The Fall: 10 Essential Songs

Hear highlights from late, great post-punk malcontent Mark E. Smith's sprawling four-decade discography

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"Totally Wired" (1980)

Whereas "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'" took on writer's block, "Totally Wired" is Smith's paean to anxiety. Cataloging his symptoms ("a butterfly stomach") and the likely cause of his ills ("I drank a jar of coffee/And I took some of these"), the song clangs like an agitated heartbeat. Guitars slash and bass lines jerk as Smith delivers line after line of jittery near-nonsense in a sarcastic, self-loathing sneer. Raw and ragged, "Totally Wired" also embodies the Fall's lo-fi aesthetic of the early Eighties, a snub at the music industry's increasingly slick production values and packaging. As Smith said to Q, "What I don't like about a lot of records today is that they're too clear. There's really no fascination or mystery left." Thankfully the Fall – even when they got a bit slicker themselves – never had that problem.

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