Extricate, the band’s first album of the new decade, was released to almost universal critical acclaim in February 1990. Brix Smith was no more but the return of Martin Bramah had seemingly reignited MES and the rest of The Fall. The live shows were also going well, and it looked as if the band was going through a stable and happy period, in complete contrast to the previous eighteen months.
It’s worth mentioning in passing that the live shows now occasionally involved an expanded version of the group as Charlotte Bill (oboe and flute) and Kenny Brady (fiddle), both of whom had made contributions to songs on Extricate, were involved in some of the tours in 1990.
The relationship with Phonogram seemed to have got off to a good start, and evidence of MES perhaps softening his attitude towards record company bosses can be seen from the fact that the next single, was a track that had been part of the recently released album, and added to the fact that Telephone Thing was also to be found on Extricate, made this (by my reckoning) the first Fall album from which two 45s had been lifted.
mp3: The Fall – Popcorn Double Attraction
Released in early March 1990, Popcorn Double Attraction would be left off many of the later compilations, such as 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong (2004), and with it not breaking into the Top 75, means that it is all to easy to forget it was released as a single. It was a strange choice for a 45, but then again with all the previous evidence of The Fall only being able to enjoy hits when they did covers, then maybe it was the obvious one.
Yup, the original dates back to 1967, a flop single by The Searchers, a Merseybeat band who had enjoyed great success between 1963 and 1965, most often through cover versions of R’nB numbers previously recorded by American singers or bands. MES at the time of the single paid tribute to The Searchers, saying he preferred them to The Beatles.
The single was released on 7″, 12″ and CD. There was an additional limited edition version, of just 3,000 copies each, on 7″ and 12″ with different artwork and different b-sides.
mp3: The Fall – Butterflies 4 Brains (7″, 12″ and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Arms Control Poseur (12″ and CD)
mp3: The Fall – Zandra (7″ and 12″ limited editions)
mp3: The Fall – Black Monk Theme Part 2 (12″ limited edition)
This is a rather strange collection of songs, and in some ways of more merit than the actual single. Butterflies 4 Brains, or least the opening minute or so, reminds me of the sound of Inspiral Carpets….or maybe that’s just the strange wiring of my brain as MES would join with the band a few years later in creating a hit single, leading to his one and only appearance on Top of The Pops.
Arms Control Poseur was included on the CD edition of Extricate (it had four more tracks than the vinyl version) but it was a slightly longer, marginally faster and in some ways more commercially produced version which was included on the single. I don’t think it’s as good as the album version, which has a brilliant guitar piece, reminiscent of Robert Fripp on Bowie’s Scary Monsters album, to the forefront, and which is tucked away on the single version. See what you think….
mp3: The Fall – Arms Control Poseur (album version)
Zandra, which remember was only available on the limited edition singles, is a short number. Almost upbeat in nature, and unusually for a Fall song, is named after and about a woman. It seems kind of throwaway, as perhaps can be evidenced by the fact it was never played live. The writing credits on this one are Smith/Beddington, but it is widely known that Beddington was a pseudonym used by Martin Bramah.
Black Monk Theme Part 2 can also be found on the CD version of Extricate, while Black Monk Theme Part 1 can be found on the vinyl version (as well as the CD version). Unusually, these aren’t two takes on the same song…..
The Monks were an American garage rock band from the 60s. Part 1, as done by The Fall, was in fact a cover of the song I Hate You, while Part 2 was a cover of Oh, How To Do Now, both of which had been released in 1966 on the album Black Monk Time. More examples of MES being a human jukebox of the most obscure and occasionally magnificent type.