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Old 09-01-2019, 09:12 AM   #31 (permalink)
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#8 Extricate (1990)

a separation from then Brix Smith leads to a separation from previous styles in The Fall's break-up album


What's Great About It: This album is about transition musically, thematically, and in the physical life of our MES

transition from one stage of life to another, transition from one sound to another, and the literal transition from married back to the single life

there's not much out of the ordinary in the opening track besides the noticeably revamped production style, you've got a swinging Stooges tribute (this one ripping the groove of "Little Doll") with a weird Art School edge, the wild classical-esque strings and tape experimentation underlining venomous lines that stick:

"she gripped me like a hawk/her talons were quite famished"

but "I'm Frank" hits you dead in the face with a thicker than syrup fuzzed out tone totally atypical of The Fall while Marky hilariously recites "Give it to me slowly baby, give it to me gently"

if there was one subject that it seemed like would never be covered in a Fall song it was sex but here you are, and it's incredible fun

yes your man is back out there ****ing again, and he's letting you know it Frank

this leads into "Bill is Dead" which is simultaneously the thesis of this album and a contender for The Fall's greatest triumph

the song is written following the death of a real life friend "Bill" who was presumably around the same age as Marky, causing him to come face to face with his own mortality

you get a track here that musically expresses a feeling of approaching the midpoint of life without the meaning figured out yet far more tangibly than any word in the English language

it's somber yet exhilarating, and with details of drunken debauchery you get sexual imagery

"You dress today just like we're back in school
your legs are so cool
came twice, you thrice
these are the greatest time of my life"

right after this gripping opening, you get led straight into a wicked Monks cover displaying a masterful understanding of what makes the song work in the first place, highlighting that MES had the type of patrician muso tastes that I think often escape even good artists, naturally he goes with "I hate you"

"Popcorn Double Feature" opens with "everyone's going through changes" again highlighting the theme of transition, but what really makes this track work is a simply fantastic chorus, one of my favorites

The short answer really to what is great about this album, is almost ****ing everything, as a cohesive experience it may actually be The Fall's best work, but in the interest of being brief I'll finish up by talking about the track of infinite replay value "Telephone Thing"

it's so quintessentially The Fall while also not being like anything in their discography prior, a fat bassline driven dancefloor banger with a whacked out funk guitar that sticks right in your cranium

MES rattles off about telephone surveillance (lol?) mixed with lines that are fun to bop to

"How dare you assume I want to parlez-vous with you?"

love love love this song, it can't be overplayed

altogether it's the gracefulness in which Mark E. Smith handles transition that makes this album a Winner

Why isn't it higher on the list: it certainly had potential to break my personal Top 5, but I'm reviewing the original version here instead of the later released Expanded Edition which actually contained a few of the best songs from the era including "Butterflies 4 Brains", and the actual title track "Extricate" (a must hear)
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:01 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Outstanding music writing elph

Album review of the year right there
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Old 04-03-2020, 04:54 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Now that I'm coming out of my life altering depressive fog, this is making a return

stay tuned
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Old 04-03-2020, 04:59 PM   #34 (permalink)
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BTW what's the most accessible training wheels Fall album for someone like me who loves what you love and hates what you love? I like things about the Fall but have never had that moment of truly connecting with them.
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Old 04-03-2020, 05:04 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Live at the Witch Trials for you, probably?

pretty no nonsense barn burners
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Old 04-03-2020, 05:10 PM   #36 (permalink)
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And is there a poppiest, gayest Fall album?
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Old 04-03-2020, 05:38 PM   #37 (permalink)
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what number are we on... oh yeah

#9 The Frenz Experiment (1988)


The Fall score the two biggest singles of their career and their first top 20 album on this wildly creative pop grab bag

What's Great About it: They say great artists steal, Smith was a pilferer

as he outlines in "Copped it", his personal ode to plagiarism, "it's not what you do it's the way that you do it"

it's the reason why you might not even recognize that "Victoria" belongs to The Kinks and "There's a Ghost in My House" is originally credited to R. Dean Taylor

or even that, "Athlete Cured" comes about when Mark E. Smith decides to keep an impromptu jam of a Spinal Tap track

it's as if he bends these songs to his whim with the sheer weight of his personality, contorting them to the Wonderful and Frightening so well that they might as well have always been Fall songs

and they're the better for it, the singles here are pure Gold

across this 15 track album you get a nice melody of single-hook clap your hand diddys, and dirty punk rockers with a bigger focus on immediacy than previous albums

"Guest Informant" smashes my skull in while "The Steak Place" has me snapping my fingers to an acoustic guitar and the pulsating electronic anthem "Hit the North Part 1" makes me want to dance all night

brilliantly, this album doesn't lose any of The Fall's jagged spite and fury despite the cooled off sound, Marky and Brix's duet has never sounded so dreamy as the album pans in on the attitude laden opening lines

"My friends don't amount to one hand, my friends ain't enough for one hand"

Why isn't it higher on the list: It's really just a bit longer than it needs to be, and "Tuff Life Boogie" could be cut entirely

"Cab it up!" was written around the recording of this album, and would have bumped the album at least a slot if it'd had been present here

additionally while it's understandable this being a more pop orientated Fall album, it's the first to not have one track that's almost purely avant garde and it's a bit of a shame
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Old 04-03-2020, 08:08 PM   #38 (permalink)
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I typed up an entry and then my laptop charger took a dump
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Old 09-12-2020, 04:10 AM   #39 (permalink)
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#7: This Nation's Saving Grace (1985)


possibly their most well known album, a defining statement

What's Great About it: the first positive stares up at you before you've even dropped it on the turn table

I haven't made any comment on this for the prior albums on this list, but the cover art here might be The Fall's best on pure aesthetics and spectacle alone, additionally it lends itself nicely to what you're about to hear

you've got a more urban, economical, and focused collection here that still swells with zany MES wizardry

while it's more accessible than previous 70's to early 80's Fall, it's not yet a dramatic departure from the rockabilly and krautrock elements that had defined the One Man Genre, rather it's a near perfection of them

it's the perfect summation of a sound, a beat ripped straight from Can to deliver the mystifying krautrock intensity of “I am Damo Suzuki” while the cartoonish twisted rockabilly swinger “My New House” + the comical country duet “Vixen” hold up the American Western side of things

The Fall display some new ideas on this record too, a stand out track is the pulsating “L.A.” which gives off an appropriate sunglasses in the city feel, a sample of a helicopter propeller being used at Brix's discretion to form the ultra-cool driver of this top down in Hollywood groove

perhaps the pinnacle of the album is the astral beauty of “Paintwork”. At face it's a pretty pastoral country bop, but MES's tape experimentation sends it over the edge into teary-eyed wonder, a contender for The Fall's greatest song and just an experience that any music fan should have

This Nation's Saving Grace, is just that, a must have experience for any muso and a great album for getting ones toes wet in Post-Punk at large, it's danceable, it's rockin', it's clever, and sometimes it's even beautiful

Why it isn't higher on the list: the tracks “Bombast” and “Gut of Quantifier” are near skips for me, an appalling sin for a Top 10 Fall album, there were better tracks from this era that could have replaced them
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Old 09-12-2020, 04:22 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Hell yes my favourite, finally
Your description of paintwork is spot on <3
I like Bombast though, Mark's delivery makes me grin
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