To Repel Ghosts

To Repel Ghosts: 4/Great

Another terrific song from Lifeblood which expertly welds together the guitar based rock sound of yore and the more experimental electronic sound (of more?). Filled with glorious harmonic touches which feel at once Christmasy, ghostly, and warm, the chorus is one which soars effortlessly and is served by yearning, haunting verses. Again the melodies hide the lack of lyrical depth, meaning we latch onto the strong lines rather than the repeated ones or uneventful ones. With wonderful production filled with lots of lovely little moments, it raises the tempo and energy of the album and hides a multitude of treats which are only uncovered on repeated listens.

Misheard Lyrics: And unsire Bamford’s lies (?)/ and run, sigh, and run for lives (?)/ and outside blindfold lies

Actual Lyrics: And untie our blindfold eyes

Never Want Again

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

One of the earliest acoustic (semi) stylings from the band, this has always been a firm personal favourite, ever since I first stumbled upon it in my early downloading days.  It’s one you’ll never hear any other fans talk about but I loved it from my first listen. Opening with a comedy mis-start, followed by lovely, tender guitar riff, it gives way to a stomping beat, and a simply extraordinary Bradfield vocal. It’s all about the melodies, the ability of Bradfield and possibly no other singer alive to sing them, and some quite lovely harmonies too. The lyrics are fine, taking a break from the politics, but they remain firmly in the style of anthems with a rebellious stance. It’s not too clear what the band are angry about, but they sound so happy and comfortable being angry that you get swept along with the emotion and feel free to use the chorus in your own personal tirade. The brilliant guitar solo at the end isn’t really necessary, but I’m never going to turn down a guitar solo.

Never Want Again: 4/Great

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Burn ’em by our side

2. I saw the rain bleaching my whale

3. My dog gets sick of all its lice

4. Thrown a bone way outside

Actual Lyrics: 1. Burn on by our side

2. I saw the rain bleaching my way

3. My gut gets sick of all its lies

4. Thrown all hope way outside

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

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time – Everlasting Love – Love Affair

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One of my Glastonbury snaps from 2003

Greetings, Glancers! This song is marvelous. I’d forgotten about for a long time… forgotten isn’t the correct word – more like I hadn’t thought about it for years. In most of these posts I talk about my memories of the songs as they tend to have some special nostalgia or anchor in space and time. Unusually, I have no idea when I first heard Everlasting Love and I can’t think of any nostalgia surrounding it. I remember it from my childhood, but I remember millions of songs from then too. It’s just so good that when I listened to it again out of the blue, its quality knocked me over.

This is one of those songs which has been covered, successfully, a billion times. The version I’m talking about most is by Love Affair. When I first heard the song again recently, I couldn’t have told you who it was by, and when I watched the Love Affair video online I was confused as it seemed like a very recent video. Like maybe from the 80s or 90s, but with an HD makeover to make it look even more modern. But no, this version, and the video, are from 1968. I still don’t understand this. Seriously, watch this video and tell me it’s from 1968 and not from today. On closer inspection, some of the hair and clothes and dances tell you it’s from the 60s, but so much of it feels ultra-modern. The music and the look hasn’t aged a second. What adds to the weirdness is that the singer looks about 14 years old, yet has the voice of a seasoned blues rocker.

The song was originally written and released in 1967, the first performer being Robert Knight, yet the most successful version in the US was by Carl Carlton seven years later. Both these versions are good, but they lack something special – probably the fact that I’m more familiar with the Love Affair one. There’s a terrible version by Sandra in the 80s – quite a lot of cheesy pop versions in the 80s in fact, Gloria Estefan did one, and a bunch of boy bands and pop stars have since done their own thing with it, with diminishing returns. What stands out is the melody and the earnest message. It’s one of a very select group of songs which came from the 60s and has been re-recorded with financial and critical success in every decade since. Still, the Love Affair one tops them all.

