13 Jul 2012

Flashback Fridays: Garbage

All this new music has me feeling guilty about the oldies. What with me being an oldie too, I would hate to get overlooked, and also new music is influenced by the old stuff. So, this Friday is the start of Flashback Fridays - every Friday I will review a band who were big back in the day or still are or are making (made) a comeback. This first Friday I want to share with you the music of Garbage.


They have just released a new album, one which I am champing at the bit to buy – tomorrow is the big day! - they’re by no means a new band. They released their first album in 1994/5 simply called Garbage. Formed in Wisconsin, US with a leader singer from Scotland they made a splash with their first release.

I was in my teens at the time and was desperate for some contrast to the Spice Girls (who were just far too cheesy pop for me – ok, I admit it, I may have sang along to ziga zig ah on occasion). The indie bands that came out at that time such as; Oasis & Blur were very much male dominated. Here at last, was a band fronted by a woman and best of all it was great indie rock. I appreciated this woman who expressed angst and rebellion alongside confusion and vulnerability. I didn’t look to the Spice Girls for my Girl Power but to women like Shirley Manson. She was independent, defiant and creative, had her own look and embraced it. These were all things that I hoped to one day be able to do. Still hoping.

Who exactly?

The current members of Garbage are;
1. Shirley Manson – vocals, guitar
2. Steve Marker – guitar, keyboards
3. Duke Erikson – bass guitar, keyboards, guitar, percussion
4. Butch Vig – drums, percussions

For those of you who missed out the first time round lets have a look at some of the highlights of their early work...


Their first album simply named Garbage had two classic tracks on it; ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ and ‘Stupid Girl’ which most people can remember or will recognise if you try to hum, da di da or la la la along to it. A less obvious, but a favourite from the album is:


                       'the queerest of the queer, the strangest of the strange, the coldest of the cold'

I think I was the perfect age at the time that the album was released, as was anyone who was unsure about things in their life or the direction in which it was heading, as the gloomy introspection with punchy noisy chorus was perfect fodder.

Version 2.0
The second album Version 2.0 has 12 tracks, less heavy overtones with a little bit of sixties kick but still has the same kind of lyrics, showing her paranoia and vulnerability but making a stand against being treated like a doormat. I love the battle that she is having with herself, check out the lyrics to 'You Look So Fine' ;

You look so fine

I want to break your heart
And give you mine
You're taking me over

It's so insane
You've got me tethered and chained
I hear your name
And I'm falling over

I'm not like all the other girls
I can't take it like the other girls
I won't share it like the other girls
That you used to know

You look so fine

Knocked down
Cried out
Been down just to find out
I'm through
Bleeding for you

I'm open wide
I want to take you home
We'll waste some time
You're the only one for me

You look so fine
I'm like the desert tonight
Leave her behind
If you want to show me

I'm not like all the other girls
I won't take it like the other girls
I won't fake it like the other girls
That you used to know

You're taking me over
Over and over
I'm falling over
Over and over

You're taking me over
Drown in me one more time
Hide inside me tonight
Do what you want to do
Just pretend happy end
Let me know let it show 

I think the most well known from this album is probably 'I think I'm Paranoid' and deservedly so - how many times a day do we question our own perception of a situation or feel that our own paranoia actually makes us weak? Oh! Is that just me? P.S The chorus totally rocks! haha. More great lyrics can be heard in the track 'When I Grow Up'; 'when I grow up, I'll be stable'...I'm still waiting for that day to come! 

This album really shows how they had grown from the first album and developed and established their sound as a band; most of the tracks are great whereas the first album had a few misses on it. It’s great to hear how they experiment with combining electro-synth sounds with indie rock. Don't miss Special, Push It, Dumb & Sleep Together.

Beautiful garbage

Their third album beautiful garbage was released in 2001 just three weeks after the September 11th attacks. It didn't fare as earlier ones and their was plenty of in-house conflict with the record label. Poorly promoted too and I am pretty sure that I don't remember this one. To be fair, any music or TV or film that was released between 2000 and 2002, I pretty much missed because I was living and totally immersed in Ghana. Only music for me was Hip & High Life, no TV and the occasional Nigerian movie.

Ironically for me, the elctro sound that was making an appearance in the earlier album which I liked, I didn’t enjoy in this one. For me this is their weakest album, or at least for me as a fan, they still won loads of awards, and greater recognition as well as topping the electronic charts. What puts me off is that they have tried to incorporate several different sounds in one track, and I often found myself thinking…What?!, they didn’t need to do that. Plenty may disagree, but I think this disjointed flow through the tracks was caused in no small part by the record label conflict and over production. Many a time I just thought ‘Step away from the synthesizer!

I really don’t think that it is lyrically as good as any of the others, almost as if they just wrote anything to get it done and out there. Picking a highlight from the album was hard but the last track ‘Drive You Home’ is a gentleness that you don’t often get with this band...

Bleed Like Me

The 4th album Bleed Like Me starts with 'Bad Boyfriend' and is reminiscent of the second album. More guitar and drums based and a move away from the electronic influence on the beautiful garbage album and sounding to me more like the original Garbage that I loved.

'Run Baby Run' is pure indie rock, none of the usual light verses and heavy chorus' but much more Garbage. Highlights of this album are - Right Between The Eyes, Bleed Like Me, & Happy Home.

Absolute Garbage

The 5th album Absolute Garbage was released in July 2007, a compilation of previously released tracks all re-mastered. 'Tell Me Where It Hurts' is new and was the albums lead single.

Not Your Kind Of People

Their latest album 'Not Your Kind Of People' was released earlier this year (2012) and I have it on my list of must buys! And like I said tomorrow it will be mine, all mine..mwahhahaha. I have been listening to it on Spotify and when I brought the playlist on Spotify I can see that I have already starred Man On A Wire and Beloved Freak. I believe that this was the sound they were trying to produce on the third album but failed (for my liking anyway) and with their band mate now a grammy winning producer it comes as no surprise that is as good as it is. This album combines good traditional indie rock, repentant lyrics and better manipulation of the synthesizer. Picking the best tracks is difficult, they are all great - no seriously - any garbage fans out there should enjoy it and new listeners won’t be able to deny it has it all. Here is the title track:

If you don't have their latest album then what are you doing sitting reading this?! Go buy it and have a listen and then if you live in the US, buy your tickets today and go and see them LIVE! I will be sooooo jealous but tell me all about it :)

And Finally!

                                       If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments :)


  1. Being a Duran Duran fan, it's really hard for me to even compare any other James Bond themes, but Garbage's The World Is Not Enough is either my second or third (right behind a-Ha's The Living Daylights). If you haven't heard the song/seen the video, check it out! I think you'll like it!

  2. Hey! Really? You're a Duran Duran fan?! Your comment is perfect because you have made readers aware of more of Garbage's work. Thank you.


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