The Fall: The Light User Syndrome (Deluxe Edition Remastered 2 CD) (Iconoclassic) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Fall

The Light User Syndrome (Deluxe Edition Remastered 2 CD)


Jul 22, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

1996 was a tough year for The Fall. Long-time guitarist Craig Scanlon walked out during the sessions for “The Chiselers,” the single that preceded this album. This was also the last time guitarist Brix Smith, who had rejoined for the previous year’s Cerebral Caustic, would play on a Fall album, as she quit during a soundcheck during the disastrous tour for this album (before returning for a final gig at the Astoria in London), their first and only release for Jet Records. Drummer Karl Burns was also fired, though he would come back for the following year’s Levitate. Yet despite all the ever-shifting personnel changes, The Light User Syndrome stands out as one of the better Fall albums of the ’90s and beyond. And although other Fall albums have been reissued as single CDs or two CD sets with tons of bonus material, that has not been the case with this album, at least until now.

With the original 59-minute album (one of their longest releases, reminding one of 1982’s similarly-lengthy Hex Enduction Hour, also originally released as a single LP just like the vinyl version of The Light User Syndrome on disc one and the bonus tracks on disc two, this is quite simply the definitive edition of this release. While the 2020 double LP reissue wisely spreads all of the songs on the original LP to four sides, this version does one better by including an entire disc full of the sessions for the aforementioned single version of “The Chiselers” (arguably one of their finest achievements and one that took a full eight months to complete, shades of “Good Vibrations”) along with five outtakes and five more live versions, the latter two compiled from the simultaneously released Receiver compilations Fiend with a Violin, Sinister Waltz, and Oswald Defense Lawyer.

As such, it’s sort of a cheater’s guide for fans to navigate through a sliver of The Fall’s messy discography, as Iconoclassic has done the dirty work of going through each of these compilations to find the best material from these otherwise shoddy compilations in sort of the same way that compilers of obscure garage rock (Nuggets, Pebbles, etc.) or obscure punk (Bloodstains, Killed by Death, etc.) have compiled many albums of excellent material from long-forgotten singles and whatnot.
So what of the actual music on here? Leader Mark E. Smith, despite being at the height of his whiskey drinking around this time, turned in a fantastic and inspired vocal performance on songs such as the opener “D.I.Y. Meat” (with the memorable refrain “it was the handyman”), the chilling “Powder Keg” (which predicted the Arndale bombing in Manchester), and of course the aforementioned “The Chiselers” (represented on the album as “Interlude/Chilinism”). There’s also a rare Burns lead vocal on the cover of Johnny Paycheck’s “Stay Away (Old White Train”) and a cover of the Gene Pitney hit “Last Chance to Turn Around.” (

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