The Fall’s early work has been reissued several times, but with a few of their “Fall Sound Archives” releases, Cherry Red Records managed to go above and beyond to give some well worn material the best send off ever. Both ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ and ‘Dragnet’ were released as lavish three disc editions in 2019, but even better, the seminal ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ formed part of a brilliant box set, ‘1982’, later that same year. By making the much loved album the main feature of a 6CD anthology, it set a precedent for similarly great reissues.
Taking the same approach as that box set, ‘1970s’ is a hefty 12CD tome that claims to include all of the band’s work from that decade. It doesn’t – there are notable omissions – but it pulls together a huge wealth of material, including several live shows that have never been officially released. There’s always a question of how much bootleg quality Fall material you need, but as the old fan mantra suggests, “you must get them all”, and the lure of six unavailable live sets here will certainly be enough for the hardened fan to want this set – quality be damned-ah.
There are two kinds of music fan in the world: those who get The Fall, and those who don’t. Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that their sharp edged sounds, lyrical barbs and willingness to challenge didn’t change the punk/post-punk scene. The influence they had on other alternative bands – particularly in the 90s, with the slacker movement spearheaded by Pavement – is often glaringly obvious but, occasionally, there comes a band willing to take The Fall’s influence and use it to create something a bit different. This short tribute from Argentinian band Krupoviesa is a curious affair. They’ve taken four 90s era Fall compositions and reworked them in their own punchy image, repackaged them in a homage to The Fall’s ‘Slates’ – a seminal 80s work – and shared the spoils for free.
Following two excellent reissues (a four disc ‘Reformation! Post-TLC’ and equally extensive ‘Imperial Wax Solvent’), the sixth instalment of Cherry Red’s Fall Sound Archives reissue series turns its attention to 2001 and The Fall’s 22nd LP, ‘Are You Are Missing Winner’, an album which seems to gather more criticism than praise. Although very much an album geared towards the fan rather than the casual admirer, there’s still a lot to enjoy. The material has a rough and ready feel, almost certainly a reaction to the more commercial path the band had taken over the 90s – or at least more “commercial” by Fall standards. It was also recorded on the quick and the cheap, an approach that wouldn’t suit all bands but, in this case, it sort of helped The Fall achieve a factory reset and capture a little of the old ‘Dragnet’ era spirit whilst simultaneously looking to the future with a brand new line up.
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.