The Fall – Fall Heads Roll

I’ve been enjoying Radio 4‘s Book Of The Week An adaptation of John Peel‘s autobiography Margrave Of The Marshes. (I must say that Michael Angelis – the bloke with the rabbits in The Liver Birds – did a great job of invoking the man without resorting to impersonation.) And, I’ve taken particular joy in the use of music, the thought of the regular Radio4/Home Truths audience being blasted with Half Man Half Biscuit‘s Trumpton Riots as they return from the school run. But, so far nothing of his favourite band The Fall.

There are those that will try to convince you that Mark E Smith and his turbulent band haven’t made a relevant record for over twenty-odd years. This is of course bollocks. I’ll take 2001’s Marshall Suite in a head to head with their first albums any day. And, the albums since then have all had enough good reasons to buy them. Another year, another Fall album (about their 33rd). As Peel said always different, always the same. Indeed.

Fall Heads Roll showcase the current band and their particularly (at least the last time I saw them it was) muscular sound. Nowhere is this shown moreso than on the seven-odd minutes of Blindness. And, herein lies the rub with this album, it’s not as jaw-droppingly brilliant as the version featured in their last Peel session (and on the essential boxed set collection of them all). Whatever it’s lacking (none of the roughness?) seems to be lacking from other tracks. For all the latest line-up are a solid rock live prospect, it’s the less banging stuff that actually works the best on here. Opener Ride Away is classic skew-wiff MES – and seriously berated by that not-in-twenty-years mob. Midnight Aspen (possibly about Hunter S Thompson, but probably not) does that effortless hypnotic krauty thing. And does it so well it even gets to come back for a reprise.

On the whole, the impression that I’m left with from this album is that it’s too long. Does anyone remember five tracks either side? I’m sure that at least three of the tracks of the fourteen on here could’ve been trimmed. Admittedly, I wouldn’t like to have to single out what shouldn’t be there (although not awesome it is very good stuff). But surely the expanding content of CDs is leading to a dearth of quality control? Does this reflect a change in how we consume our music or is it dictated by it? What I mean is, I seldom listen to whole albums anymore. I’ll rip them to iTunes and flit between random tracks or selections from an album. Is this the great freedom of choice thing or because albums are getting interminably long and boring? I dunno, either.

A pretty good Fall album. Most bands would give their hindlegs to have recorded it.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

02 November 2005 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Records

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