Released on: Australia (Single #20) Epic Records, 2 December 1996
Peak UK Chart Position: #7
Band Ranking: #21
Cover: Originally by Camper Van Beethoven
The second of the three covers on the Australia single is, thankfully, much more notable and enjoyable than [B97c] ‘Velocity Girl’. Originally recorded by Santa Cruz, California rock band Camper Van Beethoven and regarded as their signature song, ‘Take the Skinheads Bowling’ is hardly obvious Manics cover material. David Lowery, who wrote the song, later wrote of it:
We regarded ‘Take The Skinheads Bowling’ as just a weird nonsensical song. The lyrics were purposely structured so that it would be devoid of meaning. Each subsequent line would undermine any sort of meaning established by the last line. It was the early 80′s and all our peers were writing songs that were full of meaning. It was our way of rebelling. BTW this is the most important fact about this song. We wanted the words to lack any coherent meaning. There is no story or deeper insight that I can give you about this song.
Being a rock band known for their intellectual, forcefully meaningful lyrics, the irony of recording a version of this track can’t have been lost on the Manics. Listening to their version, it’s obvious that a great deal of fun was had – it’s a flippant but undeniably fun song and the Manics might well have really valued a break from their usual material on Everything Must Go, which may have been less political but was infused with the loss of Richey Edwards.
Although Bradfield and co really seem to get a kick out of their sheer fun and careless nature of the song, there are a couple of lines in it which actually sound inadvertently Manics-esque despite having been written by some Californians in 1985 – particularly “I had a dream last night / I want to sleep next to plastic”, which very well could have come from the pen of Wire himself.
Carefree and rollicking as well as being notably leftfield, ‘Take the Skinheads Bowling’ is probably among the best Manics studio covers.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“there’s not a line here that goes here / that rhymes with anything”