Despite the disappointment of thinking that My Chemical Romance were going on a reunion tour when they posted the date 23/9/16 on social media (I hoped they decided to relive The Black Parade tour), 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 bands 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
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 had the band gone with this, I doubt the album would have been as successful.
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.
“Party at The End of the World” begins with an interesting riff. To me, it sounds more like a song that would have been on “Danger Days” (the more alternative and “brighter” album that followed “The Black Parade”). However, the music overpowers the vocals, it’s difficult to make out the lyrics and there is no definitive difference between the verses and choruses so it all sounds almost the same.
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.
Like “Mama”, with “My Way Home Is Through You”, the lyrics were changed later by the band 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 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.
“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 well into one another. As it’s a demo, it sounds rougher than I’d imagine it would have been on the studio version. 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.
There are two versions of “House of Wolves” on the anniversary “Black Parade/Living with Ghosts”. 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 after that I think it gets sloppy. The second version sounds a lot more like the original, despite lyrical changes. I found myself nodding along to this in public which proves 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. I think if cleaned up a little, it would have fit in great with The Black Parade had it made the final cut. I feel like I should mention that my inner 14-year old’s heart hurt after hearing the band talking at the end of the recording.
The “Disenchanted” demo’s intro doesn’t go with the vocals in my opinion 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.
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 to this, but it would most likely smartphones which aren’t the same but I’m digressing. It’s slow, sombre, and the lyrics are repetitive but I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing. I think this would have been nice to hear live so it’s a shame the band never played it.
The bottom line
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 rathered a re-creation of the Black Parade tour or a full fledged reunion, but Living with Ghosts was a nice gesture.