Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Day 99 and onwards to follow...

I'm moving house this Friday and simply don't have time to blog with the packing and horrible logistics, suffice to say that when I am online, I will have all the time in the world again to deconstruct your favourite Fall songs.

For post 100, I want to do a special post, suggestions please for 'The best Fall songs to encourage new fans of said band' and a few reasons why, either leave a reply or email me and I'll collate a top five or ten and do an extensive blog on the results. Doesn't matter if I've blogged it already.

See you on the other side of the move. Mike.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Day 98: Ted Rogers' brains burn in hell.

Ted Rogers, if I presume he's talking about this guy, was a TV presenter on a pretty tacky game show in the UK called 3,2,1 and his mascot was a robotic bin, or trash can for the 'mericans. Why he is mentioned in this song I have no idea, but I like it. Just look at him, white trousers with a blue blazer,you can almost smell the roast dinner (I remember this being on Sunday teatimes for some reason, may have been repeats).

I like how Dusty Bin's nose is held on by string, almost like they gave him a nose as an afterthought.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with The Fall, reads more like a mental breakdown at the moment.

Here's the actual song, it's a beauty!

Song: Joker Hysterical Face
Album: Room To Live
Year: 1982

You could actually base the first few lines of this song in today's reality 'The sweetest sound she had ever heard/Was the whingeing and crying due to the recession' quite apt. Don't know about in the US and wherever else people are reading this from, but the UK is a grim place to be these days, people losing their jobs, suffering cutbacks and for some reason today, the government (tory as is was back then) has decided women need to work for longer, that seems unfair, as some labour back-bencher said today, those women can just throw their future plans in the bin, cheers Dave. My parents both recently retired, I'm betting they are glad they did.

This song is actually brilliant, it has some amazing riffs in there, all swaying and upbeat, it's very Half Man Half Biscuit, who although an amazing band, never moved on from their initial style (another band I could easily blog about like this forever). If you are a Fall fan and wrote HMHB off years ago due to the name, go and grab a copy of their latest album and laugh yourself silly, it's the same sense of humour MES has, without the malice.

The lyrics in this one are great, stuff about throwing 45s at people and the echoing lines of 'There's no cure/So find a place for it' is referring to I think, the job/social situation at the time, this was the 80s in the UK, deprived, especially in the north and bloody depressing, watch this for proof.

If you do watch that play (and you should) there's a great monologue in part 4 (I think) that's simply a woman telling the camera how terrible her life is, she is exactly who I thought of when I read the lyrics to this one.

What other band can make you piss yourself ('Ted Rogers' brains burn in hell') to the depths of social realism this fast?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Day 97: You think you're a giant...

One of my favourites this.

Song: Ride Away
Album: Fall Heads Roll
Year: 2005

This one is just amazing, what an opener, those drums just pound away, the guitar comes in with that reggae lick and MES just sounds lackadaisical while still focused.

The lyrics are great, the simple act of bringing someone down a few rungs, what more needs to be said?

I think this is one of the most stark Fall songs of recent years, almost no instrumentation, so when they do add the odd element, a simple cymbal crash can sound massive. Despite the lack of music as it were, there's a hell of a lot to shout about with this, the hilarious lines 'You think you're a giant, you know you're a nothing, hey' and the strange imagery that hangs on lines like 'As you travel through hill and valley' make this entirely unique, it actually serves as one of the most effective 'intro songs' I can think of, seguing into the excellent Pacifying Joint, in which the whole band are almost allowed to burst forward into, smart use of dynamics there.

Fall Heads Roll is full of clever little twists like this, if you haven't dug it out for a while, treat yourself this week.

Day 96: Relaxing with sugar and tobacco?

Back to basics I'd say, but none the worse for wear.

