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Archive for the ‘Early demos’ Category

Love in a Make-Up Bag

????

Sometimes I ever so slightly regret that I decided to expand upon the basic idea of this blog and moved on from the official studio recordings to all the other recordings as well, such as the early demos. You see, I hold myself to a certain standard and in a way pride on that standard – these are all in public viewing and if people read more than one entry then they’re obviously at least vaguely interested, and therefore their interest should be catered to as well as possible. There’s been entries in the past that I’ve found hard to write about but I always had thoughts and opinions about the songs and in time those opinions transferred into words on a screen. But then you’ve got songs like these early demos: proto-Manics at their very youngest, inexperienced and unskilled. Practice songs that never saw a light of day as fully recorded songs for obvious reasons. Some are better than others: they have some sort of intriguing angle from a fan perspective or they’re simply comedic in their young silliness.

Then there’s cases like Love in a Make-Up Bag where you could listen to the song for hours and not be able to come up with anything. Not that I have, because I’m not enough of a masochist. The most interesting thing in it is the title which not only sounds a bit off considering the band’s general title standards but also somewhat intriguing due to the band’s flirtations with femininity and the female angle in lyrics at their early days. It all ends there though. The singing is incomprehensible so you can’t make heads or tails about the actual lyrics and the music is the sort of bog-standard rock thing pretty much every single rock band starts out with in their basement on their third rehearsal and then ignores for the rest of their career.

Which is probably what would have happened with this if some nosy fans weren’t able to get a hold of it and spread it, causing one blogger to then pretend to write about it while really going through every shortcut and sideway possible because there’s not a damn word one can come up with such a generic demo.

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Dying a Thousand Deaths

I die when you look at me

As much as the title is gloomy and angsty, based on the very little I can decipher from the lyrics it seems to be more lovelorn teenage angst rather than any sort of existential crisis. Which works for us just as well.

Dying a Thousand Deaths lasts a bit under two minutes and seems more like a sketch than a fully realised song – which is what demos tend to be anyway, but even more so. The fact that it starts and ends abruptly with a fade and how it begins with a chorus that seems to be halfway through give one the idea that something funny was going on when this demo was recorded, but we’re not very cross, are we?

Dying is more of early Manics’ jangle pop phase rather than the glitter punk they are usually known to start with.  It has slight hints of early R.E.M. and quite frankly it sounds more enjoyable than most of the early Manics demos.

Think about what Generation Terrorists would have been like if the band had decided to go on with this direction rather than scrape it and continue emphasising the more punkier/hard rocking aspects of their music early on.

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England Is a Bitch

Break down

Give it some additional production and fine-tuning and England Is a Bitch would actually be a rather nifty song. The tempo increases and drops (and not in an intentional way either!) are something different from the normally straightforward Manics demos, and I’m especially keen on Sean’s marching drum intro. The verses are actually quite swell and are mainly bogged down by the early demo production that muddles everything up. Speaking of production, I’ve no idea if the sound buggery at the very end (the guitar just disappearing for a moment before abruptly returning) is intentional or not but it actually works, so I’ll give them the benefit of doubt.

James’ “break down!” (or breakdown?) shouts are the only intelligible bits of the lyrics, but seeing the title I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

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???

More indecipherable lyrics.

The instrumental break sounds like it should have a banjo instead of electric guitar. Which would make the song even more hilarious. Actually, add a bit more of a shuffly drum section there too and you’d have a Western tv show theme tune right there.

Awesome microphone *THUMP* at 1:17.

The most hilariously bad attempt at a lead guitar driven ending.

Uh, constructively written entry? About Eating Myself from the Inside? I’m a blogger, not a miracle maker.

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Sunglass Aesthetic

????

(I can’t find lyrics online, most likely because it’s sung so damn unintelligibly. Scuse the questionmarks)

Musically ever-so-slightly more ambitious than most of the early demos. The structure is pretty random, instruments disappear and re-appear, riffs change pretty rapidly, there’s several breaks in the song, and so forth. It’s not particularly complex or anything but Sunglass Aesthetic stands out from the rest of the demos because all the other ones simply do the verse-chorus-verse structure. This one just seems to go randomly from one musical part to another, none of which really are verses or choruses or anything.

Considering the lyrics are completely incomprehensible (James’ singing is actually pretty hilarious in this one because of it) and the musical description was done through in a paragraph, I might as well dedicate the rest of this article to ponder upon a little thing common in the majority of these pre-historic Manics demos: the tambourine. It’s everywhere, rattling all the time (more often than not frantically) and often drowning most of the other instruments under it. It’s like a lead instrument in these early demos, whilst after them it never really made much appearances outside a few songs and the live tours after 2007 when Sean Reed took the session keyboard player and part-time tambourine shaker duties. It’s probably there to cover young Sean’s drumming irregularities and to make the music sound busier than it really is. It’s moreso hilarious and often bothersome because it’s in such an empowering role (home demos aren’t known for mixing mastery) but it certainly does give these song sketches their own flair.

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This Girl’s Got Nothing

Let’s get this straight girl, you love me

Yet more early Manics loveydovey lyrics, this time with the “you’re the only thing I’ve got” angle but twisted to the perspective of the only thing in question.

This Girl’s Got Nothing is a hilarious mess. James is far, far away from the angelic singer of his future and sounds adorably daftly amateurish, and his high-pitched voice-breaking scream by the end of the song is probably the most infamous moment of his musical life and the first thing that he’d probably wish to bury as deep as possible. The instrumental ‘break’ with its utterly bizarre and ridiculous drum fill sounds like the work of a person who’s behind the kit for the first time of his life. The final line repetition climax sounds like a trainwreck in process before it abruptly pulls itself almost together.

But you can’t fault them. It’s an early demo, not a proper song. Rather than running away from it, the listener should embrace it in all of its heartwarmingly amateurish aww-factor.

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Just Can’t Be Happy

I understand but I can’t accept

With all that famous sloganeering back in the band’s early days about being a band who would never write a love song, exploring the very early demos sure is funny. So much love songs or songs that are almost like love songs amongs all the teenage politics. Take Just Can’t Be Happy as an example. The full line that the song takes its title from is “just can’t be happy without you”, while the lyrics describe a beautiful girl with hazel hair who’s a very troubled individual but who the narrator is completely smitten with. Aww.

The most striking feature of this better-than-most-of-the-early-demos-which-isn’t-saying-much-I-know song is James’ speak-singing in the verses. That sort of non-melodic, deadpan delivery went on to become Nicky’s trademark style in the Manics discography (until his solo career and arisal of the songbird Nicky) – think of Groundhog Days or Failure Bound – but here you have James doing it at the very beginning of the band’s journey. There’s something very cute in the way his accent shines through.

Also features an ooh-ooh bridge, a ridiculously simple chorus and a hyperactive tambourine.

More bubblegum punk from the early Manics, that is.

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