The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall is the apex of the Fall's Brix era in which Mark E. Smith, unheralded hip priest of Manchester punk, finally met his match (Smith and young American Brix met at a Chicago gig... more » and quickly wed.) With Mrs. Smith aboard everything upgraded--the lyrics and vocals took a quirky turn as Brix chimed in, and the guitars gained a more streamlined edge. Yes, she could play guitar, and write. Even the cover art seemed to suggest a new Fall, writ large in day-glo colors. This record, their second with Brix, shows them finally ready to grapple with notions they'd scorned previously, such as actual production values (with Rough Trade honcho John Leckie engineering) and commercial accessibility (witness the sawing chords of "2x4" and "Lay of the Land"). This marks a critical moment in the Fall saga as they finally gained some U.S. recognition and prepared to up the commercial ante even more. --Gene Booth« less
The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall is the apex of the Fall's Brix era in which Mark E. Smith, unheralded hip priest of Manchester punk, finally met his match (Smith and young American Brix met at a Chicago gig and quickly wed.) With Mrs. Smith aboard everything upgraded--the lyrics and vocals took a quirky turn as Brix chimed in, and the guitars gained a more streamlined edge. Yes, she could play guitar, and write. Even the cover art seemed to suggest a new Fall, writ large in day-glo colors. This record, their second with Brix, shows them finally ready to grapple with notions they'd scorned previously, such as actual production values (with Rough Trade honcho John Leckie engineering) and commercial accessibility (witness the sawing chords of "2x4" and "Lay of the Land"). This marks a critical moment in the Fall saga as they finally gained some U.S. recognition and prepared to up the commercial ante even more. --Gene Booth
Randall E. Adams | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first discovered the Fall during this period--the Brix Smith era. In fact I still remember hearing "Cruiser's Creek" (from "This Nation's Saving Grace") in a record store while on vacation in San Francisco. I was stunned. I had heard a sound that I would follow obsessively for many years up to the bitter and nearly unlistenable end with "Levitate." Because of the production role played by John Leckie (also responsible for Magazine's first album) "The Wonderful and Frightening World" was the most disciplined and accessible of the Fall's albums to date. As others have already mentioned, "2 x 4" presents a pile-driver dance tune of a type that the Fall would come up with again and again. "Pat-Trip Dispenser" sounds like a 1960s American garage-punk offering, but more unhinged. "Disney's Dream Debased" turns down the volume and with Brix' echoed backup vocals sounds positively high-production compared to earlier Fall tracks. This does not mean it is an ordinary pop tune. It just represents an expansion of the band's musical vocabulary but the end result is the same as on all great Fall tracks: a bent story with a deceptively simple repetitious musical backing. I usually object to long tracks, but the crazed eight minute rant of "No Bulbs" could go on for 20 minutes and I'd be happy.If you start your investigation of The Fall at this album, or at "This Nation's Saving Grace" or "Bend Sinister," you will have begun at a very good mid-point. Newer albums cover similar ground but are more polished and occasionally more spotty. Older albums also cover similar ground but are much more primitive and can be wildly erratic in terms of recorded sound. It's all brilliant at its best. Start here and then move outward in each direction."
Frank Grimes | LaPalma, CA United States | 03/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THe Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall is probably the most accessible album in Fall's entire catalog. Along with This Nation's Saving Grace, it is their best work from the Brix period. Actually...it's one of their best works period. It's rather strange hearing Mark E. Smith's familiar snarl in the context of a pop song like "Oh Brother" and "C.R.E.E.P." but it works surprisingly well. But the best song in the album may very well be the opening track "Lay of the Land" which starts off with some strange chanting and builds up to classic Fall punk rock. "God-Box", "Elves", and "No Bulbs" are excellent songs too. In short, this album is the perfect blend of artsy post punk and pop music."
You simply can't beat them!
Mr N Forbes-warren | Newport, South Wales, UK | 09/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1984, The Fall released this absolute classic! The CD kicks off with LAY OF THE LAND, a fast-paced and punky number with a rather weirded-out intro - Mark E. Smith talking in a dense schoolkid voice! Strange. 2x4 is a catchy, jaunty, cynical number with a memorable bassline intro. A real live favourite and an amusing chorus - 'hit him on the head-ah! With a two-by-four-ah!' COPPED IT features a guest vocal by Gavin Friday from THE VIRGIN PRUNES, a perennial goth/alternative act from the early 1980s. The CD also features the radio-friendly singles OH BROTHER and CREEP, plus the equally entertaining b-sides. On the second half, The Fall show their surreal touch with BUG DAY, a mellow blues influence with DISNEY'S DREAM DEBASED - a prophecy of the Paris site, perhaps? Hmm. The influence of the presence of Brix E. Smith, Mark's then wife, is obvious here with twangy yet simplistic molten guitar riffing which puts Duane Eddy to shame! I should also point out the recent Stereophonics hit 'I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio' - well, have a listen to the track CRAIGNESS and compare and contrast. Then ask yourself the chicken-or-egg question! But I digress. This is an essential CD for any Fall fan, young or old. Well worth the money!"
Elaine Skillins | New England | 03/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first Fall recording I ever bought, having never heard of them, it was a pure impulse buy based on the cover art. The cross between Edvard Munch and Picasso on the cover looked kind of cool,plus, if they were from Manchester, they MUST be good. This 1984 CD starts out with `Lay of the Land'. The apocalyptic starts preludes a guitar and bass driven crunch that rolls up and down on the bass timing. It has that `stick-in-your head' quality. Love that slashing guitar. Track 2 is `2 x 4'. What mental imagery. It's funny and it's a great song with a cowpoke beat and a chopping guitar riff. No doubt about it, the band in this incarnation just plain smokes. They play with urgency and are masters of their instruments, synchronized and tight. `Copped It' is a hypno-trance beat song with M.E.S. alternating between muffled, warped and distorted. The band cooks but the vocals grate. I find myself hitting FF on this track. `Elves' is a little better. A bit sludgy and boring though, I think I have no idea what this song is about, but I think I don't like the tone of the kiddy organ. `Oh! Brother' comes next. A true Fall classic. Terrific stuff, the backing vocals are way cool almost making it as if you have heard this song somewhere before. The beat, the refrain, the bass and I end up humming "disinformat-shun' to myself for the rest of the day. `Drago's Guilt' is a tight little rocker that clicks along with a driving beat. The time changes are great. `God-Box' is another least favorite of mine. The brain piercing distortion starting the song doesn't help. Watch out headphone users. Again, sludgy and leaden as it plods along, with a kind of menacing undertone that I find depressing. FF. `Clear Off!' is different and cool but hampered by a goofy accompanying vocal. Who allowed that guy into the song? As always, the band sounds great though. `C.R.E.E.P.' follows. Another truly great song that rates as one of the Fall's Top 10 signature-sounding recordings. The organ riff is unforgettable. `Pat-Trip Dispenser' is another song that is one of the Fall's best. Great guitar. Hypnotic. `Slang King' is next with a cool down low feel to it with bridging lifts from the keyboard in a guitar and bass driven groove. `Bug Day' is a change of pace. Slow and plodding, quiet and measured, it feels like a rest stop, but still a good song. `Stephen Song' has a military march rock beat, but is a song again hampered by annoying accompanying vocals. `Craigness' has an open sparse end of the session feel to it. The vocals are right on this time around, a real nice song. `Disney's Dream Debased' has a lilting guitar line and shuffles along real smoothly. `No Bulbs' is a fantastic closer, and another Fall classic. The refrain feels as if you are part of the crowd singing along . Considering you are getting 16 songs here and you may have a couple of compromised tracks, it is a small sacrifice for this top notch Fall classic."
Deserves all 5 stars
Davdi Sutom | San Francisco, CA USA | 04/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the Fall's best. Moods are all over the place from derangement to melancholy to anger to drunken fun. I can't think of a modern band capable of covering the ground this band did in one CD."