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.
Instrumental. Sounds like it's going to be The Who's 'Baba O'Reilly' at first, but then descends into a fairly nondescript synth swirling affair, only rescued by some stabby guitars at the end.
Yet another great hypnotic riff and Brix well up in the mix. Her 'had your chances' bit is a highlight as well as her shouting out of various fruits. Christopher Marlowe's tale of the Doctor trading his soul with the devil is obviously a source, although I can't recall bananas in the play. He does produce grapes in winter, though, and the Anholt reference is accurate. The 1985 Banana Peel version (ouch) has an added cow bell and some thrilling xylophone work, while the version on Sinister Waltz appears to be a mixture of a live thrash and studio outtake. Mmmm 'pleasure-licious.'
I Am Damo Suzuki
Homage to major MES influences, Can. That's the 'pre-Virgin/Cannot get on clear vinyl' manifestation of the group when the frontman was Damo Suzuki. With lyrical and musical nods to Can songs and the simplest of descending guitar lines, this really takes off 'When the drums come in fast/ Drums to shock.' I was bored when I first heard this, because it sounded so obvious. Isn't it great when you're proved wrong by The Fall so often? Now it has me hooked right to the end, where I'm left wanting more and more and more (sorry, Can fans, couldn't resist it). Video: I Am Damo Suzuki
Drifts along on a fairly mellow acoustic groove and captivating keyboard refrain on the 'chorus' where he's 'spoiling all the paintwork.' Really sweeps you along this one. The guitars on the bits that depart from the main part are also a jolting, surprising departure, as are the interjections from telly/radio/whatever. Lyrical joys here include 'Paula Yates on vision mopeds' and 'Mam said "Them continentals are little monkeys."'According to Dave Thompson's Users Guide to The Fall, MES took the tape of this one home and accidently erased a bit, then decided to keep it like that, hence the 'missing' segment.
My New House
Outstanding example of what you can do with just 2 chords and some discordant bits thrown in. It really worms its way into your pleasure centres this one. On the face of it, it's about his new house, astoundingly enough, but, amongst the apparent normality lurks humour, darkness, ghosts and incongruity - 'Creosote tar fence surrounds it/Those razor blades eject when I press eject.' And I like the line 'According to the postman/It's like the bleeding Bank of England' - you can just imagine a postie saying something like that. Another highlight is the way MES says 'seeeeeeeee.'
Mostly a really tight instrumental (as they say in muso circles) with some bouncy keyboards and great guitar lines around the main riff. What words there are, are accompanied by some damn fine rhythmical grunts and sighs. Aptly, and unavoidably, Brix sounds soooo American on this one - 'This is my happening and it freaks me out.' The later powerful live version in L.A. itself is devoid of Brix and has completely different lyrics, while the Peel version has a wonderfully bombastic megaphone opening where MES tells us that Lloyd Cole's face and brain is made out of cow pat. We all know that.
Video here: L.A.
What You Need
A brutally insistent twangy riff that never lets up, combined with scraping of guitar strings, a megaphonic vocal and band chants - some vital Fall ingredients here, plus kazoo! The drum beat always threatens to break out of its simple thump and eventually does, but, staisfyingly but frustratingly just at the end. A list song, some of the things you never realised you need are an oven mitt, 'Slippery shoes for your horrible feet', a 'Mug of Geoff Travis, framed' and the book 'Theft is Vision by the brothers Copeland.'
Video here: What You Need
Straight to the heart of the matter with this succint slice of bombastic brilliance. A warning statement to open with and then the bass bulldozers in and we're off. Plentiful helpings of yelps and sustained snarling make this an almost effortless but vital meisterclass in what I imagine is most people's perception of what the Fall sound like. Of course, trying to describe What The Fall Sound Like is a futile exercise in the first place, but you know what I mean.
Video here: Bombast
Mansion (aka To NKRoachment: Yarbles)
Bookending the original release of This Nation's Saving Grace, this jaunty Brix instrumental steals directly from The Deviants' silly 1969 surf tune, 'Billy The Monster.' 'To Nkroachment: Yarbles' at the end of the album is the same tune with vocals on it and significantly benefits from them. Quick and satisfying, like a chocolate liquer. (Can you tell my critical faculties are winding down for the festering season?) 'Wipe the tears from your eyes son.'
