The Fall's second album was also one of the hardest to find in later years, getting only sporadic represses and reissues. Though some opinions would have it that there was a good reason for this -- namely, that it was something of a dead end sonically -- it's not as bad as all that. It's true that more than a few tracks come across as Fall-by-numbers (even then, already better than plenty of other bands), but there are some thorough standouts regardless. There's also another key reason to rate Dragnet -- it's the debut album appearance of Craig Scanlon, who picked up on the off-kilter rockabilly-meets-art rock sensibilities of the initial lineup and translated it into amazing guitar work. No less important is the appearance of Steve Hanley, who would soon take over fully on bass from Marc Riley, who in turn moved to guitar, forming one heck of a partnership with Scanlon that would last until Riley jumped ship to form the Creepers. Generally the songs which work the best on Dragnet throw in some amusingly odd curves while still hanging together musically. The full winner is unquestionably "Spectre vs. Rector," an amazing combination of clear lead vocals and buried, heavily echoed music and further rants, before fully exploding halfway through while the rhythm obsessively grinds away. Another odd and wonderful cut is "Muzorewi's Daughter," which starts out sounding like stereotypical Hollywood music for Native American tribes before shifting between that and quicker choruses. "Dice Man," with its rave-up melody and slower vocal- and guitar-only chorus, not to mention the weird muttering elsewhere in the mix, says it all in under two minutes and has fun while doing it. Through it all, Smith rants and raves supreme, spinning out putdowns, cracked vocals, and total bile with all the thrill and energy one could want from a good performer.
by Ned Raggett