Perverted by Language

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Perverted by Language
Perverted by Language.jpg
Studio album by The Fall
Released 12 December 1983
Recorded Pluto Studio, Manchester, England
Genre Post-punk
Length 47:04
Label Rough Trade
Producer Steve Parker
The Fall chronology
Fall in a Hole
(1983)Fall in a Hole1983
Perverted by Language
The Wonderful and Frightening World Of...
(1984)The Wonderful and Frightening World Of...1984

Perverted by Language is the sixth studio album by English post-punk band The Fall. It was released on 12 December 1983 through Rough Trade Records.


Perverted by Language is the first Fall album to feature Brix Smith, then-wife of Mark E. Smith.[1] However, the bulk of the album was recorded before she had joined the band.

It was released in 1983 by Rough Trade in the UK, Virgin Records in France, Megadisc in the Netherlands, Line Records in Germany, and Base Record in Italy. The album was the only full-length product of the band's renewed relationship with Rough Trade, whom they had previously left in 1981.

The band fell out with Rough Trade over Rough Trade turning all its resources to The Smiths, and also the full-length video the band wished to make for the album. The video Perverted by Language Bis went ahead funded by the group themselves and producers Ikon (Factory Records), with videos directed by Claude Bessy. The video was released on VHS in 1984 (a DVD edition was released by Cherry Red in 2003). By the time of the album and later the video's release, the group had signed to Beggars Banquet.[2]


The album opens with "Eat Y'self Fitter" (described as "an endlessly cycling rockabilly chug with extra keyboard oddities and sudden music-less exchanges for the chorus"),[3] which John Peel picked as one of his Desert Island Discs;[4] when Peel had first heard the track – in a session the band recorded in March 1983 – he stated on air that he had fainted and that his producer, John Walters, had to resuscitate him.[5] "Neighbourhood of Infinity" was seen by AllMusic's Ned Raggett as "a sequel of sorts to 'The Man Whose Head Expanded'". "Garden" features what Q magazine considered "his most oblique lyrics yet".[5] Brix Smith, who wasn't yet a full-time group member, co-wrote and performs lead vocals on "Hotel Blöedel" (originally "One More Time For the Record", a song written for her band Banda Dratsing); the title was inspired by a night's stay in a Nuremberg hotel next door to an abattoir. It was the first Fall track to feature anyone other than Mark E. Smith on lead vocals.[3][6]

Side two opens with "Smile", which according to Raggett "shows the band's abilities at tense audio drama excellently", with "a relentless, steady build, winding up to a total explosion that never comes".[3] "I Feel Voxish" has been described as Mark E. Smith's "sound experiment", "where he gets playful with meter and alliteration".[7] "Tempo House" was taken from a video recording of the band's performance at The Haçienda in July 1983 as, according to Paul Hanley, the studio bass sound was disappointing.[8] The album closes with "Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot", described as "almost a country (and western) stroll" and "one song that encapsulated The Fall's spirit".[3][6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[3]
The Austin Chronicle2/5 stars[9]
Robert ChristgauB–[10]
Classic Rock7/10[11]
Sounds2.5/5 stars[13]
SPIN Alternative Record Guide9/10[14]

Robert Christgau gave the album a B- rating, commenting on "side-openers that go on so long you don't really notice your attention flagging as their momentum gives way to, well, poetry readings--roughly accompanied, as usual".[10] The NME's Jim Shelley saw it as The Fall "plodding on, going nowhere, making do", although he described "Smile" as "one of the great Fall moments...where the notorious Fall-as-an-idea is driven into reality".[12] Dave McCullough, writing in Sounds, gave it two and a half stars, describing it as "overall laborious and very dull indeed".[13]

Brian Edge, in his book Paintwork: a Portrait of The Fall, considered that the album demonstrated Smith's "ability to use words as blunt instruments, as opposed to painterly devices or catchphrases".[6] AllMusic reviewer Ned Raggett gave it four stars, calling it "another fine album".[3] Trouser Press saw it as a preparation for the albums that followed, stating that "they chug away with more conviction than ever".[15] Classic Rock's Emma Johnston gave it 7/10, stating it "finds them in a playful mood as guitarist Brix Smith makes her debut. As they dip their toes into krautrock and even wonky psychedelia, it marks another new chapter in their evolution."[11] In his book The Secret History of Rock, Roni Sarig viewed the album as the band taking "a distinct turn toward a more accessible, pop-oriented sound".[16] It received a score of 9/10 from the SPIN Alternative Record Guide.[14] Marc Savlov, reviewing the reissued album in 2002 for The Austin Chronicle, gave it two stars.[9] Stereogum's Robert Ham saw it as a return to form after Room to Live, calling it "another near-masterpiece", and commenting on how Steve Hanley's bass lines drive the album.[7]

Pitchfork Media listed Perverted by Language as 82nd best album of the 1980s. In Billboard's 2018 list "The 10 Best Albums by The Fall: Critic's Picks", Perverted by Language was included an number 7.[1]


Perverted by Language gave the band their first number one album on the UK Independent Chart since Grotesque (After the Gramme) in 1980, and spent fourteen weeks on the chart.[17]

Track listing[edit]

*Note: writing credits as per original vinyl editions.

