mp3 : The Fall – Totally Wired
This is the first time in this series that I’ve put the song ahead of the words I want to offer up. It was the band’s sixth single, released on Rough Trade in September 1980. I included it as part of the very first ICA dedicated to The Fall, back in August 2015, and said this:-
One of the very finest post-punk/new wave songs of all time. It might sound a bit rough’n’ready nowadays, but for something that is now 35 years of age it still feels awfully fresh. I’m sure every alt/indie/punk band on either side of the Atlantic have been influenced in some shape or form by this
Totally Wired is now more than 40 years old. It was recorded at Cargo Studios in Rochdale in July 1980. This time around, Geoff Travis and Mayo Thompson stayed away and production duties, according to one of the websites devoted to the band, are co-credited to Kay Carroll (band manager) and John Brierley (owner of Cargo Studios). The single itself, which comes with minimal design in terms of a sleeve and information, doesn’t give away anything about credits other than saying the music was the work of Riley, Scanlon, Handley and Smith, with the lyrics being credited to Smith.
Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter of the song, the BBC were unwilling to put Totally Wired on any of its lists for daytime or even nighttime radio, meaning that John Peel continued to plough a lonely field. I still maintain, all these years later, that if this had gained any sort of exposure, it would have smashed the charts as it was the chorus made it that sort of song that would cross over very easily. It would have been hilarious to have been able to hear young kids chanting ‘I’m Totally Wired’ at the top of their voices in playgrounds up and down the country….
As it was, the single, like its predecessor, had to make do with reaching #2 in the Indie Charts.
Fun fact…..it was kept off the #1 spot by the reissue of Paranoid by Black Sabbath on the NEMS label which spent five weeks at the top in August/September 1980.
Here’s the b-side:-
The same credits as the a-side apply here. But it’s all a bit misleading. Putta Block is a very strange release. In fact, strange doesn’t come close to doing it justice.
The first one minute and twenty seconds are taken up by a live recording of what, at the time was an unreleased song, but would reveal itself as The NWRA when the next album came out. It gives way to a lively and very new wave sounding studio recording, which is itself the song, Putta Block.
But that’s far from the end of things. The studio track lasts just under two-and-a-half minutes before it suddenly stops and another live song is segued in, this time we hear MES ranting a bit as the band play the intro to Rowche Rumble. This, however, ends very abruptly after 20 seconds, and almost in homage to a badly recorded bootleg, it goes into another snippet, this time to pick up the very ending of Cary Grant’s Wedding which had been released on the Totale’s Turns album mentioned in last week’s post. It all ends with MES singing/chanting ‘What Is This Shit?’
Bonkers. Genuinely bonkers, and I’d love to know what the Rough Trade folk said to one another when they first played it.
Another fun fact. Putta Block was never played live after it was released (surprise, surprise).
Oh, here’a final fun fact for today. Cary Grant’s Wedding has never been recorded for a studio album, EP or single.
The only other info on the back of the sleeve of the 45 was was that neither Totally Wired nor Putta Block were going to appear on the soon-to-be released album ‘After The Gramme’. As it turned out, this would be the case, although the album would be re-titled ‘Grotesque (After The Gramme)’ by the time it hit the shops in November 1980.
Hope I’m not losing too many of you already…..this series still has a lot of mileage ahead.