Review Summary: If it’s me and your granny on the bongos, it’s The Fall..
Pumped so full of sulfur and nicotine, he can hardly stand up straight, old Manchester spit-fire Mark E. Smith (MES) and his ever-living outfit The Fall have recently released their 32nd album, and mere months later, Singles 1978-2016
, a painstakingly-curated collection of all of the band’s singles and B-Sides has been put together, lending both casual listener and ardent fan a shuddering look into the guts and unglory of one of the most lasting and battle-scarred post-punk survivalists left.
Bingo Master’s Breakout – The title track off the band’s very first EP finds MES channeling the f*cked-off, nihilistic roar John Lydon and the Bowery bands were sewing into the lining of quotidian life of Western youth. Seesawing guitars and chintzy keys drive this tune into your cerebrum where it can bounce around, wreaking havoc like a dum-dum slug.
It’s The New Thing – The bunglesome, out of place synths were the first testament to The Fall’s off-kilter charm, subverting otherwise sinister riffing to the point where you didn’t know if you wanted to go prowling on a killing spree or simply dance and bop your ass off.
Rowche Rumble – Aside from the delirious Rebellious Jukebox, Rowche Rumble was perhaps the first song to make it into The Fall’s pantheon of revered old classics. A lurching little number, stretched out far past any point its cyclical, teetering arrangement can allow, its sole purpose is to rouse the sense and then jump out the window, leaving you gutted like a fetid fish.
Fiery Jack – MES’ warped takes on rockabilly are the stuff of legend nowadays, and Fiery Jack could well be that stretch’s heaviest contender. Reeling and deliciously evil, the song is a low-key anthem for the downtrodden, those too bored for the daily, and too damned for the extraordinary. Its early line of “I’m not going to the slow life” is as stirring as it is forsaken.
How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’ – The swinging A-Side off Grotesque is a half-drowned plea to how strange and uncalled-for a good life should be, one of the best in MES’ endless line of odes to mental cases and societal wretches.
Totally Wired – The Fall’s most accessible song, at least in their earliest, most abrasive formation, Totally Wired still stands today as one of the most opaquely perfect punk songs ever cut. All forward motion, noisy bridges and declarative shouts about paranoiac sleeplessness, it whelms you and infects your step with an insidious hop. You don’t have to be weird to be wired.
Lie Dream Of A Casino Soul – Sitting pretty between the anxious Grotesque and the lavishly ugly Hex Enduction Hour, this propellant tune holds one of my favourites of MES’ calls for the total abandon of neutering everyday grind. “No nerves left, Monday morning, I think I’ll cut my dick off!”
Look, Know – The bass-work in The Fall’s spotlessly dominant run through the 80’s was a thing to behold, rubbery nimble and yet somehow fierily punchy, it went a long way in sustaining the band’s exercises in punishing rhythm repetitions, keeping otherwise deconstructively monotonous manifestos alive and gasping.
The Man Whose Head Expanded – With Brix now firmly in the mix, pulling MES towards slightly more palatable soundscapisms, The Fall doubled up on speed-induced paranoia in their lyrics to keep the songs as taut as humanly possible. The song is a story of a man jilted by misinformation, and was one of the first examples of the band delving into the post-punk tag that had been pinned on them since the start, for a lack of a better defining term.
Kicker Conspiracy – A drunken vexed number off a double single issued by Rough Trade in 1983, Kicker is vintage Fall, warbling forward verses and stop-stall hooks that rumble you like spoiled wine.
Marquis Cha-Cha – Room to Live was a perfect placeholder between Hex and the full-bodied Perverted by Language, a mini-album that caught the mercurial band in their first big moment of transition. But you couldn’t tell by Marquis, another patented early classic, the springy bass driving the cheeky tune up the walls, through the cracks and into the streets.
Oh! Brother – A heavily-mutated cover of the Blue Rondos’ Little Baby, Brother sees MES take his boiling pot repetition into borderline RnB territories, letting his voice reach new pitchy heights that he hadn’t done since Older Lover. It does wonders, making the already-far-flung cover that much stranger and oddly affecting.
C.R.E.E.P. – This beauty of a post-punker was a sobering view at just how unflinchingly good The Fall were in their 80’s run, when even the songs relegated to one-off singles were every bit as good and tight as any other band’s A-sides could hope to be. Scum-egg continues to be one of my most loved insults.
