Mike Goldsmith, Review: Sinister Waltz

NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 3, 1996, p.44

BEWARE YE the retrospective album, quoth the Book Of Rock, for it harboureth the B-side, the live version and the devil in disguise that is the alternative mix. So endeth the first lesson, but if anyone's odds-on to blaspheme against these commandments, it is, of course, The Fall.

Cohorts may come and inevitably go, but Mark E Smith, street pusher of Class 'A' paranoia and Class 'D' dress sense, has waged his unholy jihad against The Man for four score year and ten now, and what stinks of sell-out in the hands of mere mortals, smells of virginal lilies when touched by the hand of Mark. Last year's chaotic '27 Points' was hardly the polished turd that usually comprises the live album, and thus it's no surprise that this collection of odds and sods raises a similar middle finger to corporate concerns.

The early '90s were both Brix-less and disturbingly tuneful times for The Fall so, inevitably, these outtakes from that period (namely the 'Shiftwork' and 'Extricate' albums) are noticeably without claws. 'Arid Al's Dream' has B-side tattooed deep into its C86 backside while 'The Knight The Devil And Death' is that most pointless of all creatures, The Fall instrumental. Just where is Mark E Smith band?

Mercifully, compiled by the Acrid King himself, aural sabotage is never far away. Who else would unveil a version of the Coldcut-produced 'Telephone Thing' which is augmented by a couple of stray Inspirals and sounds like Alvin Stardust spluttering conspiracy theories over a Chemical Brothers tune? Exactly.

All this refried schizophrenia is utterly bonkers and thus for the Fall trainspotter zone, but on the whole, 'Sinister Waltz' is a 'Free As A Bird' free zone. The arch jester is gleefully exhuming his flimsiest past for all to see and, on the off-chance, maybe even buy. So stick that in your Book Of Rock and smoke it. (7)