The Fall in Fives #051

  • The Bad Stuff
  • Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot
  • Legend Of Xanadu
  • Insult Song
  • Gotta See Jane

Yes, yes, yes… there is indeed a banjo on 50 Year Old Man! Many thanks to all the folks who were so quick to point this out. Still, only the second obvious blunder (after the Beefheart/Zappa error in #033) – and I thought I might have made a lot more by now. I would be surprised if it was the last…

The Bad Stuff
This is rather a hotch-potch of nothing much at all, really. A few random bits of what sound like rough song ideas shoved together seemingly randomly, whilst a series of conversational snippets (studio chat and telephone conversation) float about semi-audibly in the background. The first section could be a section of Das Boat; the part from 0:48 sounds like The Stranglers. It’s all a bit incoherent and throwaway, but coming in at less than two and a half minutes it’s not a trial to listen to. It actually works ok as an album segue piece, but taken out of that context it’s not terribly inspiring. 5/10

Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot
Now this is more like it. Definitely one to add to the ‘titles that could only be The Fall’s’, it’s a slow, brooding track with a controlled, sinister-sounding Smith performance. The album version is very good, but the Peel version is even better. It’s looser, more raw and jagged, and even on repeat doesn’t feel like anything as long as its nine minutes. 9/10

Legend Of Xanadu
Like A Day In The Life, this is a 60s cover done for an NME compilation. And I wouldn’t say it’s a great deal more successful. It’s thin-sounding, the repetitive synth noise is rather irritating and the whole thing sounds as if it was knocked out pretty quickly and carelessly. And while you don’t go to The Fall for melodic crooning, MES is woefully tuneless here. Have to confess I found this a little irksome on repeat. 4/10

Insult Song
This one gets its fair share of criticism; most of, in my opinion, fairly justified. It’s a loose-limbed jam sort of affair; sort of like funky Beefheart. Over the top of it, MES improvises (it would appear) a random little tale about the current members of the group. Listening to this batch, I actually enjoyed this one a little more than I expected, though. It’s got an enjoyable, skewed groove to it, and some of MES’s delivery brings a smile (especially the ‘white line fever-wah-wah’ at 1:44). That said, it is rather self-indulgent; an off the cuff studio jam that doesn’t really have enough invention to sustain its nearly seven minutes. Each time I played it, I enjoyed it for around four minutes or so, but then found myself wanting it to fade out. 6/10

Gotta See Jane
Another cover: it’s a fairly straight rendition of R Dean Taylor’s 1967 song, and for me works much better than Xanadu. The bass line is simplified to an almost metronomic role, and the guitar is also a pretty simplistic strum, but this gives the track a nicely rough and ready appeal. And whilst MES does stray from the melody a little from time to time, it’s one of those where his off-key approach works really well. Not exactly a must-hear, but I’ve always been fond of it and found it one of the better moments in a somewhat patchy batch this time. 7.5/10

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The Fall in Fives #050

  • No Xmas For John Quays
  • Iceland
  • Gross Chapel – British Grenadiers
  • He Pep!
  • Zagreb

Real excitement at Fi5 Towers this week, as Mr Stephen Hanley liked the last blog post on Twitter. Even my better half was impressed (even if she did have have to ask, ‘Which one’s he again?) So, on the slim chance that you’re reading this one as well Mr H, many thanks for the like and my hat goes off to you for the many many examples of god-like genius bass playing that have been a pretty consistent feature of this blog… (And I thought the book was very good too.)

No Xmas For John Quays
If SH should happen to be reading, I’m somewhat relieved that the one track in this batch that I dislike is one that he didn’t play on. For those who have been reading this blog, you will already know that – whilst there are several examples of songs I love from the late 70s – I have a tendency to recoil from the (to my ears) bog standard shouty punk stuff. This is a prime example…

It’s the chorus that does my head in. The intro and the frantic, discordant verses aren’t too bad, but the chorus…

When I was about 14, there was a punk band in my school sixth form called (I think) The Resonators, who I saw play at their leavers’ assembly plus a performance at the local youth club disco. They played lot of Pistols, Damned, etc. covers, plus a handful of turgid, uninspired shoutalong ‘originals’. This sounds like one of the latter.  And it goes over the four minute mark. Painful. 2/10

Iceland
An altogether different prospect… Featuring the only (?) appearance of a banjo in a Fall song, this is a curious but fascinating beast. It’s lengthy and based in repetition (Scanlon must have had quite some discipline to play those two notes on the piano all the way through) but it’s very different to tracks like Cash & Carry or Winter. There’s a far more improvisational atmosphere to this one. Improvisation is a tricky affair: I’ve listened to a lot of tracks that use extemporisation  to soar to new heights of creativity; but I’ve also heard a lot that descend far too quickly into self-indulgent nonsense. Iceland is definitely one of the former. What really works, for me, is the tension it creates. You can almost feel all of the group looking at each other across the studio to gauge where things are going; there’s a dynamism about how they are all responding and reacting to each other.

Basically, it’s bloody marvellous; and it provides, for me, a welcome change of pace in the relentless (albeit excellent) onslaught of Hex. There are quotations from several much more erudite reviews here, which are very much worth reading. In particular, you should read the Hip Priestess‘ review, which concludes with: “Iceland” is beguiling but, in its own way, is also every bit as uninhabitable as the rest of “Hex”, it just unsettles in a different way, its gentle insistence developing into something more creepy, like an aging crabby hand on your arm, keeping you sat exactly where you are until its owner, sat on the bar stool next to yours, decides otherwise.” 9.5/10

Gross Chapel – British Grenadiers
Another brooding, atmospheric song, and another excellent one. The scene is set, as ever, by SH, with Craig Scanlon adding an understated, hypnotic guitar riff throughout. Although less extemporaneous than Iceland, there’s still a vice-like grip on mood and tone. The whole thing sounds like it’s going to erupt at any time, but – like Hip Priest – the group avoid any crescendo-ish clichés. As the song beds down around the six minute mark, you almost will it to burst free and thrash it out; the fact that it doesn’t is testament to their disregard for rock tropes and their understanding of effective dynamics. In fact, the megaphone-delivered ‘I’ll put you down’ is as good a conclusion as you’ll ever hear.

And I haven’t even started on the lyrical meaning; I can’t imagine I’d have much to add to what’s here. But I do know that I found this quite moving; more so each time I listened to it. I can’t quite put my finger on why this song provoked such a reaction in me. All I know is that every time it finished I had a hunger to listen to it again. 10/10

He Pep!
I have stated before that if you boiled down the best bits of LUS then you’d get the most amazing 40-45 minute album. This one would be very much part of it.

There’s a relentless, angry and confrontational edge to it: the guitars are loud and choppy; there’s an aggressive tone to the keyboard oscillations; and MES is sharp and distorted. Also, I’ve mentioned several times that Brix’s backing vocals are hit and miss for me; here though, they are spot on. This is particularly true of the Peel version. They are neither treacly (like C.R.E.E.P.) nor overly shrill (like Darling); there’s just something urgent and raw about them here that really works. The Peel version also boasts a snaky, almost funky intro that also works to great effect. And ‘stop clogging my system up’ is yet another one of those lines that is brilliantly delivered in the way that only MES can do. At some point, there’s a lengthy mix to be made out of both versions and Oxymoron. When I get round to it; I can already hear how good it might sound. 9.5/10

 Zagreb
The versions I have of this split it up into various ‘movements’ (I – III), but movement I is just a 30 second snippet of the main riff. The delay-heavy guitar line is extremely reminiscent of  something (suggestions welcome), but I can never put my finger on what it might be. In a sense, this track sort of reminds me of Mogwai: there’s a tension around the repetition of the chord that produces a sense of relief and almost euphoria when the change eventually comes (e.g. at 1:52). It does have a slightly 90s indie dance vibe to it, but without sounding generic; certainly less so than much of Shift-Work. Pretty damn good, now that I’ve listened to it a few times. 8/10

The Fall in Fives #049

  • Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe
  • I’m a Mummy
  • Ed’s Babe
  • All Leave Cancelled
  • Words of Expectation

Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe
Not entirely sure that this warrants an entry of its own to be honest, being as it’s just a minute-long intro to the Peel session version of Green-Eyed Loco Man. That said, it’s quite a fun and bouncy little number as far as it goes. Groovin’ is a cover of an instrumental 1970s one-hit wonder by Wind (you can hear it here). The harmonica melody is the focus of the original, but this (played on a keyboard/organ) is much less prominent on The Fall’s version, which centres on a twangy guitar line. It’s quite entertaining, especially MES’s (presumably) improvised contribution and some rather odd interjections from Elena and others. Not exactly essential, but fun. 6/10

I’m a Mummy
One of the group’s more successful covers, in my opinion. As is often the case with The Fall, it’s from a pretty obscure source: a 1959 single by Bob McFadden & Dor. You can hear it – plus another 1959 version by ‘Bubi & Bob’ – here. Both are entertainingly bizarre, and manage the remarkable feat of making The Fall’s version sound quite ‘straight’ in comparison.

