The Fall

Reformation Post T.L.C.

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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries

Being a fan of Mark E. Smith's the Fall is no doubt nowhere near as frustrating as it must be to be in his band, what with the way he fires people, it must go as far as demoralizing. Still, the fans were hit pretty hard on the way to Reformation Post-T.L.C. when commander Smith dumped the cracking Fall Heads Roll band in the middle of an American tour, save the keyboard-playing wife. They were just awful, he claimed, and while they certainly were not, the new Fall ("Fall #45" or something) and their new album (don't even try to count them) is filled with new life, new ideas, and every reason the cult needs to keep worshiping this fickle, inconsiderate, and ungracious band. Pulling another obscure idea out of an extremely eclectic record collection (Lee "Scratch" Perry, the Move, and the Monks have been covered before, Merle Haggard, Amon Düül, and Captain Beefheart are all referenced later on this album) the opening "Over! Over!" rips a bit of the United States of America's "Coming Down" and adds that Fall throb, that simple and infectious Fall sense of melody. Typically literate and wandering Smith lyrics are in effect, plus a gravelly grumble from some backup singer imitating a Muppet. Smith joins said Muppet and starts grumbling right along towards the end as the drummer kicks it double time, working the hi-hat. The track is representative of so many other surprises on the album since "muso" moves Smith would normally balk at often mix with the leader's extremely loose and mischievous delivery, bringing to mind nothing they've done before. There may even be a whammy bar on this album and, for the first time, incidental chatter with bandmembers actually laughing clearly audible. The album's title is supposedly inspired by fellow Manchester bands that are "Totally Lecherous C-Words" reuniting and it's easy to see how Smith is flippantly using this half-American band -- another first -- to make sure he has no connection to legend, reverence, or anything else graying musicians receive from their graying fans. He's inspired, as are the band who are given more room to roam than previous editions and in turn offer more ideas. The sprawling Krautrock of "Das Boot" might scare away the meek with its ten minutes of slowly churning basses and Michael Karoli-inspired guitars, but if you can handle that the only problem left is the loose-to-a-fault "Insult Song." The track is unmistakably B-side material and while that won't ruin anything for fans it does speak to the album's inability to play nice and save the glib ideas for peripheral releases. Course the way Reformation fights importance with such enthusiasm and muscle is what makes it such a fascinating album. It also suggests Smith's firings aren't as arbitrary as they seem and even if he doesn't care about fans, in some strange way he cares about the Fall.

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