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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expanded take of The Fall's debut album...
This reissue of The Fall's debut album Live at the Witch Trials, kickstarts a vast reissue programme- every Fall album being reissued in a remastered form with bonus-tracks and sleeve-notes at the rate of two a month. So, a treat for Fall-heads and an excuse to buy the definitive CD-version and finally replace the hallowed albums & tapes I still play to this day. This...
Published on 11 Feb 2004 by Jason Parkes

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars excellent album ruined
this is, along with 'early years '77-'79', the fall's finest hour. this edition of the album (Cog 1998) has been mastered from a very badly damaged LP which totally ruins the music. The original Cog issue suffered from a small drop out on one channel during the opening track, frightened. To replace that edition with this is perplexing.
Published on 24 Sep 2000


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expanded take of The Fall's debut album..., 11 Feb 2004
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
This reissue of The Fall's debut album Live at the Witch Trials, kickstarts a vast reissue programme- every Fall album being reissued in a remastered form with bonus-tracks and sleeve-notes at the rate of two a month. So, a treat for Fall-heads and an excuse to buy the definitive CD-version and finally replace the hallowed albums & tapes I still play to this day. This version of Live at the Witch Trials is even more tempting, now expanded to 41-tracks over 2-discs, taking in rarities and alternate takes of tracks of the era.
The original 11-track album remains the joy it was the first time I heard it, from the opening Frightened, to classics such as Rubellious Jukebox, No Xmas for John Quays, Industrial Estate (found on Rough Trade's Post Punk compilation) & Two Steps Back (that has a lyric that refers to Julian Cope!). This is one of the four great albums that Martin Bramah has played on (the others are The Greatest Hit, Extricate & Shiftwork)- the sound here is dominated by Baines keyboard & Bramah's tight direction- with frequent member Karl Burns on drums and Marc'Lard'Riley on bass. One of the classic Fall-line-ups. Nothing much sounds like The Fall & Live at the Witch Trials sounds like nothing else- it even predicts Riley's work with The Shirehorses with the closing Music Scene, as it drifts into a wonderful repetition close to comic (but it meant it!), as a voice from the control room tells them that time's up! It easily stands against such great albums of the era as First Issue/Public Image, Chairs Missing, Cut, Y, & Real Life: this being the greatest era in British music that I can think of...
The bonus tracks are vast and wonderful- a few that made up the first side of compilation Early Fall- including the manic Psycho Mafia & debut single Bingo Master's Breakout (worth buying for that alone!). There are alternate versions of songs from Witch Trials and others found as bonus cuts (It's the New Thing, Various Times, BMB) & songs like Dresden Dolls and Mess of My , that I haven't come across before.
This reissue comes with a great sound & attention to detail & reminds you just how great The Fall not only are, but always were. Hail M.E.S. & co, even if the former does resemble Gollum from Lord of the Rings...
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My introduction to The Fall., 3 Sep 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
I'm 18, so I'm far too young to truely appreciate The Fall for what they meant to the 'music scene' when they first arrived. Before buying this album, I'd heard *of* The Fall, but heard nothing *by* The Fall. The 'myth' of this band really interested me, so I bought a biography of the band, a great book written by Mick Middles. What drew me in initially about the band was that they are actually very local to me, Mark E Smith growing up only 20 or so miles from me in Prestwich, playing lots of obscure towns in my home county Lancashire, and actually recording an album in my home town of Rochdale. And once I began to understand the concept of The Fall and the very unique perspective of MES, I was itching to finally hear something.
The music is leftfield punk rock, a cross between Public Image and the Velvet Underground and Nico album. MES has written some great lyrics here, and enunciates them in a frightening, sharp delivery. Choice cuts on the album are 'Frightened', 'Industrial Estate', 'Repetition', 'Rebellious Jukebox', and 'Two Steps Back'. The second disc of John Peel sessions and live recordings is suprisingly good too, with some versions of songs beating their studio counterparts, as well as a few choice moments of performance banter from MES.
I think getting the debut as my first foray into The Fall was better than picking up, say, their most recent or celebrated album. It's because I want to make the progression that every true Fall fan seems to have done over the band's existence, checking up on a friend that's "always different, always the same". I recommend that other listeners taking their first steps into The Fall should start here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the last word on the fall's first, 16 Feb 2010
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
As the first of the Fall's 27 studio albums, this is worth checking out for its curio value alone; especially as it is the only one to feature key founder member Martin Bramah on guitar. Unlike the rest of the Fall's output, their debut does actually sound like a collective effort (as opposed to MES & band) in much the same musical vein as early ATV or Subway Sect. Standouts are 'Rebellious Jukebox' and 'Industrial Estate', but the real treats are in the bonus tracks that triple the length of the original album. All the associated singles are here, plus the two tracks from 'Live At The Electric Circus', two Peel Sessions and an audience recording of an entire concert from Liverpool. Newcomers would be better off with one of the Fall's 80's classics, but for regulars this is an essential item.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent beginning!, 12 Jun 2009
By 
Mr. J. Cottrell (Bedford, Bedfordshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
If you do not know the Fall, then you haven't lived! This album is testament to their utter punkish-independent-arty and original brilliance.