Song: Latchkey Kid
Album: Imperial Wax Solvent
Year: 2008

This one is a mess, but in a good way, that old MES habit, where he seems to have messed with the very makeup of the song is evident here. Noises invade what appears to be a straight-up Fall barn-burner which is repetitive and bluesy. When the noises, mainly electronic and what I can only guess are vocal tracks degraded and destroyed take over, it takes on a sound collage-esque manner. It's what I imagine a sound installation by Mr Smith would be like, jarring and caustic noise, with no reference points and seemingly no purpose.

I always think that some of the Fall's songs are simply ideas put down on tape with no editing or afterthought, what I'd term 'honest music' as I read in an interview recently, he says people are 'ironing the air', meaning, slaving over every note, every flinch, every perfectly-struck snare. What I think The Fall have done since that technology has become the norm is let the producer have their strict fun with the songs, but then almost de-construct that. On the most recent albums, an air of digital sputum is slowly dribbling down over the perfectly-recorded music, the swathes of fuzz and crackles and the incidental sounds left in are testament to the group's independence, even when dealing with big record labels. This is a great example, a kind of jigaw track, not fully-formed and certainly not commercially viable, it's the way Fall fans like it.

I'd love to see some of the engineers I know trying to explain the latest innovations in music tech to MES, I think he'd listen, but with that knowing smile on his face, occasionally gurning, before walking off without a word.

Day 95: They were a bunch of twats...

Rochdale by LA? Yep, it really happened.

Song: Insult Song
Album: Reformation Post-TLC
Year: 2007

This sounds like an elaborate injoke and also sounds like a biblical tale, truly strange. MES is putting on what I presume is an American accent, but soon drops it as he collapses in laughter at some of his own lines, he also drops it just before the story turns to Rochdale (where the album was recorded) from an LA location.

The Beefheart influence here is so obvious I feel stupid mentioning it, he is doing a Beefheart impression and the music sounds a bit scattershot in that same style, it moves to an even more fevered pitch later on. I wouldn't mind seeing this live, but I doubt it would ever happen, seems like an album folly to me.

The way the lines are read out is so prose, it's almost a Jackanory sort of vibe, sadly, the majority is nonsense, but I love the way he cracks up during the lines: 'We thought they wore masks/Until we asked them to take them off/They took the trout replica a bit too far' and laughs in a childish way about the town names of Nobend and Ramsbottom.

Some of it sounds a bit evangelist, he shouts the end of some lines in the way enthusiastic preachers do, the lines like: 'Following their leader blindlessly and obeying in all goodness/The long trail to the Lancashire hilltops/Happy in their fulfilment' actually sound like they have come from scripture, the overly formal and strange syntax gives it that mystical edge.

I presume Elena didn't mind being called a hydra and the Americans didn't mind joining in the joke, it's good MES has a sense of humour, elsewhere on this album he is quite serious and acerbic.

The bassline that wanders over this track sounds to me like The Breeders song Cannonball, anyone else get that? One thing MES has always managed to get, a decent bass sound, something which a hell of a lot of bands neglect these days.

Day 94: I couldn't live in those peephole places...

This one's a pocket full of lyrics, let's go.

Song: Frightened
Album: Live At The Witch Trials
Year: 1979

This one is one of the only songs on LATWT that takes its foot off the gas for the pace of things, and as a result, there's oodles of room for some lyrics to take centre stage. It's also the first song, which sets up the dark atmosphere well, almost sounding more urgent in line with its rushed recording process.

The music plods along nicely, some great squally guitar lines in the background, but it's all about the freeform drums and keyboards, insistent and present in the mix. Mark almost has to force some more effort from his lungs to be heard and it just sounds way ahead of its time, still does really.

