Art Politics Punk Rock And Roll

Manic Street Preachers – 1991 gig poster, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

I found this poster on a Manic Street Preachers fan page on Facebook and I just liked it so much I felt the need to share it. Hope you like it as much as I do.

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Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks): Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lookin’ Out My Back Door

Day 4. Seeing as how I used the same film for days 1 & 2, I’ve decided to use the same film for days 3 & 4 too. Especially because I absolutely love this Creedence Clearwater Revival tune. Lookin’ Out My Back Door, for some reason, doesn’t appear on The Big Lebowski‘s OST, but it does soundtrack a pivotal scene in the movie.

Just got home from Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy
Got to sit down, take a rest on the porch
Imagination sets in, pretty soon I’m singin’
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

There’s a giant doin’ cartwheels, statue wearin’ high heels
Look at all the happy creatures dancin’ on the lawn
Dinosaur Victrola, listenin’ to Buck Owens
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

Tambourines and elephants are playin’ in the band
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon? Doo, doo, doo
Wondrous apparition provided by magician
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

Tambourines and elephants are playin’ in the band
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon? Doo, doo, doo
Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrows
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

Forward troubles Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
Look at all the happy creatures dancin’ on the lawn
Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrow
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks) Spotify playlist.

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Folk Pop Rock And Roll Uncategorized

Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks): Bob Dylan – The Man In Me

Day 3. The Big Lebowski is a strong contender for my favourite film so it is a pleasure to choose a song from its soundtrack for todays Song of the Day. Bob Dylan’s The Man In Me soundtracks two separate scenes in the film, the introduction (see the first video below) & a further scene where The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is knocked out & has a hallucinatory dream (see the second video).

La la la la
La la la la
La la la la
La la la la

The man in me will do nearly any task
And as for compensation, there’s little he would ask
Take a woman like you
To get through to the man in me

Storm clouds are raging all around my door
I think to myself I might not take it any more
Take a woman like your kind
To find the man in me

But, oh, what a wonderful feeling
Just to know that you are near
Sets my a heart a-reeling
From my toes up to my ears

The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein’ seen
But that’s just because he doesn’t want turn into some machine
Took a woman like you
To get through to the man in me

La la la la
La la la la

Looking for some great music? Check the Song of the Day (Movie Soundtracks) Spotify Playlist.

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Indie Rock Rock And Roll

Pavement’s Fillmore Jive, deathbed confessions of Rock n Roll

Pavement circa-’93/’94, Gail Butensky, Matador Records

Rock n Roll, characterised as youth culture/Pop culture, is pretty much dead right now. It’s still twitching corpse convulses & releases gas from time to time but, as a serious proposition, Rock n Roll has been dead for a long time. In 1994, on their excellent sophomore album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Indie Rock royalty Pavement wrote & recorded the excellent Fillmore Jive, a wonky, fuzzy tribute to the (even then) dying genre. Eschewing the usual verse-chorus-verse structures of Rock n Roll, Fillmore Jive weaves together various… I’m going to call them stanzas unique, separate sections of music. These stanzas are connected by Malkmus’ wilfully off-kilter guitar playing. The backing track is exciting, spontaneous & jam-like. If you’re going to tell a story never told, you’ll be needing a new way to tell it. There are sections of Fillmore Jive which would form epic choruses, in their own right, in the hands of lesser bands. Malkmus’ ear for dissonant melodicism can write enough of these beautifully lazy melodies that Pavement don’t need to write a whole song around each one.

Fillmore Jive tells the story of the dying days of Rock n Roll from a particularly unique viewpoint: Rock n Roll itself. When Stephen Malkmus sings “I need to sleep, why won’t you let me?” he’s singing in character as Rock n Roll itself. In the first verse, Rock n Roll is feeling sad, despondent, laying in the sofa (couch). Rock n Roll’s voice is quiet & contemplative. Whispering in someone’s ear.  Rock n Roll needs some company: “Hey lady, what do you need?/Do you think you’d like to come and bleed with me?” Bleeding out on hotrock burn pocked carpet of a mid-‘90’s stoner bedroom. To sweeten the deal, Rock n Roll proffers a chalice, “It’s a special one, it’s made of gold.” I used to be something, used to be special. I’ve still got it. Still got what made me special in the first place. Rock n Roll is stronger than ever.

