Living with…Manic Street Preachers…for a week

MANICS with thanks to _chrisUK (flickr)

MANICS with thanks to _chrisUK (flickr)

I don’t know if you’d call it a new year’s resolution or not, but I’m hopefully back with a week-by-week tour of music for this year, and following in a time-worn tradition I’ll kick off with an unplugged affair.

Whereas the Manic Street Preachers (aka manics) are traditionally associated with soaring anthems and loud screeching indie guitars their offering last year Rewind The Film was of a much mellower nature.  You can go a good ten minutes without an electric guitar but only a few for some acoustic and a bit of string and brass, although considerably less for that next anthemic melody.  But I have to say this is the best album I’ve heard in quite a while, and all the sweeter for the surprise in saying that.  I would never call myself a fan – yes I loved A Design for Life (was that really 17 years ago?!) – but couldn’t say much else has lingered with me over the years.  But this week has been a voyage of discovery, or should I say rediscovery.

The whole album has a composed thoughtful feel with themes of nostalgia but obviously laced with their desire to change the world which makes them manics.  My particular favourites are the title track Rewind The Film which sways gently from pace to pace through his life’s memories:

I want to feel small
Lying in my mother’s arms
Playing my old records
Hoping that they never stop

and a more obvious choice one of the singles from the album Anthem for a Lost Cause, more Manicy in it’s angry cry for justice: “Take this, it’s yours,
An anthem for a lost cause, Now ashes, bone and splinter”.  The accompanying video takes us back to the miners strike of the ’80s and the story of the wives and women who stood by their men through it all…stick with the story below:

Definitely worth checking out.


Manic covering

Not wishing to break with tradition and my love of the cover version (probably the best moment from last year were Brett Domino’s renditions of Justin B and Daft Punk) I’ve selected some further ones but this time turned the tables slightly by picking out when the manics do the covering!  Below are five sorties leading us on a fascinating journey culminating in the change of millenium.

Starting with a commerically successful collaboration on the rather twisted theme from M*A*S*H, Suicide is Painless done as a charity record for The Spastics Society.

Then we travel in the rain protected only by the grace of Rihanna’s Umbrella (and some rather classic manics guitar work) courtesy of a rather surprising B side.

Leading us to realise that Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head courtesy of another B side excursion.

So why not travel back further back in time with the Rolling Stones so that we’re Out of Time.  On this occasion it’s New Years Eve 2004 and manics lead singer James Dean Bradfield is paired with Jools Holland.  His only escape obviously was to perform a timely cover…

But even that can be topped by seeing in the millenium at The Millenium Stadium, Cardiff with thousands of misty-eyed Welsh men and women performing Andy Williams’ Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

After all that is exactly what they all expected to be chanting at that epoch-changing moment.
At least Gary Barlow wasn’t there, anyway.