by any normal standard of album-making, Imperial Wax Solvent gets these elements all wrong! Nobody but The Fall (by which I mean "Mark E. Smith") would release an album that reads like this:

1. A jazz song by The Fall!? The third in a series of wonderfully "WTF!?" album-openers, it sounds like dropping acid in a tiki bar!
2. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-excellent pissed-off rock stomper!
3. An eleven-and-a-half-minute six-part meandering epic, highlighted by its unexpected banjo hoedown portion. NOTE: ALWAYS PUT AN 11-AND-A-HALF-MINUTE SONG THIRD ON YOUR ALBUM SO THE WHOLE THING JUST STOPS DEAD RIGHT AS IT'S GETTING GOING
4. Adorable girl-sung bubblegum pop!
5. Groundhogs cover. A completely generic early rock riff for nearly six minutes. NOTE: IF YOU PUT A SHORT CATCHY POP SONG AFTER AN 11-AND-A-HALF-MINUTE EPIC, ALWAYS FOLLOW IT UP WITH A GENERIC SIX-MINUTE COVER TUNE TO DESTROY ANY MOMENTUM YOU MAY BE REGAINING. Also, is it just my illegal download or is there radio static running in the background the whole song?
6. Very cool fuzzy synth riff with electronic beat!! Kraftwerk are rolling in their gra
y wheelchairs, around the retirement community in which their children placed them.
7. Underwritten modal dance groover that Mark keeps stopping dead for no clear reason. Example: right after the intro, he exclaims "Turn the radio off!" and the entire song disappears, replaced by a guy playing his bass. Example #2: about one minute in, Mark finds it necessary to shut down all the instruments for a few seconds in order to opine that his boss "has the imagination of a gnat."
8. Growly speedy tough rocker! Would sound great on an album with #2!
9. Catchy, cute bass/keyboard tune with Mark E. duetting with.... himself? That sure sounds like Mark Smith singing in a light, higher-than-usual register as Mark Smith growls like a rum-sotted idiot. Goofy light-hearted ditty!
10. Uptempo generic '60s garage rock, straight outta the last two albums. Not bad though.
11. Dance beat, 3-note bass, and the loudest, fullest and most all-enveloping clean guitar strum you will ever hear.
12. Energetic punky tune whose 'hook' is a synthesized crazy swooping swishy-swashy noise!

Certainly it's a low 8, and one must keep in mind that I don't have the most refined musical taste in the world, but I'll be great and goshdarned if this asinine grab bag of tough rock, cutesy pop, dancey electronics, '60s punk and sloshed fuckery-around doesn't rekindle the faith that I'd started to lose in The Fall over the past couple of years. Imperial Wax Solvent may be disjointed, sloppy and abominably-sequenced, but it's definitely not predictable!

(except about 2 minutes into the Groundhogs cover, when you realize that it's going to be doing that for another four minutes.)

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Mark E. Smith speaks, shouts, sings and growls - sometimes along with himself, thanks to today's top multi-tracking technology; Dave Spurr basses distorted and thick; Elenor Smith alternates between '60s-toned organs and squoogly noise synthesizers; Keiron Melling drums both punky and dancey; Pete Greenway's 'tasty' guitar 'chops' are 'savored' and 'sampled' both in his 'delicious' lead 'licks' and in the subtle but 'juicy' background plucks, slides and silence he brings to the 'plate' of the less rock-focused tracks (or 'corn on the cob'); and Grant Showbiz's mix makes the band sound raw, live and full of oddball eccentricities. There is no overriding mood to the record aside from 'these are music.'

Aside from what sounds astonishingly like "Remember you tried to destroy me, Steve Albini," the only lyric whose sense I can comprehend is "I'm a 50-year-old man and I like it," which is a hilarious and delightfully atypical sentiment for a rock vocalist to make. Then again, Mark's been a cantankerous wrinkly old bag since he was 30, so I guess it figures that he wouldn't fight the natural aging process as vehemently as, say, Paul McCartney. Did you know that that guy's entire face was ripped off a 23-year-old? It's true! 'Sir Paul' had it surgically removed from a street urchin in 2002 and stapled onto his own head. So now the poor kid is walking around with blood, teeth and cartilage where his face is supposed to be. Goddamn you, Paul McCartney! Goddamn you all to Hell!

And "Ringo Starr"? Yeah, more like "Ringo TSarr," if you ask me the way he acts like he owns the place.

Reader Comments
Welcome addition to the statement that the Fall are the most consistent band of all time. MES rolls on. Doesn't seem to be in a "classic" like Real New or Perverted By Language or anything, but very rewarding to repeated listenings.

Read your Von Sud review and the same MES applies here. This may be the first HAPPY Mark we've ever heard on an album. It's a happy album. I don't mean the content, but the only lyric you understand "I'm a 50 year old man and I like it"? I'd take that at face value.

I can't get that evil riff from Alton Towers out of my head. Wolf Kidult Man is another great stomper like Deadbeat Descendent and Sparta FC. Taurig. Tommy Shooter. and Exploding Chimneys stand out so far. And with repeated listenings, 50 Year Old Man goes from "when will this end" to "I can't wait till that song with the banjo comes on again".

Anyway, there's cause for excitement, in that if Mark hasn't sucked by now he's not going to. He's a unique guy, this is just who he is--and we like it.

One note though: We've all this album from somewhere on the in-tra-net. The real deal isn't coming out for weeks yet. Don't be surprised if Mark doesn't give us the Real New Empirical Wax Solvent (Believe it when you see it!)LP Formerly Old Imperial Wax Solvent. Reordered, featuring more great tracks and, the louder, speedier Wolf Kidult Man 2XX. Be ready to revise your review score if necessary....
Mark, not sure if I'd give this an "8" but I think you kind of rate Fall albums a bit high anyway. (Fall Heads Roll wouldn't get higher than a 5 from me and a lot of these mid-period albums.. eh.. a 6 or 7 is generous). I've very enthusiastic about this band, but even I feel that the quality goes up and down between releases; actually, usually it goes up and down more during the actual album. This album is a perfect example. I think it's a bit worse than Reformation Post-TLC but it's still got some winners on it. "50 Year Old Man" is a fucking hoot, maybe one of their greatest songs, and I'm pretty sure he mentions Steve Albini 3 or 4 times. Also, I think he says "I've got a hard on but I'm too busy to do anything about it" or something like that. Who knows. It goes from electronic synth punk, almost like a Krautrock Phantom Limbs into a bizarre cutesy banjo/awful keys part into a slow and sludgey/clunky garage version of the first section of the song into weird noise into a punk noise anthem and a few things in between. Actually quite amazing. A standout. I really really enjoy "Exploding Chimney", "Wolf Kidult Man" (is he saying "REPTITION IS GONE"?), and the wonderful "Tommy Shooter". There are some, um, questionable tracks here and there (the Groundhogs cover for example) and the whole thing strikes me as a bit long and occassionally teeters on the unlistenable. Like you said, it sounds like the whole thing's a bunch of demos. Reformation was also like that... the sound quality is a mess... anyway, still worth a look... Wouldn't it be wonderful if they returned to the Real New Fall LP sound at some point soon though?
That is Lee Perry's voice!!! The 50 year old man is rippin vocals from that 70 year old man!! They were both on the Narnack label....maybe that has something to do with it, but I don't like M.E.S. doing that!
Great review. Have just reviewed it myself and i'm happy, after initial misgivings, that Mark E Smith has lots to say again and also seems to be happy!
Well, it's now 5/4/2008 and IWS is already out in the UK. If anyone knows when (or if) the album will receive a US release, please post. I want to support the band and will buy the CD instead of just downloading it for free. The thought of paying nosebleed prices by ordering it from the UK isn't all that appealing, though.
The kids were not impressed with the news that I had bought another Fall album. I think they had picked up the wife's dislike for the band although recently she shocked me by saying she did not mind the Fall that much. After 10 years of marriage this came as a bit of a bolt out of the blue. I idly wondered if she had been replaced by some alien replicant as this was such untypical behaviour. This earthquake aside her reaction to the new Fall album was of indifference but the kids - Mark Edward and Brix Eloise (or Juliet Mary as she's really known) - were more forthright in their condemnation before I'd even heard it. Still following on from last years woeful effort - I think I played it once after I reviewed it for this site I begun to wonder whether it was worth the bother. Still if my local rag, the York Evening Press, can give it a good review something must be worthy of attention so with a single bound………

'Alton Towers' is a ghastly fun park in the middle of Staffordshire and our low key weird opener. Quite unlike anything they have done and way ahead of the indifferent crud that filled reformation post TLC to breaking point. I like this one but not as much as 'Wolf Kiddult Man' which has Fall classic writ large. And 50 year old man would also have that status but the false endings diminish the effect of this track (although the Banjo break is a hoot). I like it more every time I hear it but feel somehow its an opportunity missed. 'I've been duped' is good although I'm not sure Mrs Smith's vocals do it full justice. Still it chugs along well and '2 hairy man digging up Scotland' is an interesting line. So 4 tracks in and its all going swimmingly well until we get to the cover version.. 'Strangetown' is I'm pleased to say one of their better offerings and while spoilt a little bit by crap production (or my CD player is dodgy) holds its head high.. 'Taurig' is keyboard dominated with a real 90s feel to it. Its not great but its still a lot better than most of RPTLC. Sorry to go on about it but that really was an indifferent album. 'Can can summer' is Ok but it’s a real return to top form with 'Tommy Shooter' with an excellent riff. Just get my dancing shoes out! On 'Latch Key Kid' I suspect Smith is beginning to turn into Tom Waits…but after the awkward beginning this starts to settle down to a good track. Is it autobiographical? This one seems to get better and better the more times I listen.

'Is this new' is another cracker, a crisp little gem of a song with another killer riff. Then there is no letting up 'Senior Twilight Stock replacer' is another belter and surely a contender for song title of the year. 'Exploding chimney' is a cracking track to end on but the trouble is when it finishes you are left wanting more……better play the whole thing again

So overall a very strong Fall album which bar a few places where the approach could have been different would I think have been their strongest for many years. Consider this though - if Smith can produce an album this good after 30+ years why do many of the bands struggle after one or two albums. I know now I will buy every Fall studio album because you just never know what to expect. Knowing that the lows of albums such as RPTLC and 'Are you missing winner?' can be kicked into touch (this is a UK rugby term for all our American readers) by strong albums such as this is a relief.

I am reluctant to mark this album because I feel it will improve with age. My very first listening had it nestling in the 6 and 7 areas (although of course how I mark is different to Mark's system) but I now see this as a far better offering and in time (probably after the next listening) will have this down as a 9. It will never be a 10 though (for the reasons above) and the real test is whether I am still listening to it when the next album - which I confidently predict the title not to be Shunter Assasination Syndrome - hits the shops with a confident thunk.

Just to be sure I listened to RPTLC again - it just doesn't compete.
I'd just like to point out that the Groundhogs' cover, Strangetown, is indeed, a fucking great track! You can't beat this bass riff, can you? Also, the noisy background is authentic, god knows why.

I'd like to point out too that Elenor Poulou is fucking gorgeous, damn, that guy can really find great ladies to beat, eh?

Rian Yirkah
Let me get this out of the way: This is my least favorite Fall studio album. Yes, that's right. Imperial Wax Solvent is my 28th favorite Fall studio album.

The first four songs are excellent (50 Year Old Man is already considered a classic in my book). I disagree with your assessment that the momentum comes to a screeching halt at 50 Year Old Man. Track 5/Strange Town is the song that sucks all the air out of the room. I hate it. It's one of the worst things The Fall have ever recorded and I rarely LOATHE anything they do. The only good thing about it is that The Fall didn't write it. Track 6---"Taurig" breathes some life back into the party. God, I love that song. The rest of the album is good until the final two tracks (which just seem pointless). I'm not even sure if I'd feel the same way if these songs appeared on a different album but they just fall flat on IWS.

The production is awful. Not in a lo-fi manner, either (I like lo-fi music). The mix is just disgusting sounding. I've tried listening to this on my computer, on my mp3 player with earbuds, on my car stereo. It still sounds like goat vomit. Half of the songs are in mono which makes them sound even more like shit coming out of my dick. Also, as you mentioned, the flow of this album is fucked. I conducted a little experiment where I played IWS on a random shuffle setting and it made for a more enjoyable listening experience.

In conclusion, I love The Fall. Imperial Wax Solvent gets a very, VERY low 7. If this had been released as a six-song EP with the first four songs, Taurig and Latch Key Kid then I'd possibly give it a high 8, maybe low 9. However, life isn't fair, now is it?

