Reasons the 90’s needed Marilyn Manson:
Boybands. American Idol. Brittany Spears. Cher makes a comeback. So does Bon Jovi. Not to mention the Religious Right really needed an act to pin rock and roll as the devil’s music on. So along comes a skinny disaffected young man with enough greasepaint to make Kiss blush and a stage show that would make Alice Cooper proud. Trent Reznor heard the news and jumped on board, and after a couple of interesting but inconsequential CD’s, Manson hit paydirt with “Anti-Christ Superstar.” Using the media to bend and distort the image of both the band (with the schizophrenic first/last psuedo-names) and the staged anger of “Beautiful People,” Manson became an instant celebrity and a lightning rod.
And like the best shock-rockers and gender benders, Manson fed right off it. This is the kind of masterful heavyrock that scared the crap out of parents and gave adolescent rebellion a howling chariot of thud to ride off to school with. The darkness is for real here, but so is the musicianship. Manson’s “Mechanical Animals” was his “Billion Dollar Babies,” his “Diamond Dogs.” The slinky “Dope Show” is as much a warning against overindulgence at the same time “Rock Is Dead” sardonically proved Manson’s brand of bone crushing was definitely not!
Even better is that Manson is nowhere near as foolish or demonic as his biggest critics would make him out to be. The cheerleader hooks in “Fight Song” and “mOBSCENE” will bring a smile or two to the most jaded hard rocker, and covering new-wave dance staples like “Tainted Love” or “Sweet Dreams” takes more than a little chutzpah. (The cover of “Personal Jesus” doesn’t stray far from Depeche Mode, nor is it near the revelation Johnny Cash’s version is.) For those who ever caught him on “Politically Incorrect” or the occasional talk show (as well as Michael Moore’s “Bowling For Columbine”) would be able to tell you, the former Brain Warner is thoughtful, articulate and politically astute. The man who rakes society over the coals for creating a culture of “Disposable Teens” is also his own best defender.
“Lest We Forget” takes 17 statements and proves that Marilyn Manson (both the band and the singer) helped keep rock vital in the last decade and a half. That there are still factions out there that consider him “dangerous” matters plenty to me…not every maker of music needs to host a slick variety show to get a message out. If you don’t have all the CDs, this is a great starter collection. In fact, it holds together with the muscle of a regular album. There aren’t too many folks you can say that about.