THE TUESDAY MORNING HI-QUALITY VINYL RIP : Part sixty-five: BOMBAST

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I know that another ICA by The Fall appeared on the blog only a few days ago, and we’re not long removed from an extensive series looking at their many singles.

The thing is, I not too long ago picked up a vinyl copy of This Nation’s Saving Grace, the album released in September 1985. It’s taken me a couple of months, but I finally got round to putting it on the turntable at the same time as hooking everything up to the laptop to create a high-quality digital copy of its songs.

I can’t help but use the words written by Steve Pringle in his excellent new book, You Must Get Them All – The Fall On Record, as he’s captured perfectly all that makes today’s track such an essential and riveting listen.

….Steve Hanley wrote the riff during his paternity leave, (and it) kicks the album into gear in wonderfully boisterous fashion.  Smith gets his megaphone out for the striking introduction. It doesn’t make sense grammatically, but the message is clear : don’t give me any of your bullshit, or you’ll know about it.

What follows is an absolute marvel. It’s like Steve Hanley came up with three great riffs and then thought, what the hell, let’s weld them all together and see what happens. It clashes, it grinds, it thrashes; it almost feels as if the song itself is trying to punch you in the face. There’s no real song as such here, but it’s a glorious slab of music.

mp3: The Fall – Bombast

Now that you’ve reacquainted yourself with Bombast, don’t you reckon Steve Pringle has nailed it?

JC

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

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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

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 53)

masqueradersd7 front

The Fall released a new record in July 2017. It was their 32nd studio album – New Facts Emerge – nobody had any idea it would be their last.

MES gave UNCUT magazine a lengthy and decent interview for a lengthy feature.  The opening paragraph comments are priceless:-

“There are some fucking weird people around, aren’t there?” says Mark E Smith, taking a sip of Jameson’s in Manchester’s Crown & Kettle public house. He’s talking about musicians, a group of people he famously detests. “I suppose you meet a lot of ’em. I’m not one to talk, but a lot of them can’t give it up, can they?”

The interview also acknowledged that the band had been reduced to a four-piece, with Elena Poulou having taken her leave the previous year when she and MES separated and then divorced.  New Facts Emerge proved to be a disappointing effort, with Elena’s keyboards replaced only by more guitars, bass and drums, leading to an even heavier and more pounding sound, which is no surprise given the way the current and now-long standing musicians had been performing on the most recent releases.

No singles were lifted from the album, which would indicate Cherry Red Records were perhaps thinking the band was treading water and that the next set of songs, maybe with someone new brought into as Elena’s replacement, would be slightly more commercially-orientated. Sadly, with MES passing away a few months later in January 2018, (with a gig in Glasgow proving to be his last ever), the theory was never put to the test.

The label had previously issued a 7″ single for Record Store Day on 22 April 2017.  It was done, seemingly, without MES’s knowledge far less blessing, which left him a bit pissed off to say the least.  In the olden days, this would have led to him ripping up the contract and seeking a new home, but seemingly tired of battling with record company bosses, he told Uncut that “Cherry Red are all right (to work with)”.

It wasn’t even as if a really old track had been resurrected. Masquerade had been released in February 1998, on 10″ vinyl and 2 x CD singles, on Artful Records, selling enough copies to reach #69 in the singles chart.  The RSD effort didn’t even offer up any new version, with the b-side being a remix that had been included on the original 10″ release:-

mp3: The Fall – Masquerade
mp3: The Fall – Masquerade (PWL mix)

All in all, a rather limp ending to the singles/EP career of The Fall, but it certainly wasn’t planned that way…MES’s body finally gave up on him before any new music could be written, recorded and released.

I’d like to thank everyone who has stuck with this series, and I’ll apologise to those of you who aren’t fans who probably feel it has long overstayed its welcome.  The first part was actually just over a year ago, on 13 June 2021, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing the research involved for each release.  I haven’t always enjoyed the music, but it’s fair to say there have been way more hits than misses.

One thing I will add is that if a fairly recent book on The Fall had been in print when I began this series, then my life would have been a lot easier.

You Must Get Them All : The Fall On Record is a 656-page hardback epic written by Steve Pringle, issued by Route Publishing.  I don’t think at this stage you can get it anywhere other than via the publishers, and while as yet I’m only just over halfway through its contents, it does feel as if it’s the first book to tell the full chronological story by concentrating on every release, weaving in the various line-up changes and the live and often punishing touring schedules.  Click here for more details.

Tune in next week for the start of a new(ish) Sunday series…..its success or otherwise will rely heavily on audience participation/involvement.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 52)

wise ol man

Here’s a contemporary review of the Wise ‘Ol Man EP, released on Cherry Red Records on 19 February 2016, thus ending the run of singles/EPs specifically issued on Record Store Days.

The Fall’s current line-up has been its most durable one since Mark E. Smith started the band in the mid-’70s, and that’s really saying something. Just go to Wikipedia and see if you can nail down a halfway steady lineup through the Fall’s career. Smith, his wife/keyboardist Elena Poulou, guitarist Pete Greenway, bassist David Spurr and drummer Keiron Melling have enjoyed a steady string of studio albums, EPs, and live albums for the past ten years or so. The Wise Ol’ Man EP serves as a companion piece to the previous year’s Sub-Lingual Tablet, featuring a handful of new songs along with reworked Tablet tracks.

As is true to recent Fall tradition, Wise Ol’ Man goes down as smoothly as a pint of motor oil. Age may mellow some artists, but Smith seems to be going the opposite direction as the years pass. His lyrics and their meaning are being tucked further and further back into the mix, his vocal delivery relies on growling and stretched vowels more than ever, and the band he has chosen to surround himself with plays with all the serenading power of a two-ton hammer. Newcomers to the Manchester phenomenon won’t be able to tell if Wise Ol’ Man is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders or the sound of a band coming apart. Let it be known that the Fall never makes things easy, for neither themselves nor their fans.

