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.

Love’s Sweet Exile

Love’s Sweet Exile: 2/Okay

Another song which I’ve always felt could have been cut from Generation Terrorists, even though it’s a clear centrepiece and a distillation of what the band was all about at the time. The lyrics are fine, the spitting slogans about alienation, angst, the video provocative in its sexuality. The music is certainly heavy enough and there are hundreds of different guitar parts zooming around, including a singularly brilliant solo – it just feels too chaotic and in the end becomes boring – none of the melodies speak to me, I don’t particularly enjoy the vocals, and the drums feel too static.

Misheard Lyrics: We buried the woman, it’s a faker world too.

2: Classify machines that were understood

3: City reflections for our misery

4: Rain down any nation

5: You no factor love of everything inside

6: Everything immediate becomes destroyed

7: These two moons can’t wait for us to breathe.

Actual Lyrics: We blur into images of state coercion. 

2: Classified machines die misunderstood

3: City reflections pour out misery

4: Rain down alienation

5: Unified collapse of everything inside

6: Everything of meaning becomes destroyed

7: There’s too much concrete for us to breathe.

Spectators Of Suicide

Spectators Of Suicide: 3/Good (Heavenly Version)

I’ve always been torn between which version I prefer – the album or the heavenly version. I love the build up in the Heavenly version, but the vocals are tripe, whereas the album version has a drugged, dreamlike quality, the sound of bleeding out in a bathtub. The difference in tone between the two songs is vast, and if they ever recorded an updated studio version of the Heavenly one where James actually sings throughout, then I suspect it would be a big favourite of mine. The album version is still a highlight, a poignant, soft, overly produced moment in an album not known for subtlety or strong production values. The shimmering electric guitars, the phasing, the soft acoustic backing and harmonies which make it sound like Nicky can actually sing, the beautiful chorus and thoughtful lyrics all merge well – it’s just a little overlong.

Misheard Lyrics: Obedience to love is free desire

2: Free heroin drugs for those who never beg

3: Exporting in society’s eyes

4: Sick around a lifeline/sits around a lifetime

5: It’s safety in bed

6: Advertised and dead/Advertising death

7: Under curfew from beyond barb wire

8: Spitting ass from our mouths

Actual Lyrics: Obedience to the law is free desire

2: Free heroin shots for those who never beg

3: Exploding in society’s eye

4: Cigarettes a lifeline

5: It’s safety in death

6: Advertised and fed

7: Under curfew from neon barbed wire

8: Spitting glass from out mouths

All Is Vanity

All Is Vanity: 4/Great

One of the heavier songs from Journal For Plague Lovers, in an album filled with guitars, foreboding, and dark moments, it is notable in that many of its lyrics popped up earlier on the song Picturesque from the God Save The Manics EP. That song is vastly different from what we have here, and indeed this song feels like the distilled version of what Richey was saying when he left behind his folder of lyrics. It starts in sinister fashion with a driving, ominous drum and bass combo, but it isn’t until the guitar takes over that driving bass riff that the song truly takes hold. There’s the sense of routine, an inevitable, unstoppable march in the music, a sound which breaks free in the wonderful chorus with Bradfield unleashing a furious barrage of vocals and guitars. And that’s really it, the second half of the song is simply a repetition of the verse and chorus, no changes lyrically or musically. But it manages to be powerful and sinister nonetheless in barely three and a half minutes.

Misheard Lyrics: Heaven shape for days

2: My luxury of one war died

Actual Lyrics: Haven’t shaved for days

2: The luxury of one more dye

Bored Out Of My Mind

Bored Out Of My Mind: 3/Good

An unusual B-Side to go along with the anthem of Motorcycle Emptiness, but an interesting counterpoint. The title says it all, as this mainly acoustic cut discusses boredom, failure, lethargy in typical Manics phrasing, and with a lazy tone of procrastination. The music still manages to be interesting, and the melodies are engaging from start to finish, while the atmosphere created does achieve that dull sense of lying in a heap on the floor without being arsed to do or see anything. There’s a neat little guitar outro, overall a good B-side but not one I can imagine having too many fans.

Misheard Lyrics: I tried everything to get alone with you

2: The night’s too long son when he doesn’t care.

Actual Lyrics: I tried everything to get along with you

2: The nights too lonesome when the heat doesn’t care

Locust Valley

Locust Valley: 4/Great

With an experimental sound that would return on 4ever Delayed, Locust Valley is a significantly better song than many which made it onto Know Your Enemy. It’s easily one of their best rock songs of the period, with emotive melodies, a fantastic chorus, and swirling broken up riffs which are pulled away, sucked up, and spat out again in  whirlpool of distorted noise. There’s also an excellent guitar solo, suitably strange and flying all over the place, but one which builds and crackles and leads expertly up to the final chorus in a glorious peak. The outro also feels fresh and interesting rather than a simple re-tread or fade out.

