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Urban Hat€monger ? 03-03-2007 01:52 PM

Urbans Rough Guide To The Wild & Wonderful World Of The Fall
There seems to be quite a bit of an interest of The Fall here recently , and i`ve also been looking for something to work on for a while so this seems a good idea. I am not going to write a detailed breakdown of every single song they have ever recorded. I was thinking more of giving a bit of background info on each release and highlighting the best and most interesting songs recorded by the band so that anyone wanting to work their way through the whole minefield that is The Fall discography they can have some sort of starting point , and also to look at some of the extras included on the ongoing re-issue of all their albums by Sanctuary Records. So anyway to start this off....
Live At The Witch Trials - Step Forward Records- 16th March 1979

Original Album Tracklisting : Frightened / Crap Rap 2-Like to Blow / Rebellious Jukebox / No Xmas for John Quays / Mother-Sister! / Industrial Estate / Underground Medecin / Two Steps Back / Live at the Witch Trials / Futures and Pasts / Music Scene

Re-issue Extras : Bingo Master's Break-Out! / Psycho Mafia / Repetition (Bingo Master's Break-Out! E.P. released August 1978)
It's The New Thing / Various Times (7" Single Released November 1978)
Dresden Dolls / Psycho Mafia / Industrial Estate (Rehersal Tape Summer 1977)
Stepping Out / Last Orders (Short Circuit - Live At The Electric Circus Compilation Album, October 1977)
Rebellious Jukebox / Mother-Sister! / Industrial Estate / Futures And Pasts (First John Peel Session 15th June 1978)
Put Away / Mess Of My / No Xmas For John Keys / Like To Blow (Second John Peel Session 6th December 1978)
Like To Blow / Stepping Out / Two Steps Back /Mess Of My / It's The New Thing / Various Times / Bingo Master's Break-Out! / Frightened / Industrial Estate / Psycho Mafia / Music Scene / Mother-Sister! (Live At Mr Pickwicks, Liverpool 22nd August 1978)

Band Line Up: Mark E. Smith - vocals / Martin Bramah - guitar, backing vocals / Marc Riley - bass / Karl Burns - drums / Yvonne Pawlett - keyboards

Critique: A lot of things had happened in The Fall in the preceeding 2 years before 'Witch Trials' was finally released. 'Witch Trials' comes at a time when most of the core of the original band consisting of Martin Bramah ,Tony Friel & Una Baines had left or were in the process of leaving. The album was recorded in a single day in December 1978 and by the time it was released 3 months later Bramah had left the band , putting Smith in full charge of the band.
The album itself is almost like a false dawn for the band in some ways as it is more polished & better musically than the band ever were until Brix Smith joined the band in the mid 80s. This is probably due to the influence of Bramah having as much say in the band as Mark E Smith (or at least trying to).
The original band members feature heavily on this album co writing 8 of the tracks available here ,with Smith writing 2 on his own. Only the albums closing track the 8 minute long 'Music Scene' is written by the whole band that recorded this album.
The albums sound is also totally different to anything the band have recorded since. The electric piano & the bass dominate the sound with the MES`s vocals and the guitars almost in the background which works well in the more progressive songs on the album such as 'Frightened' ' Two Steps Back' & ' Music Scene' , but tends to sound odd during the more punk rock songs such as 'Industrial Estate' & 'No Xmas For John Keys'. But it does give the band a unique sound.

Of the extras on the album The Bingo Masters Break Out E.P. is a chance to hear the original band at work , which is sad in a way because it would have been interesting to see the dynamic and the creative tensions between them & Mark E Smith played out over a couple of albums rather than just one E.P. 'It`s The New Thing' was a song summing up Smith's loathing of bands who were more interested in making trendy political statements than writing entertaining music.
The rehersal tape gives the only recorded version of 'Dresden Dolls' where the band like a lot of other punk bands at the time were using nazi imagary to shock. Something that the band quickly decided wasn`t for them and dropped. Stepping Out & Last Orders were two live songs recorded for a Virgin Records compilation and is the bands first recorded appearence on vinyl and are a good indication of the bands early potential.
The two John Peel sessions I will go over in detail later on.
The album closes with a recorded & much bootlegged gig at Mr Pickwicks in Liverpool , which was finally released in 2001 on Smiths own Cog Sinister label as 'Liverpool 78'. It`s interest is that it is the earliest Fall gig to be recorded. However the sound quality is awful and not really worth listening to , but it`s an interesting freebie if anything else.

Songs You Need

Frightened - A lovely low key brooding song that slowly builds up until the extended guitar solo at the end. A good insight as to what MES was feeling taking control of the band at the time.

Crap Rap 2 / Like To Blow - Worth hearing just for the opening line of 'We are The Fall , Northern white crap who talks back , We are not black ...........etc etc etc. A nice energetic early Fall song , but the intro makes it special.

Rebellious Jukebox - The Fall didn`t release singles off albums until the mid 80s. If that hadn`t have been so this would have been the obvious choice of single here.

