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Punk / New Wave - Released March 15, 2004 | Castle Communications

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 15, 2019 | Beggars Banquet

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Remastered reissue (newly transferred from original analogue tapes) of The Fall’s ninth studio album, Bend Sinister, originally released in 1986 and remained at the top of the list of favourite Fall albums.
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 15, 2019 | Beggars Banquet

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Rock - Released August 8, 2013 | Castle Communications

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2004 | Beggars Banquet

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 24, 2011 | Beggars Banquet

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 17, 2005 | Cherry Red Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 10, 2016 | Cherry Red Records

Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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The Smiths had divorced around the time of Extricate, but Brix's presence could still be felt on Fall records. Some thought the mid-'80s signaled an end to the ragged, jagged Fall of old; the '90s must have made them apoplectic. Working with producers Rex Sergeant, Craig Leon, and Adrian Sherwood, the post-apocalyptic sound of the '70s had been smoothed to a sheen. There were still moments of anarchy and dissonance, but generally they were swaddled in synth-driven beats and high-tech production that smoothed out any remaining rough edges. Again, this was not a bad thing; after all, Mark E. Smith was still upfront and still ranting, but even he was singing more, and shocking as that was, it made for even better music. For this period, the place to start is Extricate, which proved beyond a doubt that the Fall were not too old to still be a part of this punk rock thang. Since this record follows on the heels of the Smiths' divorce, it's tempting to assume that Mark E. Smith's ranting has a more conspicuous target, but enigmatic as he tends to be, this is mere speculation. Still, "Sing! Harpy" and the title track will give you pause as to the source of Smith's considerable consternation. The band sounds great, especially longtime members Steve Hanley and Craig Scanlon. Extra kudos to the solid backbeat provided by Simon Wolstencroft. ~ John Dougan
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 1993 | Cherry Red Records

Returning to the indie label world with a bang, the Fall unleashed a winner and a half with Infotainment Scan, one of the band's most playful yet sharp-edged releases. The choice of covers alone gives a sense of where Smith's head was at -- tackling Lee Perry's "Why Are People Grudgeful?" is one tall order to start with, while a cover of the novelty tripe "I'm Going to Spain" is just silly fun (even if the guitar does sound like early Cure!). Even more astounding, though, is what the band does to the Sister Sledge disco classic "Lost in Music" -- nobody will ever mistake Smith's singing for that of the threesome, but the band's overall performance is an honest-to-god tribute to the tight but full Chic Organization sound. Craig Scanlon throws in some scratchy work around the edges, but otherwise the group takes it as it is and does a great job. As for the originals, Smith and crew are in fine form once again, Scanlon, Steve Hanley, Dave Bush, and Simon Wolstencroft once again a dynamic, inventive unit. After the explicitly techno nods of the recent past, Infotainment balances that off with more straight-ahead rock, though with Wolstencroft's strong, sharp drumming still setting a brisk, danceable pace while Scanlon whips up his usual brand of tight, memorable riffing and Bush adds subtle textures and catchy melodies. One of the best numbers is the explicitly Gary Glitter-styled romp "Glam-Racket," a great shout-along, while the beat-crazy "A Past Gone Mad" wins for this line alone: "And if I ever end up like U2/slit my throat with a garden vegetable." "The League of Bald Headed Men" also deserves note, as does another strong motorik-inspired number, "It's a Curse." Best song title of the bunch? "Paranoia Man in Cheap Shit Room," with a high-strung and aggressive arrangement to boot. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 6, 2000 | Cherry Red Records

Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Shift-Work marked the sophomore effort from a new Brix-less Fall and is a slightly more subdued effort than the raging Extricate. It also marked a new direction for Mark E. Smith and the band as what once was repetitious grooves became interspersed with pop song structures. Don't worry, the classic riffage is still here in "The War Against Intelligence," "Idiot Joy Showland," and "So What About It." But there does seem to be a softening of Smith, albeit slightly. He still rails against foolish pop stars, mass media, and the spawn of the Manchester scene (side two is headed "Notebooks Out Plagiarists") but also here are paeons to Edinburgh ("Edinburgh Man," surprisingly malice-free), social observation ("Shift Work" looks at a modern marriage and is more wistful than angry), and an electronics and violin led portrait of a DJ ("The Mixer"). Probably what's most surprising is that in retrospect most of this works, although it begins to run out of steam near the end. There are hooks and melodies here, and the group ineffably remain the Fall. The following year's Code: Selfish would return to a much harder sound, leaving this a melancholic, introspective album. ~ Ted Mills
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 1, 1999 | Beggars Banquet

The last thing most Fall fans expected the group to do in 1988 was provide music for a ballet, but in fact this is what they did. Of course, it helped that the Michael Clark company of dancers were some of the most avant-garde at the time in Britain and were inspired originally by the Fall's "Hey! Luciani" single. The concept, very loosely, centers around William and Mary of Orange, and finds Smith arranging William Blake's "Jerusalem" for the band, adding his own lyrics ("It was the fault of the government," providing ironic contrast to the self-sufficiency espoused in Blake). As a cohesive Fall album it fails: The strongest tracks are those that have little to do with the ballet (and are available elsewhere). "New Big Prinz" updates their own "Hip Priest" into one of their heaviest tracks, full of threat and wonder. "Cab It Up!" features all forward momentum and jingling keyboards. For the first time tracks felt like filler, and indeed they were. The CD booklet contains photographs from the performance full of giant pop-art hamburgers and cans of baked beans, suggesting I Am Kurios Oranj would have been more interesting to see than hear. ~ Ted Mills
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 23, 1985 | Beggars Banquet

