That game of life is hard to play
The band’s first top ten hit. The fact that it was a cover song pissed off the band quite a bit.
The music rag NME celebrated its 40 years of existence in 1992 with the compilation album Ruby Trax, a three disc mammoth of contemporary acts covering classic songs from the said 40 year period. Our heroes, after long and considerate thinking session involving obscure punk songs and fluffy pop, finally decided to cover the theme song from the classic drama/comedy M.A.S.H. It also ended up being a double a-side single (together with Fatima Mansions’ version of Everything I Do (I Do It For You)) for the purpose of promoting the compilation – their first in a long line of compilation covers and their only non-original single release.
The original version is a gentle, soft tune with lots of acoustic guitar and pleasant strings, its nice and upbeat folk pop singalong nature contrasting the rather dark, hopeless and bleak lyrics. Manics, at this point moving on towards the stadium-filling, crunch-rocking Gold Against the Soul era, turned it into a thundering rock beast that they’ve later described as their Metallica moment. James roars, guitar soars, drums storm – a gallant piano in the background keeps a hint of the original’s melodic prettiness but even it gets drowned under the rock sound as the final climax enters the scene and creates another Manics rock-out ending.