What is odd about The Fall version is how out of place it sounds on Levitate. Even the album’s fans (and I count myself – with a couple of reservations – as one of those) would have to admit that it’s not exactly a happy sounding album. On this, though, MES and the band sound like they’re having a great laugh. It’s tongue in cheek without being throwaway, and makes even a non-dancer like myself tap a toe and bob the head. There’s a good, in-depth review of the song here that’s well worth reading. 7.5/10

Ed’s Babe
Falls in to the ‘I’d pretty much forgotten that this one existed’ category. The production is a little curious, making it sound like some of the instrumentation might have been recorded underwater. It’s a pleasant enough poppy little number, but pretty unremarkable. The ‘DIY’ backing vocal is the most memorable thing about it; but I kind of forgot what it sounded it like each time until it come around again on the playlist. 5.5/10

All Leave Cancelled
If you’re not a fan of late-period Fall, you’re not going to like this. Not for the first time, Dave Spurr holds everything together with a blunt, muscular bass line; and it’s just as well he does, as there’s not a great deal else to hang on to in this one. All else is chaos: a complete maelstrom of swirling and squelchy synths, jagged, distorted effects-laden guitar and MES ranting and snarling about whatever happened to have got his goat that day. And, because of all this, it’s bloody marvellous – another one that benefits greatly from extreme volume. (And also another one that tend to make your wife politely enquire as to whether you could turn that awful noise down.) The alternate, instrumental version (“X”) is a lot more sparse and controlled and rounds the Wise Ol’ Man EP off very nicely indeed. 8/10

Words of Expectation
And this one falls into the ‘why haven’t I listened to this more often’ category. It’s a lengthy, repetitive beast in the vein of Cash & Carry or Winter, and just as Dave Spurr often did in later years, Steve Hanley holds this one together with a heavy, basic bass line (with the occasional flourish). It’s also another one of those where MES gives himself free rein to expound on a range of seemingly random topics; it’s also another one of those full of choice lines, like ‘the roof of my mouth sticks to the tip of my tongue’ and ‘if we carry on like this we’re gonna end up like King Crimson’. Nine minutes of anyone’s life well spent. 9/10

The Fall in Fives #048

  • Joker Hysterical Face
  • Funnel of Love
  • 2nd Dark Age
  • Victrola Time
  • Eat Y’self Fitter

Joker Hysterical Face
Thus far, there have been several albums that have not previously been among my favourites but whose individual tracks have fared better through this process than I might have expected – MCR and Hex spring to mind, for example. Room To Live has been a particularly notable example of this phenomenon. While it has its fans, it has frequently been evaluated as a rushed, underdeveloped effort, and I have always pretty much gone along with that. However, Detective Instinct, Papal Visit and Marquis Cha Cha were all a much more positive experience than I might have forecast…

…and this continues with Joker. I’ve never disliked it at all, but it never felt like anything special. But having heard it on repeat, I can confirm that it is indeed great. It’s a sprightly and exuberant track, propelled by a laid-back but effective loping guitar line and some really nice twiddly bits, to use a technical term. MES sounds like he’s having a lot of fun, and the slightly awkward transition into the chorus (e.g. at 1:16) is classic Fall. Not sure what Ted Rogers did to incur Smith’s wrath though (I loved 3-2-1 when I was a kid). A joyful surprise. 8/10

Funnel of Love
I have to confess that I’ve always had a bit of downer on this song. This is simply because I absolutely love all the rest of YFOC, and have always felt that Funnel lets it down a little, and stops the album from being that rarest of beasts – a Fall album that’s top-notch all the way through. I have frequently referred to it as ‘half-arsed’. However, taken out of the context of the album, it’s actually not too shabby at all. It’s not their most inspired moment, but it’s a pretty solid 60s psychedelic-ish cover. Surprisingly enjoyable. 7/10

2nd Dark Age
I’ve always had a soft spot for Marc Riley. After splitting up from my first wife, the night I moved into my new flat (my first ever bachelor pad) I had his 6Music show on the radio and, on a whim, emailed him to say how much I’d enjoyed it and how it was a comfort to listen to during a difficult time. Later that night – much later; I suspect he’d been down the pub – I received a lovely and quite lengthy reply from him. I mention this because his backing vocals on this were slightly startling to me, because they’re so obviously him. By this, I mean that they’re clearly identifiable as him; they’re very close to his speaking/DJ voice. Which is something I’m only really used to via The Shirehorses stuff.