Lyrics pour out in waves for the whole song, quite unusual because I feel around that time, his lyrics were only just taking form, but this is accomplished and full of intrigue. It seems to be about paranoia, something MES returns to again and again. It also hints at his dislike of people knowing his business 'I couldn't live in those peephole places' could mean a small village in the countryside (see his hate flow for these places in Hard Life In Country or Contraflow) or it could mean just people/peephole in general. Of course the paranoia is something evident in the Fall's massive body of work (most obviously coming to mind is Paranoia Man In Cheap Shit Room, but there are plenty more). A lot of his sackings of members may well be down to paranoia inherent in his psyche, although he likens the ethic to running a football team and understands that people grow or can't hack it, which I prefer to think is the truth.

The lines in this are desperate and almost like a cry for help from the character he assumes here, lines like 'I've got shears pointed straight at my chest' and 'In a dark room you see more than you think' suggest drug-induced psychosis but can equally apply to any situation you could imagine, trapped in a job or trapped in a situation, it's all the same. The physical aspect affects me most here, the simple closing lines of 'I go to the top of the street/I go to the bottom of the street/I look to the sky, my lips are dry....' just creates a feeling of panic, of otherworldliness that he would go on to recreate a myriad of times. The constant keyboard is almost mocking when lined up side by side with this song's lyrics, which is why it's such a success.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Day 93: He has patents on moaning!

This one sounds better live I reckon, the production on this studio is a bit flat in my eyes, but who cares? Still an awesome song. Check out the entry I did for the song Smile, the live video in that follows it up with what I'd say is a definitive version of this song.

Song: 2x4
Album: The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall
Year: 1984

This is a Fall staple, just a simple, yet effective riff, but his vocals here approach that squeaky scream he rarely attempts these days, really distinctive. I actually love Brix's backing vocals here, she sounds very riot grrl here, did she ever get into that scene? The Adult Net seems a bit too pop to be considered spiky enough I suppose. This one showcases her unique guitar style and isn't buried by the dual drummers, something I wish we could see again, it adds just something else to the whole sound.

I'd say this is as close to punk as the Fall come in this era, a simple, 3 minute rager, as the rest of this album certainly explores some more pop and folkish elements. Underneath all the audio mess is again a tale of dark prose told in a rush, this time on what seems to be a serial killer with some very strange habits, who wears glasses and now has a 'Georgian glazed porch' who else could get those three words into a song that is essentially about hitting someone over the head with a piece of wood? You know who.

Day 92: Up from Hell, once in a while

This would have been Tuesday's offering...

Song: Fiery Jack
Album: Totale's Turns
Year: 1980

I've had to use a recording for the video I'm not sure which version it's from, but sounds good anyway. This was on Totale's Turns, which was a part-live/part-studio beast. This song has a country-esque sound, kind of like the music they use for long chases on westerns or on films like Smoky and The Bandit.

It's quite a performance, the song never really changes, the same insistent drums and fiddly guitar line with some trebly noises over the top now and again, so it doesn't really build much atmosphere. MES is on top form, seeming to be alluding to someone who has drank their life away (a portent on his own life?) and reminds me of Married, 2 Kids as this is almost the polar opposite.

Fiery Jack
seems to be a bit of a bastard and I know this is years before he got the reputation, but could almost be the 'Mad Mark' character. Where this differs is it's a critique of the needlessly angry, just potshots at some idea of a masculine man maybe.

He gets particularly aggressive towards the end, insisting 'Eat this grenade' over and over, the random threat coming out of nowhere, as it often does with heavy drinkers.

Day 91: This hideous replica...

Back with a vengeance, I've been in France for work this week, apologies to Fall people. Had a conversation with an Australian who used to have a friend who used to have MES over quite a lot. Apparently used to come over, place his little bag of speed on the coffee table and talk rubbish, once bowed fully when he met said friends mother, brilliant.

Anyway, been listening to In A Hole in my car recently, so this song has jumped out at me, they open the set with this one I think, great little slice of live Fall. what is below is obviously the Grotesque version.

Song: Impression Of J.Temperance
Album: Grotesque (Against the Gramme)
Year: 1980

So this one follows the high standard of the rest of the album, an insistent bassline throughout with some screeching guitar parts, it all bubbles along nicely and with a dark edge while MES tells the story of a dog breeder, a vet and what I presume is some sort of dog/man hybrid being born, it's all very Franz Kafka, the horror present and further revealed.

