Ha! Now that I've revealed the five best albums that replicate "Falling Leaf Syndrome," a very serious condition for which you should consult your doctor, I'm taking the opportunity to discuss the five best albums by the only band smart enough to name themselves after a season.
Now, as anyone who follows the Fall knows, they're really not so much a band as a paramilitary regime led by Mark E. Smith, a guy who likes to drink a bit and occasionally slug his band members for missing notes. He's had a few long term employees who hang on for the benefits--though the dental care is typically British--but mostly it's an interchangeable bunch of robots who either marry Smith or end up disappearing in a lake of fire.
The Fall have recorded something like 150 albums, most of which are indistinguishable from each other. (And they've released several hundred live albums and compilations that each include one or two rarities to ensure the devoted go bankrupt or kill themselves in despair.) Smith is such a tuneless tunesmith that the only thing keeping him going is his ability to be more prolific with nonsense than yours truly. He could write List Of The Day.
Whittling their very large output to "Five" essential albums was impossible. And, trust me, among the 200 Fall fans still living, there is no consensus. This is what running a government in a very remote part of the world must be like. But maybe a little more violent.
Totale's Turns (It's Now Or Never) (1980): A live album is the best way to experience a band who never liked to practice and thrived on annoying the hell out of their audience. Smith's opening salvo, "The difference between you and us is that we have brains," surely endeared himself to his audience, who have continued to buy the band's albums, EPs, singles, videos, regardless of how horrible the effort. Some kids get hooked on drugs, others buy Fall albums.
The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall (1984): Who knew these guys needed a producer? But damned if they didn't hire John Leckie to wipe their noses and suddenly they improved. There are others that think the real reason they improved is because Mark married Brix and let her in the band and knew more about music than just "hey, let's sit in a bag and scream!"
This Nation's Saving Grace (1985): Another one with the wife. And another winner. "I Am Damo Suzuki" acknowledges the Can lead singer and led an entire generation to discover the band that the Fall, PIL and Gang of Four all stole half if not all their ideas from--and then did them worse! "Paintwork" will encourage your visitors to leave your home. Brix eventually tired of the scene and started Adult Net, which didn't pan out too well. Hard to believe she needed to collaborate with these maniacs to do anything worthwhile but love is strange.
The Infotainment Scan (1993): With titles like "The League Of Bald-Headed Men," "Glam-Racket," "Paranoid Man In Cheap Shit Room" and "Why Are People Grudgeful?" which I'm being told is a Lee "Scratch" Perry cover (man, this music stuff gets complicated), the Fall left a brief major label affair to return to the indie world with their inability to sell records intact. You'd think after 15 years of unsuccess they'd learn to sing ballads with girls' names in the titles (their cover of the Kinks' "Victoria" almost counts, but it's not a ballad) or something about how "love hurts and I'll never be the same." But NO, they have to be "difficult."
The Real New Fall L.P. (Formerly Country on the Click) (2003): At this point, anyone who still pays attention to these guys deserves an award. There is no way to keep up with the endless variations of releases and substandard live cuts and outtakes and alternate mixes and...it'd be a full-time job and you'd still have to hire an intern to keep it all straight. But with catchy titles such as "Open the Boxoctosis #2" and "Last Commands of Xyralothep via M.E.S." (who says they don't write 'em like that anymore?), the Fall are ensured to survive for decades beyond this column.