50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong: 39 Golden Greats
There's never been a decent bluffer's guide to the Fall, until now. With all the cash-in and crap compilations the Fall have been subjected to, newcomers have a one in two chance of buying a loser, maybe worse. Leader Mark E. Smith, and whoever he decided was the Fall at the moment, have been on more labels than almost anybody. Over 24 years they've changed from loud and ramshackle to slick and pop and then back to loud and ramshackle again, with a bunch of stylistic changes in between. Add to it the fact that Smith is the textbook definition of difficult and you can see why compiling the Fall is near impossible. 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong is as good as it gets and with only two CDs, probably as good as you can get. You can't really blame the compilers for taking the easy way out and ordering the tracks chronologically, since it would have been difficult to decide which early punker sounds good next to the baggy-pants dance number "Telephone Thing." The only other, very minor, complaint about the collection is that you don't get any of the cerebral, wandering Fall. It's a huge part of their career but any longtime fan can tell you the murky classics take a while to get into. 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong goes for the big, "listenable" numbers. You get the sad tale of a comic book writer's final days ("How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'"), the hypnotic rocker about an unclean house ("No Bulbs"), and the group's big flirtation with the mainstream courtesy of a Kinks' cover ("Victoria"). The compilation does a good job of picking from the less impressive years, and an excellent job of summing up the band post-2000 for everyone who hasn't kept up (and there's plenty). The Fall have been red-hot, for the most part, since the millennium switched and this collection couldn't have been better timed. Complain about how you're favorite isn't here and then grab two blank CD-Rs, 40 or so Fall records, and see if you can do any better.