There’s not a track on this album that I would consider bad, (and Marilyn Manson has made some appalling tracks in his time, I’ll be the first to say that,) but the problem with this and more or less every other “Best Of” album is that you can ask any, say, 100 people what their 17 favourite Manson songs are and I can guarantee they will not come up with the same thing. I’m no exception. The vast majority of tracks on Lest We Forget are his singles, and in my opinion Marilyn Manson’s best tracks have very little to do with this album or even his singles. Still, this makes for what I hope is an objective view to review an album from.
1) The Love Song: 3/5
This was from the “Holy Wood” album, and with the lyrics including “Do you love you Guns, God, Government"” probably fits in the most with the image he was using at the start of this century. I have no doubt that it goes down well in the mosh pit but as far as I know this was neither a single or one of his best songs so what it’s doing on this CD I don’t know. Still, I’ve never known Manson to play by the rules, and it’s not a bad song to kick off the album, if a little illogical.
2) Personal Jesus: 4/5
For those of you who don’t know, this was a cover of Depeche Mode. I don’t rate one version higher than the other, but there’s something about that riff played with some distortion that shows anybody who wasn’t sure that Manson means business. His vocal style and attitude compliment this song perfectly, and anybody who’s seen the video will recognise that he knows how to push the right buttons in a world terrorised by paedophilia and George Bush.
3) mOBSCENE: 4/5
The lead single from the “Golden Age of Grotesque” album, this was his Manson’s first single release after Tainted Love and was probably therefore the most well known of his singles that weren’t covers. The storming riff’s an absolute belter, and the rabble-rousing chorus is well received. And that he could get away with the audacity of basically copying off Faith No More (Be Aggressive, anyone") shows an unusual but nevertheless inspired technique that he pulls off very will.
4) The Fight Song: 5/5
Now THIS is more like it. This single from “Holy Wood” is something we all need from time to time; a storming anthem that doesn’t let up on the pace even for a second. Indeed, after the second verse it’s basically a wall of distorted Nu-Metal euphoria. Apparently the song was written in retaliation to the Columbine incident, but this is one of those songs where you can just forget about what he’s trying to say and ENJOY it. This one truly deserves to be on the “Best Of” album.
5) Tainted Love: 4/5
Another of Manson’s many covers and in many respects better than the original, this is on a surprisingly large number of CDs despite not actually being featured on any of the albums. This is radically different from Soft Cell’s effort, moving from a swinging keyboard song to a grinding industrial metal track, and is all the better for it. Not amazing, but a good song nevertheless.
6) The Dope Show: 4/5
I was never really quite sure what to make of this song, but that don’t mean it’s not good. This was the single from the “Mechanical Animals” album, and the video features Manson with the boob job that he’d had done for that album. The song itself is very peculiar, with the bass and some weird sound effects driving the verses, but you’re back on familiar territory once the chorus- and guitars- kick in. Give it a few listens and you’ll find yourself doing air guitar to it.
7) This Is The New ***: 4/5
This song opens the “Golden Age of Grotesque” album, and what an opener. The digital feeling of the verses is quickly shunted to one side as Manson delivers a kind of twisted rap with no readily apparent meaning. But the song’s trump card is, of course, the chorus. If the lyric “Are you mother***ers ready for the new ***"” doesn’t make you want to destroy everything you can see with your forehead, then the huge blasting riff over which it is sung will. Incredible.
8) Disposable Teens: 4/5
Disposable Teens was the first single from the “Holy Wood” album, and features a return to the sound originally from Manson’s breakthrough song, The Beautiful People. It also features a cheeky reference to the Beatles within the chorus. Like the Fight Song that came after, this song never loses pace all the way through it, though it is slightly less accessible. The video to it, if you’ve never seen it, looks for the entire world like a vision seen in someone’s nightmare.
9) Sweet Dreams (are made of this): 5/5
Another contender for one of the best Manson tracks, this Eurhythmics cover is an absolutely amazing effort that combines one of the world’s best known songs with Manson’s trademark snarl and irony. It moves more slowly than the original, and with a lot more menace. The screaming in the choruses makes him sound like he means it and the guitar solo in the middle really puts the icing on the cake. In my opinion this is the best track on the CD, and if you haven’t heard it yet, download it.
10) Lunchbox: 4/5
Amongst Marilyn Manson’s first CD releases, this single from the “Portrait of an American Family” album doesn’t sound much like the band we’ve been familiar with up until now. The fact that nearly all the band members from this period have been replaced since then may have something to do with it, but the fact of the matter is that this was before Marilyn Manson found the definitive sound he based the rest of his material on. The result is a fairly straightforward rock song with some naughty words and sampling, but it is a good song, nonetheless.
