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Cover Art The Fall
The Frenz Experiment
[Beggars Banquet]
Rating: 7.4

Three cheers to the good people at Beggars Banquet - because of their efforts, a whole slew of mid/late 80s Fall is once again readily available on this continent. This disc and many more went out-of-print on RCA/BMG in the early '90s and were thereafter only available as imports, while current pressings from the likes of the Blow Monkeys, Animotion, etc., were available from coast to coast. It puts a wide smile on my face to see a few fine LPs by Mark Smith and His Band of Miserable Men rescued from cutout/import limbo and put on the shelves at a quite reasonable price, with B-sides and singles tacked on...

The Frenz Experiment was a 1988 release which is, in all honesty, a bit of a mixed bag. On no other record than the weak 1994 effort Middle Class Revolt do they sound more like they're on autopilot. While you've got a handful of tracks which would fit nicely on my Best of The Fall 15-CD set pipe dream (the snide and quite propulsive "Carry Bag Man," and the pair of cantankerous, sparsely-arranged numbers "The Steak Place" and "Get a Hotel"), there seem to be a few too many tracks which are either merely 'pleasant' ("In These Times," and the two covers "There's a Ghost In My House" and the Kinks' "Victoria,"), or cry out for judicious CD programming (the nadir must be "Hit the North," which I don't believe I've ever been able to listen to the entire way through.)

Not to scare anyone off, mind you, for even somewhat sub-par Fall is well worth hearing, but if you're just now getting acquainted with this period, grab the brilliant 1984-86 releases (Wonderful and Frightening World, This Nation's Saving Grace and Bend Sinister) before cracking the shrinkwrap on this one.

-Bruce Tiffee

Sound Clip:
"Get a Hotel"
MPEG-LayerIII
64kpbs.44kHz.
240k.30sec.