Wrote For Luck

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

A pretty straight cover with decent guitars and a storming Bradfield vocal performance, this manages to blend the Happy Mondays pop rhythms with the more forceful Manics approach, complete with ‘ooh and ahhs’. In another interesting example of the band’s ambiguity – it was acts such as the Happy Mondays that the Manics railed against in their early days yet here they are doing a cover of something they claimed to despise.

Misheard Lyrics: I’m wrote for luck/yes Samael/Samuel

2. Run up and hide/there’s nothing else you can do

3. I used to try/but you can’t tame me

4. I can step, bend, stand, and bend the mole off

Actual Lyrics: I’m wrote for luck/they sent me you

2. Try anything hard/is there anything else you can do?

3. Oh you can try/but you can’t chain me

4. I can slip and stand and bend and roll over

Wrote For Luck: 2/Okay

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It’s All Gone

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

Another B-side from the There By The Grace of God release, this one continues in the light electronica vein. Opening with a whispering drum loop, a phat guitar riff joins in and throughout the song it returns here and there, replaced by subtle organ notes. It’s groovy, but it’s just a little boring – too much reverb on the vocals, too static and sleepy, and while the melodies are fine and the solo is okay, there isn’t a lot here to get me going.

Misheard Lyrics: Sleep the only thing to fill these holes/even if that Venus hasn’t told

Actual Lyrics: Sleep the only thing to fill these holes/even if that demon sells its soul

It’s All Gone: 2/Okay

Groundhog Days

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

This is another one of those songs which I forget over the years – not because I don’t like it, just because it never seems to do enough to latch on to my psyche. In that way it’s always a treat to hear it again after a year or more as it instantly rushes back to me, but still is hidden enough that it’s a charming surprise. It follows a simple quiet verse, loud chorus format, melodies are fine throughout, but it’s most notable for that Nicky Wire ‘rap’ at the end followed by Bradfield solo. It’s a B-side from Ocean Spray and offers a more caustic sound than the single and given the experimental shown on the album this is the sort of song which easily have made the cut.

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Groundhog Days: 3/Good

Misheard Lyric: Chocolate or cum/my knees are artificial

Actual Lyric: Chocolate or coke/my needs are artificial

Midnight Sun

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

Another acoustic song which feels like a Bradfield solo number, this time from the Postcards From A Young Man B-Sides. We do get drums and other sounds, but this one is primarily an excuse for another lonesome Bradfield melody – gripping verses which remind us what a great singer he is, and a chorus with another fine Manics lead hook backed by organ and slightly heavier guitars. It won’t change anyone’s world, but it’s another poignant entry into the softer canon.

Midnight Sun: 3/Good

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Misheard Lyric: Wants a rental sunrise/wants some gasoline

Actual Lyric: Warm Sorrento sunrise/White Sargasso Sea (or is it ‘Wide’ as you would expect?)

Inertia Creeps

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

Almost any time the band works with a DJ or dance artist for remix purposes or otherwise, the results are horrible, and this is no exception. This is the band’s remix of a marginally better Massive Attack original, and you’d only know the Manics were involved thanks to some Bradfield ‘aahs and oohs’ at various points. Listen once then forget all about it.

Inertia Creeps: 1/Crap

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Been A Son

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

I’ve long said that the Manics are one of the better bands at recording covers, but this is just horrible. It should work wonderfully given how similar they are to Nirvana, how similar in viewpoint the bands were and even lyrically this is the sort of song the Manics may have written themselves. Bradfield is one of the few singers who could echo Cobain’s majesty, but for some reason this just meanders along into nothingness. Bradfield has a couple of okay moments, but mostly it’s aimless yelling over some country sounding bullshit.

Been A Son: 1/Crap

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Just A Kid

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

One I often forget about, but one I’ve always liked. It feels like a calling back to the days of two albums ago when I first heard it as a B-side to Ocean Spray. It doesn’t have the anger or politics of that album, instead yearning for simpler times. The tone of the guitars even sounds like Everything Must Go, but overall musically there isn’t anything spectacular here. Having said that, I do like the melancholy atmosphere,the verse and chorus are both strong and there are plenty of likable, quotable lyrics. Decent central riff too.

Just  A Kid: 3/Good

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Kiss My Eyes For Eternity

Generic Ratings: 1: Crap. 2: Okay. 3: Good. 4: Great

It’s another of those songs that feels like it could have been written in the 1950s. It’s a simple pop song with leading piano and light guitar bolstered by another over the top Bradfield performance where he blasts out the vocals 50 decibels louder than he needs to. The chorus and verse are the same sorts of things we’ve heard before, but it’s pleasant enough if you’re into this sort of thing.

Kiss My Eyes For Eternity: 2/Okay

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Some Kind Of Bliss

Generic Ratings: 1. Crap. 2: Ok. 3: Good. 4: Great

Many of you will know the story – the band wanted to work with Kylie Minogue on their debut, but things happened and the duet never transpired. Fast forward a few years and the band finally got to work with the Oz songstress, the result being a peppy, poppy mixture of Brit pop and classy string based production. It really is rather good, warm verses and a big bright chorus. We even get a good Bradfield solo, Minogue sings the song effectively and avoids her usual nasal approach, and although Bradfield doesn’t get any lines to make it a true duet it still feels like a Manics song with the swelling strings and the defined stadium chorus. The song came out in 1997 – at the peak of the band’s stadium filling powers – replace the vocals with Bradfield and this wouldn’t feel too out of place on Everything Must Go.

Misheard Lyric: As it ain’t big James singing on this one there aren’t too many opportunities for mishearing the lyrics. How about ‘Stubbed in my reflection and let the cupboard fall’ instead of ‘Study my reflection and let the colours fall’?

Some Kind Of Bliss: 3/Good

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Hibernation

Generic Ratings: 1. Crap. 2: Ok. 3: Good. 4: Great

This B-Side to the much heavier From Despair To Where is the opposite from a musical perspective, but displays similar emotional force and content. One of my all time favourite acoustic songs, and one of my all time favorite songs about love, this one has some of the finest lyrics ever written on the subject, taking a bitter look at that need or expectation to settle down into some fixed idea of a relationship because it’s what everyone else does. It’s that London or metropolitan culture of serving yourself until you’re near middle age, realising that dying alone isn’t a pleasant thought, so attaching yourself to the first drone of the opposite sex who finds themselves in the same position as you. It’s love when there is none. It’s giving up. It’s all described with the most gorgeous guitars and melodies and a much softer sound than anything else the band had released till that point. It’s damning and brutal, ice cold, and that ending never fails to leave a chill in its mixture of emotion and emptiness. Fantastic, desperate solo to close too.

Misheard Lyric – I got nothing, clear and crisp.

Hibernation: 4/Great

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