You either get the Manchester madness of Mark E. Smith and The Fall or you don’t. They have experimented with almost every style and genre; yet still maintain a signature sound. They have been together since the late 70’s and Mark E. Smith does not seem to be slowing down at all. Go into any good record shop and you will find endless albums and live LPs in The Fall section. Last year, Internet bootlegging hit The Fall too. Their album Country On The Click was so heavily downloaded that they had to release The Real New Fall LP (formerly Country On The Click) on Action Records in the UK. Fastforward to 2004 and Narnock Records re-released the LP in the US with 2 extra tracks and 2 of the older tracks re-mixed. Confused? You should be.
The Real New Fall LP goes back to the basic indie-rock guitar driven song structure. Mark E. Smith takes some time to get used to, often ranting and repeating his lyrics over and over again. Here, he does sing a bit. And talks. And yells. There is enough diversity here to satisfy fans and attract some new ones too.
A typical album by The Fall has some relatively catchy songs and some wild songs that are hard to listen to. In this sense, the new LP fits neatly into The Fall canon, and most of the songs have a pop song structure of sorts. Green Eyed is a perfect driving song with noisy yet subtle guitar work. Smith sings the hook making this a typical yet classic Fall tune. Mountain is absolutely perfect; the pounding and rolling drums complementing the keyboard melody and guitar riffs. With references to The Partridge Family, Dolly Parton and Lord Byron, we enter the wild mind of Mark E. Smith. Janet Vs. Johnny is probably the best track on the LP, with swirling, bluesy guitar. In the middle of the song, the drummer switches up the beat and uses rim shots for rhythm. It is a truly amazing modern Fall classic.
Boxoctosis is at the other end of the spectrum: is a hard rocking driving track where Smith rants, “Open the box! Open the box! Open the goddam box!” for reasons that are presumably only clear to him. 41 Loop / Houston is a good Lee Hazelwood cover with a chanted chorus about going back to Houston, and Mike’s Love Hexagon is an addictive track that gets stuck in your head. The punchy guitar work and the pounding drums are accentuated by Smith’s brash vocals.
Essentially, The Fall are back, and they’re in excellent form. Well, they never truly went anywhere. They push the limits of difficult listening just enough to satisfy true lovers of obscure music, but maintain a pop sensibility to help soothe the average ear. So, while there are two or three tracks that may give the odd listener a headache, The Real New Fall LP is another exceptionally odd and wonderful addition to the ever-expanding catalogue of The Fall.
The Real New Fall LP (formerly Country On The Click) (2003)
Record Label: Action Records