11) Tourniquet: 4/5
This is not a song intended for any enjoyment. In fact, listening to it could be considered a form of torture in certain circles. This is the first song on this CD from the “Antichrist Superstar” album, which according to many critics Manson has yet to top. Most of the songs from this album are painfully dark, it just sounds… wrong. And this song is no exception. Indeed, the screaming section at the end truly makes him sound like he’s in pain. I don’t really like this song, but for what it is, Manson does it very well.
12) Rock Is Dead: 5/5
This is the song that got me in to Marilyn Manson in the first place. Some of you may recognise it from The Matrix; in fact it was a single from the “Mechanical Animals” CD. Not a lot of people liked the glam rock direction he took with this. I loved it, but I never tried to pigeonhole it into any particular style. The aggressive vocals, the guitar solos, the sheer bravado of the whole song, that’s what did it for me.
13) Get Your Gunn: 2/5
As I understand it, this bizarre oddity from the “Portrait of an American Family” album was Manson’s first single. That’s the only way including this song on the “best of” album can be justified, because while it isn’t his worst or weakest song, it certainly didn’t have much of an effect on me other than reaching for the skip button. The weird time signature and the cloudy lyrical content don’t make for easy listening, the raw aggression of the chorus being its saving grace.
14) The Nobodies: 4/5
Like Tourniquet, this is a disturbing trip through Manson’s darker side. It sounds like a very dark dig at the press, and with Manson reeling from the Columbine incident this comes as no surprise. The pain and aggression coming from the chorus and middle section of the song will give you a headache if played at the right volume, and again it isn’t a track you can enjoy. Even the squeal of feedback that approaches the outro sounds like John 5 was torturing his guitar with a fork.
15) Long Hard Road Out Of Hell: 4/5
This is a track I’m not too familiar with as it wasn’t featured on any of the full albums. However, the few times I have heard it justifies for me the connection between Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, as this sounds more like NIN than any other Manson track I’ve heard. Again, he does it very well. A strong song with an impressive chorus, it was released around about the “Antichrist Superstar” period and complements that sound very well.
16) The Beautiful People: 4/5
I’ll never understand why it’s the consensus amongst the critics that this is Manson’s best song. Yes, it’s a good song that defined his sound, but it’s by no means his best song. This too was a single from “Antichrist Superstar” and in the context of the dark, twisted sound on that album; this song was leading the charge. It shows, if nothing else, that nothing could touch Manson at this point. He was a force to be reckoned with, polluting the minds of impressionable youngsters and terrifying their parents.
17) The Reflecting God: 5/5
This song appears in the closing tracks of “Antichrist Superstar,” and by this time you’re used to Manson’s lyrics, attitude, swagger… in the opening few bars at least, this is pretty standard stuff. Until the chorus kicks in, that is. This is the most mosh-heavy riff that Manson has included in his back-catalogue, and the storming lyrics are screamed with a fury to rival Rage Against The Machine. The acoustic section at the end that descends in to one last stomping mosh-pit chorus makes you realise, after you’ve recovered, that you have just heard one of the most amazing things you’ve ever heard.
The version of the album that I bought also comes with two other songs not listed on the track list:
18) (s)AINT: 3/5
I’m not saying this isn’t a good song, because it is. But by the time I get as far as listening to it on both CDs it appears on, (“The Golden Age of Grotesque and this one,) the premise of Manson singing about himself is going very stale indeed. And this isn’t one of his best songs in comparison to what he could have included on the “Best Of” album, even as a bonus track. Yes, it was a single, and yes the video to it was suitably controversial, but he’s done much better songs than this.
19) Irresponsible Hate Anthem: 5/5
Manson seems to go out of his way to give himself controversy, and no track does it quite like this one. A furious strike at America, with a genius chorus that consists of the words “*** it” screamed with an ear-splitting level of bile. And the riff that accompanies it, which is also the first substantial thing you hear on the “Antichrist Superstar” album, is proof if any be needed that you’re not going to have a quiet night. By the time you’re done listening to it, you’ll be exhausted.
So, should you part with your hard earned" Well, it depends. If you’ve been a fan of Marilyn Manson for any length of time then you’ll have most of these tracks already, and even the ones you don’t have you’ll probably have heard or downloaded at some point. (It's also for this reason that I haven't gone in to too much detail when descrbing the songs; no point telling you all what you already know.) In which case, the attraction will be for the DVD which includes his video back-catalogue, and some photos and artwork. So it’s really up to you, but if you buy it don’t be surprised if you start thinking “Well what happened to Coma White, and Man That You Fear"” If, on the other hand, you’ve heard a couple of Manson songs and want hear a few more, then you could do worse than buy this album. Like I said, it isn’t the collection of his best songs that it claims to be. But what it does do is give you the big picture of what Marilyn Manson has been about over the last twelve years; something which can’t really be done by buying any one of his albums.