A Past Gone Mad: The Best of The Fall 1990-2000

...this is a fine collection; brave, broad and admirably biased...

It is, of course, an appalling concept. Allowing writer/ comedian Stewart Lee to compile a selection of his favourite, latter-day Fall tracks smacks of misguided marketing;an ill-informed attempt to glean the collegiate vote for what surely remains the most virulently anti-student band in Britain. Duh!

Anyway. The onset of the '90s saw Mark E Smith-uh and his ever-changing chums embrace new technology with gusto - a gambit that would provide a fresh framework for Smith's misanthropic, beanbag-faced rants. While tracks such as last year's brilliantly disorderly 'Touch Sensitive' could've been plucked from the riotous preserve of their late-'70s heyday, 'A Past...' shows the ramshackle approach of yore superseded by a battalion of samples and grinding, zeitgeist-courting techno beats. It's an approach that has yielded some of The Fall's finest songs - with the synth-heavy, anti-EU wrath of 1991's 'Free Range' and the deceptively sweet 'Rose' proving Smith's invective wears many, equally effective, disguises. With 'The Chisellers' being the only glaring omission, this is a fine collection; brave, broad and admirably biased.
8 / 10

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