That would be my reading, but the rest of the song is just fantastic for memorable lines 'This part is hard to describe' and 'There are no readouts for this part of the track' are lines that give an impression of Mark stepping out from behind the fa├žade of being in a band and almost becoming an observer. It's all very post modern. Other lines of note are the brilliant 'Only two did not hate him' which I presume is a comment on this character being a dog breeder, a notoriously snide game to be in I imagine, constant competition and out-doing one another must make for a lonely life sometimes.

I do wonder if this J Temperance ever really existed, or whether Mark read about some backwater dog breeder who loved his dogs a bit too much, either way, to put it into song is just brilliant as ever...

Excellent military drums as well, must mention that, always adds an authoritative air to a song, or in the case of The Fall, some dread.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Day 90: It's been the bane of my life...

Chilled out one for Sunday.

Song: Time Enough At Last
Album: Code:Selfish
Year: 1992

Among the techno and sometimes hectoring vocals on display from this 1992 offering, Time Enough At Last is a milder, more relaxed foray into Smith's head, the title taken from the classic Twighlight Zone episode, first broadcast in 1959. The story features a man who loves to read, but is prevented from doing so by those around him. Surviving a nuclear blast which kills everyone in the world except him, he stumbles across the remains of the public library and sorts out books he wants to read for his now empty lifetime. Just as he settles down to read, he breaks his glasses, meaning he cannot read again. I think the point is 'be careful what you wish for' but in my mind, he could easily find some glasses somewhere.

Anyway, this song seems to be about taking stock of your life, taking a step back and deciding what to do and trying to deal with life's problems, there's a line 'the projectiles hit you/When you least expect it' which is true enough.

Overall, the song has a wishy washy feel with shoegaze-style guitars and MES in an almost-singing mood. It's all very airy, but these kind of Fall song are sometimes what you need.

Day 89: It's there but I don't read it...

A more punk one today...

Song: Futures and Pasts
Album: Live At The Witch Trials
Year: 1979

So this one is fast and frenetic and takes more from the punk scene than later material did, they dropped the snotty, angry thing quite fast as Mark realised he could do more if he made his own framework. This one is still amazing though, I'm not generally a massive fan of LATWT, it seems to rely on speed and anger to get through and ends up sounding a bit repetitive as it travels through its 11 songs, despite most of those songs being quite short. This one, however is one the best on the album, combining what would become The Fall's trademark sound, a high reliance on the bass sound being loud but still crystal clear and the keys throwing some chaos into the mix. The drums sound equally frantic here. This may be to do with how quickly it was recorded, all 11 songs were put down in a day despite the band having a week booked. MES was ill apparently, so hence the 'live' sounding nature of the album, but without it actually being live itself.

The lyrics here are a bit more accomplished than the rest of the album which tends to rely on the title being repeated a lot. Here we hear Smith painting a vivid, clear situation: 'I was in a sleeping dream/When a policeman brought my mother home/By the window I didn't scream/I was too old for that/I was in a drunken dream/The pubs were closed/It was three o'clock' now this seems like it could be from one of Smith's favourite shows The Twilight Zone, the sense of the uncanny and the first-person narrative at play. It certainly sounds as if he is pitching a film idea, one that would certainly be set in black and white with miserable-looking actors.

The next part gets even more surreal: 'At the bottom of the street it seemed/There was a policeman lost in the fog' now this seems even more like the first line, witnessing things while you are awake as if in a dream, being a casual observer. This could well be a comment on the effects of conciousness and the unconscious having a grip on reality. It could also be a comment on people steadfastly living in reality, the lines: 'Look at the woman of thirty-nine/Look at the man of forty-nine/You can read their lousy lives/You can see their ugly face lines/They understand but they don't see it' like they have ignored everything but their lives, quite an easy thing to do.

