Released on: Know Your Enemy (Album #6) Epic Records, 19 March 2001
Cover: Originally by McCarthy
It makes a lot of sense for an album already as sprawling as Know Your Enemy to go that one step further and finish with a hidden track – after all, KYE does feel at times like the Manics’ attempt at Beatles-esque free-wheeling experimentalism, and it was they who recorded the first hidden track in Abbey Road‘s ‘Her Majesty’. Such songs can be a disappointment, but in choosing to cover McCarthy’s ‘We Are All Bourgeois Now’ the Manics come up with a masterstroke and finish the album on an extremely high note.
In contrast with their riotous, tongue-in-cheek interpretation of [E58c] ‘Charles Windsor’, the Manics go for a much for faithful approach to this second McCarthy cover. The main difference is the louder, more boisterous performance and a major improvement on the tinny production found on the original version, which appeared on McCarthy’s posthumous That’s All Very Well But… compilation in 1996. The amped-up Bradfield version of indie pop’s jangling guitars sounds bright and beautiful on this track, which feels very much like a love letter to McCarthy and a recording on which the Manics were clearly enjoying themselves a great deal.
As ever with McCarthy’s work, the lyrics are of tremendous importance. In this case, Malcolm Eden uses the story of an impoverished parent seeking an explanation of the state of the world to poke fun at the conservative ideology and the so-called “end of history”. Finding a “man with money to spare”, our hero is told that the state has “been propping up people too long” but that fortunately, class war is over forever and we’re all bourgeois now. The whole thing drips with delicious irony and there are some lovely lines expressing Eden’s (and by extension, the Manics’) disdain for capitalism, especially one the one about people looking grey and buildings looking healthy.
For a whole host of reasons – the sheer fun feel, the connection with a major Manics influence in McCarthy and the great quality of the original song – ‘We Are All Bourgeois Now’ is surely one of the best-ever Manics covers and an entirely essential listen. Happily, the song was given pride of place as the first track on Lipstick Traces’ second disc, and deservedly so.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“’thank you’ I said as I left / I’ll be on my way / I see how it is”