Album review: The Fall

The Fall - 458489 A Sides (Beggars Arkive)

Mark E Smith and Brix Smith Start.

Mark E Smith and Brix Smith Start.

IF YOU told the late John Peel you were keen to get into The Fall - his favourite band - and asked him what was the best album to start with, he might have replied: "Their entire discography".

Given Mark E Smith's band released 31 studio albums, five part-studio/part live albums, and 32 live albums, that would be a terrifying deep end to plunge into. My personal recommendations would be one or all from Grotesque (1980 ), Hex Induction Hour (1982 ), Perverted By Language (1983 ), or This Nation's Saving Grace (1985 ).

However 458489 A Sides, originally released in 1990, and now reissued (on white vinyl ) is perhaps the essential introduction to the late, great, Smith and his world, because it is the most accessible. It also a testament to the importance of Smith's ex-wife, Brix Smith Smart, vocalist and guitarist with the band from 1983 to 1989, and co-writer of many of the tracks here.

While The Fall had a signature sound - an idiosyncratic, stripped down, post-punk, over which Smith would declaim his witty, cryptic, poetry ('Cruisers Creek', 'Big New Prinz' ), this compilation showcases how diverse The Fall could be, through the seductive, bittersweet, indie-pop of 'C.R.E.E.P'; the Velvet Underground-esque 'No Bulbs 3'; the 50s style rockabilly of 'Rollin' Dany'; while the mighty 'Hit The North' shows Smith and co were well aware of the burgeoning dance scene in their native Manchester. Most surprising perhaps is a lively covers of The Kink's mildly jingoistic 'Victoria', with a snatch of 'You Keep Me Hangin' On' thrown in for good measure.

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