Music part the second: Manic Street Preachers

A quick history of the Manics:

The band consisted of lead singer/rhythm guitarist James Dean Bradfield, bass guitarist Nicky Wire, drummer Sean Moore and ‘lead guitarist’ Richey Edwards. The truth is that Richey couldn’t actually play and was in the band because a) he was a lifelong friend of the others, b) looked good and c) was good at interviews. The songwriting was divided between the four with James and Richey writing the lyrics and Nicky and Sean taking care of the music.

They signed to Sony records and announced that they would release one album (a double album at that) and then split. The result was Generation Terrorist which was stretched a bit thin for a double. On the album the band revealed their influences (mostly Guns N Roses) and, after failing to get Kylie Minogue to sing on the album, they got Traci Lords instead. (Ironically, the band would later be asked to write songs for Kylie.)

They promptly didn’t split and released Gold Against The soul. Not their best by any stretch of the imagination the band later admitted it was over produced (they spent £2,000 a day and, for one song surrounded the drum kit with over 20 microphones).

In the midst of this was Richey’s mental state. He was prone to severe mood swings and self harming. In one interview, after the band were accused of faking their attitude, Richey produced a razor blade and calmly carved ‘4 REAL’ into his forearm while he spoke. Richey wrote most of, produced and even performed on the bands third album The Holy Bible, which is widely recognised as being their best album.

Shortly before the albums release, Richey was committed due to his issues. The band, fierce socialists, were condemned for pulling Richey out of a NHS hospital and placing him in The Priory. The band argued that all they were doing was looking out for their friend.

Then, on the day he and James were due to fly to the States to promote the album, Richey disappeared, leaving all his possessions behind (including his passport). Though his car was found near a notorious suicide spot, Richey has yet to be found.

The band took a break, as you may expect. Then James wrote a poem and sent it to Nicky. Nicky took a few verses and A Design For Life was born. The band then wrote an entire album and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, why do I like the band? First of all, their resilience. After the disappearance of their long time friend, it would have been easy for them to call it a day. But they came back and, it could be argued, became bigger than they were before.

Secondly are Nicky’s interviews. Nicky is one of those people who will say what he wants and damn the results. (Though he has admitted he may regret wishing HIV on Michael Stipe).

Next is their strength in their beliefs. To promote the album Know Your Enemy they played a gig in Cuba, pricing the tickets at the equivalent of 7p. They got to meet Castro twice who proclaimed that they were louder than war. Also, they are probably the only band to have a number one single about the Spanish Civil war.

Now, the music:

I know I said two songs per band and there are actually three. But it was the only way to get one of the songs here. The first video is James performing acoustic versions of She Is Suffering and 4st 7lb, both from The Holy Bible. While She Is Suffering is a good song it’s 4st 7lb I wanted here. The song is about anorexia (the title is apparently the weight at which the sufferer is closest to death) and is easily my favourite Manics song. And this version shows exactly why I think James is one of the most underrated singers in the industry today.

The second song is The Masses Against The Classes. Not on any albums (apart from the greatest hits) this was the bands first release of the 21st Century and was deleted the day it was released so however many were originally sent out to the shops, that’s how many there are in circulation (and my copy got nicked :¬( ). It’s an amazing song and shows the bands more political side.

So, the videos. Enjoy.

She Is Suffering/4st 7lb (acoustic):

The Masses Against The Classes (live at Glastonbury):


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February 8, 2007

the only band around for ages doing good protest songs

February 8, 2007

the only band around for ages doing good protest songs