19 September 2005

the fall - "blindness" (from the fall heads roll lp, available for preorder here.)

in brief : yes, he's still got it.

the fall have perhaps the most convoluted catalog for a band filed under rock, rivalled only the dead and zappa, but compounded by the fact that so much of their work is import only. the first album of theirs i bought was the beggars singles collection, 458489 a-sides, which, along w/ street life: the best of bryan ferry & roxy music and the best of velvet underground: words and music of lou reed, are the least emblematic compilations of seminal artists i've ever purchased (and which set back by my interest in both by years). for the beginner, it's a daunting band to involve oneself w/, in more ways than one.

take for instance "blindness," which will be released three times in 2005: on the complete peel sessions, interim, and fall heads roll, and that's just officially. fall fans are already saying that the studio version pales to the peel session, but what one learns as they become a fall fan is that the peel sessions are always better, especially when they're not.

having all three versions myself, i disagree: i think that this is the definitive "blindness," but my own personal bias is toward album versions. "blindness," for those of you hearing your first version, is a brute. it's bass and drums and mark e. smith and, mid-song modulation aside, little changes, just as little has changed for the fall in almost thirty years of performing. indeed, look back at 1978 and "repetition," then fast forward to 2005 and "blindness," and, quite remarkably, there is no real perceptible drop in quality (just don't look at the mid-90's). "blindness" is like an edit of can performing "superstition"--instead of twenty minutes, it's only seven-plus--sung by a man who claimed to be damo suzuki but who is, in reality, madder than he and malcol mooney combined.

i was playing it at work and a co-worker asked what it was. it occured to me that, like a favorite tv show, it helps to be au fait w/ the fall, to understand and to be amused by mes's bleating ("blind man!" he shouts and for all the world it sounds like "caramel!") but i think he was curious, as opposed to annoyed like another co-worker, and as he silently weighed my reply, i believe i heard a fall fan being born.

if this describes you, here is my handy crib sheet to the wonderful and frightening world of the fall (bear in mind, though, that no two fall fans' lists will be alike).

grotesque (after the gramme) (1980)
hex enduction hour (1982)
the wonderful and frightening world of the fall (1984)
this nation's saving grace (1985)
extricate (1990)

the fall in: palace of swords reversed (1987)
totally wired: the rough trade anthology (2002)
it's the new thing! the step forward years (2003)
50,000 fall fans can't be wrong (2004)

ten tracks:
"new face in hell"
"the n.w.r.a."
"totally wired"
"the classical"
"marquis cha-cha"
"guest informant"
"bill is dead"
"theme from sparta f.c."


Anonymous said...

You clearly prefer both the pre- and post-Brix eras, a man after my own heart. It would be tough to choose just ten tracks, but mine would have to include the Peel version of "Container Drivers" (just cuz it's so damn funny),
"Room to Live" (the only song I like on that LP),
"C & C's Mithering",
"Fit and Working Again"
"I Feel Voxish",
"Neighborhood of Infinity",
and yes, "Totally Wired", "Sparta F.C." and "The Classical".
-- jonhope

Anonymous said...

Already I want to revise my list somehow to include "Kicker Conspiracy", "Lay of the Land", "Paintwork" "God Box" and "In My Area", but without dropping any of the songs I chose before... Open the goddam box!
-- jonhope

Anonymous said...

excellent choices....so hard to choose though. new face has to be on there (in this case i prefer peel version), but i'd have to include i'm into cb! and us 80/90s. unutterable, although not usually peoples fave album, is always an interesting listen to me.

fred said...

i'd started w/ 14 or so tracks, but i was afraid if i listed those, that it would seem like those were the *only* tracks worth hearing, so i attached a number to it instead.

and, yes, i got this sense around 'country on the click' that the world was saying the fall were back (like what happens whenever sonic youth release a new album). but i think it started earlier, w/ 'the unutterable.' today, i might include "two librans" on a list of my favorite fall songs, if only for the way mes says "librans" on the chorus.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to check out The Unutterable, then. And amend my list again to include "My New House". I am also very fond of "Ladybird (Green Grass)" but I didn't like the Peel version as well as the original on The Infotainment Scan. That was another "the Fall is back" album. So was Cerebral Caustic.
-- jonhope