Another song that I only picked up on a few years after its release as a single in October 1985. My excuse being that I had graduated from university a few months previously, moving almost immediately to Edinburgh to start my first job in July 1985. Money was tight, and much of my salary went on the rent for a room in a shared flat, albeit in a very nice part of the city. The three of us all worked – mine was office based with regular hours, but the flatmates worked in hotels and bars, often on night shifts, which meant there was little opportunity to play records or tapes without causing a disturbance. It proved to be the beginning of my drifting away, for the most part, from music for a few years.
I was also not yet familiar with the alternative scene in Edinburgh, and so wouldn’t know the clubs or places that would likely play The Fall or indeed any of the music I liked. Besides, most other folk in my office (i.e 100%) were a tad more straight-laced when it came to music….something that only changed when Jacques the Kipper appeared on the scene some five years later.
Why am I telling you all this? I suppose it is partly confessional as Cruiser’s Creek is up there as one of my favourite of all the songs written and recorded by The Fall and I really wish I had been aware of it at the time of its release, and not a few years later when I got my copy of The Fall 45 84 89 compilation. I have, however, danced to it loads of times over recent years as I always made a request for it at the Little League nights when they used to take place, and John was always willing to indulge me.
Cruiser’s Creek is brilliant. It’s also bonkers.
Putting the backstory together nowadays is much easier, thanks to the internet and the various fan sites devoted to The Fall, but trying to work it all out back in 1985 was a very tough task. Mark E Smith, in a contemporary interview with one of the music weeklies, said ‘it’s a party lyric with a party twist’. I’m thinking he was referring to the utter danceability of the song, with a pacey riff and sing-along-chorus, albeit so many of the words in the verses are hard to pick out or fathom. Reading them written down many years later and there’s confirmation that MES is having a sly dig at two of the year’s biggest happenings in the music world – Red Wedge and ZTT Records.
One of the most astonishing things to emerge in later years is that Cruiser’s Creek was the name of a library on a ship on which MES had spent time with Brix’s family after her grandparents had taken all the relatives on a fiftieth wedding anniversary cruise. It seems that MES, in trying to escape all the fuss that was happening throughout, retreated to Cruiser’s Creek where he did some writing, seemingly using the location for the title but making the narrative about an office party. Whether he was comparing the agonies of an office party at one of his former places of employment on Salford Docks with having to spend days at sea with the extended Salenger family, we can only make an assumption……
The version on offer today is taken from the compilation album, and it is a couple of minutes shorter than the original single, which ran to over six minutes in length, released on 7″ and 12″ vinyl, with the 7″ playing at 33 ⅓ RPM. But never fear, I’ve the promo video to provide the full version:-
Here’s your b-sides:-
The former, which is mainly an instrumental with a few snippets of lyrics/dialogue thrown in. The tune was written by Brix, as a homage to her home city. It seems that MES leaned on the TV series TJ Hooker, starring William Shatner as a cop, for inspiration. Unusually for a Fall 45, it wasn’t a new song, as it had been one of the tracks on the album This Nation’s Saving Grace, released the previous month.
The latter, only found on the 12″, is a Brix song on which her vocal is very prominent….it becomes a Mr & Mrs Smith duet in due course….and while it’s harmless and inoffensive enough, it doesn’t stand up to repeated playings. I do wonder if any other member of the band had presented it as a tune whether it would actually have seen light of day.
Fun fact, specifically, for JTFL-Ahh.
Vixen was never played live, but seemingly a snippet of it was played by Brix during an in-store appearance by The Fall at Texas Records, 2204 Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica on Saturday 23 March 1985.
Your musicians on this one were Mark E Smith (vocals), Brix Smith (guitar, vocals), Craig Scanlon (guitar), Steve Hanley (bass), Simon Rogers (bass, guitar, keyboards) and Karl Burns (drums). John Leckie could again be found in the producer’s chair.
Cruiser’s Creek reached the giddy heights of #96 in the UK singles chart.