Talk, if you so desire, about _The Holy Bible_ by the Manic Street Preachers

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So the tenth anniversary edition is out, both original and US mixes of the album, bonus tracks, extra DVD, etc. Sure looks nice, I have to say, as I ponder my copy picked up the other day.

My 1999 reflections seem to me to be a feinting around the album rather than a direct observation of it. It's strange to think of an album as important when I don't feel it in either a large or a small context, perhaps -- not that one can't have an individual connection to an album nobody else cares about, of course. Yet I do keep listening to this album more and more with time -- they kept talking at the time about listening to Joy Division and other bands of that time when making it, and the apt phrase said band suggests for this album is "Something Must Break." There's something very weirdly and specifically precise about a lot of this album, like they knew just how to dig in and become memorable while at the same time aggravating the nerves.

I also think in retrospect that all the Soviet/Russian iconography made a perfect and obvious sense here -- it was a dead and spent force by 1994, so therefore why not use it to deliver whatever messages they wanted to deliver?

Strange album. Compelling nonetheless.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 3 January 2005 03:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Compelling indeed, swaying madly from almost-poppy to unlistenable at times. So much bollocks has been written about it in the last ten years that it's difficult to dig anything new up about it. A few things though.

The material still holds up excellently, especially considering some of the dross they've produced since. Having been to see 'em recently, the THB stuff is still superbly good live, especially with the extra live guitarist they now have. The "I hate purity..." sample crackling out before 'Faster' still makes my hair stand up on end. As does "Die In The Summertime". There is talk of a THB tour (or at least a show) this year. It'd be worth going just for "Mausoleum".

The US mix - I hadn't heard it before - I agree with the sentiments on the interview DVD - it does improve most of the tracks. Clearer, punchier, yeah alright more US-radio friendly, but that's not *always* a bad thing.

I could ramble on about this for a while, but I think I'll just go and watch the audience reaction to the TOTP 'Faster' again. For a laugh, like.

si carter, Monday, 3 January 2005 04:36 (fifteen years ago) link

I've had this for a couple weeks & have heard it a couple times.I think i have listened to both mixes twice.The difference in mixes has not jumped out at me.I'm sure there is some,maybe i'm not paying attention.
This album seems more jagged than their others but i've never paid much attention to the lyrics.The packaging on this edition makes reading the lyrics very inconvenient.
I've always thought this band always sounded more hair metal than punk contrary to the hype out of the UK but on this one it's almost their tribute to the post punk sound heard thru their prism.
I really like it in other words & now i think i'll pull it out & compare mixes side by side.Packaging sucks though.
And yeah Ned this is one of those albums i keep coming back too.I keep trying to get to some mystery hidden at the center of it.Perhaps that what brings us back to the best music.It always leaves you wanting more somehow.

evan chronister (evan chronister), Monday, 3 January 2005 04:49 (fifteen years ago) link

The DVD is actually what I'm most interested in, like a lot of bands whose success was predominantly not here I have very little sense of their visual sense/impact, if any. I've seen some of the videos but I don't think I've seen any from this time (as it is I'd need to get that singles DVD for those).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 3 January 2005 05:17 (fifteen years ago) link

I bought this album on cassette in 1994, which contained the US mix (although at the time I didn't realize that there was more than one mix). In fact, I didn't know about the 2nd mix until I bought the CD (a UK import) SIX YEARS LATER. I was utterly shocked -- it was one of my favourite 90's albums, and I felt as though I hadn't even been listening to the proper album for all those years!

So I headed straight to my notebook and wrote an essay comparing between the two mixes. In general, I thought that the harder, faster tracks favoured the US mix, and the darker, slower ones (or the tracks with particularly grim lyrics) favoured the UK mix.

US > UK

Yes
Of Walking Abortion
Revol
4st 7lb
PCP

UK > US

Ifwhiteamerica ...
Archives of Pain
Mausoleum
This is Yesterday
Die in the Summertime
The Intense Humming of Evil (UK >>>>> US in this case)

TIE (cop-out, sorry)

She Is Suffering
Faster

Looks pretty even until you consider that "Yes", "Revol" and "4st7lb" are the best songs on the album ...

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 3 January 2005 05:21 (fifteen years ago) link

Best transition on the album -- "Die in the Summertime" ends and "The Intense Humming of Evil" begins. The abruptness separated by silence is somehow brutal without maybe intending to be.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 3 January 2005 05:25 (fifteen years ago) link

Either that or "Revol" -> "4st7lb". LOUD -- Lots of shouting, BIG chorus -> single sustained guitar and voice notes fading to QUIET -> QUIET, clanky, semi-distorted guitar riff -> LOUD, heaviness, churning/dizzy rhythms (offputting due to the 8/8 (3-3-2) time signature ...)

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 3 January 2005 05:37 (fifteen years ago) link

(A shameless bump up now that the UK is more awake.)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 3 January 2005 13:29 (fifteen years ago) link

lyrically could have been the work of strangelove or any middling gothic-type indie band - richey edwards is not a particularly gifted wordsmith - particulaly clumsy and childish on ifwhiteamerica... plus he really is out of his depth on the intense humming... made more compelling by his subsequent disappearance - i heard the album for the first time after the disappearance though, so i can't confirm what i thought of it prior to this. also boosted by intensity of bradfield's delivery and the grinding military stomp of the music (particularly interesting when you know it followed two highly polished pop-metal albums).

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Monday, 3 January 2005 14:04 (fifteen years ago) link

An unfashionable answer, but I much prefer This Is Our Truth....

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 3 January 2005 14:07 (fifteen years ago) link

There was a point in my life for about a year where I loved the Manics to bits and this along with "This Is My Truth..." were my favourites. Then as soon as I got to university I got rid of everything I own by them. They just disgusted me and I don't know why.
I'm thinking of maybe getting these two albums again just to see if I like them again. It's very easy to overload on the Manics - after all they really were a bunch of smug two-faced pricks and their fans were equally hatable.
Nowadays no-one seems to mention them at all so maybe it would be easier to ignore all the posturing...

dog latin (dog latin), Monday, 3 January 2005 15:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Examine the cover of Simple Minds - Empires and Dance and compare it to The Holy Bible. Same typography and backward letters, if I remember correctly.

Ian Moraine (Eastern Mantra), Monday, 3 January 2005 15:02 (fifteen years ago) link

...and the significance of that is what?

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 3 January 2005 15:04 (fifteen years ago) link

They did admit to copying this at the time. Empires and Dance is a far better record IMHO.

KeithW (kmw), Monday, 3 January 2005 16:09 (fifteen years ago) link

I actually got a CD copy of this again from my record library just b4 I found out abt the reissue (I heard it many years ago) and its quite a record (apart from 'revol' [the selfconcious 'hit' in the middle of it] and 'the intense humming of evil' is just a bit too drawn out) - it might be the work of an 'indie-goth band' but since I've never heard one...the thing is that it links up with all those taped voices, which reinforces the uncomfortable feeling, but I can't stop listening - all of it is set against sloppy (and old-ish) metal riffage (substitute 'metal' for 'reggae' and you might have the clash, a band that I never cared for). its a difficult record bcz, you know, what is there to say? Richie is gone and there is nothing ambigous abt it - he 'meant' it all.

side q (from marcello's blog): holy bible vs definetely maybe, innit?

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 3 January 2005 17:58 (fifteen years ago) link

The sloppy riffing is an asset with this album. Songs with such unconfortable and disturbing subject matter need to sound as though they're ready to fall apart.

MindInRewind (Barry Bruner), Monday, 3 January 2005 18:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Julio, that's an odd side question. Though seriously Definitely Maybe would've been 8,000,000x better if they'd snagged the Holy Bible's production (and I think DM is a solid album). It's like they mastered that thing in a giant vat of pudding.

I don't think there's an enormo difference in the US and UK mixes but I'm not someone who notices subtle differences. "Yes" is still the best song on the album. I'm not sure I agree that the riffage is sloppy per se; most of the guitar work strikes me as very tight, probably by far the tightest the Manics have ever been. Kind of like "is this actually the same band that put out Generation Terrorists, when did they learn to play any instruments" sort of difference.

I haven't had a chance to watch the DVD stuff yet but plan to when I get back to NYC.

Allyzay Needs Legs More (allyzay), Monday, 3 January 2005 22:46 (fifteen years ago) link

hahaha Definitely Maybe v The Holy Bible v Parklife v Dog Man Star

IF ONLY THE BENDS CAME OUT A COUPLE MONTHS EARLIER WE'D HAVE ALL OF BRITISH MUSIC!!!!!! WTFLOLROFFLES

Allyzay Needs Legs More (allyzay), Monday, 3 January 2005 22:49 (fifteen years ago) link

This thread brings to mind one of the happiest moments of my past three years: when I sold my copy of the US mix (acquired for 35 bucks) on ebay for 450 dollars. Man, that was awesome.

That said though, the US mix was noticeably better than the UK. The instruments cut through so much more, particularly on Yes and 4st7lb.

THB is pretty much the only thing I could even consider listening to from these guys now, and I haven't even picked it up in about five years. I was obsessed with them at one point and then, bam, all of a sudden they started to just fucking piss me off like no other.

Zack Richardson (teenagequiet), Monday, 3 January 2005 22:54 (fifteen years ago) link

$450?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?

Oh man, oh man, do you think it would still pull anything like that? No of course not, cos they have the new one. Actually I have the UK version, I think. Gah. Damnit.

Allyzay Needs Legs More (allyzay), Monday, 3 January 2005 22:55 (fifteen years ago) link

It's the first time in at least five years I've had the craving to listen to this and "This Is My Truth" again. They remind me of some pretty odd times where I was just about to become a proper adult. I think that's why I threw them away - despite listening to them every day for a year I just grew up and grew out of it. Do I buy the reissue? I had no idea there were different versions of this album.

Don't even know who's got my old copies - my mum maybe?

dog latin (dog latin), Monday, 3 January 2005 23:38 (fifteen years ago) link

I...can't.

.adam (nordicskilla), Monday, 3 January 2005 23:39 (fifteen years ago) link

I've decided that MSP were actually just the best one hit powerballad wonder ever - Motorcycle Emptiness!

.adam (nordicskilla), Monday, 3 January 2005 23:40 (fifteen years ago) link

...and the significance of that is what?

Well, besides what Keith said, look at the subject title for this thread. In consequence, it's significant.

Ian Moraine (Eastern Mantra), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 00:56 (fifteen years ago) link

In your quartet of Great British Albums of 94 you've failed to mention Pulp's His n Hers, which is the greatest of them all. (in the Britpop culture wars my answer to "Blur or Oasis?" was Pulp. Makes me feel really old that this was ten years ago) I've never liked Suede, so I'm not gonna say how great DMS is. Definitely Maybe? It's Oasis's best by far, but hardly the masterpiece Q readers think it is. Parklife - To The End and This Is A Low are great, but the jaunty stuff is incredibly irritating. Lyrically, it all sounds like patronising cor blimey geezer shite.
Holy Bible I listened to obsessively when I was 15/16. Did that whol angsty teen thing of trying to decipher the lyrics. One of the I'm keen to revisit it. Yes is brill, Faster is one incredible song. I would stick it on now, but it's not exactly bedtime listening. Aw fuck it.

stew, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 00:56 (fifteen years ago) link

Halfway through and wow, it really is outstanding. I went off them when they lamed out with This Is My Truth (and started sounding like old men in their interviews), and was appalled at how awful and misjudged much of Know Your Enemy Was but this is brilliant. They're so much more interesting when they're not trying to be Guns N Roses and incorporate all the post-punk stuff. James really pulled out all the stops here.
Lyrics are brilliant too - there's a dark humour that people don't always pick up on. The dialogue samples work too. That northern woman going "I think you are the devil himself" still creeps me out.

