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The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall (Expanded Edition) [Remastered]

The Fall

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Album Review

The Fall made the leap to a semi-major label — Beggars Banquet — with The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall, hooking up with noted producer John Leckie to create another smart, varied album. Contemporaneous with the slightly friendlier "Oh! Brother" and "C.R.E.E.P." singles without actually including them, Wonderful and Frightening World makes few concessions to the larger market: every potential hook seemed spiked with the band's usual rough take-it-or-leave-it stance. Mark E. Smith's audible, tape-distorting spit on the descending chord blast of "Elves" — already spiked with enough vocal craziness as it is — gives a sense of what the album as a whole is aiming for. Brix Smith co-writes about half the tracks, creating a strong partnership with many highlights. It may start with a semi-low-key chant, but when "Lay of the Land" fully kicks in, it does just that, Craig Scanlon in particular pouring on the feedback at the end over the clattering din. Smith sounds as coruscating and side-splittingly hilarious as ever, depicting modern Britain with an eye for the absurdities and failures (and crucially, no empathy, it's all about a gimlet eye projected at everyone and everything). Two further standouts appear on the second half: "Slang King," a snarling portrayal of a cool-in-his-mind dude and his increasingly pathetic life, and the concluding "Disney's Dream Debased." Though unquestionably the most conventionally attractive tune on the album, ringing guitars and all, Smith's lyrics portray a Disneyland scenario in hell, however softly delivered. Elsewhere, Gavin Friday from the Virgin Prunes takes a bow with his own unmistakable, spindly vocals on the trebly Krautrock chug of "Copped It" and the slightly more brute rhythm of "Stephen Song." [This “Omnibus Edition” of the album features four CDs, three of which are filled with highly desirable extras. Disc one is a remastered version of the original album’s nine-song track list. All bonus tracks that have appeared on earlier CD versions are moved to disc two, where singles and B-sides related to the album are collected, along with four unreleased “rough mixes” that pack some real punch. Disc three collects the band’s BBC Radio Sessions from the time — overlapping The Complete Peel Sessions box but not significantly — while disc four features a live recording made by VPRO radio at Pandora's Music Box festival in The Netherlands. Even though bootlegs of the show are widely available, none sound this good. Also included is a 45-page booklet filled with interviews and archival photographs, making this set highly recommended for any fan of the original album.]

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Out of all the late-'70s punk and post-punk bands, none were longer lived or more prolific than the Fall. Throughout their career, the band underwent myriad lineup changes, but at the center of it all was vocalist Mark E. Smith. With his snarling, nearly incomprehensible vocals and consuming, bitter cynicism, Smith became a cult legend in indie and alternative rock. Over the course of their career, the Fall went through a number of shifts in musical style, yet the foundation of their sound was a...
Full bio