The title track, a new song that kicks off the EP, really injects the “punk” into the group’s post-punk origins with a three-chord pattern that absolutely pounds. Poulou sings the title’s three words while Smith moans, howls, and laughs at the top of his voice, sounding very much like a man who is amused by the fact that he knows something we don’t. “Wise Ol’ Man” turns up again on the EP’s second half, misleadingly labelled as the ‘Instrumental’ version since there are plenty of vocals to be heard on that one. Another new song, “All Leave Cancelled”, also gets two renditions. The first is an eight-minute sludge pummelling with vocals that screech, keyboards that sustain noisily, and a bass part that could never get clean after ten showers. The version of “All Leave Cancelled” that closes out the album is two minutes long, sounds substantially cleaner, and features no vocals. Sub-Lingual Tablet‘s legacy is carried on by “Dedication”, a remix of “Dedication Not Medication”, and “Venice with Girls”. The skewed disc-pop of “Dedication” sounds about as far-out and futuristic now as it probably would have back in the late ’70s, while “Venice with Girls” has a sliver more in common with the late ’80s/early ’90s Britpop movement.

This is all just to get you ready for “Face Book Troll / No Xmas For John Quay”, seemingly a medley of two new songs where Smith uses his one-of-a-kind voice to goad his band into reaching new heights with their noise. Splicing a studio recording with a live one, this track bulldozes full speed ahead for over seven minutes. Smith’s voice cracks over the cacophony, the last beat falls, and the appreciate audience bellows its approval. Thus ends another Fall release, one of many that have come before and, for all we know, just as many to come. Wise Ol’ Man won’t go down as one of the essential puzzle pieces to the story of the Fall, but it at least boasts a killer title cut.”

This was written by John Garratt for the popmatters website.  It’s not the worst review in terms of how the music sounds, but it fails on a number of fronts such as dating Britpop to the late 80s/early 90s, and then there’s the ‘burn them at the stake’ offence of failing to recognise that No Xmas For John Quays, far from being a new song within a medley, dates all the way back to 1979 and the debut album Live At The Witch Trials. The version on this latest release was recorded at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 28 November 2014.

mp3: The Fall – Wise Ol’ Man (edit)
mp3: The Fall – All Leave Cancelled
mp3: The Fall – Dedication (remix)

mp3: The Fall – Wise Ol’ Man (instrumental)
mp3: The Fall – Venice With The Girls (remix)
mp3: The Fall – Facebook Troll/No Xmas For John Quays

mp3: The Fall – All Leave Cancelled (X)

I could feasibly end the series here in that the final 45 released by The Fall in MES’s lifetime would prove to be another RSD effort in 2017, a 7″ single in which both tracks had previously been available.

Tune in next week for what, unfortunately, is a bit of an anti-climax, but which somehow seems appropriate given the sprawling and occasionally shambolic nature of The Fall’s single and EP releases. Besides, one more week makes for prefect timing for what kicks-off on Sundays come the month of July…..

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 51)

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I’m going to wiki today:-

The Remainderer is an EP by the Fall, released on 9 November 2013. It features five new songs by the group and a medley of two Gene Vincent covers.

The Quietus described the title track as “full of mischief and malevolence” and the rest of the EP as “answering the call of the weird”. Pitchfork noted the longevity of the line-up as “an encouraging sign that stability has yet to ossify into stagnation with this ongoing iteration of the band, who formidably exercise their elasticity over the course of these six wildly divergent tracks”.

The Line of Best Fit commented that the EP “isn’t necessarily consistently solid, but it’s decidedly close. Fundamentally though it’s reaffirmation of their aptitude for quantity and quality”.

NME found the EP to “sound like someone’s brought Elvis back to life”.

mp3: The Fall – The Remainderer
mp3: The Fall – Amorator!
mp3: The Fall – Mister Rode

mp3: The Fall – Rememberance R
mp3: The Fall – Say Mama/Race With The Devil (live)
mp3: The Fall – Touchy Pad

Again, you’ll find it’s MES (vocals), Peter Greenway (guitar), David Spurr (bass), Keiron Melling (drums) and Eleni Poulou (keyboards) with Cherry Red Records the label.  The days of line-ups constantly changing and shifts from one label to another were firmly in the rear.

Two more weeks left in the series.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 50)

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It was a quiet twelve months for The Fall between the release of Night of The Humerons for Record Store Day 2012 and the next again time any new product was in the shops.  Indeed, it was Record Store Day 2013 when 1,500 copies of a 7″ single found their way onto various shelves and racks.

mp3: The Fall – Sir William Wray
mp3: The Fall – Jetplane
mp3: The Fall – Hittite Man

The now well-established quintet of MES (vocals), Peter Greenway (guitar), David Spurr (bass), Keiron Melling (drums) and Eleni Poulou (keyboards) were the musicians on board, and again it was Cherry Red Records on which it was released.  All three songs would be included on the album Re-Mit, which came out a couple of weeks after RSD 2013.

I hadn’t heard any of these prior to pullling this post together. I was surprised to discover that they are quite diverse, which is something to behold given that The Fall had now, at this point, been making music for 35 years, but I feel that Jetplane is the only one worth repeated listens.

Having said that, a different version of Hittite Man was put out on Facebook (!!) just after the album was released, and is an improvement on the original.

mp3: The Fall – Hittite Man (alternate version)

This line-up of The Fall, it has to be said, sound quite professional and polished in many places but, to my ears, without the spark of the classic line-ups who have featured in past postings.  Indeed, as you can hear best on the alternative version of Hittite Man, they are almost a bog-standard rock band. Or am I being unfair??

This series is drawing to its natural conclusion, and I’ve already decided what’s going to take its place on Sundays going forward.  I hope most of you will be happy…..