I’m interpreting it as the company, the “lady,” that Rock n Roll is asking for is in fact 90’s youth culture. This will become clearer later in the song, but for now I think that Rock n Roll is begging for attention in a landscape of other things that teenagers could be paying attention to. Rock n Roll in 1994 is beset on all sides by things which are vying for the attention of young people. Hip-Hop, Techno, House, Jungle, Trip-Hop, Ambient etc. There are countless new, innovative genres of music to excite young people before we even get to the popular, chart, radio stuff. Videogaming is in ascendant, approaching the end of the fourth generation of consoles, some would argue is the height of videogaming. SNES & Megadrive (Genesis in the US), Game Gear & Game Boy. Early days of PC gaming.

“Passed out on your couch/You left me there (thanks),” I interpret as thanking young people for still giving Rock n Roll a chance, still finding it relevant. But there’s also a sense of fatigue. Rock n Roll is exhausted, tired. Every combination has been done to death. No originality is left. Self-loathing sets in. Rock n Roll needed to be left alone & is grateful that it was. Malkmus’ soft whisper sounds full of defeat, of weariness: “I need to sleep to sleep it off.” It’s a heartbreaking moment & when the big “I need to sleep” over the heavy riffing kicks in, there is a palpable sense of relief & release.

After the explosive release of that section, we enter a downcast, melancholic section which, to me, seems to eulogise the subgenres & subcultures which Rock n Roll birthed, as they’re dying out: “The jam kids on the Vespas/And glum looks on their faces/The street is full of punks/They got spikes/See those rockers with their long curly locks.” The music here is minimal & loose, Malkmus’ vocal almost speaking. “Goodnight to the Rock n Roll era,” he finishes before another dive into distorted, wonky jamming. Lead guitars as dissonant as they are melodic. This is another section which feels like a release. Euphoric. The drunken dancing of a wake, perhaps.

The following section seems to address the outside influences which contribute towards the suffering of Rock n Roll. “Jazz buffs’ skinny arms,” “the dance faction, a little too loose for me.” Rock n Roll (or maybe this is Malkmus’ voice speaking now) finds these things boring (“every night it’s straight and narrow”) or dangerous, scary (“laws are broken, amusing era”). The final stanza almost dismissed these distractions due to their association with drugs: “Pull out their plugs and they snort up their drugs.”

The song breaks off with an unfinished line, “their throats are filled with…” This could be the declaration that Rock n Roll is not quite ready to die, or that it may be resurrected. 26 years later & I don’t think we’re there yet.

Another interesting thing about Fillmore Jive, a piece of trivia is that the Fillmore was a big Rock n Roll venue in San Francisco, associated with psychedelic music. The Fillmore closed in 1989 following the Loma Prieta earthquake & the death by helicopter crash of manager Bill Graham. Pavement played in San Francisco ten days before it was due to open, in April of ’94, at The Great American Music Hall. However, the first band to play in the newly opened Fillmore, on the 27th April 1994, were the Smashing Pumpkins, who Pavement had snarkily insulted on the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain single Range Life.

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Art Indie Rock Literature Poetry Rock And Roll

Manic Street Preachers – Secret Trilogy

I was reading Simon Price’s review of Futurology (Manic Street Preachers 2014 album) on The Quietus, & he mentions that, according to Bassist & lyricist Nicky Wire, the third song on the album, Let’s Go To War, is the “final part in the ‘You Love Us’/’Masses Against The Classes’ trilogy.” This was news to me, that a trio of disparate songs from disparate times of their career went together as a sequence. It’s difficult to believe that the “trilogy” was planned from the start. I suspect that Wire is referring to a sense of kinship he personally feels between the three songs. I thought it might be a good idea to cast a critical eye over the trio of songs from the point of view of them being a trilogy.

You Love Us (1992)

Quote used at beginning of You Love Us video

Back at the start of their career, Manic Street preachers were difficult band to pin down, ideologically speaking. Their artwork & lyrics were chock full of esoteric quotes & references. This was evidenced across the artworks of their records, music videos (see above) & even on their clothes or written on their skin in marker pen. New Art Riot, an early EP, had a several quotes printed on its sleeve. Karl Marx (“I am nothing and should be everything”) & a lengthy Andy Warhol one:

You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it…

Andy Warhol

This observation of the ubiquitous nature of Coca-Cola was reworked slightly -via contemporary slant- in the lyrics of Slash ‘n’ Burn, the opening track on their debut album Generation Terrorists, as “Madonna drinks Coke and so you can too/Tastes real good not like a sweet poison should.” It’s unclear to me whether their image of Coke as a “sweet poison” is echoed in the Andy Warhol quote, but it seems as though the Manic Street Preachers viewed it that way.

