on April 20, 2003
I first discovered the Fall during this period--the Brix Smith era. In fact I still remember hearing "Cruiser's Creek" (from "This Nation's Saving Grace") in a record store while on vacation in San Francisco. I was stunned. I had heard a sound that I would follow obsessively for many years up to the bitter and nearly unlistenable end with "Levitate."
Because of the production role played by John Leckie (also responsible for Magazine's first album) "The Wonderful and Frightening World" was the most disciplined and accessible of the Fall's albums to date. As others have already mentioned, "2 x 4" presents a pile-driver dance tune of a type that the Fall would come up with again and again. "Pat-Trip Dispenser" sounds like a 1960s American garage-punk offering, but more unhinged. "Disney's Dream Debased" turns down the volume and with Brix' echoed backup vocals sounds positively high-production compared to earlier Fall tracks. This does not mean it is an ordinary pop tune. It just represents an expansion of the band's musical vocabulary but the end result is the same as on all great Fall tracks: a bent story with a deceptively simple repetitious musical backing. I usually object to long tracks, but the crazed eight minute rant of "No Bulbs" could go on for 20 minutes and I'd be happy.
If you start your investigation of The Fall at this album, or at "This Nation's Saving Grace" or "Bend Sinister," you will have begun at a very good mid-point. Newer albums cover similar ground but are more polished and occasionally more spotty. Older albums also cover similar ground but are much more primitive and can be wildly erratic in terms of recorded sound. It's all brilliant at its best. Start here and then move outward in each direction.
on September 12, 2000
In 1984, The Fall released this absolute classic! The CD kicks off with LAY OF THE LAND, a fast-paced and punky number with a rather weirded-out intro - Mark E. Smith talking in a dense schoolkid voice! Strange. 2x4 is a catchy, jaunty, cynical number with a memorable bassline intro. A real live favourite and an amusing chorus - 'hit him on the head-ah! With a two-by-four-ah!' COPPED IT features a guest vocal by Gavin Friday from THE VIRGIN PRUNES, a perennial goth/alternative act from the early 1980s. The CD also features the radio-friendly singles OH BROTHER and CREEP, plus the equally entertaining b-sides. On the second half, The Fall show their surreal touch with BUG DAY, a mellow blues influence with DISNEY'S DREAM DEBASED - a prophecy of the Paris site, perhaps? Hmm. The influence of the presence of Brix E. Smith, Mark's then wife, is obvious here with twangy yet simplistic molten guitar riffing which puts Duane Eddy to shame! I should also point out the recent Stereophonics hit 'I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio' - well, have a listen to the track CRAIGNESS and compare and contrast. Then ask yourself the chicken-or-egg question! But I digress. This is an essential CD for any Fall fan, young or old. Well worth the money!
on August 20, 2001
One band that comes to mind on this album are the pixies,not in how good the fall are they almost surpass the pixies but rather the fall are so colosally good that they made me shelve my lame [rear] pixies records for good. Brix smith's ravishing guitar work coupled with m.e smith's genuinely literate lyrics, unlike frank black's superficial fluff,is so convincing and moving that they are hands down the best U.K band I've ever heard. This album is so fresh and invigorating that I'd like to pretend that it was made last week,rather than nearly two decades ago. it would have to take a band like the fall to save rock music from its almost certain impending doom. The underground is so lame right now, what with it's deadly prefixation with kitsch and "recycled" sounds that it's at times hard to distinguish it from the mainstream. Deathcab for cutie and stereolab may be fine bands respectively but in turn they're also regressing the groundwork layed out by bands like the fall and PIL.
on March 7, 2001
THe Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall is probably the most accessible album in Fall's entire catalog. Along with This Nation's Saving Grace, it is their best work from the Brix period. Actually...it's one of their best works period. It's rather strange hearing Mark E. Smith's familiar snarl in the context of a pop song like "Oh Brother" and "C.R.E.E.P." but it works surprisingly well. But the best song in the album may very well be the opening track "Lay of the Land" which starts off with some strange chanting and builds up to classic Fall punk rock. "God-Box", "Elves", and "No Bulbs" are excellent songs too. In short, this album is the perfect blend of artsy post punk and pop music.
on February 5, 2000
Though it features one clunker in 'Bug Day', this saw the band continuing to prolong its peak. Though Brix's influence was felt on "Perverted By Language," that album was still more drawn out. Here, the songs are more concise, catchy, and accessible. The production by John Leckie helped, sure, but Brix was the difference. Her guitar work, melodic voice (especially on the absolutely gorgeous "Disney's Dream Debased") and overall aura give this an edge. Of course, this isn't discounting the rest of the band, as Mark and his cohorts all deliver as well. The CD reissue of this album contains 7 great bonus tracks for your troubles.
on May 20, 2001
The album is exactly as the title says: wonderful and frightening at the same time. The intro to the first song, Lay Of the Land, is so macabre you'll think the band was possessed. The guitar work is creepy yet melodic and the keyboards add just the right tunes to compliment the deep and mesmerizing bass lines. Gavin Friday, of the gothic band Virgin Prunes, adds guest vocals to several songs and it sounds terrific. This was the first album by the Fall I ever owned and it started me on the road to fandom. Avoid all releases from the 1990s- they simply reek. 1980s is vintage Fall.
on February 10, 2000
After some singles [2 of which are here], this was my 1st Fall lp & I'm quite impressed by it. I like Bug Day, someone else said they didn't. I have the lp w/o the bonus tracks so I'm not sure if Pat trip Dispenser is here but it's agood one & Slang King & Lay Of the Land are good indie rock tunes that make them seem like the English Sonic Youth [a good thing, a sonic youth in every country would be nice]. oh I just remembered "Please be sure to focus your comments on the album's content". It is simultaneously underground & pop-ish which is good.
on October 18, 1999
This is by far the best Fall album ever made. Songs like 2X4, No Bulbs, Elves, Disney's Dream, and others will give you chills up your spine. The songwriting is absolutely creepy and melodic at the same time, something today's "alternative" bands can't replicate. There is no way to describe the music. It's not punk, it's not rock, it's just The Fall.
on April 17, 2002
This is one of the Fall's best. Moods are all over the place from derangement to melancholy to anger to drunken fun. I can't think of a modern band capable of covering the ground this band did in one CD.
on February 5, 2001
..to a wonderfull and frightening world