wherein the music speaks for itself. from beginning to...will it ever end?
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1977

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1977

 

Louie Louie

BackdropThe first recorded instance of a Fall cover version. And what an incredibly bizarre choice. With the legendary John the Postman, a stalwart of the Manchester scene at the time, on vocals, this one off shouterama of one of the most covered tunes ever, also takes liberties, as is the norm, with the hotly disputed lyrics which are now a matter of pop folklore and FBI investigations. Altogether now, "We came here to enjoy The Fall/If you don't like it, you can spit in your (fur arse?!)." Maybe Iggy Pop covered it better, but maybe not.

 



Louie Louie (live, Stretford, 1977)

 

Futures and Pasts

BackdropOne of the first three songs MES remembers writing (along with Oh! Brother and Repetition). The punky riff jars nicely with the slowed down chorus bit, while the lyrics reflect personal and vague images of alienation and disillusion - "Will you cry for our lost childhoods? But remember how you hated it."

The best version is the Peel session, where Yvonne Pawlett's keyboards are given greater prominence and Karl Burns' drumming is masterful.

 



Futures and Pasts (live, Stretford, 1977)
Futures and Pasts (John Peel session, 1978)
Futures and Pasts (Live At The Witch Trials, 1979)

Copped It

BackdropAnother one which re-emerged seven years later on from its original '77 origins on The Wonderful and Frightening World Of...severely done over. In the live Munich version, MES sings of memorising 'the works of David Bowie' - an allusion nicely returned to on the album version where Gavin Friday of The Virgin Prunes, as well as mutating Sing, Sing a Song, joins in on an ending parodying Bowie's Absolute Beginners. Note, too, the play on the word 'attractions', i.e. 'Costello, ideas trenchant borrows.' And look out for some sound health advice - 'you don't last long on a diet of tea and toast.'



Copped It (live, Stretford, 1977)
Copped It (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)
Copped It (live, Munich, 1984)

 

Oh! Brother

BackdropWho would have thought, listening to the raw chug of 'Oh! Brother' live back in 1977 that it would show up seven years later all brushed up as a catchy pop song? Well, no-one, obviously. Such is the joy and unexpectedness of this gruppe. The revamped version has a classy pop swagger accompanied by some marvellous pidgin German, which, according to Dave Thompson's Users Guide to The Fall translates thus: "I hate the crowd, the impotent crowd, the pliable crowd....who, tomorrow, will rip my heart out." The mostly instrumental b-side version shows off the Gary Glitter influence more.




Oh! Brother (live, Stretford, 1977)
Oh! Brother (single, 1984)
O Brother (b-side, 1984)

 

Frightened

BackdropDescribed by Don Watson in the NME as possibly the greatest speed song ever written. If ever a song reflected its paranoiac message in the music this is it. The simplistic riff, a mutated rundown cousin of The Monkees' 'Stepping Stone' drags you through this eerie landscape where, 'I'm better than them, and I think I'm the best'. It's an absolute belter. Originally recorded during the Bingo session, but never released, its first recorded appearance is on Live 77. It polished up nicely for the opening track on Live At The Witch Trials. The Liverpool version has MES typically taunting the crowd, more used to 100mph buzzsaw thrashes, with ' A slow one, ha ha, again, oooh...'



Frightened (live, Stretford, 1977)
Frightened (live, Liverpool, 1978)
Frightened (Live at the Witch Trials, 1979)

 

Hey! Fascist

BackdropLater to re-emerge on 1994's Middle Class Revolt album, reworked/reworded as 'Hey! Student', this extremely rough live recording sounds like the daleks. Granted, the tape had apparently been lying discarded in MES's bedroom for 20 years. In August 1978, Ian Penman of the NME interviewed MES, touching on this period, thusly:
How did The Fall get their 'Henry Cow of the New Wave' image?
MES: "RAR were the only people giving us gigs and we didn't have an agent; I was still working at the time... Una (Baines) was very into feminism. Tony (Friel) sort of flirted with Communism. It was just our stance, I suppose. We didn't wear the gear,” - still don't - “and then there was the song 'Hey Fascist..."

"Car coat on/Steel boots on your feet/Write your letters to the Evening News..." ("Hey Fascist")

MES: "We were always portrayed as the humourless idealists."


