Live at the Witch Trials

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Live at the Witch Trials
Live at the Witch Trials.jpg
Studio album by The Fall
Released 16 March 1979
Recorded 15 December 1978 at Sound Suite, Camden, England
Genre Post-punk, art punk
Length 38:33
Label Step-Forward
Producer The Fall, Bob Sargeant
The Fall chronology
Live at the Witch Trials
Alternative cover
Original US cover

Live at the Witch Trials is the debut studio album by The Fall. It was released on 16 March 1979, through record label Step-Forward. It is not, despite its title, a live album and was recorded in studio in a single day and mixed by producer Bob Sargeant.


The album was recorded at Camden Sound Suite on 15 December 1978 and mixed by producer Bob Sargeant on the 16th. The group had been booked into the studio for a week but Mark E. Smith had fallen ill, and cancelled the first three days.[1] Some songs date from earlier incarnations of the group and feature writing credit from former members Tony Friel and Una Baines.


Live at the Witch Trials was released on 16 March 1979, through record label Step-Forward. The US release of the album came in alternate artwork and removed "Mother-Sister!" and "Industrial Estate", replacing them with "Various Times", the B-side of the group's second single, "It's the New Thing". All subsequent editions have followed the original UK track listing.

No singles were taken from the album, a practice that would be commonplace for the group until 1986. Some songs dated from earlier incarnations of the group with both Tony Friel and Una Baines featuring on the writing credits. By the time the album was released, drummer Karl Burns had left the band and guitarist Martin Bramah also quit shortly afterwards to form Blue Orchids, leaving Mark E. Smith as the sole remaining founder member.

The album was available in its original form until the late 1980s, being reissued on vinyl, cassette and CD by I.R.S. Records in 1989. In 1997, Mark E. Smith's own Cog Sinister label issued a CD edition that was poorly mastered from a below-standard vinyl copy. However, in conjunction with Voiceprint, Cog Sinister reissued the album again in 2002 as Live at the Witch Trials +, claiming to be remastered but was, in fact, simply a clone of the I.R.S. disc, and adding the tracks from the group's first two singles, "Bingo Master's Breakout" and "It's the New Thing". In 2004, Castle Music released a two-disc CD "Expanded Deluxe Edition" of the album, mastered from the original tapes and with a vastly expanded track listing. However, the Castle Music reissue used a vinyl source for the three "Bingo Masters Break Out" EP tracks, the original tapes having been lost.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]
Drowned in Sound 9/10[4]
Melody Maker unfavourable[5]
Pitchfork Media 8.3/10[6]
Record Mirror 5/5 stars[7]
Smash Hits 7/10[8]
Stylus unclear[9]
Tiny Mix Tapes favourable[10]

The album was given a generally positive reception from critics upon its release, with Record Mirror in particular giving it a full five stars and describing the album as "a rugged, concerned, attuned, rebellious jukebox".[7] Melody Maker was less impressed, being especially negative about the group's then-rhythm section of Marc Riley and Karl Burns.[5]

In their retrospective review, Tiny Mix Tapes called it a "fully-formed, instant-classic debut album".[10]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Frightened"   Mark E. Smith, Tony Friel 5:02
2. "Crap Rap 2/Like to Blow"   Martin Bramah, Smith 2:04
3. "Rebellious Jukebox"   Smith, Bramah 2:51
4. "No Xmas for John Quays"   Smith 4:38
5. "Mother-Sister!"   Smith, Una Baines 3:20
6. "Industrial Estate"   Friel, Bramah, Smith 2:00
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Underground Medecin"   Bramah, Smith 2:08
2. "Two Steps Back"   Bramah, Smith 5:03
3. "Live at the Witch Trials"   Smith 0:51
4. "Futures and Pasts"   Bramah, Smith 2:36
5. "Music Scene"   Bramah, Yvonne Pawlett, Smith, Marc Riley 8:00


The Fall
  • Mark E. Smith – vocals, guitar ("Live at the Witch Trials"), tapes ("Music Scene")
  • Martin Bramah – guitar, backing vocals, production
  • Marc Riley – bass guitar, production
  • Karl Burns – drums, production
  • Yvonne Pawlett – keyboards, production
  • Bob Sargeant – production
  • John Wriothesley – front cover artwork
  • Graham Rhodes – sleeve photography
  • Steve Lyons – sleeve photography


  1. ^ Marc Riley interview with the BBC, 2004
  2. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Live at the Witch Trials – The Fall : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: The Fall". Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials / Dragnet / Releases / Releases // Drowned in Sound". Drowned in Sound. 10 March 2004. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "[Melody Maker review]". Melody Maker. 
  6. ^ Heller, Jason (June 17, 2016). "The Fall: Live at the Witch Trials/Dragnet". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 21, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "[Record Mirror review]". Record Mirror. 31 March 1979. 
  8. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (May 17-31 1979): 25. 
  9. ^ Smith, Chris (1 September 2003). "The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials – On Second Thought – Stylus Magazine". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials | DeLorean | Tiny Mix Tapes". Tiny Mix Tapes. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 

External links[edit]