Sometimes the best Fall songs don't land on Fall albums, as this 2016 EP proves. The title cut of Wise Ol' Man is an instant Fall classic. It throbs and snarls with a sense of purpose that sticks in the head, thanks to Elena Poulou and the sweet, yet stern, chorus she delivers. "All Leave Canceled" is one of those sprawling epics from the group that entrances the whole way through, and there's the new-meets-old medley of "Facebook Troll/No Xmas for John Quays," a gift for fans and a fierce, captured-in-the-studio example of what the on-stage Fall can do with old tunes.
The Fall’s current lineup has been its most durable one since Mark E. Smith started the band in the mid-‘70s, and that’s really saying something. Just go to Wikipedia and see if you can nail down a halfway steady lineup through the Fall’s career. Smith, his wife/keyboardist Elena Poulou, guitarist Pete Greenway, bassist David Spurr and drummer Keiron Melling have enjoyed a steady string of studio albums, EPs, and live albums for the past ten years or so.
The Fall — Wise Ol’ Man EP (Cherry Red)What makes Mark E. Smith declare a Fall tune fit for release is as mysterious as any of his secret formulas. Most bands release an EP like this — a new song, some edits and re-thinks– as a stopgap. But “stopgap” is an aesthetic for The Fall. What.
The only problem with Mark E Smith’s dogged work ethic is that there’s a tendency for recent releases by The Fall to either prevail or fall disappointingly short. Some of the recent EPs and live albums in particular seem to merely serve the purpose of a momentary ‘bridging point’ to occupy time between projects, but not all of them have been redundant. 2013’s The Remainderer EP, for example, sounded like a fully-fledged Fall effort: it was abrasive but not completely inaccessible, and Smith’s singular portrayal of rockabilly recalled The Fall at their earlier best.