Dead like our yesterdays tonight
There’s been a few song re-recordings in the band’s career but none of them so radical as Spectators of Suicide.
The original Heavenly Recordings version is what many prefer. It’s a political rock anthem – complete with an opening quote – made by a bunch of young gits and perfectly encapsules the youthful energy those gits have. It’s also surprisingly rich in instrumentation for such an early song – piano, organ and tambourine are key instruments in the band’s later sound but very rarely found back in the early days, especially all in the same song.
I wasn’t so keen on it once, perhaps because it was such a huge difference to the later version I had got used to, but it’s certainly grown on me. It’s still not particularly brilliant, but it definitely has its own fun to it.
That later Sony version on the other hand is completely opposite to the original version, only keeping the tiny theme of being far more production-heavy compared to the other songs of its time but in a whole different way. The pace is slowed down, the anthem rock’s stripped away and turned into an atmospheric, slow, calm lament. It’s heavy in studio production and sounds very unlike the band’s early work. It’s just… odd. Yet beautiful. Dreamy and artsy. And it’s got audible Wire backing vocals which is always a bonus.
But here comes the big question: Flint, which one do you prefer? Once upon a time that question would have been easy to answer and that answer would have been “Why, my curious little imaginary friend, the Sony version’s finesse far beats the amateurish bravado of the original”. But today I might think differently. I still very much enjoy the Sony version, it’s good. But the Heavenly version has a completely different charm to it, a wonderfully refreshing one, not to mention its undeniably brilliant and beautiful anthemic quality I think that if the band were to re-record the Heavenly version, it’d be the easy winner. Now its fantastic qualities are slightly kicked down by the rather amateurish filter on it.
Live though, Heavenly version hands down. I don’t know if the Sony version’s ever been even played live, but the 2008 Heavenly gig’s performance of Spectators was actually the moment that sold the early version for me. It’s the one I’ve youtubed as well.
Good material, in any case.