Maybe I'm not qualified to write this review, having only heard about five (Hex Enduction Hour, The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall, This Nation's Saving Grace, The Fall In: Palace Of Swords Reversed, and Extricate) of the bands 40 or so albums. I fully expect that I'll get some grief from the band's fanatical hardcore fans who will complain that I don't "get" their favorite band. They're right of course, but that doesn't mean that I'm wrong. Anyway, as many people know, The Fall are a beloved cult band led by the prolific Mark E. Smith. Band members have come and gone, to put it mildly, including ex-wife Brix, who briefly steered this uncompromising band in a more commerically oriented, and commercially successful, direction. Famously, The Fall were the favorite band of legendary U.K. DJ John Peel, who noted that "they are always different, they are always the same" (or something like that - I don't know about the former part). The Fall formula is actually pretty simple: a big propulsive beat, clangy, cold guitars, the occasional keyboards, and Smith's obnoxiously atonal barking of his cynical lyrics. Sometimes I appreciate the energy, and the songs, such as "How I Wrote Elastic Man," "Totally Wired," "The Classical," and "Cruiser's Creek," can be oddly catchy - I don't dislike this band, you gotta understand. But I prefer less repetition and more warmth in my music; barring that, I'd need something else to make up for it, such as great musicianship, a superior singer, an undeniable atmosphere, or a supremely gifted songwriter. The Fall offer none of these things; maybe if they covered more Kinks songs I'd be more interested, but barring that I suppose I'll continue to scratch my head about these guys. I've tried to like them, really I have, but after listening to this supposedly stellar 39-song compilation quite a few times, and even after reading rave reviews from Mark Prindle, Adrian Denning, and the staff of Perfect Sound Forever, I still can't help but think, "what's the big deal?"
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