Archive for the ‘2000-2001’ Category

Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel

Why not every man?

Now this is ever-so-slightly weird: James singing a plain-out religious song. Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel is a traditional song of praise that’s been around for ages and covered by many, including Paul Robeson whose version was in all likelihood the inspiration for this – after all, this cover was released as a b-side to Let Robeson Sing.

It’s not a shabby track but loses its momentum by only focusing on James and his acoustic guitar. Bradders does a good job keeping the interest up and sounding good but the song both begins and ends with a gorgeous organ that turns the song into something regal and eery for the fleeting moments it appears. The last 40 seconds give a nice idea what the song could have been and then you wish the organ would have stayed throughout the length.


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Rock and Roll Music

It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it

Fittingly enough to the title, rrrrrrrrock!

The Manics rendition of the Chuck Berry’s classic love letter to rock ‘n’ roll is three minutes of fierce rock and roll glory. Strict ABAB structure, loads and loads and loads of crrrrrunching guitar, steadily klinking machinegun piano firing in the background. It’s pretty identical to a lot of the other versions from the same song but with the big difference is that none of the other versions carry such a grand rock singer as our very own James Dean Bradfield who really brings down the house with this one.

Rock and Roll Music was originally packed together with the Masses Against the Classes single and while a cover, it played part in the album’s grand message of “we’re back, and we’re back with a rockin’ vengeange”. It also bears the honour of being one of the recorded covers which have ended up on the live stage, as witnessed by the stagestorming versions the band played around the 2000-2001 live gigs, twice recorded on DVD as well in the guise of both Leaving the 20th Century and Louder Than War.

It’s a simple rocker song but for the three minutes it thunders from the speakers, it’s all you ever need.

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You make me feel celestial

The Know Your Enemy era was full of stylistic experimentation and whilst Pedestal’s overall sound is rather “era-less”, it could have only been spawned by the Know Your Enemy sessions.

Pedestal is the Manics at their creepiest. The pounding, thrusting force of the song (fuck I love those drums) and the screechy guitar has something inherently sinister in it and then come in James’ vocals: snarly, low-tones, singing about blind worship: “I put you on a pedestal/I put you where you belong”. Then the bridge kicks in, the drive of the song picks up a few paces, the dominant tone of the singing turns into submissive (“willing to be put in my place/willing to live in this space”) and Nicky gets a background vocal cameo that seems to come from beyond the grave.

Whether the chorus completely ruins the creepy effect with its relentless crashing and pah-pah-pah-pedestals is up to discussion. I personally love the vocal tick and the whole “you make me feel celestial” comes off as… nervewreckingly tense.

No bloody idea what it’s supposed to be about but I’m one of the few defenders of this brilliant b-side because of its brilliantly creepy atmosphere. That and that sexy drum sound.

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Just a Kid

Waking and dreaming the world at my feet

I consider the Manics as the best b-sides band I know and if I had to prove that claim with a collection of songs, Just a Kid would definitely make the cut. It’s not a song I madly love, however.

It’s great but it feels a bit worn for me, a bit too familiar or something. It doesn’t hit me as much as it used to. It’s a strong, anthemic and autumnal rock song and one of the finest moments to come out of the Know Your Enemy sessions. No, the reason I’d raise it as one of the highlight songs to prove my claims is that it’s pretty much a single a-side that somehow got lost as the b-side. One can only guess that it was a matter of inconvenient timing, a song that happened to be written while preparing for new b-sides. It would have probably scored higher in the charts than the actual Know Your Enemy singles.

Like I said, I’m not as madly in love with this as I used to be. I still very much value it and find it great – it’s even reopened itself a bit on me as I’ve listened to it while preparing for this entry. It’s a great set of lyrics as well. Wire really excels with the personal stuff.

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Is this what you do with eternity

Nicky the star. Despite the fact that Nicky only appears for a brief moment in this otherwise James-sung song, his part steals the spotlight.

Groundhog Days is completely based on the quiet-loud-extremes. Verses consist of nothing but James and his acoustic guitar whereas in the chorus the whole band makes as much noise as possible from their instruments. So far so good, we’ve got a perfectly nice b-side in our hands. The swell lyrics help too – not going on about the literal groundhog day (as in the brilliant film, lines of which are even quoted in the song) but simply about the feeling of everything feeling like the same miserable shit as every other day when you wake up.

But then enters Nicky. After the second chorus the band continues their noisy rock escapade while Nicky delivers a spoken word section, spitting out oneliners with a pissed off tone for a short while before James runs into a solo and then finishes the song by himself. It’s only about 30 seconds of the four-minute song but the way it’s all delivered and how on the first listen it just comes out of nowhere makes it the classic moment of the tune.

Which then lifts the perfectly nice b-side into a damn good hidden treasure.

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I am losing my fucking mind

Two and half minutes of sheer fuckin’ rage.

Nicky Wire shouts and rants near unintelligibly about a horrible paranoia and sickness filled tour journey in the past, the band storms through the song in a punky rage, the exact same section is repeated ad infinitum with tiny breaks in between.

It’s a quick fit of rage made to relieve aggression and/or jumping around and tossing furniture around.

It’s primal and it’s fun.

Technically this is also Nicky’s solo singing debut as it was released before Know Your Enemy.

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Close My Eyes

I had ambition but it slipped away

One can’t help but feel that Close My Eyes is one of the Nicky Wire’s more darker self-confessional moments. The lyrics go through a list of moments of complete exhaustion in a career of music – disillusionment on stage, complete loss of all the passion the band started with, disregard towards all the highs and focus on the emotional stress of the whole mess. It’s possibly a very clear look on what Wire was going through at the time: The Masses Against the Classes single was situated right in the middle of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and Know Your Enemy, an album that continued the band’s hit streak and caused Wire to lash out on “fans” who only went to gigs because Manics were the fad band of the moment, and the album whose goal was deliberate self-destruction and self-alienation of all those chains.

While Masses/Classes in itself is a “return” to the band’s fast-rocking early days, Close My Eyes sounds like a wholly different beast. It keeps the grungy, dirty sound that its parent song has but instead of being a full-blast rockout, it advances very mechanically. It’s carried by a shuffly, loud drum loop that gives it a detached feel. Generally the whole mood of the song, rambly distorted guitar and all, sounds completely disregarding and even spiteful. Which goes pretty well with the lyrics.

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