A Guest Posting by Ady Hodges
Garbage are one of those bands I have a sweet spot for, which has been compounded by the fact that I have never seen them live, despite having tickets twice! The first time I had to give the tickets up and the second time the gig was cancelled. Allied to this was the fact that in 1998, I was living in both Edinburgh & Portsmouth and they played in Edinburgh one of the weekends I was in Portsmouth & vice-versa.
I decided with this ICA that I wanted to include selections that covered their complete career to date, rather than focus on their more well known early work, to provide a more comprehensive career retrospective.
Complete Garbage – A Garbage ICA
#1 Crush (from the Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack)
This track has never appeared on any Garbage album, despite that it is quite well known, as it has appeared in numerous TV shows & films, most notably in Baz Lurhmann‘s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. There is a dark gothic air of menace here that is present in some of the best Garbage songs. As a song, it has an unusual structure, building through a driving beat with guitar and electronic flourishes to a pseudo chorus section, before fading back, as Shirley Manson lists the things she would do for her #1 Crush, ending on the “I will die for you” line that epitomises the stalkerish lyrics.
It’s All Over But The Crying (from Bleed Like Me)
Garbage quietly broke-up in 2003, but this proved short-lived and they issued a new album, Bleed Like Me in 2005. This beautiful, delicate ballad comes from that album and shows how well Garbage do heartbreak.
Breaking Up The Girl (from Beautiful Garbage)
Despite being know for being quite dark and gothic, Garbage have a pop heart. This is illustrated very well in this bright happy single from their 3rd album, although its layered, Spectorish backing vocals are still hiding some pretty depressing lyrics.
Special (from Version 2.0)
This smart jangly single is from the second album. It uses part of the Pretenders “Talk Of The Town “in the outro, something Chrissie Hynde was quite happy with, as she waived any royalties or writing credit. I love the lyrics, as there is quite a lot of venom in them;
“Do you have an opinion, a mind of your own?
I thought you were special I thought you should know,
but I’ve run out of patience,
I couldn’t care less”.
Even Though Our Love Is Doomed (from Strange Little Birds)
Strange Little Birds was the 2016 Garbage album and this track is proof that they could still do a fragile ballad like no one else. A lot of that is to do with Shirley Manson’s haunting voice, giving life to the tragic lyrics.
Tell Me Where It Hurts (from Absolute Garbage)
This was the one new track on their first official greatest hits album. To my mind this is another track, that is reminiscent of the Pretenders, with Shirley Manson sounding very like Chrissie Hynde here. A string-drenched track that literally explodes into life, which makes it a great way to start side two.
Only Happy When It Rains (from Garbage)
Garbage’s first UK top 30 single and the first US hit remains one of their best loved songs and one of my personal favourites. This is because at its heart it is a great little grunge-lite song. The lyrics are tongue in cheek, parodying a lot of the grunge and alternative rock bands of the time, as is the deliberate callback to the similarly titled Jesus & Mary Chain track.
Automatic Systematic Habit (from Not Your Kind Of People)
Released seven years after Bleed Like Me, Not Your Kind Of People was a comeback album of sorts. This is the opening track, more electronic and less rocky than a lot of their work, but still recognisably Garbage. The lyrics are very defiant, “I won’t be your dirty little secret”.
Flipping The Bird (from No Gods No Masters)
A selection from the most recent Garbage album, No Gods No Masters. It’s another of their more poppy moments with some very eighties synths, that once again disguise some vicious lyrics, this time about sticking it to the people you can’t stand.
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!) (from Beautiful Garbage)
Another very poppy, almost bubblegum track, driven by a funky rhythm, which is quite unusual for Garbage. Once again there are some Spectorish flourishes in the backing vocals, handclaps and chimes.
You Look So Fine (from Version 2.0)
Garbage’s ballads are often quite cinematic, and this, the closing track on Version 2.0, is the best example in my mind. You can see why they were chosen to record a Bond theme song, although I’m not a particular fan of “The World Is Not Enough” myself. The way this track ends with the refrain “Let’s pretend, happy end” is a perfect way to end this ICA.