Another early single, Motown Junk channels William Burroughs on its sleeve:

Rock and roll adolescents storm into the streets of all nations. They rush into the Louvre and throw acid in the Mona Lisa’s face. They open zoo’s, insane asylums, prisons, burst water mains with air hammers, chop the floor out of passenger plane lavatories, shoot out lighthouses, turn sewers into water supply, administer injections with bicycle pumps, they shit on the floor of the United Nations and wipe their ass with treaties, pacts, alliances.

William S Burroughs, Naked Lunch

This brief sequence from Naked Lunch, Burroughs’ seminal & nightmarish cutup masterpiece, seems to be ascribing qualities to the new generation of teenagers that he wished upon his own generation. This paragraph echoes, in my mind at least, what the German expressionist group of artists known as Die Brücke were saying in 1906: “We call upon all youth to unite. And being youth, the bearers of the future, we want to wrest from the comfortably established older generation freedom to live and move.” The group aimed to build a “bridge to the future” & I’m certain that Burroughs, writing in the mid ’50’s, could see the potential of the nascent youth-movement coalescing around the equally nascent Rock ‘n’ Roll genre of music, to fulfil this promise. To build this “bridge to the future.” The Manic Street Preachers not only printed this on their record sleeve, but the concept of throwing acid into the Mona Lisa’s face likely influenced the line in You Love Us: “throw some acid into your face.”

A slight diversion here but Die Brücke weren’t the only 20th century European art movement which influenced the Manic Street Preachers in their early days. The Situationists love affair with the art of The Slogan also rubbed off on them somewhat. It’s easy to draw parallels between the slogans the band scrawled across their clothes in the early days with the slogans which the Situationist International scrawled upon walls throughout Paris of 1968. Something like “BOMB THE PAST”, written on one of Richey Edwards shirts in ’91, isn’t dissimilar to something like “AFTER ART, GOD IS DEAD” by the Situationists.

While Stay Beautiful quoted Burroughs’ friend & peer Allen Ginsberg, form his epic Beat Poem Howl!

Moloch whose Soul is electricity and banks!
Moloch whose Poverty is the specter of Genius
Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless oxygen
Moloch whose name is the Mind. Robot apartments

Allen Ginsberg, Howl! (1954-1955)

These sections from Howl! about Moloch are pure Manics. Moloch [from Wikipedia] “is the biblical name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice, through fire or war.” Ginsberg was drawing connections between death, war, child sacrifice & relentless march of technology & modern society. While not directly pro-communist, it’s difficult to argue that Howl! isn’t anti-Capitalist. “A cloud of sexless oxygen” seems to me, to be one of the most beautifully poetic descriptions of boredom I’ve ever heard.

This quotational diarrhoea, while being hugely appealing to a 13/14/15 year old version of me, was a bit of a red flag for the band’s well meaning, left leaning but confused ideology. This same confusion/contradiction was as visible in the band’s music & artwork too. Musically, & You Love Us is a prime example of this, Manic Street Preachers didn’t know whether they wanted to be Punk or Hair-Metal. Songs were short, aggressive & spiky but James Dean Bradfield’s excellent singing voice & virtuoso guitar playing often lent them a ‘big Rock’ sound which seemed to shave against the grain of the Punk lyrics & rhythms. Most songs included the ‘big Rock’ moment: the impressive guitar solos which were inspired by the bands love & dedication to US hair-metallers Guns And Roses.

You Love Us seems to be a coalescence of these diverse influences & confused ideologies. There is a preoccupation with sin in You Love Us, “we are not your sinners/our voices are for real.” To sin is to be inauthentic in their minds. The latter line has an uncomfortable (& prescient) relationship with the infamous “4Real” incident. In a strangely 2020 couplet at the beginning of the second verse “’til I see love in statues/your lessons drill inherited sin.” This could almost have been written for the ‘controversy’ surrounding the destruction by protestors of statues to infamous slave traders & Confederate generals. “Inherited sin” in this case being the slave trade, the uncomfortable & shameful foundation stone supporting much of modern, western society.

There are lines which seem to express frustration with Neoliberalism (Thatcher was still in power & Reagan had only recently being replaced by Bush senior when these lyrics were written) “PR problems,” “Parliament” being a “fake life saver” & poisoning “mineral water” (a drink associated with the Yuppy movement in the early ’90’s) “with a strychnine taste.”

The other thing the Manics were unable to escape during their early years was The War. The Second World War, that is. The Holocaust in particular. The “Death Mask uniforms” of the first verse are a pretty clear reference to the skull-logo of the SS, including senior staff of concentration camps & use of the word “holocaust” itself in the second pre-chorus.