Side A
1."Eat Y'self Fitter"Mark E. Smith[n 1]6:38
2."Neighbourhood of Infinity"M. Smith, Karl Burns, Steve Hanley, Paul Hanley, Craig Scanlon2:41
3."Garden"M. Smith, Scanlon [n 2]8:42
4."Hotel Blöedel"M. Smith, S. Hanley, Brix Smith[n 3]3:47
Side B
1."Smile"M. Smith, Scanlon [n 4]5:06
2."I Feel Voxish"M. Smith, Marc Riley [n 5]4:19
3."Tempo House" (recorded live at The Haçienda, Manchester in July 1983)M. Smith, S. Hanley8:51
4."Hexen Definitive/Strife Knot"M. Smith, Burns, Adrian Niman, Scanlon [n 6]6:57


There have been five CD editions of the album. The first three (Line's 1984, Castle's 1993 and Cog Sinister's 1998) duplicated the original vinyl. The album was reissued through Castle Music in 1998 in a slightly different mix (only "Garden" was noticeably altered) and adding five bonus tracks.

The 2005 edition, again on Castle Music, carried the original mix of the album, all the bonus tracks from the 1998 version and came with an additional disc carrying live recordings from the era and a Peel Session, as well as the remixed "Garden" from the previous edition.

The album was issued on vinyl for the first time in over thirty years in 2017, by Superior Viaduct in the US and Let Them Eat Vinyl in the UK.


Perverted by Language tour, Hamburg, April 1984
The Fall
  • Mark E. Smith – vocals, electric piano, violin on "Hotel Blöedel", keyboards on "Tempo House," guitar
  • Steve Hanley – bass guitar, backing vocals on "Eat Y'Self Fitter"
  • Paul Hanley – drums, keyboards, backing vocals on "Eat Y'Self Fitter"
  • Craig Scanlon – guitar, backing vocals on "Eat Y'Self Fitter" and "Tempo House"
  • Karl Burns – drums, percussion, bass guitar, backing vocals on "Eat Y'Self Fitter"
  • Brix Smith – guitar and lead vocals on "Hotel Blöedel", backing vocals on "Eat Y'Self Fitter"
  • Steve Parker – production
  • Heather Hanley – recording of "Tempo House"
  • Oz McCormick – recording of "Tempo House"


  1. ^ Alternatively credited on all the CD editions to: M. Smith, S. Hanley
  2. ^ Alternatively credited on all the CD editions to: M. Smith, Burns, Scanlon, P. Hanley, S. Hanley
  3. ^ Alternatively credited on all the CD editions to: M. Smith, S. Hanley
  4. ^ Alternatively credited on all the CD editions to: M. Smith, Scanlon, Burns, S. Hanley, P. Hanley
  5. ^ Alternatively credited on all the CD editions to: M. Smith, Riley, S. Hanley
  6. ^ Alternatively credited on all the CD editions to: M. Smith, Scanlon, Burns


  1. ^ a b Dayal, Geeta (2018) "The 10 Best Albums by The Fall: Critic's Picks", Billboard, 25 January 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018
  2. ^ Steve Hanley, The Big Mid Week
  3. ^ a b c d e f Raggett, Ned. "Perverted by Language – The Fall : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "John Peel, Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4". BBC. 14 Jan 1990. 
  5. ^ a b "Mark E Smith 1957-2018", Q. Retrieved 16 March 2018
  6. ^ a b c Edge, Brian (1989) Paintwork: a Portrait of The Fall, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-1740-X, pp. 68–70
  7. ^ a b Ham, Robert (2015) "Perverted by Language", Stereogum, 12 February 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2018
  8. ^ Hanley, Paul (2017) Leave the Capital, Route, ISBN 978-1901927-71-9, pp. 175–176
  9. ^ a b Savlov, Marc (2002) "The Fall Reissues", The Austin Chronicle, 13 December 2002. Retrieved 16 March 2018
  10. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: The Fall". Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Johnston, Emma (2017) "The Fall - Reissues album review", Classic Rock, 28 April 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018
  12. ^ a b Shelley, Jim (1983) "Words: Fall on Stony Ground: The Fall: Perverted by Language", NME, 10 December 1983
  13. ^ a b McCullough, Dave (1983) "Speech Defects: The Fall: Perverted by Language", Sounds, December 1983
  14. ^ a b Weisbard, Eric & Marks, Craig (eds.) (1995) SPIN Alternative Record Guide, Vintage Books, ISBN 978-0679755746
  15. ^ Azerrad, Michael;Wolk, Douglas; Pattyn, Jay "Fall", Trouser Press. Retrieved 16 March 2018
  16. ^ Sarig, Roni (1998) The Secret History of Rock, Watson-Guptill Publications Inc., ISBN 978-0823076697, p. 211
  17. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p. 84

External links[edit]