Draygo’s Guilt – So pre-twee in its guitar-work that it borders on blood-spattered cute, this Wonderful and Frightening World cut asks you the question that plagues most stuck in jobs on a finite rise arc. How long is long in a hellish place"
Couldn’t Get Ahead – This Nation’s Saving Grace, despite its evidently self-effacing title was The Fall’s peak as a modern day cultural juggernaut, as opposed to the seedy throwback call they would soon become and that holds them to this day. That album hit just as they were becoming the stuff of English legend, touring tirelessly and casually flicking off songs that seemed as effortless as they were golden.
Cruiser’s Creek – A riff that is so jauntily confident, it turns your blood piping hot, Cruiser’s Creek is forever the best song to go dogging to.
Living Too Late – Bend Sinister was never a weak album, but one that got f*cked on the production side, turning most every bit of The Fall had previously sounded indestructible feebler and more susceptible. Still, Living Too Late is impossible to deny, a stubborn post-punk rhythm driving its verses, and dissonant feedback rounding off its corners. A beauty.
Mr. Pharmacist – A cover of garage nuggets The Other Half, the tune may as well have been written for MES, a hysterical demand for better living through chemistry and benumbing yourself to preserve whatever few scraps of sanity are still flapping around the skull.
Hey! Luciani – A detached letter to John Paul I, the Vatican head honcho who lasted only 33 days in his papal robes before suddenly dying of causes that are still unknown and speculated on today. Dreamily morbid, Luciani was a moment of The Fall’s second transition, sliding from post-punk into a much more multi-faceted fold, with new wave, left-field pop and early glints of industrial seeping into their work.
There’s A Ghost in My House – My favourite cut off the Frenz Experiment, The Fall’s first career half-stumble. The gothically inclined song is cloaked up in buzzsawing guitars that make it both melancholic and sinister, a blanched poetess with a switchblade in her boot.
Hit The North Part I – Perhaps the best and most enduring part of this brass-studded dance number is MES shouting Hitler! at random hook points through the song’s run.
Victoria – The Kinks cover that briefly returned The Fall to the British charts, after punk had been snuffed from public reverie by glittery new wave. Victoria still sounds odd in the band’s canon. Though The Fall always did by-the-numbers covers, they always spliced them with their own patented serial killer tilts, turning the same notes ghoulish and violent. But Victoria still sounds as melancholically bijou in their hands as it did in Davies’. Never a bad song, but not one I come back to often or at all.
Jerusalem – Kurious Oranj was something of a cultural happening at the time of its release, the album serving as a score for a circus opera, The Fall performing the songs alongside acrobats. Taken out of context of its visuals, a heavy part of the album feels a bit flat, but Jerusalem was a single for good reason, gauzy and anxious and jittering with MES’ unrest.
Cab It Up – Like so many of The Fall’s numbers from this era, the Peel Sessions version trumps the studio one in every way, each instrument sneering louder and livelier than they managed on the wispy 80’s soundboards. For my money, check the live cut of this splendid song, the guitars shredding like they’ve put up against the wall in front of a firing squad.
Telephone Thing – Extricate was MES’ first recording crisis, Brix leaving both him and the band, stranding The Fall to venture forth without her poppy touch. At least that was the story reigning over music rags at the time. I don’t consider Extricate an inferior album. Left alone, MES’ early industrial penchants were starting to surface more and more, and the electronic touches on the album, previously made dulcet and propping under Brix’ curating, now crash to the forefront, making razor laterals out of the record’s every edge.
Double Feature – The parts of Extricate that weren’t collapsing into metallic squelches saw MES reach for his most overtly romantic corners, dusting off the cobwebs and trying to cut something linear and pretty.
White Lightning – Another cover, this time of Americana country icon George Jones. The Fall keep the spirit of this bathtub gin and bootlegging anthem intact, MES’ half-spoken singing style mirroring Jones’ perfectly, who was well-known for his strange enunciations and emphases and outlaw storytelling.
High Tension Line – Shift-Work is another generally-maligned LP in The Fall pantheon that I personally love quite a bit. Its production is extremely foggy, but somehow it aids this particular batch of songs that were mostly heavily melancholic, sedate post-punk numbers, MES briefly letting go of his vitriol and getting misty and goddamn autumnal even.
Free Range – The vitriol was back in full action by the following year’s Code:Selfish however, MES preaching his usual tack of pre-apocalyptic nihil to his band’s newly-tweaked sound, now decked out with futuristic effects-laden electronica.
