Sunday, 7 August 2016

Oliver: The Fall - Free Range/Everything Hurtz (16 February 1992)

A new Fall album was imminent and it was trailed by the single, Free Range.  Peel, as you would expect, played both sides of the single on 16/2/92.

Free Range grabs the attention straight away with its electro-buzz riff heralding a tumble into the propulsive driving bass line, over the top of which Mark E. Smith references Fredrich Nietzsche, Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke and Richard Strauss - a funky little beat combo who each followed Pink Floyd's Ummagumma lead and all threw their contributions into 2001: A Space Odyssey via Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  There's bowdlerisations of Shakespeare, "The summer of our malcontent" and Noel Harrison, "The winter of your mind".
It runs the gamut of emotions from the boundlessly optimistic; the free range of the title suggests the importance of thinking as broadly and openly as you can - to the guardedly paranoid, "It pays to talk to no-one. No-one!"  It also marks the moment when The Fall begin marrying elements of dance music more closely to their sound, and I would have loved it if any Falmouth nightclub had had the wit to put this on one evening in the early 90s.  It's certainly better to think of it as a rave-like book club, given the literary references that Smith works in as opposed to the soundtrack of a line-up imploding which how I was first aware of it.

Everything Hurtz starts out with a quote lifted from the Gospel according to Matthew and journeys into a screed about the trials of the working man racked by pains both internal (in the chestbone and through tinnitus) to the external (in the chequebook).  All whipsmart drumming, snarling guitar and another showcase for Smith's excellent vocal phrasing - the way he spits out quickfire repetitions of a single word before linking it to the rest of the line: dip dip dip dip dipping man etc.  Touches of care which it's easy to discount them as being capable of.

Videos courtesy of 221bk and Paul Connelly.

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