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.
Amidst the bitterness and sarcasm lies some sad truths about this thing we call life. Love the interchangeable Fantastic Life/Fantastic Lie. It's not all philosophy, though, there's some Middle East politics, war and crime history too: 'The Siberian mushroom Santa was in fact Rasputin's brother.' Well, of course. And all underpinned by the jolly keyboard riff. Another MES lyrical trick is the repetition of a seemingly simple throwaway line which gathers its own rhythmical power and extra meaning. In this case, 'I just thought I'd tell you.' There's some fantastic guitar shredding going on in the extended In a Hole version as well as extra history lessons concerning the 'US civil war johnnies' ambush under Ardwick bridge...refugees from potato famine'
Who Makes The Nazis?
Inspired by the experience of touring Americky, this growling little number with its simple little hook sounds pretty scary in parts, especially that horror show growling bit in the background. The drums at the 'Long horn' sections are superb. Simply crammed full of wild words and phrases like 'Murder all bush monkeys' and my particular favourite, 'Bad Tele-V.' The Peel version is most definitely unique with its ukelele and sundry other weird sound effects. The epic In A Hole version has some 'jazzed up punk shit' while the live London one has some fascinating asides, including the touching 'Help me audience!' and a shrieked 'Benny's cobweb eyes.' Len Deighton also gets a mention here while it is stated that 'Polycracy needs the Nazis.'
Based around a bass riff, a cracking drum kick and the evening cry of the vain - 'Do y'know what you look like before you go out?' Oh, the frippery. MES knows a good wash is enough and then, as he says on the live Iceland version, 'you can think, There goes a fucking scruff' Huzzah! The allure of alliteration emerges in 'fashions are filched off faggots', whilst in the NZ version we are told 'leather's alright if you're talking about 1978.' French existentialism gets a mention in that version too with what sounds like 'a J.P. Sartre comb.' It could be 'cone', it could be 'clone', it could be nothing of the sort. Have a listen, see what you think. As is often the case, the Peel session's best.
Winter (Hostel Maxi)
Split into two on Hex, but the live and Peel versions have them merged. The guitar at the beginning sounds like The Cramps on valium. The pulsing bass is the heartbeat, but, my god, when the drums kick in on the Hex version it's like being beaten about the head. Brilliant picture painting in the lyrics as the mad kid argues with his mum, his 'green-fuzz skull and crossbones' and the Austin Maxi with its anti-nicotine stickers 'on the inside and they didn't even smoke.' Helpfully, on the American version, MES explains that Barbican is a non-alcoholic drink. Important to establish that, I think. Also, on the live version, the guitar flourishes and insistent beat drag you in more. Quite what the whole light system denoting intelligence is about I couldn't say.
Video here: Winter
I am always struck by the snatches of MES lyrics which resonate with my own life experiences, such as his citing of Colin Wilson in this track. Colin Wilson's 'The Outsiders' was a huge influence on my younger angst-ridden existentially baffled life. Captain Beefheart never was, though. The two note wonderfulness of the keyboard keeps this one grounded as the guitars and drums play around it. I also love that MES quirk of pronouncing shortened words as they are spelt. Here, as in Lie Dream, it's 'dept.' Other highlights here: 'the A&R civil servants/They get a sex thrill out of a sixteenth of Moroccan' and 'Who is the King Shag Corpse?' Good question.
Fit And Working Again
This sounds almost like a regular song with a jaunty rockabilly beat and ringing guitar ding dong sound. Then, what sounds like a toy piano plink plonks in to give it that other-worldiness along with a high pitched backing vocal. The casual singing and apathetic 'ba ba ra' backing vocals add to the overall laid-backness of the whole thing. It reads like the narrator has emerged from the bog in his house which has been his main abode due to his illness and has eventually written this song after ten years. He's now fighting fit, hence the namecheck for boxer of the moment, Alan Minter. But 'analysis is academic.'
An absolute Fall classic and often cited as THE Fall tune above all others. Having been spoiled by a million listens to it, there's little I can add to its magnificence other than to mention its surprising appearance in 'Silence of The Lambs' and the amusing reference to Jenny Joseph's famous poem about growing old outrageously, 'Warning' in the lines 'It's purple psychology/Not just an old lady's.' The end of the live American version has MES drawling, 'That usually clears the halls.' For a unique personal take on the song see Ian Mathers's Stylus magazine piece. PS British Fallsters - BBC2 are airing the Fall documentary,'The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith' tonight at 11.35. Unmissable. He's not appreciated, you know.
Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul
Not slagging off the Northern Soul scene at all, but rather glorifying it in the face of its late trendy acceptance down South. Cutting your dick off after a nerve shredding weekend seems a tad drastic, however. A Fall dance tune, if you will. Certainly some banging beats m'lud and some smashing organ/sax interplay at the end of the single. There's more sax on the Peel version, while the Live Melbourne version rants racily along. Another mysterious character added to the long list of Fall mysterious characters here is 'John the ex-Fox' - an allusion to John Foxx of Ultravox? Probably not. Also included here is a rare demo version from 1981.