A new, slightly worked through number, only performed live so far, in which MES appears to forget most of the words and simply adds some from Like To Blow! (see 1978). Fairly basic riff and some interpretation skills needed to get at some of the more coherent lines. When Elena joins in, some nuggets can be extracted, such as 'plastic surgery was found to be insufficient' and 'twitches of human expression were sometimes disarranged.' But my favourite bit is MES's comment on his surroundings: 'rubbish fucking backdrop!'
Ponto (live, San Rococco, 2007)
posted @ 12.10 PM, May 20, 2008
The same note repeated again and again in a 1-2-3, 1-2-3 beat for 36 seconds. That's it in a nutshell. Such are the vagaries of the Fall fanbase, that I'm sure there must be someone out there for whom this is their favourite Fall track ever. Or maybe not.
posted @ 10.50 AM, May 19, 2008
Better live than on record where it suffers from a disappointingly flat sound. It's all a bit dull really, and I can't work up much enthusiasm for it. Perhaps the subject matter of sameness and standardization is deliberately reflected in the delivery. 'It is the same...Will nobody progress?'
Video: Systematic Abuse
posted @ 13.10 PM, May 16, 2008
The Bad Stuff
A lazy antidote to The Wright Stuff? Sleepy electronic drones and slowly dripping guitar notes behind some studio chatter along the lines of 'are we rolling?' 'are you ready?' etc. Then an indistinct radio/TV clip while the music changes pace/course. Er... that's about it, really. NEXT!
posted @ 12.40 PM, May 15, 2008
Old fashioned prog rock spacey wah wah guitar accompanying u-boat radar simulated noises, eventually subsiding into watery electronic pulsing with mutters of 'das boat...U boat' and ticking/chanting/sporadic clapping and hitting of random objects. 'Eee ee ee eee' bits sound like a mixture of the Monty Python knights who like to say 'ni' and stoned chimps. The sweeping electric foghorn at the end's a bit mesmeric, but overall it's a bit wanky and dull. Mindblowing if you're pharmaceutically challenged.
posted @ 09.15 AM, May 14, 2008
Seems pretty personal this one, what with all the references to mother and childhood and poppy day. In the live version, 'uncle' is also mentioned, which chimes with the fact that the father of a close friend of MES (and therefore someone who could be called 'uncle') fought with the Chindits mentioned in the song, a World War 2 allied brigade that fought in Burma against the Japanese. There are also 'borrowings' from 'Coming Down' (see Over! Over! below), Beefheart's 'Veteran's Day Poppy' and 'Pal of my Cradle Days' by Irish poet Anne Breen. Eclectic or what?
posted @ 12.50 PM, May 13, 2008
The Wright Stuff
Mrs Smith takes control in this bizarre mixture of TV game show references, plastic women's bosoms (the way she says 'bosoms' is a joy), leaving windows open, and a woman getting her scarf trapped in the tube. Basic do do dos ape the main riff the way a child mimics a guitar sound and funny lines abound, such as 'Growing up, his family had no problems with nudity.' The similarity in inflection with Wendy Richards in the 'Are You Being Served' theme tune is the main joke in The Foul version.
Video: The Wright Stuff
posted @ 10.30 AM, May 12, 2008
Great list song to add to other lists such as Dr Buck's (see 2000). Whether there was one of those chance associations in MES's mind with 'The Fall Of The House of Usher' is anyone's guess. It is the pronounciations and inflections which make this. I especially enjoy 'The reformation is coming. It is coming fastly.' And that 'etc' and 'er' in the line 'Treat PR, security people, agents, etc. with the respect and, er, honour that they deserve' are spot on. 'Enjoy film.'
posted @ 13.45 PM, May 09, 2008
Coach and Horses
Short but somewhat sweet. 60 is the magic number here. Whilst the guitar line sounds like something from an old 1960s Searchers song, the meandering story line has the narrator being refused entry to several pubs and appearing to hallucinate images from the 1860s.
posted @ 13.45 PM, May 08, 2008
My Door Is Never
Typical contrariness - 'My door is always/will never be open to you.' Delete as applicable. A somewhat subdued vocal delivery, a plodding riff and some slight guitar histrionics in parts make this a fairly dull outing by Fall standards. The live in London track betrays its newness as MES admits, 'all the rehearsals are taking place for the next record' while the Bilston version reveals a bitter sweet lyrical twist which never made it to the final record - the door is always open, but 'nobody ever comes.'
posted @ 13.05 PM, May 07, 2008
According to the Mark E Smith 'book' Renegade which I've just finished reading (very funny, go and get it - it's a hoot), this track was made up on the spot. The ghost writer of the book is even given a namecheck here, although not a flattering one, obviously, being 'a miniscule Dudley Moore.' In his best gruff Beefheart voice, MES rambles through a current band lineup story/statement, amusing himself along the way. It's a wonderful thing. For instance, I love the way he says 'There was Tim 2' and the irritable growling of 'White Line Fever.' Collapses at the end after the final insult, 'Little did they know they were paying by the minute for the tape they were wasting.'
posted @ 13.10 PM, May 06, 2008
White Line Fever
A liddle bidda country as The Fall cover this Merle Haggard classic with added piquancy given Mr Smith's advancing years. Songs of reflection, weariness and growing old continue to feature in The Fall canon, but he seems to be having fun, as do the band, doing marvellous backing harmonies and laughing away during the closing banter of the album's recurring motifs - 'Black river...Cheese states...Fall motel.' Ah, bless.
Video: White Line Fever
posted @ 13.50 PM, May 01, 2008
MES in shouty mode with a faux rallying cry and what could be construed as a piss take of '80s reprobates' New Order or fawning modern hystericals in general. What a great beginning - an alarm call: 'Drrrrrrrrrrrrrr-uh - Woken up to Fall sound.' Full of entertaining lines such as the Quentin Crisp-esque, 'Only water passes my lips/Only beer passes my throat' and 'I've seen POWs less hysterical than you.' There's also a fleeting reference to the infamous Newsnight appearance (when MES appeared on telly making gargoyle faces). The full Cricklewood live version also states 'No Babyshambles.' But one of the best bits for me is 'Wondering what's up? It's FALL SOUND!'
Video: Fall Sound
posted @ 13.30 PM, April 30, 2008
Two basses, two notes and a repititous growl of a song. On the face of it monotonous, but there's enough subtle variations to keep you hooked. The seemingly random phrases reference the Black River Falls Motel in Wisconsin (the "cheese state") and former members' other bands, whilst the TLC origin can be interpreted as Treacherous Lying Cunts. This is denied by MES, but then, it would be, wouldn't it? The German phrase, 'Arbeit mit uns' means 'work with us.' When it first started life on the live circuit, it was more blatantly about the glut of old bands reforming. I, for one, miss the line, not in the final recorded version, 'We're gonna finish that cardigan.'
posted @ 15.25 PM, April 29, 2008
A half cover of 'Coming Down' by United States of America. Excellent opening cackle. Attempts at actual singing dominate, with intermittent growlings of 'I don't love you and I never did.' A possible comment on yet another Fall line up dissolving ('One day three fellows they all clubbed together to get their hair back and replace their shiny heads/All tan-skinned, they did sail the shiny sea'). Also a twist on the "7 year Cycle" theory, roughly a notion that significant events occur or reappear every seven years in our lives. Here, such cycles appear to be happening with increasing frequency - an idea reflected in the speeded up ending. Ahem.
posted @ 10.45 AM, April 28, 2008