wherein the music speaks for itself. from beginning to...will it ever end?
samples of tracks from Amazon, eMusic and beyond. please buy the CDs if you want/need more.
Live version of a song by Staff 9 - the group Craig Scanlon and Steve Hanley were in prior to The Fall. Some of the lyrics later resurfaced in 'Choc-Stock' (see below). As the man himself says at the beginning, 'This one's good for a laugh.' The out of tune guitar's all over the place but eventually settles on an enchanting little trebly riff.
Spectre Vs Rector
Simply stunning post-Exorcist exploration of the kind of unsettling narratives haunting the feverish minds of writers such as M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft and Van Greenway (writer of The Judas Gospel, where Peter, not Judas, betrays Christ). Described elsewhere as 'verbal ectoplasm' - a perfect interpretation. On the Dragnet sleevenotes, we have, 'maybe industrial ghosts are making Spectres redundant.' The screams of 'unclean!' scattered around each version are truly blood-curdling. Also, a nice bit of patter on the London track - 'thank you to all the people who helped me in my vendetta tonight,' and then after a 10 minute workthrough, the taunting, ' And now Spectre Vs Rector Part 2, ha ha ha.'
Mocking the whole lock, stock, crackle and pop of the music scene is a running theme throughout Dragnet, and this track is choc a block with mocking. With a single repeated melody line running through it, I like how it disintegrates about half way through as MES mock lectures the 'kids'. On the live version, this comes out as, 'Now come on kids you don't need '77, you don't need Lee Cooper, you don't need pre-polished big boots...' Back in the studio, it sounds like someone's guitar actually breaks at the point where MES states, 'He's bust his guitar'. It's all very jolly. 'Why are you laughing at or with this song?'
Flat of Angles
The story of a murderer trapped in his flat of angles. Great imagery that - gives the impression of an uncomfortable, jagged existence, frayed nerves and 'veins...full of evil serum.' Accompanied by a slouching, sleazy riff ripped from Elvis's My Latest Flame, the distinctive story telling technique twists words into surprising phrasing, such as, ' And sometimes bell bust under/The rings from many callers.' Bizarre and compelling. The Fall spreading out their dragnet like the police in this story. Another angle explored in the narrative is the newspaper angle.
Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa, a Methodist bishop and nationalist leader, was prime minister of the short-lived coalition government in what was called Zimbabwe Rhodesia; he held office for only a few months in 1979. What his daughter did I have no idea. Back at the music, MES, in an interview with the fanzine, Cool in 1980, admitted, 'I can't pronounce it'. And, indeed, throughout the song he says 'Muzoweri' - a Mancunian interpretaion, if you will. There is a definite tribal feel to it and, again, some splendid guitaring and pounding. The drawn out 'meeeeeeeee' on the live version impresses too. File under intriguing.
Your Heart Out
I absolutely adore this song. For The Fall, and especially for Dragnet, it's very poppy. The guitar line is sublime and the vocal delivery delicious. Am I slavering too much here? Probably. But listen to that guitar! 'Don't cry for me, Mexico/Or Savage Pencil/I'm nearly healthy' - I've no idea what this means, but I know Savage Pencil drew for Sounds, illustrated for The Fall and played in the band Art Attacks. Anyway, that's by the by. This is simply a great song. Did I say that already? 'Sing, sing, sing, sing.'
Before The Moon Falls
Obviously a big William Blake fan (see later Jerusalem adventure on Kurious Oranj), here MES draws on the mystic bard's lines, 'I must create a system or be enslav'd by another mans', re-inventing it here as 'I must create a new regime/Or live by another man's.' Great guitar line in this one, much imitated at the time by post-punk stripping the music bare types. Much of Dragnet is awash with bile directed at the music industry and here, the frustration and anger abounds - 'I could use some pure criminals/to get my hands on some royalties.' Another great line still resonates today - 'young married couples discuss the poverties/Of their self-built traps.'
