Friday, November 17, 2017

CD Review - 'LIE: The Love and Terror Cult' by Charles Manson (1970)

To commemorate the passing of Charles Manson, we take a look back at his one and only studio album.


By: Jimbo X
JimboXAmerican@gmail.com
@JimboX

"You wouldn't know what crazy was if Charles Manson was eating Froot Loops on your front porch."

- Suicidal Tendencies, "You Can't Bring Me Down" (1990)

"So how do you communicate to a whole group of people? You stand up and take the worst fear symbol [swastika] and say 'There, now I've got your fear. Now I've got your fear.' And your fear is your power and your power is your control. I'm your king of this whole planet. I'm gonna rule this whole world."

- Charles Manson, Penny Daniels interview (1989)

By the time you're reading this, Charles Manson will either be dead, or almost dead, or in the final throes of death, or maybe still alive but way closer to being dead than he has at any other point in his life. So while this pseudo-epigraph might be a tad premature, we all know the guy's gonna' kick the bucket much sooner than later, so we might as well start printin' out the obituary notices and get a jump on things.

Ol' Chuck is one of them guys that - in an alternate reality - probably would've been a bigger act than Bob Dylan. Alas, he started taking The White Album a bit too literally, and I think we can all agree - getting your goons to butcher a pregnant woman to death during a "creepy crawl" really isn't the best way to get your name in the papers.

Before you fucks start thinkin' I'm going to give this guy post-mortem praise, the fact of the matter is that Charles Manson was a five-star lunatic, which makes his idolization by acts like System of a Down all the more befuddling. This was a guy who literally thought the Book of Revelation was a secret handbook for starting a race war, who is said to have forced his doped up followers to perform sex acts on their own infants. Lord knows how many horrible things he got away with, and needless to say - this cocksucker's demise shoulda' happened a looooong time ago.

Of course, it's a little weird combing through the Twitter-verse commentary on Manson's (near) death. I've seen this GIF comparing Manson's facial gestures to Donald Trump's hundreds of times by now, as the liberal hive-mind (the unthinking brain in a vat it is) keeps making the same joke over and over about assuming Chucky was trending because Trump gave him a cabinet position (an aside, but the fact these people can't interpret ANYTHING without dragging Trump into the equation seems to smack of a very Manson-like manic obsession, doesn't it?) My favorite comment by far, however, has to be the wise mullings of professional racial grievance peddler Tariq Nasheed, who tweeted why the media never brings up the fact Charles Manson is a "white supremacist." Long story, short Tariq: because he wasn't sentenced to life in prison for being "a white supremacist," he was sentenced to life in prison for ordering his stooges to slaughter six innocent people ... a fact which, as evident by its absence from Tariq's tweet, would seem to suggest the tweeter in question doesn't find sextuple murder anywhere near as immoral or ghastly as thinking black people are generally inferior to white people.

Oh, there's plenty of great Manson-related material on the Web. His interview with Geraldo Rivera is pretty much required viewing come Halloween time, and I'll be goddamned if there isn't a HUGE Wikipedia page outlining what Manson thought "Helter Skelter" was really about. Trust me - this shit right here is WELL worth the read

Alas, as we wait impatiently for Chuck to keel over, perhaps it would serve us well to revisit the music he left behind. Yep, Charlie did indeed record an album, which was released after the 1969 Sharon Tate and company murders. The collection of Charles M. originals was ultimately titled LIE: The Love and Terror Cult, a riff on the famous Life magazine cover which featured him in stark black and white looking like - well, what everybody thinks of when they think about Charles Manson.

Granted, it was a pretty rare little oddity back in the day, but thanks to the magic of Internet uploads, you can no listen to the whole album whenever the hell you want. But assuming you just don't have the 32 minutes in your schedule to listen to the album the whole way through (but, for some reason, you do have the 32 minutes to read this article), I've gone on ahead and given you a track-by-track review and summary of every song included on LIE. So, on this, the precipice of Manson's exit from the mortal coil, have you ever wondered what kinda' aural treats you've been missing out on over the years? Well - wonder no damn more, you morbidly curious motherfuckers, you ...

Now who's ready to boogie!

