Stephen Dalton
New Musical Express, September ?, 1990

458489 (Beggars Banquet LP/Cassette/CD)

BEING, IN case the title isn't clear, the collected Fall singles from 1984 to 1989 including double A-Sides. The Beggars years, which also happened to be the Brix years, when Mrs Smith was lambasted by snobbish critics for dragging her husband's songwriting towards commerciality and even (bah! humbug!) melody. But these were also the finest years of their lives--so far.

The evidence: 17 helpings of Mark's whiplash vitriol and twisted logic, ranging from the gnarled garagethump of 'Oh! Brother' right up to the, gnarled garage thump of 'Deadbeat Descendant'. Along the way, of course, the scenery varies wildly from deranged Fisher Price plastic pop ('C.R.E.E.P.','No Bulbs') to lurching speed-fuelled paranoia ('Couldn't Get Ahead','Cruiser's Creek'), prowling animal menace ('L.A.') and numb minimalist grinding ('Living Too Late').

Covers abound: from the raw and ragged 'Rollin' Dany' and 'Mr Pharmacist', to the slick and streamlined chart-fodder of 'There's A Ghost In My House' and 'Victoria'. All of which sit confidently alongside the ground-breaking elephant-disco anthem 'Hit The North', stop-start seismic soundquake 'Wrong Place, Right Time' and nimble left-field toe-tapper 'Hey! Luciani'. Only Mark's unrecognisable hatchet job on 'Jerusalem' sounds ill-conceived and dirge-like.

This is an attractively accessible snapshot selection for first-time fans, while hardcore Fallophiles may be surprised by the sheer abundance of jolly pop tunes. (9)