SONGS FROM A SPAT

This posting has been in the pipeline for a while and I ended up pushing it back a couple of weeks as it makes for a neat postscript to Steve’s guest post on The Graveyard Shift.

I think it is fair to say that Marc Riley‘s departure from The Fall, and his subsequent success as a performer and broadcaster, got under the skin of Mark E Smith.

These are the words of Riley, in an interview given to an on-line publication back in 2013:-

And I think part and parcel of it is that if anyone left The Fall he wanted them to sink without trace, as if to say, ‘Without me they’re nothing.’ His contempt for musicians is well known….

So what rankled Mark more and more was that I just wouldn’t go away, even to the extent that one day he was driving to the train station and there was a massive billboard with Mark Radcliffe and I on it… it probably made him want to drive his car straight into the canal, because there’s this bloke from his past who just won’t go away. But I’m not a thorn in his side, he’s got a lot going on in his life, and he’s a very clever bloke, but he does say things for effect. But me and him had ding dongs in the press, and it was just so childish it was untrue, and we wrote songs about each other. I wrote ‘Jumper Clown’ and he wrote ‘Hey Marc Riley’ and ‘C.R.E.E.P.’, and so on. It was daft, really.

Jumper Clown was the second 45 to be released by Marc Riley after he left The Fall. It came out in 1983 and the tune, or a version of it, had originally been part of the setlists of live gigs by his old band in 1979. It was an untitled instrumental and the band never got round to recording a studio version. His version was recorded with a group of mates who would later become known as The Creepers, with the title very much aimed at Smith’s consistently disheveled appearance (this was all prior to Brix appearing on the scene and smartening him up)

mp3: Marc Riley – Jumper Clown

Hey! Marc Riley was another song that The Fall would incorporate into their live sets in 1984/85 but again, it wouldn’t be one that would ever seemingly have been recorded in the studio. It would take until 2007 before anything other than bootleg copies were available, thanks to a live version, recorded at Oskars’ Cornhusker, Azusa, California on 23 May 1985, was included in a Box Set.

Four years later, an omnibus edition of This Nation’s Saving Grace which also included rough mixes, outtakes and other newly discovered recordings from the era, offered up two versions of a song whose title had been shortened

mp3: The Fall – Ma Riley (rough mix)
mp3: The Fall – Ma Riley

It has since been revealed that the studio version, which was produced by John Leckie, had been considered as a possible b-side to Cruiser’s Creek.

The Wedding Present offered up a kind of surf/TWP hybrid of The Creepers song as a b-side to It’s A Gas, released in 1994

mp3: The Wedding Present – Jumper Clown

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM #249 : THE FALL (5)

An Imaginary Compilation Album – The Fall (of the 80s, with Brix [mostly])
Hybrid Soc Prof : Your Dreaming-of-Face-2-Face-Classes-in-the-Fall Correspondent

JC adds……as a way of intro………..

HSP, in his accompanying e-mail, acknowledged this was far from the first ICA for The Fall and that tracks in this would may well have appeared previously. The thing is, that doesn’t matter in the slightest. An ICA is just one person’s suggestion of a ‘perfect’ album and there is no question that others will have their own thoughts. So, if anybody out there has given thought to making a submission, but refrained from doing so on the basis that ‘it’s been done already’, then fear not…….

Back now, to our dear friend who is stuck at home in Michigan…….

If it’s next to impossible to write about Television, it is beyond impossible to say anything new about The Fall. I’ll make it quick.

I wanted The Minutemen to be my favorite band of the 80s, but D. Boon died. I wanted the Dream Syndicate to be my favorite band of the 80s, but the precipitous decline after Out of the Grey in ’86 did that in… to my mind, the same thing happened to The Replacements, after Tim. All this might have led Sonic Youth to take that spot at the top but, while their records got better and better across the decade, I deeply appreciated them but didn’t love ‘em. Other bands appeared early or showed up late and the Feelies didn’t release enough music to qualify. It’s not that this all “left” to top spot to The Fall since a better run of recordings – from Perverted by Language (1983) to the Frenz Experiment (1988) – is beyond rare, it’s simply to lay out who else I thought might have challenged to the decade.

My introduction to the band came via The Wonderful and Frightening World of… in 1984, once again lionized by Robert Palmer in the NY Times. It was the first record I can remember buying, putting on the turntable, and asking myself what the hell THIS was. And not because I liked it. I didn’t like it. At all. I almost hated it. But it was weirdly intriguing. So, I put it on again a few days later. I mean, really, “Bug Day”?! The previous summer, after about a month cycling all over northern England and Scotland, I’d come down Lewis and Harris and done my requisite shite day in cold rain on Skye before stayed in Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig… The next day, a warm, late July day with not wind, I’d ridden to Oban, solo. “Bug Day” brought back memories of cycling through stagnant air infested with midges and flies (and then a nightmare evening of well-off tourists with screaming kids at the Grade 1 Hostel.)

The third listen “2 By 4” and “Slang King” verged on enjoyable and by the 10th spin I was playing it almost daily. The only other album that’s rewarded me that way is the Danny and Dusty LP, The Lost Weekend, which I at least thought I should like given who wrote and played on it.

I bought the rest of the 80s records as they came out, and went back and picked up older releases finding very little I didn’t enjoy a lot. I collected about 23 songs to consider and then decided to bounce back and forth across the decade until arriving at the center – and I do think the This Nation’s Saving Grace and Bend Sinister are just wonderful.

HSP

PS: It is in fact, Demo Suzuki – from the 3CD re-release of This Nation’s Saving Grace… it’s rare that I like demos more than final products but in this case I do.

PPS: I’ll note that The Fall were the worst live show I have ever seen. Diane and I saw them in Boston in the early 90s and not only was Mark almost fall-down drunk and indifferent but, as far as we could tell not one in the band wanted to be there that night. Among my biggest disappointments.