TRACK 01
"Look at Your Game Girl"

We start the CD off with probably Charles' most famous composition. The song is probably best known for being covered by Axl Rose for The Spaghetti Incident? as a hidden track, and I'm not gonna' lie - I think this is a downright beautiful fuckin' song. It's such a soft and sweet little ballad, that sounds like something you'd hear in the background of a Billy Jack movie. In fact, in high school, I even made a "mix tape" of me singing the song while playing the bongos - if I ever find it, I'll be sure to upload it for ya'll to hear and obsess over.

TRACK 02
"Ego"

"No, it's in the back, no it's in the front," Manson repeats over and over again while violins and a mad bongo beat blares in the background. He also drones on and on about Freud and the subconscious being the "computer" of the brain and naturally, none of this shit makes any sense, but then again, everybody was on acid back then so I guess it was never meant to make any sense in the first place. That said, it's still better than ANYTHING the Beatles ever recorded, and that's an objective fact.

TRACK 03
"Mechanical Man"

"I am a mechanical boy, and I am my mother's toy" - shit, if you thought the last track was opaque, just wait 'til you get a load of this shit. I'm pretty sure everybody on the song was high on crystal meth at the time of the recording. You've got this weird, out of rhythm drum beat going on the whole song, with everybody humming and moaning in unison. And just when you think the cacophony of sitar plucks and idle chatter can't get any weirder - then Chuck starts singing about his pet monkey getting hit by a train and the London Bridge. And in case you're wondering - yes, this is where the lyrics from Marilyn Manson's "My Monkey" come from.

TRACK 04
"People Say I'm No Good"

Another sentimental, downbeat acoustic song in which Charles tries valiantly to play the guitar but, by golly, he just can't figure out how those tricky frets work, it appears. Also, this song is probably exhibit A for what I like to call the "Charlie hum" style of singing, in which every stanza of the song ultimately concludes with the last syllable turning into five-second long hummingbird impersonation. "Those diamond rings, they're all the same," Manson laments - which, yeah, I guess is kinda' true, when you really think about it. "You've got more sicknesses than you've got cures for - cancer of the mind," he concludes the song, after going on a rant against "cough medicine" and "wonder drugs," which is pretty dang hypocritical considering this man's bloodstream is STILL about 65 percent LSD to this very day. But then again, if you're looking for sense out of Charles goddamn fuckin' Manson, you lost the game of life a long time ago.

TRACK 05
"Home is Where You're Happy"

"Home is where you can be what you are," Manson declares, "so burn all your bridges and leave your old life behind ... as long as you've got love in your heart, you'll never be alone." Man, what lovely words from a man who told his drugged-up followers to murder half a dozen people because they wouldn't give him a record contract. I mean, it almost brings a tear to your eye.

TRACK 06
"Arkansas"

This song starts off with Manson's acolytes talking about nondescript "struggles." This one actually has a pretty cool acoustic guitar twang to it - it almost sounds like a Dick Dale song at points, if Dick Dale was a fucking psychotic sex criminal. Anyhoo, the song is about living in abject squalor in, you guessed it - Texas. More "Charlie humming" ensues, so if that ain't your bag, go on ahead and hit SKIP right now.

TRACK 07
"I'll Never Say Never to Always"

We get a creepy as fuck all-female chorus opening the song, with babies crying in the background and there's this eerie echo that sounds like they recorded it out of a bucket 20 feet underground. It's only a couple of seconds long, but shit, is it unnerving.

TRACK 08
"Garbage Dump"

Holy shit, this sounds JUST like a G.G. Allin song - no wonder he wound up covering it. Anyhoo, this is a song that, well, is about a "garbage dump," which is a term that apparently confused Manson, since the chorus is "garbage dump, oh garbage dump, why are you called a garbage dump?" Umm - do you think it's because it's usually a place where people dump their garbage, guy?

TRACK 09
"Don't Do Anything Illegal"

Huh - an ironic title, eh? "Beware of the eagle, in the middle of your back, don't be illegal," Manson begins the track. "They've got you in a sack, and they keep you looking back." So I take it this is an early anti-police song? "Every time I go to the store, I've got to have an I.D. with me so they can see what they want to be," Manson wraps up the song, "I'm free." Man - this is the perfect song to steal cars to so you can convert them into dune buggies in anticipation of the upcoming racial holy war!

