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Old 12-28-2018, 08:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Elphenor ranks/reviews his top 20 Fall albums

RIP MES

tough year losing this titan

punk won't be the same, music won't be the same, without the knowledge that somewhere this red hot body of attitude is squawking another indictment of the universe between swigs of a Pilsner



gonna try to break down my love for MES and The Fall's music in this journal

will be leaving off his releases under Mark E. Smith such as Post-Nearly Man, but straight away an honorable mention
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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#20

Re-Mit (2013)



a post 2010 addition to the 60's garage rock meets electronic experimentation sound

What's great about it: One of the wildest albums of their last decade. Very distinctive retro science fiction synths, and electronics somewhere between the dialing beeps of an 80's phone and some gooey menacing breathing horror

"Noise" runs a particularly unsettling loop, damp and organic, sounding something like your walls turned flesh and might consume you, while "Victrola Time" somehow makes cheap 70's prog synths slick and modern on top the galloping snare heavy beat that backbones most of the album

MES delivers some of the most colorful vocals of his career sounding like he's having the goddamn time of his life, Kinder of Spine opens with a frantic screech of "Spider, why have I got spiders!?" that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up

Why isn't it higher on the list: the guitar playing here does its job... but that's kinda all it does

"Irish" packs a monster bassline, but it's on an album with too few

additionally the album is inconsistent and self-indulgent, def a "fans only" type of outing, with some parts dragging compared to others
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Does Mark E. Smith really need solo albums? I mean isn't that what The Fall was anyway?
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I haven't heard Pander! Panda! Panzer! but Post Nearly Man is quite different from The Fall.
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Old 12-28-2018, 01:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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#19

The Infotainment Scan (1993)



The Fall's highest charting album and their biggest shift during their early 90's flirtation with club music

What's Great About it: really interestingly produced, quite a bit louder and clearer than previous Fall albums while still not quite sounding like anything of its time

maybe a bit obtuse for any dancefloor I've been on, but still totally spinnable in a house party setting without sacrificing the depth, texture, and variety of sound that rewards a good headphone listen with your ceiling fan

"I'm Going to Spain", a cover of a song you've probably never heard anyway, is a bizarre addition to the album, but it's exquisite, one of the breeziest things Marky has done, his voice carrying a combination of cheeriness and wistfulness showcased previously in "Edingburgh Man", the type of music that makes you simultaneously want to laugh and cry

Why isn't it higher on the list: I've heard some Fall fans list this as high as top 5, it's on more than one of those "have to hear before you die" lists, which is understandable, it's a very nice sounding record

for my personal tastes however, this album is lacking a degree of urgency, spontaneity, and rawness that I want from a Fall album, while just a few years prior Extricate accomplished what I think was a far better showcasing of Dance Club Fall

too many of the tracks here are good in a peripheral sense rather than absorbing your full attention (however "I'm Going to Spain" is a notable exception)
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Old 12-28-2018, 02:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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elph stepping up!!!
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Old 12-30-2018, 09:43 AM   #7 (permalink)
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#18

Fall Heads Roll (2005)


The Fall deliver one of the straightest rock albums of their discography in all its Stooges inspired glory

What's great about it: first things first, mother****ing BLINDNESS good GAWD is that a bassline, absolutely bone crushing, shotgun shell straight to the gut, spine jellyfied the moment it drops into the pocket

the drums on this album are simplistic but thunderous you almost imagine Spencer Birtwistle (who interestingly played for Madchester band Intastella) must be 11 feet tall every crash of the snare is just so LOUD

the opener (one of the best tracks on the album) has Marky goof waltz over one of these gigantic beats, his patented drunken karaoke act as joyous and life-affirming as it's ever been

the pre-lude to Blindness "Midnight Aspen" and the follow up reprise is gorgeous, the dreamy high treble guitars searing into your lobes while Marky sets the scene of foggy nights in icy mountains his imagist poetry reading as well off the page as it sounds in the ear, it's a bit like an alternative, more practiced, take on "Winter" and "Winter #2" found on Hex Enduction

elsewhere on the album you get some classic Fall demonstrations in Stooges worship, Bodemmick -> Youwanner -> Clasp Hands being a potent RocknRoll run few bands are really capable of delivering

overall the album is just Rocks in a completely pure sense

Why isn't it higher on the list: every time I return to this album, I'm a little more impressed with it, so it has room to grow

but as of now it suffers from a filler problem, the lack of adventurousness requiring stronger hooks in a lot of these boneheaded rockers that wear a bit thin after the first minute

part of this is the frontman's fault, while his voice always verged on levels of incomprehensible, it's particularly bad on this record his age increasingly garbling up his consonant sounds, obscuring what might have been a sharp catchy line if delivered by a younger Mark E. Smith
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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skipping to #15
(because I've been jamming it so much recently, 16+17 will still get a write-up)
Are You Are Missing Winner


"We are the new Fall" MES burns it all down and starts anew...again, a fresh lineup rushes a cheaply recorded, badly mixed, dumpster rockabilly affair that just so happens to also be a masterpiece

What's great about it: grimy rock needs a grimy process, that's just common sense

"very miserable experience" is how guitarist Ben Pritchard described his time working on this album, in addition to the rats and mold the space(studio if you want to be generous) utilized was also located directly underneath a gym, the slamming of weights frequently ruining takes

you can smell the liver damage on Marky's vocals, the guitar pops and buzzes with the intensity of a fluorescent stadium light, the bass and drums meld together in a mudslide

the style here is swinging cowboy boots western gasoline sniffer head smasher

on top of it all MES still finds a place for the types of tape experimentation that make The Fall more than just a punk band, a track like Ibris-Afro an art exercise in running two different songs together like a head on train collision, a later track stops and starts in a fashion that made me believe my player was glitching out on first listen

this album plays with your expectations and your patience while simultaneously displaying through the haze just how capable this line-up is at a rockabilly/country sound

Why isn't it higher on the list: This is one of the Fall albums I was least familiar with going into this journal, it's an overlooked barn burner for sure

still the tracks on this album that miss the mark, miss them a bit too hard, the opener, for example, gets this album off to a slow start and the final 2 tracks are a trying send off
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Old 01-03-2019, 05:29 AM   #9 (permalink)
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What's great about it: grimy rock needs a grimy process, that's just common sense

"very miserable experience" is how guitarist Ben Pritchard described his time working on this album, in addition to the rats and mold the space(studio if you want to be generous) utilized was also located directly underneath a gym, the slamming of weights frequently ruining takes

you can smell the liver damage on Marky's vocals, the guitar pops and buzzes with the intensity of a fluorescent stadium light, the bass and drums meld together in a mudslide

the style here is swinging cowboy boots western gasoline sniffer head smasher

on top of it all MES still finds a place for the types of tape experimentation that make The Fall more than just a punk band, a track like Ibris-Afro an art exercise in running two different songs together like a head on train collision, a later track stops and starts in a fashion that made me believe my player was glitching out on first listen
That’s some fantastic music writing right there, son.

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Old 01-03-2019, 06:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Yeah, loving this journal.
Well written and informative.
The Fall are great and I love them but there are only a handful of albums I know really well and this is a great opportunity to explore more.
Looking forward to the next entries.
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