Live rarity. A chirpy little instrumental with a surf/garage type beat. The slower bit is infectious and almost nursery rhyme like.
posted @ 11.00 AM, November 23, 2009
One of those rare occasions where MES sort of sings a melody, albeit wearily. The prominent bass line also suggests it could be a New Order parody. Smith sings Hanley's praises here: "Without Steve Hanley The Fall would be nothing. He's great. He still can't tune his bass properly. It doesn't sound like a bass at all most of the time." As for the ambiguous, "Not user friendly" nature of the lyrics, MES explains, "It's about being friendly - not in the male, sexual sense, just friendly - to someone who didn't accept that."
posted @ 13.00 PM, February 6, 2007
Music for a play written by MES centred around the mysterious death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, and incorporating Israeli commandos, demonic possession, Italian fascists, ex-Nazis and a Scottish communist. Described by its author as "a cross between Shakespeare and The Prisoner," it starred Leigh Bowery and ran for two weeks in December 1986 at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. You can see MES discuss it with Jools Holland here. According to Fall mythology it was written on beer mats and delivered to its director in a shoe box. The disctinct guitar treatment makes it sound like a harpsichord, giving it a medieval vibe. One version here was the original mix by John Leckie, given away free with 'Sounds' magazine, while the crisper single version was mixed by future Lightning Seed, Ian Broudie.
posted @ 13.15 PM, February 5, 2007
Magnificent. That opening of twangy guitar and scary music is a real spine tingler. Apparently they did/do still say 'Riddler!' round the parts where MES grew up. To what end and for what reason, I don't know. Truly, a riddle. The twanginess is superceded by fuzzy guitars on the live version, giving it another sinister layer. Severely underrated track. Play loud.
posted @ 12.50 PM, February 2, 2007
Hilarious tale of a Fall fan who nicked the backdrop from a gig at Bournemouth in 1985 and was later chased and caught by the bouncers (wahey). Ominous bass line to start, then rollicking out good style. Brilliant rhythmic phrasing on the line, 'A runner took backdrop, exit hall.' Because the music is all a bit rudimentary, let us take refuge in the lyrics. Several funny bits including, 'Our backdrop was friendly, heavy/Often it would rumble into hotel/And partake with us/In diluted drink and dogmeat/Of RAC recommended hostelry.' The last verse is particularly chuckleworthy: 'I've forgotten the date...No plot...You're welcome...It was coated in poison...Have to buy a new one.' The live version is much better, with keyboards to the fore.
posted @ 13.15 PM, January 30, 2007
Terry Waite Sez
Written before the whole Terry Waite hostage crisis, when he was just a special envoy on several negotiating missions, 'out to heal provincial pus.' According to Wikipedia, for a while in the 1980s Terry Waite was known for his catchphrase, "Hello, I'm Terry Waite." Now, that's what I call a catchprase. Fall myth has it that MES was investigated by private detectives for predicting the kidnapping of Mr Waite. Nice and clean, quick and straight to the point musically, with simple guitar riff, plus extra reverb, good screamage and incidental keyboard tinkles.
posted @ 13.10 PM, January 29, 2007
U.S. 80s - 90s
Welcome to the big beat sound of The Fall. Some heavy duty chunky bass and drums here, making an extremely well-polished rhythmic delight backing a tale of immigration run ins and playful comparisons with the 1890s and 50s. Two things puzzle me here - 'cones of silence' and the reference to the 'Monroe used dressing room' - does he mean Matt or Marilyn? Plus, I'm assuming an article on the incident is referred to, but what went on on 'page 19, small column, lower right-hand side'? - we only have this excerpt.
Gross Chapel - GB Grenadiers
Eerie guitar theme stalks through this captivating tale which juxtaposes the imagery of a military funeral with the cloudy events of what appears to have been a violence tinged Fall gig. Ambiguous references which leave you puzzled yet still somehow convey a threatening atmosphere are an MES trademark. Here, for instance, the word 'porterage' suggests both a porter in a grubby hotel and the funeral bearers in a ghostly chapel. More distinctly, the terms, 'fusees', 'glacis', 'hurrah', 'bumper' and 'louped clothes' are direct references to the old patriotic regimental march, "British Grenadiers," the chorus of which is quoted verbatim.
Superb comment on fads and the sheep and poseurs who follow them, including faux VU fans who 'couldn't tell Lou Reed from Doug Yule.' Seems autobiographical as Smith recalls his embarrassment at associating with such types, but 'sticking with them' anyway, suppressing his hate. 'It was like being back at school.' At the time, of course, shoulder pads, were the thing, so Smith latches on to that, showing up the ridiculousness of it all by imagining himself in them. 'It's MES in shoulder pads!' Brilliant. Love the melody which follows the chirpy keyboard motif running through it and Stephen Hanley's booming bass adds oomph.
Stands for Realm of Dusk, in case you were wondering. Great way to open an album - 'It's approaching.' The spaghetti western/surf guitar sound should make it sound bouncy, but the minor chords make it darker. MES in this interview says it's about approaching the mediocre, whilst Dr Skagra on The Fall Forum argues a convincing case for it being about The Fall: 'this song says: I dare you. This is The Fall, we're monstrous, ugly, rejected and angry, even our own kind hate us, no army can stop us - DARE YOU LISTEN ON?' No significant difference of approach between the 3 versions here.
Auto Tech Pilot
A spooky theme tune-like beginning, eventually creeping into life as, yet again, the theme of crime/surveillance and the modern state is explored. Suitably brooding and rewarding on repeat listenings. There's a definite desolate air to it all along with (surprise, surprise!) a mistrust of technology. 'I really think this computer thing is getting out of hand.'
Lucifer Over Lancashire
'This demon is hip.' Another of those high quality B sides that The Fall seem to chuck out with alarming consistency. Bolts along on a shuffling beat accompanied by some high pitched MES line endings and rumbling bass with simple guitar notes on the chorus. One version, featured on a Melody Maker EP, starts with what sounds like guitarist Craig Scanlon arguing on a radio phone-in with some religious 'expert' about the existence of god.
A garage thrash classic from the psycho delic sixties, originally by The Other Half, and still performed live to this day. 'Mr Pharmacist/Can you help me out today/In your usual lovely way?' Straight to the point, no messing and no need for conjecture or analysis on this one, which has something to do with drugs, I believe. The 2G+2 version is awfully polished.
Video here: Mr Pharmacist
Hot Aftershave Bop
Definitely something missing here. It's all rather pedestrian and conservative. No surprises, no jarring moment, no life really. Sounds like a throwback to the 70s with some very jaded and ordinary guitar work. The Peel version's best, but even there, there's no real spark. Perhaps its mundanity is its point (he said being charitable). Despite the great title, no real lyrical jewels herein, except maybe 'Are these your English friends?/Fill the blender to the top again.'
Living Too Late
Another of my all time favourites, this rumbling rumination on the ageing process really chimes with me now in my dotage, especially the verse 'Sometimes life is like a new bar/Plastic seats, beer below par/Food with no taste, music grates/I'm living too late.' The jarring high-pitched 'breaks' offer a completely surreal escape to the steady clunk of the main song which perversely brings relief when it rumbles back in. Apparently it's MES on the violin, too. I also love the alternative version which has a distinct VU vibe and sounds like there's kettle drums on it. The alternative 'try to wash crow's feet off my face but it's ingrained' is an improvement on the original line, too. On the live version you also get 'I'm super sad, sweet sad..'