[Today: Charlie Manson sucks the big one...]
Before he became one of the most notorious serial killers of the 20th century, Charles Manson fancied himself a singer/songwriter. He was a known quantity in the L.A. music scene of the late-60’s, and was friendly with a number of musicians, including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson and Neil Young. But in spite of his famous friends, Manson and his family were so erratic and scary that he was unable to land a recording contract. A version of his song ‘Cease To Exist’ was actually included on the Beach Boys’ album 20/20, under the confusing title ‘Never Learn Not To Love’. Some sources believe that Manson undertook his killing spree out of frustration at not being able to break into the music business.
Prior to his sensational infamy, Manson’s musical recordings were unreleased non-starters. But once the media spotlight found him, it was only a matter of time until his songs were snuck out in an effort to cash in on his ill-gotten notoriety. The music on LIE – The Love And Terror Cult was recorded on September 11, 1967 but didn’t see release until 1970. In 2004, Mojo magazine included the album among its “67 Lost Albums You Must Own” – a tragic lapse in judgement from an otherwise outstanding publication.
There are two reasons this album should be a part of your collection. The first, obviously, is that Manson was a blood-thirsty psycho who was responsible for the murders of seven people. For that reason alone, even if this sounded like the second-coming of Neil Young (and it doesn’t), you’d feel dirty owning it (trust me). But, just for the sake of giggles, let’s assume you can overlook his checkered past, and you’re only interested in the music. Well, the music just plain sucks. Manson’s lack of musical talent is painfully obvious in every track included on this album. His scattershot approach to the recording studio ensured that even if he were a gifted singer, his music would still have been unlistenable. As he himself admitted: “I never really dug recording, you know, all those things pointing at you. You get into the studio, and it’s hard to sing into micro-phones. My relationship to music is completely subliminal, it just flows through me.”
The “music” that flowed through Charles Manson doesn’t sound evil or menacing – it’s just plain boring. I’m ambivalent about the death penalty, but I’d be happy enough to see Manson die a slow, painful death. The man just doesn’t deserve to still be drawing oxygen. And that goes double for the greedy bastard who decided to release this music, which sounds like garbage and smells like blood.
Listen: Cease To Exist
Listen: Look At Your Game Girl