As if your wallet could handle another Fall compilation, here comes Words of Expectation and its collection of BBC sessions. While 1999's Peel Sessions picked here and there from the group's appearances on the Beeb, Words of Expectation includes whole sessions, but it jumps from 1981 to 1995 for some bizarre reason. Plenty happened to the Fall in that time; heck, they even made a mad bid for pop stardom. It's even a more perverse move since the discs are laid out chronologically. Listening to the whole thing at once makes you feel like you fell asleep in the middle of a movie and woke up wondering what you missed. But the music is great. Disc one is the daring and ramshackle Fall, simple and punk one moment and a cerebral endurance test the next. The versions of "Rebellious Jukebox," "Put Away," and "New Puritan" included here top the ones more readily available, and "Container Drivers" comes off as the great amphetamine truck-driving anthem it always aspired to be. The short glimpse of early Fall that kicks off disc two is particularly stunning. The version of "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul" is far more driven than the one on Rough Trade, and "Hip Priest" is as stunning as ever. It hints at a new direction but then jumps ahead nearly 15 years. Where the early recordings feature Mark E. Smith brashly upfront, you have to dig through the crisp sonic chaos to get to his new slur and spit by 1995. The last eight tracks feature the Light User Syndrome-era lineup, the one where guitarist (and Smith's ex-wife) Brix came back after a big soap opera that Words of Expectation ignores. Missing Syndrome's techno sheen, the versions here are pleasingly raw and will hopefully improve the underrated era's standing. Biggest surprise, a bouncy version of Nancy Sinatra's "The City Never Sleeps" with a guest vocal by Lucy Rimmer that Austin Powers would find groovy. It all adds up to more quality Fall than you usually get on a compilation, but the huge gap in the middle is disappointing.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2