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The Fall | Room To Live; Perverted By Language (Sanctuary/Castle)
Given the gargantuan nature of The Fall's recent Peel sessions box-set and the impending release of a proper new studio record, even loyal fans might be forgiven for passing on these latest two Sanctuary deluxe reissues from the group's rich back catalogue.  However, bailing out now will perhaps lead to a crucial knowledge-blackout of The Fall's early history, given that 1982's 'Room To Live' and 1983's 'Perverted By Language' capture the group at the end of a crucial transitory phase.  Although hardly a cocoon into butterfly scenario - a crocodile crawling out of a swamp might be a more apt metaphor - the movement from grizzly gnarly post-punk to more accessible avant-rock is heavily marked across these two overlooked albums.
'Room To Live' reveals the band deconstructing the clotted claustro-phobic exteriors of the 'Hex Enduction Hour' (released earlier the same year) with some dirty grooves and enveloping atmospherics.  From the hook-laden stomp of Joker Hysterical Face, through the Cuban-heeled rattle of Marquis Cha-Cha, via the marvellously sparse Nick Cave-like Detective Instinct and on to the Elastica premonition of Solicitor In Studio, as with 1981's similarly short 'Slates' mini-album, 'Room To Live' shows that The Fall were once eclectic and inventive masters given the challenge of brevity.  However, the appalling live tracks added to this extended version certainly blunt the record's edge. Still, at least true fanatics will have something to justify the upgrade, aside from superior mastering.
The better known 'Perverted By Language' is in comparison, a far more mixed bag.  With Mark 'Lard' Riley leaving and Mrs. Brix Smith still only a part-timer, a lot of the musical beddings here lean heavily towards the intuitive bass and drum interplay of Karl Burns, Steve Hanley and Paul Hanley, which is both a good and bad thing.  Highlights include Eat Y'Self Fitter, with its bile and belly-laughs, the obvious pastiche of The Velvets' Venus In Furs that is the grinding Garden, the ethereal Brix-sung Hotel Bloedel and the yelping Smile.  The remaining tracks drag somewhat, sounding as if the band were still expunging some left-over grime from 'Hex'.  The contemporary A-sides appended here though - the electro-pop throb of The Man Whose Head Expanded and the rattling Kicker Conspiracy - show The Fall's Brix-fuelled melodic brightness was just around the corner on 'The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall' and the seminal 'This Nation's Saving Grace'.  Now that's definitely a period worth revisiting if you're reading this at Beggars Banquet HQ...

Adrian Pannett
October 2005