Tuesday, 25 January 2011

'We don't talk about love' by @diaryofaledger

I didn't really fall for the Manics until I saw them live at Glastonbury.  They were still a four piece back then, all wearing balaclavas and full of energy and menace.  Like so many others Richie Edward's 'For Real' self harming had captured something for me a few years earlier, a moment so full of proper punk rock and passion that despite the shock factor actually had you believing (that despite) the hype maybe just maybe there was a band here that really meant it.

The Holy Bible proved it.  What followed, post Richie's disappearance, showed that it wasn't just him that drove the Manics, they were all for real.

When Everything Must Go came out there was so much good will out there for the band that it could have been awful and sold a shed load.  That it wasn't was an achievement under the circumstances.  That it went on  to mean so much to so many was incredible.

Design for Life had already shook everyone up prior to the album.  Shit, even now, what a song that is.  It feels even more relevant than ever as a generation lives for the weekend and drinking through their lives.  James Dean Bradfield's voice sounds like it's on the edge in the chorus, straining to make the notes, the orchestral backing fitting in perfectly with bombastic call to arms.  Rarely has a song that talks about libraries been so powerful.

I think we all expected something morose.  Something almost private that we'd be scared to look at.  An album full of grief and loss, but it's so far away from that.  There's songs about photo journalists, expressionist artists and Blackpool.  No compromises, still a Manics album.

Highlights?  Well obviously the singles, Australia and Everything Must Go, both great songs, but for me there's the beautiful Small Black Flowers that Grow in the Sky and Removables,  both written by Edwards.  One delicate and fragile one just a great rock song.

Of course Richie Edwards presence is there throughout but it heightens the experience knowing what circumstances the band recorded the album in.  It took years before they could go back to Edward's words fully and make an album completely made up from his writing with 2009's Journal for Plague Lovers.  That's the only album since that really hits home as much as this one does.  Yes Everything Must Go is very different from the Holy Bible but it kind of needed to be.

It ends with the amazing No Surface All Feeling.  Wonderfully written by Nicky Wire, who still has that knowing glint in his eye all these years later.  It's just a great closer, noisy and poignant.  Just the way Richie liked things.
What's the point in looking back,
When all you see is more and more junk.
Never bothered with the Manics?  Start with this and work backwards.  The Holy Bible is still my favourite album but then it has got Faster on it, but Everything Must Go was a great introduction to a brilliant band.  Roll on Isle of Wight festival.

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