The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

The Fall: A Beginner’s Guide – “Guinness On Your Cornflakes”

fall_cerebral_caustic32) Cerebral Caustic (1995)

The return of Brix (Smith’s first wife) to the band in the mid-’90s yielded this incredibly half-arsed punk effort. For all The Fall’s inconsistency and experimentation, this is the only one of their albums that’s actually boring.

fall_are_you_are_missing_winner31) Are You Are Missing Winner (2001)

A return to their rockabilly roots that was for the most part frustrating and half-finished, but very occasionally inspired. Look out for the incredible ‘Crop-Dust’ if you dare explore.

fall_ersatz_gb30) Ersatz GB (2011)

A classic example of The Fall throwing it away after being fleetingly great once again. Following 2010’s back-to-basics Your Future Our Clutter, this is an uncomfortable and uneven listen full of bilious lyrics, even by Smith’s standards.

fall_reformation_post_tlc29) Reformation Post-TLC (2007)

Its inception was difficult (‘TLC’ in the title stands for ‘Traitors, Liars, Cunts,’ a reference to the previous line-up) and it shows – while it contains a couple of great moments, it feels like a stop-gap solution.

fall_sublingual_tablet28) Sub-Lingual Tablet (2015)

Sub-Lingual Tablet was a completely unprecedented milestone for the band – Mark E Smith using the same line-up for a fifth album in a row! However, it’s nowhere near as spiky or aggressive in its sound as it should be, despite a couple of garage-rock beasts.

fall_light_user_syndrome27) The Light User Syndrome (1996)

Incoherent, muddled and overly long, this is Brix’s final contribution of her ill-fated return to the band. Probably the least immediately likeable of Fall albums, this is for the completist only.

fall_remit26) Re-Mit (2013)

Full of typical vim and spirit, Smith actually sounds like he’s enjoying himself here on this landmark 30th album. Re-Mit is uneven, but is rather enjoyable when it hits its scruffy garage rock peaks, such as ‘Sir William Wray’ and ‘Irish’.

fall_marshall_suite25) The Marshall Suite (1999)

Made in the immediate aftermath of an onstage fight in New York where the entire band left Smith (usually it’s the other way round), The Marshall Suite really does feel unfinished and, except for the fantastic ‘Touch Sensitive’, forgettable. Like its predecessor Levitate, it’s extremely hard to track down and unavailable to stream online.

fall_room_to_live24) Room To Live (Undilutable Slang Truth!) (1982)

A mini-LP of only seven songs, Room To Live is the least accessible of their ’80s output but holds key clues as to their future direction. The songs are more complex and Smith’s lyrical content ever more confusing.

23) New Facts Emerge (2017)

The 32nd and (sadly) final Fall album, made in the fifth decade of its existence. Their garrulous garage rock sound hadn’t evolved in any meaningful way for quite a while, but New Facts Emerge – certainly it’s growling, energetic first half – shows that’s not necessarily a bad thing. An aimless second half lets it down, however.

fall_code_selfish22) Code: Selfish (1992)

This first step into electronic, beat-driven territory is difficult but occasionally utterly inspired, and is often unfairly derided by fans. It also houses The Fall’s only self-penned UK Top 40 single – the colossal piledriver ‘Free Range’.

fall_frenz_experiment21) The Frenz Experiment (1988)

Slightly weedy and thin on the ground in terms of the killer / filler ratio, The Frenz Experiment broke a dazzling run of form for The Fall that had lasted for most of the ‘80s. But its CD reissue contains the other two of their Top 40 hits – cover versions of ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’ and ‘Victoria’.

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