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The Fall, "Are You Are Missing Winner"

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The Fall continue to tour a disturbing experimental past life and pack pristine venues with enthusiastic dripping venom, shambolic contempt and twisted wry amusement. "We are the new Fall," the lads hesitantly proclaim on the up an' at 'em opener, as Smith harrangues anyone who'll listen that they'd better look up! Who knows whether they'll stick it long enough to become an old Fall? The drummer's already shuffled off. For now Fall fans can ruminate on the twenty-third (at least 50% studio non-compilation) album proper from Mark E Smith and whoever else can put up with his bad Spanish accent impressions. Ditching the band that made the mostly excellent pro-tooled belter "The Unutterable", Smith has marsalled his ever expendable bedraggled combo to belt out a raw rocking set.

Cog Sinister

Every Fall album has at least one track that demands endless repeated listening. This album's classic 'Crop-Dust' gets its hooks into my brain for hours, combining primal addictive Fall rhythm with a killer snake-charmer riff whilst the sound levels are tweaked like tape drop-out. Mumbled backing vocals recall the twilit dusk of the haunting gross-chapel era, and Smith declaims a tale of a hesitant old singer from Manchester joining World War I soldiers in great coats. There is no mention of flabby wings here, but the time travel plays havoc with the liver and brain. The whole album has a kind of twisted time-warped feel to it. It sounds like the band that made early classics such as "Grotesque" and "Slates" took a dose of straight strychnine at a rockabilly festival and took a temporal wrong turn into an alternate pre-gramme reality in which only Smith could emerge the winner. A small alteration of the past turns time into space, which explains why shoddy collections of Fall demos have been proliferating across the earth. The hilariously abysmal sleeve and credit mistakes (two songs are listed in reverse order; there is a keyboard on the latter live portion of 'African Man' but no sign of former keyboardist Julia Nagle's name) are either a cockeyed homage to fan fleecing demo slew, or Smith just doesn't give a monkey's. In fact he eats monkeys for breakfast if the hilariously messy destruction of Iggy Pop's super dumb 'African Man' is to be taken seriously, which it obviously isn't. The African man eats elephants and lions too, but only because the hotel provides them. Lo-fi tapes and dyspeptic guitars infest the hotels and park themselves willy nilly in Afro Ibis Hotel man's driveway, where he strangles a screaming ibis for his supper (no fork or knife for him). He eats a skunk for lunch and sounds a bit shocked, triggering a time lock back to recent gig audio fragment.
The Fall haven't sustained such a lengthy unhinged and uncommercial onslaught since the violin scraping of 'Papal Visit' and this'll have trendy fairweather White Stripes fans running for cover faster than you can say 'Spectre vs Rector'. It's also far and away the funniest track I heard in 2001. Whilst mention of skyscrapers in 'Crop-Dust' might have some dubious claims on Smith's prophetic capabilities, it's 'Kick the Can' and the resurrection of their Can homage 'I am Damo Suzuki' at gigs prior to Michael Karoli's death that rings grimly eerie. For 'Hollow Mind' they redo 'Jerusalem' with too many notes on low power with no discarded brick chip. The R. Dean Taylor cover 'Gotta See Jane' pales anaemically next to the bouncy 'Ghost in my House'. Nevertheless this version of The Fall could teach most of these hyped-up soft rockers, like the Strokes with their Housemartins plus little feedback lick shtick, a thing or seven. This album sounds as ravaged as everyone's favourite toothless idiot savant singer from Salford looks these days. The band are solid enough, if rather normal next to the formidable Scanlon, Hanley, Brix attack, and Smith sounds gloriously deranged even if he seems to have less to say than ever. He's probably been saving up witticisms for his next spoken word album. Mostly Smith's voice has been mixed at speaker damage levels, and if he doesn't finish off yer hi-fi, the dustbin lid drumming on 'My Ex Classmate's Kids' will. That song is basically a slowed down rewrite of the popular freebie Flitwick single 'When I Wake Up in the City'. Instead of coughing and tapes of say nothing radio chat, Smith drawls his most barmy alingual vowels and latterly complains of aftershave stench like twigs up the nose. That's what you get for living in a 'Bourgeois Town' where container drivers do the hassle shmuck with a handful of antacid!

 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 25 February 2018 18:59  


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