Their major label period. Better than you remember
Nineteen eighty-nine. Manchester was in the ascendant, indie bands were being collected like trinkets by major labels, and The Fall were the subject of an improbable bidding war. Ever unpredictable, Mark E Smith rewarded the courageous victors, Fontana, with what many would have least expected from him: three albums of The Fall at their most economical and accessible. This month’s Fall compilation, The War Against Intelligence, showcases a fine run of agitated almost-hits (“Telephone Thing”, “Free Range”, the unjustly forgotten “Ed’s Babe”) and some ballads, notably “Bill Is Dead”, where Smith ceases with the surrealist hectoring and reveals a more vulnerable side. A reminder that The Fall can be a great pop group when the mood takes Smith.