The beginning sounds like an airport tannoy announcement, but is in fact a Greek woman reading a translation of a part of 'English Scheme.' Very apt, given the subject matter of Brits abroad and their fondness for recalling local detail as if it's interesting, such as 'chicken and feta cheese' in 'a small town outside Athens.' The promo version is fantastically comic, especially the repeated 'Didjer enjoy yerself?' and the American clip of 'it's not right.' Other highlights to embrace and enjoy are 'stay clammy' and the wordplay of 'Banana Rep.' Quality nonsense.
Happy Holiday (B side, 1993)
Happy Holiday (Promo mix, 1993)
posted @ 13.35 PM, September 7, 2007
As an antidote to the mythologising of roads such as Route 66 in rock n roll songs, the plain old British motorway is as good as any: 'This is not an autobahn/It's an evil roundabout that leads to the Haywain.' A pleasant enough chug-along with no real musical challenges present and a robust rhythmical/rhyming structure. I love the 'M5 6,7 pm' bits on the superior Peel version. It's just the way he says 'pm' - don't ask me why. (For more on my pathetic fascination with pronouncing 'pm' see 'Heimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark'). Other philosophical nuggets include, 'there's nothing worse than a bored man' and the sublime, 'the man who thinks he knows it all is destined for a Mighty Fall.'
M5 (B side/Peel session, 1993)
M5 #1 (Middle Class Revolt, 1994)
posted @ 13.05 PM, September 6, 2007
B side of Behind the Counter which is basically a reworking of City Dweller, complete with sweeping synthesisers and smooth guitar over a recording of random coversation and some MES spoken word stuff. Floats on for probably too long, but among the decidedly 80s vibe lurks the paranoid whisper of 'He's in there now, man. He's listening right to us, I know he is.'
Cab Driver (B side, 1993)
posted @ 12.55 PM, September 5, 2007
The eclectic and unpredictable MES influences continue with this cover, originally a collaborative effort from avant garde 70s bands Henry Cow and Slapp Happy. Complete with with what sounds like toy tin soldier drumming at the start and creepy 'Hey Hey Hey' chants throughout. There's even a hint of Martha and the Muffins in there. Apparently, MES recited the words from memory, having lost the original version of this, which I haven't heard either. I imagine it doesn't have that infectious Skids like one chord guitar chime on display here, though.
War (B side, 1993)
War (live, 27 points, 1995)
posted @ 13.20 PM, August 9, 2007
Behind The Counter
Fantastic single, from the piercing whistle to the brilliant keyboard riff after the stabbing 'Wait sir, wait sir' bits and everything inbetween. Can't fault it. And again the critique on critics and the journalistic stylings of 'idiots who write rock books' continues: '"For Nose Pin and the Punk Piggies didn't quite make it,"' they say.' There's also a fine Elvisesque 'Chill it, boy' near the end, and on the Peel version an apt summary of the press's take on The Fall - 'They never can encapsulate us.'
Behind The Counter (single, 1993)
Behind The Counter (Peel session, 1993)
Behind The Counter (live, Bristol, 1997)
posted @ 13.55 PM, August 8, 2007
Where would a Fall album be without the obligatory lo-fi novelty track? This one features weird noises, mumblings into a tape recorder, tappings and poetry before finally tumbling into Xanadu. And, as they say, why not? I can handle it.
Light/Fireworks (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
posted @ 11.35 AM, August 7, 2007
A Past Gone Mad/Passable
Spangles get it in the neck again here, along with a whole list of annoyances and celebrities in the various versions, including campers in vans, soccer books, kids in pubs, U2, Peter Gabriel, Ian McShane, 'that twat from Points Of View' and Judy Collins. Most delicious, though, is 'If I ever end up like Richard Madeley, cut my head off with an axe.' All wrapped up in an extremely polished, even dramatic, musical backdrop.
A Past Gone Mad (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
Passable (live, 27 points, 1995)
Passable (live, origin unknown)
posted @ 13.50 PM, August 6, 2007
The League Of Bald-Headed Men
Very synthy - ah. Plus a riff from Led Zeppelin's 'Misty Mountain Hop', although probably not consciously - it's a pretty basic riff. Some great ruminations on executive/media types with one of those long, long repetitions - 'Well well well well well well well well...' Also, top marks for the use of 'suppurates' - 'Look it up!' The League Moon Monkey Mix has the added lyrical bonus of 'You scored passages to assuage their post-latent sexual baldy alopecia.'
Video: The League Of Bald-Headed Men
The League Of Bald-Headed Men (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
League Moon Monkey Mix (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
The League Of Bald-Headed Men (live, Sheffield, 1993)
posted @ 13.25 PM, August 3, 2007
It's A Curse
Fairly rockist by numbers guitar and drums sound with added interesting keyboard garnish. An obscure sideways swipe at critics it would appear, judging by the hack reference. Full of arcane language and unique phrasings and manglings like 'You tone of everybody,' 'I am not unguilty of using it,' 'Their froglike chins ready to burst,' and a timely well-deserved dig at complacent 'look back bores': 'Vimto and Spangles were always crap.' Too right.
