Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Fall - Totale's Turns (It's Now or Never)

Totale's Turns (It's Now or Never) (1980) ***

"The difference between you and us is that we have brains," Mark E. infamously baits the audience during the brief band-intro before they rip into "Fiery Jack."  The difference I notice is that live the Fall are even more sloppily raw and cacophonous than in the studio, which is to be expected but still saying something: even by Fall standards, stretches of this sound like little more than the musicians banging and crashing into each other while Mark E. rants on top of the free-form noise.  It's a mighty wind, to be sure, but certainly shouldn't be a neophyte's intro the Fall:  the album sounds as cheap and shitty as it looks.  Now this being the Fall those are not necessarily slurs but recommendations.  I said not necessarily; the bloody rawness carries excitement but, yeah, as you might expect some of this can be pretty rough going.  I have no intention of reviewing all of the 50,000 crappy and not-so-crappy live releases of the Fall, legit and semi-legit and completely illegit, but I'll make an exception for this because:

a) It's their first live album
b) For years it was one of the few easily obtainable (that is, obtainable, period) Fall records available in the U.S.
c) It's a pretty good set, even though at that point they only had two albums out, and the band rock out if not live at Leeds at least live at some northern England industrial go-nowhere shithole
d) There are three new studio tracks

The studio tracks come near the end.  "Cary Grant's Wedding," sounds like it could be live, though, it's so under-rehearsed and noisily raw, and this time those aren't compliments.  Much better is 'That Man," the first catchily melodic Fall pop song.  It's an outtake from Dragnet and I can see why it wasn't included, as its sprightly jingle wouldn't have fit onto that dark LP's mood at all; anyway, it's nice to shake hands with it here, and I don't think you can find it anywhere else.  You can even have fun changing the chorus to "Batman, he loves you!"  There's a extremely, extremely, extremely lo-fi home recording of "New Puritan," that literally sounds like Mark E. was recording it while cowering under a toilet.  It's probably not a version I'd like to listen to more than twice, as the more widely available Peel session version is much, much superior, but Fall completists, go for it.   As for the remaining half hour of live rant, I think I already described it, didn't I?  What do you want, a tracklisting?  Aside from the hilarious intro quoted in the first sentence, Top 3 ad lib moments from Mark E.: 

1) "Are you doing what you did two years ago? Yeah?! Well... don't make a career out of it."
2) "Will you fucking get it together instead of showing off?" Mark yells mid-song during "No Xmas for John Quays," at either the bass player or drummer (maybe both)
3) Mid-way through "Rowche Rumble," he alters the chorus to, "The promoter is a jerk!  The promoter is a jerk!"

1 comment:

  1. Ah my favourite Fall album. It shouldn't be, I know, but it really is.
    I laugh all the way through it, not just at Mark Smith's mad ramblings which you mentioned above, but also at his lyrics and at the wonderful, unpolished, shambolic-ness of it all.