It’s hard to see what circumstances would result in one owning this and not the greatest hits compilation that contains the title track (it’s a non-album number), but if for some reason you’re considering buying a long out of date CD single because you’re a crazy person let me just remind you that I don’t have any postmodern apples in my monitor’s Matrix penis so there’s no damned point in asking.
The good news is that the single track (I will not type its name but I may abbrev it later on) may as well have been written by John the Revelator because it’s freaking biblical. Since the beginning of time Nicky Wire’s grandstanding has meshed only with musical pretension, and while they’re good at it, it can be tiresome and drab, especially at this time when they were trying to be Guns’N’Roses. Here, covering a classic, freed from original lyrics they wisely stay the musical course and just turn the song into a straight, unglamorous cover. So we’re left with a respectful, emotional cover played by a talented rock band, and they lay it on the line of being a guy who’d go on to kill himself less than a year later playing a song called freaking “Suicide Is Painless” like it’s only horribly difficult. Lead singer JDB could always pull off sounding emotional, but in the later runs through the chorus here he’s never sounded more like he’s genuinely ripping his guts out in verse. And like I said, combined the solid, unpretentious cover-y nature and it may be the Manics’ best single ever. A rare Manics song that you can play for strangers and impress them without caveat. Alternately, it’d both fit on Guitar Hero and a suicide note. Bella!
Then there are B-sides. “Starlover” is pretty good! A normal, scathing rock number, but with the rhythm guitar and drums tuned to “garage band” instead of “wannabe rock god.” Nothing amazing, but way less annoying than the album even if it lacks big hooks.
Sadly, “Spectators of Suicide” is the last song and it’s a fucking wheelbarrow. Too slow! Too overwrought! Again thankfully tuned correctly, but mostly a taste of wime. And that’s okay – it’s better than the overproduced album version, but a more lo-fi version of a boring song is still a boring song.
Oddly, three straight songs without cheesy backup vocals and a combined ten seconds of lead guitars tuned to ‘needly high-pitched 90s guitar solo.’ So I likey. But every one of these songs is available elsewhere. Go find them there.