Released on: Help! A Day in the Life – Independiente, September 9 2005
In 1995, the Manics made their return to recording after the disappearance of Edwards by contributing their cover [O75c] ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ to The Help Album, a charity compilation for War Child. In 2005, the charity planned an ambitious follow-up which required the songs to go from recording to digital release in under 30 hours – the band were one of the few artists from 1995 album asked to return, and contributed ‘Leviathan’.
Named after and to some extent lyrically inspired by Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 book Leviathan, the song is a raucous return to the classic, political Manics rock song. It even begins with a recorded quote from Richard Jobson of The Skids (who had been sampled way back on [A8] ‘Motown Junk’) and features a raft of lyrical references of the kind which had been near-absent from Lifeblood. Once again, a minor release was showing the shape of things to come.
A short, sharp and enormously fun song of the kind that had long been thin on the ground, ‘Leviathan’ is a minor triumph marred only by its short length (just over two minutes) and a somewhat abrupt ending. Bradfield’s vocal is superb, adeptly handling both the excellent chorus and the hilarious falsetto in the final verse. There’s even a screaming solo just to top things off – all in all, the song is perhaps even better than the bulk of the tracks on the forthcoming album.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“Leviathan in all your eyes”
Leviathan – a 1651 book on political philosophy by English writer Thomas Hobbes which advocates strong, absolute monarchy. Regarded as a foundation of social contract theory.
“Brutalness, this life is short” – a reference to the most famous passage in Leviathan, which speaks of a “state of nature” in which a “war of all against all” takes place and life is “nasty, brutish, and short”.
MPLA – likely a reference to the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, a political party of that country which participated in the independence struggle and the long and brutal Angolan Civil War (1975 – 2002).
Patty Hearst (born 1954) – heiress to the Hearst fortune who was kidnapped and brainwashed by the Symbionese Liberation Army, essentially a US domestic terrorist group.
Baader-Meinhof – early name for what would become the Red Army Faction, a militant left-wing group based in West Germany which was most notable in the 1970s.
The Medusa Touch – a 1978 film, based on Peter Van Greenaway’s novel, starring Welsh actor Richard Burton. Dialogue was sampled in the 1998 Manics song [T105] ‘Ready for Drowning’.