Ed’s Babe – A stray single from a stray EP, Ed’s Babe isn’t the best representation of The Fall’s strongest material from the early 90’s, but it does encapsulate MES’ self-subverting streak around this era, lurching deep into synthetic music, just as grunge and indie rock, a large chunk of which was inspired by his own early days, were ratcheting sharp guitars back up the charts.
Why Are People Grudgeful" – Infotainment Scan was The Fall’s strongest release that year, and they were doing a fair job negotiating their loop-prone arrangements with electronic and rave cultures that were dominating the underground club scene in England. Grudgeful is a fairly uneventful dance number, though it’s easy to see why it was picked as a single over the record’s far superior and rockier first half. It’s a simple tune to take poppers to and bop to.
Behind The Counter – Middle Class Revolt was admittedly a very spotty entry into the band’s catalogue, and though its strong cuts like M#5 and Hey!Student stand among the band’s best, Behind The Counter was another understandable, yet limp choice for a single, a safe enough tune boasting just enough guitars and synths to offend neither party.
15 Ways – Revolt’s opener, a syrupy stint with flabby art drums that rob it of any potential spark.
The Chiselers – A singles collection suffers from predicable setbacks from its basic restrictions. Cerebral Caustic, the album released between Revolt and Light User Syndrome didn’t feature any singles, and therefore makes no appearance on this compilation at all. Which is a shame because its better moments like the snotty Don’t Call Me Darling and the rework of old classic Life Just Bounces sit miles above this single put forth from Light User, the last album the returned and briefly reconciled (or resigned) Brix made with MES.
Masquerade – Levitate can easily claim the title of The Fall’s worst record to date, both horrid production and a beaten band exhausted of ideas colliding in the studio to cut a bafflingly pointless record. Masquerade mirrors that instant on belonging nowhere and standing for less.
Touch Sensitive – The Fall bounced back in sturdy fashion with The Marshall Suite, a riotous return to economic garage rockers, and the insidiously catchy Touch Sensitive saw them figure on British charts again after a long addled absence. Despite all logic, MES’ misanthropy was also finding new empathy and popularity in the underground, selling another small group of a new generation on The Fall.
F-‘Oldin’ Money – A throwback tune, Money was all garage, spare, spiky and vexed. It rounded off Marshall’s first side wonderfully, a stand-alone EP of visceral rock songs that showed there was still life left behind the curtain of cigarette smoke and Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlets.
Rude (All The Time) – Hollow-bodied and incredibly on-the-nose in less than poetic fashion, this single released around the Are You Missing Winner" era lands as lifelessly as most of that album unfortunately did. The Fall’s frenetic production rates had now firmly caught up with their writing capacities, making for output that was rapidly becoming a draw simply for the band’s cult status.
Susan Vs. Youthclub – Country on the Click was a merciful return to form MES. He was back in angered apathy mode and his backing band had the chops to anchor all that comely ***tiness properly. However, this EP single that predated the album by a month or so is only as palatable as its hilarious lyrics, detailing leaving his dentures in a car and then having to sing a gig without them.
(We Wish You) A Protein Christmas – A novelty single, though that may be a dubious tag when The Fall are involved, Protein Christmas is exactly what it sounds like, a Christmas ditty for the punks, the bored and the brainsick.
Theme From Sparta FC #2 – A scorched earth rock rave-up, written as a chant-along for the football club, Sparta is blistering, relentless and fun as all hell.
Distilled Mug Art (Mix 15) – Another muddy acoustic shout from Are You Missing Winner" Another limpid loser, somehow edging out some of the best songs off The Unutterable’s beautiful industrial disco ***-storm, to make it as a single.
I Can Hear The Grass Grow – The band bounced back yet again with Fall Heads Roll, an album that boasted so much dizzyingly vulgar life, it was easy to ignore its weaker moments. Grass Grow is a cover of psych pop band The Move, a dedication to all that good sensory overload hallucinogenic narcotics can lend you. Open your mind, cocksucker.
Reformation (Uncut) – Ever the rollercoaster of quality and sense, Reformation Post TLC (standing for traitors, liar, cunts) was enraged and yet somehow bruised in all the bad ways. The choice for a single again was odd, ditching the pulsing and paranoid My Door is Never for the punishingly dull chug of the title track, scrambling along for nearly ten minutes, MES spitting gas over his hatred towards former band members, who earlier that year revolted and quit on him midway through the tour.
