Wednesday, September 23, 2015

this nation's saving grace

The Fall invited us to feel the wrath of their bombast while messing up the paintwork with this barmy illuminous quantifier.   In nine years, the Manchester post-punk pioneers had released seven studio albums  (Live at the Witch Trials   and   Dragnet  in 1979,   Grotesque  in  1980,   Hex Enduction Hour  and   Room to Live   in 1982,   Perverted by Language  in 1983,   and    The Wonderful and Frightening World Of...  in  1984),   two EP's  (Bingo-Master's Break-Out! in  1978   and   Slates in 1981),   and  four live releases (Totale's Turns in 1980,  Live in London 1980   and   A Part of America Therein, 1981    in   1982,   and   Fall in a Hole  in  1983) with over a dozen different band members.   

Drummer Paul Hanley and his brother bassist Steve Hanley left the group in late 1984 and multi-instrumentalist Simon Rogers was brought in on bass to fill out the rhythm section with Karl Burns for two singles:    "Couldn't Get Ahead"/"Rollin' Dany" and  "Cruiser's Creek".  When Steve Hanley returned to the fold after four months paternity leave, Rogers moved over to keyboards.   'This Nation's Saving Grace' was recorded  at Music Works in London and Chapel Lane in Herford during June and July of 1985 with producer John Leckie and engineer Joe Gillingham.   The sessions included  Mark E. Smith on vocals, violin, guitar, and harmonica;    Craig Scanlon on guitar and backing vocals;   Brix Smith on guitar and vocals;   Steve Hanley on bass guitar and backing vocals;   Simon Rogers on keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, drum machine, and backing vocals;   and   Karl Burns on drums and backing vocals.   The cover artwork was done by Michael Pollard and Claus Castenskiold.  

Mark E. Smith:  "This is a much happier band than ever before. I feel very proud with our output nowadays. We are even happy with Beggars. They know what they are doing and they will act quickly unlike, well, Rough Trade who... well, Travis is just an idiot."

Brix Smith:   "Even with the old songs, I think I add some shadow and light to them.  I give it a lot of drive, as well as adding some 'glamour' to it all...We worked really well together. I tried to embrace all of their styles and not obliterate anyone or be like the arrogant guitar player that pushed in front, I didn't want to do that. Everybody was special in that band and played their own part. I'm so proud, so proud, to have been a part and it is genius, he is a genius, Mark, he is brilliant."

Rogers:   “Mark would have piles of papers and plastic bags full of notes and stuff.  We’d sit up all night and we’d listen to William Burroughs and Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. Lots of speed, lot of fags, lots of beer. We became pretty good mates and he stayed with me in London nearly all the time when he came down...I think I gave them perspective about the way they treated Mark as well.  Because I got on with him and it tended to be me, Mark and Brix and then the band somewhere else. I would give him a bit of lip occasionally, which they never did. And if they did say anything to him, it would usually boil over. And it had boiled over in the past and there’d be fights and someone would go or whatever. So I suppose it was a different setup.”

Hanley would write in 'The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall':   "The only reason we're not fighting back is because we love being in the band,..In spite of [Mark]...Why should I pack it all in just because of him?"

John Leckie:   “Mark was crazy.  You’d do all the mixing and he’d take the tapes away home and he’d be very enthusiastic. But then you’d get to the cutting room and he wouldn’t like it....We did three albums over a two-year period and then I suppose we got fed up with each other. They would do things like play a song once and then that would be it, they wouldn’t want to record it again. I can remember telling them to tune up and they played the song again and it didn’t sound as good. I thought, fuck, I’ve destroyed it! I got to a stage with Mark where I realised that, as far as he was concerned, when they’d finished the take, that was the record done. So we recorded some of it straight down to stereo, no multitrack ... Mark… would always have the last word.” 

Mark E Smith:     “Play a song only once?  Yeah, that’s the way we are. But, like me, Leckie would just put out the mistakes, leave them all in...Do I think it's Pop?! Er, I don't really know… I don't particularly think so. I listened to it recently just because of the reissue and you're talking about a different person altogether. I can relate to him but can't relate to him if you know what I mean."

'This Nation's Saving Grace' went to number fifty-four on the British album chart. 

"Cruiser's Creek"



'This Nation's Saving Grace' 
full album:

Side A
1. "Mansion"   (Mark E. Smith) 1:21
2. "Bombast"   (Steve Hanley, M. Smith) 3:08
3. "Barmy"   (M. Smith) 5:21
4. "What You Need"   (Craig Scanlon, M. Smith) 4:50
5. "Spoilt Victorian Child"   (Simon Rogers, M. Smith) 4:13
6. "L.A."   (Brix Smith, M. Smith) 4:10
Side B
7. "Gut of the Quantifier"   (Karl Burns, M. Smith) 5:16
8. "My New House"    (M. Smith) 5:16
9. "Paint Work"   (Rogers, Scanlon, M. Smith) 6:38
10. "I Am Damo Suzuki"   (Burns, B. Smith, M. Smith) 5:41
11. "To Nk Roachment: Yarbles"   (B. Smith, M. Smith) 1:23

12. Vixen    (B. Smith, M. Smith) 4:01 
13. Couldn't Get Ahead    (B. Smith, M. Smith) 2:36 
14. Petty Thief Lout (Scanlon, M. Smith) 5:20 
15. Rollin' Dany  (Stein/Edwards) 2:23
16. Cruiser's Creek   (B. Smith, M. Smith)  4:16

Omnibus Edition triple CD box set

Original LP tracks. 

CD2 (Rough Mixes And Out-Takes):
01. Demo Suzuki (Rough Mix) 5:54
02. Wonderful And Frightened Pt 1 (Rough Mix) 1:22
03. Wonderful And Frightened Pt 2 (Rough Mix) 1:46
04. Gut Of The Quantifier (Rough Mix) 5:31
05. Bombast (Rough Mix) 2:48
06. Barmy (Rough Mix) 4:51
07. My New House (Mark's Mix) (Rough Mix) 5:52
08. Paintwork (Rough Mix) 7:08
09. Ma Riley (Rough Mix) 3:48
10. Spoilt Victorian Child (Rough Mix) 4:26
11. L.A. (Rough Mix) 5:16
12. What You Need (Rough Mix) 4:57
13. Edie (Rough Mix) 4:00
14. Cruiser's Creek (Extended) 7:35
15. L.A. (Take 2) 4:24
16. Bombast (Blackwing Version) 3:05
17. Paintwork (Gloss) 7:03

All tracks are previously unreleased alternate versions.

CD3 (Singles And Sessions):
01. Couldn't Get Ahead 2:37
02. Rollin' Dany 2:26
03. Petty (Thief) Lout 5:23
04. Cruiser's Creek 6:08
05. Vixen 4:03
06. Ma Riley 3:28
07. Barmy (Extended) 6:02
08. Cruiser's Creek (Edit) 4:20
09. Spoilt Victorian Child (Peel session) 4:58
10. Gut Of The Quantifier (Peel session) 4:44
11. Couldn't Get Ahead (Peel session) 2:36
12. Cruiser's Creek (Peel session) 5:53
13. L.A. (Peel session) 4:36
14. What You Need (Peel session) 5:53

interview 1985

live at the Haçienda
October 9, 1985
Mansion / ? (30 second track) / Bombast / Couldn't Get Ahead / What You Need / The Man Whose Head Expanded / Barmy / L.A. / Dktr. Faustus / 2 x 4 / I Am Damo Suzuki / Gut of the Quantifier / Spoilt Victorian Child / Kicker Conspiracy / Lay of the Land

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