The Fall

Time Enough at Last

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Two clich├ęs to get rid of right away are that Time Enough at Last is another unnecessary outtakes-and-live compilation to clutter the Fall's unwieldy discography and that it's for hardcore fans only. The three discs included were all originally released with little information on when, where, and who by the Trojan Records imprint Receiver. The new liner notes by Record Collector's Daryl Easlea do 'fess up to the dodgy roots of these releases, so at least there seems to be some concern for the fans and the band, but noting "demo," "live," or "instrumental" on the track listing could have raised the credibility a bit more. There's still no explanation of who chose the tracks or put together the interesting segues in between them. The first disc, Oxymoron, draws the bulk of its material from The Light User Syndrome and Cerebral Caustic era, except for a weird remix of the 1979 classic "Psychic Dancehall," now titled "E.S.P. Disco" (hence the claim that the collection covers 1979-1996). A stomping studio recording of "Oxymoron" and an inspired "Chillinism" are highlights, but "Chillinism" will show up twice more in the set under different titles, and the live recordings of the two-drummer Fall that fill the rest of the disc are direct from the soundboard and sound flat and sloppy. The Cheetham Hill disc looks more promising with some mid-'80s tracks listed, but they're live versions that don't live up to their studio counterparts. The final disc, 15 Ways to Leave Your Man, claims to be from a 1996 concert in London, but the sound quality differs from track to track, perhaps another in the long list of bibliographic errors suffered by the Fall. The show does feature a less-sober and looser Mark E. Smith, whose vocal whoops and hollers are as jarring and exciting as ever, but some more room ambience would have gone a long way to make it a more worthy addition. The sonically muddy version of "Hey Student" that closes the set is a prime example of what's wrong here: great song, decent performance, but if it's live, where did the fade-out and the multi-tracking of Smith's voice come from? Time Enough at Last doesn't have enough choice material for the casual fan, but fanatics might benefit from the new liner notes and the convenience of getting it all at once at a fair price.

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