What’s so good about it? I love the ever so slight subversion of the verse chorus format – here the song extends the verse without reaching the chorus (I say extended, but we still hit the chorus inside the first minute) and then, with no fucks given, just sticks with the chorus for the entirety of the song. With a chorus like this, you can understand why they keep it. The chorus acts more like a refrain, with slight musical and clear lyrical differences with each cycle. I love the whole instrumental section with its Motown brass and thumping beats, I love how the intro gives the whole song away in just a few moments – with one of my favourite bass parts in history chucked in to act as a transition. Hell, I even love the dancer in the video. No, not that strange lip-licking, prancing harlequin who skips about, but the long-haired woman who is probably 90 years old now.

I know these posts are meant to represent my own personal favourite songs of all time, but I honestly feel like this is more, that this song, and this version of it, is one of the best songs of all time. It’s just perfect. Great orchestration and performance, powerful vocals – understanding that it isn’t the easiest song to sing, and just an overall vibe of goodness.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Everlasting Love!

Donkeys

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

A true cult favourite for most hardened fans, this one has been adopted by fans as their own anthem and dedication, hardly surprising with lines like ‘put some lipstick on, at least your lies will be pretty’ speaking a thousand truths for us outcasts and misfits who find affinity with the band. Musically it’s okay, standing out mainly for a fantastic solo and of course Bradfield’s high pitched final screech. I do like how the solo sounds so skyscraping, only for it to be restrained and drawn back as the song comes to a softer, stuttering finish.

This B-Side to Roses In The Hospital is one of the most highly regarded by fans and the band alike and would later appear on Lipstick Traces – I like it okay and go between giving it a 2 or 3 score, but the solo tends to keep it in the higher group.

Donkeys: 3/Good

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Donkeys don’t have lots of tears. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys don’t allow their tears.

Misheard Lyrics: 2. And emotion never fear. Actual Lyrics: No emotion never feel.

Misheard Lyrics: 3. Donkeys wake up in a sty. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys weight cracking a spine.

Misheard Lyrics: 4. Lost with solace inside/loves the silence inside. Actual Lyrics: Those with silence inside.

Misheard Lyrics: 5. Donkeys are only left with dice/lice. Actual Lyrics: Donkeys are only left with lies .

Love Letter To The Future

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

This is an interesting one, a B-Side from Your Love Alone Is Not Enough which seems like a straightforwards rocker, but has plenty of substance and an interesting and unusual structure, at least from this band’s perspective. It opens innocently enough with chugging chords fading into a big riff, which then gives way to thick, unsteady massive chords and superb Bradfield verse vocals. The chorus returns to the big riff with powerful enough melodies and lyrics sung over the top. We get Bradfield putting on his guitar God hat again for a brief solo before returning for another fun and furious chorus – it’s overall a fun song with a few decent ideas in its structure which raise it above being just another heavy B-side.

Love Letter To The Future: 3/Good

Misheard Lyrics: 1. Measuring our lives in coffee stains

Actual Lyrics: 1. Measuring out lives in coffee spoons

Nightman’s Favourite Songs Of All Time

Greetings, Glancers! It’s that time once again when I drop trou’, squat, and squeeze out a fresh, steaming new category into a spreading puddle on the floor. I’ve done my favourite films by year, you’ve seen me listing my favourite songs by particular artists, you’ve been dismayed by my virgin adventures through the greatest albums of all time, and you’ve glimpsed briefly before disgustedly closing my personal blog posts where I talk about myself.

There’s a lot of negativity out there and this blog has its fair share of cynicism and annoyance – what can I say; that’s me. But this is going to act as a counter to all of that guff. These are going to be my purely positive, gushing posts about my favourite songs of all time. Unlike my list posts, and unlike my neverending Manic Street Preachers posts, I’m going to try to give a little of the factual information around the song, its commercial success, its culture significance, and why it means so much to me. I’m aware that there are a number of artists I regularly post about – my Madonna, Bowie, Bon Jovi posts etc, my Manics posts, along with any number of album reviews, but in these posts I’m going to try to hit a wider array of artists. In that vein, many of these songs may be little known, many will be one-hit wonders, many will come from artists you won’t expect me to comment on, and hopefully you’ll get a little more insight into me, and maybe find some new songs to love. I was going to go random – post whatever – then I was going to do it alphabetically by artist, before finally settling on alphabetically by song name.

Isn’t that exciting? Are you excited? You should be. All that’s left for me it to pull up my gunks, wash my hands, and get to work.