Noble attempt to shrink three decades of excellence onto two CDs
Not wrong, perhaps, but it’s a fair bet 50,000 curmudgeonly Fall fans will be a tad irritated by this latest entry into the messy world of Fall compilations (currently numbering in the “neighbourhood of infinity”, to borrow a classic Smith phrase). This one purports to be a comprehensive, career-spanning anthology and, to be fair, is a broadly logical selection of singles and signature tracks. The first disc in particular, stretching from 1978’s skeletal “Repetition” to 1985 and the outskirts of pop, is as good an argument for the incipient genius of Mark E Smith extant: you can’t help thinking, listening to it, that the current post-punk revival needs a poet/contrarian/agitator like him to give it personality as well as angles.
Compiling best-ofs is a pretty thankless task, of course, and parsing The Fall’s labyrinthine catalogue into 39 tracks is an especially grim one. Hence no one’s likely to be entirely satisfied with this selection (some rather turgid late-period choices, no “Gut Of The Quantifier”). A great box set still awaits this most intractable of rock institutions.