For anyone who has looked into the brittish punk movement beyond the Clash and The Sex Pistols, The Fall need no further introduction. The 30 albums (which are almost always of quality, I may add) and about as many line-ups speak for themselves. Led by eccentric lead vocalist Mark E. Smith, you could say that The Fall began as a literary attempt to the punk movement, influenced by Captain Beefheart, Can, Velvet Underground and The Monks. As years have passed, the sound has inevitably developed while staying true to their roots. The pretty much autobiographical quote by (possibly The Fall’s biggest fan ever) John Peel – “Always different, always the same” is, honestly, spot on.
By 1983, things definitely had changed. The band was no longer “White northern crap that talks back”. The arrival of Smith’s first wife Brix Smith lead the band into a more conventional, and as it turned out, darker sound than the previous classics like Hex Enduction Hour and Dragnet. Two excellent singles were released in this fashion, “The Man Whose Head Expanded” and the four-song single featuring “Kicker Conspiracy” and “Wings”, but it was on the full-length Perverted by Language, that this new feel revealed itself in full bloom. Three years earlier, it was “Seeya Later Mate” repeated ad infinitum and now it’s “Two Thousand Dead Thai Monks in SS Uniforms”. Brix actually takes the lead vocals on this particular track while Smith provides a spoken word and violin dissonance. Plus, the band now had two drummers, adding an extra OOMPH to the rock solid bass lines.
A sudden change in the road of development for sure. However, this was still the “Repetition, Repetition, Repetition” brand of The Fall, as the record starts off with “Eat Y’Self Fitter”, a near seven-minute track that never deviates from the main riff even once. This song is notable for actually causing John Peel to faint on the air during the band’s sixth Peel Session, and it remained one of his all-time favourite songs until his death. To me every song has it’s own strength, but especially “Garden”, which features some of the best lyrics ever written, at least in my book. The album’s grand finale is probably my favourite Fall song, “Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot”. It’s a lethargic, dark attempt at a ballad of some sort (the title may be a reference to a Swedish film, Häxan, about Witch trials from the 1920’s.).
-“Winston Churchill had a speech imp-p-p-pediment, and look what he did, he razed half of London”
-“A pillbox crisp!”
-“ His chairs are weeping, God damn the pedantic welsh”
-“Man whose head: A – knew about politburo façade behind “kicker”, C – Who stole café’s collection box, B – Who applied cut-up technique literally to himself”
-“I’ve been sharpening a knife in the bathroom with a brick I got from the garden”
-“A jew on a motorbike!”
I used to be unable to pick my favourite Fall album before I heard Perverted By Language. To me, this one simply has the most atmosphere.
1. Eat Y'self Fitter
2. Neighbourhood of Infinity
4. Hotel Bloedel
6. I Feel Voxish
7. Tempo House
8. Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot