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The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials (1979), This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985), The Infotainment Scan (1993)

February 4, 2021

[Albums 850 – 852 / 1001]

“It’s just The Fall in 1985, isn’t it? They haven’t got an original idea in their heads.”
– Mark E. Smith (The Fall), when asked about Pavement.

Separating art from the artist.

When a beloved artist starts saying, to modify a Tiffany Haddish show title, the Darndest Things, it’s not the easiest of extractions.

But how challenging is the art/artist separation, when you hear the artist speak before you experience their art?


“Medium talent!
– Bill Murray, to Chevy Chase, mid-fist fight, in 1978

Although I don’t condone fighting / name-calling, this is undoubtedly my favourite heat-of-the-moment insult of all-time.

There’s just no comeback for such an observation!

With Chevy Chase, I can’t say that I disagree with Bill Murray’s assessment.


I don’t believe Stephen Malkmus (lead singer of Pavement) & Mark E. Smith (lead singer of The Fall) ever had a meeting that descended into fisticuffs.

But if one of them had to be classified as Bill Murray & the other Chevy Chase, although Mark E. Smith is the one that is known for throwing shade, he would also be the ‘medium talent’ in the pair.

To their credit, The Fall’s albums on the 1001 list make for an eclectic trio, the gaps between their significant albums show they had some impressive longevity, and I like the misleading ‘live’ name & atypical location for their studio debut.

Pavement was also certainly influenced by Smith & co.

But rather than merely being an inferior imitation of the source material, this is a case of the influencees borrowing from the influencers, eventually taking it to a whole other level.

The best song from these 3 Fall albums is likely Two Steps Back; I might even call it a great song.

It’s not dissimilar to (and actually, it’s probably even better than) Pavement’s Two States, although that track was not written by Stephen Malkmus.

And Two States, while still a good song, would also represent a relative low point on a great album / by a great band / featuring an exceptional lyricist.

Whereas Two Steps Back represents the relative high point on these good albums / by a good band / featuring a singer known for his zingers.  

So if Pavement is The Fall in 1985, would that make The Fall Chevy Chase in 1978?

Or by swiping the Bill Murray line, perhaps it is me that hasn’t got an original idea in their head?

Maybe I would have felt differently if I hadn’t seen the opening quote before listening?

Separating the art from the artist, retroactively, certainly isn’t effortless.

Doing so proactively appears to be equally challenging!


Verbalize the Positive

Credit where credit is due, Chevy was an integral part of those first few brilliant seasons of Community!

From → 1970s, 1980s, 1990s

  1. That’s the second time today I have seen the use of “zingers” in a sentence, I am coming to terms with the Fall.

    • Have you ever typed in a word to google, and it shows a graph of the word’s usage over time?
      Perhaps ‘zingers’ may be seeing a spike in 2021!

  2. I think that’s a pretty controversial position! I’d argue that Smith had a pretty unique set of talents – If it’s me and yer granny on bongos, it’s the Fall.

    • I gather he was either entertaining or terrifying to interview – no disputing there was talent for sure, and I like how they didn’t seem to repeat themselves at all.
      I guess say what he will about me, just don’t diss Pavement!

  3. Medium talent, classic… The Fall begat Pavement begat Modest Mouse begat… oh who cares. I like Pavement, no doubt, and I need to get into the Fall (though it’s probably a slippery slope once I start so I’m wary).

  4. Some head scratching questions there. I don’t know the music of the Fall or Pavement so I am unable to make a reference to if the Pavement is The Fall of 1985, but maybe the Fall is the Pavement of 1978

  5. Chevy taking some serious shrapnel here! I bailed on Community early on. Give me Fletch or Clark Griswald!

  6. Love the Fall, Love Pavement. Love Chevy, Love Billy.

    Re:Fall I have a few favorite albums but none of these are they. I’m a Riley/Scanlon/Hanlon kind of guy so give me Grotesque, Hex and Perverted. I like Brix too but you should check the end of this, she does the sickest, most adorable, kickass little punky dance at the end.

  7. A MILLION TIMES NO GEOFF!! Mark E Smith’s was a true and utter original, Pavement, well I’ll be nice, less so. I’m going to bed now.

  8. Agree on “don’t diss Pavement”. And in case one is a Terror Twilight apologist, don’t diss Brighten the Corners. Bcuz the general consensus is, TT is still less favored than BTC.

    • Cheers, rAdishhorse – I’m actually quite fond of the first side of Brighten The Corners, might actually be their strongest side one!

      • Cheers! just want to add that my comment wasn’t directed at anyone. And even if you think BTC is their weakest, I’m still cool with that. =)

      • BuriedonMars has a good rating system – when he rates AC/DC albums, he gives scores out of 5 as:
        a) An album
        b) An AC / DC album

        And I think the same system could apply to Pavement. A relatively weak Pavement effort doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near a weak album overall!

      • I agree. I’d go no further than Robert Christgau. Every Pavement LP gets an A, except for TT (A-). Or as one reviewer who gave it an 8/10 puts it, “it’s Pavement’s weakest, but it’s still better than anything by Pearl Jam. And I like Pearl Jam.”

      • That’s a terrifically concise review – and I’d probably agree too, also said as a Pearl Jam fan!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 1979 | 1001albumsin10years
  2. 1985 | 1001albumsin10years
  3. 1993 | 1001albumsin10years

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