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Archive for the ‘1993-1994’ Category

Brutal and mocking but always there

B-sides tend to sometimes foreshadow what the band’s up to in their future albums. Comfort Comes is the proto-The Holy Bible track.

The claustrophobic rage, masses of Richey-penned angstlyrics, James’ quirky singing and the generally dark and twisted mood are all shared traits between this and Holy Bible. The large difference is that this has a certain playfulness to it. The shoutalong chorus and particularly its final a cappella line are an oddly giddy, twistedly cheery counterpoint to the firm and aggressively pressing verse. You don’t get that in The Holy Bible, outside Sculpture of Man but that’s a b-side.

Comfort Comes is somewhat of a classic b-side because of its Bible-esque nature in the Gold Against the Soul era, but it’s a classic also because of the sheer quality. It’s oddly fun. Twisted and creepy, but fun.

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They’ve never tried living underneath the water

Manics’ (fortunately) brief stint in something a bit more metal.

So some heavy riffage, crashing drums, massive soloing and immortal lines like “I fucked God up the ass”. However that line relates to the main character of American Psycho anyway. Lyrically it’s pretty much one of the band’s clearest as it just goes through all sorts of personality traits, behaviour and general mindworld of the titular character.

Patrick’s got some sort of a cult classic status among the fans (there was quite a cry over its non-inclusion on Lipstick Traces, supposedly because of space issues and its six and a half minute length). I’d like to think it’s less because of some sort of amazing quality it possesses and more because it’s absolutely ridiculous – possibly the most ridiculous song in the band’s catalogue. A lot of Gold Against the Soul era goes over the top on things but Patrick Bateman sticks everything up to eleven. Starts with a quote, the general HARRRRRRRRRD RRRRRRRRRRROCK mentality of the track, the subject matter, lines like the abovementioned godbuggering and “we are babies crippled in Christ”, the furious rockout outro, James’ roars (“foo-O-OOOOODDDDDD”) and the backing vocals in the chorus that sound like a children’s choir. It’s downright silly.

And that’s why we love Patrick Bateman: its over-the-top, nigh-comedic style. It’s pure ┬ácock rock hard rock metal whatever thingy power and it roars it every single second. It would be SoBadIt’sAwesome if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s got some genuinely good musical value there as well – the pre-chorus and chorus is brilliant.

Trivia: this is the band’s longest song (six minutes 31 seconds).

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Donkeys are only left with lies

This one’s got its fame by the band praising it every single time b-sides are mentioned. It’s one of their favourite, if not the favourite b-side. Or at least Nicky’s.

And I gotta admit it’s a great one. For a Gold Against the Soul era track it’s pretty controlled and calm – Gold Against was all about stadium rock and the b-sides for the singles are mainly rock monsters of various kinds, but then there’s this introspective beauty called Donkeys.

Despite its melancholy moodset, dirty beauty or the great instrumental bits throughout, the clear highlight moment of the song is when James rips on one of his solos. Like said before, Manics are one of the few bands that can really make solos something else than just dull guitar wanking and James is one of the best guitarists around, but even so the solo in Donkeys deserves a separate mention because of what it does to the song. After the calm pace the song’s gone through for its duration, the solo just unleashes the bent-up energy of the song and frustration of the lyrics. It’s the emotional climax of the whole drama of the song.

Beautiful little ditty.

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This is as good as it gets

An oddity in the Manics catalogue because of its lyrical style. Rather than being just observing something or voicing an opinion on something, like every single other Manics song, Hibernation is a story. A tale of loveless marriage that both parties have accepted and just go on with their lives, neutrally living together without any big regrets – accepting that this is just how things go and you can’t change it anymore. It’s actually such an oddity in the Manics catalogue lyrically that sometimes I wonder if either of the band’s lyricsmiths at the time even wrote it. It’s got that Richey-tone to it though, that curious examination of humanity’s emotional facades.

To back the whole thing up, you’ve got a very sentimentally touching acoustic backing. The whole music has a soft, heartfelt tone to it. James delivers the lyrics in a sweet fashion, with just the right emotion. The end result is oddly heartwarming despite the subject matter. But I guess it echoes the overall sentiment of the song: that’s just how things went, no point to be mournful.

At the very end the song trips over though. Nevermind the light rockout finale – yet another case of the band buggering up and otherwise great mood with a random rougher section in the end – because it’s not that disturbing in this case: instead, it’s the very final line of the song. After a whole song of this emotional very un-Manicsy storytelling, you’re suddenly hit in the face with the most stereotypical early Manics line you could possibly fart out. “Intense morality parades” comes and whacks the lyrical mood across the face, standing out like a sore thumb.

Fortunately there’s the whole rest of the song to enjoy.

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Why give into useless devotion

I’m not much of a guitar obsessive. I mean, I do like the instrument and often love what people can do with the instrument but I’m not the sort of person who swoons over solos and feels that it’s a mandatory instrument to have on the spotlight all the time. But I do have my moments.

Manics in general are one of my bigger guitar-loving moments but there’s a few tracks in particular where the guitar really makes the song for me. Are Mothers Saints is one of them. From the subtle starting guitar jangle to the riffage of the second verse and finally the glorious, glorious extended solo, this is pure guitar heaven. It makes me want to pick up a guitar and learn to play it (tried training myself once – failed miserably).

Also, “if piss is yellow then life must be grey” has to be one of the most legendary opening lines ever. Lyrically it seems to be Richey-driven and about one of his favourite subjects, the nature of religion. But don’t quote me on that.

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Bomb London, its music and its culture

RRRRROCK. The most aggressive song of the Gold Against the Soul period, all hard rock attitude and punk rock spew. James blurts out the words with a weird, robotic rhythm before going on screamyragey mode. The solo part is the overblown style of Generation Terrorists mixed with the balls-in-face power and grandeur of the Gold Against the Soul period. You can’t say it’s particularly brilliant but there’s something extremely enjoyable in its sheer brute (and somewhat dumb) force, attacking against the usual Manics targets of dumb plebs and crappy powers-that-be.

Sadly the song runs out of steam just before it ends because instead of having the storming ending you think you’ll get, Us Against You just finishes with a really quick and relatively boring ending statement and then just flops into silence. Very miserable.

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