The mighty Fall spent just over two years at Phonogram in the early '90s, propelled to their first (and only) major label by a consistent string of indie hits during the late '80s and an ever-increasing fan base. Their trio of albums for the label (1990's Extricate, 1991's Shift-Work, and 1992's Code: Selfish) saw Mark E. Smith and company moving from the smoother, garage-influenced sound of their Beggars Banquet period to a spare, experimental vision of indie rock -- more Kraut than rockabilly -- that paved the way for the Fall throughout the '90s. Listening In: Lost Singles Tracks 1990-92 compiles 17 tracks, all of them B-sides, remixes, or non-album tracks taken from singles of the period, many of them released for the first time on CD. Like the impressive Beggars collection 458489 B-Sides, this is a rare boon for collectors, who usually have to suffer through inept compilations of questionable material put together by dodgy labels. Yes, there are a few more desultory tracks here than you'd hear from the '80s version of the Fall, with early inclusions "Butterflies 4 Brains" and "Zandra" barely even sounding worthy of release. But most of the material here will be welcome to any Fall fan; the jangly, rollicking "Blood Outta Stone" is a great moment, and the multi-movement "Zagreb" is as ambitious and successful as any of their album experiments of a time. Another bonus: a skeletal version of "Life Just Bounces," slightly reworked for 1995's Cerebral Caustic.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush