Backdrop is a collection of rareties by the Fall. It first appeared in unauthorized bootleg form in 1994 on the Pseudo Indies label and, to fans' demands, was later given a proper release on Cog Sinister. This CD offers a hodgepodge of B-sides, compilation tracks, alternate versions, and tracks from free EPs originally included with magazines like Melody Maker. "Dresden Dolls" is a sloppy rehearsal recording from 1977 (the band was 12 months old). "Backdrop" and "Plaster on the Hands" were recorded in 1983. All other songs come from the Fall's 1985-1989 period, the time line ending with a rendition of Gene Vincent's "Race With the Devil" played as a special request at John Peel's private 50th birthday party. The sound quality varies enormously from one track to the other and, in many cases, master tapes were unavailable (surface noise and crackles are audible at times). But the die-hard fan won't mind, and the sound is good on key tracks like the irresistible "Marquis Cha-Cha," "Bremen Nacht Run Out" (a killer version), and "U.S. 80's-90's" (a very good live recording). An uncredited track (number 16) contains an interview excerpt with Mark E. Smith. Of course, the Fall newcomer has many more important albums to acquire, but the serious fan will find many fine surprises on Backdrop.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture