Category Archives: music
I just thought I’d post these links to the “Making of” The Manic Street Preachers album Journal For Plague Lovers as I gave a speedy (rambling, sort-of) track-by-track review last year
No luck on Spotify, but for anyone interested in hearing the new Gorillaz album “Plastic Beach” for free…
It was announced today (Tuesday 6th October) that Dionne Bromfield and Amy Winehouse will perform live, exclusively on Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday 10th October.
13 year old Dionne Bromfield will make her TV debut on Strictly to sing her forthcoming single ‘Mama Said’ with her godmother Amy Winehouse on backing vocals.
Danger Mouse, david lynch, spotify, Sparklehorse, Wayne Coyne, Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys, Super Furries, Jason Lytle, Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas, The Strokes, Black Francis, Pixies, Nina Persson, The Cardigans, James Mercer, Iggy Pop
There are some pretty good reviews on Amazon already, but there are also a couple (I expect members of the Cult of Richey) who have come out of the woodwork to throw wordy punches. The first thing I’d say of detractors is that every song on this new album was written by Richey. Secondly I’d say that the band aren’t trying to be all young and punky. Sure they sound like they did back on Holy Bible for quite a portion of the album and we were all about fifteen years younger back then, but who of their peers sounded like that then? Nirvana, perhaps, but not a great many bands. Not with the same power and lyrics (and this album is powerful). Certainly none today. Then I’d go on to say that even with Richey, you have to remember that he could barely play a chord on guitar, or sing, and by saying Richey was the best thing about the Manics, or that they’ve been crap since he’s left would be to do the Manics a massive disservice. I’m betting Richey, as good as he wasn’t at music, didn’t tell James or the others to make the music sound so dark and mechanical on the Holy Bible, like tanks and soldiers marching to war. And let’s face it, music is music because of the sound, not just the lyrics. So in some ways Journal For Plague Lovers is kinda like Holy Bible part 2. Richey’s lyrics, the band’s music. Not a great deal has changed when you think of it like that, now has it?
I thought about doing a far lengthier post on all of the Manics studio albums to date, but I thought I’d just get this one out as the album’s just hit the shelves. I’ve been planning to do that for a while so a short wait won’t hurt, it’s not like their back-catalogue will waltz off the edge of the planet anytime soon!
There have been some early detractors – hard-core Richey fans, I shouldn’t wonder, this time with curiously little material to work with, despite reviews that have nothing about the actual music in them. But there have been more that like and respect the record, with its vitriol lyrics and sharp guitar riffs. Here’s my track-by-track analysis – quite rudimentary but It has been a long day and I just wanted to try to write a little about them.
Peeled Apples is glorious and rip-roaring. It’d work just as well on the dance floor as it would raging on a bathroom floor, blood spilling on the tiles (or something as needlessly horrid). Great riff, amazing (presumably) Richey’s state-of-mind lyrics (a series of images against you and me / I once impersonated a shop work dummy), and a audio clip from Christian Bale’s role as Trevor Reznik from the Machinist to open it. Outstanding.
I first heard their second track, Jackie Collins Existential Question Time on Jools Holland a few weeks back. What struck me was that it sounded like a more recent Manics record but with more Richey-esque lyrics. Feels kinda like Richard Nixon off Lifeblood, a record which curiously a fair few Manics fans don’t seem to like. For me though it was one of a fairly bland album’s best tracks. I think people will like this one more, somehow. And the chorus “Oh mummy what’s a sex pistol” is pretty cool.
Me and Stephen Hawking features the immortal line “we missed the sex revolution when we failed the physical”. Pretty good, though on the first listen, for me anyway, it is slightly lost amidst the heavier riffs of the tracks surrounding it. I have a feeling (lyrically at least) this’ll become one of this s’ favourites.
The Joke Sport Severed has a storm halfway through it when the guitar finds it’s biting-point and a few strings join the quest. I have a feeling this’ll grow on me. Musically it is very good.
Journal For Plague Lovers feels more like something off Generation Terrorists, more Slash and Burn-y, perhaps, than other tunes. Very good though. Thoughtful lyrics, too – “Only a God can bruise / Only a God can sooth / Only a God reserves the right / to forgive those that revile him”. Nice guitar solo.
She Bathed Herself in a Bath of Bleach. First of all I loved the name. The riff sounds a wee bit like something off Know Your Enemy, I forget which track. Brill lyrics reminiscent of She is Suffering and a pretty meaty solo to-boot.
Facing Page: Top Left is a much more melodic piece than the album’s other tracks. Beautiful and horribly, horribly bleak. For some reason it feels like night-time in a summer field caked in dew, all alone.
Marlon J.D. is one of the catchiest songs on the album and apparently, all about Marlon Brando. “So Say, So Say, Marlon J.D.”, kinda reminds me of “Shalom, Shalom…”. I just want to sing along. Bloody great guitar and some very fitting audio clips, the song ending with, “And, and they’re never lonely And sometimes I envy them”. It’s going to sound terribly clichéd and probably shallow if I say something along the lines of “how Richey”, but… how Richey.
Doors Closing Slowly is ponderous and magical, while being a bit nihilistic. Not a million miles away from something like Die in the Summertime lyrically. Luckily the boys have taken all this on board and given the music a sense of wonder and sadness.
All Is Vanity (It’s not what’s wrong it’s what’s right / makes me feel like I am talking to a foreign language sometimes) gives us another unique view into Richey’s ethos, and one that makes you think about how you like to live and how society wants you to live.
Pretension/Repulsion (Born.a.graphic vs porn.a.graphic) is a snappy little number and as far as I can see the lyrics are fairly self-explanatory.
Virginia State Epileptic Colony (“V.S.E.C”), again, fairly self-explanatory lyrics. Nice sound. Very nice keys solo.
The closing song, Williams Last Words sung by Wire sounds like a shaky Lou Reed singing a love (and possibly farewell) letter. It is possible that this one of those Richey departing-esque tracks, and may reduce a hardened Manics fan to teary sentiment. So he’s not got the best voice in the world, but it’s a brilliant song and it works.
So, my verdict? Journal for Plague Lovers is brilliant and I certainly haven’t done it justice with this meek review (I hope to remedy this soon with a lengthier Manics post or a hefty edit). Certainly one of the best put together and significant albums I’ve heard in a long time. It’s just a pity it was released the same week as Eminem’s latest. It’s also a pity the supermarkets have destroyed the cover by putting a slip over it because it’d be too vile to show. I could think of quite a few vile CDs they stock I’d rather not see. Perhaps this isn’t an equal to Holy Bible, and perhaps it needs a few more listens to decide how good it really is and where it fits, but it is certainly a great album.