All this is crammed into a few minutes of music, incredible. Even more incredible when you imagine Smith was only around 22 years old at the time, such maturity in his writing.

Day 88: You don't need that cosmic crap...

This one seems the most playful I've heard in a while...

Song: Choc Stock
Album: Dragnet
Year: 1979

So this one is just a bit daft, but MES couldn't help but slip some serious lines in there towards the end. This is as close as The Fall get to sounding a bit like Frank Sidebottom (his cover of Hit The North still makes me laugh). They even say during the course of the almost too-long tune 'Why are you smiling/Why are you laughing/At or with this song' it is intended to be funny I suppose, but then The Fall's snotty, antagonistic head rears up again as well, meaning you can't feel fully comfortable with it.

The song seems to be a statement about the band being different, I suppose Dragnet has the self-reverential Printhead and Your Heart Out on it, so this is just another one recorded as a mission statement of sorts. I know MES didn't particularly like being part of the punk scene, or even the post-punk scene, so the comments about class in this song are probably something to do with that. Similarly, the parts about not needing space boots or 'that cosmic crap' are probably about the rise of glam in that era too, there are some gems among that scene that still sound great today, but for the most part, it was terrible, ugly chaps in make-up and with frizzy hair singing see-thru sexual metaphors in platform shoes. Those kind of bands end up in country parks playing to middle-aged/elderly people who are sipping wine while sat on rugs, can't imagine MES at one of those.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Day 87: In comic type letters...

I've had to use the live version of this song to blog it, as Shift Work seems to be shrouded in copyright mystery, sort it out Youtube...

Song: The Mixer
Album: Shift Work
Year: 1991

This video gives a great impression of the song, I like the bits with what sounds like rehearsals on his little tape walkman and the fact Brix seems to be wearing trainers with a red dress, amazing. The song itself is a pretty good one, it has a warm, satisfied sound to it and the lyrics reflect this. The sound of the melodica can grate for some people, but here I'd say it combines well with Brix's guitar lines and the quick and paced beat laid out by the drums.

The lyrics are great, I feel that this fictional 'Mixer' is MES himself, he sounds relaxed and pleased with the laid-back backing track and lines about reassurance like 'he turns and smiles at me' make me think it's about self-awareness and reflection, but who knows? I still feel MES is not a shameless self-promoter, he is still incredibly question-dodging and still gives interviews as if the journalists are out to get him. I'd say this is more a nod to say that he knows who he is and those doubting him are way off the mark. However, I seem to recall him saying that no Fall song is about himself, but I would argue the opposite, every Fall song seems to be about himself, but without being overly sugary and sickly sweet. You will never find MES singing a folorn ballad for example, or even referring to himself in the third person. He has done that once as far as I know on Middle Class Revolt ('You're sleeping with some hippy halfwit/Who thinks he's Mr Mark Smith).

Overall I'd say this is one to just enjoy, this is The Fall in rare reflective and calm mode.

Day 86: I got a lot of things to say now baby...

Never let it be said that The Fall let things get stale...

Song: I'm Frank
Album: Extricate
Year: 1990

So this is possibly the only Fall song to feature a flute (correct me if I'm wrong) and has an upbeat and rockabilly style, Martin Bramah was back for this album and the guitars sound incredible on this one.

MES's vocals sound great, he almost sings every line on this one and the guitars and him combine to create a call and response style effort. This one is notable for its simplicity and a fantastic middle 8, sounding for all the world like a pop song, but without the influence of Brix, showing MES has an ear for pop of his own. The production sounds probably the best The Fall can sound, everything is clear and you can even tell the extra percussion adds weight to this as well. I can't believe how up to date this sounds given it was recorded 21 years ago, The Fall are timeless.

This is another Fall song that plays well on a long journey, might be one to watch the speedometer though, it makes me put a bit too much gas on personally.

