#1 The Fall-Two Librans (2000)

Mark E. Smith’s dogged longevity as the only continuous member of The Fall since the band’s inception is the stuff of musical legend. Famously acerbic, curmudgeonly and difficult to work with, Smith formed the band after attending a Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, in June, 1976. (Or so the story goes). The Fall’s post-punk sound is utterly unique, not least because of Smith’s recitative, declamatory vocal, sprechgesang delivery, not singing as much as weaponising the rhythm and syllables of the words in a contemptuous and nihilistic audio assault. (Imagine Johnny Rotten reading his own poetry in a North of England accent at 33 rpm, and you’re halfway there).

The Fall’s prodigious rate of album release since they were formed, (30 studio albums, and counting, as of 2017), is indeed testament not only to Smith’s longevity, but to his drive and talent. Despite this output, however, the band remain stubbornly non-mainstream, and to select any track from one of their albums to talk about therefore remains, absurdly, a relatively obscure exercise.


Two Librans comes from the album The Unutterable, released in 2000, not an album from The Fall’s back catalogue which receives a huge amount of attention. In fact, renowned music website Stereogum ranked this as only their 23rd best album out of 30[1]. Recorded during a period when Smith rang the changes amongst The Fall’s personnel, this album, and the previous album, 1999’s The Marshall Suite, were the products of huge line-up changes, and the albums’ patchy quality reflects this lack of continuity and cohesion.  Stereogum describes The Unutterable as having only “brief flashes of decency” (Ouch). Nevertheless, one of the album’s high points, Two Librans, is mentioned by them as worthy of a listen, and indeed it is. The song is a belter, its garage-y clatter demands your attention, and although the lyrics are too cryptic for me to understand, (references to Oprah Winfrey and bee-keeping just add to the mystery of it), frankly, the band have rarely sounded better.

[1] See  http://www.stereogum.com/1731342/the-fall-albums-from-worst-to-best/franchises/counting-down/


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