on 8 January 2000
Mark E Smith, with then-wife Brix and his merry men of music troubadors joined forces with producer John Leckie, (who would later go on to produce The Stone Roses and Cast, amongst others), to construct one of the finest overlooked albums of the eighties. The album opens with 'Lay of the Land', a seven-minute rumbler with near heavy-metal guitars towards the end and an unforgettable acapella chorus, which leaves the listener reeling and reaching for the smelling salts in the dying seconds of the song, by which time all the guitars have gone out of tune, due to their sonic mis-handling. The next track "2x4" opens with yet another classic Steve Handley bass riff, whilst "Copped It" is merely an extraordinary audio collage of vocals and sound that was later used by dancer Michael Clarke in his reviews (see also "I am Kurious Oranj"). "Elves" owes much debt to Iggy and the Stooges, with Mark E Smith singing through a paper bag and sneezing at one point in the song. Leaving aside the excellent additional singles and b-sides that grace the CD-reissue but not the original album, the final five tracks comprise nothing less than an audio calling-card of why the Fall remain one of the most enigmatic and least-understood bands in Britain. Lyrical wizardry, melodic overdrive, experimentation without boredom and one of the finest drum and bass teams in the business gel perfectly to produce five classic tracks. I have listened to this album so many times I am now on my second (vinyl) copy and yet, due to the magnificence of John Leckie's production as much as the songs themselves, I still hear something new on every listen. I implore you to try this album. Live with it and persevere with it for six months and then try to find another album that can be compared to this apocalyptic and apoplectic peer-crushing jewel.
on 6 September 2010
Fall fans like myself are in no doubt that they're the greatest band ever, but they're not exactly easy listening and are certainly not for everyone.
The Velvet Underground and those that followed them (such as The Fall's contemporaries Joy Division/New Order)tried to make beauty from ugliness, but The Fall dispensed with the niceties of the aesthetes and found a mode of expression that celebrates the ugliness for itself. Absurdist and sardonic the The Fall expose the gaping wound of existential terror that simmers beneath the surface of modern life. No band is less rockist than The Fall, but no band rocks harder. This album is probably the best place to start to find out about them; if you think you're ready for it...
The CD edition of this album includes the material from the 'Call For Escape Route' EP and the full length version of 'No Bulbs', making what was a fine album into one of their very best. As a result this is a real epic that showcases many of the different weapons in The Fall's arsenal. Opening with a mock post-apocalyptic dirge as a mark of disrespect to the miserable humourlessness of doom mongers such as Killing Joke and the goths, The Fall then break into the bitingly sardonic punkabilly of 'Lay of the Land' and it instantly becomes clear how great a record this is going to be. Mark Smith's lyrics in this period used the techniques of Percy Wyndham Lewis to create sharply expressionistic and deeply allusive verbal whirlwinds which delineate a 'wonderful and frightening world' to scathing effect. Populated by such essential slices of The Fall as 'Slang King', 'Pat Trip Dispenser', 'Draygo's Guilt', 'O Brother' and 'Disney's Dream Debased' this is one of the best albums that Smith and co. ever put out and is, in my opinion, the finest introduction to them that you could hope for.
If you're interested in The Fall, but don't really know what to expect, then this is the place to start. If you like it then you'll be at the start of a fantastic journey -if not, well, you won't be alone as hating The Fall is pretty normal. Dave Bush famously said that prior to working as a techie on a Fall tour that he thought they were like 'Les Dawson on piano', but a friend told him that if he toured with them he'd end up loving them. As many other people have experiemced, he did suddenly 'get it' and actually ended up as a memeber of the band. Les Dawson? He wasn't even as funny as The Fall.
-Is a statement that could apply to most Fall albums (*apart from the endless compilations/live albums/live compilations and the odd mess like The Light User Syndrome & Levitate)- 1984's Wonderful&Frightening World of The Fall is where Brix Smith began to register. From this album to 1988's Frenz Experiment, The Fall moved away from the epic-climes of tracks like And This Day, Garden & Hexen Definitive to something close to pop.
Lay of the Land is the great opening track (a memorable Whistle Test performance saw Michael Clark join the band's performance), producer John Leckie (The Stone Roses, The Bends, Empires&Dance) captures a more muscular Fall. The tracks have the potency of Joy Division/New Order in terms of sound- 2by4, The Stooges-quoting Elves & the jangly O!Brother single saw The Fall move into pop-rock climes (though still remaining The Fall).
This album comes with several bonus tracks- the singles O!Brother/God Box & CREEP/Pat Trip Dispenser & the Call for Escape Route EP (No Bulbs, Draygo's Guilt, Slang King & the Gavin Friday guested Clear Off!)- which make the whole even greater. Lay of the Land, Bug Day, Elves...all wonderful- the Smith/Smith/Hanley/Burns/Hanley/Scanlon line-up arguably the perfect Fall (well, they were the line-up I heard first)The album proper concludes on the strangely moving territory- preceding such classics as Bill is Dead, Living Too Late & Edinburgh Man- though we go out on a high with the jangly rockabilly of No Bulbs, complete with great backing vocals...
I'd argue for many Fall-albums, follow-up This Nation's Saving Grace is seen as their best album of the Brix-era- which I think devalues both this & Bend Sinister (1986). The 16-tracks of this reissue show one of the greatest rock'n'roll bands of all time on a frequent peak of creativity...
on 11 February 2000
Bought this when it first came out in nineteen eighty whatever,(yes on a big shiny black disc thingy called a record, that required a gramaphone and needle to make noise) thanks to mister Peel constantly playing "Eat y'self fitter" from Perverted By Language. Found this to be THE Fall album. It inspired me to go see them 8 times in 20 months, thank God for the collage circuit. Cliche time; if you only buy one Fall album it HAS to be this one. - Foz
This is one of my favourite Fall albums. I owned the original LP but got it on CD again recently. It sounds as good now as it did originally. Favourite tracks are Lay of the Land, 2x4, Copped it and Elves - an amazing opening set of tracks for the album - then also Pat-Trip Dispenser which I think is one of the added tracks from singles released at the time.
on 16 August 2004
1984 eh? strange year for me. first my wife left me.....then i won an inflatable speedboat...she soon came back.
this album sounds to me like a total(e)y different band than the one that had recorded Perverted.... this and the next one seem to go together but maybe thats just cos the back covers look similar.
this was one of my first Fall albums having not yet heard things like Grotesque and Hex and maybe not the best place to start if u aint heard these guys. that said tho, it is a fine album although it is really long as it contains extra songs which werent on the original vinyl. apparently this is when they went poppy- it does sound kind of clean i guess but there are some damn sweet momentes like C.R.E.E.P and Oh! Brother and it sounds like Mark's vocals have been run thru some FX. Lay of the land is a stormer and Disneys Dream Debased has a very soothing and melancholy feel to it. things get a bit surreal towards the end with the excellent Bug Day - a track which i really rate. Stephen Song and Craigness display odd time signatures, the latter with its drunken swing and random multitracked vocals. these kinda tracks sum up whats good about the Fall its just hard to put yr finger on it.
essential album for Fall addicts!
on 9 May 2015
Great album from a fine band. Bought this CD in replacement of an audio cassette I'd had in earlier times and played until stretched and knackered. Still a splendid cacophony rarely out of the car's CD player. Brix Smith is an awesome thrasher of guitar!
So buy it now and wonder how you've managed for all these years without it. And then buy every other record by the Fall and throw all your other ones out as they will suddenly be superfluous. Honestly.
on 3 August 2015
What can I say , it's the fall - fab ..!!!!!!
on 27 December 2015
The best fall album ever in my opinion