MES has always been keen for the gruppe not to be categorised as just another 'branch on the tree of showbusiness,' and this song exemplifies that stance. Based around the novel, Dice Man, by Luke Rhinehart, where the hero rolls the dice every morning to decide what to do that day. Taking chances, avoiding the obvious etc. etc. - you get the picture. 'No time for small moralists.' As for the music - you cannae beat a good old Bo Diddley riff. But before you get carried away with that good time feelgood factor, just remember - 'They say music should be fun/Like reading a story of love/but I wanna read a horror story.'
'With print you substitute an ear for an extra useless eye.' Indeed. MES gets stuck into the music press which left you with dirty fingers for 20p back then and the groups who are affected by such things as a bad review. Via the Iggy Pop Not Right riff, the introductory scream of 'Hey you horror-face!' predates the future, 'Hey there, fuckface' of The Classical. Other highlights on this one for me are the echo on 'How could printed vinyl bring you out to here?', 'W.C.-hero friend - and not water closet!' and the great snarling repeated line, 'We went to pieces, yeah.'
A Figure Walks
Spooky, creepy, strange and rumbling. Is he talking about death stalking you, putting the past behind you or not being afraid of the past? If it tugs at you, just hit it. Is thinking bad for you? Does it really matter? There is also an element of Siouxsie & The Banshee's Mirage haunting this track. MES piss taking? Wordplay is also prominent, as in, 'Thoughts brought the drought about.' An eloquent dismissal of over-analysis? And what about those 'Hands of black carpet'? That's a fabulously dark image. Right, that's enough eloquent analysis.
Opener to Dragnet and B side of Fiery Jack. The opening 'Is there anybody there?', whilst a great way to start an album, echoes the cry of the medium, one of which, Helen Duncan, is referred to in the sample here from Psykick Dancehall 2. Duncan was the last person to be imprisoned under the old Witchcraft Act in 1944. Fascinating stuff. As is the music, complete with bastardised Monkees' Last Train to Clarkesville riff. Interesting claim for immortality, too: 'When I'm dead and gone/My vibrations will live on/In vibes on vinyl through the years/People will dance to my waves.' The track also appeared years later on the Oxymoron compilation with the title ESP Disco - same song, just slightly altered words.
In My Area
B side of Rowche Rumble. Actually sounds very smooth at first, with quite a catchy simple guitar boogie going on until the keyboards come along to add some discordant relief. Some intriguing lyrical nuggets here, such as the prophetic, 'Can't remember who I've sacked' and what sounds like, 'acid tension stomach flash.' Take 2 has a fab extended instrumental finish followed by the suggestion, 'Do it again while we're in a good mood.' MES's refusal to look back philosophy is reflected on the 1980 live version in his response to a punter requesting (presumably and neatly) 'Repetition'. 'Are you doing what you did two years ago? Yeah? Well, don't make a career out of it.'
Oh how I remember hearing this single on the John Peel show and thinking, 'Blimey, that's a bit good. Love the way he goes kssh kssh for the cymbal sound.' It's yet another classic early Fall song, which blows away anything else around at the time. Essentially a poke at pharmaceutical company Roche, as explained in the hilarious press release which accompanied it: 'This is a great dance number and combines a cheek-in-tongue putdown of a popular sweetie with the Fall's tribute to Racey. Dig it.' Listen to live version snippet for added 'The promoter is a jerk' goodness.
Live At The Witch Trials
'R and R as primal scream.' A determined defence of pure brutal music unfettered by the posturing punk groups and audiences of the time. MES holds his own in the court of the modern day Salem judges of the music scene (mostly the South of England led media whores). 'We were early and we were late' possibly indicating the gruppe being ahead of its time and late in their concerns for making sure their first album was released in the white hot moment of punk's initial flaming. I remember at the time how The Fall were always portrayed as never 'fitting in'. Cliques never die. A pox on those naysayers, say I.
Who knows what the fuck this is all about? The beginning's quite melodic: the chant, "Your nervous system, your nervous system" and the rumbling bass lull you into a false sense of security before it breaks off into a jagged tangent, turning into a jazzy guitar tinged punky runthrough. And then we arrive at: 'On my pants I spilled expectorant/And the colonel shot better with 30 pints." Don't ask me.
Crap Rap 2
Quite simply, the gruppe mission statement: