Despite the disappointment of thinking that My Chemical Romance was going on a reunion tour when they posted the date 23/9/16 on social media, it was nice to see the band acknowledge the anniversary with the special release of The Black Parade/Living with Ghosts. Here’s what I thought of MCRX.
What is MRCX?
MCRX, also known as Living with Ghosts, was an early version of the band’s iconic rock opera, The Black Parade. It features live demos of songs that did and did not make the record.
Track By Track On MCRX
1. The Five Of Us Are Dying
The first track, The Five of Us Are Dying, is an early version of Welcome to the Black Parade. While I will admit that the song grows on you the more you listen to it; it’s much weaker than Welcome to the Black Parade, which has been cited as My Chemical Romance’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Echoes of the final version can be heard, but it lacks the qualities that made WTTBP an anthem. I hate to criticise my favourite band and album, but I doubt the album would have been as successful if the band had gone with this.
2. Kill All Your Friends
While Kill All Your Friends didn’t make the album, it was released as a B-side with My Way Home is Through You on the Famous Last Words single. The Famous Last Words version is one of my favourite MCR songs, and I always wondered how it didn’t make the album. The lyrics on this version are different, but the melody is pretty much the same; even though this version isn’t as polished, it’s still a strong song.
3. Party At The End Of The World
Party at The End of the World begins with an interesting riff. It sounds more like a song that would have been on Danger Days. However, the music overpowers the vocals, so it’s difficult to make out the lyrics. There is no definitive difference between the verses and choruses, so it sounds almost identical.
The live demo of Mama is very similar to the album version. The lyrics aren’t the same as on the album, and it flows a little differently, but Mama is one of the catchier and perhaps lyrically disturbing songs on the album.
5. My Way Home Is Through You
Like Mama, the band changed the lyrics later with My Way, Home Is Through You, but the melody is pretty much the same. While I feel this song was good enough to make an album, I can see why it wasn’t on The Black Parade as it sounds more like the angrier songs from its predecessor, Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. I think it’s an absolutely killer song and one of the best on the album.
6. Not That Kind Of Girl
Not That Kind of Girl was a strange listen, mainly because I never thought I’d hear the phrase “these boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do” come out of Gerard Way’s mouth. It’s super catchy; the choruses and verses flow nicely into one another. It sounds rougher than I’d imagine it would have been on the studio version as it’s a demo. A cleaner version would have sounded great on the album, but it doesn’t seem to fit the story of The Black Parade, so perhaps that’s why it didn’t make it.
7. House Of Wolves
There are two versions of House of Wolves on the anniversary Black Parade/Living with Ghosts record. The first version bears no resemblance to the studio one. I liked how the into was played with single notes and the soft vocals, but I think it gets sloppy after that. The second version sounds a lot more like the original despite lyrical changes. I found myself nodding along to this in public, proving how catchy it is. I also like how it sounds a little jazzy because it makes it stand out.
Of course, there has to be a love song, and the lyrics of Emily are full of vulnerability and desperation. I don’t know who Emily is, but it sounds like someone wants her to come home. It’s one of the better songs from the demos, it’s consistently good the whole way through, but I think it picks up even more after the bridge. If cleaned up a little, it would have fit in excellent with The Black Parade had it made the final cut. I should mention that my inner 14-year-old’s heart hurt after hearing the band talking at the end of the recording.
In my opinion, the Disenchanted demo’s intro doesn’t go with the vocals, so it just doesn’t sound right. I’m blue in the face for pointing out differences in lyrics, but the same goes for this song. The demo isn’t as impactful as the final version, especially the chorus, as this version is meeker.
10. All The Angels
Like a love song, there’s almost always a ballad on an album, too; in this case, it’s All the Angels. This is my favourite from the special release. I could nearly see the fans waving lighters in the air, but it would most likely be smartphones, which aren’t the same, but I’m digressing. It’s slow and sombre, and the lyrics are repetitive, but I wouldn’t say that’s bad. I think this would have been nice to hear live, so it’s a shame the band never played it.
The Bottom Line On Living With Ghosts
Overall, the MCRX releases didn’t measure up to the final version of The Black Parade, but there are a few gems on it, and I wouldn’t be overly hard on it because the band didn’t put those songs on the album for a reason.
Of course, I would have preferred a re-creation of The Black Parade tour or a full-fledged reunion, but Living with Ghosts was a nice gesture.