It’s instantly identifiable as late 70s Fall (although it was released in January 1980, I know) by the keyboard sound. It is – by the standards of this era Fall – a pretty accessible, even poppy track. The descending guitar line is actually quite reminiscent of Leave The Capitol and has a similarly early REM-ish feel. Another one that I enjoyed more than I expected. 7/10

Victrola Time
This one is a cracker. The krautrocky intro, with the sci-fi synths and incredibly squelchy bass is a delight. On my own ‘version’ of the album, I extended this extravagantly, making the whole thing 6+ minutes by looping several sections of it. (I have referenced my ‘versions’ on a few occasions: basically, I use Audacity to mix each album to two 20ish minute tracks; skipping the ones I don’t like, sometimes extending the ones I love and often including contemporary b-sides etc. that perhaps should have been on there.)

And who else but MES would get away with that opening vocal, such a deranged nonsensical shriek? Like I said, a cracker; and one of those that really needs to be turned up very loud. 9/10

Eat Y’self Fitter
This just is The Fall. If you know what I mean, then you’ll know what I mean, if you know what I mean. It’s gloriously stupid and ridiculous. Musically, it sounds like a bunch of people picking up their instruments for the very first time. My wife – who, I think we have established is not a Fall fan – thinks that this track epitomises everything that’s wrong with the group: there’s no tune; it’s excessively, lengthily repetitive; the lyrics are just stupid. And you know what? She’s absolutely right. Everything she says is absolutely, gloriously true. If you can’t get this, you’ll never get any of it, properly. Plus, ‘What’s a computer?’ still makes me laugh out to this day. Plus plus, Peel chose this one (presumably after hours of deliberation) to represent The Fall on Desert Island Discs.

The Peel version is also marvellous: a bit more full sounding, ragged and raucous, and MES’s vocal is slap bang right in your face; just a shame that the backing vocals seem to have been recorded from a neighbouring building.

Whatever era you love the best, you just have to come back to this one. 10/10

 

The Fall in Fives #047

  • 986 Generator
  • Hit the North
  • Fibre Book Troll/Facebook Troll
  • Ketamine Sun
  • Taurig

I have touched on the issue of context on several occasions in this blog, and this batch is another that brings me back to the topic. Good mixes – whether they be single or multi-artist – are a bit of an art form, and there’s something indescribably pleasing about listening to – or indeed compiling – a mix that works, that just flows well. (Making mixes is rather a hobby of mine – if you are at all interested in instrumental/experimental/electronica/post-rock/ambient stuff, then I have a few uploaded here.)

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that these five flowed really nicely as a playlist. I wouldn’t describe all of them as absolute top-notch favourites, but as a set of five they worked extremely well.

986 Generator
Although MES might have memorably sung about the ‘Fall sound’, to a large extent there is – his voice excepted – no such thing. That’s not to say that there aren’t some tracks that are instantly recognisable as being the group; strip the vocals from Hex, for example, and I don’t think anyone with more than a passing interest in indie/alternative music would struggle to identify that it was The Fall. However, one of the great joys of this back catalogue is the sheer diversity of the musical styles the group deployed (just having had a quick look through the list, sets #004 and #010 are good examples).

Within the context of all that, if you remove MES, 986 really doesn’t much sound like The Fall. It’s a lengthy, loping murky blues stomp that sounds like a mixture of Gomez, Beefheart and Blind Faith, featuring slide guitar, mandolin and a repetitive, twangy bluesy guitar line. And it’s great, especially when it breaks out into a full-on noisy stomp in the last couple of minutes.

What’s it about? God knows, although smoking and drinking seem to feature. What actually is a 986 generator? The A-Z page points to this search result, which is less than enlightening if you don’t happen to be a mechanical engineer or something related. Whatever, it’s a unique entry in the Fall canon, and a very enjoyable one at that. 9/10

Hit the North
I have to confess that I wasn’t that keen on this one at the time. Not that I disliked it especially, but it was a little poppy and commercial for my tastes. However, its placement between 986 and Troll suited it to perfection and allowed it to shine. It has a charming exuberance and energy to it; it does sound a little dated, but in a pleasingly nostalgic kind of way. The parping keyboard/sax riff (and you won’t find a more 80s keyboard sound than this) give it a joyful party atmosphere, as do the occasional cowboy-style whoops and yee-haws. A great video as well (see below), with MES’s funky dancing (and even funkier shirt) and the bemused but enthusiastic participation of the working men’s club patrons being particular highlights. Lots of fun. 8/10

Fibre Book Troll/Facebook Troll
If any of you listen along to the songs while reading these blog entries, you’l be starting to see, I hope, what a varied and well-balanced playlist this is. (I can’t take any credit for that, the whole thing having been compiled via a random list generator.) After a blues jam and a bit of 80s synth-pop, we move into full 21st century heavy Fall rock mode.

