Following a string of relatively commercial albums throughout the 90s, The Fall’s music took on a massive shift in the early 2000s. Aided by an entirely new band, Mark E. Smith went back to rough and ready garage rock basics for 2001’s relatively lo-fi ‘Are You Are Missing Winner’.
By the end of 2019, few people would have suggested we’d live through a year any more devastating than 2016. That year, famous musicians seemed to be dying on a weekly basis. 2020 had even more of a drastic effect on the music industry with a global pandemic putting a halt on gigs and forcing various small, grass roots venues to close their doors forever.
On the plus side – and you always have to look for a positive, even in the most dire of circumstances – a dramatic change in circumstances has forced musicians to change their way of working. For those with home studios, it’s meant we’ve seen an increase in output. We’ve even been given unexpected albums – right at the end of the year, there were surprise releases from Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift and various other interesting albums were put together remotely. …And as we take stock on a terrible year, it seems that the gift of recorded music has been one of our only constants: 2020 may have been an absolute bastard in so many ways, but we’ve all found new music to love.
Following the tour for 2007’s ‘Reformation! Post TLC’ album, The Fall underwent yet another radical line up change. The hastily assembled American band were no more and by the time Mark E. Smith and keyboard player/vocalist/wife Eleni Poulou returned to the studio, they were joined by British musicians Dave Spurr (bass), Kieron Melling (drums) and Peter Greenway on guitar. It seemed, at first, that this was just yet another in a long line of rotating band members, but unbeknown to everyone at the time, this Fall line up was special. It would be the final line up – one that would go on to be the band’s most stable, lasting the next ten years.
Most Fall fans would have put good money on the fourth release of Cherry Red Records’ “Fall Sound Archive” series filling one of the gaps between #2 and #3 with an expanded release of 1980’s ‘Grotesque (After The Gramme)’ or following the excellent ‘Hex’ related box set with a vastly expanded edition of the excellent ‘Perverted By Language’. Few would have predicted things would take such a huge left turn by jumping ahead to an album that kick-started the final phase of the band’s long career. Almost as unpredictable as Mark E. Smith himself, the Fall Sound Archive Vol. 4 takes a massive leap and gives fans a broad look inside the many cogs and workings of 2007’s ‘Reformation Post-TLC’.
Love it or hate it, Record Store Day has become an important fixture on the music-related calendar. From humble beginnings with a few bits and bobs to entice people into independent record shops, it’s now become a huge business tool, giving major labels an excuse to reissue all kinds of stuff. While it now seems more about a money making venture than to highlight small business, there’s still some cool stuff to be found. Never more so than for the 2020 event, where there are a truckload of artificially created rarities that look like lovely items for the keener fan.