The Fall

58 Golden Greats cherry red

Classic Rock - - Reviews - nick hasted

Re­cal­ci­trant anti-ca­reer made co­her­ent by ex­panded ‘best of’.

“Re­mem­ber Wood­stock,” Mark E Smith re­marks dur­ing 2013’s The Re­main­derer, in a phlegmyvoiced re­tort to the very no­tion of nos­tal­gia.

This three-disc up­date of the land­mark Fall com­pi­la­tion 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong ac­cord­ingly wastes lit­tle time with sen­ti­ment a year on from Smith’s death, but it does make clear sense of a ram­bling, un­invit­ing cat­a­logue.

Disc One builds a pro­to­type which owes more to Wil­liam Bur­roughs, Beef­heart and Sal­ford than to London or New York punk. The para­noid in­er­tia of the blocked au­thor in How I Wrote ‘Elas­tic Man’ shows Smith’s early tal­ent for ab­surd fic­tional sketches, as its askew groove leads into the nerve­jan­gling am­phet­a­mine clat­ter of To­tally Wired. Mid­dle years of mi­nor com­mer­cial suc­cess cli­max with 1992’s Free Range, with Smith glee­fully proph­esy­ing bad news over fuzzed-up, widescreen vis­tas like a grunge-era Moses.

Disc Three finds him phys­i­cally shrunken by his ex­cesses, and his writ­ing re­duced to her­metic, hi­lar­i­ous mut­ters (‘I had to wank off the cat to feed the fuck­ing dog’), while the lat­ter-day Fall rum­ble on re­gard­less. In these last years Smith be­came a vaguely rep­re­hen­si­ble, al­most in­de­struc­tible em­bod­i­ment of pri­mal, per­sonal rock’n’roll.

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