All the tropes of late-period Fall are here: the heavy krautrock rhythm, distorted guitar riff, the squelchy evil-sounding synths, the sense of a basic song idea being thrashed to within an inch of its life… And of course, its unmistakably 2010s MES; but its also a particularly furious Smith performance. The words themselves (where you can make them out) aren’t particularly clear in themselves, but his antipathy to anything internet-related is well known and the overall sentiment and feeling behind the song is abundantly clear in the angry, distorted rant. There’s also an effective little breakdown around halfway though, featuring some nice tremolo flourishes from Greenway. I have to confess I always skip the minute or so of whistling that sits rather incongruously at the end; I’m not a big fan of whistling.

The version from the Wise Ol’ Man EP (Facebook Troll) is also worth owning. (For the purposes of this playlist, I lopped No Xmas off the end, and it’s all the better for it in my opinion.) It’s a little less coherent and fully formed, but ups the distortion to good effect. 9/10

Ketamine Sun
With all the same provisos outlined above, this track, like 986, doesn’t really sound like The Fall. In fact, you could almost imagine this as the sort of slow-burn epic album closer that might have been deployed by one of the higher profile indie outfits from a few years ago, such as Supergrass or the Boo Radleys. Indeed, once MES has done a bit of lo-fi recitation, he even sings it in a reasonably orthodox (if occasionally slightly tuneless) fashion.

I must confess I was ignorant of the song’s debt to Lou Reed’s Kill Your Sons until I read about it on the A-Z page. Sun has a dark, moody atmosphere to it, which is complemented well by MES’s laid back but menacing drawl. It also benefits hugely from having the hugely irritating (but more on that later) Octo Realm chopped off the beginning. (As an aside, the ‘chopping off’ is done with Audacity, which is in my humble opinion simply the best free download that there is.)

For those listening along, I hope you’ll agree that this one again fits in really well on a diverse and entertaining playlist; but it’s a strong one on its own too. 8.5/10

Taurig
A bit of pissing-about electronica that’s kind of fun and doesn’t outstay its welcome. It certainly played its part in making this such an enjoyable selection (the second highest average score so far, just being pipped by #021), slotting in nicely between Sun and 986 with the playlist on repeat. However, let’s not get too carried away: it’s one to enjoy occasionally when it pops up on shuffle, rather than listen to regularly. 6/10

The Fall in Fives #046

  • Tempo House
  • C’ n’ C-S.Mithering
  • Ride Away
  • White Line Fever
  • Wings

Tempo House
I’ve always found this one a bit of a frustration. Not because it’s a poor song – it’s a great one – but because there isn’t a proper studio version. (Well, there is a demo version on the Three Flabby Wings bootleg, but the sound quality is pretty grim.) The version on PBL is not a terrible recording (there a dozens of official live releases that are far, far worse) but it would be great to hear a ‘proper’ finished version.

It’s a great, lumbering beast of a song; as ever, held together by a simple but exemplary bass riff – and SH also produces some excellent flourishes throughout. It’s one of those tracks where the group hit a repetitive groove that’s utterly hypnotic and never dull. Even on repeat, it always seems shorter than its nine minutes. 8.5/10

C’ n’ C-S.Mithering
I have sort  of written about this song already (in #013), but this actually is a ‘proper version’. And it’s absolutely classic early 80s Fall. A minimal – even by their standards – two note riff bangs away relentlessly while MES rattles out an almost exhausting tirade of abuse at several hundred things that annoy him (‘The things that drain you off and drive you off the hinge’). Even people mowing their lawn on a Sunday get a bashing. And then, of course, there’s the classic ‘See yer mate… yeah, see yer mate’. Marvellous 10/10

Ride Away
This one gets a lot of stick, and while I do understand why, I’ve always been quite fond of it. I really enjoy the silliness of it, and Smith’s perverse decision to open the album with it. Everything about it is ridiculous: the bontempi organ 2-step drumbeat, the parping oompah bass, the choppy guitar chords, the stylophone-esque keyboard… And MES rather sounds like he’s having a lot of fun with it. It did start to wear a little after three or four plays, and I wouldn’t hold it up as a prime example of quality Fall by any means. But it is kind of fun. 7/10

