A 10-track introduction to the music of The Fall
January 18, 2010 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Help me put together a 10-track "introduction to The Fall" mix CD.

I've been enjoying the music of Mark E. Smith and His Band Of Miserable Men for the past 2 decades, and get asked from time to time for an introduction to their huge body of work. Thing is, I prefer the atonal stuff ("Rowche Rumble," "Slags, Slates, Etc.," "Two Steps Back," "Spectre vs. Rector") which isn't necessarily the best starting point for neophytes. I'd like to make a comp CD that's newbie-friendly, something that I can bundle with a DVD of the great 2004 Fall BBC documentary. I'm leaning towards poppier numbers like "Shoulder Pads," "Fit and Working Again," "Kicker Conspiracy," "In My Area" and "Australians in Europe" but after those delightful tracks, I'm coming up dry. Matador's 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong compilation is well-sequenced, but I don't want to drop 39 tracks in someone's lap.
posted by porn in the woods to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've had success introducing people to the fall with tracks like "Mr. Pharmacist" and a live version of "Telephone Thing."
posted by ktrey at 7:36 PM on January 18, 2010

THE FALL - 45 84 89 : A Sides is a good place to start, since it's what they thought was their most accessible at the time when they were most popular. I point a lot of people to that one. I really love what they've done in this past decade, and would include at least few of those. I recently did a longer mix for a friend, but if I had to strip it to ten, I'd choose

Industrial Estate
Fit and Working Again
Cruisers Creek
Couldn't Get Ahead
Hit the North
The Steak Place
Dr. Buck's Letter
Sparta FC
I've Been Duped

I'd want to cover both the prose and the pop sides, the swinging and the robotic.

Also, here's a message board discussion where Fall nerds choose only ten post-90 numbers
posted by bendybendy at 7:50 PM on January 18, 2010

Considering that Mark E Smith releases a new album every year or two consistently for the last 300 years or something like that, you have two options.

One. a sort of survey compilation or greatest hits type type thing.
Two. a tighter focus on one or two particular moments in time.

If I were making this mix CD intro to The Fall, I would start near the beginning. If the recipient enjoyed it (some people just don't and that's okay)-- I would goad them on to the other stuff "Just you wait! There's sooo much more." I would say to them and allow them the joy of discovery.

Either case, I would definitely include "I am Damo Suzuki".
posted by at the crossroads at 7:51 PM on January 18, 2010

I quite like "Couldn't Get Ahead" as far as catchy songs that stick in your noggin'. I would also strongly consider "I Am Damo Suzuki," especially if you're making this compilation for someone that is already a fan of Can. Their cover of "Victoria" is another a good way to introduce some elements of their sound (and Mark E. Smith's delivery).
posted by paperzach at 7:53 PM on January 18, 2010

auto-tech pilot from bend sinister
posted by extrabox at 7:55 PM on January 18, 2010

I would definitely include Crop-Dust and Telephone Thing for the way they give you an irresistible urge to move something, like nodding your head or tapping your foot.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:03 PM on January 18, 2010

US 80s and 90s - bombast
Wings -mad
Telephone Thing - poppy

about half of mes' output is pure garage music with mad atonal shouting and the other half is more shouting focussed. I would start with the pop hits as an introduction and add in a couple of strange ones to show the range. Jawbone and Air Rifle.

If your target audience is UK based add in that clip of him reading the football results.

posted by Fiery Jack at 8:08 PM on January 18, 2010

Shoulder Pads #2
Hit the North
Dice Man
Choc Stock
Glam Racket
Garden (obligatory)
Rollin' Dany
Black Monk Theme Pt. 1

...and this.

I'm so excited there are this many Fall fans out there.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 8:20 PM on January 18, 2010

I'd just make a copy of Slates or Grotesque and hope for the best. Both of them have vaguely poppy songs like "English Scheme" or "New Face In Hell" or "Leave The Capitol," which still have a kind of experimental edge, and the rest of it's all great. (And I reckon the early mystical Fall stuff is their best.) What came immediately before and after these (Dragnet and Totale's Turns / Hex Enduction Hour and Room To Live) would be a bit harder to swallow, even though it's prime material.

Frankly, though, I don't think the Fall are so tough to get a grasp on that you need to start with the Brix-era stuff just to "ease" someone in - you either grasp the Fall or you don't.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:25 PM on January 18, 2010

I disliked the Fall for many years before becoming a fan. 'Mr. Pharmacist' was the first song that I begrudgingly admitted was good, so I agree that that has potential as an intro. I was able to follow up with 'Cruisers Creek', 'Eat Y'self Fitter', and 'Spoilt Victorian Child'. There was also their cover of 'Victoria'. From that point on, I was more willing to branch out, and then I became a full-out fan preferring their songs that I wouldn't have considered listenable before. I'd definitely recommend going with the poppier, more listenable stuff at first. Once your listener becomes a fan, you can spring the other stuff on them. If you go with some of the more atonal stuff right away, you may scare the person away for good. Though, you know who your audience is, so YMMV.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:41 PM on January 18, 2010

Seconding the following:

The Classical
I Am Damo Suzuki
New Face in Hell
Mr Pharmacist

And adding:

Rowche Rumble
Kicker Conspiracy
Hip Priest
posted by elsietheeel at 8:52 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Eat Y'self Fitter" needs to be on there. I'm also really partial to "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'". It's a good example of how they can do a slow burn building to a climax...
posted by mr_roboto at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2010

Tempo House

I prefer their earlier stuff, but that song seems to make or break most would-be fans.