In even further conclusion, Fall fans are a funny, interesting people. I know a guy who prefers this over The Real New Fall LP.

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Slippy Floor Tour CD-single - Action 2009
Rating = 7

This stopgap release features a live version of "Strangetown" that's a dozen times more energetic and melodic than the studio version. In addition to this magnificent feat of wonder, it includes two new studio tracks that render me simultaneously excited and worried about the quality of their next album. Here's why:

"Slippy Floor" is a super-catchy happy uptempo twangy rocker that I love to pieces, but the darned thing has no changes at all (unless you count the unrelated bass riff, slide guitar segment and voicemail message that are tacked onto the beginning and end), so lord knows how it will age. I'm hoping it will continue to please me as much as their classic old repetitors ("No Xmas For John Quays," "Fiery Jack," etc) but as simple as those songs are, they're "Bohemian Rhapsody" compared to "Slippy Floor." Still, I'm staying positive because wow! What a great riff they play over and over for four minutes!

"Hot Cake," on the other hand, is a right bland piece of rockabilly garage rock with very little to sink your ears into. Plus he's still talking about a goddamned 'slippy floor.' Get over the 'slippy floor,' Mark. Sometimes in life, we all have to deal with a 'slippy floor.' Granted, most of us would call it a 'slippery floor,' but I'm no grammar angel so who the hell am I to assume?

The bottom dollar is that Mark E. Smith wanted some new Fall music on the market but the Imperial Wax Solvent follow-up wasn't ready yet. It's a fun enough teaser, but (*lifts glass*) here's hoping they put more elbow grease into the full-length than they did into these one-take wonders. (*clinks glasses*)

(*screams in pain and horror as thousands of tiny glass shards explode directly into eyeball*)

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Your Future Our Clutter - Domino 2010
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #27 - Against all expectations, the Imperial Wax Solvent line-up has survived intact to record a second Fall album! On first listen, I absolutely hated this album. "It's just a bunch of eight-hour-long garage rockers!" I shouted angrily at God. Those around me fought me all the way; "It's good," they vehemently argued, dangerously and filled with destructive rage. Well, I'm here to tell you one thing once and forever: those around me were right!

The songs are definitely long (seven of the nine exceed five minutes), but the chosen genre isn't Garage Rock; it's Fall Sound -- meaning it's all over the place. For example, "O.F.Y.C. Showcase" tricked me into hearing it as a generic three-note Kingsmen rocker until I listened closer and discovered that it steadily grows and progresses, adding additional harmony notes on top of the original notes until by the end it has become a loud screaming wall of Krautrock joy. For a second example, the four-note "Mexico Wax Solvent" riff is as simple as any Pebbles track, but it's set to a funky dance-ass beat motherfucker and comes complete with multiple organ tones, lovely guitar arpeggio and even some gorgeous Stereolab vibes. For a third example, "Bury Pts. 1 + 3" is... well, garage rock. Why lie during this time of crisis, with the terrorists and 7-11.

But the rest of the album doesn't come within a fly's glance of garage rock, so I must have prejudged it based on my initial distaste for the first three songs. "Cowboy George" spends three minutes as an intense rollicking spaghetti western before suddenly switching to drumless psych-poetry. "Chino" will make you puke on the dance floor with its queasy slide bass and slow groove beat. "Weather Report" begins as a shambolic take on a Shiftwork-style ballad before giving up and turning into click-swoosh noises and Mark insisting, "You don't deserve rock and roll!" Furthermore, the "Funnel of Love" cover is melodic pop, "Slippy Floor" remains cowpunk, and the new mix of "Hot Cake" is too swinging and snappy to make the garage scene.

The energy level is high, the mix is crystal clear but not the slightest bit slick, and the hooks are galore. The songs generally consist of catchy bass and crisp drums holding down the fort as multiple guitars and organs make the rounds of noise and melody. It's these dynamic lead parts (and Mark's exuberant vocals) that enable the bassist to get away with playing one or two simple riffs for six or seven minutes apiece. There's also a lot of wiggly, bendy guitarwork -- tremelo bar or actual tremelo? Only Peter Greenway knows the truth! And he's too busy with The Second Cook, The Other Thief, His New Wife & Her Follow-up Lover to c

In utter finality, Your Future Our Clutter is the 27th good Fall album in a row. Take that, Take That!