stew, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 01:34 (fifteen years ago) link

Currently listening to the US mix right now, some interesting differences, subtle in some cases. More thoughts later -- I prefer the original mix overall but I like this version nonetheless.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 01:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Okay, one weird thing I just noticed, the way that on the verses of "Faster" the first half of each line has reverb when the second doesn't (or at last that's the way I'm catching it). Not totally fond of that, then again maybe I've missed that in the original as well?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 01:46 (fifteen years ago) link

In your quartet of Great British Albums of 94 you've failed to mention Pulp's His n Hers

You know, I was convinced this came out in '93. I don't know why I double checked Dog Man Star and didn't double check His n Hers which is like the greatest album ever, except for The Holy Bible depending on my mood?

Allyzay Needs Legs More (allyzay), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 04:44 (fifteen years ago) link

I remember seeing Blur and Pulp tour together in 1994, now imagine if it had been the Manics and Pulp instead.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 04:45 (fifteen years ago) link

His n Hers was 94, but Babies and Lipgloss were previously released as singles in 92 and 93 respectively. I'll get me coat.

stew, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 11:35 (fifteen years ago) link

Great when I was in my late teens and feeling a bit down. Grown out of it now. One for those who don't get out much, I'd say.

For Archives of Pain - the pro death penalty song from a so called liberal/ socialist band - UTTERLY FUCKING DUD.

For the first three tracks - pretty classic.

Revol is rubbish. Humming of Evil is weak. Like someone desperately trying to be 'deep' (which is the whole album).

The faux-feminism of the Manics stuff is shit considering Richey paid a Thai hooker for hand relief around this time.

Faster still sounds good. This is Yesterday might be their finest song.

I can see why Ned likes it. He doesn't go out much does he?

Ceezar, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 11:42 (fifteen years ago) link

i like archives of pain the track - definitely the most evil-sounding song on the record, and great sludgy bassline. i sort of agree with calum that the message is an odd one...it would appear to be pro torture/death penalty, and i think richey is quoted in simon price's book confirming that.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 11:55 (fifteen years ago) link

Apologies for the dig at Ned. It's a decent thread.

I've not listened to this album in years now. Again, I liked them at one point then I found out about Richey's pro-vivisection, pro-death penalty views and Wire was bantering on about socialism while his lead singer was hanging out in the Met Bar and you just thought, 'You're all a bunch of two faced thickos really aren't you?' And the whole 'I will reserve the right to wear a dress on stage unless Fidel Castro tells me not to'. They are just a stupid, idiotic band - but one that has had some grand gestures nonetheless (playing Cuba, frightening Top of the Pops viewers, some amazing songs but never an amazing album).

I think I prefer From Despair to Where to anything on THB.

Ceezah, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 12:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Fucking christ dude, let it go.

Allyzay Needs Legs More (allyzay), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 18:48 (fifteen years ago) link

I remember seeing Blur and Pulp tour together in 1994, now imagine if it had been the Manics and Pulp instead.

T in the Park 1994. Blur, Manics, Pulp, Oasis. Those were the days.

ailsa (ailsa), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 19:06 (fifteen years ago) link

def maybe and holy bible were released in the same week over here, i think.

yeah ally wz listening to this again last night after I posted to this thread and the riffage is ok, some of the gtr soloing is a bit iffy but overall the band are on gd form. guess its convinient to think of it as sloppy --> broken band/people --> broken record.

manics were always into their contradictions, that's quite clear.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Tuesday, 4 January 2005 20:54 (fifteen years ago) link

"IN THE NEW ISSUE OF MOJO...

MANIC STREET PREACHERS - Saluting 10 years of The Holy Bible, the cancer / elf-harm / Nazi album that pooped the Britpop Party"

So Will Ferrel and Dudley Moore not big fans then

Masked Gazza, Thursday, 6 January 2005 04:59 (fifteen years ago) link

(that's from http://www.mojo4music.com)

Masked Gazza, Thursday, 6 January 2005 05:02 (fifteen years ago) link

elf-harm

?!?! What, they captured Santa's helpers and beat the crap out of them?

