Sunday, 24 April 2011

Day 41: Turn that bloody blimey Space Invader off-uh!

Here's one of my all-time favourites, on which album this first appeared I'm not sure as it seems to crop up on several, either way, its amazing.

Song: The Man Whose Head Expanded
Album: Perverted By Language (1998 reissue version)

Year: 1983 (For the song, first released as a single)

This is almost as good as Eat Y'Self Fitter, but doesn't have that menace or confusion about it to tip it for me, but this still remains a great little track that apparently is again, Mark Riley inspired. This actually features some semblance of singing from Mark, which is why I love it. He uses the now-legendary 'uh' suffix to almost every line here, like someone on here said, listening to The Fall is almost like learning a new language sometimes, I love the 'uh' thing, he still does it now despite his voice having aged quite oddly (compare PBL material to YFOC stuff and hear the difference).

The music on this one is great, revving along nicely until about halfway through when Mark gives some direct feedback to Paul Hanley as a sci-fi noise on the keyboards kicks in by shouting 'Turn that bloody, blimey Space Invader off!" and he does, but at the same time, its almost as if the whole band take their feet off the pedal and the whole thing slows down to a crawl, but oddly, this works and is an example of why being loose and free-flowing can create some great little bits like this. It sounds both like a mistake and completely planned simultaneously and changes the tone instantly. There's some great little keyboard squalks as this progresses towards the end as well, very focused in that unfocused way only the Fall can replicate.

The lyrics follow a conspiracy-inspired route, the story (and that's what it is, a full narrative I reckon) of a man who is convinced of TV script-writers following him around and using his musings and things he says as ideas for stories, or as Mark puts it 'The soap opera writer/would follow him around/and use his jewels for TV prime time' this is charting someone who has become delusional, whether that's how he felt about Mark Riley, who knows, the two continued their spat for years through song, quite pathetic, but amusing nonetheless. One thing I'll never understood in this one is the 'hick wap huh' lyrics, I used to hear it as 'Hercule Poirot' but I'm not convinced this is the case, seems a strange thing to put in either way, but MES isn't averse to slipping in some non-words, he likes singing 'ba ba ba ba' and 'la la la la' in other songs.

The conspiracy thing follows The Fall through their whole career, Mark's lyrics tend to lend themselves to this, they even have a song called Paranoid Man In Cheap Sh*t Room later on, the lines about lager being poisoned and the titular man whose head expanded looking over his shoulder adds to this here. I love towards the end, he changes the title lyrics to 'The man whose head... diminished' and actually diminishes the vocal as he says it and the music follows, brilliant line and brilliantly delivered.

I have a weird version of this song on a very cheap-looking compilation album called Fiend With A Violin which has some recordings from 1996 on it, the version on that is almost unrecognisable, the title gets shouted over and over, but the music is almost trance-like and sounds quite unhinged, its almost like a remix, I'd be annoyed if I'd seen them perform that rather than the original, but its an interesting take on it. I'm not sure what format it was originally intended to be, whether its a studio outtake or a demo version, I've no idea, but none of the album sounds that polished, the version of LA is the only one worth a proper listen I'd say. Can anyone shed any extra light on this weird release? Mark is wearing a terrible shirt on the back cover's photo.

Over! Over! More Fall loveliness tomorrow.


  1. fiend is a revolver records release i believe which is a terrible mix of studio outtakes, alt versions and live tracks. all of which have no source listed. i have this one but haven't revisited it much - the description sounds enticing to collector but in reality I don't think any of those revolver albums are worth a listen.

    i forget the exact circumstances but probably it was some dodgy deal mark made for a carrier bag of tenners. actually no it was most likely a greedy label who paid for studio time trying to get as much money out of the bands material as possible

  2. Yeah I should say it is very patchy, like I said, the version of LA is worth a listen, but TMWHE is just strange, the rest is awful.