Album #434 – Live at the Witch Trials

Album #434

Live at The Witch Trials is the first studio album from The Fall. Contrary to the title, it is not a live album but, one that was recorded in a single day. It will be 35 years next month since the session. The Fall as a band are hard to pin down. One constant is the group’s lead singer and front man, Mark E. Smith. With the changes in members and sound, Smith has remained through it all. Smith even said in an interview that as long as he is in the band, it’s always going to be The Fall. Much like the B-52’s Fred Schneider, Smith doesn’t actually sing. Half singing/half talking is the best way to describe it. Smith sounds like a rambling old man at times and his lyrics make fun of just about everything: from Christmas to poverty. You could say Mark E. Smith comes off as a cranky old sod. Many would find this quite alarming but, Smith’s style of singing and lyrics are what draw me to The Fall. Their sound on this album reflects their influences: garage rock and avant garde mixed with poetry. The Fall would end up defining post-punk and became  influential British DJ John Peel’s favourite band, recording more sessions for his show than anyone else (24 in all) . I am a bigger fan of their mid to late 80’s output but, it was great to see how Mark E. Smith started this journey almost 35 years ago. The Fall continues to record albeit with Smith and new members. Their influence remains and they continue to have an impact on new alternative acts today. Much like The Velvet Underground, many who bought the Fall’s albums probably would end up forming bands themselves. That is the greatest achievement of all for any band. Highlights include: Frightened, Rebellious Jukebox, No Xmas For John Quays, Mother-Sister!, Underground Medicin, Two Steps Back, Futures and Pasts and Music Scene. Overall, I give Live at the Witch Trials, 5 out of 5.

Next: Fear of Music by Talking Heads

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