Live At The Witch Trials (4 out of 5 squares)
Dragnet (4 out of 5 squares)
Early Fall '77-'79 (4 out of 5 squares)
Select (September 1990)
In early 1979, when 'Live At The Witch Trials' appeared, The Fall were far removed from their present indie icons position. Punks reviled them as long haired oiks, and live shows in working men's clubs often founf them ducking a barrage of bottles. But this was all sauce for Mark E Smith's goose, and the belligerence and wilful obscurity of his lyrics reflected a band (then as now) out on a limb
the most remarkable fact is that 'Witch Trials' sounds so poppy today - probably because The Fall spawned a generation of imitators who made their sound acceptable. But 'Like To Blow', 'Underground Medecin' (sic) and 'No Xmas For John Quays' are unquestionable classic pop songs, and 'Rebellious Jukebox' (later re-worked by Smith's ex Brix and her Adult Net cronies as 'Searching For The Now') and 'Industrial Estate' rate among the finest punk anthems of their day. Snotty nosed CD-owners will delight, too, in the hugely extended 'Music Scene', with the studio engineer shouting "six minutes" and "six 40" right on cue as the clock ticks away.
The 1980 follow up, 'Dragnet' (here released on LP only), mixed an almost Subway Sect-ish power punk with the deranged ranting of 'Spectre Vs Rector' and 'Muzerowi's Daughter'. At the time, it was seen as their "difficult second album", but it's now clear that it set the tone for the band's first classic album, the following year's 'Grotesque'. Anyone replacing an original copy will notice the absence of the caustically witty Smith-penned insert, but those chancing on it for the first time will hear one of The Fall's strangest works.
'Early Fall' (also LP only) is indispensable for the novice Fall fan, as it contains their unobtainable first four singles, 'Bingo Masters Breakout', 'It's The New Thing', 'Rowche Rumble' and 'Fiery Jack'. Essential vinyl, and well into double figures costwise, if you want the original 7-inches. All the B-sides are here too, excellent one and all.
Hear these albums and realise what everyone meant when they said this years 'Extricate' was a return to form.
Review by leo Finlay
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