Some newspaper, petrol and broken dreams are all that stands between you and me
It’s fairly common to title songs “x Blues” because there’s something old-fashionedly romantic in titling a song like that, even when the actual music has nothing to do with the ol’ blues. Silver Birch Bonfire Blues then, in a surprise twist, is a proper blues tune. Rugged, raw and entirely built of the traditional blues chugga-chugga.
You can sort of get the sense that by the time it came to recording the b-sides for his second solo single, James had already began to thirst to do something a bit different to the pop sensibilities of the album. Silver Birch Bonfire Blues could be an outtake from the Manics catalogue and is far more guitar-driven than most of the other tracks during the Great Western era. The production’s simple and modest and frankly, it fits the song perfectly. The fire burning in it doesn’t need fancy polishing.
My love for James’ guitaring once again gets some ground to prove itself before the final chorus, with the surprise solo placed in the song instead of the second half of the second verse. It may not brag much with technical skills but it sounds great.
Whether it’s because it’s such a stylistic stand-out from the rest of the era or because of it’s rather good (yet obvious b-side) quality, Silver Birch Bonfire Blues is a a minor standout nonetheless.