THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 8)

“We went into a studio in London just to do Lie Dream and Fantastic Life. This was the first thing we did with two drummers, though it’s mostly Karl on the single. I was demoted to percussion (both drummers were on Fantastic Life though). Lie Dream features Richard Mazda on saxophone, trying to emulate Dave Tucker’s clarinet part as per the Peel session.”

Paul Hanley, quoted in the booklet which accompanied The Fall boxset, released in 2007.

You’ll recall from Part 5 in this series that the then 16-year old Paul Hanley, brother of bassist Steve, had been brought into The Fall on drums to replace the Mike Leigh. One year on, and the latest change in the line-up didn’t involve any sackings or musicians walking off in a huff, but instead saw Mark E Smith decide the band would best be served by having two drummers.

The new bloke wasn’t actually new at all, as Karl Burns, who had been part of the band in 1977/78, became the first musician to return to the fold, and as you can see from Paul’s above recollection, was given a prominent role. I’ve occasionally wondered if MES had actually wanted to get rid of Paul altogether, but decided he couldn’t run the risk of antagonising Steve Hanley, whose contributions, on stage and in the studio, were becoming increasingly important.

Or maybe he was just being practical…..Karl Burns had answered an emergency call to help out the band when Paul Hanley, on the account of his age, was denied a working visa for a tour of the USA, and keeping him on afterwards was returning the favour.  In any event, the two-drummer line-up was cemented, for a short while anyway!

MES had cut ties with Rough Trade after the release of Slates in April 1981.  I can’t be entirely sure, but it may well have been the case that the band convened in the London studio to cut this new single in the summer of ’81 without having any record company deal in place.  I’m surmising this, as the next move was to a newly established indie label – Kamera Records – and that Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul/Fantastic Life was the first 45 to be issued on the label, in November 1981.

No matter what, it’s an absolute stomper of a song.  MES was at pains, a couple of years later in an interview with NME, to explain that far for ridiculing the Northern Soul scene and those involved in it, he was paying a tribute:-

“That song actually did create quite a bit of resentment in the North because people thought it was being snobby and horrible about the old soul boys, which it was never about anyway. Because I was brought up with people that were into Northern Soul five years before anybody down here (in London) had even heard about it. But they’ve all grown out of it, which is what the song is about, but it wasn’t putting them down at all. If anything, it was glorifying them, but not in the format of, where are those soul boys that used to be here?”

Richard Mazda, as well as contributing the saxophone parts, was also in the producer’s chair.  The other thing worth noting is that Marc Riley wasn’t required to contribute on guitar, being relegated somewhat to keyboards only.

mp3: The Fall – Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul

The b-side, Fantastic Life, has long been one of my favourite Fall tracks of them all.   It has both a rollocking tune and a funny, crazy and sing-a-long lyric, albeit it takes a fair bit of working out…..thankfully there are websites out there nowadays to confirm and/or correct things.   I’d never have worked out these lines, from just after the point in the song where it changes from the fantastic life stories to the fantastic lie boasts…..

The Siberian mushroom Santa
Was in fact Rasputin’s brother
And he didst walk round Whitechapel
To further the religion of forgiven sin murder
Fantastic lie!

It would, if you want my opinion, have been an excellent single of its own making, but MES wasn’t the type to hoard things for later on. Once it was recorded…bang….get it out there as quickly as possible and to hell with the commercial aspects of things.

mp3: The Fall – Fantastic Life

The previous single on Rough Trade had got to #2 in the Indie Charts, with MES firmly believing that the label didn’t work hard enough for the band.  Casino Soul got to #5. Would it have managed to crossover to mainstream success if he’d stayed put? We’ll never know…..

Next up for The Fall was album #4, released in March 1982 by Kamera Records.  Said album is going to feature in this series next week………

JC

3 thoughts on “THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING NEW SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 8)

  1. Two excellent sides and a special mention for the brilliant sleeve art by Savage Pencil. Mention of The Fall box set booklet reminded me how easy it would be to imagine reading these posts as sleeve notes in a lavish, deluxe edition singles collection. Sterling work, JC!

  2. We’ve heard these songs for so long that it’s hard to imagine them without MES’s lyrical pyrotechnics at the front. But I’m always struck by how great the music is. It’s deliberately repetitive for the sake of the vocals, but it’s really forceful, melodic and tightly played on its own. The Fall’s musicians were understandably overshadowed by MES’s lyrics, antics and personality, but they started off interesting and just kept getting better. Great band, in all its incarnations. Fantastic Post-ah!

  3. I agree, The Fall sound so good at this point. I was a bit obsessed with MES at this point. His lyrics were angry and almost mystical in their delivery.
    JTFL may be able to back me up here, but summer of 81, The Fall seemed to land in NYC and just gig every other night for two weeks. There were 7 opportunities to see them and I managed 4 of the show, including them opening for The Clash at Bonds. The show I remember the most was at The Peppermint Lounge. MES was in a foul mood but the crowd just begged for more and more of his vitriol.
    JC you are right, Fantastic Life should have been a chart smash.

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