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 49)

humerons

I mentioned last week that I never bought anything The Fall issued while with Cherry Red Records as I’d lost my way with the band by this point in time.  Drew over at Across The Kitchen Table remained a devotee, but all too often he would tell of going along to a gig and feeling let-down and/or short-changed.

I might have felt the same way if I was the type who made something out of Record Store Day as the next 45 to be released by MES & co was for that event in April 2012, with a limited run of 1,000 copies of a 7″ single with the title Night of the Humerons, but neither the a-side nor b-side featured a song of that name.

mp3: The Fall – Victrola Time

The a-side was seemingly developed from an instrumental track called Damflicters that had been worked up during sessions for the Ersatz G.B. album, released in November 2011.  It might have been a limited edition 45, but it became widely available in May 2013 when it was included on the next studio album, Re-Mit.

It’s electronica Fall, and MES doesn’t start singing until about 70 seconds in….and it, to be frank, is awful.  Here’s your lyrics in full:-

Science hasn’t recorded it yet…
And I don’t want bennies….jellies….

I said MDMA years!
You can’t feel, you can’t feel Victrola
Victrola teller, Victrola teller
From ’28 from ’16,
Victrola,
DMA years,
Stop!
J-j-just stop
J-just can’t
Just can’t
Post meth and DMA years
The pre non-MDM and net years
The post meth MDMA years
The pre-non-MDM and meth years
The post meth and also DMA years
The MDMA years
The pre-black eyes and tears of today years
The post-meth MDMA years
MDMA years…
Can’t feel I could cry
Joy
The pre-black eyes and tears of today years

The b-side was a live version of a track from Erstatz G.B.:-

mp3: The Fall – Taking Off (live)

At least it’s marginally better than the a-side.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 48)

We’ve reached 2011.

The Fall seem to have a very settled line-up, with MES being alongside Peter Greenway (guitars), David Spurr (bass), Kieron Melling (drums) and Eleni Poulou (keyboards). Having taken leve of Domino, the band ink a new deal with Cherry Red Records, a London-based independent label dating back to 1978, which, in addition to releasing new music by a wide range of acts which can often best be described as maverick/left-of-centre, (Luke Haines has been part of the label for a long while), has become a specialist for all sorts of re-releases, particularly CD box sets containing previously unreleased or hard-to-find material. It was actually something of a misnomer that The Fall hadn’t previously been part of the roster, and it proved to be a happy and fruitful partnership, with the label being responsible for all the band’s releases between 2011 and 2017.

First up was this single, on 7 November 2011:-

mp3: The Fall – Laptog Dog
mp3: The Fall – Cosmos 7
mp3: The Fall – Monocard (Lunatic Mix)

It was something of a low-key release, limited in numbers, and therefore something of a rarity on the second-hand market. The label was much more interested in the release, just seven days later, of the album Ersatz GB, a ten-track LP which came out on vinyl and CD. It was the band’s 28th studio album but, and this probably won’t come as a surprise, was the first ever time three successive studio albums had been recorded with the same-line up. As I say, no surprise, but at the same time quite an astounding fact.

The album reached the lower end of the UK charts which was deemed a satisfactory outcome by all concerned, given it was released to what can best be described as mixed reviews, while a number of the live shows to support the impending release of the album were dogged by MES sloping off-stage mid-set; leaving Eleni to take the vocals. Here’s one fan’s take on things on what proved to be something of a notorious gig in Edinburgh on 3 November:-

Who would be Mark E. Smith’s wife? Last night Fall fans were treated to simultaneously one of the worst and best gigs of the year, as the majority of the proceedings were left to Mrs. E Smith to fill in the gaps after Mark exited the stage.

Things started promisingly: the band in great form and the new songs (we heard perhaps two of them) sounding excellent. Then Smith disappeared off stage (nothing unusual about that); spookily however, his voice remained. Was he perhaps paving the way for his own demise, when the band will have to tour to backing tapes of his lyrics? Soon the voice disappeared too, leaving us to endure the longest ever version of ‘I’ve Been Duped’, sung without apparent irony by Mrs. Smith.

As far as a group of people in their 40s and 50s could be said to be restless, there was a certain fractious mood abroad in the crowd: a few squidgy plastic pint glasses were thrown towards the stage (emptied of the £4 contents); Mrs. Smith ill-advisedly greeted this with outstretched arms in a ‘come-ahead’ gesture. She explained before walking off that “Mark has terrible voondz (wounds) on iz feet and haz to walk up five flights ov stairs to get to zee stage” when this with greeted some derision from certain elements in the crowd, she replied “What? Are you a doctor?” before leaving to boos. Suddenly we were reminded just how young Mrs. Smith really is: her possibly misguided loyalty deserves the highest praise.

To their credit the band took to the stage again to launch into an instrumental ‘Reformation’; Mrs. Smith was about to offer the mic to the crowd when suddenly, a fellow wearing a combat jacket, silk scarf and a handlebar moustache, leapt to the stage; at first it seemed to be all part of a huge practical joke, as the uninvited lead singer with admirable chutzpah, extemporized lyrics about going to see The Fall and Mark not being there. This was brought to a premature end as he was approached by a large shaven headed bouncer. Before we could chorus “he’s behind you” our unknown Bob Calvert impersonator was led away, looking crestfallen. On the back of the bouncer’s neon-yellow t-shirt was the ominous message: ‘Stage Security, here to assist you’. More boos followed, but immediately gave way to cheers as none other than Mark E. Smith was led on stage supported on either side like King Lear by two stage hands. He sang the rest of ‘Reformation’ (sort of) before delivering a superb version of ‘Mr. Pharmacist’, complete with keyboard solo. Then it was all over.

Did I ask for a refund on my ticket? Did I throw a pint glass? No. My only thought was ‘I hope his feet get better.’ Misguided loyalty is clearly infectious.