1. Bombast, from This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
2. Hip Priest, from Hex Enducation Hour (1982)
3. New Big Prinz, from I am Kurious, Oranj (1988)
4. Totally Wired, from Grotesque (After the Gramme) (1980)
5. Carry Bag Man, from The Frenz Experiment (1988)
6. Kicker Conspiracy, from Perverted by Language (1983)
7. Terry Waite Sez, from Bend Sinister (1986)
8. Slang King, from The Wonderful and Frightening World of… (1984)
9. Demo Suzuki, from This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
10. Dktr. Faustus, from Bend Sinister (1986)

JC adds….as a way of an outro. 

I had a short post all written up on New Big Prinz in which I dared to suggest its tune owed something to Rock’N’Roll (Part 2) by the now disgraced Gary Glitter……any thoughts???

ALL OUR YESTERDAYS (13/22)

Album : 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong – The Fall
Review : Pitchfork, 8 July 2004
Author : Alex Linhardt

The Fall have seen so many compilations and reissues of their work during the course of their 26-year career that they named their latest full-length The Real Fall LP for clarification. Given the reputation of these numerous shoddy anthologies, however, and the fact that, with the exception of the excellent 2002 Rough Trade release, Totally Wired, there has never been any truly “definitive” Fall retrospective, the best a potential convert could hope for was to pick whichever disc bore the prettiest packaging.

While other Fall comps pride themselves on monochromatic slabs of cover design more appropriate for Rothko retrospectives than tumultuous punk albums, 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong instantly has one thing going for it: Its artwork is absolutely hilarious, keenly referencing Elvis Presley‘s billion-selling 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong. With its image of countless self-replicating Elvises hailing down in dashing suits, that original cover was a perfect embodiment of pop music’s narcissism and weirdness– incidentally also the two subjects of nearly every song Mark E. Smith ever laid to tape.

As the first legitimate career-spanning compilation, 50,000 Fall Fans begins at the band’s inception in 1977. Smith was a mere 20 years old, weaned on garage rock, kraut-rock, and a one-year stint as a dock worker. Like all young adults, he named his band after a Camus novel, quickly releasing a series of singles before 1979’s full-length debut, Live at the Witch Trials. Represented by “Repetition”, the pre-Witch Trials band consists of simple angular guitars, teen-pop rhythms, and drunken charm without any of the complexity or chaos that would later become integral to their work.

Around 1980’s Grotesque, The Fall began to seriously investigate other genres, channeling spiraling rodeos (“How I Wrote Elastic Man”), steely noise-pop (“Totally Wired”), and rhythmic shrapnel (“New Face in Hell”). 50,000 Fall Fans spends its leisurely time in this nascent stage, but the brunt of the album is understandably spent exploring The Fall’s near-perfect run of albums in the mid-80s, from 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour to 1986’s Bend Sinister. A staggering 13 tracks from this era find their place on this two-disc set, forging a truly brilliant sequence. Ranging from the blustering, seismic noise of “The Classical” to the schizophrenic death-rattle of “The Man Whose Head Expanded”, the album provides a convincing case that The Fall were the most uncompromisingly progressive and reliable band of the 1980s, whether they assumed the guise of punk heavyweights or sweet electro-divas (with the assistance of Smith’s wife, Brix).

With this sort of lead-in, even the most questionable song of the band’s notorious early-90s phase seems challenging and substantive. Considering that this anthology’s second disc includes the band’s stab at Europop/ska-rap (“Why Are People Grudgeful?”), this is truly a feat. As a general rule, this disc pulls one song from every album released from 1990 to the present, distilling each allegedly mediocre release to one stunning single. If anything, however, these selections compel listeners to return to the band’s 90s output with their tranquilized synths (“Masquerade”) and brash genre-blenders (the Cocteau Twins-vs.-AC/DC dynamics of “The Chiselers”).

Of course, with a career that’s spanned four decades, 50,000 Fall Fans inevitably winds up omitting some of the most crucial songs in their canon, including “Oh! Brother!”, “Slang King”, “Bombast”, and “Oleano”. Still, the songs represented are consistently fascinating and invigorating, many standing as among the finest of the last quarter-century, chaotically navigating punk through ever more adventurous territory, from Countrypolitan to house music.

As a result of this willed diversity and comprehensiveness, 50,000 Fall Fans has finally stepped up to assume its rightful position as the most successful and essential Fall compilation in existence– a convenient summary for fearful neophytes reluctant to dip their toe into the black hole of the band’s discography, as well as die-hard fans seeking a distillation of choice cuts from the group’s more wayward 90s efforts. Smith is never less than inspiring on any of these 39 tracks, flaunting his confrontational sneer and leering sarcasm over some of the most erratic, riled riffs in punk. In his oft-ignored later period, Smith sounds even more unhinged, furious and battered, cloaking criticisms of governmental policies in lunatic poetics that the most pretentious high-school fanzine dadaists would cower before. Smith quite literally sounds as if his mouth has been pierced full of gaping holes leaking bile and cancer.

Incidentally, this is also the fundamental difference between Smith and Elvis. Elvis was pure sexual dynamite, basking in his own libidinal juices; in sharp contrast, Smith is the ugliest, grimiest beast of Lucifer to ever drag his expanding head from a pub’s water closet. Elvis may have drooled sex, but it was artificial, manipulative, cheap. The Fall, like all truly great sex, climaxes in rage, regret and release– the three criteria for all utterly essential rock music. 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong chronicles more than two decades of those climaxes, perhaps to one day be held in similar regard to the album its artwork parodies.

mp3 : The Fall – New Face In Hell
mp3 : The Fall – The Classical
mp3 : The Fall – The Man Whose Head Expanded
mp3 : The Fall – The Chiselers

JC adds : I wasn’t sure whether to look out for any reviews of compilation albums, but I couldn’t resist this genuinely warm, appreciative and occasionally LOL piece from Alex Lindhart.  There are still folk out there who sneer and claim that real journalists can only be found through print media, in the same way that those of us who write about music via blogs aren’t nearly as qualified as those who have contracts with publishing moguls.  This review on its own should puncture those self-righteous bubbles.

