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

Australia

Australia: 4/Great

The band at their most shamelessly commercial, their most joy-filled musically, and sounding like they love every minute of it. Quite where songs like this came from after The Holy Bible remains a mystery – perhaps the only way was up, in desperate need of some light, some poppy, peppy melodies that could crack apart the darkest thought. One of the band’s finest, most recognisable riffs, a stadium-tearing chorus, and brilliant verse melodies and simple lyrics for even the most distant fan to latch on to, the song’s content may sound joyous but of course there is a darker core, with Wire writing the song not as an ode to the spider-filled, murderous continent, but as a desire to escape his home and the memories it had become infected with – simply to get away, to be free from everything, and live a kind of non-life for a while. Meaning behind, it remains a wonderful song to bounce around too, filled with warm harmonies and immediately infectious.

Misheard Lyrics: I don’t know if I’m tired. I don’t know if I’m air.

2. I’ve been before much too long/I’ve been defiled much too long.

3. I want to fight and run.

4. Slip for a while.

Actual Lyrics: I don’t know if I’m tired. I don’t know if I’m ill.

2: I’ve been here for much too long.

3. I want to fly and run.

4. Sleep for a while.

Heydey Of The Blood

This B-Side from Indian Summer has some nice Beatles style call and repeat vocals, not something the band have really done before, but it’s all incredibly plain and plastic. Musically there is nothing of note in the first half and melodically it’s as uninspired as the band has ever been. There is an interesting, brief little guitar interlude in the second half, but rather than continue to something new, the song simply reverts to its original form and ends. Generic B Side pap.

Heyday Of The Blood: 2/Okay

Misheard Lyrics: Seek the opposition, for the misfits.

2. In armies they’re so time sure, they’re out in the end.

3. We built them all with fear.

Actual Lyrics: 1. Seek the opposition, for they are your best friends.

2. Enemies they sometimes go way out in the end.

3. We filled them all with fear.

I’m Not Working

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

I drift between liking this one slightly more than it sounds like I do, but it’s not one I can truly like. By the time TIMTTMY was released, I believed I had found my new Nirvana – a band that both rocked fiercely, but were also intelligent and sensitive. Everything Must Go was the first album I bought from them, and had since gone back to buy their previous albums by the time the fifth was released. I can’t remember everything about my first listen, but I do remember quite a few of the songs feeling weak and lifeless, this being one of those. Now, I can see what the band are going for here, but it still doesn’t make for an interesting listen in most cases, and is deathly dreary. I think the lyrics are best part, but musically it is as slow as mud and while Bradfield gives his all, he can’t save it from being a descent into stupor. I appreciate the band going for a new, experimental sound, and for perfectly encapsulating what it sounds like to be aimless in thought and energy, but it’s still a chore to get through.

I’m Not Working: 2/Okay

Misheard Lyrics: N/A

Teenage 20/20

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

I’ve always had a soft spot for this one, as it was one I didn’t track down until fairly late in my rarities search. Just when I thought I’d heard them all, I finally got my hands on this, expecting it to be just another low-quality, fuzz-filled early effort. I’m not sure why it took so long to hear, given that it got an official release on the New Art Riot EP, but there you go. Thankfully I was more than pleasantly surprised when I first heard it, as it’s a very good B Side. It’s another blues based punk rock song with a huge, catchy chorus, the odd good angsty lyric, a stomping rhythm, and plenty of nice guitar moments. This is one which has catchy melodies from start to finish, the way Bradfield pulls off the pauses in the verses is great, but it’s that chorus which you’ll remember later. Good luck working out the lyrics without reading them.

Teenage 20 20: 3/Good

Misheard Lyrics: 1. We’re dead dogs, and damn we’re stupid.

2. I wanna wake to separated wealth.

3. Take a straight jack (?) to my useless boat (??)

4. I don’t like your silly reggae hair. Dying in a fascist evil door/barn/fog

5. Speeding, so lonely, a swell atom bomb

6. Desmile twiggy, eat the egg bomb.

7. Sit, don’t stammer, our vintage smell, automatic, corporational.

Actual Lyrics: 1: We’re dead end dolls and nothing’s moving.

2: I wanna wake to a shot parade of wealth.

3: And take a spraycan to my useless vote.

4: I don’t like your city Dresden dance. I’m drowning in a manufactured ego-fuck.

5. Speeding so lonely into wall after wall

6: Teenage 20/20 beat the in-call.

7 Stick to the stomach of our fingertip call, all your rebellion corporation owned.

The Ghosts Of Christmas

Christmas, eh? Everyone loves it – the food, the presents, the laughing at tramps who don’t get anything, the good will, and of course the music. I actually pity you poor yanks and your crappy Christmas music – everyone knows the UK owns the Christmas Song, although since our peak in the 70s and 80s there hasn’t been much to sing about. No surprise then that the Manics stepped up out of nowhere in 2007 with this slice of nostalgic perfection.

Musically, it has all the hallmarks you want, jolly, woozy, party music with big brass, jingle bells, and cheery chorus, and hooks as addictive as cocktail sausages. Lyrically wonderful it is too, each line marvelous at evoking universal memories – or universal for Britain. Footballs, Scalextric, drunken joy, Morcambe And Wise – this is a song which should be played alongside all of the other British favourites and deserves airplay every December on all of those terrible Top 50 Christmas song shows which take over the music channels on TV each year.

Misheard Lyrics: Sulu’s on the malteaser (?)

Actual Lyrics: Zulu’s on, the Milk Tray’s out

The Ghosts Of Christmas: 4/Great