Day 85: Raced a couple of hundred yards...

Here's a schizophrenic one if there ever was one...

Song: Bournemouth Runner
Album: Bend Sinister
Year: 1986

Bend Sinister is becoming another fave of mine, this song should tell you why. Starting off all spooky and serious, it soon descends into a keyboard lick-led jaunt that John Shuttleworth would be proud of, I think they must have had the same Casio, who knows, maybe they bought it from the same shop.

When it finally kicks in, the contrast with the beginning is amazing, an upbeat, driving Fall tune that runs for a lengthy 6 minutes in total. Mark's vocals are incredible here, his timing impeccable and varied. The keyboards seem to do what they want over the whole thing, it's all very end-of-the-pier stuff, which may be intentional what with the location, one of Britain's many seaside resorts. Do Americans say seaside? Seems a bit tommy to me.

There's some amazing lines in here that are laugh-out-loud funny, stuff like: 'Our backdrop was friendly, heavy/ Often it would rumble into hotel/ And partake with us/ In diluted drink and dogmeat/ Of RAC-reccomended hostelry' this gives some amazing images, to imagine MES in a pokey bed and breakfast on Bournemouth's seafront is hilarious, but I love the lines about dog meat and the sneaky mention of the RAC. This is what I love about The Fall, no pretensions, just songs about real life, who else has songs about subjects as diverse?

This is again, a strange contrast of an album, the LP runs the gamut, from chirpy numbers like this to dystopian collages like US- 80s/90s and then a cover of Mr Pharmacist. Just shows you what the band can do, which is mainly surprise.

Day 84: The season for hard drugs and cider mate!

Hello all, back again. I've been really busy this week with not being at home and staying elsewhere for work, I'm actually off to France next week too, will try and find the time with my netbook, but if you don't see any updates, that'll be why.

Onto the blogging proper, today's is a suggestion and I'm glad it's such a good one.

This song reminds me of Half Man Half Biscuit (who I'm sure stole a raft of material from The mighty Fall).

Song: Middle Mass
Album: Slates
Year: 1981

So this one features an incredible bassline that runs through the whole track courtesy of one of the best bass players ever, Steve Hanley. It has a swaggering rhythm to it, all confidence and big gestures. Mark's vocals are great, with some excellent lyrics.

Now what this song is about I've no idea, but it could fit a myriad of explanations. I'd like it to be about football, the talk of summer closed season and the bits about drugs and drink make me think it's about football hooligans, but there's just my interpretation for you. The bits about 'running with and from the cats from tin pan alley' make me think this too, though it could equally be one of Mark's early gangster-like film noir nods, possibly about a young gang member who is naive, unaware of the world. The use of the American colloquial 'cats' made me think this might be the case.

This is actually one of the more listenable songs on Slates, as the rest of the album can sometimes grate, the production differs from the rest of the LP here, all clear and crisp. Perhaps they wanted to showcase that bassline, I certainly wouldn't hide it under reams of fuzz and scratch. I like the clear dynamics on display here too, the spoken parts and the whispered parts bring something else to the whole effort, very nice.

Just a note on Slates, I love the cover to this, which is what looks like a blurry live shot of the band, I always see something else if I catch the cover in passing. I see a night scene with some lights from a distant fire, or I see a bonfire, strange what the mind conjures up, that said, sometimes it's bloody stupid, I used to think the Phil Collins album my parents had (they had some awful stuff) reminded me of tomato soup, it's the one where it's his smug face staring at you, No Jacket Required, I'm glad he has retired from music, I have remembered that right haven't I, I didn't dream it?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Normal service will resume shortly...

Sorry to all my readers, been away for the week, same next week, this weekend will see an update bonanza.

That's right, bonanza.

All hail the new puritan!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Day 83: You shall feel the wrath of my bombast!

Bass-line a go-go.

