Thursday, 28 November 2013

7 inch singles collection: The Fall - Free Range

It's the wonderful and frightening world of...


A-side: Free Range
B-Side: Everything Hurtz
(Cog-Sinister 1992)

Trying to describe The Fall to anyone who's not heard of them is not the easiest thing to do. Over the years they have chopped and changed styles, gone through countless members, and yet no matter how different one record is from another they all sound exactly like The Fall. This is largely down to singer Mark E. Smith's unique delivery. He is the heart and soul of The Fall - if all the former members of The Fall got together without Mr. Smith and recorded a whole load of Fall songs it wouldn't be a Fall record. If you recorded Mark E.Smith yelling the word Toast for half an hour that would be a Fall record. He is The Fall and The Fall is him.

One of the things that does distinguish The Fall is that many of their records have a choppy stop/start sound with the guitars. Free Range fits this mould admirably. As this is early 90's Fall there is something of an almost danceable groove to this song, the backbone of it being a funky beat that is throbbing and cyclical, occasional bursts of Also Sprach Zarathustra weave their way in and out of the song. All the while M.E.S. shouts apparently seemingly meaningless and random stuff over the top. In that sense Free Range is almost the definitive Fall song, but compared to much of their catalogue it is very much a by the numbers adequate piece.

Almost invariable they better song is saved for the flipside. Everything Hurtz, still has the choppiness of sound, but instead of heading to the dance floor this is a much rockier number. The shouting is toned down, and the lyrics, are much more coherent and even make a bit of sense. In the end Everything Hurtz is simply easier to listen to to, whereas Free Range is much more admirable than likeable. If I were to make a mix-tape of Fall songs for someone I would pick the B-side over the A-side for inclusion.

Next time one band singing about two other bands...

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