Besides, 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong is the starting point to where I would direct anyone who remains unsure about the unbridled genius of Mark E Smith and the quality of the music he made during his lifetime.

The fact it got a positive mention in this review means I’ve included The Classical as one of the four tracks today…..it is one of the greatest bits of music that The Fall ever recorded, but I’ve always been uneasy about the lyric ‘Where are the obligatory n*****s? Hey there, fuck face!’  I don’t think MES was being racist, but he certainly was being confrontational and combative, ensuring that the tune wouldn’t get aired on radio.  I hope nobody is offended…..

WHY ARE PEOPLE GRUDGEFUL?

April 1993 saw the release of the 31st single by The Fall. The only previous chart success enjoyed by the band had come via cover versions. There’s A Ghost In My House (as made famous by R. Dean Taylor) had gone Top 30 in 1987 and the following year Victoria (originally by The Kinks) had reached #35.

This time round, Mark E Smith took some drastic action by merging two cover songs into one, and creating a sound that bore little resemblance to the originals. The best and simplest explanation is offered up on a fan site devoted to the band:-

“Why Are People Grudgeful? is a cover version, or to be more accurate, a cover version of two different but related songs. The story behind the original versions is as follows:

“Born in the rural Jamaican village of St. Mary’s in 1936, Lee Perry began his surrealistic musical odyssey in the late ’50s, working with ska man Prince Buster selling records for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd‘s Downbeat Sound System. Called “Little” Perry because of his diminutive stature (Perry stands 4’11”), he was soon producing and recording for Dodd at the centre of the Jamaican music industry, Studio One. After a falling out with Dodd (throughout his career, Perry has a tendency to burn his bridges after he stopped working with someone), Perry went to work at Wirl Records with Joe Gibbs. Perry and Gibbs never really saw eye to eye on anything, and in 1968, Perry left to form his own label, called Upsetter.

Not surprisingly, Perry’s first release on Upsetter was a single entitled People Funny Boy, which was a direct attack upon Gibbs. What is important about the record is that, along with selling extremely well in Jamaica, it was the first Jamaican pop record to use the loping, lazy, bass-driven beat that would soon become identified as the reggae “riddim” and signal the shift from the hyperkinetically upbeat ska to the pulsing, throbbing languor of “roots” reggae.

Joe Gibbs released a reply (using the moniker Sir Gibbs) in a song using the same rhythm called People Grudgeful. MES amalgamated the two songs to help create The Fall’s cover version.”

The reviews were mostly favourable with the UK-based paper Melody Maker going as far as saying it was the most engaging thing Smith had done for a couple of years. As ever, there was no day time airing on the BBC or commercial radio but there were enough sales to see it reach #43. It was also voted in at #11 in the John Peel Festive Fifty of 1993.

mp3 : The Fall – Why Are People Grudgeful?

mp3 : Lee Perry – People Funny Boy
mp3 : Sir Gibbs – People Grudgeful

The 12” version of the single was deleted very soon after release and is one of the harder-to-find and more expensive bits of vinyl across the entire back catalogue. It contained three tracks on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Fall – Glam-Racket
mp3 : The Fall – The Re-Mixer
mp3 : The Fall – Lost In Music

Yup……the latter is a cover of the disco classic as made famous by Sister Sledge. Bonkers and brilliant in equal measures.

JC

FROM THE ARCHIVES – 22 DECEMBER 2006

THIS NATION’S SAVING GRACE

Last week it was Morrissey who made a long-overdue debut on the blog. This week it is the band dominated by the mercurial, (isn’t that always the adjective that you have to apply?), talents of Mark E. Smith.

I’m referring of course to The Fall.

I’ll be honest – I wasn’t someone who loved this band from the outset. I did hear them on John Peel time after time, but I didn’t quite ‘get it.’ And things weren’t helped by my first live experience of the band back in late 1982 (it might have been early 83) at Night Moves in Glasgow.

I’d gone along to see the Cocteau Twins but stayed on to watch the main act, which turned out to be The Fall. It was a pretty poor gig – the sound was all over the place and the band were not even talking to one another far less having any communication with the audience. Thankfully, it turned out to be a short event (maybe 30 mins at the most), and then there was an hour or so of ‘indie-disco’ to send everyone home in a good mood.

So I more or less ignored them for a while. But a couple of years later, a move to a new record label – and a crucial change in personnel – led to the release of a run of records that were easier to listen to, and to the horror of the hip-priests, The Fall got radio-friendly with a broader appeal. I started paying attention again.

With a recording history going back almost 30 years, featuring dozens of singles, EPs and albums, there’s plenty to choose from. But I’m sticking with a song that has turned into something quite personal in recent years.

I’ve been lucky in that almost all of my close friends are still alive*. But there is one who passed away a couple of years ago after a long illness, and I do think of him every now and again. Especially at this time of year.

This is for AGF. And while he would have abhorred The Fall – he was a classical music buff – he would have been very amused that there is a song out there that makes me think of him every time I hear it.

mp3 : The Fall – Edinburgh Man

It’s a 1991 release, originally on the LP Shift-Work. It’s also available on a multitude of compilations, but surprisingly not on 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong – 39 Golden Greats which is pretty much indispensable.

 

*that was a situation which would change over the next few years….there’s been a lot of tragedy since 2006 and I wouldn’t have coped anything like as well without the amazing support from so many blogging friends.

