Planet Electrica: Protection

[B]The Fall[/B] were better when [B]Mark E Smith[/B] was more mad/less pickled and wrote longer lyric sheet...

Wot, no ‘Who makes the Nazis?’? It was an impossible task that Steve Hanley set himself in compiling these Peel sessions: how do you, as the bassist, look back on the career of a band whose mission statement has always been to never look back?

How do you appease the obsessive Fall fans (is there another breed?) who’ve already bought full, crappy-quality tapes of all these sessions from Camden Market? Well, Hanley’s decided to bypass all that and just pick his 17 favourite tracks from 20 years of Peel Sessions, and it’s alright.

There’s a chance to hear their version of the ’60s garage blast ‘Strychnine’ – taut and testy but less deranged than ‘The Cramps’ – there’s The Fall’s first chaotic radio rumblings with ‘Rebellious Jukebox’, there’s ‘New Face In Hell’, the only Fall song that Pavement directly ripped off (for ‘Conduit For Sale’), there’s ‘2 By 4’ and ‘Cruisers Creek’, the former ruined by Brix’s narked mewling, the latter brilliantly informed by her guitar. And there’s a perfect, stark version of their best song (letters to usual address, please), ‘Winter’.

But you’re left with two distinct impressions. Firstly, that The Fall were better when Mark E Smith was more mad/less pickled and wrote longer lyric sheets; and that the fan would’ve been better served with full sessions. Less work for Hanley, more money for The Fall and comprehensive for the fan. Obvious, really.