“The Fall ended 1988 in triumphant fashion with a sold-out UK tour of larger venues than normal, including their largest ever Scottish show at the Glasgow Barrowlands on 17 December while six of the year’s songs had been voted into John Peel’s Festive 50. But it wouldn’t be long before things unravelled.”
The final sentence of last week’s piece.
January 4 1989. MES told Brix he was leaving her. He moved to Edinburgh, having been driven there by Simon Wolstencroft, and within four months she was living in London, talking to lawyers about a divorce on the grounds of MES’s adultery. Musically, she began to concentrate on her own project, The Adult Net, although The Fall did get together in Cargo Studios in Rochdale in Spring 1989 to begin work on some new material, with Ian Broudie helping out on the production side.
It was in June 1989 that the next single and album appeared. It consisted of a shortened version of one of the songs from I Am Kurious Oranj, while the b-side was a new song, credited to MES and Brix. The two of them actually appeared on BBC TV to talk about the new music, and while there is a clear sense of unease and tension, it would have taken a real eagle-eye of casual fans to spot that they were no longer a couple.
The single had come out a week before the new album, which was called Seminal Live, which itself consisted of five studio songs on side A and five live tracks taken from gigs in Manchester and Vienna the previous year (the CD version of the album contained four additional live tracks).
Cab It Up didn’t crack the Top 75 and the reviews for Seminal Live were lukewarm, at best. The situation hadn’t been helped by a number of things.
The best of the new studio tracks was Dead Beat Descendent, but it was already available as a b-side. Of the other four songs, one was a rockabilly cover, and while two of the other songs would have made for possible b-sides of a single, the final track, Mollusc In Tyrol, must be among the most unlistenable and abstract of all Fall recordings,
MES’s head was not in a good place. Not only had his marriage dissolved, but his father, in May 1989, had died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of just fifty-nine.
Finally, MES had informed Beggars Banquet that the band was to leave the label after five years and the marketing support from the label was minimal, not helped by the fact that The Fall, understandably in the circumstances, were shying away from live shows.
It’s all a bit of a shame. Dead Beat Descendent, which really should have been the A-side of the single, is a decent, upbeat song which fits in really well with much of the previous output from the Beggars Banquet years and in normal circumstances would likely have delivered, at least, another minor hit. Cab It Up, while not being a new song, is another toe-tapper and another example of the more commercial side of the band. There’s a few electronica pop bands who would have killed for this tune…..
There were two live tracks added to the 12″ of Cab It Up. Neither were available on the vinyl version of Seminal Live but could be found on the CD version:-
Having got the contractual obligations to the record label out of the way, The Fall returned to live shows in July 1989. The replacement guitarist for Brix was a huge surprise to just about everybody, with founder member Martin Bramah returning after a ten-year absence.
The question is…..would he last long enough to be involved in the band’s next studio recordings? Tune in next week…..