& then the final piece of the puzzle is the self-centred arrogance of the songs title itself. The Manic Street Preachers were famously arrogant in their early days. At least in the press. It was obviously all an act & designed to get good press, but it informed this song heavily. “We won’t die of devotion,” they sing in the first pre-chorus, “understand we can never belong.” Is this a hint of resignation, pessimism? Admission that they will fail at their stated plan: to sell 16 million copies of Generation Terrorists & then split up completely. This hyperbolic bravado certainly succeeded in garnering masses of attention from the music press, so job done in my opinion.

The Masses Against The Classes (2000)

“Went to Cuba to meet Castro…” Manic Street Preachers meeting Fidel Castro, 2001

Before discussing The Masses Against The Classes in any detail, it’s worth noting a cool piece of Rock n Roll trivia. The Masses Against The Classes was the first new UK number 1 single of the 21st century. It’s a hell of an achievement & one which the Manic Street Preachers will always hold over their detractors.

The Masses Against The Classes (named for a quote by 19th century British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone) was described in terms of a return to an earlier version of the Manic Street Preachers. Writing in NME, Victoria Segal described it as “an attempted return to the primordial punk slime of their birth.” Journalist Martin Power likened it to the “raucous, guitar-driven […] Pop-Punk” of Nirvana’s On A Plain. Nicky Wire claimed they wanted an “Iggy & The Stooges vibe.” It’s important to remember that The Masses Against The Classes was released in the wake of their commercial peak: the polemic powered proletarian Rock of Everything Must Go which bled into the chart-bothering late-’90’s Indie Pop of This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours.

This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, named for a quote by the great Labour politician Nye Bevan, came dangerously close to falling into the beige subgenre of late-90’s Indie where you’d find things like The Verve, Travis, Coldplay etc. Despite the slowed down, polished up sheen of This Is My Truth, it still provided the band with some of the most compelling music of their career. Lead single, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, with its flanged guitar chords & dense keyboard soundscapes, became (probably) the first UK number one single to address fighting Fascists during the Spanish Civil War.

The Indie music press, though, had written the Manics off as just another commercially successful band in the sea of beige. Contemporaries of Chris Martin & co. So, The Masses Against The Classes was seen as a rebuttal of that safe, smooth image. It was supposed to be a roar of anger against the band’s detractors & a reassuring gesture for fans that they may have lost (or come close to losing) in the post-Richey years. It is a downtempo, heavy guitar driven slice of Alternative Rock. The Nirvana comparisons are probably about spot on. The “ahh ahh ahhh ahhhh” intro is a nice enough throwback to the early days of Rock n Roll (specifically the Beatles version of Twist And Shout), which was obviously on their mind a lot at the time because one of the b-sides was a cover of Chuck Berry’s Rock And Roll Music.

Lyrically, The Masses Against The Classes feels a little shallow at first glance, especially fresh from listening to You Love Us with its dense web of references. It is however bookended by a pair of quotes. The song opens with a quote from American dissident linguist Noam Chomsky: “The country was founded on the principle that the primary role of the government is to protect property from the majority, and so it remains.” Stick a heavy reverb on that & we’d almost be in Choking Victim/Leftover Crack territory. The song closes with James Dean Bradfield screaming out an Albert Camus quote: “The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown.” The choice of quotes seems to muddy the waters of what the song is about rather than offer any clarity. This is compounded by the quotations printed on the record sleeve. Mao Tse-Tung on the 10″ vinyl (“We should support whatever the enemy opposes and oppose whatever the enemy supports.”) & Kierkegaard on the CD (“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be read forwards.”). Profound these quotes may be, but it’s hard to tie them into The Masses Against The Classes lyrical content.

“Hello it’s us again,” the opening line states, “we’re still so in love with you.” I suspect that the “us” here is the same “us” that “you” loved back in ’92. This backs up the idea that The Masses Against The Classes is reaching out to lapsed (or betrayed) fans in some way. “You” can still love “us” because “we’re still so in love with you.” It’s quite simple & transparent. On the nose. I personally miss the opacity of earlier lyrics, like You Love Us. To confuse things slightly though, the end of the first verse seems to insult the same lapsed fans they were just trying to appeal to: “You thought you were our friends/ Success is an ugly word/Especially in your tiny world.” Even in transparency, the Manics embrace contradiction.