Mishead Lyrics: Elusive and de-smiled

2: Art correspondent school behind

3: Long item blues

4: Too shy to portrait stand

5: I feel I want some company name

6: My first attempt’s an empty fail

Actual Lyrics: Elusive and dismantled

2: Our colours form the truth behind… or A correspondence school behind – no-one seems to know

3: Long Island Blues

4: The shattered portrait’s frame

5: I feel the words and Company names

6: Of his attempts at empty fame

Divine Youth

Divine Youth: 2/Okay

Many of the songs from Futurology and Rewind The Film still feel new enough to me that I’m not sure whether I like them or tolerate them. Only a few of the songs from both albums had an immediate quality which grabbed me on first listen, while other have taken their time to sink their claws in. Tracks like Divine Youth are still floating in some nether realm for me, possibly due to the detached nature, possibly due to the fact that it’s yet another with a guest vocalist I don’t like in any capacity. The band has had a long history of guest singers, and yet I don’t think it’s something they excel at. They do pick distinct voices, but they tend to be singers who irritate me personally. The guest here is Georgia Ruth Williams (no, me neither), and while she sings with a distinct Welsh accent, it’s all so bland and feathery that it floats by like a momentary bad smell. When Bradfield comes in with his vocals, it is excessively jarring as he blasts at full tear. Musically, there are harps, guitars, strange synthetic bursts, but it’s very slow, and the complaint about how modern technology is melting away youthful angst, exuberance, and vitality comes off as sounding like the ramblings of a bitter old man rather than revealing the truths that reside in the sentiment.

Actual Lyrics (Georgia’s accent makes her vocals as indecipherable as a standard Manics song): Ice with a look of yesterday

2. We can’t stand the crowd/Weakest in the guard.

3. Grown up in your tender bones/bone up in your tender bones (?)

4. Niceing to myself (?)

5. The seven walls within

6. The victories and failures are daily losing wins.

7. Money is just spies

8. Feeding you don’t owe anymore.

9. Big toe it don’t recognise

10. Kids are growing old in a digital face/kids are growing old in a digital age

11. Exit evolution

Misheard Lyrics: Eyes with the look of yesterday

2. The weakest in the gang

3. No luck in your tender bones

4. And I sing to myself

5. My civil wars within

6. The victories and failures I daily lose and win

7. Money it just buys

8. A freedom you don’t own anymore

9. But don’t recognise

10. Kids are growing old in a digital haze

11. Is it evolution

 

 

Askew Road

Askew Road: 1/Crap

One of the weakest Lifeblood era songs, it is too sleepy and uneventful to mention. It has the weak lyrics and lack of inspiration which often cropped up around this era, a weird vocal delivery, and is melodically-lite. The only notable thing to say about it is that Richey audio clip at the end, but even that doesn’t add anything. It’s not completely crap, but it is totally, tonally barren, doesn’t have anything to say, and drifts around aimlessly as if they let a child into the studio to press a few notes on a keyboard and say ‘job done’. Arguably the most dull Manics song of them all, though weirdly it does have a lot of fans.

The Intense Humming Of All Evil

The Intense Humming Of Evil: 4/Great

US Version

One of the most intense, bleak, terrifying songs ever recorded – it’s difficult to say whether I prefer the original or the US version, one feels more barren and hopeless, the other feels more sinister with its creeping undercurrent of godless whispers. Whichever you choose to listen to, you’ll be subjecting yourself to abject horror as we take an appropriately stark look at the Holocaust, replete with Darth Vader gas mask breathing to supplement the death march beat, hellish vocals, and guitars which range from creeping damned rattles and spectral, ear-piercing shrieks. From the stark, long, quotation opening to the sputtering ending where the beat becomes slower and more faint like a life disappearing, it is a harrowing experience. Yes it is angry, overflowing with guilt and rage almost intangibly so, but it is the horror, the desolate, entirely inhuman nature of it all which will stay with you like watching newsreel footage of an extermination camp or seeing the crushed remains of a person still splayed under the wheels of a car.

Misheard Lyrics: The entire intro

2. I’m not afraid

3. Harvey Casey breathes us sir (?)

4. Pot luck trees

5. Dignity girl

6. Never combat

Actual Lyrics: No, I’m not pasting it here

2. Arbeit Macht Frei

3. Hartheim Castle breathes us in

4. Poplar trees

5. Dignity gone

6. Never counted

Tennessee

Tennessee: 2/Okay

One of several tracks from Generation Terrorists which could easily have been cut or replaced. This one simply feels like another directionless rock song, and while there are plenty of good lyrical moments, the only truly worthwhile moment is the great ‘his pain forgets her agony’ middle section. Everything else feels too basic and lacks the emotion, invention, and raw power of the better tracks. The band recorded this as a B-Side to Suicide Alley long before Generation Terrorists, a more loose and punky version but still not very interesting.

Misheard Lyrics: Tennesse not some zip code law

Actual Lyrics: Tennessee nights just zip-code love