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.
by Reviewer: Creative Noise
(blogging at Creative Noise