Happy Ending

Happy Ending: 3/Good

As the title suggests, this does sound happy, one of the very few songs in the Manics catalogue that sounds genuinely content. It’s another very simple song with simplistic, poor, repeated lyrics from the Lifeblood/There By The Grace Of God era, and at the time felt like a possible goodbye from the band. The band seemed like they wanted to go in one direction musically, but there was an uncertainty over whether they could convince themselves and fans of this direction, so possibly they would just pack it all in instead. Happily they didn’t, and we are left with this curious, piano driven pseudo-goodbye, pseudo-dedication. The melodies are amicable enough, Bradfield hits some high notes and while the song reaches for those crowd-pleasing chorus peaks the piano makes it feel more like a Coldplay song in places. It rarely goes beyond ‘yeah, this song sounds nice and nothing else’ but it’s enjoyable enough in small doses to keep it higher than average for me, with extra points because the band sound like they are content. 

The Story Of The Song: I’m not sure if the band has ever talked publicly about this one, but based on what they were going through at the time – the downgrading from Stadium chart toppers, the changes in musical and stylistic direction, the boredom Wire was always mentioning in interviews, and of course the lyrics themselves, it seems reasonable to assume they had this planned or written as a thanks and good bye song. It’s a little too soppy in one way for a band as angry and punk as they are, but it does fit. If it was meant to be a goodbye, I’m surprised they released it at all.

Let us know your thought in the comments!

Little Trolls

One of Wire’s finest lyrical moments, this one is a savage response to some journalist’s racist attack on the Welsh; if there’s one lesson folks, it’s that you don’t go up against a Manic in a verbal war and hope to win. The lyrics are of course brilliant; funny, perfect one-liners, and Bradfield’s deadpan delivery is spectacular.

Musically there isn’t a whole lot to say – a simple blending of electric and acoustic, notable only because of the little middle section where Bradfield shrieks like a monster. There are easily missed moments of interest – the acoustic guitars feel like they’re being played with a floor brush rather than by hand, and the electric parts are extra fuzzy. The percussion is light in the mix too.

At its core this is a protest song with a simple hook, and you feel like it wouldn’t be as fondly remembered if the lyrics had been unremarkable.

Little Trolls: 3/Good

The Story Of The Song: Critic, writer, Journo, dead guy, A A Gill wrote a piece on Wales and Welsh people in The Sunday Times for some reason. He didn’t think much of the Welsh, and described them as dirty, ugly little trolls and other such jibes. His comments were even reported to the Commission for Racial Equality, to which he responded that he couldn’t care less as the Welsh have said plenty about the English with no comeback. While much of what was said was done in a tongue in cheek manner, the twat clearly had some deep-seated issues with the Welsh which he covered up with the bravado of Trump-supporting Podcaster. Wire didn’t approve of the insults and responded in kind.

Misheard Lyrics: You taste but ridiculous

2: Pay your dues and pay your tolls

3: Live like animals/Live like Hannah Balls/Live like Anna Boulds

Actual Lyrics: Your taste buds ridiculous

2: Pay our dues and pay our tolls

3: Live like cannibals

Let us know what you think of Little Trolls in the comments!

Sex, Power, Love, Money

I think I would like this one a lot more if James had picked literally ANY other way to sing than the cringeworthy way he does. Is he rapping, is he speaking? It’s not right whatever it is. The chorus is fine, but the verse vocals make me want to pull my shirt over my face and hide until it goes away. Making matters worse are Wire’s ill-advised bonus vocals building up to the chorus, and the embarrassing old man lyrics. And whatever the hell that cowbell thing is – I CAST THEE OUT! It’s a shame because there’s a better song in there somewhere, and it even manages a decent guitar solo at the end. It’s best forgotten.

Sex, Power, Love, and Money: 2/Okay

Misheard Lyrics: A recycled novel, women inside

2: Its tone is truthful, it really never lies

3: Self fuck your tears as they rain from above

Actual Lyrics: It reads like a novel

2: It’s cold, it’s truthful, it really never lies

3: Set fire to tears as they rain from above

The Story Of The Song: Is it about money and greed, is it about the blurring of political and class lines when you reach such a level of wealth that such things don’t matter anymore? Is it about the self-made tech and social media billionaires? Fuck knows.

