Ersatz G.B. CD
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Since their formation in 1976, The Fall have released twenty eight studio albums, and more than double that number of live albums, compilations and other packages.
"Ersatz G.B." is their 29th offering, and, as with any Fall record, retains many of their most distinctive elements whilst offering a fresh take on Mark E Smith's familiar style and subject matter. The current line-up of Smith (vox), David Spurr (bass), Elini Poulou (keys), Pete Greenway (guitar) and Kierion Mellings (drums) are now relatively established by Fall standards, and deliver another intriguing addition to the band's body of work here.
This, their first album for Cherry Red Records, contains all the trademarks of a great Fall album, and we comfortably expect it to sell accordingly. It will be issued on CD, LP and digital formats, and will be proceeded by a new 7" single, featuring an exclusive B-side track.
There is a myth surrounding The Fall. It is of Mark E. Smith’s making, whether intentional or not. And that myth is that is that whoever plays the instruments in The Fall makes no difference. When you form so many line-ups of a band in 35 years and sack so many members in so many acrimonious circumstances that the changes literally fill up a book – The Fallen, by Dave Simpson – it’s no wonder that all your musicians appear interchangeable as far as the media is concerned.
But Fall fans know different. There are two genuinely great versions of The Fall – the 1976-79 line-up and the 1987-90 group. Even they had members come and go – including Marc ‘Lard’ Riley in the first and Smith’s American ex-wife Brix Smith in the second – but they were all great musicians and composers who did interesting things in a very specific and immediately recognisable style; and who, like all Fall members, had to be because Mark E. Smith isn’t a musician and relies on his musicians to co-write the tunes. So the problem with The Fall in 2011 is straightforward, really. The band isn’t very good. Or, to put it another way, they are very slick and versatile rock musicians, but they have absolutely no sound of their own.
On this 29th Fall studio album there is a rockabilly one and a metal one and a Velvet Underground one and a couple of Krautrock ones and a few that sound like a vaguely gothic 80s alt-rock band jamming while the singer’s away taking drugs with Duran Duran. There’s even one – Laptop Dog – that sounds a bit like The Fall. But the only thing that unifies the songs on Ersatz G.B. is Smith doing his disgruntled drunk ranting at the telly while chewing a wasp thing. And no matter how entertaining that can still be – the best moment is when he suddenly yelps "I had to w*** off the cat to feed the f*****’ dog!" on Greenway – turgid and anonymous music is turgid and anonymous music, and especially when the album’s typically Smithian theme of a British culture that "disintegrates in your hands" is picking disappointingly easy targets like Snow Patrol on Mask Search.
Not that one wants to put the jobs of this Fall line-up under any more threat than they naturally are, especially Smith’s current missus Elena Poulou, whose Nico-meets-Ari Up lead vocal on Happi Song is easily the best thing here. But Smith made an electronic album called Tromatic Reflexxions under the name Von Südenfed with the two members of Mouse on Mars back in 2007, and that was far better than anything The Fall have recorded since Shift-Work way back in 1991. The musicians matter. Even in The Fall.
Top Customer Reviews
This sets the scene - strident, punky, direct.
It's not the most complex song, as some have suggested, but this doesn't matter, it's like a mission statement, an introduction for what's to come - and, like much of the album, fun!
02 Taking Off
This conjures memories of late 70's new wave (Television, Blondie), paranoid cityscapes, and features some beautiful keyboard textures. Marvellous sound to this one - one of the biggest achievements of this album for me is the impressive production. This track just builds and builds, wonderful.
Another great production! How can anyone complain about this song when it *sounds* this good. Doubters! Don't listen to this on your pc speakers or a crappy portable (surely the only reason anyone could be not 'getting' this album) - try a decent set of headphones or hi-fi! Still don't get it? The mind boggles...
Nate features blistering, squawking guitar, which along with the pummelling drumming and quieter but solid bass propels the song, as MES rasps, gargles and intones his rhyme.
04 Mask Search
The Fall back in rockabilly mode, had to come sooner or later. MES' voice is close mic'd here...At face value this seems less demanding, but like much of the album, relax and let it in, and it's fun like more of this album, and keeps thing rolling and the pace fast. Enjoy.
The fun quotient is upped more with this demented classic!
After the introductory it's 'good enough for...' gargles, MES' spoken style here reminds of a John Cleese rant, and it's just hysterical (more for the way it's said, than what's said)! Topped off by his ridiculous telling-off-a-naughty-schoolboy catcalling "Green-way!" The 'w*nk off...Read more ›
The Fall-Ersatz GB has The Stooges, Nico & The Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath and even Greek heavy metal influencing an album that mostly goes for the jugular. Fall fuehrer Mark E. Smith made a controversial early exit at a 2011 Cardiff SWN show but he has (once again) gained redemption with otherworldly observations and scintillating songs. Fall Heads Roll has passed; this is Fall Heads Rock!
As other reviewers have mentioned, this really does border on metal in places, difficult to beleve though that is. And if you think Mark has sounded like a tramp ranting in the park on previous recordings then brace yourself for these surreal cement-mixer diatribes. Who else but the bard of Salford could come out with lines like "I'm sick of Snow Patrol...and where to find Esso lubricant"? The one let-up in proceedings is the slightly plodding Eleni-vocalled 'Happi Song', which didn't do a lot for me, I have to say.
All in all, it just goes to show that you never can predict The Fall and that's what makes them such an exciting and important group. How many curmudgeonly 54-year old blokes are knocking out stuff like this? If you're a proper Fall fan, there are no 'bad' LPs - merely less brilliant ones. This definitely belongs, for my money, in the latter category but, hey, it's The Fall. Four stars.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Any review of new Fall product has little hope of attracting converts...the product stream being whiskered enough to prompt a confirmation of chronological numbering on the latest... Read morePublished on 5 Feb. 2012 by Mr. Peter Nicholas Zear
Don't see much point in giving an in depth analysis of this album.It's the usual formula-erratic sleeve notes,Mark E Smith sounding even more eccentric and "out there" than... Read morePublished on 7 Jan. 2012 by Mw Puleston
Musicalement, cet album est solide. Cette fois-ci c'est le guitariste Greenway qui sort du lot comparativement aux précédents albums marqués par le jeu du... Read morePublished on 18 Dec. 2011 by Patrick
Anticipated for months and now savouring the latest excellent Fall album Erstz G.B. It is a cliche now the late great John Peel's quote about the Fall,' Always different always the... Read morePublished on 8 Dec. 2011 by Mr. I. E. Clowsley
29 studio albums in over 30 years. You'd think they'd be good at it by now.
They are. Very good.