Last week’s post mentioned that the new album, The Infotainment Scam, had entered the charts at #9, this becoming The Fall‘s most commercially successful record. It also mentioned how the band were receiving good press and that there had been something of a stable line-up for the best part of two years.
The Infotainment Scam had been released in America, thanks to a tie-up with Matador Records. This led to a 19-date tour of the USA, with an additional gig in Toronto, in August/September 1993, and coming along for the ride was none other than Karl Burns.
Yup, MES had decided a two-drummer line-up was again the way forward, and so Burns joined the band for a third time. Prior to the tour, the band convened in Suite 16, Rochdale, to cut some new songs for a potential release later in the year…..and I’ll get to that in due course.
The American tour wasn’t a success. MES was particularly grouchy throughout, mistreating crew members and going as far as firing the tour manager. He picked fights with the other band members, smashing equipment on stage during the gigs. The bad behaviour manifested itself on the return to the UK with MES walking off stage in London after just one song, leading to something of a backlash with accusations that he just didn’t care any more:-
“And the band can’t be arsed to save the day; without any spanners in the works like Brix, Marin Bramah or Marcia, they’ve settled into a terminally workmanlike R&B rumble, with the dynamics and spark removed” (NME review of The Fall, Kentish Town Forum, London on 19 October 1993).
Once again, as the band seemed to be enjoying some commercial success, MES was hitting the self-destruct button, lashing out at all and sundry in various press interviews. Just eight months after a Top Ten album, he was asked to sum up 1993 – his reply?
The Fall ended the year with a new single, released in two parts on 13 and 20 December, both consisting of three tracks on 12″ or CD:-
mp3: The Fall – Behind The Counter
mp3: The Fall – War
mp3: The Fall – Cab Driver
mp3: The Fall – M5
mp3: The Fall – Happy Holiday
mp3: The Fall – Behind The Counter (remix)
It’s not a single I can recall in any shape or form. It seemingly reached #75. Some of its tracks would appear on the album Middle Class Revolt that would make it way into the shops in May 1994, but that wasn’t something I bought back in the day. My first exposure to Behind The Counter and M5 came many years later, via the 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong compilation (2004), and I’ll offer the opinion that while they are decent enough songs, they are more run-of-the mill than many of the previous singles I’ve aired these past few Sundays. In fact, I’d forgotten until listening again how there’s a bit in Behind The Counter that sounds like an out-take of a Stranglers record, thanks to the keyboard solo.
The other songs I’ve only just listened to for the first time in pulling together this piece.
War is a cover version, originally released in 1975 by Henry Cow, described on wiki as a British avant-garde group, but this sounds to my ears as if being closer to harder edge/glam rock than anything else. My initial reaction is to give it a thumbs-up, in complete contrast to Cab Driver which I find really dull, one-paced and a monotonous effort with no redeeming features.
Happy Holiday is good fun and another of those songs that feels as if MES has his tongue firmly in his cheek. It opens with a spoken word announcement, in Greek I would imagine given there’s a reference to Athens in the lyric, and there’s another spoken bit about halfway through. The words ‘Happy Holiday’ are sung with enough vigour to make them feel almost catchy and chorus-like.