Released on: Suicide Alley (Single #1) / Self-Released, Autumn 1988
Peak UK Chart Position: N/A
Band Ranking: #10
While the status of ‘Suicide Alley’ as the first “officially” released song by Manic Street Preachers gives it more pure historical significance, the single’s B-side is not only more representative of the fledgling band’s future musical style, but also stands as one of the most storied efforts of their first phase. At least three distinct recordings of the song have been released; the original B-side, the more polished version put out two and a half years later on the Manics’ debut Generation Terrorists as ‘Tennessee’ (T28) and a demo of the latter, included with the album’s 20th anniversary edition.
Although later versions of the song improved upon the quality of recording and lyrics, the original ‘Tennessee (I Get Low)’ sounds at least as vital as its A-side, not least because of Moore’s somewhat crude but thrilling drumming effort. The intro and outro are particularly full of promise of greater things to come, and partly benefit from the absence of Bradfield’s vocals which, where they do appear, have him sounding very young and inexperienced indeed. Lyrically speaking, the song is – excepting a rare, fleeting reference to standard boy-girl relationships (“’cause I want her and she wants him”) – beginning to hint at the kinds of themes the Manics would come back to repeatedly for at least the next few years, including drug abuse and money.
Let down slightly by an unwise attempt to layer Bradfield’s vocals at the end of the song, ‘Tennessee (I Get Low)’ is otherwise an engaging, if rough-around-the-edges counterpart to ‘Suicide Alley’. Full of potential not quite realised, it is not surprising that the band returned to this song when it came to assembling their first album.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“I’ll never forget you, I’ll never forget you”