Grotesque by The Fall

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Grotesque by The Fall
Grotesque by The Fall

Album Released: 1980

Grotesque ::: Artwork

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1.Pay Your Rates2:58
2.English Scheme2:05
3.New Face In Hell5:39
4.C'n'C-S Mithering7:36
5.The Container Drivers3:07
6.Impression Of J. Temperance4:19
7.In The Park1:43
8.W.M.C.-Blob 591:19
9.Gramme Friday3:19
10.The N.W.R.A.9:12


First impressions of Grotesque are of shouted vocals and the absence of the murkiness that characterised Dragnet. Further listening reveals lots of catchy guitar riffs and a helping of rockabilly.

Those impressions both apply to the opening "Pay Your Rates", a fantastic album starter that lets you know exactly what's in store, and is also one of the finest songs on the album. The guitar riff only contains two notes, but it's still a great song.

Not everything sticks to catchy riffs and melodic, structured songs. Two of the stranger cuts include the 7+minute "C'n'C-s Mithering", which features drums more than anything else, and the recorded-at-home speech and percussion of the strangely titled "W.M.C.-Blob 59".

Keyboards return with "English Scheme", where catchy guitars combine with keyboards and a kazoo; there's a wonderful shouted chorus for the deliriously enjoyable and immensely silly "New Face In Hell"; "Container Drivers" is an album highlight, with its speedy rockabilly guitars and great Smith lyrics and shouting - the fast drum rolls that appear at the end of each phrase are a joy, I keep waiting for the drummer to fail completely and make a hash of it, but he does keep going (the drum sound on this album would later go on to influence early Pavement).

"Impression of J Temperance" is back to the deep basslines and tribal drums that characterized aspects of The Fall's previous work; "In the Park" is incredibly catchy and addictive for a song that's under 2 minutes in length; "Gramme Friday" is taken at a more considered pace than some of the speedy rockabilly elsewhere, but it's still a good listen, and an entertaining song.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

With what is regarded as the classic early Fall lineup - Hanley on bass, Scanlon and Riley on tag-team guitar - there aren't that many low points on Grotesque, which is unusual for a Fall album.

For a lot of fans, this is where the classic Fall sound begins, as Smith reveals that punk/rock was rather like rockabilly played really really fast, as the furious opener "Pay Your Rates" makes clear.

And parts of the album sound like '69 era Stones covering the Johnny Cash songbook, as on the magnificently jangly "New Face in Hell" - a particularly fine "Street Fighting Man" rip. But as always, the band sound like nobody else but The Fall.

"W.M.C. - Blob 59" is a lo-fi experimental waste, but as it's less than 80 seconds long, that's no big deal. Still, rockabilly can be quite harshly unappealing music, and I find the album overall to be lacking a little something that would truly knock it out the stadium as The Fall's shining hour.

Probably because I'm not too huge a fan of primitivist rockabilly, and maybe because aside from "C'n'C-S Mithering" there isn't a truly knockout track among this porridge of consistency, I'd rate Grotesque slightly lower than Dragnet and Witch Trials, even if it's technically better, with more diversity and a brighter more open sound.

As for "Mithering" - it's a nearly 8-minute spoken-word piece underpinned by strummed acoustic guitars and snapping drums - the way those drums snap dryly is worth the hypnosis alone. Smith's voice doesn't even enter until a full minute and a half in, and when it does my ears can't let go ... it's another rant against the music industry, California, and Herb Alpert, plus some unnamed English group consisting of 'four wacky proletarian idiots', and they're just a few of his targets ... the way Smith sneers See ya mate, see ya mate, see ya mate is the definition of withering contempt. And the way the track ends to suddenly segue into the ultra-speedy rockabilly jangle of "The Container Drivers" is inspired.

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by Reviewer: Creative Noise (blogging at Creative Noise)