Hey! Fascist (live, Stretford, 1977)

 

Repetition

BackdropFrom the Bingo EP, another spellbinding chune outlining a key ingredient of The Fall experience, namely, 'The three Rs - repetition, repetition, repetition'. Starting with the emphatic command, 'Right, noise!', the song winds on hypnotically till its snarling conclusion, where the group chant 'Blank generation' in an obvious sneer at the lazy self-regarding teenage clichés of the time. Class.

 

 

Repetition ((live, Stretford, 1977)
Repetition (B side, 1978)

 

Bingo Master's Breakout

BackdropReleased as a single/EP one year after being recorded, this is an absolute gem. The very first Fall track I fell in love with. The slightly out of tune guitar really makes it for me. At the time, DIY, rough and scratchy recordings were all the rage, but this one stood out from the rest by a stark mile. Even the look of the sleeve looked menacing, echoing its contents. Almost 30 years later, it still sounds stunning to these ears.

 

 

Bingo Master's Breakout (live, Stretford, 1977)
Bingo Master's Breakout (single, 1978)
Bingo Master's Breakout (live, Liverpool, 1978)

 

Last Orders

BackdropThe other track on the Electric Circus compilation. After listening to this again, it's not as throwaway as I remember it. It's a pretty tight performance really and that combination of rough guitar and tinny organ was uniquely The Fall's at the time, if you see what I mean. The Stretford version's a bit more manic, the drummer giving it big pelters. Plus, top marks for rhyming 'army' with 'phoney'.

 



Last Orders (live, Manchester, 1977)
Last Orders (live, Stretford, 1977)

 

Stepping Out

BackdropI was at the Electric Circus in 1977. Not to see The Fall, unfortunately, but The Damned. I remember the local residents across the road throwing stones at us as we queued to get in. I suppose we were a peculiar site for the time. I particularly remember one chap whose trousers appeared to be made from brown sticky tape. He also later appeared weeks later on some programme on TV about the phenomenon of punk in the Manchester area. I wonder what happened to him? Anyway, the Short Circuit compilation LP was recorded there and this track (apparently the legendary John the Postman's favourite) is fairly pedestrian by Fall standards, with a riff on loan from Iggy Pop's 'I Feel Alright'. The Manchester version's best.


Stepping Out (live, Manchester, 1977)
Stepping Out (live, Stretford, 1977)
Stepping Out (live, Liverpool, 1978)

 

Psycho Mafia

BackdropThe last track on the rehearsal tape, later reappearing on the B-side to Bingo Master's Breakout, this condemnation of mental hospital staff, appears to follow a more traditional punk by numbers riff, but a bloody good one. Great drumming at the beginning of the rehearsal version and oh how polished it seems by the time it surfaces as a B-side. The sample of the live track is from the end of the track with MES in fine fettle, a broken bass string denoting, 'the avant-garde part of the set.' Video: Psycho Mafia

 


Psycho Mafia (rehearsal, 1977)
Psycho Mafia ( B-side, 1978)
Psycho Mafia ( live, Liverpool, 1978)

 

Industrial Estate

BackdropFrom the same rehearsal tape, the first song with which I became aware of The Fall. I vaguely remember seeing them do this on telly somewhere and was impressed by the fact that they were merely chanting 'Yeah, yeah, Industrial Estate' in an apparently sardonic riposte to the industrial/grey posing of the identikit punk groups of the time. Or something like that. Mind you, I also remember thinking, "Yeah, but they're just singing 'Yeah, yeah, Industrial Estate' - is that clever?" Anyway, the rehearsal version is available on the reissued LATWT but I like the live version at Liverpool, 1978 best (also on the reissue) where you can thrill to MES's 'ding ding dings.' The John Peel session's worth catching too. Video: Industrial Estate (after Psycho Mafia)

Industrial Estate (rehearsal, 1977)
Industrial Estate ( John Peel session, 1978)
Industrial Estate (live version, Liverpool, 1978)

Industrial Estate (album version from Live At The Witch Trials, 1979)

 

Dresden Dolls

BackdropAnd so it begins. The very first stirrings of The Fall gruppe - from a rehearsal tape from summer 1977 unearthed years later on the Backdrop album. Apparently recorded in Mark E Smith's living room, along with irate neighbours banging on the wall. There's not much hint at this stage of the marvels to come, although I have grown to love this stabbing punk assault. "This is for all you guys who work on industrial estates." That would be me, then. A Banshees parody or just itchy beginnings?

 

 

Dresden Dolls (sample from rehearsal, 1977)
Dresden Dolls (live sample, Stretford, 1977)