JC

LET’S ALL MEET UP ON THE POST 2000

The original Vinyl Villain musical extravaganza was born on 30 September 2006 and in a little under seven years managed to feature somewhere in the region of 2,500 posts before it was cast out into t’internet wilderness by the evil people at blogger.com.

The (new) Vinyl Villain was born on the day the old blog died – 24 July 2013 and today marks it’s 2,000th posting.

A lot of those have come from the brains of many friends and guest writers, a situation which has given me great pleasure over the years. It’s the guest postings together with the contributions which come through the comments section that make me determined to keep things going, particularly on the increasing number of occasions when the inspiration seems to be a long way away or I’ve a general feeling of fatigue or fed-upness about it all.

Thank you so much friends, comrades, amigos and compadres.

I had a great chat with Drew a few weeks back….I’ve been so wrapped up in issues of my own that I’ve failed to keep up with the blogging activities of my friends over recent times and had totally missed that he had temporarily brought things to a halt over at his place, although it’s great to see he’s slowly getting back into the groove.  I’m not going to go into huge detail about what we talked about, suffice to say we both felt a lot better after a couple of hours. We also agreed a particular photo should be used to illustrate the 2,000th post on T(n)VV on the basis that it brought me to a stop when I saw it on the streets of Galway a few months ago….and also that he laughed when I showed him it as we jointly imagined the theatre show was really about Mark E Smith (RIP) going to Cape Town and trying to recruit local kids for his band now that he’d burned his bridges with every single indie musician in the UK.

We also agreed this should be the song for today:-

mp3 : The Fall – Lost In Music

Not sure if I’ll get to 3,000 posts….but rest assured I will be back tomorrow.

JC

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #171 : THE FALL (5)

ALL HERE IS ACE: The Fall’s First Decade (1977-1986)

A guest posting by JONDER

I started this ICA before Mark E. Smith‘s death, but found it hard to reduce The Fall‘s first and greatest decade to ten songs. It was a period of boundless creativity, as the group moved from strength to strength with an astonishing series of singles and albums.

Sean O’Neal observed in the AVClub.com, “Most Fall fans don’t have something as pedestrian as favorite albums or songs, but rather favorite eras and lineups.” For me, nothing surpasses the bass-driven, double drummer sound of these years, topped with trebly guitars and Mark’s distinctive delivery. The lyrics bristle with dark wit and undisguised contempt for the scene, the press, record labels, musicians, the city of London, and even the audience.

SIDE A

1. Crap Rap/Like To Blow – Smith introduces the group as Northern outsiders. The Fall’s 1979 debut album, Live At The Witch Trials, features Yvonne Pawlett‘s cheap keyboard and the metallic sheen of Martin Bramah‘s guitar, both soon to disappear from the lineup.

2. Before The Moon Falls – by the end of ’79, only Smith and Marc Riley remained from the first LP. The tenure of bassist Steve Hanley and guitarist Craig Scanlon begins on Dragnet. The production recoils from the bright clarity of Witch Trials. Smith paraphrases William Blake: “I must create a new regime or live by another man’s.” An ex-Fall member is quoted on the album’s back cover: “I bet you’re laughing your head off at this, aren’t you Smith?”

3. C & C’s Mithering – An epic travelogue and a tirade against the music industry, from 1980’s Grotesque. An odyssey that spans two continents and three months, set to two chords and three beats.

4. The Container Drivers – The Fall could be funny. This is from the third of The Fall’s 24 Peel Sessions. It is a portrait of truckers on speed, with observations culled from Mark’s job on the docks. One moment that always makes me smile is around 1:45, when Paul Hanley fires off an overlong drum roll.

5. Winter – 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour is often named as The Fall’s finest album. This song is the first half of a ghost story: you flipped the LP over when it ended to hear the conclusion of the tale. Storytelling was a significant part of Smith’s writing in the 1980’s (cf. Wings, Spectre Vs. Rector, The NWRA and New Face In Hell). There were fewer narrative songs in the decades to follow.

SIDE B

6. Room To Live – The Room To Live album was something of a disappointment. How could it not be, just six months after the spellbinding Hex? Some of the songs seem morose, but the title track is a high-spirited Country & Northern romp.

7. I Feel Voxish – Marc Riley cowrote this song, but was fired before it was recorded. Smith plays with assonance in the phrases “pillbox crisp” and “feel voxish”. Perverted By Language (1983) was The Fall’s last album for Rough Trade, and the first to feature Brix Smith.

8. Slang King – “This is Mr. and Mrs. Smith to whom you are speaking.” Mark was a slang king, a perverter of language, and an inventor of words like “corporatulent”. Here he explores alliteration and onomatopoeia: whip wire, swoop swoop. 1984’s Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall was the group’s first LP for Beggar’s Banquet.

9. L.A. – The lyrics to this tune are few, outnumbered by Mark’s wordless falsetto and percussive vocalizations. L.A. is a showcase for Brix as a guitarist, and a tribute to her birthplace. Near the end she quotes from the movie Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls: “This is my happening, and it freaks me out!” LCD Soundsystem recently used the same line. (This Nation’s Saving Grace, 1985)

10. US 80’s-90’s – A critique of modern American Puritanism from 1986’s Bend Sinister. Smoking bans and the “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign of the Reagan era signified a sociopolitical shift since The Fall’s first US visit. This song and L.A. foreshadow the synthesizer friendly Fall Sound of the 90’s. There’s also a reference back to the first track of this ICA, as Smith calls himself “the big shot original rapper” but adds that “it’s time for me to get off this crapper.”

Mark E. Smith was a vocalist, songwriter and bandleader unlike any other. The Fall seemed to expect more from their listeners, and to give up their secrets less readily. I was a suburban American teen when I first heard The Fall. I couldn’t completely grasp what they were doing. Still I was enchanted, and soon obsessed. The music was uniquely compelling, and for me it remains so.

