Review: The Fall - Fall Heads Roll
12/15/05 update: I have a burned copy of this and it seems my disc is the UK version with a different order. I've changed everything accordingly and I hope this time it's right.
The Fall have been at it for three decades but I don't know them well enough to review this in any career context. Here's a longish band history. The allmusic.com review of The Real New Fall opens with "Two years and 32 compilations, box sets, books, DVDs, and so on, since their last studio album..." Yikes! From ye olde days I remember "Bingo-Master's Break-Out!", "Totally Wired" and "Rebellious Jukebox" quite well but the first LP, Live At The Witch Trials, didn't inspire me to check out the endless parade that followed. Their latest and just released Fall Heads Roll fell into my lap so here we are.
From various reviews I get the impression much of The Fall's catalog is a string of similarities with high and low points. I can see a definite kinship with The Mekons and how they've influenced Sisters Of Mercy. The Fall's Mark E. Smith has a singing voice like no other, and I imagine his mouth must be very elastic to twist around as it does.
What jumps out at me is how much Fall Heads Roll reminds me of Iggy Pop. Smith copies Ig's stylings to an extent and this hypnotic, abrasive dance music is what Iggy should have been recording all these years instead of faux metal. 9 of the 14 tracks truly rule, and I'll be editing it down for heavy lifting days. The tracks pulse with the same electrified danger you get from Big Black's "Kerosene" and "Cables". This is very intense and dense material.
The songs have no choruses and it seems the lyrics are stream of consciousness ramblings laid over often unrelated instrumentation, not unlike Patty Smith. "Pacifying Joint" is pretty much the same song as "What About Us?". "Midnight In Aspen" is also strangely the same as "Aspen Reprise". At least they have similar titles.
My favorite tracks are "Pacifying Joint" (Devo-esque riff), "What About Us", "Blindness" (pulled bass like Big Black), "I Can Hear The Grass Grow", "Bo Demmick" (echoes of "I Want Candy"), "Youwanner", "Clasp Hands" ("Lust For Life" energy), "The Early Days Of Channel Fuhrer", "Breaking The Rules" ( a very happy guitar riff) and "Trust In Me" (my favorite).
I have to award Fall Heads Roll four out of five X-Mas cookies. It's deep and out there too.