From the partly out-of tune infectious nature of Frightened, Mark E.Smith spitting confidence like a more literary Mancunian Johnny Rotten, to the beautiful discordant repetitive shimmer of Industrial Estate this album is almost flawless.

Rightly they were John Peel's favourite band and did he have taste and know originality when he heard it! He knew his music, all right. And The Fall were a benchmark for him. Nothing else quite compared and a few listens to Live At the Witch Trials will explain why. If you want to have your understanding of music changed in one record, then buy this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the beginning was the Fall, 11 July 2004
I love this album, not because it is the Falls best , but knowing where is was all going to end. The playfulness, the imagination on this record so outstrips their piers. Some of it does not make easy listening, but they know how to dig out a top tune, and great beat when it counts. So much of what is here runs violents against what is now assocaited with punk and new wave. It is a reminder that there was so much more to the scheme than just 3 minute 2 chord songs about smashing the state. There were 3 minute 2 chord songs about ....er nothing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Album, 7 Oct 2003
By 
J. Mann - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a hugely important album, defining a whole genre of punk and post-punk music, and setting the tone for the next 30+ years of Fall music. Looking at the track listing all these songs are classics, and I think Mark E Smith rarely went better than this album. Certainly of the very early Fall this is the best - I don't think it was bettered until Perverted by Language.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars where to start with the fall, 4 April 2012
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
If you're a late starter to the fall,and think about it you could be a grandparent and have been born after this albums original release,this is logically the place to enter the wonderful and frightening world of mr.smith. Its almost the best fall album of the lot but more than that,a history lesson about the mid seventies. I personally remember all this (having seen the fall before their vinyl debut). Here mark and the gang sound like they are trying to be a band(of sorts!) there is a clarity to their playing,and the lyrics are more audible than later recordings( no doubt due to them being created as poetry rather than songs). All the bonus material on disc one complete the original album as a whole and disc two will satisfy the completists among us. All in all a fantastic collection of a somewhat forgotten classic(even among fall fans!). Remember tony wilson said although he did not like the falls music,he liked the fall(because they wrote a song about an industrial estate) . So buy this!!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not live, no witches, 20 Sep 2009
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
what a let down, there I was, all those years ago expecting a live album from Salem.
It was not to be.
Instead, what I got was one of the fieriest debut's ever recorded.