It’s really no wonder that by now I had given up on things….I never did buy anything that came out on Cherry Red, and digging out the tunes for today’s posting will be the first time I’ve heard them. They’re not the worst – the single is a sort of plodding, middling thing but very clearly the sound of The Fall, while the b-sides offer a mix of fat electronica rockabilly (yes, really!!) and an eight-minute Krautrock effort, if that happens to be your thing.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 47)

Last week made mention of The Fall signing to Domino Records in late 2009.

It was a short-lived partnership, with just one album Your Future Our Clutter, released in April 2010, before MES decided Laurence Bell & co. weren’t for him.  The same month also saw the release of a new single via Domino, one which was pressed in limited numbers on 7″ vinyl for Record Store Day but which was also issued on CD.

mp3: The Fall – Bury! #2+4

Bury Pts 1+3 had been a track on Your Future Our Clutter, an album which received fairly positive reviews and which entered the UK charts at #38. As you can see from the sleeve pictured above, the single issued for Record Store Day has a different title altogether, and indeed has a different mix and edit, being at least a couple of minutes shorter, to that found on the album.

mp3: The Fall – Bury Pts 1+3

Oh, and don’t concern yourself with the poor quality of the opening 100 seconds of the track….it was wholly intentional on the part of The Fall.

I should also mention, more for the benefit of some of our overseas subscribers, that the song is referencing Bury, the town some ten miles north of Manchester, and not the more common use of the word in terms of shoving things deep underground.

This was the b-side to the single:-

mp3: The Fall – Cowboy Gregori

Anyone lucky enough to pick up the single would likely have been expecting some sort of remix or version of another song on Your Future Our Clutter, but as you hear, they are two completely different entities.

mp3: The Fall – Cowboy George

Indeed, the album track is attributed to MES, Peter Greenway, and Elena Poulou, while the b-side of the single is the sole work of MES.

Worth mentioning that Jonder, in one of what have been six ICAs devoted to The Fall, had this to say in #137, back in September 2017:-

Bury! #2 and 4 is one of the best Fall songs since Sparta FC, an insistent march with a memorable refrain. The lyric “A new way of recording/ A chain ’round the neck” is aimed at Domino Records, who wanted the band to put more time into the album.

I’ve long thought it would have been interesting to see where The Fall would have gone, musically, if they had stayed with Domino, but I’m guessing Jonder’s observation, combined with the facts that there were strong personalities at the head of the label, and it had such a large roster of bands and artists, most likely reminded MES of the Rough Trade era, and so it’s no real shock that he was again on the lookout for another new home.

And, as we will see next week as we head towards the final few singles, that new home would prove to be where The Fall would abide until the end.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 46)

The three Americans take their leave after Primavera on 1 June 2007. Job done.

It’s only a matter of weeks, however, before The Fall are due back on stage, including three successive nights in London.  David Spurr stays on with MES and Elena Poulou, and the line-up is augmented by Kieron Melling (drums) and Pete Greenway (guitar).   What nobody knew, and what nobody would have dared predict, was that this line-up would more or less remain unaltered until MES’s death in 2018.

The first studio release by the new line-up was the album Imperial Wax Solvent, issued by Slogan Records in April 2008.  No singles are taken from the album.  It proved to be the last original record in the partnership between The Fall and Sanctuary, the parent company of Slogan Records, albeit there would be further compilations and box sets in future years.

The stability of the new line-up probably helped those at Domino Records feel confident about making an approach to MES, and a contract was signed that would see a new album issued in Spring 2010. In the meantime, a limited edition tour single, on 7″ and CD, was released, by Action Records, in November 2009.

mp3: The Fall – Slippy Floor (Mark Mix)
mp3: The Fall – Hot Cake
mp3: The Fall – Strangetown (Live At Camden Crawl)

The first two tracks are originals, with Slippy Floor credited to Smith/Greenway, while Hot Cake is the work of Smith/Spurr. Both are excellent, with Hot Cake showing a mix of the old rockabilly style of the band and the harder rockier sound being offered by the new musicians, while Elena’s backing vocal contributions are a reminder of the Brix era.

The third track is a cover, this time of a song by The Groundhogs, an English rock and blues band, founded in 1963, and which remained active until 2015, when founder Tony McPhee (who was the composer of Strangetown), was 80 years of age. The original version of the song dates back to 1970, being the opening track on the album Thank Christ For The Bomb. The live version included on the single was recorded at the Electric Ballroom in London, in April 2009.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down the live version included on this particular release, so you’ll have to make do with the studio version, which was included on Imperial Wax Solvent.

mp3: The Fall – Strangetown

Slippy Floor and Hot Cake would later find their way onto Your Future Our Clutter, the album which met the contractual obligations with Domino, although there would also be a single issued on Domino before the band took their leave of the label. Tune in next week for details.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 45)

Renegade : The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith was published in 2008.  It is very revealing that MES chose to begin the book with the events of 7 May 2006 in Phoenix, Arizona.

In a nutshell, three-fifths of The Fall walked out on the band just four dates into a tour of the USA.  Ben Pritchard, Steve Trafford and Spencer Birtwistle decided they could take no more.  The opening pages of Renegade reprint an interview given by Pritchard on his return to England, but it is interspersed and interrupted by MES telling his side of the story.

It all meant, while committed to a tour of the USA, The Fall were down to a duo of MES and his wife, Elena Poulou.   He turned to Narnack, the record company to which the band was signed in America, and arrangements were made to sort out a new line-up, consisting of Orpheo McCord (drums), Rob Barbato (bass) and Tim Presley (guitar).   Two days after Phoenix, this latest version of The Fall took to the stage in San Diego and went on to complete the remaining thirteen shows on the tour with no mishaps.  Not only that, but the line-up, augmented by a second bassist in the shape of Dave Spurr, would gig constantly in the UK and Europe throughout 2006 and likewise in the first half of 2007, as well as going into the studio where a new album would be recorded.