Slippy Floor (Mark Mix) – The period that kicks off with You Future Our Clutter and is still ongoing is by no means The Fall’s strongest run, but it is MES’ most stable phase, his backing band hanging strong for ten years, the first time that had happened since the band’s very early combinations. The henchmen, all some decades younger than their half-rotted leader, lock into a tight groove on all subsequent records, cutting meaty garage rock arrangements and letting MES run wild over them. The quality may sputter, but for a while starting from this moment, The Fall sounded loud, horrid and caustic again, like they still mattered.
Bury! #2+4 – MES’s voice was also springing back somewhat, powering through decades of drug, alcohol and nicotine abuse. He sounded like his f*cked off diatribes were actually f*cking him off again, and not just aggravating the way old men carp about nonsense half-hushed.
Laptop Dog – Unfortunately, the best wall-to-wall record that MES’ new brigade would cut, Imperial Wax Solvent, yet again did not yield a single. Odd too, because 50-year Old Man, a stretched-out incredibly ineloquent call to arms for old junkies facing mid-life crisis, was as close as MES came to having an anthem in recent memory.
Victrola Time – The singles that did see the light of day during this period all marched along the same path. Muscular garage rock that never sagged, and yet lacked distinction, that messy, combustible Fall groove.
Sir William Wray (Single Mix) – This Record Store Day stand-alone was a rare breath of inspiration, a treacle-thick electro-line surfing atop the guitars and MES’ time-ravaged shouting.
The Remainderer – The Fall’s tug-of-war quality continued on their later output. The most singular aspect of their work during this time was that MES would routinely send out discarded songs as advance copies to music reviewers as opposed to the actual material that would see release.
Wise Ol’ Man – Pulled off an EP accompanying Sub-Lingual Tablet, Wise Ol’ Man is all fire and sinew. Though MES’ voice had clearly been shorn by time and self-abuse, he mustered enough acid to bump the song up the bracket, closing out the band’s pre-New Facts Emerge release on a fair high point.
Psycho Mafia – Mercifully, the sprawling compilation harkens back to the band’s halcyon days again, this time featuring the B-sides that figured on the singles that comprise the first three discs. And Psycho Mafia is a damn marvel, economical, tight, angered and seedy, The Fall doing what they do best and that no other band has been able to replicate since.
Repetition – The band announced their statement of purpose very early on in their tenure, MES shouting “Repetition in the music, and we’re never going to lose it.” Can’t say he didn’t warn ya.
Various Times – The track off the classic Witch Trials that sneakily suggested the experimental anti-music tropes that the band would soon start exploring, Various Times is long, changeless and singularly trying on the listener. And somehow, it’s amazing through it all.
In My Area – A tune so deliberate in its swing, the lyrics become almost entirely spoken word, MES spouting another paean to the working class stiff, slowly going insane from the habitual.
2nd Dark Age – A scathing take on conservatism that drips its way into the easily-swayed liberal mindset. “The Arabs have it made, women in veils, eyes glazed.”
Psykick Dancehall #2 – Another testament to just how unparalleled The Fall were in their nascence, how strong their material was despite head-scratching frequency of output. A B-Side that would round off any punk band’s primo list in grand fashion.
City Hobgoblins – One punkish burst of bratty awareness after another ‘round here.
Putta Block – MES’ self-deprecation was at a zenith early on, mumbling What a Grand Entrance, as the band shuffled around with instruments for a full minutes before actually launching into the tune.
Fantastic Life – A twinkle-twinkle-go-f*ck-yourself number off the stellar Slates EP.
I’m Into C.B. – The strongest B-Side from the Hex Enduction era, and an easy contender for Why the hell did this not make it onto a proper release.
Ludd Gang – Perverted by Language was the moment The Fall floated to the top of the commercial sewer, where they lasted for precisely a nanosecond. But it’s not difficult to see why the album became their crowning radio moment. A heady mix of all their most abrasive tendencies negotiated into a palatable Brix-inspired mode, this was also John Peel’s favourite album by them, the iconic DJ and radio host long since having figured as the band’s most prominent fanatic.
Wings – A B-Side that was so damn good, it got a sepia-toned DIY music video.
Room To Live – ‘I just want room to live’ just may be the best thing I’ve ever taken away from a song. A pissy beg to just be left alone to die quietly and maybe even make something sparkling and good in the process.
God-Box – Ever the sociological visionary, MES was predicting that TV would zombify the lot of us as early as the beginning of the 80’s, expressing in four harried minutes what it took David Foster Wallace a thousand-plus pages to ramble out.
O! Brother – An alternate take on its own A-Side. Nothing to see here, folks, move the f*ck on. (I will also be skipping some of the other live and alternate takes of songs that figure on the B-side half of the compilation, so kiss my pink hairy ass!)
Pat-Trip Dispenser – Is my absolute favourite Fall B-Side, and one of the most earworm-like, criminally infectious guitar-parts I’ve heard. Strongly recommended for dancing, running (from the police), eating and murdering in the cold night.
Clear Off – A post-punkesque tale of a civil servant who kills, whether with bureaucracy or physically is left beautifully unclear.
No Bulbs – In the spectrum of The Fall fans, No Bulbs is hardly a B-side. One of their most enduring songs, it trumps most of their work without so much as blinking, which is quite the feat given how astonishingly good they were in those days.
Rollin’ Dany – An out of character straight-up rocker with a vile Celtic brim, that would have stood out favourably on their later material, but at the height of MES’ deconstructive streak, felt fairly weak.
Petty (Thief) Lout – A quiet-loud lingering little implosion, first almost whispered, then rousing and rhythmic and all sorts of good things that make ordinary folks shake their couch potato bottoms from here to Sunday.
L.A. – L.A. is Nation’s Saving Grace in a nutshell; propulsive and sharp and now sporting both vague pop sensibilities and synth touches that back then were so subtle, they made most every of their songs sound indelible.
Vixen – Brix’ best lead performance during both her tenures with the band. Groovy and atmospheric and seductive in ways only a Yankee girl can be when she’s schtupping and/or inspiring a man who was born into both middle-age and revolt.
Hot Aftershave Bop – This tune is another example of how the BBC recording systems were so much better geared towards The Fall’s aesthetic than whatever studios the band were actually using. Peel Session version strongly recommended over the studio B-Side.
Living Too Long – A discarded take from the band’s fruitful and inimitable time on Beggars Banquet. Nothing too ground-breaking, but a show of how solid even their most scatterbrained instants were in those prime years.
Lucifer Over Lancashire – The bass turns Lucifer into such a hermetic monster, it can roll around for another fortnight without the listener growing weary of its changeless nature. Such is the bane of The Fall.
Auto Tech Pilot – A moody rant from the small king of vicious conspiracy theories, most of which seem like self-evident truths by now.
Entitled – A knock against sanctimony that feels so defeated, it’s like it’s being sung from a bathroom floor as opposed to an ambo.
Shoulder Pads #1B – The jaunty whistling that sits as the backbone of this Bend Sinister song is almost indecent given the tune’s evil march forward. Catchy in ways only penicillin can reconcile.
Haf Found Bormann – Cribs the drum pattern from Pink Floyd’s Learning to Fly, and then makes it better, masturbation done for tangible ends and not its own virtue. Brix sounds exactly like Kim Gordon too, with her frigid yelps. All of this is good.
Hit The North Part 2 – A companion to the A-Side Part 1, the electro-beat gets ramped up here, robbing the song somewhat of its face, but making it easy to slip into rave playlists without anyone catching on that they’re listening to an actual band and not another software piss midget.
Tuff Life Boogie – Who else could condemn racists by making a horrible impression of a little Vietnamese man" I don’t know that he did either. Fantastic song though.
Acid Priest 2088 – A B-side for a pretty justified reason.
Dead Beat Descendants – Children capitalizing on their parents’ sacrifice by achieving precisely nothing, a feeling your collective parents know all too well, as they chug away on white wine to push back the diarrhea-like outpour of tears for time lost and abortion not had.
British People In Hot Weather – Bombastic and chastising of modern righteousness, this lovely B-side was a perfect apotheosis of The Fall’s rave bends.
Butterflies 4 Brains – Before countless remasters and expanded re-releases and the general boon of the internet, this B-side was one of The Fall’s most rarified and sought lost treasure, a sedate and yet somehow catchy mumble track.
Zandra – Years ago, MES curated a release of every B-side from Extricate, Shift-Work and Code: Selfish that came with a front cover that read ‘The Fall, limited by our smoking jacket culture, lug and trug, etcetera, offer you dear pals, the following for your delectation.’
Blood Outta Stone – Again, a fairly conventional song, which would suit a proper rock band well, but somehow sits stiff on MES’ lips, simply because of how ordinary it is. This was still the point when his anti-commercial approaches to recording and writing made his takes on linear rock sound like he’d had a stroke or been replaced by a homunculus.
Xmas With Simon – A novelty Xmas punk song that’s a B-side to a novelty Xmas punk song.
