Totale's Turns (It's Now or Never)by The Fall
The first of what would be a veritable flock of live albums, some legit and some hovering on the edge of it, Totale's Turns, with the same lineup as Dragnet, found the Fall in a hilariously aggressive mood, as the statement of purpose "Intro" demonstrates. "The difference between you and us is that we have brains!" proclaims Smith, and from there it's off into their version of rock & roll hell. Song choices range over the first two albums and various singles, delivered with the at-once on form and shambling elan that characterized the band's rough and ready early days. The Riley/Scanlon guitar team performs their own brand of anti-guitar hero guitar heroics, scratchy, twanging, cutting, kicking into rave-up energy more often than not. The Leigh/Hanley rhythm section matches it all quite well, leaving Smith to be the howling, sneering, gurgling, and perfectly charismatic center of attention. There aren't as many one-off side comments as might be thought, but at one point he does note to the audience that "last orders are at half past ten." Some brilliant performances are to be had -- "Rowche Rumble" kicks into gear with just Leigh and Smith setting the rhythm and the pace before everyone else pours it on, a straightforward, endlessly cycling riff driving everything before it. "Muzorewi's Daughter" immediately follows, its tense exchange between slow, rolling beats and explosive chorus fully intact and even more ragged. Two of the band's most famous early numbers get some great run-throughs -- "Spector vs. Rector" has a brief intro about "those flowers, take them away" before shifting into a stuttering, lurching groove somehow perfectly suited to Smith's delivery. Meanwhile, "No Xmas for John Quays" concludes the album with all the murky and righteous kick one could want, the keyboards at the end adding even more craziness.
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