50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong: 39 Golden Greats
eah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Every year The Fall releases one new album, one new single, and at least three new compilations—re-issued singles, redundant live albums, unnecessary retrospectives of every label the band was ever on in every era. And with every new compilation, I wondered why, why wouldn’t they just release a career retrospective—something I’ve craved ever since first hearing of the band? Just a simple best-of—was that so hard?
Well fear not, readers, because The Fall has finally delivered the goods you and I have desired for so long. With 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong, the band have released their first (and most likely only) compilation that spans all the way from their not-humble-in-the-slightest beginnings in 1977 right up to present day. And it’s truly a cause for celebration.
In my review of The Fall’s summary of their Rough Trade years, Totally Wired, I waxed on about fans’ need for a starting point with The Fall—a band with about 25 studio albums alone, none standing out as the unanimous critical favorite—and finally, they have it. As the title promises, there are 39 golden greats here for those new to The Fall to hold for the first time, each of which acts as its own little summary of one unique period in the wild and turbulent career of The Fall.
50,000 Fall Fans starts off with the “Right, noise!” declaration at the beginning of ‘77’s de-facto Fall manifesto “Repetition” (dutifully teaching the three R’s of The Fall—repetition, repetition, repetition) and ending with the gorgeous “Green-Eyed Loco Man” from this year’s The Real New Fall LP. In between, they bang out some classic post-punk (“Rowche Rumble,” “Totally Wired”), foray into bizarre new wave (“The Man Whose Head Expanded,” “C.R.E.E.P.”), hypnotically drone about god knows what (“Hip Priest,” “Eat Y’Self Fitter”), help define 80s alternative (“No Bulbs,” “Cruiser’s Creek”), flirt with commercial success (“Hit the North” and “Victoria” (yes, that “Victoria”)) and dance-pop (“Free Range,” “Why are People Grudgeful?”) before returning to indie-drone (“Touch Sensitive,” “Crop Dust”) and finally coming full circle (“Susan vs. Youthclub”). And y’know—they all work. Wonderfully.
If you’re already a Fall fan, you’ve probably heard a good deal of the classics here already, but unless you really know your Kurious Oranj from your Cerebral Caustic, chances are quite excellent that you’ll be uncovering a few gems here yourself. One of the best things about this compilation is that it doesn’t favor any particular period of The Fall, so you get a fair, un-biased look into their history—and I’m sure that like myself, most casual Fall fans have big gaps in their knowledge of such history, mainly in the last decade or so, where no one Fall album has been exalted above the rest, giving new fans a real hard time trying to guess where to start.
For this reason, disc two of the set is a real revelation for me. Who knew that, for a brief period in the early 90s, The Fall was one of the best indie-dance outfits in the world? I certainly didn’t, not before “Free Range,” “Telephone Thing,” “High-Tension Line” and “Why are People Grudgeful?” steamrolled me with their awesomeness. It’s a whole new side of the band I knew nothing about, and now I’m terribly anxious to learn more.
And that’s really the best thing about the collection. It includes just enough of the band’s highlights to make for a great summary but yet not give the whole game of The Fall away—simultaneously satisfying and leaving you craving more. You could probably make at least two more two-disc compilations of the songs left off 50,000 Fall Fans—classics and fan favorites like “Bingo Master’s Breakout,” “Rebellious Jukebox,” “Leave the Capitol,” “Wings,” “The N.W.R.A.,” “Winter,” “Oh! Brother,” “I Am Damo Suzuki,” “L.A.,” “Cap it Up,” “Big New Prinz,” “15 Ways (To Leave Your Man),” “Theme from Sparta F.C.” and practically hundreds others. But the point of the compilation isn’t to be complete—you’d need a box-set for that, and as the liner notes make sure to note, The Fall are above such tacky ventures.
So go out and buy 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong—a document of not only one of the most fascinating bands of the last 25 years, but quite possibly the only one to stay as consistently fascinating for all 25 of those years. And then when you’re done with it, go out and buy The Real New Fall LP and keep ‘em going. I know I will.