The Fall, Live At The Witch Trials

Andrew Perry

By Andrew Perry

on 07.11.12 in Reviews

Miles Copeland financed the Fall’s debut LP on a shoestring in December ’78. It was recorded and mixed in two days flat — not at a live gig, as the title implies, but live, one-take, in the studio. And it sounds that way. Smith had already fired half his band, including sometime girlfriend and provider of plinky-plonk keyboards, Una Baines, and the other half would be hurled through the Fall’s never-still revolving doors immediately afterwards (they wanted to go New Wave). Here, the Fall sound-world is every bit as gnarly as the wasteland on the front cover. There couldn’t be a starker contrast with the pre-punk idyll of, say, Yes’s Tales from Topographic Oceans. In Smith’s lyrical universe, urban alienation (“Frightened”) and the wretchedness of contemporary pop (“Music Scene”) are each documented with biting austerity. There is, however, unquestionable humour in a rock ‘n’ roll song that just goes “Yeah, yeah, industrial estate” (“Industrial Estate”).