Category: The Fall

The Fall – Slates

ARTIST: The Fall                                  220px-The_Fall_Slates

TITLE: Slates



SINGLES: It was a six-song EP. A contemporaneous single was a bonus track.

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I really doubt it.

LINEUP: Mark E. Smith, Marc Riley, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley, Paul Hanley with Dave Tucker and Kay Carroll.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An EP released betwixt albums that showcases the band in fine form.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A hard record to find for years, this six song EP featured some songs that were some of their best work in the early 80’s.

The songs, as usual, sound shambling and unpredictable, with Smith’s voice lording over the proceedings spouting lyrics that are at times repetitive, and other times dense and impossible. “Prole Art Threat” is a good example of the latter.

The key cut is the final one, “Leave the Capitol”, where Smith eviscerates London and all it stands for. I wish it was longer, but these six tracks fit together well.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: I missed this at first, so I had to go back and grab it. Sorry for those following along in order with me. All one of you.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with Peel Sessions and the “Lie Dream of a Casino Soul” single (#5 UK Indy).

 GRADE A: With only six tracks, it’s taut and there’s no room for shenanigans – except the usual Fall shenanigans.

The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour

ARTIST: The Fall                              220px-Hex_Enduction_Hour

TITLE:  Hex Enduction Hour


CHART ACTION: #71 UK, #2 UK Indie



LINEUP: Mark E Smith, Craig Scanlon, Mark Riley, Steve Hanley, Paul Hanley, Karl Burns, Kay Carroll

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Fall change record labels, record in Iceland,

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mark E. Smith and the Fall toured Iceland in 1981, and recorded some tracks up there. That set the tone for this album, which is yet another collection of the early Fall, this time with two drummers and a percussionist.

Like normal, the lyrics are dense and somewhat impenetrable, especially if you don’t have the lyric sheet and are just trying to hear Smith recite his songs. Most of them are observations on like he saw in the UK, mainly from posers and pretenders. He doesn’t usually have a lot of kind things to say a lot of the time to others.

A couple of tracks are a bit overlong. The ending track was 10:18 and cut down by half from its original running time. Yet another, “Iceland” was recorded off the cuff. Most of these songs work in their own way, though.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Motown Records was interested in signing the Fall a couple of years later, and they heard this album, and decided against it. Well, it’s NOT commercial, of course.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Live cuts, singles, BBC sessions. The ususal.

GRADE: B+: A couple of overlong songs reduce the value of this album for me.

The Fall – Grotesque

ARTIST: The Fall Grotesque_cover
TITLE: Grotesque
SINGLES: None on the album proper, but two good ones (How I Wrote Elastic Man, Totally Wired) on the deluxe version. Both went to #2 on the UK Indie chart.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Fall were a secret in the US for a long, long time.
LINEUP: Mark E. Smith, Mark Riley, Craig Scanlon, Steve Hanley, Paul Hanley
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The third album by the Fall is an improvement over their second, and Smith is hitting his stride as a conspiracy-fueled lyricist.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: They’re still a shambling mess at times. Off-kilter and unique musical phrases repeat. Smith’s vocals seem more like stemwinder rants on a town square than typical lyrics. But through all of this, there are some hooks and some definite pop undertones here – you just have to find them underneath the surface.

Musicially, this incarnation of the Fall seems very much in tune with Smith’s vision. The Hanley provide a good backing section for Scanlon and Riley’s guitars and they enhance Smith’s ramblings without getting in the way. In fact, most of the songs feature members of the band as co-writers with Smith.

This album as a whole probably won’t convert anyone TO liking the Fall, but it will keep them as fans.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Steve and Paul Hanley are brothers –as Steve brought Paul along to play drums for the group for a few years.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, as usual with the singles from the era appended. This time, the two singles are primo Fall and deservedly charted high on the UK Indie charts.

GRADE: A-: There’s one basically musique concrete bunch of noise but the other nine cuts are pretty darn good.

The Fall – Dragnet

ARTIST: The Fall Dragnet
TITLE: Dragnet
SINGLES: The Fall didn’t release singles off albums at this time. The deluxe version has the great Rowche Rumble (#31 UK Indie)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you’re collecting the Fall
LINEUP: Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Mark Riley, Craig Scanlon, Mike Leigh
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The second Fall album adds two long standing members admist the normal band turnover, but sounds like it’s recorded in a shed on a crusty old Ampex.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I know about lo-fi records and fast, hurried recording practices, but this album really sounds like a bunch of demos instead of a fully formed album. It’s not just the recording that has that feel, it’s some of the material. Smith seemed like he was on auto-pilot and his repetition, which is a clever device, elongated some cuts past when they should have been ended.

Just a few of the cuts, to my ears, are as good as their debut album. Such is the problem with artists like Smith (and Robert Pollard). Everything seems to be worthy of recording, so they record it. The problem is that the pruning and editing gene isn’t there. Fortunately, most of what Smith puts out there is at least OK. Nothing here was BAD, just a lot of it was not stellar.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Only Riley (and Smith) were left from the first album, but Hanley and Scanlon joined on and stayed for quite a while.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yep. It’s not as vast as the other Fall deluxe sets. Just two singles and B-sides (all better than most of the album) and alternate takes.

GRADE: B-: The bonus tracks make it a B. It’s just not as interesting on sonically pleasing as the first album.

The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials

ARTIST: The Fall 220px-Live_at_the_Witch_Trials
TITLE: Live at the Witch Trials
SINGLES: The Fall didn’t release any singles from albums until much later in their career
LINEUP: Mark E. Smith, Martin Bramah, Marc Riley, Karl Burns, Yvonne Pawlette
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a debut single / EP, the Fall records their debut in one day and starts an unlikely journey through time. Even early on, nothing sounded like the Fall.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Repetiton! That was the closing track to their three-song single, and that’s the Fall in a nutshell at this time. They take a theme and motif for a song and just go with it and keep hammering at it until it sticks in your head.

Shambling is the sound I associate with the early Fall. Smith sounds a little unhinged, and the band lumbers along trying to keep up, or getting ahead of Smith. It’s a bit wild but it sounds great for the most part. And already, Smith has great contempt for the industry he’s chosen – the song Music Scene is a diatribe against the music scene. He’s held that grudge (and many others) since.

This isn’t a record if you want something straight forward. But I think you all already knew that. The Fall is the Fall, whether it’s their first record or last.

NOTES & MINUTAE: By the time this album was released, Smith was the only original member left in the band. Bramah was the last one left. Tony Friel and Una Baines were on the original EP, and their original drummer lasted only one gig.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. It’s got the EP and a single, Peel Sessions, a live show and a bootleg from a TV appearance! Lots of tracks. I’m going to be choosy about that extra stuff.

GRADE: A-: If you like the Fall, you need this album!