The chorus is also quite contradictory. “The masses against the classes/I’m tired of giving a reason/When the future is what we believe in.” In the final chorus, the song echoes You Love Us completely by declaring that “we’re the only thing left to believe in.” I take from these lyrics that the band are becoming increasingly uncomfortable in explaining their politics. It’s a classic dilemma of the left. Left-wing politics based on theory, history & dialectical analysis. By contrast, right-wing politics appeals to nothing other than greed, selfishness & hate. There is no future through Neoliberalism. The masses should, logically, be always against the classes because that’s the only way they have a future. The band are tired of “giving a reason” why they’re “against the classes.” They believe in the future, that’s why. The final lines of the chorus seem to me to be a bit of copy/paste Manics mythology trivia. I distinctly remember (although have failed utterly to find) an interview in which the band state that they prefer winter to summer. The reasoning, as I recall, was along similar lines to “we love the winter/It brings us closer together.”

I’m fairly certain that the first part of the second verse is addressing the absent Richey Edwards. “So can you hurt us anymore/Can you feel like it was before/Or are you lost forever more/Messed up and dead on alcohol.” This is addressing the pain which his disappearance caused the band. There’s a probing quality, like a tongue poking at an aching tooth. Will this return to our roots hurt? Will it bring back the pain of your loss all over again? The second couplet addresses Edwards’ reliance on alcohol & wonders aloud if he’s dead or alive. The second half of the verse feeds back into the You Love Us continuation. “Hello, fond farewell my dears/I hope you hear this nice and clear/Our love is unconditional/Our hate is yours to feed upon.” Is the “fond farewell” a signalling of the end of the original version of the Manic Street Preachers? The Punkier, angrier nihilists who wrote You Love Us & Motown Junk? It seems to read that way to me, though their following album, 2001’s Know Your Enemy, included several rawer, Punkier songs, like lead single Found That Soul.

Let’s Go To War (2014)

“…here in my safe European home…” Manic Street Preachers, 2014

Let’s Go To War is the only song in the secret trilogy to not have been released as a single. It is also the one I am least familiar with. As a fan, I was left slightly disappointed by the scrappy effort that was 2001’s Know Your Enemy, & I lost touch with the band for a long time. I remember someone playing me Lifeblood & I enjoyed it, but it didn’t excite me the way their older material did. Recently, I have decided to try & catch up with everything they’ve released since Know Your Enemy. Futurology is definitely the highlight of the bunch. Recorded at the legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin (of Bowie/Iggy fame) & channelling a love of European culture & music, Futurology is thought of by many to be ‘their Krautrock album’. That’s a little simplistic & inaccurate though. While it’s clearly inspired by Krautrock, Futurology is still very much the Manic Street Preachers we know & love.

The influences actually do a lot to bring the percussion to the front of the composition process, making Futurology, perhaps, Sean Moore’s album; his time to really shine. The motorik, propellant beat of Let’s Go To War is definitely aided by having as accomplished a stickman as Moore on the drums. The walking bass & steady drumming almost bring to mind Faith No More’s powerful We Care A Lot to mind. There’s even a little guitar lick before the chorus which is eerily similar to a certain slap bass lick from We Care A Lot. Not to mention the similar choruses, composed from the same number of words & syllables. I sort of wish I hadn’t noticed that similarity.

Lyrically, Let’s Go To War seems to be almost resigned to a coming conflict. One which was both anticipated in the lyrics to You Love Us & The Masses Against The Classes, & which the Manics hoped to avoid. It’s almost like spending all of your time & resources trying to win elections, to save lives through official/proper channels, only to realise that you’ll actually have to build those guillotines & spill a little blood after all, even though avoiding that was the entire reason for your legitimate campaign.

The song lists things, in the first verse, which could be references to the legitimate campaign & the hostile opposition it faced. “All the complications/All the deviations/All the holy edicts/All the broken subjects.” James Dean Bradfield sounds almost defeated in this verse, downhearted, downcast. There’s a sense of resignation. That things are not getting better. & then you have the Faith No More lick which leads into the chanted chorus of “Let’s go to war.” “To feel some pureness and some pain […] we need to go to war again,” it continues. This certainly seems to me to be the resignation I mentioned before.

The second verse, which speaks of “working class skeletons” which “lie scattered in museums” seems to be addressing the futility of war, as well as the reality of it; that those who do the killing & the dying are from the working classes. The First World War is often viewed as mechanised slaughter of the working classes by a cabal, on each side, of bloodthirsty toffs. The “false economies” which “speak falsely of your dreams” are both the justification & the rewards of war. And all of these ‘rewards’ generally go to the rich. The “working class skeletons” rarely, if ever, see any benefits from the wars they fight in.