JONDER

JC adds…..huge thanks to Jonder for being so patient….this ICA landed in the Inbox months ago.  That’s the last of the backlog cleared, so if anyone else wants to a go, then feel free to drop me a line…I promise you shouldn’t have long to wait to see your work appear in print!

CHARGED PARTICLES (V2) : Part 1

Let me take you back 12 months to this posting on 2 June 2017.

I don’t have a music blog of my own but I gather I have something in common with JC and the regular contributors that do: Like you lot I was always the guy people asked to make mix tapes (and, later, playlists) for parties, trips, birthdays, etc.

One of the categories that people liked very much was called Charged Particles. These consisted of songs with one word titles ending with ION. That was the only thing they had in common. Turns out there are tons of them; I’ve got nearly 200 in my iTunes library and they always seem to combine interestingly. I mentioned doing something with the list when I met JC in Manchester and he said, ‘Ask me, I won’t say no, how could I?’

My thinking was that he could plug in a charged particle post when he was away or busy or couldn’t be bothered that day to put up a new one. The posts would be short and sweet and let the music do the talking. JC liked the idea okay and correctly guessed the songs I had in mine for the first one.

And here it is. Remember the only guideline is a single word ending in ion. Can it end in ‘ionS’? No, so no ‘Complications’ by Killing Joke. Does it count if you cram a bunch of words together like ‘StationtoStation’? Nope. How about if the word is preceded or followed by a phrase in parentheses? No, not that either. (Unless I feel like it.) Hyphens? Sure, why not.

JONNY THE FRIENDLY LAWYER

There were sixteen Friendly Particles features in 2017, appearing on a regular basis between June and October. They were great fun to do….not a lot of words were used but some great songs featured, linked in a way to others in ways that hadn’t seemed obvious, with the common factour being the all-important -ion ending in the title. And gthe series was illustrated with the handiwork of Sam, the Friendly Artist.

The good news is that Jonny’s back for another summer season. Here’s the first contribution:-

The Fall

No one’s over the loss of Mark E. Smith, and I don’t suspect we will be anytime soon. Flipping through my iTunes library I found these four, but with the Fall’s catalog there are doubtless many more. Feel free to remind me.

Mansion – from This Nation’s Saving Grace
Reformation! – from Reformation Post TLC
Dedication – from Wise Ol’ Man
Repetition – from Bingo-Master’s Break-Out!

JTFL

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #147 : THE FALL (4)

Another guest ICA from Jonder

THE FALL’S GONE MAD: DECADE TWO (1987-1996)

The mid-80’s were a peak of commercial success and artistic invention for The Fall.

Mark E. Smith‘s play “Hey Luciani” made its debut in 1986, followed two years later by the ballet “I Am Kurious Oranj”. The Fall hit the charts in 1987 with There’s A Ghost In My House and Hit The North, followed in 1988 by Victoria.

1. Jerusalem (live) – Smith contrasts William Blake‘s anthemic vision of England with a complainant from the 20th century nanny state (“it was the fault of the government”.) The album “I Am Kurious Oranj” is a mixed bag highlighted by Big New Prinz, a dramatic revision of 1982’s Hip Priest. In the stage production of “Kurious Oranj” (inspired by the life of William of Orange), The Fall provided musical accompaniment for Michael Clark‘s dance troupe.

2. Bremen Nacht (Alternative) – The 1998 LP “The Frenz Experiment” took a step sideways from the path of chart success. “We had had two Top 40 singles. So everybody expected a commercial album, and that was the last thing I wanted to do,” Mark later said. Bremen Nacht is a strict lesson in The Three R’s (repetition, repetition, repetition), demonstrating that The Fall had not lost sight of its core principles.

3. Dead Beat Descendant – Brix left in the summer of 1989. A few unreleased studio tracks were combined with a live set to fulfill the Beggars Banquet contract with the album “Seminal Live”. From the first live Fall album (“Totale’s Turns”) through “The Twenty Seven Points”, “2G+2”, and “Live Uurop VII-XII”, studio recordings have been scattered among live Fall performances. Dead Beat Descendant is a hidden gem.

4. Black Monk Theme Part 1 – 1990’s “Extricate” is an astonishing and essential Fall album. Martin Bramah, a founding Fall member, returned on guitar. Kenny Brady joined on fiddle, and The Fall expanded to a septet. It’s hard to avoid hearing “Extricate” as a divorce album, but the songs aren’t necessarily about Brix: Mark had married and divorced a second time before “Extricate” was released.

5. The Mixer – Martin Bramah left The Fall again before 1991’s “Shift-Work” album, leaving Craig Scanlon as the sole guitarist. Kenny Brady remained on fiddle, and with his help The Mixer became one of the loveliest melodies in The Fall’s repertoire. Dave Bush programmed electronic rhythms on this and the next few albums. “Shift-Work” was mostly tame, with the notable exception of Idiot Joy Showland, a virulent critique of Madchester bands.

6. Free Range (7″ Version) – this single from 1992’s slight “Code: Selfish” album is an example of what Smith and his fans claim to be his psychic or “pre-cog” abilities. The lyrics may refer to the history of Balkanization, or they might presage the coming Bosnian War. Smith seemed to predict the 1996 Manchester City Center bombing in the song Powder Keg, and Terry Waite Sez preceded Waite’s kidnapping.

7. A Past Gone Mad – this track from 1993’s “The Infotainment Scan” contains the unforgettable declaration, “If I ever end up like U2, slit my throat with a garden vegetable.” “Infotainment” was another strong Fall album. Brix contacted Mark to compliment him on it, and he responded by inviting her to rejoin The Fall.

