Live At The Witch Trials review by The Fall

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  • Released: Mar 16, 1979
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.3 (4 votes)
The Fall: Live At The Witch Trials

Sound — 9
I describe this album with two words: musical schizophrenia. The guitar sound is somehow hybrid, somewhere between clean and distorted. Guitarist Martin Bramah alternates between punkish riffs and completely cacophonic licks. In the end, all the non-melodic guitar stuff matches up perfectly with the also cacophonic keyboard riffs that are everywhere throughout the album (I'd say a perfect example of this is "Mother-Sister!"). Drummer Karl Burns does more than keeping the rhythm here. Most of his beats are very non-linear and he comes up with those crazy fills all the time. Unlike many post punk albums, the bass is not that big here (although it basically leads the way on "Rebellious Jukebox"), it mostly just follows the guitar. But it's a broad music genre anyway, and the bass does not need to take place when it comes to creating an atmosphere on this album. It's an aspect that would be way more explored on later albums like "Hex Enduction Hour". Production wise, it's pretty good for a first album, recorded in one day and mixed in the other. Nothing here is too loud or too low, so kudos on that, too.

Lyrics — 9
Now, here on the lyrics, we're talking about Mark E. Smith, the mastermind of the band. According to him, "if it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's The Fall". His lyrics here approaches mostly drug abuse and social issues (for that matter, describing the daily lives of a group of people or a social class, like in "Futures and Pasts" and "Music Scene"). He also alternates between straight to the point lyrics and metaphorical words, the last one probably being a result of his fascination for writers like Edgar Allan Poe. Like, "And behind our conscious minds/Our affections are turning grey"... You can feel the anger on them, which is something that, indeed, matches up with the music. Here. His singing is maniacal and you can feel the tension in the air as he screams until his voice starts screeching at some points. On a technical aspect, he may not be great, but he expresses his lyrics perfectly, with the anger and if it's the case, the calm it needs.

Overall Impression — 9
To this day, this album remains to me as a very unique piece of music in the post punk scene and as the holder of The Fall's musical DNA. If you listen to any other album of them, you'll find the old Mark E. Smith craziness presented here, only put in a different way. I'm usually critical with those reviews, but I really can't find something to hate on this album. I'd say that "No Xmas For John Quays" and "Two Steps Back" are my favorites here, but I find all songs here above average anyway. I'd surely get it again if it were lost, or whatever.

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