In the bridge section of the song we get a continuation from The Masses Against The Classes. An affirmation that despite all of the “knives they will now sharpen,” the Manics still love you. “So don’t forget we love you still,” James sings. It repeats through echoes several times, as if to underline the point. The point being that You Love Us & we love you.

& that, I believe is what the secret trilogy of Manic Street Preachers songs is about. Love & War. They love us, hope/want us to love them & will both lead us & stand by us in the vaguely defined war. Another takeaway is that despite their blurred & confused ideology, the Manics definitely mean what they say & say what they mean. Even if they don’t understand it. Or know how to properly articulate it.

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Rock Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song Of The Day (The Chain): Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes

Day 23. I’m assuming that most people who may be reading this post will be able to pick out the link between Perfect Day & All The Young Dudes from miles away. That’s right. Perfect Day is take from Lou Reed’s excellent album Transformer, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, was produced by none other than David Bowie. All The Yung Dudes by Mott The Hoople is also produced by David Bowie. Unlike Perfect Day, however, Bowie actually wrote All The Young Dudes. Legend has it that Mott The Hoople asked Bowie for Drive-In Saturday, but he liked it too much & decided to give them All The Young Dudes instead. An excellent Bowie version is also available.

All The Young dudes is a fairly typical Glam-era Bowie tune, with a swaggering & androgynous vibe, amazing guitar work (Bowie & the legendary Mick Ronson both play on it) & lyrics about feeling different & taking solace in your generation’s art. NME described it as “one of that rare breed: rock songs which hymn the solidarity of the disaffected without distress or sentimentality”.

Well, Billy rapped all night about his suicide
How he’d kick it in the head when he was twenty-five
Speed jive, don’t want to stay alive
When you’re twenty-five
And Wendy’s stealing clothes from Marks & Sparks
And Freddy’s got spots from ripping off the stars from his face
Funky little boat race
Television man is crazy saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks
Oh, man, I need TV when I’ve got T.Rex
Oh brother, you guessed
I’m a dude, dad

All the young dudes (hey dudes!)
Carry the news (where are you?)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up, come on)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (I want to hear you)
Carry the news (I want to see you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to talk to you, all of you)
Carry the news (now)

Lucy looks sweet ’cause he dresses like a queen
But he can kick like a mule, it’s a real mean team
But we can love
Oh yes, we can love
And my brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff
What a drag, too many snags
Now I’ve drunk a lot of wine and I’m feeling fine
Got to race some cat to bed
Oh, is that concrete all around
Or is it in my head?
I’m a dude, dad

All the young dudes (hey dudes)
Carry the news (where are you?)
Boogaloo dudes (stand up)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (I want to hear you)
Carry the news (I want to see you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to relate to you)
Carry the news
All the young dudes (what dudes?)
Carry the news (let’s hear the news, come on)
Boogaloo dudes (I want to kick you)
Carry the news

All the young dudes
(With the glasses)
Carry the news (I want you)
Boogaloo dudes (I want you in the front)
Carry the news (now)
(Now, you’re his friends)
All the young dudes (now you bring him down)
(‘Cause I want him)
Carry the news
Boogaloo dudes (I want him right here)
(Bring him, come on)
Carry the news (bring him)
(Here you go)
All the young dudes
(I’ve wanted to do this for years)
Carry the news
(There you go!)
Boogaloo dudes
(How’d it feel?)
Carry the news

If you’ve not heard it (you should have), here’s the Bowie version too.

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Indie Rock Rock Rock And Roll

Richey Edwards (Manic Street Preachers) Interview, 6 February 1994

This interview, which has been uploaded to YouTube today, was probably one of the last that Manic Street Preachers lyricist & rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards gave before his disappearance, nearly a year later. Most of the interview focuses on the bands late manager, Philip Hall, who’d lost his battle with cancer in 1993, & a special award he was being issued posthumously for services to music. There are, however, strong hints of the depression which drove Edwards to maybe take his own life.

Anyway, this afternoon I transcribed this video, which is why I am sharing it. The reason? Because I have never transcribed anything & wanted to know if I could do it. It’s something I feel the need to practice. I have to say, you really notice all of the utterances & dysfluencies in everyday speech, which we normally don’t pick up on, when you’re transcribing informal interviews like this.


Paul King: In fact, first time I’ve ever spoken to you, surprisingly over the years.

Richey Edwards: I recognise you from your dubious past.

PK: But we have, 120 in particular, we’re very supportive of the Manics, from early days. I think it was probably the first people who played those vids

RE: I think so, yeah

PK: But you don’t need that kind of support anymore, you’re… I think you’re one of these, termed as established bands now. Is that what you think you are, would you say?