 

Underdogs

The most openly punk, and most overtly silly song from Send Away The Tigers it’s a dedication to fans, to those of us outsiders and freaks and underdogs. The lyrics are mostly poor although we appreciate the sentiment. Musically it’s very simple, the verses swept along by chugging, muted guitars, with a sudden explosion of manic drums and electric guitars for the chorus. It’s a fun bit of fluff, a curious moment of charity by the band, and one that comes off as both bizarre and harmless.

Underdogs: 3/Good

Misheard Lyrics: And the disposable destiny/and the dis-a-poseable (?) destiny

2: Shining bright but not disappeared

3: Passive like some faded stars

Actual Lyrics: And the disciples of our destiny

2: Shining bright but now disappeared

3: Passing like some fading stars

The Story Of The Song: It’s ostensibly a dedication to the fans. From day one, superfans of the Manics have been notable for being what idiots may term ‘freaks’. As the band became more popular, you can see a clear division in the fandom – those who came on board around the time of Everything Must Go (myself included) and who only like the big hits (myself not included), and those who are obsessed with the band and love everything. Then there are those who take it further by dressing up like Nicky and Richey. The song was the first single from Send Away The Tigers and in a rare moment of whatthefuckery from the band, they encouraged fans to send video footage of themselves to be spliced into the video. Ironically, fan reception of the song was not positive, so much so that the song was removed from the re-release of the album.

 

Epicentre

Another track that should by rights vanish into obscurity within the thousand other songs on Know Your Enemy, and for most fans that probably is the case. But I’ve always ranked it as my favourite non-single from the album, mini-epic that it is. The lyrics are more simple, personal, and poetic than the more overt political stuff elsewhere on the album, and the sound is cleaner and mature. A blend of piano and acoustic guitar verse and a slightly heavier chorus, it is once again the melodies that make this most memorable for me, with Bradfield providing a fine range of singalong moments. Nothing about the song is huge or immediately catchy, but the building of the simplicity has a hypnotic quality so that every subsequent time the ‘feels like’ line comes around it is more powerful. We don’t really need the addition of the swirling part of Masking Tape added at the end, but it doesn’t hurt the song.

Epicentre: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: 1. I’m slipping myself away, into the gridlock of yesterday

2. A love song destroyed

Actual Lyrics: 1. I’m sleeping myself away into the blurred life of yesterday

2. My nerves are destroyed

The Story Of The Song: I don’t have a lot of info on this one, rather than being about ‘a thing’, it seems to be a collection of Nicky’s feelings about himself. And he showcases himself as a bit of a mess – trembling, tired, ambivalent, numb, but lucid enough to mock himself and his foibles.

Die In The Summertime

Well, they don’t make them like this anymore, and that’s probably for the best as there’s only so many minutes that we can hold on to our sanity for when faced with such madness. The most Metal song on The Holy Bible, it’s another terrifying moment filled with shocking honesty and images of purity juxtaposed with stinking bile. The lead riff is as sinister as they come, Bradfield has never sounded more like a banshee, literally and metaphorically, the main solo is completely all over the place and all the better because of it, while the chorus is gloriously massive. Melodically wonderful throughout, the guttural mashing of vocals and ideas is such that a thousand fans’ throats have been permanently disfigured in its emulation.

Die In The Summertime: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Scratch my leg with a rusty nail, Sally it heals.

2. I can’t seem to stay a fixed idea

3. Show’s your pain, show’s rising/ Shoulder’s pain, she’s riding/Showed a pig she’s rotten.

4. Grope myself without bloated lines/Seek my without broken lies

5. Whole days throwing sticks at the seems

6: The hole in my life brings a stench of soil/The hole in my life – fever scares our soul (or fever scares us all, or fever scars our soul).

7. The heart breaks to barely a pulse

Actual Lyrics: 1. Scratch my leg with a rusty nail/Sadly it heals

2. I can’t seem to stay a fixed ideal.

3. Childhood pictures redeem.

4. See myself without ruining lines

5. Whole days throwing sticks into streams

6. The hole in my life even stains the soil

7. My heart shrinks to barely a pulse

The Story Of The Song: The song is another window into Richey’s mind at the time – his writing clearly concerned with regret, aging, and the loss of childhood. This was playing on Richey’s mind at the time and in one of the lesser noticed details of the album, there are many photographs of the band as children or younger adults included in the liner booklet. The lead character in the song wishes that he could make it to the summer time -the period which they most fondly associate with memories, childhood, comfort – and die. No matter how much the narrator tries to change themselves – colouring their hair, cutting their skin – they can not stop the process of aging any more than they can reverse it.

