Grotesque (After The Gramme)

The Fall

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. Rebecca, of the great blog The Bake and Brew, hosted the 83rd session which was a spirited discussion on popular beer and community hype. You should check it out!

Today I’m going to review a record and this record is by The Fall, and it’s called Grotesque (After The Gramme). The Fall are a post punk band from the Manchester area. So let’s get stuck in!

Appearance. I’m reviewing the CD version of the record — I’ve heard the vinyl version many many times (though, I’ve never listened to it in Salford). My first impressions are good. It’s smaller than the vinyl version but has a cardboard slipcase and the CD is a reasonable facsimile of the vinyl version. Normally I’d play this record at 33rpm as god intended but today I ripped the CD and played it on iTunes.

Headphones. Playing on headphones reveals that this is a sterling example of a post punk record that originates from the Manchester Area. I can hear guitar, bass and drums. There’s an slight and occasional appearance of Kazoo (which is not out of place for the style). The headphone listen really makes me want to listen to this record over speakers.

The Listen. Pretty much follows the headphone listen — an ascerbic and attacking form of a record — classic post punk from Manchester. The record weighs in at a hefty 42 minutes although it hides this length pretty well, feeling much more like a 30 minute record. The guitar, bass and drums that I heard through headphones all come through strong over speakers — if anything the Kazoo is more dominant. There is an occasional half step when listening to the record — the recording quality of the track “WMC-Blob 59" is pretty bad but generally the balance of the record between the vocals and the music is spot on for the style.

Use of Stereo. The record uses stereo throughout — it’s classic for the style with the vocals generally center stage with the other instruments placed behind the vocals. Occasionally you think it’s going to veer and all go into the left or right channel — but it’s a testament to the skill of Mark E Smith that he always brings it back to a full stereo sound.

Overall. I really enjoyed listening to this record — it’s one of the few records I’ve heard recently that I would actually consider listening to multiple times. Like I said I’d love to hear it in Manchester, this record is around 20 years old now so it’s aged well but it would be great to hear some fresh Post Punk from the region. Manchester’s well known for rain and being a little grim (this is typical of the North of England), and you can really hear that influence. This is not a West Coast punk record (where we expect more cheerfulness) but embodies the Manchester Post Punk sound. I’m really looking forward to listening to other records that the Fall have produced.