wherein the music speaks for itself. from beginning to...will it ever end?
samples of tracks from Amazon, eMusic and beyond. please buy the CDs if you want/need more.
The 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.
Futures and Pasts
One 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.
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.'
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
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.
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...'
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:
"Car coat on/Steel boots on your feet/Write your letters to the Evening News..." ("Hey Fascist")
"We were always portrayed as the humourless idealists."
From 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.
Bingo Master's Breakout
Released 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.
The 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'.
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.
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
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
Peel session's worth catching too. Video: Industrial Estate (after Psycho Mafia)
Estate (rehearsal, 1977)
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?