A-Z: Mansun

Hey guys and gals! Another weekend rolls around. Can you believe it’s nearly October already?? It’s scary. Anyway, another weekend with nothing planned except for hopefully making some more progress with the unpacking! I didn’t manage much of that last weekend, so I must try a bit harder this time. Hopefully some people will be coming to stay in October, so to actually make space for them to sleep in would be a kinda good idea! Although my guestlist’s looking a bit empty at the moment. When I initially e-mailed people I had responses from quite a few saying that they were interested in theory, but now I’ve actually named a date, suddenly it’s gone all quiet :-/ A similar thing happened last year. I hope it’s just the expense and awkwardness of the travelling that’s putting people off. Although I thought that by inviting 18 people I’d at least be able to get 4 or 5 who could make it. I’m starting to get a little paranoid now…

Oh well – I guess it’ll take me a little while to build up a social life in Cardiff. I didn’t really have one in Worcester until a group of us from work started going out for dinner in the evenings and stuff. Talking of whom, I’m going up to stay with my Dad for a weekend at the end of October and will hopefully be meeting up with my old work friends for lunch on the Saturday πŸ™‚ It’ll be good to see them and catch up on all the goss!!

Until then it’s just me, my computer and my music collection!! Not that that’s a bad thing – I’ve been looking forward to reaching Mansun. So here goes…

Mansun – Attack Of The Grey Lantern (album)
I got into Mansun quite late really – like I did with lots of ’90s-era bands. I knew the name ‘Mansun’ and had seen ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ on the shelves in music shops, but I think the combination of associating the word ‘Mansun’ with ‘Marilyn Manson’, plus the fact that the album cover for ‘Attack…’ looks quite dark and like it might be quite heavy, scary kind of music, I just assumed (wrongly) that it wouldn’t be my kind of thing. I wasn’t familiar with any of their songs, although it’s quite likely I’d heard ‘Wide Open Space’ at some point and enjoyed it, though not realised who it was by. I didn’t actually ‘discover’ Mansun properly until I heard ‘Electric Man’ on the radio and thought it was brilliant. At the end of the song I waited for the DJ to say who it was by and was rather surprised when he said ‘Mansun’. It didn’t fit at all with the image I had in my head of what Mansun’s music would be like. But yes, I was definitely interested then and got myself ‘Little Kix’ a little while after. Eventually this was also followed by my purchasing of ‘Attack…’ and then ‘Six’. By that point they’d joined the ranks of my favourite bands and I happily got to see them live at Leeds Cockpit on what turned out to be their last tour.

It’s very difficult to choose a favourite Mansun album. It was actually ‘Little Kix’ for a while, as it was the first one I got, but now it would definitely be either ‘Attack…’ or ‘Six’. Some of my favourite songs are on this album, which definitely helps. Plus ‘The Chad Who Loved Me’ is just one of the greatest opening tracks on an album ever! Even if you think you’re not familiar with Mansun, you’d almost definitely recognise this song! It often gets played as backing music on TV trailers and stuff. It was Mansun’s attempt at a James Bond Theme type song! Brilliant. This album flows together really well and is full of songs about all sorts of strange characters, like ‘Egg Shaped Fred’ and of course the ‘Stripper Vicar’!! Mansun often seem to be overlooked and vastly underrated when people look back at ’90s bands, which is a shame, though not unusual with a lot of the bands I like! They’ve written some amazing songs and I really love Paul’s voice.
‘Taxloss’ – I always forget this song’s 7 minutes long! It never seems it. Brilliant song. And the video for it’s one of my favourites πŸ˜€ Ooh, I might make it my profile video on MySpace actually! It’s bound to be on YouTube… aha, done πŸ™‚ It even has a little intro from Paul and Chad on MTV2 πŸ™‚
‘Dark Mavis’ – Brilliant last track! Well, kinda the last track anyway, as there is of course the secret track that follows – ‘An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter’ – which was also a b-side and is just fab! πŸ˜€