Mother-Sister! - Another song with a slow build up , so low key that at the start of the song Smith announces when asked what the song is about replies 'err nothing'. Also has a really simple catchy riff too.

Industrial Estate - The Fall at their most 'punk rock' so if you are a fan of that sort of thing this is a good starting point before you get to the weirder stuff.

Underground Medecin - It`s no secret that MES is a fan of Can and I can`t help thinking that this song is influenced by them. With the repetative bassline and Smith ranting in the background I think of Can whenever I hear it. If you`ve heard Father Cannot Yell from the Can album Monster Movie you`ll see what I mean.

Music Scene - If you like songs where bands throw all convention out of the window and do what they hell they like then this is the song for you. 8 minutes long. It`s like an extended jam session with Smith ranting about his contemporaries and his disdain for rock 'stars'.

Psycho Mafia - One of the earliest songs by the band & one of my favourites , as well as being one of the most accessable . It`s just full of energy & aggression and a great introduction to The Fall.

Verdict: Call me biased but I think this is one of the best debut albums ever made. There`s no finding their feet here The Fall know exactly what they want and how to do it. It`s also a great intro to people wanting to get into The Fall because it doesn`t suffer from some of the problems of later albums when it was only MES in control of the band. There is actual quality here , the songs are crafted rather than just written & recorded at seemingly the first opportunity to do so like on some later albums. Things in The Fall changed drastically after this album was released , so as it stands it`s the only album of it`s kind. An album written by a band with Mark E Smith as vocalist rather than Mark E Smith controlling everything. Although I think this is a good thing I doubt The Fall would be the same band had it not happened. So although I love this album i`m glad they never got the chance to repeat it over & over again.

coffeeshop 03-14-2007 02:17 PM

Nice review I need to pick it up some time.

White Lies 03-14-2007 03:30 PM

Hey, I never noticed this before. Very good read, you know yr Fall!

Theyre definitely one of my favorite bands at the moment (I listened to Cerebral Caustic today). My favorite on this album is Rebellious Jukebox, but every song is great. The only album by them that I like more than this is This Nations Savign Grace - but I'm going to try and listen to all their albums (although some seem pretty hard to find) in the next few months, which certainly is a daunting task. So this thread could be helpful.

I'll keep an eye on it for some updates

Urban Hat€monger ? 03-14-2007 03:36 PM

They might not be that hard to find as you think.

Everything from 1978-1983 has been re-released in the past 3 years, as has most of the 90s stuff. The Mid 80s stuff like This Nations Saving Grace & Bend Sinister has had so many re-releases over the years they`re not hard to find either.
The only difficult albums to find are the ones on Phonogram that came out in the late 80s/early90s like Extricate , Code:Selfish & Shift-Work. And they`re all due for re-release next month.

coffeeshop 03-15-2007 07:35 AM

I've got This Nation's Saving Grace and 50,000 Fall Fans can't be wrong + plus Hex Enduction Hour and Frenz Experiment downloaded from here. Also downloaded about half of the new album for when I saw them, the title track isn't half good live.

Live in Liverpool

(Notice Mark using two microphones he chucked one of them into the crowd during Reformation so we could join in haha)

Urban Hat€monger ? 03-15-2007 01:24 PM
Dragnet - Step Forward Records- 26th October 1979

Original Album Tracklisting : Psykick Dancehall / A Figure Walks / Printhead / Dice Man / Before The Moon Falls / Your Heart Out / Muzorewi's Daughter / Flat Of Angels / Choc-Stock / Spectre Vs Rector / Put Away

Re-issue Extras : Rowche Rumble / In My Area (7" Single 30th July 1979)
Fiery Jack / 2nd Dark Age / Psykick Dance Hall No. 2(Re-recording of the Album track) (7" Single 10th January 1980)
Rowche Rumble (Take 2) / Rowche Rumble (Take 3) / Rowche Rumble (Take 4) / Rowche Rumble (Take 5) / In My Area (Take 1) / In My Area (Take 2)

Band Line Up: Mark E. Smith - vocals / Marc Riley - guitar, backing vocals / Craig Scanlon - Guitar / Steve Hanley - bass , backing vocals / Mike Leigh - drums