Main part of song follows the highly infectious guitar riff which somewhat resembles The Monkees' Valleri, but breaks down for slow barmy sections and some nice little keyboard treatments/tinklings. Just who the barmy individual in question is, is anybody's guess, although there are hints of a disillusioned ex pat lying 'waiting hopefully on sloped grass green' Grassy knoll anyone? 'A dramatic verse.' The sound quality of the live version, adds a welcome overdose of reverb and distortion to the mix.
Mr and Mrs Smith Cramp it up in this simple tune with no particular place to go and peculiarly devoid of any sign of passion/emotion/oomph - call it what you will. Although, at times, Brix's voice does threaten to topple off key, which does give it a certain edge, I suppose. Harmless enough, though. Plus an ingenious rhyming of 'Switzerland' with 'vixen.'
Petty (Thief) Lout
The word 'menacing' is often flung around when attempting to describe the atmosphere of a Fall record, so I'll fling it in here. Along with another of those tingle moments when the drums come in, the lyrics shine, eg. rhyming street with effete and one of the great singsong lines: 'Suburbia holds more than you care for.' So, what's it about, Mark? MES: "It was probably a mistake to put it on a b-side. It's about my early teenage years, when I hung around with petty criminals. It's about petty crime, by people under sixteen years old." (from this interview)
Video here: Petty (Thief) Lout
Featured on the b-side of Couldn't Get Ahead and on the EP By Grace Are Ye Saved. Whilst a live rendition of Louie Louie has already featured here (see 1977), this is the first official recorded Fall cover song. Going by their later adaptations of other people's material, this is a straightforward rock and roll cover of a Gene Vincent song, complete with standard song structure, normal guitar solo, pa pa pa-oos etc. Such reverence would prove to be unusual on future forays into covers land. Mind you, they did drop an 'n' from the original Danny.
Great single material this, what with that riff and that pause before the riff and all. 'What really went on there? We only have this excerpt.' The whole empty celebration of the idea of a party party philosophy is almost literally exploded by a carelessly lit No.6 cigarette next to a gas leak. The 'street-litter twisting in the wind' imagery's a nice touch too, as are the wee swipes at Billy Bragg's Red Wedge initiative at the time and the Frankie Goes to Hollywood carnival. The longer Peel version is best, while the Seminal Live version has an intro by Bill Grundy promising to tell 'how I made the fortune of punk rock.' Hic. 'Bianco on the breath guaranteed.' Video: Cruiser's Creek
Gut Of The Quantifier
Nearly a cheesy Wham-like rap at the beginning with 'I'm telling you now and I'm telling you this' before the assessment of the then current pop crop of dumb dumb boys: 'all the groups who've hit it big/Make the Kane Gang look like an Einstein chip.' Cosy charitable types and their intended recipients are also berated and poorness categorised: 'Give it to the poor poor.' At the end you almost expect a Beach Boys harmony to break out. The Peel version has a halting amused/bemused start, while the live version has some bloody blimey space invaders type noises, Brix yelling 'stick it in the bitch' and MES barking - literally.
Video here: Gut Of The Quantifier
Spoilt Victorian Child
Here's a quote from Simon Rogers in an interview for Fall fanzine, The Pseud Mag, about the exquisite guitar riff powering this one along - 'I came up with the riff (described by MES as "daft English music") and taught it to the band, which was interesting as it's in 6/4, didn't take long though.' 6/4 eh? Crikey, that's like jazz or something. The breaking down slow bits are intriguing for the strange 'C.L.O. - Pedia' bits. On the Interim rehearsal version this is played about with more, hence yet another reference to BEF, who, I guess, must still have been rankling MES at the time. Anywise, top tune all round.
Video here: Spoilt Victorian Child
Couldn't Get Ahead
A thrilling drum roll launches into this upbeat slice of workaday life concerning, initially, bus traumas, then a comic plane scenario where 'I feared beer was making sludge of my head.' The last verse is a roll call of eighties crap - Armani, ET, Cabbage Patch, Ghandi. Some excellent moothie work too. The alternative version on Sinister Waltz features some rougher, scratchier guitar and an ending where MES has a wee laugh and appears to say 'Get the change right, fuckers.'
Video here: Couldn't Get Ahead
Hey! Marc Riley
Performed live in the mid 80s, but never officially released, this demo was made in July 85. Obvious slagging off of former guitarist Riley, to a Bo Diddley beat. Also featuring some very weird backing vocals verging on chipmunk territory.