RE: I don’t think any band is established. Most bands have got a career of, maybe, three or four years, then they fade into oblivion and end up checking out dole checks at the DSS, maybe.

PK: Or you go the other way and end up checking in those tax accountants and making millions, that’s… that’s the other alternative, isn’t it?

RE: Yeah maybe, but that’s for the very lucky, the very few. I don’t think that’ll be us, actually.

PK: Well I’ll always remember, the Manics, that you swore that after the first album, you’d break up then anyway, which you obviously didn’t do.

RE: No, I mean, that was a big… ultimately, we wanted to be the perfect band that could make a record that sold globally, you know, millions, and that there would be no need to make another record. All we’ve ever been interested in doing is making a record which encapsulates a mood and a time and then, it can be a full stop, you know, bye bye. You know? No need. Go and live with my dogs on the coast, wherever.

PK: Well the last records anyway, well the last record, was very well received for the group and was seen very much as a mature progression for yourselves. As songwriters and also as musicians.

RE: Yeah, I mean, it was called mature, which is something I find difficult to live with, but I guess it was. I mean… I think the older you get the more life becomes more… miserable. Definitely. I mean, you just…. All the people you grew up with die. You know, your parents die, grandparents die, your dog dies. Your energy diminishes. There’s less books to read. There’s no more groups to discover, you know. You end up a barren wasteland, just trying to find something new which never really occurs. You end up finding worth in groups which, maybe two or three years ago, you would have just spat on. Which is depressing. Which I do all the time. I mean, I’m getting into Buffalo Springfield, which to me, I mean it’s a nightmare…

PK: For what it’s worth, as the song said (haha)

RE: For What It’s Worth is their best song, but you know…

PK: Well on that positive note then, what are the Manics up to at this moment in time? Getting depressed or actually getting positive.

RE: Well, since Philip died, we cancelled everything and just went into a crappy little studio about a quarter of this room’s size and just been writing new songs, just like we did at the start. Just tried to, you know, maybe….

PK: And Philip Hall was obviously the special award this evening.

RE: Yeah, Philip was a very special person to us. It’s pretty well documented, but we spent, maybe, a year, year and a half writing letters, phoning journalists up, you know, people like MTV. Any address or phone number we got, we would write to or phone up. And there was, like, never any response because, like, an unknown band, you know, who cares, or whatever. And Philip was one of the first people who ever called us back, erm, and he said he was interested in coming to see us play in London, erm, and we obviously couldn’t get any concerts here at all, because it’s impossible. So, he drove down to see us practice in, you know, a crappy little schoolroom in South Wales.

PK: Yes, I mean, it’s well documented the guy…he was a very big supporter of new music, that’s why he’s represented tonight at the awards.

RE: He drove down, he saw us play, he liked what we did, he got us some gigs in the Bull and Gate, you know? the Falcon, wherever. And then, just sort of looked after us. And even then, when we started to get some press, he just said, oh, come and live with us. He’d been married, maybe, like a year. So, we slept on his, like, lounge, his kitchen, wherever was available.

PK: So, I appreciate that for you, this evening, here, with him being represented it’s a more of a… a kind of a reflective mood you find yourselves in tonight.

RE: I mean, the only reason we are here tonight is because of Philip. I mean, we’ve never been to one of these things before in our lives. It was just [for] the memory of Philip that we came here. We’re not the sort of band that is seen en masse, in these sort of public occasions. We’re a very private band. We didn’t like these, kind of, showbiz awards.

PK: Well, on from that, can I get a video from you? Would you like to see anybody?

RE: Ermm.

PK: No (haha).

RE: No (haha), yeah, erm, I’d quite like Roxanne by The Police.

PK: Okay, we can go back in time.

RE: Thanks very much. A long time ago.

PK: The Police.

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Prog Rock And Roll Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): King Crimson – Easy Money

Day 13. From the heartfelt Indie sentimentalism of Neutral Milk Hotel to proggy celebrations of the ridiculous. The connection between In The Aeroplane Over The Sea & King Crimson’s Easy Money is the inclusion of an unusual (& rarely heard in Rock) instrument, the singing saw – or musical saw.

Easy Money drifts in and out of different Rockist styles, offering centre stage to various band members throughout the song. There’re sections of Blues, Prog & Psychedelia, effortlessly strung together with compositional flair.

