Part Two of a two-part “Mama Said” review
In order to get all the songs, you had to buy three separate singles. You needed the 7″ vinyl (reviewed yesterday) and two CD singles. The total payoff was seven B-sides: five live, one demo, one single edit. The 7″ picture disc included “Ain’t My Bitch” live from Irvine Meadows in ’96, and the rest are on the two CDs each sold separately.
The first single ignites the live feast with “King Nothing”, which finds Metallica in an informal mood before kicking into the track. Though “King Nothing” was eventually released on its own as the fourth single from Load, it was never really one of the best songs from that album. It slams heavy enough and would have been fun to mosh to. They go old school on “Whiplash” which has that energy you want out of live Metallica. The old fans boo the new fans, but everybody gets what they want. Lars is sloppy as fuck; what do you expect? When Metallica play stuff like “Whiplash” live it’s not about precision, it’s about energy and this version delivers.
The first CD ends with just a single edit of “Mama Said”, a good ballad with a country twang that some fans might have found unpalatable. It’s shorter by 40 seconds, starting immediately with James’ lead vocal. 15 seconds chopped at the start and 20 more at the end. Do Metallica fans need single edits? No; Metallica was always resistant to compromises like that. Paul DeCarli was given the job of the edit, presumably being told to get it safely under five minutes for radio.
“Mama Said” album version (top) and single edit (bottom) waveforms
The second CD in the set wastes no time going for the throat. It’s “So What”, the infamously vulgar Anti-Nowhere League cover that was a B-side for Metallica once upon a time before. It was so notorious that it became a live favourite unto itself, often turning up in the encores. That’s followed by “Creeping Death”, an epic way to cap off the live tracks. That mountainously heavy rock just never lets up until it gives way to another massive one.
The last and most interesting track among the B-sides is the original “Mama Said” demo recorded solely by James and Lars in Ulrich’s basement. Electric guitar at first instead of acoustic, but beautiful. The purity of this version, unadorned as it may be, is the reason to seek it out. The twangy guitar part is in place, as are the lyrics (not always the case with James’ songs). Metallica could easily release an album of their demo versions, but they haven’t so you gotta get the singles.
Seek these out.