"Feel the wrath of my Bombast!" exhorts Smith on this follow-up to their groundbreaking Wonderful and Frightening World of... the Fall, and this collection is ample proof of the pure confidence the group had at this time. Stompers like "Barmy," "What You Need," and the mighty "Gut of the Quantifier" are all led by Brix Smith's twanging lead hooks, filled by distorted guitars and bludgeoning drums, on top of which Smith rants with conviction. But it's the departures from this sound that mark the real interest here: The synth-driven "L.A." looks ahead to the Fall's experiments with electronica; "Paint Work" is an impressionist piece interrupted by Smith accidentally erasing over some of the track at home; and "I Am Damo Suzuki," a tribute to Can's lead singer, which borrows its arrangement from several of that group's songs. The Fall sound mysterious, down-to-earth, and hilarious all at the same time. The CD reissue adds the singles "Cruiser's Creek" and "Couldn't Get Ahead" as well as their B-sides making this an essential purchase. ~ Ted Mills
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Rock - Released March 1, 2017 | Castle Communications

Originally released in a time when "neither an EP nor an LP" was different and not a marketing gimmick, 1981's Slates was issued as a 10", but its six tight songs didn't have that key track to make it as revered as other Fall releases of the time. "Leave the Capitol," "Middle Mass," and "Prole Art Threat" deserve their place in the Fall's hall of fame, but compared to the second, punchy and polished version of "Lie Dream," they sound a bit anemic. Not a bad taster if you're new and want some post-punk, pre-pop Fall -- and 90 percent of this is prime material. [The 1992 and 1998 reissues added the live and short A Part of America Therein, a worthy complement for which Sanctuary has other plans. For the Fall fan, the bonuses on the 2004 reissue are a mixed blessing. With classic tracks like "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul," "Fantastic Life," and the great "Hip Priest" tacked on, the extras read as if from an early-'80s "greatest-hits" package. Great, but if there's a bummer to be had, they weaken the punch of the original Slates' sprawling attempt to restructure the Fall from punk to prog -- prog in the least pretentious sense of the word. Longtime buyers of the band get better sound quality, great liner notes, and the duplication blues once again.] ~ David Jeffries
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Rock - Released August 8, 2013 | Castle Communications

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 10, 2016 | Cherry Red Records

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Punk / New Wave - Released October 25, 2019 | Cherry Red Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 1, 1999 | Beggars Banquet

After the dark morass of Bend Sinister, the sound of 1988's Frenz Experiment comes as a bit of a shock. The arrangements are spare and broken down to the essentials, with the distorted guitars brought down low and Wolstencroft's drums high in the mix. Marcia Schofield had also joined the band to add keyboards. With most of the songs credited only to Smith himself, this could be seen as a solo album of sorts, or an indication of some rift within the group -- it certainly doesn't translate into the music. For the first time too, his vocals are loud and clear, though certainly not comprehensible; "Bremen Nacht" hints at some sort of run in with a ghost in Germany, "Athlete Cured," with its Spinal Tap-borrowed riff, tells of a "German athletic star" made ill from unusual circumstances -- the narrative turns strange, then funny until wandering off, a classic Smith tactic. Their cover of the Kinks' "Victoria" marked the Fall's first entry into the British charts, but also fit in with Smith's continuing explorations of Britain's history and how it translates into issues of class identity. The CD contains their other two singles from this time -- "Hit the North" and a cover of R. Dean Taylor's "There's a Ghost in My House," which the group makes their own -- plus several B-sides. ~ Ted Mills
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 25, 2010 | Beggars Banquet

The Fall made the leap to a semi-major label -- Beggars Banquet -- with The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall, hooking up with noted producer John Leckie to create another smart, varied album. Contemporaneous with the slightly friendlier "Oh! Brother" and "C.R.E.E.P." singles without actually including them, Wonderful and Frightening World makes few concessions to the larger market -- every potential hook seemed spiked with the band's usual rough take-it-or-leave-it stance. Mark E. Smith's audible, tape-distorting spit on the descending chord blast of "Elves" -- already spiked with enough vocal craziness as it is -- gives a sense of where the album as a whole aims. Brix Smith co-writes about half the tracks, creating a strong partnership with many highlights. It may start with a semi-low-key chant, but when "Lay of the Land" fully kicks in, it does just that, Craig Scanlon in particular pouring on the feedback at the end over the clattering din. Smith sounds as coruscating and side-splittingly hilarious as ever, depicting modern Britain with an eye for the absurdities and failures (and crucially, no empathy -- it's all about a gimlet eye projected at everyone and everything). Two further standouts appear on the second half -- "Slang King," a snarling portrayal of a cool-in-his-mind dude and his increasingly pathetic life, and the concluding "Disney's Dream Debased." Though unquestionably the most conventionally attractive tune on the album, ringing guitars and all, Smith's lyrics portray a Disneyland scenario in hell, however softly delivered. Elsewhere, Gavin Friday from the Virgin Prunes takes a bow with his own unmistakable, spindly vocals on the trebly Krautrock chug of "Copped It" and the slightly more brute rhythm of "Stephen Song." ~ Ned Raggett

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