Your admirers in the street
Got to hoot and stamp their feet
In the heat from your physique
As you twinkle by in moccasin sneakers

And I thought my heart would break
When you doubled up the stake
With your fingers all a-shake
You could never tell a winner from a snake

Easy money

With your figure and your face
Strutting out at every race
Throw a glass around the place
Show the colour of your crimson suspenders

We could take the money home
Sit around the family throne
My old dog could chew his bone
For two weeks we could appease the Almighty

Easy moneyYour admirers in the street
Got to hoot and stamp their feet
In the heat from your physique
As you twinkle by in moccasin sneakers

Got no truck with the la-di-da
Keep my bread in an old fruit jar
Drive you out in a motor-car
Getting fat on your lucky star

Just making easy money

Keep up to date with the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Blues Folk Rock And Roll

‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ – Bob Dylan (With Just A hint Of Mayhem)

Hey check out my review of Bob Dylan’s new album, Rough And Rowdy Ways on With Just A Hint Of Mayhem.

“Today and tomorrow and yesterday, too The flowers are dying like all things do” Thus begins Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album. His first of new material …

‘Rough And Rowdy Ways’ – Bob Dylan
Rock Rock And Roll

Neil Young – Homegrown

Neil Young’s “lost” 1974 album, Homegrown, finally saw release this year. Although it has been around for years in various bootleg forms (& some songs from it have been played live over the years), the new release is the first time a Neil Young approved version of Homegrown has been available for fans.

As much as I love Neil Young, it would be quite dishonest to describe myself as anything other than a casual fan. I own a few of his records (Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Gold Rush, Harvest, American Stars ‘N Bars etc.) & this excellent greatest hits collection, but I am by no means a collector or completionist. As such, I have personally never heard any previous bootleg versions of Homegrown before. Although I do know the version of the title track that made it onto American Stars ‘N Bars. I am approaching this as a fresh Neil Young album & with a little excitement, if I’m being honest.

Rock steady rhythm section. Check. Country inflected rock rhythms. Check. Atmospheric, instinctual harmonica playing. Check. Lapsteel. Check. Plaintive falsetto vocals. Check. This is definitely a ’70’ Neil Young album. Homegrown seems to be light on the crunchy guitar sound that Young was already known for at this point.

Separate Ways & Try are heavily lead by the rhythm section, lapsteel & harmonica providing the majority of melodic content. Mexico is one of Young’s melancholic piano ballads. Love Is A Rose is a percussive country rock song campfire song, with hard strummed acoustic guitars adding colour to the percussion more than anything. Homegrown is the first time we hear any crunchy rock guitar. It’s the same classic rock anthem you know from American Stars ‘N Bars, but perhaps a little rawer in the production. A bit of a highlight for me. Even though it’s not as new as much of the album.

Florida feels to me like something between a satire & a pastiche of Jim Morrisons’ spoken word poetry. Neil Young slowly tells a story about an idyllic town in Florida, a horrific gliding accident & a newly orphaned child, over a noise collage of guitar feedback & tape hiss. It’s very different to the rest of Homegrown. There’s a distinct dreamlike quality to it & it really stands out to me.The following track, Kansas, seems to continue the story , opening with the line “I feel like I just woke up from a bad dream” & featuring references to gliding. It’s a subdued acoustic solo track. Melancholic, minimalist melodies which wouldn’t sound totally out of place on After The Gold Rush. It’s hard to write about new music by an artist with a catalogue as vast as Neil Young’s, without comparing tracks to others from his catalogue.

We Don’t Smoke It No More is plodding, blues inspired Rock And Roll, with barroom piano, harmonica histrionics & as solid a rhythm as you’ll find anywhere on Homegrown. There’s plenty of Neil Young’s rough and ready lead guitar playing to go around too.

White lines is all midnight harmonica, galloping country rhythms & instinctive sounding acoustic guitar playing. It has an almost jammed quality to it, improvisational. It reminds me of when a demo is so good it gets included on the album.

Vacancy is a mid tempo rock number with big crunchy guitars. Practically written for stadium & festival gigs. I imagine it would sound thrilling in the open air. Little Wing is another tune which has appeared on other releases. 1980’s Hawks & Doves in this case. It’s another simple, acoustic led ballad with beautiful atmospheric harmonica parts.

To end, we’ve got Star Of Bethlehem, which also appeared originally on American Stars ‘N Bars. A chipper, upbeat Country Pop song with pleasant vocal harmonies & biblical references. Follows in Neil’ Young’s “tradition” of putting pleasant, short & simple songs at the ends of albums. Think Cripple Creek Ferry at the end of After The Gold Rush. That’s the kind of ballpark we’re in here.

Homegrown is out now on Silver Bow Productions.

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