Sunday, October 4th, 2009
"Been A Son"
Manic Street Preachers cover Nirvana
WikipediaSaying I’m excited about tonight’s Manic Street Preachers show at the Phoenix has a whiff of understatement about it. As does that previous sentence. To be clear: I am very excited about this show. Not just because they’re a band I’ve liked/loved through high points and low (and there’ve been some low, yes), or because they’ve unexpectedly put out one of my favourite records of the year in Journal For Plague Lovers, but because I hadn’t expected them to ever tour North America again. But they’re here, tonight, at the Phoenix, and I’m dedicating this week’s cover to them.
They did make it easy, though, having recorded no shortage of covers in their long history, both expected and unexpected. This one counts as more the former as it’s hard to imagine that the Manics weren’t inspired by what Nirvana was doing to rejuvenate loud, raw guitar rock in the early ’90s though their first few records borrowed more from the glammy arena rock that Nirvana is credited with slaying. This particular recording comes from a BBC Radio 1 session circa 1999, Nirvana having long since disintegrated and the Manics were entering a creatively fallow period, and has James Dean Bradfield turning the “Been A Son”‘s snarling punk into an acoustic blues moan – wholly inverted but still stirring. It was released on the 2003 b-sides/rarities compilation Lipstick Traces: A Secret History.
Kurt Cobain took his own life over 15 years ago, yet the Nirvana vaults have yet to be fully plundered (or re-plundered) – November 3 sees a couple of new releases coming, a 20th anniversary edition of their debut Bleach – which features a live version of “Been A Son” on the bonus live disc – and recording of their 1992 performance at the Reading Festival in the UK on both CD and DVD. That set also contained “Been A Son” – I expect the clip below is the same footage as on the DVD, but hopefully that’ll look and sound better. And not have the time code stamped on it.
The Flint Journal has an interview with Manics drummer Sean Moore. And neither Manics or especially Nirvana-related (though sort of), Spin has compiled their list of the top 50 covers of all-time, with streaming audio. If you like hearing people doing other peoples’ songs, check it out.
MP3: Manic Street Preachers – “Been A Son”
Video: Nirvana – “Been A Son” (live at Reading 1992)