In other news, here's something that totally blew my mind out of all control and lifestyle: you know this guy Henry The Dog that lives with me? The wife and I have spent nine years assuming that he's a cross between a German Shepherd and a Greyhound, but thanks to a free DNA test, we today learned that nothing of the sort was of the sort! Apparently his father was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and his mother was a Scottish Deerhound!

+ =

Reader Comments
Its May 5th 2010. A new Fall CD sits wrapped up in a delivery packet and somehow I can’t bring myself to open it. The last two CDs have had few outings and I re-read my reviews on this site (see above) a few days previously. ‘Reformation’ is still a very poor offering - I think I played it once last year. ‘Imperial Wax Solvent’ after a number of plays really turned out to be a Fall by numbers sort of offering and I found myself giving serious consideration to not bothering with ‘Your Future Our Clutter‘. I caught them live in Leeds in late 2009 and a fairly upbeat (but brief) set confirmed my belief they can still deliver.

So when push comes to shove I order the CD as buying it at a record shop in town is now impossible and it duly drops onto the doormat a few days later. Enough contemplation. I tear into the packaging wrestling manfully with the shrink wrap until it is fully revealed and the CD is promptly inserted into my failing CD system (left hand speaker intermittent). The wait is over.

Being a domestic god I’m cooking the evening meal whilst the wife and children are out and the Fall burble away in one room whilst I do deity like battle with sausages and mashed potato. ‘OFYC showcase’ sounds OK - might improve with age. Mark Prindles comments above give me hope and I will listen more closely. ‘Bury Part 1’ is recorded in a warehouse - perhaps Smith has ploughed this furrow a little too often so I paid little attention here on my first listen or second listen.

‘Bury Part 3’ is however a revelation with big guitar sign and driving bassline. Things are definitely looking up until we get to ‘Mexico Wax Solvent’ which I can announce is one of the most tedious tunes that Smith has ever recorded. ‘Cowboy George’ is a marginal improvement although this feels like a half formed idea not fully developed. ‘Hot Cake’ is fall rockabilly with big guitar and not half bad.

‘Your future our clutter (YFOC)’ feels a bit like something off a mid 1980s album - Bend sinister era perhaps . I like it and it seems to grow - before it then morphs into ‘Slippy Floor’ which is more Fall punky rockabilly. Having grown up with the punk bands I like a good bit of thrashy stuff - sweaty times. The end of this is a bit of studio filler (ho hum).

Sausages and mash eaten by wife and despondent children its time to approach ‘Chino’ with mug of tea in hand. A weird start to this tune but then some blistering guitar and fine bass line. quite unlike anything they have done before - and what is going on with the keyboards? Smith singing ‘when do I quit?’ ‘Soon’ says the wife hopefully. That aside this is the standout track of the album and one of the most original tracks by any artist I have come across for a number of years. Excellent.

‘Funnel of love’ is a cover version by, according to the www, Wanda Jackson. Its reasonable enough, quite pleasant…wouldn’t be worried if I never heard it again. ‘Weather Report 2’ brings things to an end and it’s a weird one and again we see a partial plundering of Fall’s past but then its breaking new ground as well. And that sums this album up - one foot in the past, one striding forward stomping on the acres of dross that pass for competition.

Not their best but on two listens……not half bad.

A bit like Henry the dog in fact.

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Ersatz G.B. - Cherry Red 2011
Rating = 8

STUDIO ALBUM #28 - Against all expectations, the Imperial Wax Solvent line-up has survived intact to record a third Fall album!

So what is their secret? How have The Fall managed to release 28 good studio albums in a row -- more than any other band in history -- while having more turnover than a senior class (nearly FORTY PEOPLE have passed through the band since 1977) and being masterminded by an eccentric bully who is drunk 24 hours a day and on speed about half that time? The secret is simple: that drunken motorhead asshole knows exactly what Fall fans like because he likes it too. Even when he can't stand up or throw a punch straight, his ears and brain are sharp enough to know when his musicians are playing too busily, pretentiously or amelodically. He likes tunes -- simple but hooky tunes, repeated over and over and over and slathered in strange noises. So the musicians bring him songs, and he rejects the parts he hates and fills the remaining melody-shells with noise. In other words, the employees write the songs that make the whole world sing, and The Boss (Bruce "Mark E. 'Tony Danza' Smith" Springsteen) rips them apart until they sound like The Fall. It's a method that works. Or at least it has 28 times so far.

