There were just three months between the release of the debut single by The Fall and its follow-up, but there were already a couple of changes in personnel, with Yvonne Pawlett (keyboards) and Marc Riley (bass) coming in respectively for Una Baines and Tony Friel, to line-up alongside Mark E Smith (vocals), Martin Bramah (guitars) and Karl Burns (drums).

The facts.

Recorded on 9 September 1978 at Surrey Sound Studios which were located in Leatherhead, a town some 20 miles south of London.  The studios had been created in 1974 by Nigel Grey, a qualified medical doctor with a passion for music, initially as a basic and very affordable four-track set-up, before upgrading to 16-track in 1977.

It was inevitable given the fact that most singers and bands who used Surrey Sound were inexperienced, for Nigel Grey, to get involved in engineering and/or producing anyone who came through the doors of his studio.  He is listed as the engineer on this particular 45 with production being credited to The Fall, with some acknowledged help from the engineer.

Three months later, in the same week that The Fall’s second single was released, Nigel Grey’s life changed forever as another new band went to Surrey Sound to record their debut album, one which would go into sell in the millions and make pop/rock stars of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.  Indeed, The Police would record their first three albums at Surrey Sound, while others, such as Siouxsie & The Banshees, would also work with him as a producer in later years.

mp3: The Fall – It’s The New Thing
mp3: The Fall – Various Times

It’s probably just a coincidence that Nigel Grey worked on one of The Fall’s earliest examples of a catchy single, one that’s initially driven by a simple keyboard beat, before the new 17-year-old bass player (and former roadie) shows no fear alongside his more experienced bandmates, to create a single that, if it had come along a few years later when the band was slightly better known and had a larger fanbase, could well have been a hit. As it was, by May 1979, they had played it live for the very last time, an early indication that MES was always keen to continually move forward and not ever get nostalgic for his old material.

The b-side is quite different, being a 5-minute plus effort in which the musicians provide more than a hint of their new wave influences while MES delivers an extraordinary and beguiling lyric, spread out over three parts of the past, present and the future, albeit the future was only two years hence in 1980. All five musicians get a writing credit for the b-side, while the single is the work of Smith and Brammah.

It was, like the debut, issued by Step Forward Records. Again, It didn’t chart.



  1. An excellent post, JC, loved the background detail regarding Surrey Sound Studios and the fact that the A-side had been dropped from The Fall’s live set six months after being released. A portent of the sheer volume of songs that MES would write every year, new songs rapidly becoming old songs making way for more new songs.

    I haven’t heard either of these before and it’s difficult to describe the thrill of (re)discovering The Fall’s early years. Both of these arguably stand up with their later work, but you can also appreciate MES desire to move on and not look back.

  2. I know close to zilch about The Fall. I guess I’d say I enjoyed the Brix years most. Is that heresy?

    Looking forward to learning, and maybe even liking, more of the output.

    I really like the single art work.

  3. Apparently the “Ian” name-checked in Various Times was the Bunnymen vocalist, a fact that inspired great envy from Julian Cope. It was one of The Fall’s earliest examples of sci-fi/alternative history/comic book inspiration.

  4. Maybe not as interesting musically as later incarnations of the band, but MES is already one of a kind, lyrically like no one else. Cool side note about Surrey Sound, too. This series is off to a great start!

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