Chuck it in the pond; if it sinks it's not a witch, if it floats.. burn the witch.
This recording "GUILTY" of being something very special.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Every story must have a start..., 27 Oct 2013
This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
Not only is this where it started for The Fall, it's where my love of The Fall began, having brought this album in December 2005. It all instantly made sense, you either get why a chorus of "yeah yeah industrial estate" is amazing, or you don't. And I did.
Often overlooked Live At The Witch Trials is a fantastic album and a unique one, mainly for the role that MES plays in the band.
Here Mark resembles a bilious observational stand up comedian. Guitarist Martin Bramah has described it as "Coronation Street on acid" and it's easy to see why. On this debut album, Mark actually wants you to hear the lyrics: they are clear in the mix and well enunciated. Later on Mark would be obscure in his lyrics and fudged at the mixing desk, but here, he has things to say and he wants you to hear them. Apparently at one early gig he went into the crowd and poked his finger up the noise of Magazine frontman Howard Devoto. On Live At The Witch Trials he is poking his finger up all our noses.
Many of the topics that appear here would become mainstays of his writing. Working class routines are explored on "Industrial Estate". Drugs are discussed on "Like To Blow" and "No Xmas For John Quays".
There are unique themes here though. The chief one is control: both of society and of the individual. Control via prescription drugs on "Underground Medicine" (a topic later to resurface on "Rowche Rumble", via machinery on "Psycho Mafia" from the stories Una Baines told him from working in Prestwich Mental Hospital, via automated drip fed entertainment on "Bingo Master's Break Out". MES paints a picture of a suppressed populace numbed by government control, often without resistance, like cattle trotting happily into the slaughter house.
Right from day one Mark is casting his critical eye over society and scorning what he sees.
Perhaps the most interesting song here is "Frightened". We are all used to Mark E Smith, the perennial grumpy old man who releases an album every year but on Live At The Witch Trials what we have is Mark Smith, teenage singer in a band with his mates. It's a different Mark, before he became the leader, the hirer and firer. You hear enthusiasm and excitement that you don't quite get on subsequent releases. The thrill of the novelty of releasing an album perhaps, before it became his day job for the rest of his life. And maybe "Frightened" is a rare sign of insecurity. Being around 20 when I first heard the song "Frightened" struck a chord ", leaving behind being a teenager, not quite knowing what to do with life in that strange hinterland. "Frightened" is a song about not knowing where to place yourself in life or where life will place you. "I got shears pointed straight at my chest... I don't wanna dance I wanna go home... I spend hours looking sideways to the time when I was 16".
That's the words discussed. What about the music? This initial line up is terrific, and much underrated. Martin Bramah is a great guitarist and his angular scrapings are the perfect backdrop. Marc Riley rock solid bass holds the album together. Karl Burn's drumming is ramshackle and wild, and again, perfect for the music. And the keyboards? The keyboards are fantastic! Yvonne Pawlett is another unsung Fall member, playing the cheapest keyboards on the market add a Sooty Show parping that 10 years later still makes me smile.
The music switches from slow to fast like a manic depressive, making for an unpredictable ride. The use of repetition is evident from the start of course.
There is a real sense of fun on Live AT The Witch Trials. The shouted singalong chorus', Bramah joining in on backing vocals, the adorable keyboards and Mark's machine gun delivery are all constantly thrilling. The asides are very funny too: "what's this song about?" "er, nothing" on "Mother Sister" and studio instructions on "Music Scene" asking the band to stop playing.
And the release? The two disc is phenomenal, you'er not really buying the debut album but an anthology of the early days of The Fall with singles, EPs, a Peel Session and a gig from Liverpool that has appalling sound quality but find the band in form.
So there we go: this is The Fall as a band of mates, things would never be the same again...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical brilliance, 6 July 2010
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This review is from: Live At The Witch Trials (Audio CD)
Ah yes, the Fall - in their own words "the Northern white crap that talks back". A classic album with, as has been noted, a defiantly/deceptively loose/ramshackle delivery.

Great lyrically, with songs spat out with acerbic humour ('No Xmas for John Quays', for example, is brilliant).

You might love them or hate them but you can't ignore them. Or in Mark E Smith's sweet words "Do not f**k us, we are frigid stars"(!!).

Highly recommended.
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