Manic Panic

Sadly my birthday trip to see the Manics has been postponed due to James Dean Bradfield’s laryngitis, so I thought I would share some of my favourite moments from their back catalogue…

Here’s a rollocking version of ‘New Art Riot‘, from their first proper EP, a song which – alongside the superlative ‘Motown Junk’ – defined their early arty blues-punk aesthetic and anti-rock agenda (which was obviously and self-consciously contradictory).

Next up is the Heavenly version of ‘You Love Us’, in my view the superior of the two, and pretty much their cheekiest and most endearing single; also, the anthemic ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, a song I used to find unbearably M.O.R.ish. I was wrong.

After the majestically haunting cover of ‘Suicide is Painless’ comes a nice fat slice of eternal sadness, ‘La Tristesse Durera’. I was never a huge fan of the second album, perversely always loving ‘Sleepflower‘ but little else, though in recent years ‘Nostalgic Pushead’ has wormed its way into my affections (particularly the cheesy synth countermelody on the later verses).

Too much to choose from on my personal favourite long player, The Holy Bible, so I’ll settle for the infamous balaclava’d TOTP version of ‘Faster‘, ‘Yes‘ (one of the most brutal deconstructions of Western consumerism in any art form) and creepy-basslined ‘Archives of Pain‘.

Moving post-Richey we have some of their most wonderfully melodic (and symphonic) work – ‘A Design for Life‘ of course, but also ‘Kevin Carter‘ and ‘Everything Must Go‘ – but one of my favourites from Everything Must Go has always been ‘Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky‘.

Big hits followed – “If You Tolerate This…“, “You Stole the Sun...” and “Masses Against the Classes“; but also some intriguing covers and live versions – I love the tender re-imaginings of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head‘ and ‘Bright Eyes‘, among others.

While later highlights became less frequent, both the skill for knocking out a radio-friendly anthem like ‘Your Love Alone…” or ‘It’s Not Love‘ and also the undiminished political undercurrent which bubbles up on ‘Virginia State Epileptic Colony‘ remained in evidence. You don’t get to write songs like ‘Freedom of Speech Won’t Feed My Children‘ without that kind of vocabulary.

Sad to have to wait till January, but also rather excited to see what sort of balance the set has. There’s nobody like our Blackwood heroes.

 

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Published in: on October 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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