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Old 01-12-2008, 10:29 AM   #26 (permalink)
Urban Hat€monger ?
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Hex Enduction Hour - Kamera Records - 8th March 1982

Original Album Tracklisting: The Classical / Jawbone and the Air-Rifle/ Hip Priest / Fortress - Deer Park / Mere Pseud Mag. Ed. / Winter I (Hostel-Maxi) / Winter 2 / Just Step S'ways / Who Makes the Nazis? / Iceland / And This Day

Re-issue Extras: Deer Park / Who Makes the Nazis? (John Peel Session September 15th 1981) / I'm into C.B. (B-side on the single Look, Know released 19 April 1982) /Session Musician (live at the Boerkeller, Leeds, November 5, 1981) / Jazzed Up Punk shit (live at the 666 Club, Manchester, May 15, 1982) / I'm into C.B. (Stars on 45 Version) (live at fagins, Manchester, September 30, 1981) /And This Day (soundcheck at Main Street, Auckland, New Zealand, August 20, 1982) / Deer Park (Live at Main Street, Auckland, August 20, 1982) / And This Day (Revisited) (live at Astoria 2, London, February 26, 1997)

Band Line Up:: Mark E. Smith – vocals, tapes, guitar / Craig Scanlon – guitar, vocal, piano / Marc Riley – electronic organ, guitar, electric piano, banjo / Steve Hanley – bass guitar, vocal / Paul Hanley – drums, guitar / Karl Burns – drums, vocal, tapes / Kay Carroll – vocals, percussion

Critique: This is it, the tour de force of The Fall if you're a diehard Fall purist.And, if Smith was to be believed at the time the Fall's last ever album. Some might argue that 'This Nations Saving Grace' would also be in with a shout , but that album features Brix Smith heavily. And nobody polarizes opinion amongst Fall fans as much as she does. Back to this album , it was recorded in, of all places a disused cinema in Iceland , armed with two drummers to accommodate returning original member Karl Burns , and yet another record label in Kamera Records.
The album opens up with controversial 'The Classical'. Controversial because of it's 'Where are the obligatory ******s?' line. Amazingly enough in 1984 Motown Records showed interest in signing the band and asked Smith to send them an album. Smith , only having a copy of this album sent it. Later he received a letter back from Motown saying 'I see no commercial potential in this band whatsoever' Smith assumed it was this lyric that put them off. If I love 'The Classical' for one reason it's that it's finally an opening song of an album to do the band justice. It's just balls out right from the beginning, and it just doesn't stop.
Jawbone & The Air-Rifle is another balls out rock song about an old war veteran who goes around shooting things because he feels unfulfilled. Next up is possibly the Fall's most classic song 'Hip Priest' as used in Silence Of The Lambs. This slow brooding atmospheric little number in some ways is a follow up to Spectre vs Rector on 'Dragnet but Hip Priest is much more easy on the ears.Over the years this song has become Mark E Smith's national anthem, when he sings over & over 'he is not appreciated' you know he's talking about himself , and even if he isn't the song has come to represent that.
Fortress/Deer Park is my favourite off the album. I just love it's thumping bassline & skewed synths washing over the top of it with MES ranting about life in the UK over the top of it. In the hands of a lesser band this would probably be considered filler material after 3 stonking opening tracks, but it's just as good & holds your interest as well as the other songs that precede it.
Mere Psued Mag Ed is the traditional MES rant this time about the media , this is probably the weakest song on the album. This version sounds totally ramshackled & all over the place. I much prefer the version the band recorded for a Peel Session 20 or so years later aided with a crunching riff & 20 more years of bitterness in MES's voice. It's not the song thats at fault here , it's the performance & recording of it.
Winter / Winter 2 is up next. It's actually one song but was split so that on the original vinyl album it would close side one & open side two. Another slow brooding number which contains some of my favourite MES observations about mad kids , alcoholics & anti smoking, anti nuclear feminists. The album fades a bit during the second half but still manages to keep up the pace with Just Step S'ways & Who Makes the Nazis? (Balding smug ***gots , Intellectual half-wits , Winos & 29 year olds apparently make the nazi's). The last two songs Iceland & And This Day highlight the bands influences such as Can & Captain Beefheart , Iceland full of Can like basslines & minimalist drumming with the guitars & Smith's vocals being kept low in the mix , And This Day is the polar opposite, a 10 minute Beefheart-like workout with the band's duel drummers being used to the maximum with Smith shrieking over the top of them.
The album extra's while nice to have don't really add anything to the album , if anything you can see why some of the B sides ended up B sides and the live material is , as usual ranging from ok to poor quality. Nothing essential was left off.

Songs You Need: Just get the whole thing & immerse yourself in one hour of juicy Fall goodness.

Verdict: Amazingly when I first heard this album I was totally indifferent to it , but then all of a sudden one day it just clicked. It's a great help if you come into this album at least aware of what the Fall are about and to know of Mark E Smith's little idiosyncrasies to get the maximum from it. The thing that makes this album a cut above the others is that it takes the atmosphere of 'Dragnet' and combines it with the growing maturity lyrically & musically of 'Grotesque'. Smith files shots at all his usual lyrical targets but this time there is the musical muscle to back it up. It's still raw & privative as ever but the band sound much tighter complete with both drummers. There is a reason why this is considered one of the best post punk albums ever made , listen to it & you'll discover just why that is. Every time I listen to this album I find it hard to listen to anything else afterwards because compared to this most bands just sound redundant amateurs.
10/10
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