8. City Dweller – “Middle Class Revolt” (1994) marked the return of the two drummer lineup (steadfast Simon Wolstencroft and the peripatetic Karl Burns). Behind The Counter was this middling album’s single. In City Dweller, Salford’s native son proclaims, “Get out of my city, you mediocre pseuds.”

9. Don’t Call Me Darling – Brix came back, cowriting and duetting with her ex. There’s not a lot of love among Fall fans for this 1995 LP (“Cerebral Caustic”), but it’s full of playful humor. Darling contains one of my favorite MES lines: “People hate beauty/ I cannot fathom it.” Mark fired Craig Scanlon after this record. Scanlon had played guitar with The Fall since 1979.

10. Cheetham Hill – another duet, this one with producer Mike Bennett, from the 1996 album “The Light User Syndrome”. Brix would leave The Fall again after the tour to promote this LP. She’s in top form as a guitarist here, and Julia Nagle‘s keyboards are equal parts melody and noise. It’s a wonderfully aggressive sounding album, a fine end to the second tenure of Brix and The Fall’s second decade.

BONUS TRACK – I Want You – despite what Mark E. Smith said about Madchester, he regarded The Inspiral Carpets well enough to lend an impassioned guest vocal to their 1994 single. Mark also made a live appearance with The Clint Boon Experience. A decade later, ex-Fall members Steve and Paul Hanley joined Inspiral Carpets’ Tom Hingley in his group The Lovers.

JONDER

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #144 : THE FALL (3)

A GUEST POSTING by JONDER

THE HOUSE IS FALLING IN: The Fall’s Third Decade

My last ICA on The Fall featured the group’s fourth decade, a period of stability anchored by Elena Poulou on keyboards. This ICA (1997-2006) captures The Fall in flux, from 1998’s onstage fistfight to the “traitors” who left Mark and Elena during a 2006 US tour. It’s all in the books: The Fallen, Mark E. Smith‘s Renegade, and memoirs by Brix, Stephen Hanley, and Simon Wolstencroft. A book on Manchester music by Paul Hanley is forthcoming.

This ICA showcases an exciting decade of sonic innovation. I think Fall members Dave Bush and Julia Nagle in particular brought a level of technical sophistication in keyboards and programming that expanded the Fall’s sound. Nagle is the only constant (apart from Smith himself) for the first five of these ten years.

1. Inch – the production team DOSE had worked with Mark on the single Plug Myself In, but DOSE was fired during the recording of the 1997 album “Levitate”. Inch begins with a glimpse of Smith’s methods as a composer: how does a man who plays no instrument communicate to musicians and producers what he wants to hear? Inch appeared on “Levitate” as the chaotic 4 1/2 Inch. This DOSE mix was not released until 1999.

2. Ten Houses Of Eve – kicking off with a jungle beat, Ten Houses was the opening track on “Levitate”. This remix is from 1998’s “Masquerade” EP. These were the last recordings to include the rhythm section of Steve Hanley and Karl Burns. Burns joined The Fall in 1977, Hanley in 1979.

3. Birthday Song – a fascinating departure from whatever one might consider “normal” for The Fall. Julia Nagle composed a stately instrumental and challenged Smith to write a love poem. Perhaps the only Fall song remotely like it is the touching Bill Is Dead. Birthday Song appeared on 1999’s “The Marshall Suite”.

4. Shake-Off – a more representative selection from “The Marshall Suite”, an album that generated a near hit with Touch Sensitive. The lyrics to Shake-Off touch on a range of unappealing topics: fixing a bathroom cistern, “eyeball injecting” chemicals, and a reunion of Simple Minds.

5. Dr. Buck’s Letter – Julia Nagle’s last album with The Fall was “The Unutterable” (2000). There are several outstanding cuts on that record, but Dr. Buck’s Letter is most beloved by fans. In the latter half of the track, Mark E. Smith reads from a magazine feature by Pete Tong, and cannot contain his amusement.

6. Crop-Dust – one of the few highlights of 2001’s “Are You Are Missing Winner”, an album recorded on the cheap with musicians from a local band called Trigger Happy. Many consider it one of the worst Fall albums. “Are You Are” is similar to the most recent Fall LP (“New Facts Emerge”) in that both were recorded after the departure of a lover, and both have an aggressive garage rock edge untempered by digital instruments. Crop-Dust, however, is built on a sample from garage rock progenitors The Troggs.

7. Janet vs Johnny – Elena Poulou joined The Fall in 2002 (as manager, keyboard player and Mark’s third wife). Poulou first appeared on the EP “The Fall Vs 2003″, which contains this psychedelic tune. A revised version entitled Janet, Johnny + James appeared on “The Real New Fall LP”. PJ Harvey has performed the song in concert.

8. The Past #2 – “The Real New Fall LP” (2003) has a strange lineage. It was originally entitled “Country On The Click”, but after the album leaked, the songs were re-recorded. There are also differences between the UK and US versions of the album. In any configuration, it ranks as one of the best long players in The Fall’s career. The Past #2 makes wonderful use of call-and-response vocals (as does the album’s centerpiece Theme From Sparta FC and earlier songs such as Eat Y’Self Fitter).

9. Blindness – the 2004 and 2005 albums “Interim” and “Fall Heads Roll” were disappointments. But the track Blindness was widely hailed by the long-suffering faithful. It conjures the menacing tone and relentless drive of the band’s Rough Trade era. This version of Blindness is from the vinyl pressing of “Fall Heads Roll”, which differs from the CD.

