Friday, November 26th, 2004
This Is Yesterday
The Guardian considers the Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. It’s been a while since I’ve been in any sort of Manics mood, but The Holy Bible has long been and probably will remain my stock answer for the question of, “What is the angriest album ever?”. Not that I get asked that question a lot. It’s not a heavy album, per se, but out of my record collection, at least, it takes the prize for most venom-filled and invective – exhibit A, song titles like “Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart”. Say what you will about the Manics’ ideology or heavy-handed rhetoric, you can’t deny that on this album at least, they bloody well meant it.
Granted, their ultra-leftist polemic sounds a little worn out now that they’ve stuck around considerably longer than their “one album to conquer the world and then we break up” manifesto proclaimed when their glam-punk cum classic rock opus Generation Terrorists came out way back in 1992. The Holy Bible was their last record with guitarist/lyricist Richey James before his much-mythologized disappearance in 1994 and far and away the best of that first era of Manics history. The songwriting was razor-sharp and the music wasn’t buried under horribly dated production values as with the first two records (try listening to Gold Against The Soul sometime – dire). I only discovered the band post-Richey, however, with their breakthrough album Everything Must Go which saw the band carrying on as a trio. Comparing the two phases of the band, I rather prefer the more personal and introspective tone of their later work – the weariness of it works really well with James Dean Bradfield’s soulful voice. And while they periodically try and return to more overtly political subject matter, it now sounds tired. Whether this is a consequence of writing without James or just growing up, who knows. Probably both – it’s hard to keep up the ‘angry young man’ angle when you’re no longer a young man.
My interest in the Manic Street Preachers waned after 1998’s This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, partly due to a lacklustre follow-up in Know Your Enemy and partly because my musical tastes in general have since drifted away from that coming out of Britain. Just one of those things, you know? When you stop reading Q and Select, the artists they trumpet (and then tear down) cease appearing on your radar… but that’s a topic for another day. Camp Manics went on a big retrospective kick over the last couple of years, releasing best-of Forever Delayed in 2002 and b-sides compilation Lipstick Traces: A Secret History Of… last year. I haven’t heard anything off their latest release Lifeblood yet, which came out this past Tuesday in North America. The Holy Bible is being rereleased in the UK as a 3-disc (2 CD, 1 DVD) deluxe package on December 6 and in North America on February 8.
The promo machine for The Life Aquatic is gearing up. The film doesn’t get wide release till December 25, but you can see some new ‘webisodes’ from the adventures of Steve Zissou here, and there’s some more on the official movie site.
www.puppybreak.com – this site will be the death of me.
First snowfall of the year on the ground this morning. Le sigh.
np – Saturday Looks Good To Me / Every Night