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Telephone Thing

Written by:
 
  • Mark E Smith, Matt Black, Jonathan More
 
Initial Release:
 
  • Telephone Thing, Cog Sinister/Fontana SIN4 7”;  SIN412 12”;  SINCD4 CD; 15 January 1990 (The 7" includes Telephone Thing; the 12" and CD include Telephone Thing (extended) and Telephone Dub
  • (Also: promo 12" - SINDJ412 - including  Telephone Thing (extended) and Telephone Dub and a promo cassette including Telephone Thing)

Date: 
 
  • 15 February 1990
 
Subsequent releases:
 
  • Extricate, Cog Sinister/Fontana  842.204-1 LP;  842 204-4 Cassette;  842 204-2 CD; 19 February 1990  (a  4 track promotional album sampler -FALL 1 -contains Telephone Thing)
  • The Nineties Collection Chapter 11 - The Rebirth, Fontana 515 905-2, 1993 (compilation album)
  • Sinister Waltz, Receiver Records RRCD209, RRLP209 CD; 22 January 1996 (alternative version; see commentary below)
  • The Less You Look, The More You Find - Recall/Snapper Music SMDCD132, July 1997
  • Northern Attitude, Music Club MCCD350; June 1998 (basically the same version as on Sinister Waltz)
  • Extricate, Cog Sinister/Voiceprint COGVP122 CD; 12 October 1999 (original tracklisting) Extricate, Cog Sinister/Voicprint COGVP142 CD; 9 December 2002 (original tracklisting)
  • Listening In - Cog Sinister via Voiceprint CD: COGVP132CD 11 November 2002 (featuring Telephone Thing (extended mix) and Telephone Dub)
  • The War against Intelligence - The Fontana Years - Universal 0770002, 20 October 2003
  • 50,000 Fall Fans Can't be Wrong - 39 Golden Greats, Sanctuary SMEDD017; 31 May 2004
  • Extricate, Fontana/Mercury 9847463 CD; 7 May 2007 (original album plus bonus CD)
  • The Fall Box Set 1976-2007 - Castle CMXBX1558, September 2007 [Telephone Thing (Alternate Version- same track as on Sinister Waltz)
  • The Fontana Years CD574263; August 2017 (original version; extended mix; Telephone Dub; box set contains Extricate extended CD)
  • The Fall: A Sides 1978 - 2016. Cherry Red CRCDBox 42; 24 November 2017
  • The Fall: Singles 1978 - 2016, Cherry Red CRCDBox 30; 24 November 2017
  • The Fall - 58 Golden Greats, Cherry Red CRCDBox74; 7 December 2018
 
Officially released live performances:
 
  • Live In Zagreb - Cog Sinister/Voiceprint COGVP109CD, 4 June 2001 
  • (recorded at Dom Sportova, Zagreb, 15 April 1990)
  • Live at The Knitting Factory - New York - 9 April 2004, Hip Priest/Voiceprint HIPP015CD; 29 January 2007 (recorded at The Knitting Factory on the date shown on the title of the album; album is the soundtrack of Access All Areas DVD - details below)
  • Rebellious Jukebox Volume Three, Secret Records SESDD013; 21 June 2010 (same version as on Live In Zagreb; details above)
  • Creative Distortion, Secret Records CD; October 2014 (recorded at King George's Hall, Blackburn, 22 September 2002)
  • Best of The Fall & Mark E Smith, Secret Records SECLP192; 18 May 2018 (recorded at King George's Hall, Blackburn, 22 September 2002)
 
Video releases:
 
  • A Touch Sensitive - Live, Secret Records SECDVD101, 8 March 2004 (recorded at King George's Hall, Blackburn, 22 September 2002)
  • Access All Areas Volume 1, Hip Priest/Voiceprint HIPP002DVD, 18 October 2004 (recorded at The Knitting Factory, New York, 9 April 2004)
  • Creative Distortion, Secret Records; October 2014 (recorded at King George's Hall, Blackburn, 22 September 2002)
 
Group on initial recording:
 
