Dead Martyrs

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

So many of the songs on Know Your Enemy are in danger of getting lost because they don’t stand out from the other 15 tracks. That’s the main problem with Dead Martyrs – it just feels like another album track similar to many others; scratchy guitars, basic hook, simple lyrics. As you’ll see on these posts I have favourites from that album with others will probably overlook for the same reasons I overlook this one – there isn’t anything tangible I can say to describe why I feel this one is inferior to others – it simply doesn’t resonate with me.

Dead Martyrs: 2/Okay

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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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Time Ain’t Nothing

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

It’s another cover, this time by a little remembered US Punk band Green On Red. I haven’t heard the original, but this is a largely acoustic affair with a few electric blasts. It’s very simple musically and there isn’t much interesting in the melodies but lyrically it echoes much of the sentiment of the Rewind The Film era – self-reflective, tainted by painful nostalgia, cold and detached. It’s mostly forgettable stuff, though if you enjoy a Nicky vocal now and again this is as good a performance as any.

Time Ain’t Nothing: 2/Okay

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Sunglass Aesthetic

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

This early demo is one of the first two I ever heard from the band when I first started tracking down their rarities back in the late 90s. Subsequently, those two same songs are the ones I remember most fondly and the ones which I think are most memorable. I can recall the feeling of shock and joy hearing this the first time, enjoying how young the band sounded, asking myself if that was really James playing and singing, wondering what the hell band looked like when they recorded the demo, and simply appreciating the energy and fun that comes off the song. James has a good riff to lead the song, muting it at some points, letting rip at others, while there is a terrific early solo and some other catastrophic noise-oriented playing later. I’ve no idea what most of the lyrics are, what the song is about, but at this point such matters are pretty irrelevant – it’s the sound of a band filled with hope and spunk and simply writing and enjoying whatever rubbish pops into their heads – as all great bands must do. Unsurprisingly I can’f find this on Youtube, so click below for a bonus video!

Sunglass Aesthetic: 2/Ok

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Behave Yourself, Baby

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

This early demo sounds an awful lot like some around the campfire hippy dross, with some sort of trumpet, tambourine, and hand clapping intro. We then get Beatles/Beach Boys/Monkees melodies and ‘baa ba baa’ harmonies which are fairly amusing. The vocals aren’t great, the melodies are passable, the playing is ok. Naturally, aficionados will recognise the middle section which features the lyrics ‘all we want from you is the skin you live within’ which would later be updated to ‘all we want from you are the kicks you’ve given us’ in Motorcycle Emptiness with the same melody.  Again it’s really only worth listening to for those interested in seeing how the band developed in the early days.

Behave Yourself Baby: 2: Ok

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Slash N’ Burn

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

I can’t remember precisely the order in which I bought the Manics albums, but I have a strong feeling that Generation Terrorists was second after Everything Must Go. I do remember being surprised by its heaviness and rockness thanks to the opening moments of Slash ‘n’ Burn, which means I must have only been used to their EMG era sound. The song opens with a terrific muted riff which is then repeated at a more blaring volume before the drums and vocals kick in. Hello slogans, hello young Bradfield vocals. I still find it strange that this one was ever released as a single, but I suppose it was punchy and lyrical enough to grow interest in the band.

The opening track of the band’s first album sets the tone for the mammoth beast. Musically it’s an aggressive rock attack fused with punk pacing and layering riffs – we know from the outset that here is a band which knows how to play with the big boys, and are tipping their hats to the likes of G’n’R. James yells and howls and even does a funny little Axl Rose style orgasmic shriek at one point which you should always make sure to cough over any time you’re playing the song to someone else – it’s strictly for existing fans to appreciate.

The opening riff is great stuff, the rest of the song is standard rock stuff following a generic verse chorus format, but it’s the outlandish passion and lyrics which make the most impact, with the band covering a number of topics and making a comparison between US military strategy in Vietnam (wiping out swathes of land so nothing can live or grow) and British self-obsessed consumerist culture where we will do anything as long as someone famous says it’s okay too.

Misheard Lyric: Politics of defence got a C4 sense.

Actual Lyric: Politic’s her is death and God is safer sex.

Slash N Burn: 2/Okay

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Faceless Sense Of Void

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

The only interesting thing to say about this one (which anyone reading this may already know) is that this is essentially an early version of Love’s Sweet Exile – a song which would appear on the band’s first album. Being a much earlier live version, this of course has all the weird charm of those other early tracks. It has a faux-epic opening similar to a later version of Spectators Of Suicide, but once the verses start it moves at a ridiculous breakneck pace with James screaming the lyrics at Rap God pace. I’m not a big fan of Love’s Sweet Exile and I think that if this was cleaned up, or had been recorded in a studio with proper production I would prefer this to what it would later become. Click below for a very early live version.

Faceless Sense Of Void: 2/Ok

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Eraserhead: What The Balls!?

It’s black and white. 2. There are no subtitles. 3. It makes no sense! What we have here is a pile of drunk and drugged art students who found an old camera behind a dumpster and decided to make a film before they passed out. Want to see little girls hiding inside radiators with their mouths filled with golf balls? Want to see her dance? Want to see a little odd chap with funny hair stand in the dark, in the same place without moving for 10 minutes while the camera zooms in and out of his face? This wouldn’t be so bad except his expression stays the same- he looks like he has soiled himself and doesn’t want Mr Lynch to know. But Mr Lynch does know, and there is a game of wits to see who breaks first.

The madness continues- the man who may or may not be married to one, none, or two women is disturbed to learn that he is a father. Of course, these being drunk and drugged hippy art students- the baby is a fish! And not even something pretty like a Salmon, no, this looks like it has been swimming in a toilet all its life. The girl dances in the radiator for a while, the man soils himself again, and the film ends. What was the point? I’m sure the director was making some sort of extraordinarily intelligent and important point about War or George Bush or something, but all I got from it was a sick feeling. I had to skip through all the moments where nothing happens (most of the film) wishing that the man would go crazy and shoot someone, or at least the fish would turn evil and try to eat someone. I like films where lots of things happen, explosions and fights and fast stuff. Nothing of the sort happens here.

This is like picking up a comic only to find that all the pages are black and white, with no pictures or words or X-Men. Luckily no-one has ever heard of this movie. Maybe I’ll give it to that fool Brendan who lives on my street and he can watch it and self combust. Knowing him though, he’ll probably love it. Fool. This film is not right. It is the product of a disturbed mind. It’s like reaching into your wallet and rather than extracting 5 bucks, you pull out 2 burnt sausages. Half eaten.

Best Bit: When it ended and I threw it out the window and I watched some A-Team instead. It took at least until halfway through the 3rd episode till I felt clean again. It was the one where two fire stations are fighting each other for power and Decker is replaced by Briggs (who himself is re-replaced and vanishes mysteriously).

 

Brain Trauma