Song: Bombast
Album: This Nation's Saving Grace
Year: 1985

Sounding for all the world like a robot issuing a firm threat at the start, this is MES puffing his chest out, it's good stuff, with an excellent S. Hanley bassline making everything else seem extraneous. Its a good example of a jam-like track becoming a studio one. This album is full of recording innovation and this song is one of those that seems as if it could last forever. The lyrics aren't much to shout about, but do keep up the whole energy of the track, joining in with all the strident guitar and bass that make this a real album highlight. In fact, scratch that, because every song on this album fits, this is a rare Fall album where everything just flows. Others I would argue that maintain this almost-seamless nature are YFOC, Fall Heads Roll and The Infotainment Scan, where songs seem to have a common theme or template, this song fits in perfectly with the amiable, wandering Paintwork and the straight-up confusion that is of Couldn't Get Ahead.

I often think this is one of the band's best moments, it's certainly an album I'd recommend musicians to listen to, it almost defines thinking outside the box, both with the aforementioned recording techniques, but also in terms of loose playing, the lack and ensuing musicality of the players styles on here defies an easy explanation, it just sounds right. Like a band in tune, not necessarily in the traditional sense, but in the artistic vision they share. I'd have been proud to come up with half of what the line-up on this album did, so inventive and free of genre constraints, it must be a hell of a lot of fun being in The Fall, no matter how brief your involvement.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Day 82: I'm kinda two-tone...PUH!

Best song about a hangover ever?

Song: Feeling Numb
Album: Cerebral Caustic
Year: 1995

This one's great, Mark sounds like he is waking up all the way through this one, from the opening bits, talking about prozac and being numb post-festivities, Brix's beautiful chorus seems to get his interest and he sounds more and more sharp through the song. The lyrics are great, just general points about how he is feeling post-party I presume.

Brix's chorus is amazing, makes it sound equally 90s and 60s pop, Mark doesn't even ruin the choruses, even when he joins in. Just a good pop song.

Have to say this, the music reminds me of Elastica, which is obviously a band that The Fall are linked with, what with MES singing on a few songs and them being influenced by The Fall quite a bit. It's that trebly, yet still hefty guitar tone that does it, the drums also contribute to this, the clipped, staccato nature of it all is very britpop (I hated that term at the time, still do now). That said, parts of it sound a bit surf-rock and psychedelic, so it is probably another spongy, all-encompassing influence ball as usual.

Have to say, MES actually attempts some singing here and it actually sounds great, do any songs exist where he sings all the way through? Perhaps you can help me out Fall fans, I think he has a great voice when he tries, but wouldn't swap his vocal style ever.

Another highlight on this track.... the closing noise he makes... PUH.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Day 81: Hailing a cab to Edinburgh

I've decided to blog this album after saying I wouldn't until after I'd done the rest, there are some great songs on this, but it's still my least favourite as it is the soundtrack to a ballet and I imagine works better if you can see it with the performance, some of the tracks lack depth, which is a shame.

Song: Cab It Up!
Album: I am Kurious Oranj
Year: 1988

So yeah, this was one of the first songs written for this album, as I've said before, they opened a showcase gig at HMV in London with this song, when they were meant to be promoting the release of the same years' The Frenz Experiment, bloody awkward as usual.

It's quite repetitive, but not in a a usual way for the band, it feels to me like a lot of the songs on here are extended beyond their natural lifespans to create enough music for the soundtrack, remember they played live as Michael Clark and Company danced around them, so it needed to be of a decent length.

This song must be a contender for 'the title mentioned the most in song' in the Fall's canon and as you'll know there are some real doozies out there. That said, this one is likeable, the daft keyboard melody plinking all over the garage band sound the rest of the band are laying down sounds amazing and the drums sound excellent, there's some really complex fills curling out of the speakers here.

Mark is still employing his early and now often talked-about squeal here, giving the word 'uptown' some added clarity, but I'm loathe to say there's not much else to recommend this song.

