wherein the music speaks for itself. from beginning to...will it ever end?
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1984

 

He Talks

BackdropIntriguing and interesting little number. The 'indestructable comic' comment makes me wonder if it's one of those phrases MES has seen in a paper, possibly referring to a stand-up? Whatever, this sounds like it would have been a perky little song given a fuller recorded treatment. The 'He Talks' refrain is a good example of a two note chorus that works. Either this song was abandoned, or has been reworked/incorporated into another song which I can't recall right now. Leaves me wanting more.

 



He Talks (live Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 31 March 1984)

 

Clear Off!

BackdropVery pleasant twanging echo and funky guitaring on this one with an overall laid back feel to it, despite the occasional OTT Gavin Friday interjections. Includes one of my favourite phrases, 'killer civil servant' and there's a lovely pianner at the end after the 'snappy rejoinder' - 'Who's there?, What's wrong? Clear off!'

 

 

 



Clear Off (Call For Escape Route EP, 1984)

 

No Bulbs

BackdropWhen those guitar chords first explode and chime after the intro it's a wondrous thing. Hugely entertaining slice of domestic grottiness well before the days of reality TV home shows like How Clean Is Your House? and Changing Rooms. The storming extended guitar break and dizzying keyboard thumping sequence fair crackles the hairs on the back of your neck - a TQ (tingle quotient) of 10. The tension builds and builds until that voice eventually resurfaces. There's a hilarious comparison of the dark dingy flat to the infamous blackouts during the St Petersburg seige - 'Compared to this, St. Petersburg was nothing' and a great couplet, 'They say damp records the past/if that's so I've got the biggest library yet.' The repetition of that last line at the end is also pure joy.



No Bulbs(The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)

No Bulbs 3 (Call For Escape Route EP, 1984)

 

Disney's Dream Debased

BackdropBased on a real life incident when Mr and Mrs Smith witnessed the horrendous death of a woman flung from a Disney funfair ride. The jolly surroundings and unreal nature of the event inform the structure of the song, an incredibly poppy tune with the odd odd note thrown in, accompanied by an, unusually for The Fall, sustained sung vocal melody. Brix's eerie 'Disney' perfectly captures the creepy horror of the situation, while the image of Mickey Mouse flapping away contentedly, unaware of the tragedy around him, sums it all up.

Video here: Disney's Dream Debased

 



Disney's Dream Debased (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)

 

Craigness

BackdropHow mellow. I'd forgotten just how fabulous this is. That oft quoted Peel saying about The Fall ('Always the same, always different') springs to mind again listening to this unexpected twist in the incredibly varied canon. 'Ooo-ar!' sneers the 'insane' writer apparently listening to the downstairs neighbours, who evidently like a bit of T'Pau. Hugely entertaining and quaintly melodic until that last fantastic 'Cries!' brings proceedings to a screaming finale.

 

 



Craigness(The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)

 

Stephen Song

BackdropAs accessible a Fall track as you'll hear, this bouncy tune has a Little Drummer Boy type christmassy feel to it. Very poetic in parts, too - 'Moonlit walked past privet and wide-leaved foliage' indeed. Extra vocalising by Virgin Prune Gavin Friday adds to the, gulp, melody. He also appears to pick up on the MES habit of deliberate (or not) mispronunciation, as in 'foilage' for foliage. The la las at the end enforce the singalong nature of the song. One for all the family to enjoy.

 



Stephen Song (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)

 

Bug Day

BackdropToken weird track on The Wonderful and Frightening World of... Starts like a spy tune then descends into experimental twiddling and plonking with a half arsed collection of words linked by insect imagery and colours. One moth alluded to, the Minoa murinata, is a dull, unpatterned species, which aptly reflects what's going on here. Not the most vibrant of Fall tracks shall we say? Next.

 

 



Bug Day (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)

 

Slang King

BackdropDeft touches on the organ and a tightly controlled guitar riff shuffle this along on a gentle breeze. And, in case you were wondering, 'This is Mr. and Mrs. Smith to whom you are speaking.' Some gems of unique pronunciation here, including 'Caca - phony.' And there's sweets too! - 'had to put The Curly Wurly back.' I like the way Brix trills Slang King, chiming with the keyboard. According to Dave Thompson's Users Guide to The Fall 'Smith even admitted he tried to persuade Burns to play drums like 70s Disco faves the Moments (of...And Whatnots fame). "And I had this organ tune and this ongoing fable about this historical character. Worked dead well, didn't it?'''

Video here: Slang King



Slang King (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)
Slang King 2 (Call For Escape Route EP, 1984)

 

Elves

BackdropUnashamedly based around Iggy Pop's I Wanna Be Your Dog' with added whisky! 'When will the price of Scotch come down?' - good question. Contains one of those great 'prrrps' into the mic. The catchy ending is the best bit - 'No never, no never no more/will I trust the elves of Dunsimore.' The Elf prefix on 'Seminal' which this is often linked to, is something totally different about chief elf, Norman, and has a hilarious pronunciation of 'splendid droplets.' Also, 'his teeth were squirly and pointy/kneecups curly.' Happily 'whitewall tyres were a lifetime from his thoughts.' Vic Reeves, before Vic Reeves was even invented.

 



Elves (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)
Elf Prefix (live, 1988, venue unknown, from 'Seminal')

 

God-Box

BackdropThe press release for this one, announces Brix's full-time debut as a member of The Fall. And, indeed, there she is chatting with her hubby at the beginning of the song. Utilising 'I've Gone Mental' by The Ramones, this one was apparently inspired by Fall-ing asleep in front of the telly - a method of inspiration I'm sure informs many a Fall ditty, judging by the amount of televisual references in their songs. Onywise, on this occasion, the programme in question, from an American religious channel has induced a womb-like dream. Again, MES takes a well known phrase (God Box), and, like when you repeat a word and it becomes nonsensical or strange, revitalises it.



God-Box (B Side, 1984)

 

Lay of the Land

BackdropStarts off with a weird chant of 'Lay Lay Lay' which, for all you 'Space bores' is also the Planet People's chant from the Quatermass TV series. When the music comes in, it's almost Egyptian like, but then settles on a cracking train rhythm and super-tight drumming accompanied by a fabulous bass melody. There's more TV, as 'On The Buses' shows up and some children either cycle in circles or circle in cycles, depending on which version you listen to. Archaic language fans, note the use of 'eldritch' (spooky). And only MES can invest a seemingly innocuous word like 'realms' - which soars on the live Munich version - with such menace. Smith's timing on the chorus is a bit off on the live version, which overall is not as vital as the studio track, except for the unusually long held note on the last word, 'wiiiiiind.'

Video here: Lay of The Land



Lay of the Land (The Wonderful and Frightening World Of, 1984)
Lay of the Land (live, Munich, 1984)