(4 / 5)
This is the latest release in Cherry Red’s series of deluxe Fall reissues – “Fall Sound Archive”.
Imperial Wax Solvent was the group’s 26th album, originally released in 2008. Following the departure of the American musicians who contributed to “Reformation Post-TLC”, the new British-based line-up was to become the band’s last and longest serving incarnation.
Alongside Mark E. Smith was Elena Poulou (keyboards, vocals), Dave Spurr (bass), Pete Greenway (guitar) and Keiron Melling (drums). The album was well received by critics and entered the UK album charts at #35.
This one comes with two bonus discs, including an unused version of the album recorded at Britannia Row studios in London and a live set recorded at De La Warr, Bexhill On Sea from 10th May 2008.
As with the other Fall reissues these have notes by Fall guru Daryl Easlea and have been mastered by long time engineer Andy Pearce. There are 40 tracks in total (12 + 13 + 15).
The Fall formed in Manchester in 1976 and have had no less than 60 line-up changes in their 41-year history.
In their early days they were associated with the punk movement, but were never really a punk band as such. They have gone through many stylistic changes throughout their 42-year history. Characterised by an abrasive guitar-driven sound and frequent use of repetition, underpinned by Smith’s totally unique vocal style and often cryptic lyrics.
They dropped circa 32 studio albums, and more than triple that counting live albums and other releases. They had a handful of minor hit singles in the late 1980s, and were constantly championed by legendary BBC DJ John Peel, who cited The Fall as his favourite band.
I saw and photographed the legendary Mark E. Smith and his iconic band The Fall in May 2017, some eight months before he died from lung and kidney cancer, when they played on a tiny stage at a hip festival in the dip of a wooded area, all lit up with twinkling lights in the trees. It looked magical and the place was absolutely rammed.
Even the weenie pit was packed with snappers, and there really was a buzz in the air about this appearance. You’d expect this Manc’ legend and his band to be on the big main stage or at least inside one of the large marquee stages. But no, here they were up close and personal on a stage where you could only expect to swing half a cat!
He kept falling backwards into his amp or the drum kit. Perhaps his rider of a decent bottle of whisky (there was a demand for 60 fags on it too) had a bearing on his coordination that night.
He got stares and yelled at from his band for his lack of mobility, and more so for the constant deliberate screeching feedback he created with the mic’ against his amp’. Like a prankster teenager seeing just how far he could go. The volume was bonkers and his vocals were, ahem, an acquired taste.
But all in all, it was effing magical. This was a living legend, an innovator, a real one-off who was well and truly ‘at it’ in an intimate setting. It was enough to be near him and say “I was there”, for most.
With him were the longest serving band of the Fall’s lengthy career. They kept it all together and even as Mark veered off into bonkersville, it was still musical and glued together by this crack outfit. A treasured memory for the few thousand there that night. Me included. He is missed….
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’