Thursday, 29 October 2015

Year by year: 1981

The Fall – SLATES (EP)

Choosing the best album by The Fall is pointless (I’m constantly shifting between Grotesque and Country On The Click, though on a certain day I will go for Bend Sinister), but Slates is a fair bet. And it's an EP with just six songs on it. But what an EP this is. So good I don’t mind saying it was the best thing that happened to music in 1981.

Slates is a perfect Fall record. And when I say ‘perfect’, I certainly mean it’s hopelessly ‘imperfect’. Flawed, repetitive, not something you would give to a person who has never heard of Mark E. Smith. Individual songs should not be mentioned in the murky, disheveled context of this EP, but the closing “Leave The Capitol” is something else. Not least because of the wonderful lyrics featuring lines like ‘Leave the Capitol! Exit this Roman shell!’ Priceless. 

Slates is part punk, part rockabilly, part insanity. But mostly it’s Mark E. Smith doing his thing. Lyrically and even vocally, he is in imperious form. 

Which means that he is basically being himself. It’s not so much indescribable as something that does not need to be described. It’s the sort of charisma that should only be expressed in the actual music. Which is why I never cared for how many journalists he punched and how many musicians he kicked out of the band.