Released On: Ocean Spray (Single #28) Epic Records, 4 June 2001
Peak UK Chart Position: #15
Band Ranking: #15
‘Little Trolls’ is one of the most difficult to come by Manics studio recordings, which doesn’t make sense on some level – it’s just a B-side on a single, after all. The key thing, though, is that this track was only ever made available on the cassette version of the Ocean Spray single, a format which was in severe decline by 2001 (it was in fact the last single the Manics ever released on that format – maybe ‘Little Trolls’ was a parting gift to the cassette contingent?).
It’s also interesting to note that that the song was written and titled as a direct rebuttal to a 1998 article by the Sunday Times columnist A. A. Gill in which he described the Welsh as “loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls”. Understandably, the Manics did not take this very well and the only surprise is that it took them until 2001 to release a song in response. In constructing the lyrics, Wire not only delivered a long list of insults to Gill but also arguably had a pop at all those who see the Welsh as some kind of inferior nation. The result is very funny – Bradfield’s delivery makes the whole thing sound deadly serious, and yet small things like the almost ad-libbed jibe of “balding” in the final verse are inescapably humorous.
‘Little Trolls’ is also significant in that it is probably the apex of the lesser-heard ramshackle acoustic mode of the Know Your Enemy period, to the extent that it actually features some congas (or similar hand drums). This is the kind of instrumental flourish which drives those fans who can’t bear anything post-1994 mad, which should make it even more enjoyable for the rest of us.
On a more negative note (albeit one which is not directed at the band per se), there really is no reason for ‘Little Trolls’ or any other song to be anywhere near this difficult to track down. The whole idea of releasing a B-side solely on a cassette just smacks of pointless exclusivity and thoughtlessness, and brings to mind the laughable recent trend of various “hip” bands releasing singles solely on limited-run cassette. It would be more bearable in the case of a live cut or remix, but any studio recording tucked obscurely away represents a hole in many fans’ collection they shouldn’t have to put up with.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“you work for the world’s leading fascist”