Year Zero for many. One of the most important years in the history of modern music. I mainly refer, of course, to the release of the Shadows’ ‘Twenty Golden Greats’ collection and the formation of the legendary Toto. I have several friends who live in 1977 and refuse to budge – not because of Toto and the Shadows, mind.Writer Tom Wolfe was the fifth Beatle in 1977, now he’s the third. You don’t need me to tell you that those days were very different. Ask Rolf Harris and Stuart Hall.
In 1977 I was 13 years old and in my third year at comprehensive school. My clothes were so badly fitting and unfashionable that I could’ve probably been recruited by The Fall. Even my hair was as unstyled and dishevelled as the band. Of course thay had kudos and I had credibility issues. The Fall? They didn’t care about cred. When Lou Reed died Steve Albini wrote :
“I didn’t have the kind of epiphany many people did to VU or Reed’s music. I liked some of it, loved some of it, and didn’t care for some, but the arc of his whole thing is just undeniably great and inspirational. 50 years of following his muse, whatever it happened to be at the moment. His music will either hit you or not, but one thing ought matter to anybody who thinks music or art is worth pursuing for its own sake; Lou Reed, he did not give a fuck. Did not give a single fuck. I think of myself as not giving a fuck most of the time, but once in a while I wish to Christ I could give not a fuck as thoroughly as Lou Reed.”
It occurs to me that Albini could be talking about Mark E Smith at various points in his career.
The band playing on this album do not give a fuck about the audience in front of them. They know that they will find their audience at some point in the future and they won’t give a fuck about them either. The Fall, to me, have nearly always been more krautrock than punk, especially live. Live, The Fall are formidable and usually exceed expectations. On some nights they are transcendent. Even now.
Perhaps I should talk about the album.
Most bands wouldn’t consider it for release. I’m not sure how official it is but the sound is generally awful by modern standards. Useless radio stations like Shoutsport cut callers off when their phone emits one click and the punters of today expect flawless sound. This would have been recorded on cassette, the hieroglyphics of music transcription to many, with all of the attendant fuzz and distortion. At times it resembles playing a record with a fuzzy needle (not a euphenism). Nonetheless, a very energetic performance by a version of the band that never made a record. MES is hilarious when berating the audience (similar to ‘Totale’s Turns’).I refuse to quote him because I want you to listen to this. The songs still leap out despite the rudimentary recording equipment.
In all of their early glory . . .