The Fall

Telephone Thing

Song Review by

One of the Fall's most inventive, brilliant cuts -- and arguably a precursor to the wave of rock singer/techno act one-off collaborations that continued to crop up throughout the '90s and beyond in the U.K. -- "Telephone Thing" found Mark E. Smith and company whipping up one unexpected delight. The roots of the song lay in a track by groundbreaking U.K. duo Coldcut, "My Telephone," which had surfaced the previous year. Working with Coldcut, Smith helped oversee a radical revision of the track, turning it into a funked-up disco freak-out slathered with his ever-wonderful contempt and standoffish attitude. A midsong spoken-word break shows he's still got the knack for such touches, as his just paranoid enough chorus ("I hear you telephone thing, listening in") sets the uneasy mood. Squalls of guitar loop and flange are through the track, cut up and fed back as needed, while a squirrelly keyboard filigree adds just enough odd creepiness to the chorus. A most atypical Fall single on the face of it, but as later efforts like "Free Range" showed, techno and electronic dance culture swiftly became another arrow in the group's quiver.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Extricate 1990 Extricate 4:21
Sinister Waltz 1996 Receiver 4:37
The Other Side of the Fall 1996 Receiver
Less You Look the More You Find 1997 Snapper 4:38
War Against Intelligence: The Fontana Years 2003 UMVD 4:11
50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong: 39 Golden Greats 2004 Beggars Banquet 4:10
A-Sides 1978-2016 2017 Cherry Red 4:20
58 Golden Greats 2018 Cherry Red 4:22