Little Baby Nothing

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

The band may have been seen as cross-dressing, eye-liner and lipstick wearing freaks in their early days, spouting political sleaze and dirty little punk songs, but it wasn’t until Little Baby Nothing that many of the reasons behind the sleaze and the look became clear. This was a feminist band, almost in militant fashion, not a band who simply dressed that way because they were hot enough to pull it off, not simply espousing and waxing lyrical on the struggles of women due to some designed outsider chic. This was a band who thoroughly despised male dominated culture and called it out for the systematic destruction and whoring of species that it was. Musically and lyrically one of the finest, and most pure in terms of its targeting from any Manics album, it’s clearly a high mark.

The band’s first duet, bringing on board ex Porn Star Traci Lords (after they couldn’t get Kylie Minogue) to perform vocal duties, the lyrics are poignant and potent and merge perfectly with the glossy 80s sheen of the sound. Bradfield tugs at all the strings with his performance, the melodies are gold throughout, and I adore the shift from the verse and chorus to the final section. It certainly comes across as cheesy in its sound now, but it doesn’t take long to look past that to find the honesty of the intent and the power of the music. For my money, it’s also (easily) the best video the band has ever made.

Misheard Lyrics (it feels somehow wrong doing this to what is one of the most gorgeous lyrics of all time, but there you go):

  1. Not allowed to connect you
  2. To steal frequent love
  3. Need to do long (?)
  4. Orderly behind his money
  5. Asking for condolerijusive (??) flowers
  6. Loveless labour
  7. Dress your life in loving
  8. Breaking your mind with Bobby Dom fertility (?)
  9. Mouths broken up, quenched to the last

Actual Lyrics:

  1. No-one likes looking at you
  2. To steal vacant love
  3. Need to belong
  4. All they leave behind is money
  5. Eyes, skin, bone, contour, language as a flower
  6. Loveless slavery
  7. Dress your life in loathing
  8. Breaking your mind with Barbie Doll futility
  9. Moths broken up, quenched at last

Little Baby Nothing: 4/Great (Album version)

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Found That Soul

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

I remember shortly before the release of Know Your Enemy that James did an interview for some music magazine – it could even have been a guitar magazine, where he proclaimed that the band were ‘ready for war’. It was typical Manics sloganeering and bravado but it symbolized some of the thoughts they were sharing at the time – that perhaps the success of their last two albums had taken them too far from their musical, political, and lyrical roots, that they had accumulated a host of new fans who knew nothing of their past, and that they had spent too long being shoe-horned into a movement to which they never belonged. The net result was supposed to be a return to a more fierce, polemic sound and everything about this first single and opening track Found That Soul was geared towards those thoughts. It has a fast, traditional, punk sound, the production is pulled waaay back, and the video is a bunch of books being dropped onto a table. James whips out a solo and has a bit of a snarl to his vocals again, yet the constant clatter of the piano gives it a grounded rock’n’roll vibe.

Found That Soul: 3/Good

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Show me or wander you can’t piss you off

2. A band still stranded here

3. So clean so rusk (?)/Soaking so rust

4. Sick and fail but/Sickened feel but

Actual Lyrics: 1. Show me a wonder you can’t be sure of

2. But still stranded here

3. So clean so lost

4. Sick and pale but

The Girl Who Wanted To Be God

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

Perhaps the most Britpop of all of Everything Must Go, in terms of music at least, this jangling, chiming guitar based soft rock anthem isn’t plain enough to be boring, nor grand enough to be great. The production does its best to make us feel that this is something more special than it actually is, with grand sweeping strings blasting the chorus to the heavens, but the Happy Mondays drumming and the not quite powerful enough chorus keep it from reaching the highest heights. My favourite moment is middle line of ‘hold me  she said, love me to death’ as it breaks up the central melody. It is a good song, with typically strong lyrics, but looking at the album as a whole it feels like one that could have been replaced with one of the era’s stronger B Sides.

The Girl Who Wanted To Be God: 3/Good

Interiors

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

I can’t imagine many calling this out as a favourite from the band or from the album, given that it could easily get lost among the more well known singles, but this has always been a personal favourite of mine, and a much stronger song than say Kevin Carter or the title track. I love the non-intro, I love the stabbing guitars, I love the shouted, stuttered melodies, I love the warmth of the guitars in the pre-chorus and through the chorus, I love the twisting little middle section, but most of all I love Bradfield’s vocal – the way he unleashes that final ‘ say what you have’ – incredible.

Misheard Lyrics:

1. Say worry ’bout tomorrow

2. A beautiful landscape of damnation

Actual Lyrics:

1. Say where is the tomorrow

2. A beautiful landscape of your nation

Interiors: 4/Great

Drug Drug Druggy

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

As I’ve said many times before, both fans, critics, and the band don’t speak too highly of Gold Against The Soul, due to album tracks like this. Sure it’s big, balls out rock, but I love that sort of thing – it helps that the Manics do it with more intelligence and authenticity than most. I love the lyrics here, the way they roll off the tongue, their humourous nature, and an ascerbic vocal – you’ve gotta love those final ‘drug drug druggy’s’ by James – starting with the ‘DRUGGAAYYARRGGHHH!’ and ending with an unholy screech. To top it off, he even finishes with a hilarious ‘a, b, c, d, E!’

The guitars and drums are fantastic throughout, Sean battering away like his life depends on it, and James cracking off riffs and fiddly solos in typical rock God fashion. Plus, who even calls a song ‘drug drug druggy’? It’s all about nipples and twerks these days. Kids, eh?

Misheard Lyrics:

  1. I can’t face the sun turned up to ten outside/I can’t face the sun, I’ll get a tan outside/I can’t face the sun and, and the dead outside.
  2. On this day it’s sex sex sex/On the street it’s sex sex sex
  3. Where this stuff is a lie/Where this stuff is still light
  4. I am a victim of designer bits/I am a victim of designer bliss/I am a victim of designer bills/I am a victim of designer pills/I am a victim of designer pins/I am a victim of design and (any of the above)

Actual Lyrics:

  1. I can’t face the sunlight and the dirt outside
  2. Wanna stay in 666
  3. Where this darkness don’t lie
  4. I am a victim of designer blitz

Drug Drug Druggy: 3/Good

Ocean Spray

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

It takes a lot for a song to remain unique given the vastness of Know Your Enemy, but this one works and was strong enough to be a single too. Bradfield writes the lyrics to this one (for those who don’t know the band – 98% of the time Wire and Edwards write the lyrics and Bradfield and Moore write the music), a dedication to his mother who had just died, and ironically a more simple, more potent lyric than much of what Wire was able to write at the time. In the midst of all the political pissing and name-checking elsewhere on the album, this one reads like a very simple poem, rhyming words and all! Musically, it is terribly sad thanks to Bradfield’s tearjerking melodies plastered and drifting over easy listening acoustic guitars, Moore’s lonesome horn, and the occasional blast of electric in the chorus. There is anger and sadness here, regret and turmoil, and even some Japanese.

Misheard Lyrics: Oh, please stay away

Actual Lyrics: Oh, please stay awake

Ocean Spray: 4/Great

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