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Released in 2007 on Slogan Records Reformation Post TLC is the twenty sixth studio album to be released by the Mancunian punk band The Fall.
The album's title refers to the quick reformation of The Fall following a band split in the middle of the 2006 American tour.
The line up
The line up for this recording were -
Mark E. Smith - Vocals
Tim Presley - Lead guitar
Robert Barbato - Bass guitar
Dave Spurr - Bass guitar
Elena Poulou - Keyboards, Vocals
Orpheo McCord - Drums, vocals
Peter Greenway - Rhythm and lead guitar
Gary Bennett - Rhythm guitar
The line up differed greatly to the bands previous LP "Fall Heads Roll" as during a 2006 tour three band members - Ben Pritchard, Spencer Birtwistle and Steve Trafford all left the band in the middle of a USA tour. Mark E Smith being resolute to completing the tour quickly recruited American musicians Tim Presley, Robert Barbato and Orpheo McCord and continued the tour unperturbed!
The restrained style of Presley's guitar playing and the thunderous noise of Barbato's bass doodling gave the band a slightly different sound. The thunderous and technically brilliant drumming of Orpheo completed the equation. Back in the UK Mark had recruited another line up featuring Dave "The Eagle" Spurr on Bass and Peter Greenway on guitar. This meant Mark had a plethora of musicians to choose and gigs around this period sometimes featured a varying combination of band members.
There are 13 tracks on the CD.
Reviewed in the order that they appear on the CD -
Over! Over! -
The album starts with a theme of reformation. Mark sings presumably about the three lost band members returning from the USA to the UK -
"One day three fellows they all clubbed together, To get their hair back and replace their shiny heads, All tan-skinned, they did sail the shiny sea"
The music is really tight and focused and Mark's vocals make this track a great album opener.
The albums title track is a repetitive two note anthem that was also released as a single (the only single to be released from this album). One of the common hallmarks of The Fall is there long repetitive songs and this is no exception. The lyrics are comprised of short vocal snatches where mark sings of Motel's and 'Cheese States' which is presumably referring to the fated American tour.
Fall Sound -
In my opinion this song should have been released as a single. A clattering wall of guitars and a Peter Hook-esque flange effected bass give this song instant appeal. Mark's vocals are really good on this song. The lyrics address the latecomer fans of the band and Mark declares "You're much too late for Fall sound". Quite a questionable statement as the band is still pumping out music at a frequency unfamiliar to your average group nowadays.
White Line Fever -
The Fall goes country in this drug referencing cover version of Merle Haggard's country and western song. The band manages to pull the music off quite authentic though Mark's vocals are a little strained at times.
Insult Song -
This is quite a strange track. Over an offbeat musical backing that would have been at home on a Beefheart album you have Mark cackling in a boss hog accented vocal where he mocks and pokes fun at his band members and the recording of the album. Bonkers!
My Door Is Never -
The song starts with a fuzzy bass line and is quickly joined by a clear and tremolo affected guitar. The song is great however this version is slightly lacklustre and restrained. Mark sings about an unwelcome spectre - "I crave your death within my mind's eye" in a vocal that's so relaxed that it could have been recorded in his sleep.
Coach and Horses -
This is the most musical the band has been in a while. The song is dominated by a catchy guitar riff by Tim Presley. The lyrics sketch around the 1860's and comparison to today (or that was my interpretation anyhow!). Despite being a catchy tune, the song (to my knowledge) has never been performed live which is a shame.
The Usher -
This is a musical interlude where Mark reads an alphabetical list of rules that pertain to an Usher such as "Treat PR, security people, agents, etc. with the respect and honour that they deserve!" Strange to say the least!
The Wright Stuff -
Marks wife Elena sings this song and it is a kitsch pop song with some nice vocal harmonies. The song doesn't sound much like the Fall either. Elena's voice is a million miles away from Mark's style and the track offers a welcome musical interlude.
This song has a real sense of urgency to it. The music is up tempo sparse and lean yet musically proficient. Mark's lyrics manage to blend snatches of an old war poem and excerpts of Captain Beefheart's song Veteran day Poppy to good effect. The song is over too quickly for my liking.
Das Boat -
Sometimes The Fall can overindulge. This song (if you can call it a song!) has lots of ambient sounds and noises. There are no lyrics as such; though there are odd chants and groans throughout. The jury is out to whether this track is pure filler or an artistic statement.
The Bad Stuff -
Tapes of what sound like conversation between the band members dominate the majority of the track. Over the top of this are south coast guitar twangs and synthesizer doodling. Just when you'd given up on the track a fast experimental pop instrumental bursts out and brings the track to an end. Like its predecessor this sounds like a track that was maybe work in progress rather than a completed idea.
Systematic Abuse -
This song should have been the albums saving grace. The music is heavily set around a catchy bass hook that repeats endlessly throughout the song. Unfortunately the song sounds a little flat and again seems to lack any real energy. This is a shame as at many gigs this song has been on fire and relentless. Maybe it was a bad day in the studio. Still a great song though and a good vocal from Mark.
The end to the album is a short pulsing tango tempo sound and not a song as such. I'd read somewhere that this track was added to make the album have 14 tracks as 13 would have been considered unlucky. If there is any truth to this I am unsure, but the addition of this noise is unnecessary filler.
This had the potential to be a great album as the musicianship is brilliant and most of the songs were excellent. I think what has let the album down is a combination of performance and production. The majority of these songs were awesome live however the studio versions for some reason fail to reach the same glorious heights. Don't get me wrong; it is a good album, but should have been better.
Price and availability
The CD was available for £6.98 from www.amazon.com at the date of writing (15th September 2008).
Copyright M Jones (Otalgia) 2008
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Over Over
3 Fall Sound
4 White Line Fever
6 My Doctor Never
7 Coaches And Horses
8 The Usher
9 Wright Stuff
11 Das Boot
12 Bad Stuff
13 Systematic Abuse