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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to…The Fall, This Nation’s Saving Grace January 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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I can’t really add many more words to the volumes written about and around The Fall. We know the pack drill. Mark E. Smith, loveable curmudgeon (though I once read an interview with him where reflecting on seeing a crew of Welsh nationalists he regarded them as essentially proto-fascist which seemed a bit harsh). Fantastic group – ramshackle approach but built on solid foundations. Near perpetual changing line-up. Scary interpersonal dynamics. Wouldn’t want to be a member – looks like too much hard work.

But here’s an oddity, listening to them a while back it struck me that my favourite songs and albums were the ones where Brix Smith was involved – bar the Infotainment Scan from quite some time later which I have an odd regard for – which reminds me, I saw them live once in the Tivoli and I think it was when they were touring TIS but I have almost no memory of the gig, literally next to nothing other than Mark E. Smith hunched over a microphone and a snippet of their most interesting cover of Lost in Music.

Brix Smith was a formidable presence in her own right and brought something… not quite sure what, perhaps an expansiveness of vision that added to their output. Listen to her vocals on C.R.E.E.P. and other tracks. The songs resonate. And I think that conversely it allows Mark E. Smith to work off and against them in a way that ups his game too.

Anyhow, for me that shining moment is encapsulated on This Nations Saving Grace from 1985 and perhaps its single finest moment, albeit one that is surrounded by many others, L.A. Here all the promise of the Fall, the energy, bleak enthusiasm, the chaos, the eager intelligent cynicism is boiled down into a remarkably disciplined few minutes of throbbing bassline, motorik beats and madness. I’ve often thought of putting together a playlist of songs like it (one thinks of Public Image, etc) but why bother when the song itself is so perfect.

But the other tracks from that album – all classic. And not one of them sounds like L.A. Instead the relative smoothness of that track is contrasted with complexity both musical and lyrical. And it all works. Spoilt Victorian Child, To Nkroachment Yarbles, Bombast, Couldn’t Get Ahead, Cruisers Creek (though I think the latter was a non-album single). And good for them for having a song titled I Am Damo Suzuki. It’s nigh on thirty five years since I first heard (and taped) this, and they’re embedded in my musical memory.

An essential album.


L.A.


Cruiser’s Creek


Spoilt Victorian Child


Bombast


Gut of the Quantifier


I Am Damo Suzuki

Comments»

1. Mick 2 - January 13, 2018

Mornin’. I’ve always said this too, that my favourite Fall stuff is from the Brix Smith period. The more polished sound, like you say, allows Mark E. Smith space to let loose, and there’s an alluring counterbalance there.

For the same reason I like a lot of late PiL cuts that aren’t as highly regarded as their earlier stuff. The album Album was the first PiL album I knew and I still love it. Lydon caterwauling over Steve Vai, Ginger Baker and Tony Williams looks impossible on the liner notes but works so well. “Seattle” off Happy? verges on stadium rock – and is one of my favourite PiL tracks.

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WorldbyStorm - January 13, 2018

MIck, I love album too and for the same reason as you. It’s completely crazy but somehow it works. And Ginger Baker in PIL. (kind of). What’s not to like? The famously ‘difficult’ GB and Lydon. That must have been amazing.

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2. Phil - January 13, 2018

I gave up on the Fall just before this time – I hated Room to Live, Perverted by Language and Wonderful and Frightening World, and three duds was enough for me – so I haven’t heard most of these songs since the last time I heard them on Peel. But blimey, they’re good. Listening to “Gut of the quantifier” I found myself mentally upping the ante – “possibly the greatest post-Riley Fall song… greatest Fall song… greatest post-punk song… greatest piece of pop music ever…” Well, possibly. But it is pretty damn good.

Looking back now, Brix started to hit her stride pretty much as soon as Wonderful and Frightening… was finished – “No bulbs” and (especially) “Draygo’s guilt” on the “Call for Escape Route” EP are recognisably the same band as made these. I should have had a bit more patience!

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WorldbyStorm - January 13, 2018

It’s funny, their output is so prolific that it would be easy to walk away and I’m very much the same. I didn’t listen to the ones after she left (before she returned again etc). I doubt I’ve heard more than half their albums in full. But those I have I tend to really like.

I love the gnarliness of the tracks on this. They’re very uncompromising and yet there’s a melodic heart to each of them, just they’re odd melodies.

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3. nlgbbbblth - January 14, 2018

This was my first Fall album. I heard Cruisers Creek on John Peel and was curiously interested.
I got This Nation’s Saving Grace for Christmas in 1985 – gift from parents that I had casually asked for a few weeks earlier. My mother went to great lengths to pick me up a copy. I heard many years later that she went up to Dublin on 8 December and traipsed around shops looking for it.

A good album to start with – nice mix of the repetitive (L.A.), melodic (Gut Of The Quantifier), catchy (My New House) and offbeat (Paintwork)

PS – if you need more weekend listening then I’ve just put this on Mixcloud – https://www.mixcloud.com/nlgbbbblth/on-the-riot-trail-teenage-jams-1988-1990/

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WorldbyStorm - January 14, 2018

Interesting the love for this album. And agreed, a good album to start with.

Love that mix. A lot of classics on that one. I had never heard of 1927 – it’s amazing how many Australian bands made a name for themselves in the 80s.

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nlgbbbblth - January 17, 2018

Thanks very much! Glad you like it. That 1927 tune was included on The Hits Album 10 back in the summer of 1989 – which gave it exposure it normally wouldn’t have. It’s sequenced between Rick Astley’s Hold Me In Your Arms and Aretha Franklin & Elton John’s Through The Storm.

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WorldbyStorm - January 17, 2018

That must have surprised some listening to it!

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6to5against - January 17, 2018

I knew that user name was familiar – actually listening to you on mixcloud right now!

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