Mansun – Six (album)
This is just an amazing album. The word ‘concept’ could definitely be used, but only in a good way in my opinion. It definitely works best as a whole album, rather than individual songs, although I do often listen to the songs separately as well and still really enjoy them. The different songs are quite diverse, but there’s also a lot of diversityΒ withinΒ the songs, which I think I’ve mentioned before as being something I really love. It’s a difficult album to try and talk about and explain – you really just need to listen to it! Trust me, you really do! If you’ve just heard singles from it, you won’t have any idea what it’s actually like as an album! The album versions are much longer and pretty different to the single edits generally – both being great in their own ways. Sometimes I’m more in the mood for the single versions – just fancying more of a 3-minute pop song type thing – whereas other times I want the full sonic soundscape of the album versions!

Argh, I really can’t do this album justice in words. I wonder if anyone else has… hmm, someone on Amazon has summed it up thusly: “Containing references to A.A. Milne and Taoism, voiceovers by Tom Baker; structured around a brilliantly fractured, fascinating incoherence of scraps of song, repeated themes; loneliness, doubt, disaffection and painful honesty and very catchy tunes, this album is an absolute must for the discerning music lover…this is deeper, richer and more complex, more honest and revealing, with better tunes and more creative production than any of its contemporaries – not merely a collection of songs but a single, cohesive work of staggering ambition which succeeds – despite all the possible impediments – in realizing itself.” Yep, that’s what I meant to say.

‘Fall Out’ – Ah, you’ve gotta love a song that uses bits of ‘Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy’!!! Well, I do anyway. It reminds me of when I learnt to play that song on the piano. It was one of my favourite songs I learnt at my piano lessons. Other favourites being The Entertainer and The Pink Panther Theme!! I don’t think I’ve actually got the sheet music for the Pink Panther which is a shame, as I used to know it off by heart and could still play it for years after my piano teacher moved to Mexico!! I still vaguely remember it, though haven’t tried to play it in a long time. I’d have a go on my keyboard now but I haven’t uncovered the adaptor yet!!
‘Witness To A Murder (Part Two)’ – A track that combines opera with a voiceover by Tom Baker! Now that’s not something you get on every album!!! I’m not even sure quite how it manages to work, but it does! Plus the X-Phile in me gets stupidly pleased by the line ‘my conscience is intact. I can deny everything’. Hee.
‘Television’ – Ah, love this song! It wasn’t an instant favourite, as most of the tracks on this album are growers really, but I fairly quickly started to see its brilliance. “I scratch my knee – I have to scratch the other.” It’s OCD in song form!!! πŸ˜€
‘Special/Blown It (Delete As Appropriate)’ – Ah, love this too! Infact the last 4 tracks on this album are particularly strong. I think it definitely does edge ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ as my favourite Mansun album.

Unpacking update: I seem to have a ridiculously vast number of ornaments and nick-nacks! And I don’t know what to do with them :-/ I’ve got a few on top of my CD/DVD units, but there’s nowhere else obvious that I can put things like that. And they’re mostly things I couldn’t bring myself to throw out – lots of them being things I’ve had in my various bedrooms since I was really young. I’m not sure where to put my trophies and stuff at the mo either. I have actually got some spare wall space in this flat though, so when I get my deposit back from the flat in Worcester (which was posted yesterday, so should hopefully arrive on Monday) I’m planning to buy a few new shelving units πŸ™‚ In time they’ll house my ever-expanding CD and DVD collections, but for now I could use them for displaying my ornaments instead. Hmm, yes.

Mansun – Little Kix (album)
Some Mansun fans have slagged this album off and ok so it’s not exactly ‘Six’, but there are some great songs on it. It’s the album that got me into Mansun, so it must be good! It’s probably the most instant and accessible album, which is something that’s going to make it appeal to more of the masses, but put off some of the more elitist fans I guess. That’s my take on it anyway.
‘I Can Only Disappoint U’ – I listened to this song on my MP3 player earlier this week. I hadn’t listened to it for ages and it made me smile to myself as I remembered just how good it is.
‘Until The Next Life’ – Definitely one of my favourite songs on this album. I made an X-Files Music Video using it actually!! Hee hee hee.

