The Fall Fall In A Hole
by Aaron Tassano
Recorded in August of 1982 on the band's first tour of Australia and New Zealand, this is possibly the Fall's best live (legal) release. It was recorded on reel-to-reel four track and stereo cassette and in some cases sounds like a studio recording. Interestingly, at the time of the show, the Fall found themselves on the Top 20 New Zealand pop chart with the just released "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul." The song is presented here in a spirited "pop success" version. The show begins with a version of "Impression of J Temperance" that rivals the original and is a fantastic, rolling show opener. It goes without saying that the material on this album is great. It's from arguably the band's best period. "Parole Art Threat," "The Classical," and "English Scheme" are all here and sound terrific. The musical impact of this initial tour of Australia and New Zealand is incalculable. It seems possible that young Peter and Graham Jefferies were in attendance during this very show. Flying Nun certainly was represented, they initially released this album. Unfortunately, the recent release of this album on Cog Sinister is recorded from a vinyl copy and has the occasional (2 or 3) skips. It features a bonus CD that was originally released as an accompanying 12" with the original.
I know the background to its release - in fact I wrote the ultra-deadpan newspaper caption on this rare New Zealand-only LP's front cover. As a young Kiwi punk rocker, I was very excited by the prospect of The Fall touring NZ/Aussie in 1982. And as a newspaper journalist, I even got to interview Mark Smith in Christchurch and the paper ran my long piece pretty much verbatim although none of the other journalists had - typically - ever heard of The Fall.
(I later took this part of my career to its logical conclusion by spending a couple of years on the staff of the NME in London in the dismal mid-1980's... been living in the UK since '84. Many Kiwi p-rock addicts went to London in the early '80's, some of us stayed!)
Anyhow, my ultra-conservative paper put on page one (!) a picture of The Fall arriving in Christchurch for the opening gig of the NZ tour. Or at least, a shot of one member. The news editors were so taken with the image of the gangly Marc Riley swinging his suitcase at the arrival lounge of the airport they ran it on the front and told me to caption it in a way that even grannies would understand. So I did, with tongue in cheek! That is the background to the cover shot, later to play a vital part in the subsequent rarity of the LP.
What none of us fans knew at the time was that Riley and Smith had had a punch-up on the Australian leg of their tour, in a disco in Melbourne, I think it was. Riley was on his way out of the band from that moment on.
My pal Roger Shepherd, another Chch punker, had formed Flying Nun records in 1981 and later secured a worldwide reputation with The Chills, Tall Dwarfs, Straitjacket Fits, etc.. He approached Smith before the dates and sought his permission to record The Fall's three or four tour shows with the prospect of doing a live record for domestic market only. Smith, who liked Flying Nun's roster, agreed.
The recording was supervised by Chris Knox, now a lo-fi legend. It was his 4-track that recorded the shows. He also did the cover art around the picture - the guys at Flying Nun thought the image and caption were hilarious. After the tour, the best stuff was assembled as a double-vinyl package, an album and a 12-inch single. The album was pressed and copies sent to Smith in Manchester.
BUT... he had indeed booted out Riley as soon as the band returned home.
So when he got the Flying Nun LP and saw Riley alone on the front cover he went absolutely ballistic and denied he had ever given permsission for the product, etc. and issued severe threats should he ever see a copy of it in England. I also think legal difficulties, relating to the band's UK contract at that time, would have surfaced if it had been officially imported there anyhow.
So our little Kiwi punk rock label (and it was very little at that stage) had 1,500 albums on the shelf and once domestic demand had been soaked up the prospect of at least 800 remaining unsold! Eventually, of course, they started appearing around the world by mail order and personal export/import. Want adverts for it started appearing in UK Record Collector magazine. On trips back home from London in the 1980's, I would persuade Roger to sell me a box, and then I made a nice little income selling them on to a London vinyl junkies' shop at a substantial profit. If I recall, they gave me 20 pounds ($35) for every one I brought back for them, quite a deal at the time!
By about 1989, Flying Nun had finally (!) sold out of Fall In A Hole. And yes, it is the best live document of The Fall, the recording quality is excellent and the band were at their peak - they toured Down Under with the awesome double-drummers line-up that did not last long.
Personally, I think the last good record by the Fall was Bend Sinister (1986) but that is another story.....
P.S.: Do you know the bizarre fate of Marc Riley? He is now a celebrity drive-time comedy DJ on BBC Radio 1 and heard by millions every weekday!
Also see our Fall tribute
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