Manic Mondays – 3rd September 2018

‘I hear you through the wire/the words all sound like noise/What happened to the fire in your voice?’

I’ll Set You Free

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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)

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