Released on: Love’s Sweet Exile/Repeat (Single #5) Columbia Records, 28 October 1991
Peak UK Chart Position: #26
Band Ranking: #18
Also on Album: Generation Terrorists (Track 6)
Few Manics singles begin in more style than ‘Love’s Sweet Exile’. The first song of the band’s first double A-side single sees glimmering acoustic guitar, angelic wailing from Bradfield, and a spoken piece of poetry from Wire’s brother Patrick Jones lead into the vulgar muscle of that drum loop. It is an inspired move, typical of the brash recklessness that would characterise Generation Terrorists, and also one of its best moments.
Originally known as ‘Faceless Sense of Void’ (a phrase which remains in the lyrics), ‘Love’s Sweet Exile’ is a classically uptempo rocker propelled by chugging heavy metal-esque guitars. For their part, the lyrics are simple in theme – we are oppressed, we disapprove of this unfeeling power structure – but laden with wonderfully bizarre turns of phrase.
Besides being host to Jones’ first appearance on a Manics record, the most notable aspect of the song is probably Bradfield’s astonishing guitar solo. Aptly compared to the work of virtuoso instrumental rock guitarist Steve Vai, it is on a purely technical level, possibly one of the most impressive instrumental parts in the history of the band. Truly, one to listen to again and again.
The video for the song has been described by Nicky Wire as his favourite and has a strong fan reputation also. Playing up Wire and Edwards’ taste for flamboyance and androgyny, the footage goes for the risqué approach by making it appear as though the band are appearing together naked. Shot in stark black-and-white, it can be interpreted as an early hint of a long-term interest on the part of the band in identification with women and femininity. This would play out more clearly in later songs, particularly [A26] ‘Little Baby Nothing’, [T46] ‘Life Becoming a Landslide’ and [T111] ‘Born a Girl’. The video marks the band’s second collaboration with director W.I.Z.
Note: the cover pictured above is of the gatefold 12” vinyl version which, oddly, reverses the names of the two tracks. Various other colours were used for other formats.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“our lives drift into a faceless sense of void / everything of meaning becomes destroyed”