TRACK 10
"Slick City"

This is probably the best guitar work on the whole album, which is kinda' like having he highest test score in remedial math, but whatever. The weird thing is that Charles actually does have a semi-decent singing voice, when he's trying to be low key. Alas, he just has to hum-mumble his way through this track, thus turning what could've been a legitimately decent song into one that's just sorta' kinda' alright. You know what Manson really needed? A producer to keep him in line. Can you imagine what sort of A-plus material this dude could've cranked out with Phil Spector calling the shots behind the soundboard? Baby, there aren't enough Grammys in the world for stuff like that. 

TRACK 11
"Cease to Exist"

Yep, this is the infamous Manson song that the Beach Boys pretty much stole and released as "Never Learn Not To Love." It's funny how that one little act of recording industry malfeasance eventually resulted in Chuck becoming a psycho cult maniac. Had they given him his props, who knows? Maybe the asshole actually WOULD have had a real career making and writing music, and Sharon Tate would still be alive today and maybe Roman Polanksi never would've raped all those 14 year-olds and there's an alternate reality where the soundtrack to Ice Pirates was done ENTIRELY by Charles Manson himself. Shit - it really makes you think, don't it?

TRACK 12
"Big Iron Door"

If you like onomatopoeias, you'll love this one. This is Chuck "clang-banging" his way through a tune recounting his earlier forays in the clink. It's also barely a minute long and sounds like it cuts off halfway through. You know - not that it's necessarily a loss or anything like that ... 

TRACK 13
"I Once Knew A Man"

This one has a sorta' Western, classical guitar bent to it. I think there's also somebody blowing into a jug while Manson sings, and there might be a dude drumming on a milk crate somewhere in the background. Alas, something seems like its missing. Oh, I know what this track needed - a nice, long kazoo solo.

TRACK 14
"Eyes of a Dreamer"

"All the songs have been sung," Manson begins the album's concluding track. "And all the saints have been hung." So I guess it's kinda' of an anti-war song, or an anti-corporate song, or an anti-government song, or hell, maybe an anti-capitalism song. "A thing is just a thing, that's a thing," he continues, "it's all in the eyes of the dreamer ... and you are the man." Well ... the fuck if I have any idea what this goof's talking about here.

Your life was like a candle in the wind - a candle that forced drugged up 14-year-olds to have sex with animals.

Well, what more can I say about that? For years, LIE has been one of the most coveted "true crime" albums out there, probably second only to Jim Jones horrifying recording of the night he gave 900 people poisoned Flavor Aid. As far as kooky, way off the beaten path albums go, you'd have a hard time finding anything that manages to out do this in the "dude, that is some fucked up shit" department.

Objectively, you can't really call Manson's music, well, good. This is pretty much the definition of a one-track album - "Look At Your Game Girl" is legitimately, unironically outstanding, but everything else on the album is just sorta' meh, with the last four or five songs pretty much melding into an indistinguishable pile of blandness. You can see that Manson had at least a modicum of musical talent, but the fact of the matter is that even here he was too zonked out of his mind on drugs to be coherent. Had he not started drinking peyote 14 times a day, maybe - just maybe - he COULD'VE gone on to become a real recording star. But, as they sometimes say, that just wasn't how the cookie crumbled; amazing how thin a line there is between somebody becoming Neil Young and becoming a psycho cult leader and unborn child skewerer, huh?

Yeah, it's probably in bad taste to pay money for the CD, even if the royalties never went to Manson or his adherents. Moreover, the music itself really isn't worth paying for, so I'd suggest snagging "Look At Your Game Girl" off the Internets and leaving the rest of the album for others to drudge through (your sins, I paid for, you ungrateful pricks.)

So all that to say? Yes, Charles Manson indeed COULD kinda sorta sing and play the guitar, he made at least one truly great song and now - he's dead as shit. Or getting close to being dead as shit, or at the very least taking considerable strides to being dead as shit. 

Which, regardless, I think we can all agree is long overdue.

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