- Don’t take the Pizza
- The City Never Sleeps
- Fall Sound
I must confess that I had no idea that Australians in Europe was quite so loved! It’s certainly the review that’s provoked the most reaction thus far, a few people suggesting my faculties must be impaired, especially in light of giving Spencer full marks. I do understand why the latter is not many people’s idea of a 10/10 song; that said, I still love it unreservedly. Anyway, before putting playlist #070 on, I did give Australians a few extra listens this morning. And perhaps I was a little harsh. To return to the theme of context, it’s interesting how some songs that I’ve hitherto considered to be ‘middling’ or unremarkable have fared differently depending on the selection they find themselves in: some have fared poorly because the accompanying songs are much stronger and they therefore pale in comparison; others have been ‘pulled up’ by being part of a really enjoyable playlist. Australians seemed to suffer from being part of a somewhat dodgy batch in which, for me, it failed to make a case for being anything other than a middling effort.
That said, the extra listens this morning did convince me that I had erred on the side of negativity, so I’ve gone back and bumped it up to 6/10. I remain largely indifferent to its appeal though, so apologies to its fans. But I was never going to please all of the people etc. with this blog, was I?
Don’t take the Pizza
We start this selection with a bit of a curio; an often-overlooked track that appeared on the High Tension Line 12″, and hasn’t (in comparison to many similar songs) made its way onto many of the multitude of random compilations that have emerged over the years.
Its most notable feature is the bouncy bass line, which sounds rather like a sped-up version of Oh! Brother. There are also a couple of places where it reminds me of the never-released Ponto, for example ‘slumber’ at 0:26. There’s a nice scuzzy guitar dipping in and out, and a few pleasing bits of haunting, floaty keyboard hovering in the background; plus we get a brief burst of (rather hesitantly blown) harmonica right at the end (2:25).
MES sounds pretty sharp, enunciating even the more rapid sections relatively clearly. Some great lines too, such as ‘You dopey randy acid clone’. There are a few suggestions as to the song’s meaning on The Annotated Fall, but I’ll go with bzfgt’s verdict that it’s ‘well-nigh impenetrable’.
Enjoyed this more than I expected to, and it rather grew on me. Having said that, it does feel like it has ‘b-side’ written all over it. There’s just something slightly insubstantial about it. 6.5/10
I have referred several times to the excellent 40-45 minute album lurking within the unfortunately bloated and overlong Light User Syndrome; this one would definitely be in that line-up alongside He Pep!, Hostile and Oxymoron. It’s frantic, melodramatic and urgent; driven by a trio of complementary guitars (an insistent, alarm-like chime, a choppy low-end rhythm and some fuzzy power chords), a simple, driving piano melody and a solid, reverberating bass part from SH. In addition, the way that the group launch into an extra-gusto passage at 2:13 is sublime (this also preceded by some lovely little controlled bursts of feedback from the ‘power-chord’ guitar).
There’s not much of a traditional song structure; in a sense it’s a three minute verse where the chorus never arrives. But it doesn’t need it: it’s perfectly paced and suits MES’s staccato interjections to a tee. (I’m very fond of his ‘ah-ha’ at 1:15 in particular.) In fact, you can’t help feeling that there are a couple more minutes left in this one. And should you listen to the version from the Cheetham Hill compilation, you get exactly that – it featuring an extended instrumental passage with some intriguing Twilight Zone-style keyboards. Worth checking out (see the video below). As is the Peel version, which is a little more loose and spacey and less urgent (although Brix’s scream at 2:04 is a little alarming), but still very satisfying. 9/10
The City Never Sleeps
There are no two ways about it: this is bloody awful. It’s twee, flat-footed and features a salesman in a 1980s Dixons demonstrating all the features of their latest Casio keyboard. To say it doesn’t sound like The Fall is an understatement; but it doesn’t even sound like bad Fall, it just sounds bad. Bad like a Chumbawumba b-side. No offence intended to Lucy Rimmer, who can obviously sing (although not, on this evidence, in a style that’s much to my taste). The original is a saccharine piece of 60s kitsch that I find rather tiresome as well, but it’s not in the league of this unmitigated disaster. 0/10
Back on track. A deep, fuzzy bass line (very much a relative of Reformation!) takes a relentless grip from the word go, and it’s admirably supported by a bluesy guitar part and some meandering synth oscillations. MES full of gusto here, and while there is a touch of that ‘disassociation’ that I’ve noted on other RPTLC tracks (you can easily imagine him recording the vocals totally separately from the group) he meshes well with the driving blues-rock groove. He’s full of snarl and defiance, right in your face; and there are some wonderful shouts, growls and… well, I’m not quite sure exactly how to describe the noise he makes at 0:23 (perhaps a mutated version of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman purr) but it all hangs together fabulously in a fashion that ought to make you want to hike the volume. 9/10
Very much an introductory piece – although not a filler/p*ss-take in the style of Mollusc or Interferance – it’s quite hard to assess this one out of context. On its own, it’s not much more than a brief, twangy instrumental with some spooky/sci-fi overtones (and it was clearly lifted from this). That said, it holds fond memories for me, as it was the introduction to the first ‘proper’ Fall album I ever bought. Which, purely on a nostalgia basis, gains it an 8/10