The Fall

The Twenty-Seven Points

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The follow-up to Cerebral Caustic turned out as one of the strangest things the Fall had yet released, though it was also fairly prescient in terms of what would follow. A slew of incredibly random live cuts, outtakes, and other otherwise unreleased material from throughout the first half of the 1990s, Twenty Seven Points (actually 28 tracks long) is first and foremost a catchall. There's no sense of any particular order or overriding theme -- the liner notes are fragmentary at best -- but for all that there's some good stuff to be had on a generally up-and-down release. Compared to the slew of similar live/demo/whatever collections that would appear with numbing regularity and much less quality over the next few years, meanwhile, Twenty Seven Points is practically essential. Smith himself presumably compiled the contents with an eye towards perversity, which explains the truncated version of "Idiot Joy Showland" that ends after 40 seconds, Smith promising a quick return to the stage. Even crazier is "Glam Racket/Star," which ends up splicing together two different versions of the song (one with Brix, one without) from separate shows. As for straightforward performances, happily, there are plenty to choose from. From the first disc, "Ladybird (Green Grass)" could use a touch clearer sound but runs its motorik-inspired chug quite well, while "The Joke," when it gets started, turns into a sharp, crisp rocker. On the second disc, studio cut "Cloud of Black" creates some murky dance atmosphere; a rough cover of "Strychnine" is another treat. There are spoken word pieces of collected insults and dressing downs, conversations about Frank Zappa books, sudden cuts between tracks, and all sorts of other demolitions of typical live album experiences. It's not necessarily a deathless record, but it's still more of a treat than might be guessed.

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