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 Urbans Rough Guide To The Wild & Wonderful World Of The Fall

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PostSubject: Urbans Rough Guide To The Wild & Wonderful World Of The Fall    Urbans Rough Guide To The Wild & Wonderful World Of The Fall  Icon_minitimeSun Mar 06, 2011 3:42 pm

There seems to be quite a bit of an interest of The Fall here recently , and i`ve also been looking for something to work on for a while so this seems a good idea. I am not going to write a detailed breakdown of every single song they have ever recorded. I was thinking more of giving a bit of background info on each release and highlighting the best and most interesting songs recorded by the band so that anyone wanting to work their way through the whole minefield that is The Fall discography they can have some sort of starting point , and also to look at some of the extras included on the ongoing re-issue of all their albums by Sanctuary Records. So anyway to start this off....

Urbans Rough Guide To The Wild & Wonderful World Of The Fall  Witchtrials
Live At The Witch Trials - Step Forward Records- 16th March 1979

Original Album Tracklisting : Frightened / Crap Rap 2-Like to Blow / Rebellious Jukebox / No Xmas for John Quays / Mother-Sister! / Industrial Estate / Underground Medecin / Two Steps Back / Live at the Witch Trials / Futures and Pasts / Music Scene

Re-issue Extras : Bingo Master's Break-Out! / Psycho Mafia / Repetition (Bingo Master's Break-Out! E.P. released August 1978)
It's The New Thing / Various Times (7" Single Released November 1978)
Dresden Dolls / Psycho Mafia / Industrial Estate (Rehersal Tape Summer 1977)
Stepping Out / Last Orders (Short Circuit - Live At The Electric Circus Compilation Album, October 1977)
Rebellious Jukebox / Mother-Sister! / Industrial Estate / Futures And Pasts (First John Peel Session 15th June 1978)
Put Away / Mess Of My / No Xmas For John Keys / Like To Blow (Second John Peel Session 6th December 1978)
Like To Blow / Stepping Out / Two Steps Back /Mess Of My / It's The New Thing / Various Times / Bingo Master's Break-Out! / Frightened / Industrial Estate / Psycho Mafia / Music Scene / Mother-Sister! (Live At Mr Pickwicks, Liverpool 22nd August 1978)

Band Line Up: Mark E. Smith - vocals / Martin Bramah - guitar, backing vocals / Marc Riley - bass / Karl Burns - drums / Yvonne Pawlett - keyboards

Critique: A lot of things had happened in The Fall in the preceeding 2 years before 'Witch Trials' was finally released. 'Witch Trials' comes at a time when most of the core of the original band consisting of Martin Bramah ,Tony Friel & Una Baines had left or were in the process of leaving. The album was recorded in a single day in December 1978 and by the time it was released 3 months later Bramah had left the band , putting Smith in full charge of the band.
The album itself is almost like a false dawn for the band in some ways as it is more polished & better musically than the band ever were until Brix Smith joined the band in the mid 80s. This is probably due to the influence of Bramah having as much say in the band as Mark E Smith (or at least trying to).
The original band members feature heavily on this album co writing 8 of the tracks available here ,with Smith writing 2 on his own. Only the albums closing track the 8 minute long 'Music Scene' is written by the whole band that recorded this album.
The albums sound is also totally different to anything the band have recorded since. The electric piano & the bass dominate the sound with the MES`s vocals and the guitars almost in the background which works well in the more progressive songs on the album such as 'Frightened' ' Two Steps Back' & ' Music Scene' , but tends to sound odd during the more punk rock songs such as 'Industrial Estate' & 'No Xmas For John Keys'. But it does give the band a unique sound.

Of the extras on the album The Bingo Masters Break Out E.P. is a chance to hear the original band at work , which is sad in a way because it would have been interesting to see the dynamic and the creative tensions between them & Mark E Smith played out over a couple of albums rather than just one E.P. 'It`s The New Thing' was a song summing up Smith's loathing of bands who were more interested in making trendy political statements than writing entertaining music.
The rehersal tape gives the only recorded version of 'Dresden Dolls' where the band like a lot of other punk bands at the time were using nazi imagary to shock. Something that the band quickly decided wasn`t for them and dropped. Stepping Out & Last Orders were two live songs recorded for a Virgin Records compilation and is the bands first recorded appearence on vinyl and are a good indication of the bands early potential.
The two John Peel sessions I will go over in detail later on.
The album closes with a recorded & much bootlegged gig at Mr Pickwicks in Liverpool , which was finally released in 2001 on Smiths own Cog Sinister label as 'Liverpool 78'. It`s interest is that it is the earliest Fall gig to be recorded. However the sound quality is awful and not really worth listening to , but it`s an interesting freebie if anything else.

Songs You Need

Frightened - A lovely low key brooding song that slowly builds up until the extended guitar solo at the end. A good insight as to what MES was feeling taking control of the band at the time.

Crap Rap 2 / Like To Blow - Worth hearing just for the opening line of 'We are The Fall , Northern white crap who talks back , We are not black ...........etc etc etc. A nice energetic early Fall song , but the intro makes it special.

Rebellious Jukebox - The Fall didn`t release singles off albums until the mid 80s. If that hadn`t have been so this would have been the obvious choice of single here.

Mother-Sister! - Another song with a slow build up , so low key that at the start of the song Smith announces when asked what the song is about replies 'err nothing'. Also has a really simple catchy riff too.

Industrial Estate - The Fall at their most 'punk rock' so if you are a fan of that sort of thing this is a good starting point before you get to the weirder stuff.

Underground Medecin - It`s no secret that MES is a fan of Can and I can`t help thinking that this song is influenced by them. With the repetative bassline and Smith ranting in the background I think of Can whenever I hear it. If you`ve heard Father Cannot Yell from the Can album Monster Movie you`ll see what I mean.

Music Scene - If you like songs where bands throw all convention out of the window and do what they hell they like then this is the song for you. 8 minutes long. It`s like an extended jam session with Smith ranting about his contemporaries and his disdain for rock 'stars'.

Psycho Mafia - One of the earliest songs by the band & one of my favourites , as well as being one of the most accessable . It`s just full of energy & aggression and a great introduction to The Fall.

Verdict: Call me biased but I think this is one of the best debut albums ever made. There`s no finding their feet here The Fall know exactly what they want and how to do it. It`s also a great intro to people wanting to get into The Fall because it doesn`t suffer from some of the problems of later albums when it was only MES in control of the band. There is actual quality here , the songs are crafted rather than just written & recorded at seemingly the first opportunity to do so like on some later albums. Things in The Fall changed drastically after this album was released , so as it stands it`s the only album of it`s kind. An album written by a band with Mark E Smith as vocalist rather than Mark E Smith controlling everything. Although I think this is a good thing I doubt The Fall would be the same band had it not happened. So although I love this album i`m glad they never got the chance to repeat it over & over again.

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