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Charles Manson's Album 'Lie' Is On Spotify And You Can Listen To It Now

Culture | March 6, 2020

American criminal Charles Manson at California Medical Facility, Vacaville, Solano County, California, US, August 1980. (Photo by Albert Foster/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Before he was one of the most hated men in America and a killer, cult leader Charles Manson was a wannabe rock star. He picked up a guitar during one of his stints in prison and started writing jangly, ill-crafted songs that he played for anyone who would listen. Before he instructed his followers to go out and start Helter Skelter, Manson was trying to hawk his demos and songs to the Beach Boys and producer friend Terry Melcher. The only thing that came of this was the Beach Boys song “Never Learn Not To Love,” a drastic recreation of one of Manson’s songs.

The macabre allure of Manson’s solo LP, cobbled together from different master tapes recorded in the late ‘60s, is strong for anyone who’s fascinated with the Golden Era of Hollywood or the true crime narrative of the Manson murders. You can now stream Manson’s album, titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, on every major music platform, just don’t expect to get any insight into his depraved mind.

When did Charles Manson have time to record an album?

source: pinterest

Lie: The Love and Terror Cult wasn’t intended to be released in its current form. Charles Manson was never stable enough to hold things together long enough to sit through an actual recording session or take notes from a producer, but he did record a shocking number of demos in 1967 and ’68. As it stands now, the album was primarily recorded at Gold Star Studios. Other tracks were recorded in unknown or unremembered locations, with overdubs taking place on August 9, 1968, somewhere in Van Nuys. Two tracks from the album, "Look at Your Game, Girl" and "Eyes of a Dreamer." were taken from a privately pressed 45 owned by someone named “Silverhawk.” No master tapes of those two recordings exist, which is why they sound slightly off from the rest of the album. Unless you’re an audiophile with a real ear for bedroom folk rock you probably won’t notice.

In spite of its grim pedigree, the album has its fans

source: Awareness Records

Obviously no major record label wanted to release Charles Manson’s LP following his arrest - they didn’t even want to release his work before he sent a bunch of drugged up hippies to start a race war. Still, some members of the underground had an understandable curiosity for what a Charles Manson record sounded like. Enter: Phil Kaufman, owner of Awareness Records and the former tour manager of cult country hero Gram Parsons.

After cobbling together $3,000 Kaufman pressed 2,000 copies of “Lie” and released it on March 6, 1970. None of the songs became hit singles by any means, but many of them have been covered by various well known artists. Guns N’ Roses covered “Look at Your Game Girl,” alt rock darlings the Lemonheads covered “Home Is Where You’re Happy,” and scum rock ambassador G.G. Allin covered “Garbage Dump.” People have found things to like about the record, it’s just hard to listen to it without thinking about, you know, all of the awful stuff that Manson did throughout his short time on the outside world.

This record isn’t going to go gold any time soon

source: getty images

Before you march down to your local record shop and demand that they destroy every copy of Lie, keep in mind that the record hasn’t exactly sold like hotcakes. Kaufman only pressed 2,000 copies and he claims that members of the Manson Family who weren’t sent to prison stole most of them. He told the LA Times

Half of those were stolen by the family when they broke into my house. They tried three more times, and the last time I chased them off with a gun, so I never saw them again.

The LP has been repressed on various formats, whether it’s cassette or CD, but it’s never managed to sell more than a few thousand copies. 

There are two people fighting over the custody of the Manson estate, including his LP

source: rolling stone

While you can stream Lie in its entirety on Spotify right now you probably feel weird about giving the Manson estate money. Good news, by law Manson was never allowed to collect royalties from album sales or any piece of content made about his life. All of that money is meant to go to the families of his victims. The person who should be taking care of that is whoever’s in charge of his estate where is where things get tricky.

Two men are angling to be the permanent administrator of the Manson estate: Jason Freeman, who claims to be Manson’s grandson, and Manson’s former pen pal Michael Channels. Allegedly, Manson’s will states that Channels is his sole heir and should be left in charge of Manson’s memory.

Freeman believes that he should be in charge of the Manson estate. He doesn’t condone what his grandfather did, and although he’s never publicly stated what he wants to do with Manson’s legacy, he’s spoken about how angry he is that his father committed suicide over the guilt of being the spawn of one of the most deranged people of the 20th century. Whether one of these men would take “Lie” off the markets or attempt a re-issue is unclear.

Manson’s record is a weird piece of history

source: NME

When it comes down to it Manson’s album just isn’t very good. It’s nearly an hour of rambling pseudo folk rock and some truly bad lyrics. There are moments of pop intrigue, but they’re essentially musical interest points, like an mountain overlook on a boring road trip. People are always going to be fascinated by the artwork created by serial killers and cult leaders. In some ways it provides insight into their lives. Lie allows the listener to see Manson for what he really is, a drugged out faux-hippy who couldn’t cut it as a singer songwriter and took out his lackluster talent on those around him. By all means give the album a listen, just don’t expect musical bliss.

Here it is, if you dare:


Tags: Charles Manson

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.