Reformation Post TLC was released on Slogan Records on 12 February 2007.  MES said at the time that TLC was his shorthand way of referring to the musicians who had left him seemingly high and dry in Arizona. It was shorthand for ‘traitors, liars and cunts’.

The album got somewhat mixed reviews, but all told, it was something of a miracle that it got made at all.  The firings, sackings and walk-outs over the years had increasingly become the calling card of The Fall, and there’s every chance that if the Arizona walk-out had been in the UK, then MES might have struggled to pull a band together so quickly.  As it was, the incident only made him determined to immediately prove his critics wrong (again!!), but it also did knock some sense into him given that, after the trio of Americans took their leave in mid-2007 on the back of a well-received set at the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, The Fall would end up enjoying the most stable period, members-wise, in all of its history.

The Reformation-era line-up ended up being responsible for just one single, released on 12″ and CD in early April 2007:-

mp3: The Fall – Reformation! (Uncut)
mp3: The Fall – Over Over (Rough Mix)
mp3: The Fall – My Door Is Never (Rough Mix)

And for a change, instead of an mp3 of the edited version of Reformation which made up the fourth track on the single, here’s the video:-

All three songs can be found on the parent album, and as you can see from the titles, the versions of Over Over and My Door Is Never which were put out on the single, were not the finished mixes. All in all, it’s really no more than a bit of promo back-up to support the album a couple of months after it had originally hit the shops, as well as during the UK tour that was underway at the time.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 44)

Thankfully, the release of the Rude (All The Time) EP was quickly followed up by a new single.

26 September 2005.  It’s a double-A sided single, with a cover version on one side and an original on the other:-

mp3: The Fall – I Can Hear The Grass Grow
mp3: The Fall – Clasp Hands

It was issued on yet another different and new label – Slogan Records – an imprint of Sanctuary Records, which at the time was a hugely successful operation in the UK and under whom, via various other imprints, The Fall had enjoyed the fruits of some excellent box sets/compilations, not least The Complete Peel Sessions in 2004.

It proved to be a lead-off single for the 24th studio album, Fall Heads Roll, which would be released exactly a week later.

I Can Hear The Grass Grow dated from 1967, by the psychedelia pop band, The Move, fronted by Roy Wood. It had been a #5 hit back in the day.

Clasp Hands was attributed to Mark E Smith and Steve Trafford, the latest in what was proving to be a long line of bassists in The Fall. He joined what had been an otherwise steady line-up alongside Elena Poulou and Ben Pritchard, while the drums on the album were played by a returning Spencer Birtwhistle, back in the fold for a second stint to take over from Dave Milner.

There were just 1,000 copies of the 7″ pressed up, and you can look to pay upwards of £30 these days is you fancy picking up a second-hand copy.

Incidentally, the reason I keep mentioning all the different and returning personnel, as well as the umpteen labels on which The Fall ended up being part of, is to illustrate just how chaotic it all was, with musicians not really knowing what was happening with each passing recording session while MES kept complete control in the manner he liked.  I’ll return to that very subject again next week……

 

JC

 

THE FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 43)

Remember a few weeks ago when Rude (All The Time), released as a single in 2001, was featured in this series?

Today, it’s the turn of the Rude (All The Time) EP, which was released, with a limited pressing of 2,000 copies, on CD in June 2005. It consisted of four tracks –

Distilled Mug Art (Mix 15);  I Wake Up In The City (Mix 5);  My Ex Classmates Kids (Mix 4); and Where’s The Fuckin Taxi? Cunt (Mix 17).

I can’t really tell you much about this other than what I’ve found at various fan websites devoted to The Fall.

I failed to mention a few weeks ago, the release of 2G+2, an album from 2002 which consisted partly of studio tracks and partly of live numbers, recorded at various times during a tour of the USA in 2001. It was actually the first release on Action Records, pre-dating the Susan vs Youthclub single by a few months.

Distilled Mug Art was the opening track on 2G+2, and by all accounts the version on this particular EP doesn’t greatly differ, as I haven’t been able to track down Mix 15, so you’ll have to make do with this:-

mp3: The Fall – Distilled Mug Art

The EP also included I Wake Up In The City, which had first appeared as the b-side to Rude (All The Time) when it had been released as a single in 2001 and was posted a few weeks ago.

My Ex Classmates Kids also appeared in this series recently, thanks to it a live version being a b-side to Theme From Sparta FC #2.  I really don’t feel there’s any merit in going digging for these particular versions and posting them today.

Which leaves us with this|:-

mp3: The Fall – Where’s The Fuckin Taxi? Cunt

A fan website offers up this info:-

One of the group’s more notorious tracks, this is a recording of a drunken conversation between MES, Ed Blaney and a couple of others over a taxi which somehow fails to arrive. There’s no music as such except for an acoustic guitar lazily strummed from time to time. Not surprisingly, it has never been played live.

I think it’s fair comment to suggest that this particular single is of very little merit, and I did think about bypassing it altogether.  But with just 2,000 copies in circulation, it is a sought-after artefact among the completists (which I most certainly am not!).  Oh, and in recognition of its insignificance, I’ve altered the title of the series this week.

Finally, the label on which this was released was Hip Priest, an imprint primarily brought into being to issue live recordings from back in the late 70s and early 80s.

I bet there’s not a worse posting than this on any music blogs the world over on Easter Sunday 2022.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 42)

You’ll hopefully recall the end of last week’s posting referring to the American release of The Real New Fall LP, on 15 June 2004 in which I mentioned it contained alternate versions of the tracks issued on the UK version of the album some seven months previously.

