After the almost sabbatical form of the nonetheless brilliant Kurious Oranj, Mark E Smith wrote this album in the shadow of what was for the non mainstream music world in 1989 a very public divorce, and in the apogee of Madchester. Consequently, there is a greater balance of internal reflection and wrath than his usual outward cultural observations, although these are still present in various forms such as British People in Hot Weather and Telephone Thing. The great surprises are to be found on Bill Is Dead, where a tenderness and emotional honesty is conveyed movingly before the full on assault of Black Monk Theme Part I, a screeching and hollering release, most obviously at his ex-wife, and brilliant. Other highlights are Pop Corn Double Feature, a withering and witty attack on an apparently decaying Britain, and I'm Frank, an apparent tribute to Frank Zappa. Many die-hard Fall fans don't like this as it is far more open to merely curious music fans - which is just snobbery. However, it is a fantastic album, and while it is perhaps not as oblique as others such as Bend Sinister or a true representation of The Fall's overall work,it is an accurate depiction of one of Britain's greatest songwriters at a certain time and place in his and our lives.
For would be Fall fans looking for an inroad into a, frankly, marvellous back catalogue, Extricate represents as good a starting point as any. Almost immediate in its accessibility, it also benefits from repeat listens. You will find trademark Fall basslines which mark each and every Fall album throughout. You will find lyrical humour in abundance. You will find yourself swept along with some wonderful riffs. But beware!! You may find yourself dragged into a life where Mark E Smith becomes a recurring habit. Because once he gets in your head, there he remains......... forever.
From time to time, you may feel you've managed to move on - but just when you think you've escaped, he keeps dragging you back in!!!