Shiftwork LP Review
(Vox May 1991)
Be suspicious of anyone who says simply that "The Fall are okay". Because this band is the sole UK act of the last two decades on which all music lovers have a strong opinion. None more than the man, Mark E. Smith himself, whose ever-blooming self-belief is only overshadowed by his belligerence when making side swipes at his contemporaries.
The Fall have never made a bad album, although the mid '80's did see a certain loss of form. So it was a relief when last years 'Extricate' blew away the cobwebs, with a brace of cracking 45's to follow. 'Shiftwork' maintains the momentum, as a slimmed-down foour piece Fall rely on the distinguished guitar noise of yore, sounding better equipped than most to last through the 90's. With just two songs down we get the first new Fall classic, 'Idiot Joy Showland'. The tune is familiar but the lyrical pops at Manchester mores make it a song to savour. "California has it's Disneyland/Flanders has it's no man's land/ ...This place has it's showbands" sneers Smith. "the working class has been been shafted, so what the fuck are you sneering at?" 'Edinburgh Man', which follows, shows a rarely seen sentimental side to Smith, and displays an undoubted love for his hideaway home. The title track, meanwhile, is Smith at his most considered, recounting the tale of shift work's disasterous affect on a relationship. Subsequently, the atonal beat from 'Book Of Lies' and the fiddle-led dance of 'Mixer' score direct hits, while the closing number 'Sinister Waltz' proves The Fall are one of the few bands who can spread a plethora of styles across an LP successfully. They're not suddenly going to become fashionable as a result of 'Earth's Impossible Day', but signs are that their (already huge) fan-base is sure to swell after such a gem. Without doubt, this is Album Of The Year, thus far.
(The words 'The Fall: band that put the "man" in Manchester' appear under a pic of MES)
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