Also, Grotesque in its entirety, Garden, Repetition, Curious Oranj, Oh Brother, oops, that's more than 10.

That Mark E is a prolific bastard. I saw a good little film about him a little while back. Can't remember the title right now, sorry.
posted by KenManiac at 9:34 PM on January 18, 2010

Take a listen to this Rough Trade collection.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 PM on January 18, 2010

Just give 'em Palace of Swords Reversed.

Failing that, pick from, um, everything that's already been suggested.

Damn, this is difficult.

Ones that haven't been suggested yet:

Paintwork - absolutely mandatory!
An Older Lover etc - ditto!
Athlete Cured - ditto.
Oswald Defense Lawyer - ditto.
Prole Art Threat - also mandatory.
Marquis Cha-Cha - yep, that's mandatory.
Dog is Life/Jerusalem - your friend really needs to know about how it was the government's fault.
Hey Luciani - gotta have that.
LA - also a must.
The Man Whose Head Expanded - essential.
Backdrop - unmissable.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:15 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

all these are good

cosign Prole Art Threat, Kicker Conspiracy, I Am Damo Suzuki

90's.. these are pretty catchy
Hey Student
British People In Hot Weather
I'm Going to Spain
Paranoid Man in Cheap Shit Room
The Littlest Rebel
Hands Up Billy

these are hilarious
Pumpkin Soup And Mashed Potatoes
Wolf Kidult Man
posted by citron at 11:11 PM on January 18, 2010

seconding ...

I am Damo Suzuki
The Man Whose Head Expanded (did someone say essential?)
posted by philip-random at 12:06 AM on January 19, 2010

There are plenty of good suggestions, so I'll only mention the ones I'm appalled nobody has named yet:

"Totally Wired"
"Leave The Capitol" (is in fact even catchier than "Fit and Working Again," at least to my ear)
"Just Step S'Ways" (as accessible as "The Classical," I think)
"Bill Is Dead" (who could miss the only beautiful love song MES wrote - especially since it's so good?)
"Free Range" (really can't miss this one - catchy as hell, them sounding as Manchestery as they ever did, and plus - Nietzsche, right?)
"Senior Twilight Stock Replacer" (last disk was worth representing, and this tune is the best anthem, I think... find myself shouting along all the time)
posted by koeselitz at 1:00 AM on January 19, 2010

at the crossroads: “If I were making this mix CD intro to The Fall, I would start near the beginning. If the recipient enjoyed it (some people just don't and that's okay)-- I would goad them on to the other stuff "Just you wait! There's sooo much more." I would say to them and allow them the joy of discovery.”

The best intro to The Fall is almost always, in fact, simply a copy of Grotesque (After The Gramme).
posted by koeselitz at 1:04 AM on January 19, 2010

Shit. How did I miss Totally Wired?

Totally Wired +1
Leave the Capitol Capital +1
I'm going to Spain +1
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:17 AM on January 19, 2010

Why Are People Grudgeful?
Touch Sensitive
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 5:37 AM on January 19, 2010

My idea of the most accessible Fall songs:

Totally Wired
Victoria (a Kinks cover!)
Big New Prinz
Hit The North
posted by kimota at 5:57 AM on January 19, 2010

Of course too many good suggestions already, but how about Container Drivers?

I'm also extremely partial to plodding stories like Impression of J. Temperance, and Winter.
posted by galaksit at 6:11 AM on January 19, 2010

Thanks so much for the help! I'd overlooked many, many tracks.

Here's the final list, which gives new Fall listeners a brief overview of the 'sweet and sour' sides of this Manchester institution:

Telephone Thing
Leave the Capital
Bill is Dead
Kicker Conspiracy
The Reckoning (off of the otherwise dull Middle Class Revolt)
Cruiser's Creek
Shoulder Pads
My New House
I'm Going to Spain
The Man Whose Head Expanded
posted by porn in the woods at 8:02 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can I get one?
posted by philip-random at 8:44 AM on January 19, 2010

don't you badmouth Middle Class Revolt! 15 Ways, for example, could be pasted into every RelationshipFilter question, as an improvement on the ubiquitous DTMFA.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:52 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cruiser's Creek for sure, my favorite Fall song. When I was making a mix tape for a girl I had a crush on, I put on The Classical, just because I thought it was awesome to put a song with the lyrics "Hey there fuckface!" on a mix tape for a girl you have a crush on.

Turned out she hates the Fall.

P.S. We got married six years later.
posted by dfan at 6:13 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cyber Insekt
Bill Is Dead
Theme From Sparta FC
Seventies Night
You're Not Up To Much
Spoilt Victorian Child
Slang King
Rollin' Dany
posted by tpoh.org at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2010

(If we were talking a way to ease someone into the band.)
posted by tpoh.org at 10:27 AM on March 5, 2010

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