It's A Curse (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
posted @ 13.35 PM, August 2, 2007
I'm Going To Spain
Another outstanding cover. A Steve Bent song taken from a K-Tel compilation from 1978 called The World's Worst Record, compiled by Kenny Everett. Bent performed it on New Faces in 1974. MES totally subverts the cheesy quirkiness of the song into something tragi-comic. One of the best cringeworthy lines in the original ('Mum wrapped me up some sandwiches/and I hate them, yes I hate the cheese and pickle') is charmingly replaced by 'She packed it up, and then cashed in her premium bonds.' Lobster from the Fall forum sums it up perfectly: 'It's a historically specific social situation which MES has tackled before in his original work.....the Psychotic Big Brother in English Scheme does much the same thing as the character in Spain. I think the Fall's version of I'm Going to Spain is one of the most moving things I've ever heard. It is by far their best cover, I think. The innocence and hope and pathos and banality of it! The love coming from the mum and the factory floor but related in such simple matter of fact language! It's fucking ace.'
I'm Going To Spain (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
posted @ 13.45 PM, August 1, 2007
Lost In Music
Probably the best cover version...ever. When The Fall do Sister Sledge you know it has to be something special. Incongrous isn't in it. Cries of 'Hideaway' punctuate the disco beat along with sundry dip dip dips amongst the 'refurbishment of pubs.' The pidgin Franglais of 'le money il sur le table' and its many variations eventually leads to yer actual French swearing: 'Cretin, va te faire foutre!' A dance floor filler.
Lost In Music (Infotainment Scan, 1993)
Lost In Music (remix 14, 1993)
Lost In Music (live, Sheffield, 1993)
posted @ 14.15 PM, July 31, 2007
Glam Racket - Star
A broadside at what was then perceived as a Glam rock revival by the likes of Suede. To reinforce the point musically, the old Gary Glitter stomp n riff is heaved into battle. The opening 'Stop eating all that chocolate/Eat salad instead' also exposes a surprising Roald Dahl influence, while early concern for deforestation is exhibited in the lines, 'You post out sixty-page computer printouts/On the end of forests.' Funny lines abound, as in 'You're one of the best songs I've ever heard by Stephen King' as opposed to the more prosaic Brix interjections on the Peel session, eg. 'Go shine on someone else cos your act has lost all appeal.'
Glam Racket (B side, 1993)
Glam Racket - Star (Peel session, 1994)
Glam Racket (live, Sheffield, 1993)
posted @ 13.25 PM, July 30, 2007
Why Are People Grudgeful?
The original of this was by Joe Gibbs, the boss of Amalgamated Records, who released it under the name Sir Gibbs. It was a musical response to Lee Perry's 'People Funny Boy', which had been a vitriolic attack on Gibbs - Perry's former producer and label owner. Musically the two songs are rather similar. I suspect MES was attracted by the vitriol and the word 'grudgeful.' Good to hear The Fall tackling some ska, and it fairly bounces. Lyrically, MES plays about with, and interchanges, the word 'different' with 'death for rent', 'desolate' and 'deference.' Altogether now, 'All over Europa...'
See the video here.
Why Are People Grudgeful? (single, 1993)
Why Are People Grudgeful? (live, Sheffield, 1993)
posted @ 13.25 PM, July 26, 2007
Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room
Strangely coy asterisk there. One of those sleazy opening dying chords followed by grrrrs and guitar riff. The devil of the observation is in the detail, e.g. 'When girls pass, puts head down, in the street' and 'Shakes in the chemist's/While buying his vits.' The lyrics appear to have been written down while observing obstacles around him, such as 'serial number 54129.' In the Fall forum, jonfivehats recalls Peel's admiration of this number and speculates on its origin, the most amusing suggestion being The West Bend 54129 Automatic Coffee Percolator. But I digress. Back at the music, there's some rather pleasing cheesy bleeps at the 'Goes down to the dance' section, a laughing sign off of 'speculates' on the album version, and a Metal Mickey soundalike on the Peel version.
Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room (Peel session, 1993)
Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room (The Infotainment Scan, 1993)
Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*t Room (live, 27 points, 1995)
posted @ 13.25 PM, July 25, 2007
I like the bouncy piano part but hate the horrible synthesiser bits, especially on the Peel session. Apart from that, it's alright. Highlights include "my corny brown leather jacket", the almost comical falsetto 'service' yelps, the line "I came home and found I could say the word "entrepreneur"" and the rhythmical repetition of "this day's portion." Nice to see some vulperines and wolverines in there too.
Service (Peel session, 1993)
Service (The Infotainment Scan, 1993)
posted @ 14.30 PM, July 24, 2007
Corny spacey intro on the Peel session, but lovely one note slow piano bit leading into the main guitar riff. A spikey, lively cover of one of The Sonics' great garage masterpieces. The live Munich version has a hilarious opening with MES shouting at the band for not keeping up - "What are you, fucking potheads?"
Strychnine (Peel session, 1993)
Strychnine (live,Munich, 1993)
Strychnine (live, Frankfurt, 1993)
posted @ 13.15 PM, July 23, 2007
Ladybird (Green Grass)
There's some damn solid drumming at the start of the Peel version, while, on the album version, there's all that backwards stuff and a great bass line. At one point it sounds like it's going into 'Babylon's Burning.' The narrative summons up the sacred connotations of the Ladybird in many cultures, along with the nursery rhyme associations, as well as recounting the historical ethnic cleansing of Germans in Pomeranian and Croatian history. Meanwhile, in the live version, thrill to MES's reading of a Reader's Digest letter. The Fall - eclectic or what?
Ladybird (Peel session, 1993)
Ladybird (The Infotainment Scan, 1993)
Ladybird (live, Sheffield, 1993)
posted @ 14.40 PM, July 20, 2007