Whether you’re a die-hard Fall fan or someone with only a vague interest in their music, you can’t help but admire the way this band rose from the ashes time and time again, with so many band line ups (around 66!) and numerous punch ups, they always managed to be The Fall. With each new line up a slightly adjusted Fall sound was born, yet the foundations of the band were kept intact by Mark E.Smith, who famously once said “if it’s me and your granny on bongos, it’s The Fall”.

For all his musical genius, Smith by all accounts was often a difficult figure to work with, with his treatment of band members over the years being on the unsavoury side often resulting in fisticuffs, or band walk-outs. It’s from this chaos that the heart of ‘Reformation Post TLC’ was born.  Following a fight between Smith and the lead singer of the support band at The Fall’s gig in Phoenix, (involving a banana skin being thrown in Smith’s face) and after several inter-band arguments, the existing line up quit and flew back to Manchester. Smith quickly assembled a group with the help of his American record label, (the 54th line up!) and The Fall continued. (A gig witnessed by Will Ivy from Flat Worms, as discussed in our interview with him in the features section).

The TLC bit in the title was according to Smith ‘thieving, lying, cunts’ although he often replaced thieving with ‘treacherous’ or ‘traitors’ but you get the idea! There was no love lost between him and his previous band mates, which is also a theme on title track ‘Reformation!’ There was now also the addition of Smith’s then girlfriend Elena Poulou on keyboards, and in a live setting, an ever expanding line up which often boasted two bassists and two drummers – the Americans Rob Barbato on bass, Orpheo McCord on drums and Tim Presley on guitar were joined by Dave Spurr (bass), Pete Greenway (guitar) and Keiron Melling (drums), as due to the American’s commitments in other projects they weren’t always available to tour, so began a ‘subs bench’ scenario of the Reformation-era line up. Keeping up with all these changes? Good.

On to the music….Tim Presley (now of White Fence fame, and frequent collaborator with Ty Segall), adds his guitar genius to proceedings, and stand out tracks on the main studio album are the hypnotic beats and guitars of ‘Fall Sound’ and ‘Reformation!’ Elsewhere ‘The Wright Stuff’ was apparently inspired by Smith’s TV obsessions and even references ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ in the lyrics, as Smith had been asked to replace John Lydon in the celebrity gameshow. That would’ve been worth watching, M.E.S. in the jungle, away from a north Manc boozer! Then there’s the brilliant cover of ‘White Line Fever’ by Merle Haggard – another great tune in The Fall’s legendary history of re-interpreting other people’s songs.


As with most expanded editions, it’s the extra bits that tantalise the eardrums, and this boxset is no exception. There’s a raft of rough mixes and alternate versions on discs two and three to keep any Fall fan entertained for the next year, and it’s always interesting to music nerds like me to see how these snippets and raw songs evolve into the finished tune. Disc four is by far the highlight for me, as it’s a great reminder of how good this band could be live. Recorded at the now defunct Hammersmith Palais in 2007, there’s the new stuff including ‘Over! Over!’, ‘Fall Sound’ and ‘Reformation’ sounding just as powerful as classics such as ‘Theme From Sparta F.C’, ‘Wrong Place, Right Time’ the mesmerising hit of ‘Blindness’ from previous Fall album 2005’s ‘Fall Heads Roll’ and the brilliant cover of ‘White Lightning’.

“The Fall, always different, always the same” John Peel, possibly their biggest fan, used to say. ‘Reformation Post TLC’ summed that up perfectly, and this four cd release is a brilliant boxset which celebrates one of the UK’s unique musical figures, and importantly, the musicians who helped define his vision. A worthy addition to the collection for any Fall fan.

The Fall: Reformation Post TLC: Four CD Boxset Edition – Out 1 May 2020 (Cherry Red Records)


From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.