Although the Fall’s formidable reputation was built on classic albums such as This Nation’s Saving Grace, this exhaustive compilation traces their slightly lesser-heralded prowess as a singles group. Over 38 years, seven CDs, 51 A-sides and 66 B-sides, the group make dizzying progress, from angular Salford post-punk oddities to alt national treasures. A multitude of lineups hurtle through northern rockabilly (Fiery Jack), hypnotic repetitive mantras (Living Too Late), Brix Smith-era big riffs and tunes (Cruiser’s Creek), indie disco floor-fillers (Hit the North), chart hits (Kinks’ cover Victoria) and even a song that ended up in a car advert (Touch Sensitive). The constant presence, of course, is singer Mark E Smith, whose off-kilter, vinegary, sometimes eerily prescient worldview (such as in anticipatory football song Kicker Conspiracy) and barked, obtuse comments (“Turn that bloody blimey space invader off!”) propels the music forward. There’s a dip in overall quality in the last decade or so, but 2010’s Bury! is among their best.
The Fall: Singles 1978-2016 review – from angular post-punk oddities to alt national treasures
Dave Simpson is a Guardian music critic and author