The fourth official full length release for The Fall, 1980's Grotesque (After the Gramme) is often considered the first installment in the Holy Trinity of albums by Fall fans. Featuring typically cryptic sleeve notes by R. Totale (deceased) and edited by J. Totale, vicious son. Released by Rough Trade Records, the album is strange, paranoid rockabilly affair, this album heralded the arrival of the Fall's twisted music style; Country 'n' Northern. Craig Scanlon's scratchy, twitchy guitar is right at home on the album, fitting in with Paul Hanley and Steve Hanley's rhythm section. The production on the album is quite good, by Fall standards, with all the instruments high in the mix and very in-yer-face. The album was re-released in 1993 on CD by Castle Communications and boasts four non-album bonus tracks, new artwork and CD-specific mixing (more on that later)

The album opens with the two note bassline thrash of 'Pay Your Rates' - an angry anti-taxes rant by Mark E. Smith, before dipping into the keyboard driven sub-two minute reggae spoof 'English Scheme'. Here the album slows down with New Face In Hell, a scary tale of meddling with the state or a funny pastiche of secrets and scandals. A centrepiece of the album C'n'C'-S Mithering, a softly-spoken epic about the Fall's trip to America and the people there. Back to hard 'n' Fast rockabilly for the 'Container Drivers' before a truly terrifying track ('The Impression of J. Temperance') about cloning, or perhaps a man who fucks dogs, I'm not really sure. 'In The Park' reveals the dirty old man about Smithy - I will leave you with this nugget of a lyric; "A good mind does not a good fuck make" Indeed. 'W.M.C. - Blob '59' (Working Man's Club) is the Fall's obligatory noise track for the album, sounding like it was recorded from a bathroom of the house next door, before the drug-induced 'Gramme Friday' comes in. The final cut; 'The N.W.R.A.' (The North Will Rise Again) is an absolute killer. Clocking in at over nine minutes, it is a carefully constructed tale about a walk through the housing estates of northern England, and a diatribe against the 'soft south' of London etc.

The four tracks included at the start of the Castle re-issue are from two singles (A and B sides of each) released on Rough Trade Records in 1980. They are inserted before the actual album so as to be chronologically correct. 'How I Wrote Elastic Man' is an interesting (if self serving) C'n'N song (yes, Elastica's 'How He Wrote Elastica Man' is paying homage to this track), City Hobgoblins is another rockabilly thrash, but a strangely refined one, with some truly cryptic lyrics. Totally Wired is perhaps the best known Fall track - basic drumming and a guitar riff over which Smith improvises in between sing-a-long choruses. Putta Block is an off-kilter mellow rock song starting with keyboards overlaying a version of the start of The N.W.R.A. However, the mastering for the album tracks seems worse on the re-issue than the original CD pressing - notably the bass at the start of 'Pay Your Rates' flickering between outputting on one channel and two. However, you may prefer the mastering - I started with the original, and so am more used to that.

Tracklisting (*'s denotes bonus track)

01)*How I Wrote Elastic Man*
02)*City Hobgoblins*
03)*Totally Wired*
04)*Putta Block*
05) Pay Your Rates
06) English Scheme
07) New Face In Hell
08) C'n'C'-S Mithering
09) Container Drivers
10) Impression Of J. Temperance
11) In The Park
12) W.M.C.-Blob '59
13) Gramme Friday
14) The N.W.R.A.


Craig Scanlon - guitar
Marc Riley - bass, keyboards
Mark E. Smith - vocals
Steve Hanley - drums

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.