Levitate (The Fall album)
|Studio album by The Fall|
|Released||29 September 1997|
West Heath Studios, London
Beethoven Street Studios, London
PWL Studios, Manchester
|Producer||Mark E. Smith|
|The Fall chronology|
Levitate is an album (the 19th) by The Fall, released in 1997 on Artful Records. Levitate became the last album to feature two long-time Fall members, drummer Karl Burns and bass player Steve Hanley (whose playing was once described by Smith as the defining element of the group's music).
The album remains out of print to date, as Artful went bankrupt in the early 2000.
Levitate was recorded amidst a difficult period for the group, described by personnel turmoil, financial troubles and Mark E. Smith's alcohol and drug abuse. Longtime members Craig Scanlon and Karl Burns were both fired, and fellow guitarist and Smith's ex-wife Brix (a key part of the group in the 1980s before quitting and briefly rejoining in the mid-90s) quit during the disastrous tour in support of The Light User Syndrome.
The album was initially going to be produced by Keir Stewart and Simon Spencer (who previously collaborated with Smith under the moniker D.O.S.E. on the 1995 single "Plug Myself In"). Most of the recordings took place at Edwyn Collins's studio in West Hampstead. However, Stewart and Spencer soon fell out with Smith over payments and left after a week, taking most of the tapes with them. The only tracks from these sessions to make the album were "4½ Inch" (allegedly edited out of samples of a rehearsal recording), "Spencer", later re-dubbed by Smith as "Spencer Must Die", and "The Quartet of Doc Shanley". Drummer Simon Wolstencroft also left the group midway through the sessions, unhappy with Smith's treatment of his writing contributions, particularly "Everybody But Myself". He was replaced by the returning Burns, while the guitar position was taken by Scottish artist Tommy Crooks, despite him only having limited ability on guitar.
The album features several covers - "I'm a Mummy" by Bob McFadden & Dor and "Jungle Rock" by Hank Mizell, as well as an interpretation of the song "I Come and Stand At Every Door", based on a poem by Nazım Hikmet and a traditional tune, previously performed by Pete Seeger, The Misunderstood and The Byrds ("Jap Kid" is an instrumental version of this track). Another track, "Tragic Days", is a poorly recorded fragment of a jam session at Martin Bramah's flat back in 1990, when Bramah still played in The Fall.
"Masquerade" was re-recorded from the album version and released as a single in February 1998 to coincide with the group's leader Mark E. Smith receiving the Godlike Genius award at the NME Awards. It reached number 59 in the UK charts. "Masquerade" sessions also produced a b-side "Calendar", a collaboration with then-unknown Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) which came about after a chance meeting when Smith allegedly mistook Gough's car for a taxi outside the pub.
The album was followed by another shambolic tour. Smith sacked the whole group in Ireland in November, although they were re-instated within days. The situation was further exacerbated by the group's growing debts and subsequent arrival of a large VAT bill, which left Smith and Steve Hanley in danger of their houses being repossessed. It was during the US tour in 1998 that the group essentially fell apart, leaving Smith with only Nagle's support in rebuilding the group for their next album The Marshall Suite.
- "Ten Houses of Eve" (Mark E. Smith, Julia Nagle) - 3:39
- "Masquerade" (Smith, Nagle) - 3:58
- "Hurricane Edward" (Smith, Nagle) - 5:52
- "I'm a Mummy" ("Unknown" - actually Rod "Dor" McKuen) - 2:37
- "The Quartet of Doc Shanley" (Smith, Hanley) - 3:14
- "Jap Kid" (Nagle) - 3:03
- "4½ Inch" (Smith, Hanley) - 3:56
- "Spencer Must Die" (Smith, Simon Spencer) - 4:00
- "Jungle Rock" (Hank Mizell) - 3:11
- "Ol' Gang" (Smith, Hanley, Simon Wolstencroft) - 4:00
- "Tragic Days" (Smith, Martin Bramah) - 1:29
- "I Come and Stand At Your Door" (credited to "Anon/Nagle") - 3:31
- "Levitate" (Smith, Nagle) - 2:50
- "Everybody But Myself" (Smith, Wolstencroft) - 4:15
Limited edition bonus disc
The first CD edition came with an additional 5 song disc of outtakes and alternate mixes spanning the group's career.
- "Powderkex" (Smith, Burns) - 3:17
- A remix (by D.O.S.E.) of "Powder Keg" from The Light User Syndrome
- "Christmastide" (Smith, Wolstencroft, Craig Scanlon) - 3:44
- A remix of "Xmas With Simon", a b-side from the 1990 single "High Tension Line"
- "Recipe For Fascism" (Smith) - 1:03
- A lo-fi spoken word piece by Smith
- "Pilsner Trail" (Smith, Hanley) - 5:20
- A live recording from 1983. A studio version of this song was released in 1998 on the expanded reissue of Perverted By Language. Credited to Mark E. Smith and either Steve or Paul Hanley, both of whom were members of The Fall in 1983. On the Perverted by Language reissue, the song is credited to the whole group.
- "Everybody But Myself" (Smith, Wolstencroft) - 3:04
- Recorded live May 14, 1997 at Jilly's Rockworld in Manchester. A portion of this same live recording precedes the album version.
- Mark E. Smith - vocals, keyboards, guitar, production
- Julia Nagle - keyboards, guitar, programming, arranging; vocals on "The Quartet of Doc Shanley"
- Steve Hanley - bass guitar
- Simon Wolstencroft - drums
- Karl Burns - drums
- Tommy Crooks - guitar on "Ten Houses of Eve", "Masquerade", "Jungle Rock" and "Everybody But Myself", voice on "Hurricane Edward", cover photography
- Andy Hackett - guitar, voice
- Brix Smith - voice sample ("this is new, fresh, fresh out of the womb") on "Masquerade" (uncredited; from Brix's final performance with The Fall at the Forum, London, 11 October 1996)
- Martin Bramah - guitar on "Tragic Days" (uncredited)
- Sebastian Lewsley - engineering
- Jason Barron - engineering
- Richie Reed - engineering
- Ollie Maxwell - engineering
- Xor - mastering
- Venus - design
A web page with photos, relating to the album Levitate from Invisiblegirl.co.uk