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Alternatif et Indé - Released October 8, 1984 | Beggars Banquet

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Alternatif et Indé - Released October 6, 1986 | Beggars Banquet

Again working with John Leckie on production, the Fall's third Beggars album, Bend Sinister, was a distinctly down affair -- not that the Fall were ever a shiny happy band, of course, but both music and lyrics seemed like a darker corner to dwell in. Happily there was no worry that the Fall would ever go goth; one suspects Mark E. Smith would rather have his tongue removed. Still, opening track "R.O.D." makes for a distinctly lower-key start in comparison to recent leadoffs like "Lay of the Land" and "Bombast," almost sounding a bit like fellow Mancunian legends Joy Division, Smith's lyric his own depressing vision of a beast slouching toward Bethlehem. Leckie's production emphasizes space in the recording, while the band as a whole sounds generally more deliberate and understated, even Craig Scanlon's guitar not leaping quite as much to trebly life as is normally the case. Songs like "Gross Chapel - British Grenadiers" favor Steve Hanley's bass work as much as anything, while the almost industrial/hip-hop beat of "US 80's-90's" sets the tone for a glowering vision of the States from, as Smith puts it, "the big-shot original rapper." Elsewhere, there's Smith's vision of the eternal outsider comes to life once again -- "Shoulder Pads 1," a hardly disguised sneer against being surrounded by people who "can't tell Lou Reed from Doug Yule," for all that there's a slightly quirky arrangement thanks to Simon Rogers' keyboards. Still, there are certainly moments of sheer fun -- in keeping with the band's regular ear for good cover versions, this time around psych-era obscurities the Other Half get the nod with a brisk rip through the obvious drug references of "Mr. Pharmacist." Brix again shares vocal leads with Smith at various points, notably "Dktr. Faustus," a distinctly reworked version of that particular legend that turns into a frantic, audibly unhappy dance groove. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternatif et Indé - Released July 28, 2017 | Cherry Red Records

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Alternatif et Indé - Released May 3, 1994 | Cherry Red Records

A mixture of lackluster performances and songs filled with vigor and fury, Middle Class Revolt is a puzzling proposition from the Fall. After two opening tracks that seem ready to convince worried fans that Smith couldn't care less ("15 Ways" and "Reckoning") there follows the poppish "Behind the Counter" and their devilish cover of Henry Cow's "War," with Smith making up half the lyrics. Other highlights include the furious "Hey! Student" (a rewrite of a 1977 tune, "Hey! Fascist"), and yet another Monks cover: "Shut Up!" All find Smith in fine form, impassioned and deeply sarcastic. The band experiments with some techno, some tape manipulation, and sparse rock arrangements, though the vocals on this disc are the most layered of any Fall release. There's also some local (Manchester, that is) social criticism going on in tracks, such as "M5#1" and "City Dweller," which takes on the aborted attempt to hold the Olympic games in Smith's city (the nerve!). ~ Ted Mills
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Rock - Released May 11, 2015 | Cherry Red Records

A well-rounded and surprisingly busy album from the Fall, Sub-Lingual Tablet finds leader Mark E. Smith taking the producer's chair for LP number 31. Clean-sounding and intricately built tracks suggest he trusts the current lineup of the long-running band, while the return of cassette-taped interludes and other found sounds recall the band's 1984-1988 stretch, a golden age when they were regulars on the indie charts. Follow the wandering, twangy riff of "Venice with the Girls" ("Too beautiful/Best thing for you to do is hide") and it leads Fall fans to a satisfying land where they receive all the drive, the snarl, and tribal drums they require, while late album highlights "Quit iPhone" and "Fibre Book Troll" (which is really "Facebook Troll") are screaming examples of the band's rockabilly-punk in overdrive, both of them bitter with the current climate and tech-aware enough to drop the right names. The rolling robo-bass on "Dedication Not Medication" means there's at least one Burial 12" in the band's record box, while the great and too short "Black Door" is back to the future music with keyboard lines that point to the first two Devo albums. The numerous time changes and song twists are more Captain Beefheart-inspired than Yes- or Genesis-styled show-offery, but this tight lineup of the group could show off if they chose, and sometimes give a hint of it as Smith ascends into a total, roaring performance during both "Augo Chip 2014-2016" and "Pledge." "Jungle Cloth" checks off the simple and pure rock & roll cut while Iggy Pop is the source for this album's excellent cover as the Stooges' "Cock in My Pocket" gets a brilliantly titled redo in "Stout Man." The kids are alright. ~ David Jeffries
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Alternatif et Indé - Released June 23, 1986 | Cherry Red Records

