The High End of Low is often considered by Marilyn Manson fans to be one of the worst, if not the worst album. Behind the scenes, there was meddling from Interscope to try to make the album more marketable, forcing Manson to make “Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon” a single with the most butchered edited version ever being one of the things that pushed Manson to leave the label. But what if I told you there was almost certainly more?
If you visit the MansonWiki pages for the songs, you’ll discover something odd. Namely, there’s alternate versions for most of the album. These are all more stripped down, more acoustic versions. Many have a theme of going metal in the chorus, but being acoustic elsewhere. This fits the album surprisingly well, being both raw and powerful, and one of the main critiques of the album is that the songs don’t sound right with how their final versions are. All of the Alternate Versions are on Youtube, and the comments all say the same thing: they’re far better and more fitting.
This isn’t just with the Alternate Versions, though. “WOW” was a part of a five song demo called “The Unruly Demos” made by the band. Most of the songs are closer to their final versions, but “Into The Fire”, here called “maybeharmfulifswallowed” and “WOW”, here called “The Wow” both sound closer to the alternate versions, with “WOW” not having one but fitting the sound better. I can’t find one of them, as everyone assumes the Goon Moon track that was turned into “Four Rusted Horses” is the demo version, but from what I hear, it isn’t. That highlights another fact, though.
Goon Moon was Twiggy’s stoner rock project, and their sound is a lot closer to some of the Alternate Versions of The High End of Low tracks. The final versions are farther from that sound, but it still remains. There’s another thing though. The track they turned into “Four Rusted Horses” was called “somewheretohide”, which you’ll recognize as the same style of title as “maybeharmfulifswallowed”. Additionally, “Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon” was “Armagoddamotherfuckingeddon”. Goon Moon was far from financially successful, even with Twiggy being the founder and singer, and adding that sound to Marilyn Manson wouldn’t have been marketable as just putting out another normal Manson album, at least to the Interscope executives, who were being increasingly interfering in their work. This is what prompted the end of their partnership and the founding of Hell, Etc.
So, what am I getting at here? I believe that the Alternate Versions are the real versions of the album, and the final versions were required by Interscope. I could be wrong. If Manson follows through on his plan to write a second autobiography, we’ll find out, but until then, I highly believe that the album was forcefully changed to what we know it as.
Another reason I believe this is because “The Pale Emperor” has been referred to as “The High End of Low done right” by people, and the Alternate Versions sound like a prototype to The Pale Emperor. Not as advanced, or bluesy and heavy, but the ideas are there, especially in the “Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon” Alternate Version, where the acoustic guitar is pushed to its limits. Plus, it seems abnormal to make a semi-acoustic version of that song. What makes a lot more sense it to take that weird song that has the potential to be a hit if you strip the weirdness out and do just that, turning it into, as some critics have said, “Manson by numbers”. I don’t see it as that, but I get the critique.
So, I urge you, collect all the alternate versions. Get “The Wow”. Assemble them into an alternate cut of the album and give it a listen. Use the originals where there’s no replacement. Sadly, that doesn’t include the real version of “I Wanna Kill You Like They Do In The Movies”, which was freestyled by Manson for almost 20 minutes, but was never released. Get the Promo CD version of Blank and White, without the beep. “Blank and White”, “Unkillable Monster”, “We’re From America” and “I Wanna Kill You Like They Do In The Movies” are the only ones without a released alternate version, and “Blank and White” the uncensored version. So, a rundown:
1. Devour (Extended Cut) from the Promo CD 2. Pretty As A Swastika (Alternate Version) 3. Leave A Scar (Alternate Version) 4. Four Rusted Horses (Opening Titles Version) 5. Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon (Alternate Version) 6. Blank and White (Unedited) 7. Running To The Edge of the World (Alternate Version) 8. I Wanna Kill You Like They Do In The Movies 9. The Wow 10. Wight Spider
(Alternate Version) 11. Unkillable Monster 12. We’re From America 13. I Have To Look Up Just To See Hell
14. Into The Fire
I believe this is (mostly) The True High End of Low. A powerful, raw album that takes advantage of Twiggy’s new talents and experiences and delivers something different from the Manson catalogue.