  • Mark E Smith - vocals; Martin Bramah - guitar, vocals; Craig Scanlon - guitar; Steve Hanley - bass; Marcia Schofield – keyboards, percussion; Simon Wolstencroft - drums
 
 
First played live:
 
  • 10 October 1989 Music Hall, Aberdeen
 
Last played live:
 
  • 30 April 2004 Trees, Dallas
 
Number of known performances:
 
  • 87
 
Commentary:
 
"My Telephone" was  a single by dance music duo Coldcut (Matt Black and Jonathan More) from the album "What's That Noise?" and featured Lisa Stanfield on vocals. [This album also featured the track "(I'm) In Deep with MES on guest vocals.]
 
On 25 January 1990 on News Nike, MES commented: "On the acetate they sent me the drums were a lot  we're quite a drum and bass orientated group...On the Stansfield version it's more of a pop song, really, whereas as ours is more of a workout...All we've done really is got the machine tracks and got the musicians to learn them naturally" .
 
On the same day, the NME published an interview  ("Funky, Cold, Modern - Ah!") in which MES said that Coldcut's "version of it was a misjustice to the tune. That single was a flop and it was rubbish. It's topical - like all Fall singles. I think it's good to have a go at things like that - BritishRail and British Telecom. It's a natural gripe. One time, I was using the phone a lot and I dialled a number and I could hear people munching sandwiches and talking about my last phone call. I actually rang up the operator and said 'Lookl I'm trying to dial a fucking number here and I can't get through because people are talking about my phone callsl Have you got a bleedin' license to do this?'"

"Being staff, they get fed up, so what they do is tap into lines that they think are gonna be interesting. It doesn't bother me, I've got nothing to fucking hide! But I said 'Well, is it tapped or not? I can't fucking get through because of your bloody lot!' And she slammed the phone down on me!"

On 23 February 1990 on Radio Luxembourg MES said, "I think it's a bit too long to be a hit."
 
Jonathan More is quoted ("Ring The Noise", NME; 20 January 1990) as saying, "He thought the vocals and all the rest of the stuff we did on it were shit, but he really liked the guitar, bass and drums, and he gave the cassette to his band to learn these parts."
 
Martin Bramah (2002). "I played the wah wah guitar on Telephone Thing - wak wak wakjak wak! It's not a sample, I played the whole thing."
 
In The Pseud Mag no. 15 (April/May 2007) Bob Osborne writes of the song as it appears on  Sinister Waltz, "A sort of dubby/trippy version with lots of samples/electronic percussion to the fore and Mark's buried in echo and very tinny."
 
The song was played extensively in gigs around the time of its release, then revived 10 years later following its appearance at the semi-celebratory gig at the King George's Hall in Blackburn in 2002.
 
Gretchen Franklin, mentioned in the song, played Ethel in the soap opera Eastenders, although MES claims he didn't know this when he wrote the lyrics.
 
It reached no. 35 in John Peel's Festive Fifty in 1990.

Discussion of the lyrics on The Annotated Fall website: http://annotatedfall.doomby.com/pages/the-annotated-lyrics/telephone-thing.html
Links:
 
 
The Fall with Coldcut:
 
 
My Telephone by Coldcut:
 
 
 
Gigs played at:
 