Revol

Revol: 3/Good 

(US Version)

The one song from The Holy Bible (aside from Faster) that always seems to get a run out during live performances – strange because the band, and James in particular, are always saying how much they hate it. If you absolutely must play something from The Holy Bible during live gigs, then there are plenty of others to choose from. Moaning aside, it is still a good song. Admittedly,  it’s one of my least favourite from the album but it still packs a punch, and does have that exquisite middle section which I believe to be one of the best things the band has ever written. Make of the lyrics what you will – a series of loose epithets or descriptions of political figures opposite sexual acts or deficiencies for the verses, followed by multi-lingual screams for the chorus. No-one writes songs like this, and no-one has the balls to make a single out of it. It almost feels like a light-hearted moment amidst the darkness of The Holy Bible and it certainly does break up the relentless gloom with a bout of much needed, questionable humour.

Misheard Lyrics: Missed a letter, oh, waken the boy!

2. Mr Stalin, buy sexually back/Mr Stalin, buy sexual a pack

3. Pushed chest, self love in his mirrors

4. Raging, very into group sex.

5. Get a job, sell myself self importance/Got a chop, sell a bit of his content

6. Yes sir, player, with his self importance/ Yeltsin playing with his own importance.

7. River! River!/Reaver! Reaver!

8: Life’s a cloud/Like a clown

9: Comfort comes (!)

10. Ross Ross!/Rush Rush!

11. Feel her feel her!/Feed her feed her!/ Fear fear!/ Fear Fuhrer!

12. Napoleon challenge wee hats

13. Jane Berlin (?) you see good in you

14. Trotsky honey won’t serenade the naked.

15. Shake her valley, your wrong target now.

16. American alimony alimony.

Actual Lyrics: Mr Lenin, awaken the boy

2. Mr Stalin, bi-sexual epoch

3. Kruschev, self love in his mirrors.

4. Brehnev, married into group sex

5. Gorbachev, celibate self importance

6. Yeltsin, failure is his own impotence. 

7: Revol! Revol!

8: Lebensraum

9: Kulturkampf.

10. Raus Raus!

11. Fila fila!

12. Napoleon childhood sweethearts

13. Chamberlain you see God in you

14. Trotsky honeymoon serenade the naked.

15. Che Guevara, you’re all target now.

16. Farrakhan alimony alimony. 

The Story Behind The Song: Does anybody know? ‘Revol’ is ‘Lover’ spelled backwards, and we know Richey had issues with ideas of love, relationships, sex – some of the lyrics are sexual in nature, others are political insults. The first verse lists 20th Century Russian leaders in order (skipping some) as if equating their rules to to their sexual or emotional maturity. Second verse it dances around Europe, South America, everywhere following a similar format. The chorus is chanting of German words used in Concentration Camps. The word ‘revol’… sounds a bit like revolt, or revolution. Yeah, I’m as clueless as everyone else.

Engage With Your Shadow

Engage With Your Shadow: 1/Crap

Another experiment and another failure. How exactly to a judge whether something like this is a success or a failure? No, I’m not getting into that, it’s shite. We can see what the band are trying to do here, but that doesn’t stop it from being a complete mess. There are not many great B-Sides from the Postcards era, but there aren’t many efforts as bad as this. Nicky basically recites (badly) a poem, throws in the odd bit of German, while a coughing industrial beat wafts along and Bradfield interrupts with sudden bursts of nonsensical guitar. On repeated listens, some of those guitar parts are pretty tasty, but as a whole? It’s as if the band heard Pulk/Push revolving doors by Radiohead and thought ‘now there’s a great idea for a song!’ Wire rants about something, but after about thirty seconds we’ve given up caring. Credit for giving it a full fisted go lads.

The Story Behind The Song: Nicky was probably pissed and decided to rant about how disconnected he is from the modern world. I bet he was wearing a beret. 

