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If The Fall truly is a cult band, then Slates both benefits from and reinforces such shrouded obsessions. In presenting these six particular songs as a 10-inch EP, the inherent and attractive difficulty of The Fall's sound is made physical, framing the urgency of their singles from this period (notably How I Wrote 'Elastic Man' and Lie Dream of a Casino Soul) alongside lengthy rumblings normally restricted to long players.
The tumbling and phased "Middle Mass" begins on an incredible high note, segueing into the snake-charm hypnotism of "An Older Lover Etc." "Slates, Slags, Etc." is built on stretched VU-inspired riffing, complete with ace feedback bleed that doubtlessly went on long after fade-out. Ultimately, it's the piercing chimes of guitar and marching drum grind of "Prole Art Threat" that elevates Slates beyond oddity. Truly one of Mark E. Smith's finest, busiest and most enigmatic performances, equally matched by a band at the peak of their powers.
LP edition compiles the six tracks from the original EP release, their March 1981 Peel session and an early '80s studio outtake. Liner notes by Brian Turner.