The Fall Fall Heads Roll

[Narnack; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: post-punk, indie rock
Others: Wire, Gang of Four, Can, PiL

First of all, I must confess that I do love The Fall. Whether I am 'in love' with The Fall I will not disclose to you, dear reader, but the point remains that this evaluation will take place with utmost Fall-centricity. As such, the perennial difficulty with any Fall album is expectation. Last year brought us the frequently brilliant, always good The Real New Fall LP — and, I admit, I was hoping this year for The Real New Fall LP Part Two, but I didn't get it. Such are the joys of The Fall, though, as I instead got something I didn't even know I had wanted.

We'll start off with the big one. As anyone who follows The Fall knows, quite a buzz has been building up around "Blindness," as it has appeared on both Interim and the Peel Sessions box set. Regardless of how this version stacks up to its counterparts, it is the most singularly brilliant track The Fall has come up with in many, many years. Returning to that old Fall formula of 'the long song,' we get seven minutes of repetition that is truly right up there with the classic "NWRA." Meaner and tougher-sounding than long Fall songs of old, Smith demonstrates the magic that can make seven minutes of listening to the same riff seem like far too short a time.

With such an absolute classic right in the middle, how does the rest of the album stack up?

The first half, though beginning with a mystifying but satisfying quasi-reggae number, shows a band that wants action, speed, and propulsion. There are three rockers cut from the same cloth as "Theme From Sparta F.C.," which is just fine with me. In their midst is the requisite 'quiet one,' and even there the rhythm section sounds unwilling to sit still.

After "Blindness," Smith deftly places the cover "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," which many might be familiar with from the Nuggets II box. The band certainly injects energy into the tune; and while it is smart to put something so catchy after the album's centerpiece, the track is slightly marred by Smith's apparent refusal to clearly pronounce any of the words. Though few of the songs on the second half of the album match the quality of the first half, Smith, still up to some old tricks, dips back into that bluesy, quasi-punk-a-billy sound that has been present in occasional periods of The Fall. Most notable, however, is the unusually mournful "Early Days of Channel Fuehrer."

Overall, a handful of great songs, no clunkers, and one absolute classic is more than should be expected of any album. As such, Fall Heads Roll is outstanding.

1. Ride Away
2. Pacifying Joint
3. What About Us
4. Midnight Aspen
5. Assume
6. Aspen Reprise
7. Blindness
8. I Can Hear the Grass Grow
9. Bo Dimmeck
10. Ya Wanner Clasp Hands
11. Early Days of Channel Fuehrer
12. Breaking the Rules
13. Trust In Me

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