White Line Fever
This, on the other hand, is not quite so much fun. Half-arsed doesn’t even begin to do it justice. Drunken country karaoke, and actually much less fun than that might sound. 4/10

Wings
This is much more like it. The Fall A-Z is absolutely spot on to describe this as ‘one of The Fall’s greatest riffs’. A relentless rhythm, grinding guitar and MES snarling away viciously. Like C&C, absolutely prime 80s Fall and one of those that needs to be turned up loud.  9/10

 

The Fall in Fives #045

  • Ludd Gang
  • Bury!
  • My New House
  • The Mixer/The Re-Mixer
  • Get a Hotel

 

Ludd Gang
With a back catalogue as extensive as The Fall’s, it’s not surprising that – even for the avid listener – there are some songs that kind of pass you by over the years. For me, this is one of them; for no particular reason, it’s just always evaded my attention. It’s an interesting one, in that it’s not easily identifiable, era-wise. But somehow I’ve just never connected with it. It’s obviously not a bad song in any way; but every time I listen to it, a few minutes later I’ve forgotten what it sounded like. Which is odd. Also, I’m no Shakin’ Stevens fan, but I have to say I’ve never felt the urge to ‘land one on him’. I know of people who love this one, who will undoubtedly be offended by my indifference. Sorry. 6/10

Bury!
It’s easy to see why this one had an unusually long shelf-life on The Fall set list (162 outings, apparently). It’s a joyful, muscular bruiser of a stomp that you can clearly imagine the moshpit bouncing along to sweatily. It starts off (the album version anyway) with a minute and half or so of exceptionally lo-fi recording; it makes my childhood cheap-cassette-player-with-built-in-mic recordings of TOTP and the Top 40 sound positively quadraphonic in comparison. But when it kicks in properly, it’s a blistering performance from the group and MES. Smith’s delivery is excellent, perfectly timed, and sits right where it should in the mix: prominent and utterly the focal point; whilst fighting to be heard over the guitar at points – but always winning. There’s a delightful set of random phrases – ‘the milk of my elbow’, ‘left-handed CD’, ‘you will suffer all the seasons on the sides of municipal buildings’ – but you have to question what historical source he used to back up his claim that ‘one day a Spanish king with a council of bad knaves tried to come to Bury.’

Some intriguing background sounds, as well: laser guns, someone trying to tune in an old AM radio and various gurgles and oscillations. Absolutely the business; another one to turn up as loud as it goes. 10/10

My New House
A rare appearance for the acoustic guitar, but it sets up a vintage repetitive, slightly discordant riff in the best Fall tradition. So much to love about this one: its relentlessness, despite being ramshackle to the point of sounding likely to fall apart at any moment; Smith’s gleeful whoops on several of the exclamations of ‘seeee my new house’; the odd, almost mistimed cymbals in the ‘chorus’; the grinding Beefheartesque guitar lurking in the background… I could go on. And to top it all, one of my favourite MES lyrics: ‘I bought it off the Baptists / I get their bills / And I get miffed’. Just genius, the whole thing. 10/10

The Mixer/The Re-Mixer
I think we’ve already established that this is not my favourite era Fall, and the rave/trance/Ibiza-ish intro has never really endeared this track to me particularly. The castanets and the handclap-effect rhythm track don’t do much for me either. That said, there is a potentially good song lurking in here somewhere: the contrast of the somewhat melancholy violin part with the indie-dance rhythm is interesting, and the megaphone-style vocals add a little bit of welcome variety. The Peel version is also slightly better: the bass guitar is more prominent, and it makes more effective use of the megaphone. The Re-Mixer (unsurprisingly) emphasises the dance elements and outstays its welcome a little (although MES contributes an intriguing little dialogue at the end) . Not awful, but it suffers in a big way from comparison to the previous two. 5.5/10

Get a Hotel
Although I don’t dislike it particularly, I’m not a huge fan of Frenz. There are certainly a few things I really like, and not much I actively dislike, but much of it feels a bit sparse and empty and almost soulless to me. I’ve always been a little ambivalent about this one; it sounds like a rough sketch/idea rather than a ‘proper’ song and it does have that kind of ‘cold’ feel to it. I did quite enjoy it though: it was a pleasant contrast to House and Bury. But I would definitely file it under OK, and it’s not one I’ve ever felt moved to put on any mixes/compilations. 6/10