One such alternate was released as a single in the UK on 28 June.

mp3: The Fall – Theme From Sparta F.C. #2

I mentioned a few weeks ago on the fact that Touch Sensitive is probably the best known song by The Fall here in the UK, thanks to its use in a car advert. It is probably matched by Theme From Sparta F.C. #2 as it would be used as the theme music to the football results section on Saturday afternoons on the main BBC1 channel.

The track, as its title indicates, is a re-take of the version originally included on the UK version of The Real New Fall. The version issued as the 45 had no trace of Jim Watts on it, despite him being one of the co-writers of the song, with the bass parts played by Simon Archer, who also co-produced it along with MES.

It’s no real surprise that the song was, eventually and belatedly, issued as a single. The original version had been voted in at #2 the previous year in the Peel Festive Fifty, and most reviews of the album referred to it as being a standout track. The new version actually made the UK singles chart, entering at #66, and in doing so would be the fifteenth and final time that a Fall 45 managed to break into the Top 75 of the official singles chart. It would also be voted in at #1 in the Peel Festive Fifty at the end of 2005 and, as mentioned above, would be used as a theme tune on BBC1 for four years until 2009.

It was issued on 7″ vinyl and CD. The vinyl now fetches upwards of £50 on the few occasions it comes up on the second-hand markets.

The b-sides have stories.

mp3: The Fall – My Ex-Classmates Kids (live, Cologne 2001)

The original version had been released on the much-maligned album, Are You Missing Winner?, and has been described as a sister song to I Wake Up In The City, (the b-side to Rude (All The Time, given that it shares the same basic riff.

mp3: The Fall – Portugal

The initial pressing of the CD also contained a hidden track, Portugal (aka Debacle (For The Record) which was only playable on a computer. It was, however, available on the US version of The Real New Fall. It’s seemingly all to do with an incident at a gig in Lisbon in September 2003 after which locally employed road managers and crew had a huge falling out with MES, resigning mid-show and making off with some of the takings, seemingly as payment not previously forthcoming for services rendered. The lyrics are not the work of MES, but are sung by Dave Milner, with a couple of lines added by Ben Pritchard.

As an overall package of three songs, it makes for a strange release, with the a-side offering as big a contrast to its b-sides as at any point in the band’s long history.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 41)

2003.  The Fall are still on Action Records on which an EP is released in December of that year.  It’s been another crazy year, as exemplified by the story around the release of an album in October 2003.

The same line-up as had been together for Susan vs. Nightclub – MES, Ben Pritchard, Jim Watts, Dave Milner and Elena Poulou had been hard at work in Rochdale, Lancashire – at a studio built and owned by local lass and mega pop-star, Lisa Stansfield, on what was provisionally entitled Country On The Click. It had been due for release in April 2003, but MES decided he was unhappy with the final mix and pulled the plug.  He would later say:-

“I thought this LP was perfect round about March. But then you trust people to go away and mix it, and it comes back sounding like Dr. Who meets Posh Spice. You have to go back in and strip it down to what it basically was.”

To further annoy him, the early mix was leaked onto the internet seemingly by Jim Watts, who was, by the end of the year, no longer in the band. The new mix was, as indicated above, made available in the shops under the title of The Real New Fall LP (Formerly Country on the Click). It was the band’s 23rd studio album.

Reviews were almost universally positive:-

“as valuable an album as anything The Fall ever released in the 1990s”
“Smith’s lyrics are at a near career-best of insolence and nonsense
“Smith is on magnificently mad form”.
“Smith grinds and spits on everything that moves. Sometimes it’s completely incomprehensible, sometimes insanely entertaining.
“Great by Smith’s standards. Practically genius by everybody else’s.”
“as good as anything in this group’s monstrous catalogue”
“their best record in a decade”.

And yet, no single was lifted from it to assist with its promotion….well, not initially, and even then there’s a story to be told.

Proteinprotection was a track on the album, but rather than release it as a 45, the decision was taken to head back into the studio, with Simon Archer brought in on bass as Watt’s replacement, and rework it entirely as a Festive number.

mp3: The Fall – (We Wish You) A Protein Christmas

It was released as a 2×7″ single in a limited pressing of 1,000 copies as well as a more widely available CD.  Here’s the b-sides:-

mp3: The Fall – (We Are) Mod Mock Goth
mp3: The Fall – (Birtwistle’s) Girl In Shop
mp3: The Fall – Recovery Kit 2#

I’ll just mention in passing that (Birtwistle’s) Girl In Shop seems to have been played entirely by former drummer Spencer Birtwhistle, while Recover Kit 2# is a remix of a track originally found on the most recent LP.  (We Are) Mod Mock Goth is a new song altogether, co-composed by MES and Elena Poulou.

Hang on a moment though…..this might all appear a bit gibberish to readers from North America.  And that’s down to the fact that The Real New Fall LP (Formerly Country On The Click) wasn’t released over there until June 2004 but the version was different from that previously available in the UK. It had a different sleeve, some song titles were abbreviated and most confusingly of all, alternate versions of the songs, including Recovery Kit were substituted, while a couple of b-sides, including Mod Mock Goth, were added to the CD.

I hope you’re managing to follow all this, as it’s relevant to the next part in this singles’ series.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 40)

We’ve reached 2002.  The Fall have yet another new label, this time it’s Action Records, based out of an indie record store in Preston, Lancashire.

The first studio recording for the label appears as a 7″ and CD single in December 2002 under the heading of The Fall vs 2003. Quite incredibly, given how rarely any of the 45s made into the UK singles charts, this one enters at #64, albeit it drops back down again the following week.

mp3: The Fall – Susan vs. Youthclub
mp3: The Fall – Janet vs Johnny
mp3: The Fall – Susan vs. Youthclub (remix)

The music is made by a five-piece line-up, consisting of MES (vocals), Ben Pritchard (guitar, vocals), Jim Watts (bass, guitar, programming), Dave Milner (drums, vocals, keyboards) and
Elena Poulou (keyboards, vocals).

