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.
Perverted By Language
Much enjoyable thumping, followed by sporadic guitar scraping. Fades out a bit too quick to make any reasonable judgement. I'm sure I've got an alternative version of this kicking around somewhere. Will dig it out.
Medical Acceptance Gate
Studio outtake. Sounds naff at first, like a child trying to recite in time to the weird percussion, a part of which could be drumsticks clinking against bottles and pipes. But once you get used to it, it becomes strangely compelling, even the stumbling delivery and fumbling of pages. The spoken rhythmic flow only really gels on the repeated lines, 'he reeked of bleach and hospitals.' Mind you, it's a curiously interesting storyline about a hospital porter's early morning encounter with some shimmering ghostly figure 'made up of liquid pitch.' Where the lapland girls fit into it, though, other than a vague dream, is not clear. File under hallucination.
An infectious riff and very poppy 'la la's make this a highly catchy affair. On Wonderful it is prefaced by a charming little story where an electric dog-like person/thing called Hitler is kicked around like homogenised milk. Could also be taken as being pronounced 'See Our E E.P' and therefore a swipe at the then current brood of arty electronic poseurs. The 'scum-egg' in question, though, could be anyone and, in one of those delightfully prescient Fall moments, one verse could have been written about Tony Blair -'From the bright sun, he came one fine morn/"Populist" - ah well in his class at least/But then came REAL AGE, and for that we all must pay/(and for that we all do pay).' Plus, 'And he wants world peace!' Creepy.
2 x 4
AKA 'Fiend With a Violin' which puts me in mind of Rabbie Burns' Tam O'Shanter. Scottish literature aside, the dominant bass line kicks this into action and keeps it powering along on a very satisfyingly rhythmical vocal course. I love the archaic 'He was agin the rich/He was agin the poor' lines. The Peel version has some added false pigeons on roofs while the Munich version has MES coming in at the wrong place resulting in what sounds like a hit on the mic in frustration. Meanwhile, the jolly singalong chorus of 'Hit him on the head with a 2 by 4' and the domestic violence involving the son in law being clubbed with a table leg is reflected in the violent Cambridge version.
Words Of Expectation
One of those long repetitive growers which causes MES to comment, 'If we carry on like this we're gonna end up like King Crimson.' Great how that rhymes with the previous line, 'I'm proud of the way I've avoided prison.' Initially lots of distorted vocals and Paddy McGinty's goat shows up again (see Pat Trip Dispenser). The 'I'm the head wrangler' parts sound like a normal rockist hookline, while there are echoes of a future song ('Living Too Late') throughout. Another gem here is the sentiment, 'I would like deep down ... to see the government wrecked/And my LPs grow/' being undermined by the nagging inner voice saying, 'The government's right and my LPs wrong.' As usual, too many lyrical beauties to quote but a personal favourite has to be 'the reckless pence.'
Video here: Words of Expectation
Pat Trip Dispenser
Fabulous song that just grows and grows on you. The Fall have loads of songs like this, which seem simple and innocuous but just wheedle their way into your brain. Very tight arrangement all round and a lovely lolloping bass line to boot. Brix's backing on the Peel session adds a touch of pop. Favourite lines here include 'Spine-fuhrer of Hoboken' and 'A clarity of nothing' Not forgetting the obvious influence of Val Doonican's 'Paddy McGinty's Goat' and the reference to those wacky forerunners of psychedelic rock, Syndicate of Sound.
Video here: Pat Trip Dispenser
This song is also known as 'Plaster On The Hands,' and is listed as such on the live Backdrop version. The smooth two chord intro is quickly ruptured, but after a slight departure, fair swings back into the familiar riff from thereon. The 'and the yellow seeps through' bits are reminiscent of the 'emit dem/victim' sections of 'Eat Y'Self Fitter' (see below). There's also an almost conventional guitar solo in there. However, I am especially drawn to the 'not not not...' parts and, of course the 'woo woo!' bits.
Featuring MES on fabulously scratchy violin and Mrs Smith the first (Brix) on Poly Styrene-esque vocals. From the unoffical Fall forum, countrygent 58 seems to know the story of the origins of this song: 'It is a ghost story inspired by a stay at a "real" hotel outside Nuremberg by MES and BES. They entered the hotel room very late at night to find there was an unpleasent smell in the air. MES freaked out thinking the room was haunted so they lit candles to try and fight both the spectres and the smell. In the morning they awoke to find the source of the smell was more prosaic; there was a slaughterhouse right behind the hotel.That, I assume, is the meaning of "reasonable smell of death".' So, there you go.