Everything Hurtz – Code:Selfish B-side that easily could have fit anywhere in their discography that decade, whether that’s a good or bad thing is not for me to say.
Pumpkin Head Exscapes – The other side of Ed’s Babe is another synth-lined dance track that sways you on the dance-floor, albeit slightly more offensively and opaquely than the usual stuff.
Glam Racket – A stubborn and dumb march towards a disco ball gleaming on some faraway horizon. And a pretty powerful dud of a song.
War – Ditto..
Hey! Student – Now this is more like it! An absolute belter of a punk song, scream-along chorus et al. Nervy, self-aware and supremely miffed, MES orates to the student population asking them to do the unthinkable – nothing.
The $500 Bottle of Wine – There’s a vulgarity to the delivery of this song that seems less Fall-like and more plain vulgar. It works in places, especially when MES delivers the pre-choruses so impassively, only for the ragged harmonies to take it all away. But that push-and-pull taps out early and the tune plows on. Ultimately, a skippable affair.
Chilinist – Only listen to the Peel Sessions version of this scorcher.
I’m also skipping the dance and techno remixes of the songs, because f*ck right off.
Antidote – A pummeling industrial song that sits so close to the vein of a mid-career limey version of Nine Inch Nails, I could have only listened to it when I was 14.
This Perfect Day (New Version) – The Fall’s take on The Saints classic punk hymn from the Marshall Suite era is a mixed bag of sorts. They warp the song to the point where only the rhythm section of the original, so instantly recognizable still beats beneath the thick wall of resonant metallic clanging they fling to the forefront. Still, there’s something strangely fetching about such a deliberately ugly rework.
I Wake Up In The City – Are You Missing Winner’s B-sides and secondary tracks were markedly stronger than its main attractions, however, the running problem with the whole recording was how badly mixed MES’ vox were, and that blight continues here, though the tune does have more fire in it than the bulk of the album managed.
Janet Vs. Jane And Johnny – Despite its repetitive pattern, this song is crookedly gorgeous and really is one of The Fall’s best latter-day B-Sides. I’ve also seen PJ Harvey do a cracking cover of it life.
(We Are) Mod Rock Goth – This song came off a very scattershot collection of alternate takes and live songs appropriately called Interim, and it lives up to its name in every small detail, being largely discardable.
Clasp Hands – A woefully horrendous mixing of bass and percussion maimed this fantastic song beyond any studio redemption, especially since it came on the otherwise tightly-mixed Fall Heads Roll. But the Peel Session take of it The Fall lay down again turned the garage song into a beatific display of swaying rhythm and a sarcastic take on peace, love and misunderstanding.
Over Over (Rough Mix) – The thorny mix that sands off the original song’s polished weakness does improve it somewhat, especially as the high-strung guitars start taking it over. But it can only enhance the song’s depth and not the uninspired writing beating underneath.
Hot Cake Part 2 – Figuring on Your Future Our Clutter, Hot Cake is a compressed take on The Fall’s most recent iteration. Dense, newly-vexed and planar, it’s pleasant more than it isn’t. MES’ fine form and usual spit-delivery of acetone poetry saves this one.
Cowboy Gregori – A latter-day Fall B-side if there was any. Solid, sturdy, sneakily decent and recommended only to the most rabid of fans.
Cosmos 7 – The psychobilly undertone of Cosmos is ratcheted up by electronic buzzing. It’s a driving song, relying almost entirely on momentum that won’t let go. That primal nature is what keeps it from fraying at every seam.
Jetplane – The B-Side to a Record Store Day release, this rocker justifies its own end. A half-assed tune that plays second fiddle to a tune that was discarded as small charity to begin with.
Hittite Man – See Above..
Amorator! – MES’ virile backing band lock into such effortlessly closed-off grooves, it becomes hard to deny even their most bumbling songs. In live settings, these exercises become rock salt shot blasts that smash through the audience. On record, falls flat.
All Leave Cancelled – I love this atmospheric instrumental off the Wise Ol’ Man EP. It’s all spring-loaded bass-work, snapping drums and moody textures. Beautiful way to end this harrowing trek.
Though this expansive collection is packed with treasures from most every phase of The Fall’s long and intoxicating lifetime, the sheer nature of it being a singles compilation prevents it from taking a look at some of the band’s less prominent, but nevertheless ambitious, reforming and time-tested work. Coupled with a handful of their best albums, this is still a fantastically lurid view into the span of a cantankerous old sod and his rotating cast of irascible dystopians.