Ersatz G.B. is not another garage rock album (yay!), nor is it a return to the slicked-up sound of middle-period Fall (double yay!). Instead it's another great collection of wonderfully hooky tunes representing several rock subgenres, drummed crisply, bassed bubbly, guitared twangly, mixed raw and ready, and coated in barely audible voices and keyboard/guitar noodlings. There is such character to this guitar playing; even when doubled or set in opposition to each other, the guitarists are clearly human beings with fingers that move. There is no perfection here, nor sloppiness, but simply character. Sometimes the guitars just pluck away nice little notes in the background; at other times they drive the tunes with distorted fuzz chords. This line-up boasts tremendous variety while always remaining true to Mr. Smith's vision.

Fall sounds past, present and future co-mingle here:

"Taking Off" - The Fall haven't performed a song this gleefully bubblegum poppy since the '80s Brix era
"Laptop Dog" - Acoustic guitars, electric guitars and lovely keyboard tones create a warm full mix in this heartwarming yet skrankly college rock song straight outta the Simon Rogers days
"I've Seen Them Come" - "Wings, Pt. II: Even Wingier!"

"Nate Will Not Return" - The crackly scratchy modal guitarwork and mesmeric rhythm drive could've come straight off the last record
"Mask Search" - If this were just another garage rock record, more of the songs would sound like this rockabilly Gene Cochran throwback
"Monocard" - Three boring bass notes played four hundred million times in a row, just like something you might find on Fall Heads Roll!
"Age of Chang" - With its combination of pissed-off '60s garage riffs, wiggly UFO noises, trebly demo guitars occasionally sneaking into the mix, needlessly lo-fi Smith vocals and band-shouted Tuff Guy chorus, this definitely fits into the recent trend of Fall production jobs that make no goddamned sense at all.

"Cosmos 7" - Krautpunk!? Hardcore minimalism? Hex Enduction Hour as performed by New Bomb Turks!?
"Greenway" - The Fall's ridiculous entree into heavy metal, essentially a cover of THIS SONG RIGHT HERE, but with lyrics bitching about the band These New Puritans (thank you Adrian Denning for the research!)
"Happi Song" - A gentle organ song written and sung by Mark's wife, who apparently would be happier in Yo La Tengo

But before you go buy it because it rules, let me just say three important things:

1. For some reason the last three songs are all accented on the downbeat. No clue why, but be ready for that. I urge you to be ready for that. Barack Obama wasn't, and now he's been shot dead.

2. Many people chuckle during "Mask Search" when Mark announces, "I'm so sick of Snow Patrol." This is because we all find it adorable when Mark makes fun of other bands. Remember that time he said, "If we keep going like this, we'll end up like King Crimson"? I never stopped laughing at that, and now I'm banned from the pubs. Banned banned banned 'cause they don't like laughs. Banned from the pubs. Banned banned banned; they don't want autographs. Banned from the pubs. Banned from the pubs. Banned from the (rat-a-tat-a-tat-a) pubs.

3. Mark has added a bizarre new vocal approach to his tiny arsenal: a disturbing growly thing that sounds like he has a frog in his throat -- and I mean an actual living frog.

In short, they've done it again. As David Peel once said, "Have a marijuana."

In short, they've done it again. As John Peel once said, "They're always the same, always different and always high on methamphetamine."

Also, I'm banned from the pubs.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. "Hay Mark! Why not embed a song that's actually BY THIS BAND? Or better yet, ON THIS ALBUM!?"

Okay, you've spoken and I've listened. Here's "Taking Off":

Reader Comments

Simon Burgess
Actually I would counter that the growly thing has been with us a while, certainly at the end of the first verse of "The Past #2", possibly as far back as Unutterable ("Two Librans!"). But nowhere else has it been done this extensively, fo sho.

The opening para G is as good a description of the boy Mark's methods as I've read.

Surprised an old thrash metaller like yourself didn't mention the double-kick on this record - first ever for the Fall?

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Purchase lots and lots of Fall CDs here, and think of all the good you'll be doing. Also, be sure and click on the album covers to reveal CHEAPER USED COPIES!

Where are the obligatory niggardly-written reviews?