The Fall and John Peel of the BBC go hand in hand in my mind and always have since I've known about them. Oddly, however, is the fact that there has never been a comprehensive cd compilation which delved into this relationship between dj and band. Words Of Expectation, a 2 cd set tries to rectify that with mixed but fascinating results.
This 2 cd set spans from the first months of the Fall's existence in 1978 (with 2 sessions from that year) to the 1980-1981 time period (3 sessions), then jumps forward 15 years to 1995/96 with the final two sessions included in this set. Apparently 2 sessions from 1983 (including the namesake of this album, Words Of Expectation) were left off and not included, which is the only big problem with this collection. The jump from 1981 to 1995 is a big one, and does not make the 2nd disc as crucially full of prime era Fall mayhem as one would like, by leaving off other incredible songs I love, like Smile, Eat Yourself Fitter, Pat Trip Dispenser and 2 By 4 all recorded in 1983. It's a real shame these songs could not be included, and I'm not sure exactly why.
Other than this one glitch in programming, what we do end up with is some super fine moments of The Fall - well recorded in a close to as possible live setting. Favorites of mine on disc one include a fiery version of Rebellious Jukebox which sounds like a Modern Lovers gem, a rip roaring Container Drivers, a snarling Jawbone and the Air Rifle, and an amazing version of the song New Puritan with startling communication between the band and Mark E Smith.
Disc two continues on a high, with some crucial Fall tunes like the masterful dirge Middlemass, the hopping Lie Dream of a Casino Soul, and a different and better recorded version of Hip Priest then I'm used to (a big plus because I love that song). Also included on disc two are a kicking version of Deer Park (another fave of mine and I learned a new word from this song - oik, which is a British public school term for an uncultured and uneducated youth), a stellar version of Winter and an odd version of Who Makes The Nazis in which Mark E Smith sounds like he's singing through a phone accompanied by a plucking banjo!
The sessions from 1995 and 1996 are kind of sad. Jumping from 1981 to 1995 is quite jarring; he's slurring his words more, even mentions "slurring the words" in Oleano and it's rather sad actually. I've always thought of them as staying (if not as brilliant) fairly consistent but now I wonder. They try their hand at two covers; Nancy Sinatra's The City Never Sleeps (a Lee Hazlewood song) is not so great, but their version of Captain Beefheart's Beatle Bones 'N' Smokin' Stones has a raw live energy which works quite well.