Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Irene reviews two albums by The Fall

"Hex Enduction Hour" and "The Frenz Experiment"

I am so short of copy for that I have had to start raiding my beloved's record reviews.

So impressed was I by the Fall's ATP set (hooray for low expectations, probably) I ran to the merchandise table afterwards to buy some of the Fall's humungo back catalogue. Don't worry, I didn't make the same mistake this time as I did last time (there does not yet exist a device fine enough to measure the interval of time between my putting Are You Are Missing Winner on the CD device and flinging it into the discard pile). Instead I bought the much-lauded Hex Enduction Hour from 1982 and, hedging bets a bit, picked out the Brix-era Frenz Experiment on the basis that Brix-era Fall was their commercial heyday. By Fall standards, anyway.

And they're both great, albeit in different ways. Hex is very snarly and spitty and kicks you in the teeth at every opportunity. From 'The Classical' onwards you get a real sense of why the Fall were great: Smith's sense of humour ("made with the highest British attention to the wrong detail" indeed), how on several occasions a cheery jangly Marr-esque riff drops in and spoils the gritty thunk-thunk relentlessness, the combination of Dadaesque lyrics, krauty drone and rockabilly riffs, but mainly just the sheer attitude. And the feeling that, although they'd be annoyed if you said it to them, they were having a huge laugh. Listening to this reminds me that there used to be a thing called the indie charts that was completely alien to my Duran Duran-trained ears.

The Frenz Experiment is from 6 years later and is a poppier, more produced major-labelly affair altogether. In some places they sound like they're channelling Madness rather than Can, so you could see this as sell-out Fall if you were so inclined. And they do 'There's A Ghost in My House' by Holland/Dozier/Holland and an inexplicable paean to a place that serves steak ('The Steak Place'). But you get occasional ur-Fall waywardness in the likes of 'Bremen Nacht Alternative' which goes on for ages to no decipherable end. And it ends with 'Hit The North', so you can't help but love it.

Thus spake Irene. For myself I still find it hard to believe that something as strangely postpunk as 'There's A Ghost in My House' could be a Holland/Dozier/Holland tune (not that there is anything wrong with HDH tunes, they just do not sound like that. I also feel that attention should be drawn to 'Athelte Cured' from The Frenz Experiment, with its riff lifted from Spinal Tap's 'Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You (Tonight)'.

An inuit panda production

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