If there’s one thing that the look back at all the R.E.M. singles has taught me, then it’s to make sure that you have a true fan on board when taking a look at the career of a much-loved band, particularly when :-
(a) they have been, or were, part of the fabric of essential music for decades;and
(b) my own efforts will be hampered by not actually having a copy of all the records due to be featured in any series.
Let’s face it, without The Robster on board, many of the Sundays over the past year or so would have been a washout.
I’ve thought long and hard about who next to shine the spotlight on. Prior to R.E.M., the singles series had been devoted to The Auteurs/Luke Haines, Simple Minds, Marc Almond, Paul Haig, Grinderman, New Order, XTC, Undertones, Buzzcocks, Cinerama, The Clash, The Style Council, The Jam, Altered Images and James.
It’s not too shabby a list, but there is one band I’ve long wanted to cover but always felt it would be too much of a challenge. Thankfully, Drew, doyen of From Across The Kitchen Table, (which has been in abeyance since the end of last year), has answered my plea for help as I’m not perfectly placed to take on the fresh challenge single-handedly.
Yup. The aim is to focus on the recorded output of The Fall, going back to the debut single in August 1978 and meandering our way through the following 40 years.
The thing is, I really have no idea what road the series will follow.
Drew, quite rightly, doesn’t want to be restricted solely to looking at singles as they don’t really give a true indication of things. At the same time, if the series was to try and look at every release, be they singles, EPs, studio albums, live albums, compilations and Peel Sessions, it would be akin to painting the Forth Rail Bridge (i.e., never ending).
So, get yourselves comfortably and safely seated, but fasten your safety belts as we get set to take you through this wonderful and frightening new series. Here’s how it all started:-
mp3: The Fall – Psycho Mafia
mp3: The Fall – Bingo-Master
mp3: The Fall – Repetition
Recorded late 1977 in Manchester but not released until 11 August 1978 on Step Forward Records. It didn’t chart.
The players were Mark E Smith (vocals), Martin Bramah (guitar), Tony Friel (bass), Karl Burns (drums) and Una Baines (keyboards). All five members are credited with the writing of Repetition. Smith and Friel are responsible for Psycho Mafia, while Smith and Baines wrote Bingo Master. One interesting thing to note is that both Friel and Baines had left the band before the debut single was released….but they wouldn’t be the last musicians eligible to have ‘ex-The Fall’ after their name.
Nostalgically, it’s fair to say it really was something of a sensational debut, but it didn’t quite feel that way back in 1978. In the era of post-punk and just about anything being able to go, the harshness of the playing and the unusual vocal delivery did make it a challenging listen. If the band had broken up there and then, it would likely have been highly regarded as a cult single. Better songs would quickly follow, but all three of these remain essential and, while the next five different decades would see a continual re-invention and evolution, it is nevertheless a reasonable statement to make that these are damn near the perfect calling card as any type of introduction to The Fall.
Welcome aboard. One or both of us will be back next Sunday.
Oh, and if anyone wants to contribute at any point, they would be most welcome. But, please remember, the plan is to do things in a chronological fashion, and so it might be that your words, thoughts and promptings will be kept in a holding pattern until permission to land is granted.
JC and Drew
PS – another reminder for those who still might need their weekly R.E.M. fix that The Robster has an ongoing weekly series over at his place. Click here for a Star Trek type transportation…..
19 thoughts on “THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 1)”
Well, that’s my year (plus) of Sundays sorted, then. Great choice, great words and of course great music. I ‘discovered’ The Fall in my teens when a particularly cool teacher decided to soundtrack a school assembly with Eat Y’self Fitter. It made a lasting impression! As I jumped on board with the mid-late 80s Beggars Banquet period, I’m particularly interested in reading about their earlier period as I wasn’t ‘there’. That said, if previous series have been anything to go by, this is going to be another wonderful (and frightening?) education!
Nice one, JC and Drew, you’ve knocked it out of the park on your first ball!
Wow, what a challenge, on a par with 100 marathons in 100 days, climbing the highest mountain in each of the continents, watching every episode of Coronation Street. Unusually, I’m looking forward to the later singles, as I haven’t heard many of them and am intrigued. Not sure I can agree on the ‘better songs would quickly follow’ – Repetition is up there for me.
Is it a single? Is it an EP? Is it a min-album? I don’t know, but I hope that Slates gets a look in.
The Fall has always been one of those bands I just never quite “got”. I’m sure some of it has to do with being on the other side of the Atlantic. This will be a great chance to give it another go it bite sized chunks. This will be fun!
Well, *this* is a good idea – thank you!
Every year or so I revisit the Fall albums in chronological order, so this is going to be fantastic. My intro to The Fall was in 1985, Cruisers Creek / Wonderful and Frightening. At about the same time there was a Granada punk documentary on the telly, I was blown away by the crazy shambolics of this other Fall sound of Psycho Mafia and Industrial Estate. Joined the gaps and never looked back.
Well done for getting Drew active in the blogworld again. Looking forward to this, an almost endless series in theory.
It is a fantastic idea for a new series and I am sure you both will make my next Sunday’s start great. Also good to see that Drew is back on the blog. Welcome back compadre. I first got aware of The Fall by a cassette copy of Live at the Witch Trials and I loved their raw and authentic sound. Since then I followed their releases but got a huge fan after the release of Hex Enduction Hour.
Well now then ! I know this series is going to run for a while.
Fantastic. A band I’ve always wanted to know more about
A spark inside…
Marvellous – this series will be fun and an education. I’m just worried about running out of hard-drive space! Great to see you back Drew.
This is likely to make the R.E.M. series look like an exercise in brevity. I mean, the start and the end may be obvious, but where to go inbetween? Should be fascinating. I’ve never been what you might call a fan of The Fall, but there are quite a few bits and pieces that I like, and a few I love.
Looking forward to this education.
Thanks for coaxing Drew out of retirement. Maybe not such a tough sell being the Fall and all. Going to be quite a ride.
I was hoping this might be our next series to enjoy together! I know it will be the most polarizing so far, but that will make it even more vital.
I remember the first time I heard Psycho Mafia thinking, wow there is a band out there with more subversive than The Sex Pistols. MES and his band of various merry men and women would never lose that impression with me.