The Fall

Live from the Vaults: Oldham 1978

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Sourced from a soundboard tape that was a commonly traded bootleg, Live from the Vaults: Oldham 1978 is a satisfactory picture of the Fall in their scrappy early years. Leader Mark E. Smith is a cool combination of tense and flippant with freak legend Sky Saxon getting a shout-out during the set's opening and epic "Repetition," which grinds and groans for over eight minutes. A rollicking "Stepping Out" just holds it together, while "Psycho Mafia" goes completely out of control. These tracks are the Fall at their early, ramshackle best -- but sometimes the band just doesn't have the chops to deliver at this speed and the too-clean, too-upfront recording does nothing to hide it. Adding to the frustration is an incomplete "Music Scene" and the Hip Priest label's promise that this is "remastered" when it sounds exactly the same as the bootleg did: not bad, but no better. A spotty performance, but the lack of decent-sounding early gigs and the abundant between-song banter from Smith captured here make this a must for the fanatic.

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