An Imaginary Compilation Album – The Fall (of the 80s, with Brix [mostly])
Hybrid Soc Prof : Your Dreaming-of-Face-2-Face-Classes-in-the-Fall Correspondent
JC adds……as a way of intro………..
HSP, in his accompanying e-mail, acknowledged this was far from the first ICA for The Fall and that tracks in this would may well have appeared previously. The thing is, that doesn’t matter in the slightest. An ICA is just one person’s suggestion of a ‘perfect’ album and there is no question that others will have their own thoughts. So, if anybody out there has given thought to making a submission, but refrained from doing so on the basis that ‘it’s been done already’, then fear not…….
Back now, to our dear friend who is stuck at home in Michigan…….
If it’s next to impossible to write about Television, it is beyond impossible to say anything new about The Fall. I’ll make it quick.
I wanted The Minutemen to be my favorite band of the 80s, but D. Boon died. I wanted the Dream Syndicate to be my favorite band of the 80s, but the precipitous decline after Out of the Grey in ’86 did that in… to my mind, the same thing happened to The Replacements, after Tim. All this might have led Sonic Youth to take that spot at the top but, while their records got better and better across the decade, I deeply appreciated them but didn’t love ‘em. Other bands appeared early or showed up late and the Feelies didn’t release enough music to qualify. It’s not that this all “left” to top spot to The Fall since a better run of recordings – from Perverted by Language (1983) to the Frenz Experiment (1988) – is beyond rare, it’s simply to lay out who else I thought might have challenged to the decade.
My introduction to the band came via The Wonderful and Frightening World of… in 1984, once again lionized by Robert Palmer in the NY Times. It was the first record I can remember buying, putting on the turntable, and asking myself what the hell THIS was. And not because I liked it. I didn’t like it. At all. I almost hated it. But it was weirdly intriguing. So, I put it on again a few days later. I mean, really, “Bug Day”?! The previous summer, after about a month cycling all over northern England and Scotland, I’d come down Lewis and Harris and done my requisite shite day in cold rain on Skye before stayed in Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig… The next day, a warm, late July day with not wind, I’d ridden to Oban, solo. “Bug Day” brought back memories of cycling through stagnant air infested with midges and flies (and then a nightmare evening of well-off tourists with screaming kids at the Grade 1 Hostel.)
The third listen “2 By 4” and “Slang King” verged on enjoyable and by the 10th spin I was playing it almost daily. The only other album that’s rewarded me that way is the Danny and Dusty LP, The Lost Weekend, which I at least thought I should like given who wrote and played on it.
I bought the rest of the 80s records as they came out, and went back and picked up older releases finding very little I didn’t enjoy a lot. I collected about 23 songs to consider and then decided to bounce back and forth across the decade until arriving at the center – and I do think the This Nation’s Saving Grace and Bend Sinister are just wonderful.
PS: It is in fact, Demo Suzuki – from the 3CD re-release of This Nation’s Saving Grace… it’s rare that I like demos more than final products but in this case I do.
PPS: I’ll note that The Fall were the worst live show I have ever seen. Diane and I saw them in Boston in the early 90s and not only was Mark almost fall-down drunk and indifferent but, as far as we could tell not one in the band wanted to be there that night. Among my biggest disappointments.
1. Bombast, from This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
2. Hip Priest, from Hex Enducation Hour (1982)
3. New Big Prinz, from I am Kurious, Oranj (1988)
4. Totally Wired, from Grotesque (After the Gramme) (1980)
5. Carry Bag Man, from The Frenz Experiment (1988)
6. Kicker Conspiracy, from Perverted by Language (1983)
7. Terry Waite Sez, from Bend Sinister (1986)
8. Slang King, from The Wonderful and Frightening World of… (1984)
9. Demo Suzuki, from This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
10. Dktr. Faustus, from Bend Sinister (1986)
JC adds….as a way of an outro.
I had a short post all written up on New Big Prinz in which I dared to suggest its tune owed something to Rock’N’Roll (Part 2) by the now disgraced Gary Glitter……any thoughts???
6 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM #249 : THE FALL (5)”
Well done, professor! I agree completely about the bands of the 80’s. To the cycle of diminishing returns (Dream Syndicate, Replacements) I would add REM. You also put into words my feelings about post-SST Sonic Youth: I respected them, but didn’t love them. The Fall, on the other hand, moved from strength to strength.
There’s a box set (always another bloody box set with The Fall) devoted entirely to their 1982 output, and this recent Quietus article on The Fall’s singles and albums from 1980:
Interesting ICA. Just tips over the point where I went to grad school and my musical alliances shifted, due to an entirely new social scene. I got about through 1986 before I moved off the band, for no good reason. I really liked ‘Witch Trials’ and other early material but the “mainstream” period, when Brix was prominent, was when I was most interested in the Fall. Luckily, I got to see them in the mid-80’s and it was a great show. Their crap performances and Smith vs. band antagonism had not yet overshadowed what they were doing.
From this era I might have put in ‘Hey Luciani’ or ‘Shoulderpads’, but there’s no way to go wrong. Another strong effort, HSP.
Not a bad tune there but I were only to pick one tune from PBL, it would have to be Garden or wait a minute Smile no Hexen but what about Tempo House, Nah it’s impossible. I will shut up
Interesting ICA that covers the period I am most aware of. I think JC is definitely onto something with that comparison – I’d say it’s unmistakable.
I can hear what you’re getting at, JC, with the R’nR pt2 and New Big Prinz, an echo, a connection, a tie, if not quite a replication. Nice catch!
Of course, jayteeeffell and pastwilliam, Hey Luciani and Tempo House were 11 and 12…
Don’t think Mark Smith would be too upset at the Glitter comparison, although I suspect it might have something to do with all bands with two drummers beginning to sound alike.
I loved this period of The Fall (they seemed to play Edinburgh pretty much every year), particularly Hex Enduction Hour, Perverted by Language and Wonderful Frightening World, where they went from the in-your-face remorseless atonal avant-garde anti-jazz of And This Day to catchy pop tunes like O Brother! in what, a couple of years?
By coincidence, am presently attempting to Eat Meself Fitter.