“Hex Enduction Hour” by The Fall - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1982 →Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s →

TJR says

11 months on from “Slates” their fifth new music statement was delivered in March, 1982, Kamera Records being their new home. Now twice as rhythmic, old drummer Karl Burns returns, but young Paul Hanley retains his place. Seems to work for Adam Ant, so why the hell not? They line up: Mark E. Smith (vocals), Steve Hanley (bass guitar, backing vocals), Marc Riley (electronic organ, guitar, piano, backing vocals), Craig Scanlon (guitar, backing vocals), Paul Hanley (drums) and Karl Burns (drums, backing vocals). The group's manager (and singer's partner) Kay Carroll adds percussion and backing vocals. With a chaotic and unconventional front-cover which so perfectly suits, the product is devoid of romance, featuring 11 anti-songs with reams-full of Smith-isms guaranteed to poke, revoke and invoke, none more so than with the opening gambit on industry-bashing “The Classical”: “There is no culture is my brag, Your taste for bullshit reveals a lust for a form of office, This is the home of the vain! This is the home of the vain! Where are the obligatory n*****s? Hey there fuckface! Hey there fuckface!”. He doesn't make it easy for himself. MES: “When we recorded that album we were sick of the music industry, the record was meant to be against that. It was our way of saying 'fuck off!' to those people. 'The Classical' is the song that sums it all up, it's the anthem of the record. I figured: if you want to say it, you might as well do it in the first song.

Injecting a degree of levity, Smith sets his sights on a rabbit-killer on “Jawbone And The Air Rifle”, where a dalliance with a graveyard keeper and a cursed jawbone leads to no end of trouble for the hunter. It's like something out of Tam O'Shanter, without the hero, and well-timed tempo changes help the horror-comedy on its way. Again taking the musical adventure somewhere entirely different, the moodier-than-mere-blues “Hip Priest” builds slowly and surely before bursting into life with two minutes of lunacy, ending with a comedown relief of sorts in the finale. “And if the good people knew they would say: He is not appreciated” strikes a chord, self-referential or not. At the 90 seconds point where “Fortress” gives way to “English Deer Park” it suddenly hits me that a very special record is unfolding - could it be their best yet? As our man rants away, the group's insane garage-rock-rage is incessant. Taking a break from being epic, “Mere Pseud Mag. Ed.” at least keeps up the relentless aggression, before “Winter (Hostel-Maxi)” brings side one to a mesmerizing close. According to the press-release, it's “a tale concerning an insane child who is taken over by a spirit from the mind of a cooped-up alcoholic, and his ravaged viewpoints and theories.” And who could ever forget that mad kid? “And the mad kid said: 'Gimme the lead, Gimme the lead'… Anyway two weeks before the mad kid had said to me: 'I'll take both of you on, I'll take both of you on!'

In the old-fashioned way of the vinyl long-player, the mad-kids tale continues on “Winter 2” as we gear up for the second half and the epic set continues to unfold. For norms, “Just Step S’ways” offers some melodic respite, with a soul-stomping dance-beat to boot. “The Eastern Bloc rocks to Elton John. So just step sideways from this place today. To be a celebrity you've gotta eat the past, nowadays. But who wants to be in a Hovis advert, anyway?”. Quite. Immediately sabotaging that good-time vibe, the formless “Who Makes The Nazis?” offers no future-pop concession, but what a great question. Ordinary folks that live next door, or even in your house, or even you, that's who. Achtung!

A short tour of Iceland 6 months earlier proved to be fruitful as the group managed to squeeze in an improvisational day of recording, from which this album benefitted via the aforementioned “Hip Priest” and the incredible “Iceland”, where the group leader's bonkers idea of what music should be fits in with nothing, nobody, no way, no how. With his fragmented lyrics documenting his brief stay so far, a personal cassette of the wind howling against his hotel window (listen closely), and the mere guidance that they should play “something Dylanish” our man expects his group to instantly concoct an accompaniment which, amazingly, they are able to do, despite Scanlon and Riley adopting unlikely roles as pianist and banjoist, the 'what-next' hesitancy being core to the sheer brilliance of the whole. “To be humbled in Iceland, Sing of legend, sing of destruction, Witness the last of the god-men, Hear about Megas Jonsson… Sit in the gold room, Fall down flat in the Cafe aisle, Without a glance from the clientele, Good coffee black as well, Hair blond as hell” Not only have we been privvy to the trip, but to the otherworldly nature of Iceland itself, and this seems to fully suit the abnormality of Fall sound. It's a 10 from me for the sheer cojones, and this euphoria is magically transplanted onto the ultimate anti-song finale, “And This Day”, where two wild drummers and a manic organist are at the heart of a hellish psychobilly ghost train, led by some kinda preacher possessed. The frenzied 26 minute assault was cut to 10, ensuring the Hex Enduction Hour. Rhythmic, dark and tense, this was like no album before, and another unorthodox Fall masterpiece, much to the great bemusement of the world at large.

The Jukebox Rebel
27–Apr–2006 (edited 30–Nov–2020)

A1 [05:16] 8.8.png The Fall - The Classical (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley, Karl Burns, Paul Hanley, Kay Carroll) Post-Punk
A2 [03:43] 9.6.png The Fall - Jawbone And The Air Rifle (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley) Post-Punk
A3 [07:45] 9.8.png The Fall - Hip Priest (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley, Paul Hanley) Moodcore
A4 [06:41] 9.8.png The Fall - Fortress / Deer Park (Mark E. Smith, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley, Karl Burns) Trance Rock
A5 [02:50] 8.3.png The Fall - Mere Pseud Mag. Ed. (Mark E. Smith, Marc Riley) Post-Punk
A6 [04:26] 9.7.png The Fall - Winter (Hostel-Maxi) (Mark E. Smith, Craig Scanlon) Trance Rock
B1 [04:33] 9.7.png The Fall - Winter 2 (Mark E. Smith, Craig Scanlon) Trance Rock
B2 [03:22] 9.3.png The Fall - Just Step S’ways (Mark E. Smith) Post-Punk
B3 [04:27] 7.9.png The Fall - Who Makes The Nazis? (Mark E. Smith) Avant-Garde
B4 [06:42] 10.0.png The Fall - Iceland (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley) Trance Rock
B5 [10:18] 10.0.png The Fall - And This Day (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Craig Scanlon, Marc Riley, Karl Burns, Paul Hanley, Kay Carroll) Trance Rock

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved