Saturday, February 08, 2014

Song of the day

"New Puritan (Peel Session)", by The Fall.

(It may be that I am the sole surviving Australian subscriber to eMusic. (I keep hanging on, waiting to see if they offer me a tidy sum to get me off their books.) I mention the following on the off chance that there are others out there, stranded on this antipodean desert island.)

Occasionally real bargains can be found on eMusic. John Coltrane's European Tours box set cost me practically nothing. The Tindersticks box of Claire Denis film scores likewise. (I could once have picked up Gas's "Nah Und Fern" for not much more, but it slipped through my fingers.)

As of right now, you can pick up The Fall's "Complete Peel Sessions" for $2.99. That is not a typo. Six discs' worth of music, seven hours of Mark E Smith in your face. It's a lot less than the sixty-odd I paid for the box itself, and the booklet you can probably find scanned somewhere on the internet anyway. You should, of course, go for this with your Ears Pinned Back.

The box set as a whole is like an alternative history of The Fall. In fact, if you didn't have the albums you may well be better off with the Peel Sessions alone. The chronology was unfortunately truncated by the loss of Peel himself, but it gets you through to 2004, which ends a pretty fair run. What I find fascinating about these (also the Magazine Peel Sessions, as I'm sure I've said before) is that they capture the band in a different way from the records: in The Fall's case, live and direct, without the audio smudging and deliberate sabotage to which Smith has always been prone. This makes the records fun, of course, but often at the expense of the music, so it's nice to be able to hear what was -- is -- underneath it all one of the great rock bands, and a band that, notwithstanding its countless lineup changes, never sounded like anything but itself.

"New Puritan" a la Peel has fascinated me ever since I first heard it on the "Kicker Conspiracy" double seven-inch. Mark E Smith here is biliously spitting the words out, as if they are a cancer in his mouth that he has to get rid of. Meanwhile behind him that juggernaut of a riff rolls on, and on, and on. Seven minutes is both too much to bear and barely enough.

Bonus beats: the video for "Wings". It never gets old. Phew, rock 'n' roll.

More bonus beats: Donnie Sutherland interviews Mark E Smith and Marc Riley. Really.