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Famously described by John Peel as being "always different, always the same", The Fall were formed in Manchester, England during the Punk era, although their style quickly evolved into something more idiosyncratic.
The one permanent fixture amidst the Fall's ever-changing line-up is Mark E. Smith. Smith's lyrics are free, unboxed and unpredictable, touching on an extremely wide range of subjects and places and caring little for being tied down to easily digestible messages.
Smith's singing can put off some people, but others find it a uniquely expressive instrument. Smith is not a conventionally great vocalist, but his keen sense of rhythm and attack more than compensate for this shortcoming. Perhaps his most distinctive trait is an explosive syllable added after some words, such as in his delivery of a lyric from Free Range: "This is the spring-uh without end-uh" (Smith himself has expressed annoyance with being picked on for his Manchester accent.)
The music changes depending on the line-up at a given time. However, generally, the bass features prominently, and draws on 60's Garage and the German group Can. Often there are primitive keyboards thrown into the mix and in later years, the use of tape technology is more to the fore.
The Fall were a favorite group of DJ John Peel, recording 24 sessions for his BBC1 radio program over the years.
The Fall's back catalogue is very fragmented with a seemingly endless number of compilations and semi-official live albums.
The Guardian recently published an entertaining account of a journalist's attempt to track down all 43 former members of The Fall. Many previous members have been fired, often with little or no notice.
Key Albums include:
# Live At the Witch Trials (debut)
# Totale's Turns (It's Now Or Nevr)
# Grotesque (after the Gramme)
# Hex Enduction Hour
# This Nation's Saving Grace
# Middle Class Revolt
# Bend Sinister
# The Infotainment Scan
# Country on the Click aka The Real New Fall LP
# Fall Heads Roll
# Reformation Post TLC (new)
# 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong: 39 Golden Greats
# The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004
# Totally Wired: The Rough Trade Anthology (disc 1) and Totally Wired: The Rough Trade Anthology (disc 2)
# 458489 A-Sides
# 458489 B-Sides
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