It’s been four weeks since the previous edition of this series. We had reached December 1990 in terms of the singles, but the post also covered the fact that The Fall did not release 45s or EPs in 1991, although the album Shift-Work came out in April.
The tail end of the year found the band recording new material in Glasgow – and no, I didn’t ever bump into MES or any of the band during their time here – before re-convening in early 1992 in London.
Dave Bush, having helped out on keyboards during the live shows in the wake of the departure of Marcia Schofield, was now made a permanent member of the band. No replacement guitarist was brought in for Martin Bramah, meaning that The Fall were now back to being a five-piece, although Craig Leon and Simon Rogers, both of whom were involved in the production of the new album, also added keyboards.
The new dynamics inevitably brought a change in sound, with the first fruits of the labour being heard in a single released on 2 March 1992:-
mp3: The Fall – Free Range
I’ve written before about Free Range. It’s co-written by MES and Simon Wolstencroft, and the funky way it drives forward is one of the reasons it is up there among my all-time favourites of songs by The Fall. Here’s what I said back in November 2014:-
It’s an absolute belter of a tune and while the lyric might appear somewhat nonsensical it is packed with all sorts of imagery and references from history and philosophy with a message of concern about the ever-increasing rightwards shift of politics across Europe as the free market system took an ever-increasing stranglehold on society – events which Mark E Smith thought would inevitably lead to warfare on a scale of that such as 1914-18 and 1939-45.
Free Range reached #40 in the UK singles chart, the highest position for any non-cover version single. Little did any of us know that this achievement would never be bettered.
It was released on 7″, 7″ limited edition, 12″ and CD. There were three other tracks to be found across the releases:-
mp3: The Fall – Everything Hurtz
mp3: The Fall – Return
mp3: The Fall – Dangerous
All three songs are tremendous listens. MES, naturally, is involved in the writing of all of them, with Steve Hanley bringing his skills to Everything Hurtz and Return, while Dangerous marks the writing debut of Dave Bush. Collectively, it is difficult to name a more accessible Fall single than these four songs, and while some fans of the more ragged and disjointed band era might sigh and wish for something less polished, I reckon most casual listeners might be more prepared to give this the thumbs-up.
One final thing to mention, while all four songs would be part of the Code:Selfish album that would be released just three weeks later, the versions on the single all have slightly different edits/mixes.
3 thoughts on “THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 30)”
Code: Selfish — It pays to talk to no one. Welcome back, ratepayers!
For all of more commercial influence that Brix brought to The Fall, in the end MES got there in his own way. Free Range is no commercial compromise. It is that song that just works.
Everything Hurts is like an early Fall-abilly track seen through the eye of Extricate and The Frenz Experiment. I’m sure Craig Leon and Simon Rogers behind at the desk influenced the final product as well.
Return is all about that boppy/B-52’s like keyboard sound
Dangerous is great because, that polish you mentioned JC, might have run out when they got to recording it…and it’s all the better for it.
Code selfish was definitely the high point of The Fall’s later years for me, even though I admit to a nagging sense of that being because of its, dare I say, more conformist musical appeal rather than its avoidance of exactly that. Not that the effect is commercial conformity of course, but it’s easier to like even for people who don’t really get The Fall. And the words are still as scabrous and acerbic as ever. Several of these choons would make it into any indie dance playlist though. As an MBA graduate The Birmingham School of Business School is a particular favourite of mine 🙂