  1. 10 October 1989  Music Hall, Aberdeen
  2. 28 November 1989  Philipshalle, Duesseldorf, Germany 
  3. 11 December 1989 Queen's Hall, Bradford
  4. 15 December 1989 Queen Margaret Union,Glasgow
  5. 16 December 1989 Leadmill,Sheffield
  6. 18 December 1989 Hacienda, Manchester
  7. 1 March 1990 Poole Arts Centre
  8. 3 March 1990 Coventry Polytechnic
  9. 6 March 1990 Hacienda, Manchester
  10. 8 March 1990 Liverpool University
  11. 9 March 1990 Bangor University
  12. 12 March 1990 Grand Hall,Guild Hall, Preston
  13. 13 March 1990 Leeds University
  14. 14 March 1990 Hull University
  15. 16 March 1990 Shefield Polytechnic
  16. 17 March 1990 Barrowlands, Glasgow
  17. 20 March 1990 Hummingbird, Birmingham 
  18. 21 March 1990 National Ballroom, Kilburn, London
  19. 22 March 1990 National Ballroom, Kilburn, London
  20. 24 March 1990 Essex University
  21. 25 March 1990 Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham
  22. 26 March 1990 Top Rank, Brighton
  23. 29 March 1990 Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
  24. 30 March 1990 Posslag, Festival, Belgium
  25. 31 March 1990 Expopalais Kelchterhoef, Houthalen, Belgium 
  26. 1 April 1990 Batschkapp, Frankfurt, Germany 
  27. 3 April 1990 Zeche, Bochum, Germany 
  28. 5 April 1990 Modernes, Bremen
  29. 9 April 1990 Metropol, Berlin
  30. 10 April 1990 Longhorn, Stuttgart
  31. 12 April 1990 Dolce Vita, Lausanne
  32. 15 April 1990 Dom Sportova, Zagreb
  33. 18 April 1990 Arena, Vienna
  34. 21 April 1990 Pavillion, Hannover
  35. 26 April 1990 Montmatre Elysee, Paris
  36. 18 May 1990 New Ritz, New York
  37. 21 May 1990 Park Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles
  38. 23 June 1990 Livid Festival, Harold Park Raceway, Sydney
  39. 24 June 1990 ANU Refectory, Canberra
  40. 29 June 1990 Old Greek Theatre, Melbourne
  41. 14 July 1990 Selina's, Coogie Bay Hotel, Sydney
  42. 20 July 1990 Town Hall, Auckland, New Zealand
  43. 27 July 1992 Slough Festival
  44. 3 August 1992 Pyramid Centre, Portsmouth
  45. 22 September 2002 King George's Hall, Blackburn
  46. 5 October 2002 Students Union, University, Liverpool
  47. 4 April 2003 All Tomorrow's Parties, Camber Sands
  48. 1 May 2003 Recession Festival, Aarhus, Denmark
  49. 19 June 2003 Casbah, San Diego
  50. 20 June 2003 The Echo, Los Angeles
  51. 21 June 2003 Slim's, San Francisco
  52. 24 June 2003 Graceland, Seattle
  53. 27 June 2003 First Avenue, Minneapolis
  54. 28 June 2003 Empty Bottle, Chicago
  55. 29 June 2003 Empty Bottle, Chicago
  56. 30 June 2003 Magic Stick, Detroit
  57. 1 July 2003 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland
  58. 5 July 2003 Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge
  59. 6 July 2003 Knitting Factory, New York
  60. 7 July 2003 Knitting Factory, New York
  61. 9 July 2003 Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia
  62. 10 July 2003 Black Cat, Washington
  63. 12 July 2003 Echo Lounge, Atlanta
  64. 16 July 2003 Emo's, Austin
  65. 17 July 2003 Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas
  66. 29 September 2003 Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon
  67. 1 October 2003 Bierkellar, Manchester
  68. 2 October 2003 Bierkellar, Manchester
  69. 8 October 2003 Irish Centre, Leeds
  70. 5 December 2003 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
  71. 12 December 2003 The Mill, Preston
  72. 18 February 2004 The Dome, Morecambe
  73. 20 February 2004 Magnum Leisure Centre, Irvine
  74. 21 February 2004 Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow
  75. 22 February 2004 The Venue, Edinburgh
  76. 23 February 2004 Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
  77. 24 February 2004 Blue Nightclub, Inverness
  78. 25 February 2004 Fat Sam's, Dundee
  79. 26 February 2004 Newcastle Opera House, Newcastle
  80. 1 April 2004 Irish Centre, Birmingham
  81. 3 April 2004 Carling Academy 1, Liverpool
  82. 7 April 2004 Ottobar, Baltimore
  83. 8 April 2004 Knitting Factory, New York
  84. 9 April 2004 Knitting Factory, New York
  85. 10 April 2004 Maxwell's, Hoboken
  86. 12 April 2004 First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia
  87. 30 April 2004 Trees, Dallas

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