'Lest We Forget' oozes vitriol and spite, but when the knob labelled 'shock-tactics'...
Richard Banks 2003
Pop trivia: what do Eurythmics, Soft Cell and Depeche Mode have in common? Well, aside from being 'New' and 'Romantic' back in the decade that taste forgot, they've all had a song covered by America's favourite scapegoat, Marilyn Manson. The latest in this line - a particularly 'A la Mode' version of "Personal Jesus" - launches Mazza's greatest hits album, Lest We Forget (The Best Of).
Sadly, when they're collated on this album it becomes glaringly obvious that these cover versions have formed the backbone of Manson's career. Nonetheless, his take on "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" is particularly effective. Nearly ten years old now, it sounds every inch as creepy as it did on 1995'sSmells Like Children.
The secret, as with most of his work, is in the superb production. Early releases benefited from the expert guiding touch of Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), of which "The Beautiful People" is still the most impressive. Since then, Manson has spent more time playing with knobs than guitars: besides co-producing, he is credited with penning the lyrics and little else. Fair enough, you might say. After all, it takes time to come up with genius one-liners like 'I'm not an artist, I'm a f***ing work of art' and 'I wasn't born with enough middle fingers'.
When Marilyn (real name: Brian Warner) started out with his former band the Spooky Kids, they openly intended to 'explore the limits of censorship'. Mission most definitely accomplished, Brian. The special edition of Lest We Forget comes packaged with a rather generous DVD full of the kind of sordid video material for which Manson is notorious. It also bears an 18 certificate, thanks to the previously unseen video for "(s)Aint", which is lewd to say the very least.
It's this kind of infamy which MM has thrived on in the past. The more unpopular Manson became in the US (for 'polluting young minds', allegedly), the more the UK rocked to angst-anthems like "The Nobodies", "The Fight Song" and "Disposable Teens". Lest We Forget oozes vitriol and spite (nowhere more so than the blistering opener "The Love Song"), but when the knob labelled 'shock-tactics' is already set to 10, one can't help but wonder where he'll go from here.