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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

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

Rock - Released March 23, 1992 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2003 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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