Ready For Drowning

Ready For Drowning: 4/Great

Probably my favourite song from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, it seemed to takes years for fans in general and the band itself to catch up to the fact that this is a flawless song. For years after the release I would talk about how much I loved this song, while people I spoke to who owned the album couldn’t even remember it. During particular hyperbolic moments, I even list this as one of the best songs ever written, mentioning its perfect cyclical construction which ends like it begins, how it has a wonderfully defined beginning, middle, end, how it takes many facets of the band’s psyche and style and spills them, and how it’s melodies, guitars, and vocals are nigh on impossible to top. That whistle sound in the intro, followed by acoustics, followed by organ, followed by electric blast – perfection; the bizarre piano led verses, the story-telling lyrics unlike anything else the band has done, the build up to the chorus, the explosive tumbling guitar riff, and the chorus itself – perfection; the soundbite in the instrumental section – perfection; and the way the harmonies all swirl and come together before returning to the beginning for its end – it is in my mind easily one of the greatest songs ever written. It’s also completely heartbreaking. I’ve been lucky enough to see the band play it live a few times, now that they seem to realize what a gift it is.

Misheard Lyrics: Said he hurt it in a taxi/Seetee headed in a taxi

2: Mustafa had it in muesli

3: I’d go to pat a gnome, yeah

Actual Lyrics: Said he’d heard it in a taxi

2: Must have had him in my mercy

3: I’d go to Patagonia

The Story Behind The Song (I’m going to have to go back and update all my Manics posts with this, aren’t I?): A village in Wales (Capel Celyn) was completely flooded on command by the Government, to provide water for Liverpool (in England). Thanks to a sneaky bill via an Act Of Parliament, which overrode all Welsh legality and authority, the bill was passed and the village was flooded. All buildings, homes, and farms were destroyed, ignoring the hundreds of years of history and the pleas of the inhabitants. 

Last Exit On Yesterday

Last Exit On Yesterday: 2/Okay

Another very early cut, this one feels like an improvement on the other stuff they were playing at the time, but when placed alongside the rest of the New Art Riot EP it’s quality is lacking. It has a clear structure, it has decent melodies, the usual lyrics (though you can’t make any of them out which means the Misheard Lyrics are particularly notable), but the vocals are weak, the drumming is robotic, and the guitars are standard punk simplicity.

Misheard Lyrics: Dance to the bad moon time/Dance to the bad mood town/Dance to the bathroom time

2: Ant, fin, back heels (?)/And the ankle/And to Frank Hill

3: Barely are things that I think/A million things in my sink/ The million things our eyes back seat.

4: Dying giant form

5: Roy and brink bock beak (?)

6: You’re screaming so much that I’m excited to breathe/that I’m excited to leave/that I feel sorry to leave/that I feel sorry to live/that I’ve been starting to drink/that life is starting to breed.

7: I wanna be cool and I wanna bleed your disease.

8: Pull your hair grow back/Pull you head glow band

9: Paying barber’s sons/Playing baubles sounds/Paying Barbara off (or any combination of these).

10: The bricky’s story on and on/The freaky story on and on/The Greek history on and on.

11: Loveless or loneness/Loveless our romance

12: Laugh in Justin’s face/Laugh at justice skill

13: As back brakes downstairs steeper in/As back sprain down steps deeper in (???)

14: Baby girl had a little bit of love/baby girl have a little bit of love/Baby can’t have a little bit of life

15: Cheek slapped up inside a leather glove/Cheap slap up inside her lover’s gun

16: Pacing up in her executive tower/Lacey for an executive talent

17: Sway to the sound of an uncapped lover/Tweet to the sign of a handicapped lover

18: So Doll’s in town, have his pretty face/Saw a doll in town, hurt its pretty face

19: Mixing juice is easy but you move first/Massachusetts easy when you are first.

 20: Laugh at the TV, empty sound of life, morning in town is not a good choice

Actual Lyrics: Dance to the valentine

2: Anthems that kill

3: Valium veins and eyes that sink

4: Lying down I want

5: Want a brainwash trip

6: You’re screaming so much that I feel sorry to breathe

7: I wanna feel cold and I wanna bleed your disease.

8: Hold your head up

9: And pray for sun

10: But rain keeps pouring on and on

11: Loveless aloneness

12: Life that just impales

13: As backs break thorns dig deeper in

14: Baby can’t have her little bit of love

15: Cos it’s wrapped up inside her lover’s gut

16: Lazy fat executive seller

17: Sway to the sound of another dead lover

18: So dull and tired of his pretty face

19: Makes the truth seems easy but you’ve lost

 20: Laugh at the TV, empty cell of life, mundane exile it’s not of your choice.