Worth mentioning that MES and Elena would, in due course, get married and that her eventual 14-year stint in the band (2002-2016) would see her become the third-longest other serving member of The Fall, behind the double legends of Steve Hanley (1979-1998) and Craig Scanlon (1979-1995)

Susan vs. Youthclub is yet another huge shift in direction, soundwise. Yes, there are guitars on it, but it’s very much in the genre of electronica. Janet vs Johnny, a much slower number than usual from The Fall, is quite hypnotic in nature. The remix of the single, which was only made available on the CD version, can be presented as evidence against anyone who tried to claim all songs by The Fall sound the same.

I’ve mentioned before that I had more or less stopped having any interest in The Fall at this point in time, so it would be a few years before I picked up anything at all about this particular single. I have to admit that was my loss, particularly when it comes to the remix version, which is a tremendous listen.

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 39)

I wasn’t entirely sure about including this in the series, but given it is on 7″ vinyl, albeit in very limited numbers, I’ll use it to take the story forward.

2000.  The Fall line-up that had recorded The Marshall Suite, from which Touch Sensitive and F-oldin Money had been lifted as singles, stayed together for the writing and recording of The Unutterable, a CD-only album that received a decent amount of positive press.  It was issued by Eagle Records, yet another new label for the band to spend some time with, albeit the album proved to be the only original release. Looking at the history of Eagle Records on Discogs reveals a distinct lack of singles, and none were taken from The Unutterable.

2001. The line-up was no more, either through decisions to quit or having been sacked.  It’s a real state of flux, and out of the chaos emerges a 7″ single, but only available if you happen to subscribe to Flitwick Records, a little-known English label.

mp3: The Fall – Rude (All The Time)
mp3: The Fall – I Wake Up In The City

The on-line info(as well as printed on the sleeve) reveals that the musicians involved were MES (vocals), Ed Blaney (guitar, vocals), Jim Watts (guitar, bass) and Spencer Birtwistle (drums), although only MES and Blaney were involved on the a-side, in terms of writing and performing. Other on-line info reveals that Rude (All The Time) was originally recorded by Blaney’s band Trigger Happy in 1996.

It’s a very peculiar a-side, just Blaney on acoustic guitar and MES offering up some sort of vocal.  The b-side is much more of what you might expect, albeit there’s a fairly lo-fi, fuzzy production over which MES does his thing.  Enough fans liked I Wake Up In The City to vote it in at #30 in the Peel Festive Fifty of 2001.

The other thing which is strange is that Ed Blaney was never officially a member of The Fall, and he’s more often referred to as a ‘contributor’ on this 7″ and Are You Missing Winner?, the album released later in 2001, but from which no singles were lifted. Given that ‘Winner’ is regularly cited as possibly the worst Fall studio album of all time, this might well be a blessing.

Oh, and further information gleamed from various sources indicates that Blaney was, for a long time, a close friend of MES, taking on managerial responsibilities for the band for a period of time, while 2008 saw the release of Smith and Blaney, an album’s worth of material which, I think is is fair to say, was critically savaged on release.

Only 500 copies of the 7″ single were pressed up and given away.  The asking price on Discogs is £275.  To really confuse things, a later single on EP would be released in 2005, with the title Rude (All The Time) – I’ll deal with that in a few weeks time, but in the meantime will just say the EP was a CD only release and the track Rude (All The Time) wasn’t on it….

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 38)

August 1999, and the decision was taken to release a second single from The Marshall Suite.  By this time, I’d lost interest in The Fall, and it was only reignited about a decade later when I started blogging and discovering that there were a few fans out there who had stuck by them.  I’ll keep the series going, but it really will be minimal stuff in terms of offering up thoughts and observations, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll track down all the b-sides.

mp3: The Fall – F-‘oldin Money

In a press interview just a few months earlier, MES had said:-

“F-‘oldin’ Money” [also on the new record], that’s half a cover; it’s based on a piece of rockabilly from around 1955. I can’t even find the publisher or whether the bloke’s alive or anything. I don’t like to just lift things; I’ve always been against that.”

The song was written by Tommy Blake, whose compositions over the years had been covered by George Jones and Johnny Cash, among others.  He also did land himself a recording contract with Sun Records but without ever achieving a hit single under his own steam.  I’m not convinced MES was telling the truth in saying he knew nothing about Blake, and indeed given how he lived his life, I think MES was attracted to him, in that he suffered from alcoholism throughout the majority of his life and at the age of 54, was murdered by his third wife over marital disputes on Christmas Eve in 1985.

The single was issued on 2 x CDs, offering up four different versions/remixes of songs that could be found on The Marshall Suite:-

mp3: The Fall – This Perfect Day (new version)
mp3: The Fall – Birthday Song (new mix)
mp3: The Fall – The REAL Life of The Crying Marshall (new version)
mp3: The Fall – Tom Ragazzi (new mix)

Tom Ragazzi is a new mix of the track Anecdotes + Anecdotes In B.

This Perfect Day is another cover. The original vocal take on The Marshall Suite isn’t too bad, but this new version is an abomination.  Here’s the original, a tremendous hit single back in 1977 by Australian punk band, The Saints:-

mp3: The Saints – This Perfect Day

F-‘oldin Money didn’t do much in the singles chart, stalling at #93

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 37)

I know I said a few weeks back that I’d get this series down to basics, and then last week I offered up a lengthy tale of horror.

But I think that was all necessary as it cleared the decks for more or less the 21st Century version of The Fall, one in which all traces of the band’s roots and beginnings were done away with and it became a vehicle for MES and hired hands, albeit in due course he would come to find a settled line-up again.