Critique: This is where it really starts. This is where Mark E Smith's version of The Fall begins. The sound is stripped down raw garage rock. The keyboards are gone as has all the polish of the debut album. It`s bleak , it`s cold and MES's vocals are pushed right to the front. To some extent the music comes secondary to Smiths lyrics on this album. Songs like Psykick Dancehall , A Figure Walks & Spectre Vs Rector are all about Smiths interest in the paranormal & the stories of H.P. Lovecraft . Printhead is Smith making fun of journalist who gave a bad review to the It's The New Thing single ,with the wonderful lyrics The singer is a neurotic drinker ,The band little more than a big crashing beat..Dice Man is another attack on the music industry where Smith berates those writing love songs explaining that he`d rather sing horror songs , it also contains an all to true summery of record company policy They stay with the masses , Don't take any chances. And if we are still in any doubt as to how MES feels about the music industry he lets us know yet again on Choc-Stock.
On Muzorewi's Daughter we get to hear MES do his Rock n Roll shreiking in a song about what it would be like to be the daughter of Bishop Muzorewi of Rhodesia (don't ask).Before The Moon Falls is an interesting song where the band take the roles of private eyes. Flat Of Angels is a song about a man hiding in his flat after murdering his wife & Put Away is about being locked up in an asylum.
The extras on the album include the two singles released either side of the album. Rowshe Rumble & In My Area. The latter is an almost psychadelic song and gives some idea to how this album would have sounded if Yvonne Paulette would have played keyboards on this album (She left just after the single was recorded). Listening to this the keyboards don`t really fit the bands sound anymore & sound intrusive. Fiery Jack is a nod in the direction of the next album Grotesque and could almost be autobiographical by Smith only 20 years early.The rest of the extras are made up of different takes and sadly don`t add much to the album

Songs You Need

Psykick Dancehall- A great peice of garage rock performed by a band who sound like they are about to fall apart at any moment.IF you want musicianship you ain't gonna find it here.If you can look past that this is a great song to kick off the album.

Printhead- Another 'The Fall do punk rock' song. Nice catchy riff with MES spitting vitriol at some poor journo.

Flat Of Angels- This is probably the most musical track on the album , featuring both acoustic & slide guitars backed up with a great story in the lyrics. Totally different to anything else on the album.

Spectre vs Rector- Genius , or unlistenable garbage?
Spectre vs Rector is unlike any other song the Fall have done before or since. Recorded in an abandoned warehouse the sound quality is awful , but thats the point. Smiths lyrics are recorded in the studio over the original warehouse recordings.In the warehouse recordings you can hear him chanting 'M R James be born / Yog Sothoth rape me lord' (More Lovecraft references) , while the studio recording has Smith singing the actual lyrics to the song , giving a very strange effect. The story is told in 6 parts about a possession & an exorcism. Part 1 is the spectre vs the rector , part 2 is the inspector visiting the rector , part 3 is the spectre possessing the rector, part 4 is the inspector vs the possessed rector , in part 5 the hero appears & is possessed a thousand times and in the final part the hero is possessed but it is ineffectual. Throughout the song you get the same monotonous grungy riff repeating itself over & over , when the music switches to a studio recording towards the end it gives the song a new lease of life before finally coming to an end. The song is part performance art , part No-wave, part garage rock and if you are in the mood for it, it makes fascinating listening.If you are not , it's unlistenable crap.

Rowshe Rumble- This is a drum heavy anthem of a song. The songs title is from MES's days working as a shipping clerk in Manchester docks when he made an error and ordered too many drugs from the Rowshe chemical company and his attempt to hide the error by hiding them all around the building that he worked in hoping not the get rumbled.

Verdict: This really is a strange album , because manages to be a step backwards and a step forwards at the same time.Musically it`s nowhere near as good as Witch Trials , but what this album does have in bucketloads is atmophere and progression. The subject matter & the way it is presented really is chilling. This album for me is all about Mark E Smith's lyrics.Now that he is in full control of the band he can really begin to express himself lyrically and he doesn`t disappoint. This is an album full of horror stories.You can see things beginning to develop that would serve the Fall well in later albums , it's just at the moment they're at a very embryonic stage.
I have always seen this album with a kind of parallel with The Velvet Underground's White Light White Heat album with Witch Trials being their 'Velvet Underground & Nico' in that both bands made classic debut albums but the follow up albums were much rougher sounding & more representive of their styles.
A really interesting album , but to be honest you have to be a Fall fan to appreciate it.

Moon Pix 03-16-2007 04:57 PM

Im very much enjoying this thread of yours Urban. Can't wait for your opinion on Grotesque (After the Gramme).:)

Urban Hat€monger ? 03-16-2007 05:58 PM

I've listened to that album something like 6 times in the past 2 days & i'm still not bored of it.

Moon Pix 03-16-2007 06:28 PM


Originally Posted by Urban Hatemonger (Post 349263)
They might not be that hard to find as you think.

Everything from 1978-1983 has been re-released in the past 3 years, as has most of the 90s stuff. The Mid 80s stuff like This Nations Saving Grace & Bend Sinister has had so many re-releases over the years they`re not hard to find either.
The only difficult albums to find are the ones on Phonogram that came out in the late 80s/early90s like Extricate , Code:Selfish & Shift-Work. And they`re all due for re-release next month.

Is it? Great news. Ever since I heard "Free Range" on the 50,000 Fall Fans comp Ive wanted to hear that album.:)

Urban Hat€monger ? 03-16-2007 06:58 PM

According to Amazon they're due out May 7th , but I can't find any tracklistings so i've no idea what the extras are like.

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