Neighbourhood Of Infinity
Post modern self referentiality a go go in this gem. Glorious scratchy guitar/bass line/drums/everything combine while a mixed up multiple choice list is recited against a backdrop of a distant taped voice. This describing The Fall thing - it's not easy, you know. Anyway, pop culturists look out for Jim Davidson (eek!) and Link Wray (yay!). Also features one of those unexplicably satisfying shouts of 'We are The Fall!' The live version has giant moths and Jurgen (a reference to this? I do hope so. It looks hilarious. 1983 is years before the ascendency of Klinsman, so he can't mean him), while the demo is nothing more than a rejected pedestrian backing track.
Video here: Neighbourhood Of Infinity
A space/time continuum conundrum revered by Fall fans everywhere as a solid gold classic. This swirling odyssey has a stirling spacey guitar sound and fascinating narrative concerning an accidental time traveller who, after paying off gremlins who keep him clear of airline routes with stuffing from his 'flabby' wings is whisked back to the 1860s. Here he is caught in the crossfire surrounding the Manchester Martyrs. His attempt to return to the scene proves futile as his erasure from the scene has caused it to cease to exist. He is thus condemned to retreat from public view while his wings rot beneath him. Lyrical genius aplenty.
Video here: Wings
I bloody love this song. It's just so, I don't know, basic, with no oblique flourishes or anything. That persistent single note and drum bit kills me. Has to be played really loud for full effect. Plus, alongside the list of random words and original imagery ('Carve a hole in the rain for yer') there's the hilarious almost McGonagall-like slagging off of Shakin' Stevens -'I hate the guts of Shakin' Stevens/For what he has done/The massacre of "Blue Christmas"/On him I'd like to land one on.' Pffft.
Before Melvyn Bragg and the middle classes colonised it in the nineties, football was still a rough old affair in the 70s and early 80s, typically portrayed in the media as a hooligan infested sport, thanks to the Casual element. How terribly untrendy then, for The Fall to release a single about this most undignified of pastimes. With its stop/start chorus and fierce drummimg, it really does feel like a good kicking. The objects of ire being the F.A ('Marble Millichip' and his 'corporate-ulent' cronies conspiring to punish flair) and sports commentators - 'FANS! ! ! /Remember, you are abroad!/Remember the police are rough!/Remember the unemployed!/Remember my expense account!' The Fall don't do anthems, but if they did this would probably be the best football anthem in the world.
Video here: Kicker Conspiracy
The attempt to analyse is strong in this one, but I shall resist the urge. Partly because the complex biblical/historical/comedic imagery appears mostly nonsensical and playful and partly because it is beyond me. It's obvious MES likes to give his associative imagination free reign when musing on any subject, and so random observations flung up from his subconcious fight their corner alongside coventional wisdom and interpretation of events. I know there's more to it than that, but, hey, listen to that lovely chiming guitar from Mr Craig Scanlon and craaaazy keyboard swiping behind the 'Jew on a motorbike' climax.
There's a lot of humour on Perverted By Language and this one certainly does raise a smile. It's also piercing scream time again as MES pillories the phoneys. As explained in an interview here, "The lyric was aimed against the cocktail clubs that were on the rise, then...about the hypocritical type that says he wants anarchy but are in fact very bourgeois." A highlight for me is the frantic 'UP UP UP UP UP' bit, as well as the line 'Would ask for a fag in Texas.'
Eat Y'Self Fitter
Truly a unique masterpiece. On first hearing, it sounds like a song you could quickly tire of, but repeated listens emphasise its brilliance. Musically and lyrically in a world of its own. I know ALL Fall songs are, but this is especially special. Featuring the wackiest call and responses in a song ever - 'Up the stairs mister/Eat y'self fitter.' The way he says 'heritance' is another beguiling moment for me, plus on the live Iceland version, the brrrp drrp lip noises add an extra mad ingredient to the mix. The whole 'Mit Dem'/'Emit Dem'/'Victim' wordplay and video recorder section with 'programs you will nay look at' are just two other joys in this package of Fall delights. 'What's a computer?'