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Rock - Released February 22, 2005 | Action Records

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Alternatif et Indé - Released June 11, 2001 | Cherry Red Records

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Rock - Released May 31, 2006 | Artful Records

Alternatif et Indé - Released September 17, 1990 | Beggars Banquet

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Rock - Released May 25, 2018 | Cherry Red Records

The late '90s were tumultuous years for the Fall. Several long-term members of the band were fired or quit, and the group played some of the most disastrous gigs of its entire career. Levitate, the band's 1997 full-length, ended up being the final album to feature bassist Steve Hanley (who had been in the Fall since the '70s) as well as drummers Karl Burns and Simon Wolstencroft, and it wound up being produced by leader Mark E. Smith himself after producers Keir Stewart and Simon Spencer quit a week into the recording sessions, taking most of their session tapes with them. The result is easily one of the weirdest, most scattered releases in the entire Fall catalog, and one that has always proven to be divisive with fans and critics. The accessibility and pop hooks of the group's '80s run have all but vanished, and Smith's vocals are rough and loud in the mix, sounding like he's shouting directly at you rather than singing. The songs themselves are a haphazard mess of junky breakbeats (somewhat resembling drum'n'bass, especially on opener "Ten Houses of Eve"), abrasive guitars, and smeared, squirming electronics courtesy of Julia Nagle, who played a crucial role in the group during this era. As on 1990's Extricate, the Fall flirt with dance music on many of these tracks, but as wonderful as songs like the single "Masquerade" are, they're only likely to confuse ravers. The same can be said for "4½ Inch" (apparently a nod to Nine Inch Nails), a barrage of smushed breakbeats and multiple Marks yelling about a house on fire. Perhaps the most outright fun moment on the album is "I'm a Mummy," a rocked-up cover of a hilarious 1959 novelty tune by Bob McFadden & Dor (the latter being a pseudonym for Rod McKuen). It loses the punch line of the original, which was a playful jab at the beatnik generation, but the Fall make the song their own. They also cover Hank Mizell's 1958 rockabilly single "Jungle Rock," presumably as a play on the musical genre known as jungle, but it's a very sideways interpretation of the genre; the drums are too slow and basic, and there's not enough bass. Of course, comparing the Fall to any trends or styles of music is entirely beside the point. They always existed on their own terms (or more accurately, Smith's own terms), and the confounding Levitate stands as one of the purest examples of their creative freedom. Although it's undoubtedly going to sound off-putting to anyone who isn't familiar with the band already, it's certainly worth hearing if you're already a fan. ~ Paul Simpson
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Rock - Released May 31, 2006 | Artful Records

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Alternatif et Indé - Released June 24, 2016 | Cavalcade Records Ltd

With the release of The Marshall Suite, there are probably an even dozen comeback albums in the Fall discography. Featuring virtually a new lineup comprised of untested musicians, The Marshall Suite returns Mark E. Smith to the music industry after a debacle of sorts. Given his unswerving control of any new Fall material that appears on the shelves, it's unsurprising that this edition of the band sounds similar to its recent forebears -- this is still a shambling, energetic garage band whose members record right next to their mics for maximum speaker-thrashing. If anything, this group is even more propulsive and noise-oriented than other editions of the Fall, which suits Smith perfectly. He sounds much more focused than he's been in a while, working in that marvelous state of genius artistry that resists any attempt to explain how it's happened. The album is a three-part suite that cycles through a variety of roughshod originals and a few excellent covers (Tommy Blake's "F-'Oldin' Money," the Saints' "This Perfect Day"). In many ways, The Marshall Suite is similar to previous Fall albums -- a couple of British psychobilly stomps balanced with several experimental pieces featuring Smith ranting over a skeletal musical framework. Though it appears to usher in a new era of the Fall's incredible history, The Marshall Suite also thankfully displays that Mark E. Smith is still in complete control of his unique artistic vision. ~ John Bush
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Rock - Released November 1, 2019 | Cherry Red Records