Mansun – Kleptomania
A 3-CD collection! Each CD really needs to be looked at separately. Sooo…

CD1 – The 4th Album Sessions (Previously Unreleased)
Pretty self-explanatory! It’s what would have become the 4th album if Mansun hadn’t split up. I tend not to think of it as an album, even though it kind of is, mostly because it’s part of a set of 3-CDs – I tend to forget which new songs are on this CD and theoretically ‘album tracks’ and which are demos and previously-unreleased tracks taken from CD3! Basically because I haven’t listened to the CDs as CDs – I ripped all the songs to MP3 straight away. So yeah, it’s more a collection of songs to me – though there are some great songs definitely.
‘Slipping Away’ – Released as a single, but only on 7″ vinyl (which I have of course). Definitely a stand-out track and one of my favourite Mansun songs actually. “No, no, no, this isn’t happening. So I drink myself into a state”.
‘No Signal/No Complaints’ – My instant favourite of the songs on this CD. Largely because it would be quite at home on ‘Six’, style wise.

Ooh I just found the adaptor for my keyboard! πŸ™‚ Wow, I do actually remember most of the Pink Panther!! I can’t remember a few bits of the bass-clef part and can’t remember the notes it ended on, but am still quite pleased with my memory there. It was probably about 12 or 13 years ago when I learnt how to play that! I also just attempted to play The Entertainer (which I do have the sheet music for) and managed it incredibly slowly with lots of mistakes! Hee hee. Was fun though – I haven’t even attempted to read bass-clef in years, so I’m waaaay out of practice. I can sight-read on flute or if I’m just playing treble-clef on keyboard, but I haven’t tried playing piano properly in a long time. Hopefully now I’ve got a proper home for my keyboard I’ll play it more often. πŸ™‚

CD2 – Non-Album Singles, B-Sides And EP-Only Tracks
Again, pretty self-explanatory! I already had most of the tracks on here, though there were a few I was missing. My collection of Mansun singles isn’t quite complete, though it’s nearly there now. I’ll get to those in a bit.
‘Take It Easy Chicken’ – This was the last track they played when I saw them live. Everyone went crazy and I had to move out of the mosh pit for fear of death!! He he. Great though.

CD3 – Rarities, Demos And Unreleased Tracks
‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Loser’ – Love this song!! It was originally supposed to be on ‘Little Kix’ (and it was even going to be a single!), but they went off it for some reason so it didn’t appear on anything until it was put on this compilation. V v pleased it did finally see the light of day though – I think it’s great.
‘Taxlo$$ (live)’ – Brilliant live version! It’s then followed by a bit of silence and then the music and operatics of ‘Witness To A Murder (Part Two)’, without the Tom Baker-ness! Apparently it’s ‘Witness To A Murder (Part One)’, which makes sense! There’s then another gap of silence and then the song ‘Thief’ πŸ™‚ There’s then yet another gap and then a little instrumental track dubbed ‘Stupid Open Space’. He he.

Mansun – Legacy
The Greatest Hits type compilation. Well, ‘Best Of’, technically. But yes, fabness. And of course I have the version that comes with the DVD of all the videos, which was definitely the biggest lure for buying it! πŸ˜€
Hmm, this CD’s having some problems playing :-/ It keeps kinda stuttering!! Annoying. I don’t think I’ve ever played it before as already had all the songs on it.
‘She Makes My Nose Bleed’ – Oh god the stuttering’s getting worse!! It really doesn’t sound good. I know the idea is for me to play through the entirety of my CDs in order, but I think I might have to skip the rest of this one. It’s becoming unlistenable. Lame.

I think I’ll wait until tomorrow before moving on to the singles! I fancy chilling out and watching a film or something. I feel so lazy today. On the friends-coming-to-visit front though, I have heard back from a couple more now, so am feeling less leper-like, which is good!

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