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Keeping It Real
Fall: The Real New Fall LP [U.S. Version]
Posted: July 26,
If Mark E. Smith's committed to the cause, a new release by the Fall is
going to be an event. How committed was Smith to the new Fall album? Well,
back in early 2003, when the record was still known by its original title,
Country on The Click, tracks were leaked onto the Internet.
Undeterred, Smith re-recorded, re-mixed and re-sequenced a portion of the
material, and rechristened it The Real New Fall LP. That's taking
the fight to the file-sharing hordes!
But Smith still wasn't finished tinkering with his band's handiwork.
Bolstered by glowing reviews and a willingness to further develop the
songs, Smith remastered The Real New Fall LP for its U.S. release,
removing some of the noisy backfill and sharpening the edges. But he
didn't stop there. The album's been re-sequenced (yet again, with slightly
altered or truncated song titles), offers a pair of bonus tracks and two
alternate versions of songs from the UK set, and even displays a cover art
makeover. Presto, chango! The Real New Fall LP (the third
incarnation of Country on The Click) has arrived. And it's
brilliant. The UK release proved Smith had regained his footing after the
band's last studio release (the bloodless Are You Are Missing Winner),
with tighter musicianship and Smith's patented sneering vocals lobbing
razor-sharp, lacerating word-bombs.
It's worth noting that Smith, on top of sounding jazzed to be
performing throughout The Real New Fall LP's nearly hour-long
running time, doesn't seem to have lost his hopeful sense of optimism in
the 27 years since he founded the band. "What if the world crashed in /
Refolding behind your eyelids / Cracked your mind," he asks at the
beginning of "Janet Vs Johnny," but that grim supposition is carried along
by a lively beat and wonderfully agitated, jangling guitar line. The
linchpin of a great Fall record is its ability to offset Smith's cryptic,
brutally incisive lyrics with diverse and expressively interesting
arrangements. Quite often, only a handful of songs manage to pull off this
feat, and what's left is either too concerned with Smith's spoken-word
invectives or fashionable but wholly ill-suited musical styles. The
Real New Fall LP earns major points for being able to sustain a
delicate balance between the Fall's two major tendencies across the
majority of the disc.
Smith's concerns fall in line with his immediate, distinctly
working-class British orbit. "Sparta 2#" is an anthem football hoodlums
can embrace : "We live on blood / We are Sparta F.C. / English Chelsea fan
this is your last game" Elsewhere, he bemoans "I hate the countryside so
much" on "Contraflow," while the media's fare game on "Xralothep" ("Avoid
respectable television and respectable newspapers / They have neither the
talent of art / Nor the instinctive snout of the media." "Mike's Love
Hexagon" is an unapologetically vicious slam of litigious Beach Boy Mike
Love. "Mountain," possessing a steady beat and low-riding bassline, is
vintage Smith, his delivery -- snide and indifferent -- fomenting a
one-man revolt ("Dolly Parton and Lord Byron / They said patriotism is the
last refuge / But now it's me").
New track "Mad Mock Goth" is guttural industrial sludge that doesn't
add much value to the track listing, and the closing "Recovery Kit 2#"
contains busy noise pollution that flies in the face of the comparatively
clean, less chaotic sound dominating the album. But then, this wouldn't
rightfully be a Fall record if there weren't a few unsightly warts
sticking out. The Real New Fall LP is spot-on, and the band
something Mark E. Smith would no doubt punch this reviewer in the kisser
for claiming: A rock and roll institution.
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