“Room To Live (Undilutable Slang Truth)” by The Fall - album review

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

TJR says

Where March's “Hex” was dense, intense, lengthy and somewhat claustrophobic, September's super-quick follow-up was lighter, relatively speaking, generally reverting to shorter, snappier and less complex arrangements. On their second of the year for Kamera they remain: Mark E. Smith (vocals); Steve Hanley (bass guitar); Craig Scanlon (guitar); Marc Riley (guitar, keyboards); Karl Burns (bass guitar, drums, guitar, percussion) and Paul Hanley (drums). That said, the unpredictable group leader was of a mind to mess members around, being selective as to who was invited to what session when, and inviting randoms to contribute with little to no group consultation. Going in under-rehearsed-as-aesthetic remains the play, although there's zero doubt in my mind this policy limits the musical impact on this occasion. That leaves plenty of focus on the frontman's delivery, and perhaps that's just the way he wanted it.

Casual-Jaunty opener “Joker Hysterical Face” is about pretentious urban types, whilst “Marquis Cha Cha” is delivered on a bed of progressive latin grooves, and has a degree of empathy for the Argentine position in regards to the Falklands. To the consternation of others, guest guitarist Arthut Kadmon appears for the good-if-unspectacular scratchy-repetitive-jangler “Hard Life In Country”, before the rockabilly “title-track” finishes side one with something altogether meatier and beatier. Guest Adrian Niman adds some low-rumble sax; I'd have been very pleased to hear more of this un-Fall-like sound throughout the set.

Coming on like a post-punk Lee Perry is “Detective Instinct” which opens up side two with a simple bassline, an engaging narrative and a little bit of studio plink-plonkery. With a bit more time spent on it, more subtle trickery could have made an even mightier musical beast out of the thing. By a country mile, the album's classic standout is “Solicitor In Studio”, revelling in the joy of repetition, flirting with rhythm n blues (of all things!), flirting with superbly controlled feedback and introducing discordant tangents, all of which is underpinned by a phat honking sax that reaches parts where Fall sound has never been before and never will go again. Adrian has been a star turn. As happens so often when I review albums, sheer greatness is immediately betrayed by the mediocre, Smith's tuneless abuse of violin on “Papal Visit” amounting to nowt more than five minutes of artsy bobbins. Undiluted indeed.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:51] 7.0.png The Fall - Joker Hysterical Face (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Marc Riley) Lo-Fi
A2 [04:34] 7.2.png The Fall - Marquis Cha Cha (Mark E. Smith, Karl Burns) Indie
A3 [06:16] 6.6.png The Fall - Hard Life In Country (Mark E. Smith, Arthur Cadman) Post-Punk
A4 [04:16] 7.8.png The Fall - Room To Live (Mark E. Smith, Craig Scanlon) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B1 [05:45] 7.8.png The Fall - Detective Instinct (Mark E. Smith, Steve Hanley, Karl Burns) Trance Rock
B2 [05:24] 9.5.png The Fall - Solicitor In Studio (Mark E. Smith, Craig Scanlon, Karl Burns) Trance Rock
B3 [05:40] 3.2.png The Fall - Papal Visit (Mark E. Smith) Avant-Garde

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