Released on: Let Robeson Sing (Single #29) Epic Records, 10 September 2001
Peak UK Chart Position: #19
Band Ranking: #19
While the Manics had softened their approach significantly over the previous couple of albums, they still hadn’t released a song that sounds quite as easygoing and earnest as ‘Masking Tape’, the only original B-side on the Let Robeson Sing single. Being about the small things that make life bearable (the metaphorical “masking tape” of the title) Wire’s lyrics are very much in the autobiographical vein of a number of previous and subsequent songs. The difference is that both the lyrics and the music are much more light in tone that Wire’s internal musings tend to be – this is a song which seems to find him relatively at peace with himself. The strongest clue that this is a very personal effort from Wire is the line “left alone again with all my photographs” – Wire is a longtime photography enthusiast (with a particular love of polaroid) and released the book Death of a Polaroid: A Manics Family Album in 2011.
The music is simple and with a fairly light frame of electric guitar, piano and drums. Besides a slightly anguished wail before one of the choruses, Bradfield also sounds pretty laid back – all round, it’s a slightly unspectacular but fun effort. The song also contains the line “happy black days here comes the summer” which was edited into the dreamy loop previously heard on [T138] ‘Epicentre’ and also used in the middle of ‘Masking Tape’ itself.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“the masking tape that holds our life together / for six months of the year”