Author?, "Frenz Again"

Source?, ca. June 1989


Seminal Live (Beggars Banquet LPCassette/CD)


THE FALL have been, and still are, one of the constants in this decade's musical equation. They've remained true to that sacred Manchester hostelry beermat upon which their original brief was scored. Hell, they even got into the Proper Charts with cover versions and hung on to their street-credentials. By rights, The Fall should've split up or sold out about four albums ago. They didn't.

Which is why 'Seminal Live' is a right pole in the spokes. It's a dip. Why ? Because it sounds just like a contractual obligation (which indeed it is). OK, so a full-blown live LP would've been an even more ineffectual propostion - at least one side here contains new tracks. But 'Seminal Live' is worse than an intellectual letdown, it's a tease.

With a tearful nod, a fond farewell to their longtime pals Beggars Banquet, then it's laced with too-clever irony, it comes across as a hastily- scribbled note stuck to the fridge door.

The opener, 'Dead Beat Descendant' is a pre- programmed Fall (abrasive guitar intro, lumpy drums, and E Smith's lip curled around it like a security blanket) and that's more criminal than most other bonds slipping into auto, because The Fall have continually found new corners into which they can cram their individual technique.

Since the 'Kurious Oranj' LP was as fresh as a debut, I'm still optimistic for their Phonogram- fuelled future. 'Pinball Machine', for instance, bodes well - a cosily amateurish spoof on second-gear Pogues (of all things), and 'H.O.W.' is yet another variation on laid-back Fall hardiness. Not startling - but the very fact it's not crap is remarkable enough after 12 years of life support (for me and one or two others.)

The live side is self-explanatory - nice Hammond on 'Cruisers Creek', and even if John Peel isn't I'm chuffed at the inclusion of 'LA' (with its catchy chorus "L.. L.. L.. L..A..A..A..A.."). The cassette and CD contain four extras, including the actually seminal 'Hit The North' and 'In These Times' - making it a necessary for the Fall fan, but of little interest to the immune.

Mark E Smith-ah (ha ha) has become a parody of himself - and so maybe 'Seminal Live' is a parody of a thrown-together clause-filler. Maybe the joke's on us critics. This is the sound of The Fall cruising. Let's hope they're not headed up the creek. (6)