Work on the next album got underway in late 1998 and carried over into early 1999.  The musicians involved beyond MES and Julia Nagle on keyboards were Neville Wilding (guitar, backing vocals), and Tom Head (drums), while Karen Leatham and Adam Helal were both tried out on bass.  Indeed, the final few gigs of 1998 had seen the band experiment with two bass players on stage at the same time, but seemingly it only delivered a great deal of chaos. In the end, it was Helal who was kept on as the full-time member once the band took to the road to promote the release of the album The Marshall Suite, which hit the shops on 19 April 1999, once again via Artful Records.

Some four weeks earlier, a single had been released, on 12″ vinyl and CD:-

mp3: The Fall – Touch Sensitive
mp3: The Fall – Antidote
mp3: The Fall – Touch Sensitive (dance mix)

It reached #90 in the charts and largely unknown outside the confines of fans of the band until 2003 when this advert for a car started being aired on the TV screens here in the UK:-

Hey Hey Hey……The Fall were suddenly famous!!

The CD version of this single will set you back about £2 on the second-hand market.  The 12″ single goes for more than £50……

JC

THE WONDERFUL AND FRIGHTENING SERIES FOR SUNDAYS (Part 36)

Warning.  This tale is chaotic in the extreme.

October 1996. Brix Smith leaves mid-tour after a violent confrontation with MES in the soundcheck at a gig in Motherwell, some ten miles south-east of Glasgow.  She came back a few days later, after a heartfelt plea to from the booking agent, to play the tour finale at the Forum in London, knowing it would be her last ever involvement with The Fall.

A new guitarist, Tommy Crooks comes on board in May 1997 and two months later work got underway on a new album.  The sessions were messy and difficult, and during them, Simon Wolstencroft decided to quit after ten years as drummer, frustrated by the way MES was behaving.  For the live dates over the summer, Karl Burns came back in yet again (possibly for the ninth time!!)

It was also a year in which loads of compilation albums, consisting of live recordings and alternative versions of previously released songs, were issued by various labels, all the result of the chronic inability, over many years, of MES to sort out his affairs.

September 1997, the album Levitate is released via Artful Records, a relatively new and cheap’n’cheerful indie label.  The songs came from three different sessions at three different locations over an extended period of time.  One way to illustrate how chaotic it all was is the inclusion of a track called Tragic Days, which is credited to MES and Martin Bramah. The explanation provided a few years later by Bramah was that it was really a work in progress, recorded in 1990 as a home-produced jam session between himself and Craig Scanlon; he also added that the song was really more of Craig’s than it was Martin’s…..

No singles were released prior to Levitate hitting the shops.  But in February 1998, something strange happened in that Masquerade, an MES/Julia Nagle co-composition was released as a single, a full five months after first being made available.  The fact that MES and Julia were now an item, may or may not be coincidental.

Masquerade was released on 2 x CDs and on 10″ vinyl, with the latter having exclusive mixes.

mp3: The Fall – Masquerade
mp3: The Fall – Ivanhoe’s Two Pence
mp3: The Fall – Spencer Must Die (live)
mp3: The Fall – 10 Houses of Eve (remix)
mp3: The Fall – Calendar
mp3: The Fall – Ol’ Gang (live)
mp3: The Fall – Masquerade (Mr. Natural mix)
mp3: The Fall – Masquerade (PWL Mix)

Masquerade reached #69 in the singles chart.

Six weeks later, The Fall flew off to America for a tour of America. It was a five-strong band consisting of MES, Steve Hanley, Karl Burns, Julia Nagle and Tommy Crooks. It was their first visit to the States in four years and as there was no record company support, it had been pulled together by Hanley, calling in a few favours along the way.

The first four dates pass off without incident, although MES is sporting a black eye having been hit in their hotel room by Nagle.

The fifth date in Philadelphia is in a venue that is barely half-full. MES takes to the stage exceedingly drunk and gives his mic to a member of the audience. He spends the night making a total nuisance of himself, unplugging equipment and walking on-and-off the stage. Shambolic doesn’t come close to describing it. Hanley eventually snapped and, accompanied by Burns and Crooks, left the stage for MES and Nagle to finish off the show on their own.

The next night is Washington DC. Things are a lot better, although Nagle walks off mid-set for a few songs.

The seventh night is New York, on 7 April, at a venue called Brownie’s. MES was again very drunk, and he began the show by purposely knocking over the drums. He would later again hand the mic to the audience, during Hip Priest, and bumping to Crooks as he tried to play the guitar notes. He then stole Burns’s spare sticks which leads to the drummer leaping out from his kit to try and throttle the singer, only prevented from doing so by Hanley getting in-between them and shouting him down.

Unbelievably, the show got going again, but before long it was Crooks’ turn to be on the receiving end of MES’s temper, leading to the guitarist swinging his instrument at the singer’s head. In a similar ending to the Phily debacle, the trio of Hanley, Crooks and Burns walked off, leaving MES and Nagle to finish the show.

It gets worse. Back at the hotel post-gig, the police are called, and they arrest MES for third-degree assault after he hit Nagle. He was held for three days until his $1000 bail was posted, and it would take until Tuesday 14 April for him to appear in court where he was ordered to undergo an alcohol-treatment programme and anger-management counselling. There was also a limited order of protection afforded to Nagle, the terms of which enabled them to continue to work together. MES was finally able to fly back to the UK on Saturday 18 April, by which time he had learned that each of Hanley, Burns and Crooks had quit.

Steve Hanley would later say the American tour had been the final straw, especially given he had put so much work and effort into making it happen. MES’s antics with walking offstage had seen promoters refuse to pay a full appearance fee, only adding to his stresses and strains. After 18 years, he’d finally had enough.

The really incredible thing was that just ten days after getting back to the UK, The Fall were back on stage in London, as a three-piece with MES, Julia Nagle and a temporary drummer in the shape of Kate Leatham. By necessity, the next time the Fall went into a recording studio, the line-up would be much changed. Somehow, the next single eventually become the best known of all their songs here in the UK…..hey, hey, hey.

JC