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Alternatif et Indé - Released May 31, 2004 | Beggars Banquet

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Rock - Released February 22, 2005 | Action Records

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

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Alternatif et Indé - Released May 13, 2013 | Esoteric Antenna

In the pre-release press for any given Fall album (and yes, there are well over 30 of them) leader Mark E. Smith issues either no comment or one cryptic slogan for fans to decipher. Bucking the trend, M.E.S. issued two talking points for their 2013 release Re-Mit, one being that he didn't quite care for the band's previous album (2011's Ersatz G.B. was "too flat") and two, that the group had "had enough and we're coming for you." That latter bit is quite the threat as the band membership here makes for one of the longest-standing lineups in the group's revolving-door-members history, but the crisp and yet extremely goofy Re-Mit is like an anti-culmination of all these points, filled with as many interludes as songs and more laughs than lyrics. Biggest laugh has to be the LCD Soundsystem shout-out "James Murphy is their chief/They swing their bullocks while they eat" which happens during "Irish," a throbbing monster that time-changes into a swinging -- although not bullocks swinging -- jazz-prog affair, the whole band turning on dime. The group is nothing short of amazing throughout and offers a crackling, attractive intro during the opening "No Respects," plus they do a wonderful impression of debut album Devo on the nod-along new waver dubbed "Victrola Time," all while Smith mumbles his way through the lyrics parade for what's arguably the least intelligible Fall album to date. Long stretches of the lyrics could be transcribed with "(growl)" and "(groans)," and then the aptly titled "Noise" gives up "Kiddies, as we get older, we must try and understand, people who are different from us" as if Smith has come to the end of his scrawled-up notebook. A confounding set of song sketches and hot riffs, this one belongs with 2005's Interim, 2001's Are You Are Missing Winner, and others that are considered "for hardcore fans only." ~ David Jeffries
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Alternatif et Indé - Released March 14, 1988 | Beggars Banquet

So named due to this being a collection of stuff released on the Kamera label, for a long time Hip Priests was the only way to listen to material from the mighty Hex Enduction Hour album, as well as Room to Live and related singles like "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul" and "Look, Know." For that reason alone it was a useful collection, though it was also flawed in that nearly everything was mastered for CD from vinyl, a harbinger of what would eventually happen in the late '90s with any number of early Fall reissues. It's especially noticeable on "Hip Priest" itself. Whether or not one wants to debate the aesthetics of such an approach, it's still more than a little frustrating. Thankfully, the song selection is nearly impeccable -- omissions are unavoidable, but there's no overlap with Palace of Swords Reversed, and the highlights are legion: "Hip Priest," "The Classical," "Mere Psued Mag. Ed.," "I'm Into C.B.!," and the absolutely wonderful B-side "Fantastic Life." The CD and cassette versions both include a useful bonus of interest to hardcore fans -- four live cuts of varying fidelity of other material from that time. "Who Makes the Nazis?" is OK enough, but the take on "Just Step Sideways" gets delivered with rough, fiery authority. At the end of the collection, meanwhile, there's an extremely muddy take on "Jawbone and the Air-Rifle" that will likely cause immediate departures on the part of neighbors and friends. A full quarter-hour ramble and stumble through "And This Day" concludes the release as a whole; it's a great performance that at nearly every point sounds like it'll collapse into formless chaos. Mark E. Smith is his typically contrarian self, while the lineup has its usual off-center way with the proceedings. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternatif et Indé - Released February 19, 2016 | CHERRY RED

Sometimes the best Fall songs don't land on Fall albums, as this 2016 EP proves. The title cut of Wise Ol' Man is an instant Fall classic. It throbs and snarls with a sense of purpose that sticks in the head, thanks to Elena Poulou and the sweet, yet stern, chorus she delivers. "All Leave Canceled" is one of those sprawling epics from the group that entrances the whole way through, and there's the new-meets-old medley of "Facebook Troll/No Xmas for John Quays," a gift for fans and a fierce, captured-in-the-studio example of what the on-stage Fall can do with old tunes. Add remixes and instrumentals and this short set gets knocked down a peg, but it's a classic EP in its own way, jumbling brilliance with clearing-house stuff, and ending up a desirable package, instrumental and all. ~ David Jeffries

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