Monday, February 13, 2012

The Fall - Middle Class Revolt

You're sleeping with some hippie halfwit who thinks he is Mr. Mark Smith

Middle Class Revolt (1994) ***1/2

Hey, this ain't half bad!  And half-good is roughly accurate:  Fall fans may not agree on much, but they seem to agree that about half the songs here are a return to prime Fallform, while the other half range from the disposable to the crap to the band's-a-phonin'-it-in.  Which makes for a much better album than you'd expect, as with 15 tracks you'd expect at least a mild amount of dross.  I say tracks not songs because "Symbol of Mordgan," is perhaps the most useless of three minutes committed to a Fall tape, consisting of nothing more than guitarist Craig Scanlon and John Peel discussing football.  And unintelligibly, too boot.  It's the pro forma "experimental" track.  "The experimental is now conventional!"  Remember when you uttered those words in 1980, Mark?  So please spare us these "experimental" tracks that are not , in fact, experimental, but merely nothing more than tired old ways to annoy.

There are three covers, none of which I have heard the originals:

1) "War" (Henry Cow) - Weird!  Weird!  I'm not sure if I like it but I like it!  Mark adds a whole bunch of lyrics.

2) "Junk Man" (Groundhogs) - Sucks!  But I guess so does the original.   What I'm saying is that what've heard of the Groundhogs sucks.

3) "Shut Up!" (Monks) - Another Monks cover? Haven't the Fall done half a dozen of these?  This one's great fun!  They bring cheesy Farfisa up to the cheesy electronica age!

Of the originals, the openers, "15 Ways," and "Reckoning," are practically the same song - oh, different songs, with different lyrics and melodies and all, but performed in the same laidback jangly-pop style with nearly the same arrangement.  The first is about leaving your lover and the second is about your lover leaving you.  I assume both are autobiographical.  "15 Ways," was the MTV hit (they played it a couple of times on 120 Minutes at 1:15 A.M., Standard Eastern Time).  "Hey! Student," is the punkiest they've rocked in years, albeit in a clean, punchy, totally noise-free way (but very very rhythmic - feel that bass slap you upside the head).  No surprise - it's a rewrite of a '77 Falloldie, "Hey! Fascist".  They save three of the strongest tracks for last.  I've already mentioned the techno-carnival version of "Shut Up!" which closes the album on a nitrous oxide note.  The Zappa-esque "The $500 Bottle of Wine," comes across as a bit fratboyish in its drunken singalong chorus, but it is a catchy fratboy chorus, and Mark's closing admonition to, "Get down the fucking liquor store, boy," makes the tune.  Then there's the album's strongest and most musically forward-looking track, "City Dweller," a protest concerning Manchester's aborted Olympics city host bid, that in a more open-minded world would be dropped by progressive-minded DJs at clubhouses from Singapore to Southampton.

There are some other songs on this disc, and some of them are kinda good, but I'm too bored to discuss them.  Like most late-period Fall albums, there's way too much too much - 15 songs?  I could've done with half those.

1 comment:

  1. My favourites on this are M5#1 and Behind the Counter. Home come you don't mention them, eh?