THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 6)

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:-

mp3: The Fall – Putta Block

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.

JC

9 thoughts on “THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 6)

  1. Not sure why but Totally Wired was the first song by the Fall I ever heard. It’s fucking brilliant. Been a fan ever since and no you’re not losing me. I’m going to enjoy this long ride all the way through.

  2. Obviously a classic, and apparently massive in the Antipodes, going top 30 in New Zealand and doing well in Australia too. I’ve heard tapes of Australian live shows where this number certainly goes down a storm.

  3. One of the very few of my indie stuff that was welcomed and remembered by my (then) young children. Catchy, for sure. For me, this is the Fall (and Rowche Rumble).

  4. I’d forgotten how good this is and how many good tunes/songs The Fall had and we are only at single number 6-

  5. Similar to JTFalL (that was so meant to happen, btw) I was bombarded by Bingo-Master’s Breakout, Totally Wired and How I Wrote Elastic Man pretty much at the same time. In fact I probably bought Live At The Witch Trials at around the same time.
    But Totally Wired, to this day, stands in my mind as one of those tracks that helped to explain how Punk was becoming Post Punk. It also has one of my favorite bass lines of all time…

  6. I knew the A side was brilliant, but what an equally brilliant B-side. Bonkers, as you say, but compelling from start to finish. I am enjoying this series so much, not least because I never considered myself a ‘proper’ fan of The Fall, but the stories and the songs are telling me otherwise.

    JTFalL, a lovely touch and one I felt obliged to reciprocate…!

  7. One of only a few Fall singles to have a Wikipedia entry, although I’ve not fact checked this…..In a dismissive review on its release, Danny Baker said in NME: “Totally Wired is ugly, and terribly produced – yes it does matter!” and “I can’t see there’s an audience for the Fall’s constant verbal battering.”
    There certainly is a audience, looking forward to the continuation of this series JC, the next thirty or so singles are all belters (as were these first six).

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