The Fall Seminal Live
Bob Osborne/Bob Stow
A mixed bag of studio stuff and live bits released in June 1989. Seemingly this is a contractual completion album it being the last release on Beggars Banquet. The new stuff was relatively good with the enigmatic "H.O.W." standing out as a near "classic" Fall rant featuring scratchy Scanlon guitar. "Pinball Machine" was the obligatory obscure Country and Western cover. "Squid Law" bears a remarkable similarity to the later "Junk Man" with several lyrical and melodic similarities. "Mollusc in Tyrol" was one of the usual Smith 'experimental' pieces. The later single 'B' side was "Dead Beat Descendant" a rocker with plunging guitar and the stop-start technique which had become a band trademark.
Its difficult to tell when and where the live tracks were recorded but two of them would turn up on the 12" version of the next single. The sleeve notes indicate Rochdale, Edinburgh, Vienna and Manchester. "Kurious Oranj" is strangely understated with weak lead guitar from Brix and over-stuffed synth/brass from Schofield. Smith struggles with reggae rhythms and appears to wander around the lyrics...the blatant immediacy of the album track is missing. "Frenz" is classically pure Fall with the basic repetition of the riff underlying the monotone Smith message and occasional Brix. "Hit the North" is badly recorded with wooden drums. Schofields' synth is very farty but when the rest of the band kicks in its a nice chunky sound. The bastards intro bass guitar of "2x4" is still remarkable and its good to hear this version of the band doing it. The lack of two drummer line up is not missed and indeed is replaced by the thrashing interplay between Craig and Brix. Brix' backing vocals are mostly inaudible. Probably the highlight of the album. A noisy audience is chanting "Victoria" for a while and then Smith does his Sherlock Holmes on the violin and rambles inchoate poetry and then we're into the mescaline rush of "L.A.", still one of the best tracks the band has ever recorded. This live version lacks the interplay Rogers was able to give it with the third guitar. Smith's echoes on the 'L-L-L..A-A-A' aren't used and the psychedelic influences are lost. The lead guitar is to tinny and ruins the bassy mix. Again the former Mrs Smith is ranting away in the background but you cannot hear her. A nice dubby break occurs for a few seconds but overall a good track does not translate well to the live situation.
Whatever ones views about "Victoria" are this version seems to lack any substance and is merely a rabble rouser in the best traditions of Gary Glitter. The version of "Pay your Rates" is poorly recorded and the slow bits are mutated with the wrong chords and cheesy synth bells- there seem to be two bands playing here, one is Marr is some rock group which has decided to join in. A peculiar introduction from Bill Grundy, from we assume the Festival of Tenth Summer leads into an echoed bombasty "Cruisers Creek" which sounds like it was recorded in one of the toilets at the back of the G-Mex. It's a sloppy version with the drums strangely out of step with the guitars, and some squeaky synthesiser sounds playing off-beat reggae rhythms. A muted guitar solo from Brix does nothing for the structure of the song, probably because we can't hear Craig playing. The stop-start which worked so well on disc fails to gel live. And so it all comes to a close with a fairly brutal "In These Times" which is again ruined by cheesy orchestral patches on the synth. Hell there's enough going on with guitar/bass as to make the keyboards redundant. All in all this album was a disappointment and one of the key low points in history the bands official recordings.
Also see our Fall tribute
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