Fuckin’ John Peel, he’s the fuckin’ worst, he’s worse than Tony Blackburn ever was. Bastard. (Mark E. Smith, dispensing charity by the cartload during a celebrated ‘interview‘ with Loaded magazine in 1997)
One tends to hear only the Christmas-related parts of this quite stunning session, but because the main part of Yuletide is to all intents and purposes done and dusted, and there’s a track that made the Festive Fifty nestling in there, I give you the entire 19th session by those impish Prestwickians in all its debauched and driving glory.
It’s debatable whether MES was feeling all that festive when he put down these four quirky scorchers in late November 1994. ‘Glam Racket/Star’ certainly evinces all of Smith’s biting put-downs of a celebrity hanger-on in strident fashion: ‘You’re a half-wit from somewhere or other/Why don’t you bog off back there…you hang around with cameramen who look up girls’ skirts’, these being slightly toned down for the single release. Mark was evidently feeling he had a new lease of life since Brix had rejoined the band and Dave Bush had continued to bring his interest in electronica to the band’s output (even though he eventually decamped to join Elastica, who shared a double bill with the Fall when this session debuted on 17 December).
‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ don’t so much remake the originals as trample them to death (despite the presence of Lucy Rimmer, choir girl of the year, on the latter). Yet these versions patently resist ridicule and become bona fide Fall originals in the very process. The final track, the majestic ‘Numb At The Lodge’ (FF 1995 #7) was renamed ‘Feeling Numb’ for its official release on Cerebral Caustic and, though the newly named track was the one voted for, Peel chose to play the rough cut, with its sparkilng energy and tightness vindicating his decision utterly.
Fall, Peel Session 1994-11-20