AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #318: THE FALL (7)

Mark-E-Smith-and-Brix-Smith

There’s a temptation while the ICA World Cup is being played out to avoid adding any new entries to the series for the fear that they will sort of get lost among all that’s going on.

There’s also the question of whether this blog actually needs another ICA from The Fall, especially as it’s not that long since the very-long running singles series came to a halt.

But it’s been inspired in part, by the ongoing series over at No Badger Required where SWC is undertaking a rundown of the best songs with one-word titles, as voted on by his readers.  Victoria made into that rundown at #49 from an original longlist of more than 130 songs.  SWC said that the only other Fall tracks he had thought of including at the expense of Victoria had been Repetition and Iceland. 

It got me thinking that while there were very few one-word Fall songs, there are loads with two-word titles, so much so that an ICA could be compiled.

SIDE A

1. Psykick Dancehall (from Dragnet, 1979)

‘Is there anybody there?’

One which probably sounds like a typical song by The Fall to those who perhaps have little time for the band.  Opening track on Dragnet, the second studio album, there’s a repetition about the music and the vocals as such are half-chanted and half-sung.  And it’s meant to sound a tad off-key all the way through…..it was one of the ways MES wanted to distinguish his mob from any other gang in the post-punk era.

2. Cruiser’s Creek (1985 single)

The full six plus minute version, guaranteed to fill any indie disco dance floor filled to the brim.  Described by MES as having ‘a party lyric with a party twist.’

3. Industrial Estate (Peel Session)

MES mentioned the song, at length, in his ghosted autobiography Renegade, published in 2008:-

“…the second or third song that I wrote the music for, but the lyrics came first – it’s a sort of poem; a hard poem. You can tell it was written at work. It’s about working on the docks, on a container base. So of course I presented it to the group and they want to know what it’s all about. They would prefer me to write about velvet shiny leather,  the moon and all that kind of thing, like Television or The Velvets. As a compromise I wrote the chorus – ‘Yeah, yeah, industrial estate’ – to make it a bit more American rocky. And I wrote this sub-Stooges music to go with it, Stooges without the third chord. At the time, people thought it was terrible because it wasn’t the way it should be, it wasn’t in tune. But I never wanted The Fall to be like one of those groups. I didn’t care what people thought.”
Industrial Estate was part of the band’s first ever Peel Session, recorded on 30 May 1978 and initially broadcast on 15 June 1978.  The 24th and final such session was broadcast on 12 August 2004, some three months prior to the death of the much-loved broadcaster.

4. Hip Priest (from Hex Enduction Hour, 1982)

The alter ego of the unappreciated MES, and famously used in the 1991 film Silence of The Lambs. Selected for this ICA ahead of The Classical, as I didn’t want to get into any more debate about the use of the N-word in its lyrics.

5. Two Librans (from The Unutterable, 2000)

I wasn’t paying too much attention to The Fall at the turn of the century, but I ‘discovered’ this trashy rocker of a track thanks to its inclusion on Revolutions 04, a CD given away with Select Magazine in early 2021.  Two Librans was voted in at #23 in the Peel Festive 50 of 2000.

SIDE B

1. No Bulbs (from Call For Escape Route, 1984)

The Fall have rarely sounded more coherent or commercially ready than at this time in their career.  MES, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley, Brix Smith and the dual drumming machines of Paul Hanley and Karl Burns made some great music together. This is your full near eight-minute version from the 12″ EP on which Draygo’s Guilt was the lead track.

2. Edinburgh Man (from Shift-Work, 1991)

The break-up of the marriage to Brix led to MES upping sticks and moving to Edinburgh to live for a period of time.  He would later pen an affectionate number to his temporary home.

3. Free Range (from Code: Selfish, 1992)

This is the album version, which is slightly shorter and a different edit, musically, from the single version that featured a while back on the blog.  I do prefer the version which made it all the way to #40 in the UK (the highest position for any Fall original in the singles chart), but this take seems to fit in perfectly at the mid-point of Side B of this ICA.

4. Cowboy George (from Your Future Our Clutter, 2010)

I’ve not too long finished making my way through You Must Get Them All – The Fall On Record, a new book written by Steve Pringle which goes through every record ever released by MES & co.  The author suggests that there is a strong case to be made for Your Future Our Clutter to be the last ‘great’ album on the basis of its consistency and that the latest incarnation of the band had got to grips with a sound that was utterly their own.

Cowboy George is a fast and furious effort, with nods to surf rock and the soundtracks of spaghetti-westerns.  A song of two quite distinct halves, it’s another long one at almost six minutes long and was played live regularly in the sets over the final few years.

5. Fantastic Life (b-side, 1981)

Not only did this get featured when I had a look at Lie Dream of Casino Soul, but it found its way into one of the two volumes of my most recent mixes which popped up just yesterday.

If you want my opinion, and you’re going to get it in any event, this is one of the very best Fall tracks of them all.  Ripped direct from the vinyl, so there’s a couple of minor clicks along the way.

JC

4 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #318: THE FALL (7)

  1. Hex Enduction Hour is their masterpiece, one of my five favourite albums by anybody. Hip Priest obviously great, but my pick would be Winter, or Who Makes The Nazis, a majestically scary song. Fantastic Life is, well, fantastic. No Bulbs is fun, but invites the riposte ‘well if you’d just tidy up a bit Mark, and would it hurt to get the hoover out?’ Leave The Capital belongs in any Fall top ten though. You knew that . . .

  2. This is obviously excellent stuff and some superb choices. Particularly happy to see Two Librans, which I heard on the same free CD and hammered at the time- but weirdly never bought the album it came from.

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