Sorry Oranj fans, this one's a bit flat for me.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Day 80: See the people all in line.

A rollicking cover today, originally by The Move.

Song: I Can Hear The Grass Grow
Album: Fall Heads Roll
Year: 2005

This is actually a very faithful cover, down to the drum fills, I think I prefer the Fall version, a bit more post-punk venom adds a bit of rough to what was somewhat of a hippy track, I've included the original at the bottom of the post.

The lyrics are so 1960s it's unreal, 'I can hear the grass grow/I see rainbows in the evening' you can imagine this being parodied, the original sounds painfully close to Listen To The Flower People by Spinal Tap, but as ever, MES and co have transformed an old classic into their own devilish vision. This flows really well on what is one of my favourite Fall albums, the whole thing just has this driving energy to it, the drums sound massive, Mark's vocals are on top form and it's almost like a new Fall, they were hinting at this standard with previous albums, but from Fall Heads Roll onwards, they have outshone a raft of previous output. I do still hate comparing different eras of the band though, there's joys to be had on even the weirdest, most sketchy albums as well as the ones everyone agrees on.

I always end up having Fall lyrics in my head long after listening to them, for example, I was singing 'Get up, make a buck' all day in my head today, can't even remember what song that's from.

Think my mind is starting to crack, have a listen to the original below for comparison...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Day 79: Skyscraper tall.

Here's one off an album that people either love or hate, the title of the album makes no grammatical sense, doesn't annoy me, but felt it needed to be said...

Song: Crop Dust
Album: Are You Are Missing Winner
Year: 2001

This whole album sounds to me like one from the 90s, not 2001, but there we have it.

This one has an amazing eastern-sounding riff picked out that gives it an African/Arabian feel, really cool, but then the rest of the music is hard to pin down, sludgey and caustic, it scrapes along as if in a trance as Mark sounds like he is drunk and far too close to a nice expensive condensor mic. He growls and gives it some gusto, but underneath all this are some great lyrics as usual. It sounds like a drunk recollection, bit-parts sewn together through a Guinness-like haze, half-remembered sections of a night in dark and smelly boozers.

I like the lines towards the end about world war one soldiers, joined by a drunk singer from Manchester, the way he says in the 1990s is amazing, sounds very hazy. It reminds me of some of the vocal performances on Your Future Our Clutter, the mumbled grumble he has is masterly, nobody else sounds like this, good thing too?

Apparently this whole song is influenced by 60s band The Troggs, with a particular song I Just Sing, I can see some overall resemblances, the riff that kicks off the Fall song sounds the same, its more of a blueprint than a cover, good stuff again, MES borrowing parts of pop culture again, naughty naughty. Included the Troggs song for clarity below...

Day 78: Gert's motor car.

Oh my God, this one is amazing.

Song: Athlete Cured
Album: The Frenz Experiment
Year: 1988

Just when I think I've heard it all, something else leaps out at me by this incredible band, someone actually asked me today, what I had been listening to, all I could say was ....erm.... The Fall? I have a problem.

This one is amazing, has actually made me laugh out loud like an idiot, this story, vividly told for once, is about an athlete whose brother is making him ill through revving his car in the drive and making the fumes enter his bedroom, there's some fantastic imagery here, the brother, Gert, parking his volkswagon on the driveway 'willy-nilly' and the like, really funny. Mark's vocals are again like a narrator on some b-movie film noir epic, but you can't take it seriously, the story is just so ridiculous.

I like the way he stutters lines sometimes, if you are reading through the lyrics with the songs as I sometimes do with blogging them every day, he often stops short of a word or two and messes up the timing, I think on purpose, it works really well, gives the impression he is reading notes he's found on a park bench or something, brilliant.

There's an often-quoted rumour that the riff in this is actually Tonight I'm Going To Rock You Tonight by Spinal Tap, I'm inclined to agree, I've included it below, see what you think!