The Fall

Live to Air in Melbourne '82

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So named for very good reasons -- that's exactly where it was recorded and under what conditions. One of the various live documents that Cog Sinister started releasing in large amounts in the late '90s, Live to Air comes from a 1982 show. While there's no noticeable mastered-from-vinyl problems (which afflict the CD version of Fall in a Hole), there is some odd packaging, with the two-disc set listed as having the main show on the first disc and the encore on the second. Logically, in reality, the show is spread out fairly evenly on two discs. Fidelity is somewhat flat -- it's not an audience tape, but it certainly sounds like somebody just taped it off a radio broadcast, while every so often the levels juggle around suddenly. As for the performance itself, some of the most affecting music the early band recorded can be found here -- Mark E. Smith's wry humor is never far away, but the dark chime of "Hard Life in Country" is downright beautiful and melancholy. The song selection hits up plenty of the band's highlights from that period and earlier -- "Totally Wired," "Hip Priest," "Marquis Cha-Cha," and "Lie Dream of a Casino Soul" can be found here. The last gets an agreeably annoyed rant-through, with keyboards and guitar ending up with equal prominence in the mix. Other blasts of near-chaos include a full-on rumble through "Solicitor in the Studio," which sounds like it's about to blow down the walls of wherever the band is at, and a great rip through "The Classical." Somehow the muddy if trebly mix makes the bile of the song come out all the more, especially when the music drops back just a bit before the second verse. "Plenty of bloody microphones!" as Smith himself puts it.

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