10. Higgle-dy Piggle-dy – from a 2006 tribute to The Monks. This is the third Monks song covered by The Fall.

BONUS TRACK: Family Feud – from the Von Südenfed album “Tromatic Reflexxions“, a 2007 collaboration between Mark E. Smith and Mouse On Mars which followed MES’ appearance on the Mouse On Mars single Wipe That Sound.

jonder

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #137 : THE FALL (2)

A GUEST POSTING by JONDER

Another era in the 40 year history of The Fall has ended with the departure of Elena Poulou (who married Mark E. Smith and joined The Fall prior to 2003’s “The Real New Fall LP”. This year the band (sans Poulou) released a new album, “New Facts Emerge”. Mark E. Smith also turned 60 this year, despite the BBC’s recent report of his death.

This ICA covers the past ten years, an unprecedented period of stability for an infamously volatile group. Elena kept The Fall and its frontman fit and working, and she cowrote several of these songs (though she was neither as prolific nor as talented a songwriter as Mark’s former wife Brix Smith, who now leads a group of former Fall members called The Extricated).

ELENA’S THE FALL : SIDE ONE

1. Fall Sound – Mark E. Smith is notorious for sacking musicians, but the tables were turned when his bassist, drummer and guitarist quit en masse. Mark and Elena borrowed two members from an American band called Darker My Love, and they recorded 2007’s “Reformation TLC” (the initials signifying the “Traitors, Liars and C-nts” who deserted the band). Fall Sound is a statement of purpose, and contains a clever Smith couplet: “Only water passes my lips/ Only beer passes my throat”.

2. Wolf Kidult Man – the 2008 album “Imperial Wax Solvent” introduced new members Peter Greenway (guitar), Keiron Melling (drums) and David Spurr (bass). This lineup (with Elena on keyboards) remained intact for nine years. Mark must have been pleased with this hard rocking tune, as it became a standard on setlists.

3. Bury! #2 and 4 – one of the best Fall songs since Sparta FC, an insistent march with a memorable refrain. This is the single version: Bury Pts. 1 + 3 appears on the 2010 album “Your Future Our Clutter”. 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.

4. Age Of Chang – Domino’s position may have been justified, as the two Fall albums that followed (“Ersatz G.B.” and “Re-Mit”) are littered with throwaways. Age Of Chang reflects The Fall’s working method. As reviewer Mark Prindle wrote, Mark’s “employees” bring him songs and he “rejects the parts he hates and fills the remaining melody-shells with noise… (He) rips them apart until they sound like The Fall.”

5. Loadstones – the band sounds exceptionally tight here, and Mark leaves the “paintwork” unmolested as he delivers an urgent but inscrutable vocal. Cryptic lyrics have always been central to The Fall’s appeal. Several websites are devoted to decoding Smith’s writing, a challenge that increases in difficulty as his diction becomes more slurred.

ELENA’S THE FALL : SIDE TWO

6. Auto Chip 2014-2016 – a classic from 2015’s solid “Sub-Lingual Tablet”. Mark wonders, “How bad are English musicians?” but the band has conjured a mesmerizing motorik groove. The album references Mark’s physical maladies, but here he sounds vigorous in spite of his “suffering”.

7. Amorator! – a song from 2013’s “Remainderer” EP. “Never forget your brain is a bubble of water/ And a blank sheet for a top-up,” Smith announces, as Keiron Melling plays a galloping Mancabilly beat (aka “Country & Northern”).

8. Dedication (Remix) – this version of the “Sub-Lingual Tablet” track Dedication Not Medication appeared on the EP “Wise Ol’ Man”. Elena’s synth and Dave Spurr’s bass are stark and discordant. I prefer this remix over the album version of Dedication, an extended whine by Mark E. Smith about “good grief bed wet pills”.

9. Wise Ol’ Man – the title track from Elena Poulou’s last record with The Fall. In an interview prior to its release, she proudly pointed to this tune as the first to feature vocals from all members of the band. The song may be a tribute to Fall promoter Alan Wise, who died in 2016.

10. Brillo De Facto – this ICA ends as it began, in the aftermath of a departure. “New Facts Emerge” was recorded by Smith, Greenway, Spurr, and Melling after Elena left. Unlike “Extricate”, it doesn’t appear to be a “divorce album”. I found the first half of “New Facts Emerge” brutal and thrilling (especially this track and Fol De Rol), but the rest seems uninspired.

BONUS TRACK:

England’s Heartbeat (Brazilian Ambush) – a 2014 World Cup song created by ex-Fall member Ed Blaney, Mark E. Smith and Jenny Shuttleworth. Blaney has remained on good terms with Smith, a feat unmatched among the scores of former Fall members. He and Mark made several records credited to “Smith And Blaney”, and Smith appears on Blaney’s 2016 album “Urban Nature”. During this past decade, Mark also guested on Gorillaz’ “Plastic Beach” and Ginger Wildheart’s “Mutations: Error 500”.

JONDER

TWO SONGS TO KICK-START YOUR MONDAY

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Warning. They’re not for everyone. I won’t be offended if you jog on and come back tomorrow.

mp3 : The Fall – Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul
mp3 : The Fall – Fantastic Life

The two sides of a single from early 1981 and the first ever release on Kamera Records.

Bloody marvellous…..although I didn’t think that at the time. Took me a few more years to ‘get’ The Fall.

BONUS POSTING : ANNA AND THE FALL

1

Big thanks to Jez and Kev for responding to my plea for help a couple of days ago:-

mp3 : Anna – Masonic Youth

I was looking for the song on behalf of S-WC who has been asked to put together music for an upcoming wedding and Anna was the first band that the groom ever saw live back in 1993. It’s a bit rocky and lengthy (nearly nine minutes)….and I don’t think somehow think it  will be the bridal waltz. But you never know….

According to info on last fm, Anna were a four piece group from Croydon in London, consisting of Pete Uglow (guitar /vocals), Darren Lynch (guitar), Philip Lynch (bass guitar) and Cormac on drums & percussion which emerged from an earlier band called Electric MotherFucker Brothers who were totally against the then fashionable baggy beats and floppy fringes. Discogs reveals there were four singles and one album between 1992 and 1994, all on either Go! Discs or its offshoot, Free Records.

Talking of S-WC, as many of you know he, together with his sidekick Tim Badger, have a wonderfully entertaining blog called When You Can’t Remember Anything which specialises in featuring one song plucked from random shuffle in i-pods. They’ve got some guest contributors this week, starting with yours truly, and out of more than 25,000 songs available (including around 250 of Mrs VV’s selection which are horrific – e.g. Niki Minaj) I was lucky enough for a classic by The Fall to rumble its way through. Pay a visit to their place and see for yourself.

Another guest ICA tomorrow. I think most of you will enjoy it.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #29 : THE FALL

thefall

The alternative title of this posting is ‘The day I pissed off my good mate ctel (aka Acid Ted)’.  He just does not like The Fall and there’s no convincing him other wise.

With so many tracks to choose from this could have been a stupidly impossible task.  Instead, I narrowed it down to choosing ten from the forty-seven songs listed as singles on wiki.  It’s also very heavy reliant on what could be broadly termed indie-disco material which I accept isn’t fully representative of the band:-

Side A

1. Touch Sensitive (Artful Records, 1999 : #104)

Hey Hey Hey…..and familiar to millions as that strange song which helped sell cars

2. Oh! Brother (Beggars Banquet, 1984 : #93)

With the best bass guitar lead line outside of Hooky and New Order

3. Hit The North (Beggars Banquet, 1987 : #57)

The single before this and the single after this both made the Top 40 – but they were both covers (There’s A Ghost In My House and Victoria) and while more than decent they’re not a patch of Mark E Smith’s paean to his Lancashire roots. Catchy as fuck chorus.

4. Free Range (Cog Sinister, 1992 : #40)

The best-performing of any of the non-covers, what sounds like a nonsensical almost freeform lyric is actually a superb dissection of political history and a warning about the rise of right-wing politicians across Europe.

5. Theme From Sparta F.C. #2 (Action Records, 2004 : #66)

And jst as indie-guitar rock with catchy choruses briefly came back into fashion again here in the UK, Mark reminded everyone that he’s been doing it for years and that when he turns his mind to it he can outdo any of the young pretenders

Side B

1. Totally Wired (Rough Trade, 1980 : did not chart)

One of the very finest post-punk/new wave songs of all time.  It might sound a bit rough’n’ready nowadays but for something that is now 35 years of age it still feels awfully fresh.  I’m sure every alt/indie/punk band on either side of the Atlantic have been influenced in some shape or form by this

2. Cruiser’s Creek (Beggars Banquet, 1985 : #96)

How this piece of indie-dance magnificence never charted remains one of the great mysteries of life.  I’m dancing away as I type this….it has made for a lot of spelling mistakes that have had to be corrected!

3. Rowche Rumble (Step Forward Records, 1979 : did not chart)

It starts off as if its going to be a great songs to shake your hips to on the dance floor and then it goes all majestic in a noisy way that will annoy your parents who will say ‘can’t play and can’t sing….it’s just a racket and turn it down’  Or if you move forward to 2015 the same words will be uttered by a wife who just doesn’t get them…..

4. 15 Ways (Permanent Records, 1994 : #65)

This is a cracking pop tune that if given to a more orthodox lead singer than our Mark would surely have been a Top 10 single.

5. Hey! Luciani (Beggars Banquet, 1986 : #59)

Because you can never have too many songs about a Pope who died suddenly just 33 days after his election to the position….and also because as my mate Aldo knows I have an alternative rude lyric that I sing while dancing to this!

mp3 : The Fall – Touch Sensitive
mp3 : The Fall – Oh! Brother
mp3 : The Fall – Hit The North
mp3 : The Fall – Free Range
mp3 : The Fall – Theme From Sparta F.C. #2
mp3 : The Fall – Totally Wired
mp3 : The Fall – Cruiser’s Creek
mp3 : The Fall – Rowche Rumble
mp3 : The Fall – 15 Ways
mp3 : The Fall – Hey! Luciani

Bonus track

mp3 : The Fall – No Bulbs 3

One of my favourites but disqualified as it wasn’t necessarily the lead track on an EP from 1984.

Enjoy.

BARKING OR GENIUS? I KNOW WHERE I STAND…..

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A couple of weeks back one of my re-posts made reference to the occasionally oblique lyrics which flowed from the pen of Billy Mackenzie. It got me thinking a bit more about Mark E. Smith who, over the years, really has had loads of us scratching our heads at many of his lyrics, including this effort from back in 1992:-

In 2001,
A life code
It pays to talk to no one
No one!

Proliferating across the earth
Also Sprach Zarathustra,
Faction Europa

Free range

2001,
Also Sprach Zarathustra
Proliferating across the earth
Pressure guilt, grudge match
12 cm flak unit,
Range 1 stroke 35

This is the spring without end
This is the summer of malcontent
This is the winter of your mind

Free Range

By 2001,
Also Sprach Zarathustra
It pays to talk to no one
No One!
Europa, faction
Proliferating across the earth

Free range

This is the spring without end
This is the winter of your mind
A life code
2001

Free range

Insect posse
Will be crushed

Moravia, trouble
Moldavia, Europa
Every second third word
Europa, it pays to talk to no one
No one!

Free range

mp3 : The Fall – Free Range

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 (of which one UK Prime Minister had just a few years prior stated there was no longer any such thing), events which Mark E Smith thought would inevitably lead to warfare on a scale of that such as 1914-18 and 1939-45.

The 12″ version of the single had three other belting tracks to enjoy:-

mp3 : The Fall – Return
mp3 : The Fall – Dangerous
mp3 : The Fall – Everything Hurtz

Fact….this is the only original Fall track to reach the upper echelons of the UK singles chart, hitting #40 for one week.