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"Perverted by Language" is the 7th studio album by the cult Mancunian band The Fall.
Released on LP in 1983 on Rough Trade records and later re-issued several times on CD the album charters the band treading new grounds and foraying into more lyrically indulgent music than found on their previous album "Room to live".
The band feature the classic line up of -
Mark E Smith - Vocals
Karl Burns - Drums
Craig Scanlon - Guitars
Paul Hanley - Drums
What really adds to the sound is the addition on Guitar of Marks then wife (now fashion guru and regular star on Goks fashion show) Brix Smith.
The album was later released as a Video on the IKON video label, and later reissued on DVD by Cherry Red Records.
Despite the album only having eight songs it isn't that short as many songs on the album exceed 5 minutes in length.
The opening track "Eat yourself fitter" takes the band's reputation of repetition to a whole new level. The song continues endlessly over a two chord guitar riff and heavy tom drums. The song really is relentless and Scanlon's unique guitar textures spiral and slide over the tribal rhythms. The lyrics are plentiful and you hear a tail of Work, nightclub rejection and TV banality. There is some real humour in this song and the video is worth a watch for Brix Smiths manic dancing and shots of the now defunct Manchester Hacienda. The song was a favourite of John Peel and featured in his desert island discs selection for the BBC radio show. He allegedly fainted when he first heard the track!
"Neighbourhood of Infinity" is the next track and is the shortest on the album. It builds in a similar way to when the Fall play live and has a wall of guitar riffs and drums bashed like trash cans while Mark reads an intangible list of statements and finally declares "We are The Fall" in a brash and authoritarian manner. The other interesting lyric snippet is Mark's reference to garage guitarist Link Wray -
"I used to have this thing about Link Wray,
I used to play him every Saturday,
God bless Saturday"
Third up is "Garden" and is many a Fall fan's favourite. The song is again heavily repetitious and has very plodding tribal tom drums that are topped with a looping thin sounding guitar part. The thing that makes this track great is the lyrics. The song seems to be several scenarios cut up to make a poetic tale. The theme of the track is still unclear though there are some great lyrical snatches in the track such as the ultimate putdown - "That person is films on TV!" plus the odd ending to the track of shouts of "Jew on a motorbike" - Jesus maybe? Lyrically unclear but absorbing.
The next track has "Hotel Bloedel" has a really muffled and unclear mix to it. The sound is in the same vein as the earlier songs and has damp thumping drums and treble enriched guitar sounds. What does make the song stand out is that it is sung by Brix Smith. Lyrically it's another song that offers several interpretations though some parts are obviously referring to war and the way that history has a habit of repeating itself.
"Smile" is another Fall classic song. The song starts really minimalist with little guitar and a slow beat but gradually it builds into a thunderous cacophony of noise with the grinding bass of Steve Hanley and the twin drummer backing really bringing the sound to its maximum. Mark sings about anarchy, meat, GBH and animals which leads me to think that he is having a grin about the punk music scene of the early eighties where scores of punks became vegetarian anarchists and swarmed in droves to political punk gigs (such as Crass) in the cause of being individual! As always I could have totally missed the point and the song could be about something else. For trainspotters the bands first major TV performance of this song was on Channel 4's The Tube and was introduced by Jools Holland and John Peel; who had suggested their appearance to the show and wanted to be renowned as the man who put The Fall on TV!.
The next song "I Feel Voxish" I feel voxish is a far more upbeat song with a nice funky bass line and spiralling guitar doodling. It's probably the most accessible track on the album although Mark's ramblings about Hari Krishna, knives and The French through confusion into the works.
The next song "Tempo House" is another Fall golden classic. The song is slow and is led for the most by a grungy overdriven bass sound and clattering drums. Marks vocal delivery on this song is fantastic and he obviously has a lot of lyrics to get of his chest. The LP title is definitely appropriate here as there are several lyric snatches thrown together in what seem like random observations, but to Mark obviously form some tangible story. We are told for example that "The Dutch are weeping in four languages", "God damn the pedantic Welsh" and that "Churchill has a speech impediment". I think this is a compelling song both musically and lyrically.
The album ends with a length two part song titled "Hexen Definitive / Strife Knot". The track follows the format of the rest of the album and is a hotpot of instrumental sounds all thrown over the foundation of the track; the bass guitar riff. My interpretation of the lyrics is that they are about the mundane, uninspiring and intelligently challenged drone of daily businessmen. Possibly?!
I would say that Mark had used the repetitive music on this album more as a vehicle to deliver his plethora of lyrics and poetry rather than release a traditional themed post-punk rock album. That's not to say that the music is poor, far from it, it is more a case of the music appearing less at the forefront of the albums genius.
Why? Well I would put this down to the vast expanse of intriguing lyrics that make this a classic fall album. The ambiguity of the lyrics make attempts at translating and comprehending them challenging and assists in keeping the record sounding fresh; even after many listens.
© M Jones (Otalgia) 2008
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Eat Y'Self Fitter
2 Neighbourhood Of Infinity
4 Hotel Bloedel
6 I Feel Voxish
7 Tempo House
8 Hexen Definitive / Strife Knot
9 The Man Whose Head Expanded
10 Ludd Gang
11 Kicker Conspiracy
13 Pilsner Trail
Disc #2 Tracklisting
3 Hexen Definitive / Strife Knot
4 Eat Y'Self Fitter
6 Neighbourhood Of Infinity
8 Tempo House
9 Perverted By Language