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Decline and The Fall

McGonagles, Dublin 1982

Hot Press (Issue 1-14th April '82)

Review By Bill Graham

(Special thanks to John O'Grady for sending me this review)

I don't agree with Neil McCormick's estimate of The Fall (as elaborated in his review of 'Hex Enduction' last issue) but I can empathesise with his reasons. 'Hex Enduction' benefits from the second-guess environment of the studio and Richard Mazda's clipped incisive production. At McGonagle's, they didn't have such amenities. I've heard the album so I can't agree with Neil but if I had only caught them at that date, my opinions could have been reversed

Untangle the threads of two themes. First we've got another species of art-damaged rock. It isn't yet as pernicious as the now rightly condemned, ghastly and misconceived seizure of classical effects by 70's rockers but it's potentially as dangerous because less forthright and identifiable. Concept is all and though The Fall muscle out their space of independence, they aren't untouched by the syndrome. Methinks their audience is highly willing to join the numbers of submit The Fall to the definitions of "ART". Do I detect a mutual flattery?.

The comments only made because certain shared assumptions that promote The Fall as folk-artists of the new industrial age (or whatever else caption their fans decide they're trading under this week) allow them to present a lazy set that makes a fetish of their poverty.

In the beginning, The Ramones re-ordered the live set, dedicating themselves to furiously concentrated onslought. Now bands faced with a backlog of material can't be so economic, but if dry ice and all such technoflash mannerisms have been prudently foresworn, no new disciples have been developed. Instead they're neither primitive nor polished. Just like The Fall, who started with grating relish, then got exhausting.

I got sucked in and then began to lose it as they stuck in the same gear. Mark Smith slyly operated against their savage patchwork and by 'Hip Priest' he had caused much provocation with a punky sector of the audience who objected to this tourists jeers. From her vantage point at the mixing desk, Fall Manager Kay Carroll alternately cursed and cheered as the unbelievers threatened pre-emptive action. Some cad won partial revenge as Smith's tape recorder vanished. "This time, I'm prepared to overlook it" said the victim.

If later the guitars choked the speakers and needed attention, that was no mortal blunder. But as the double-drummered Fall barged on, Smith's singing telegrams became inaudible. After such broadsides and broad swords, I longed for a rapier...

Entrenched in their own private world, The Fall demand intense belief and this nightwatchmans agnosticism was not on the agenda. So it goes as long as The Fall accept that for live performances reversing the terms is not changing them.


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