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

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Rock - Released August 8, 2013 | Castle Communications

Two clichés to get rid of right away are that Time Enough at Last is another unnecessary outtakes-and-live compilation to clutter the Fall's unwieldy discography and that it's for hardcore fans only. The three discs included were all originally released with little information on when, where, and who by the Trojan Records imprint Receiver. The new liner notes by Record Collector's Daryl Easlea do 'fess up to the dodgy roots of these releases, so at least there seems to be some concern for the fans and the band, but noting "demo," "live," or "instrumental" on the track listing could have raised the credibility a bit more. There's still no explanation of who chose the tracks or put together the interesting segues in between them. The first disc, Oxymoron, draws the bulk of its material from The Light User Syndrome and Cerebral Caustic era, except for a weird remix of the 1979 classic "Psychic Dancehall," now titled "E.S.P. Disco" (hence the claim that the collection covers 1979-1996). A stomping studio recording of "Oxymoron" and an inspired "Chillinism" are highlights, but "Chillinism" will show up twice more in the set under different titles, and the live recordings of the two-drummer Fall that fill the rest of the disc are direct from the soundboard and sound flat and sloppy. The Cheetham Hill disc looks more promising with some mid-'80s tracks listed, but they're live versions that don't live up to their studio counterparts. The final disc, 15 Ways to Leave Your Man, claims to be from a 1996 concert in London, but the sound quality differs from track to track, perhaps another in the long list of bibliographic errors suffered by the Fall. The show does feature a less-sober and looser Mark E. Smith, whose vocal whoops and hollers are as jarring and exciting as ever, but some more room ambience would have gone a long way to make it a more worthy addition. The sonically muddy version of "Hey Student" that closes the set is a prime example of what's wrong here: great song, decent performance, but if it's live, where did the fade-out and the multi-tracking of Smith's voice come from? Time Enough at Last doesn't have enough choice material for the casual fan, but fanatics might benefit from the new liner notes and the convenience of getting it all at once at a fair price. ~ David Jeffries
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Rock - Released August 8, 2013 | Castle Communications

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

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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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 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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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 8, 1984 | Beggars Banquet

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

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 1989 | Beggars Banquet

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

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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

Alternative & Indie - Released September 17, 1990 | Beggars Banquet

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Rock - Released September 1, 2016 | Castle Communications

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