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 6 January 2005 05:03 (fifteen years ago) link

eight years pass...

Just broke this out yesterday after 15 years of barely playing it, even though I loved it in high school. I was surprised at how disturbing, nihilistic, and chilling it was. I remember reading the reviews in the mid-90s describing it as "harrowing", and even though I must have listened to this album 500+ times since, I somehow never really sensed that quality so acutely as yesterday. Still, I found it a brilliant listen. The basswork is pretty good too!

Poliopolice, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 17:30 (seven years ago) link

I still remember literally every word of this album but I haven't listened to it in full for a long, long time.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:00 (seven years ago) link

"4st7lb", while "smaller" in scope lyricswise and less overtly political than most songs on the album, might be the most harrowing of them all. It's been 15 years, but I'll never forget listening to it when one of my friends in secondary school got anorexia and was in hospital for a year. Very powerful song.

Mule, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:26 (seven years ago) link

I see '4st. 7lb' as one of Richey's best ever lyrics. When people talk about Richey Edwards, that's the lyric that I think of first. I think it's one of his most direct too, which makes it all the more powerful.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:36 (seven years ago) link

OTM re: direct. Plus, it strikes me as maybe the most personal and honest of all his lyrics. Definitely among his best.

Mule, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:41 (seven years ago) link

yeah, that one in particular gave me the chills. it took me a long time to understand the intro quote too:

"I eat too much to die, and not enough to stay alive. I'm in the middle, waiting."

Getting shivers down my spine typing that.

Poliopolice, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:47 (seven years ago) link

Getting shivers down my spine reading it.

Mule, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 18:55 (seven years ago) link

two years pass...

So they're bringing the album tour they did last year in the UK to the US, East Coast dates went on sale a couple of weeks back and they added LA and San Francisco dates that just went on sale. Finally seeing them for the first time overall.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 13 February 2015 18:18 (five years ago) link

seeing them in toronto in april, pretty stoked

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 13 February 2015 18:28 (five years ago) link

Nice! I know Brad says he's going to a show.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 13 February 2015 18:53 (five years ago) link

damn, might have to go to the Toronto show...

Simon H., Saturday, 14 February 2015 05:51 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

Meantime, here's a little something I've been trying to figure out what to do with for years.

My interview with James Dean Bradfield from the abortive US press tour which Richey never went on.

http://thequietus.com/articles/17436-manic-street-preachers-holy-bible-james-dean-bradfield-interview

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 17 March 2015 11:48 (five years ago) link

one month passes...

btw this show was amaaazing

I would say I was jealous but since I'm seeing them next Saturday, merely anticipatory. What other songs did they play?

Ned Raggett, Friday, 24 April 2015 19:54 (five years ago) link

the hits!

Nice.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 24 April 2015 20:58 (five years ago) link

nine months pass...

great video if you want to see how to play some MSP songs on guitar. I didn't realize JDB did so many alternate tunings! "This is Yesterday" is in open G and is incredibly fun to play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gslKjS155Q

Poliopolice, Wednesday, 17 February 2016 04:09 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

as part of what I would have to assume is the extremely small north american audience for that book I'm pretty surprised to see it covered in the LARB

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Thursday, 10 August 2017 20:34 (two years ago) link

English author, so a little less surprising -- still, nice to see.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 10 August 2017 20:37 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

this album sounds fucking amazing right now

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 3 April 2020 17:52 (two months ago) link

It always does but I kid the etc. But yeah, it would.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 3 April 2020 17:54 (two months ago) link

the ending of "archives of pain" is so cool

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Friday, 3 April 2020 17:59 (two months ago) link

Archives of Pain sounds amazing, but I find the lyrics annoy me too much to let me really enjoy it.

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 3 April 2020 18:16 (two months ago) link

i had a bad feeling back in 2016 when i realized that two of the ppl mentioned in the chorus of archives of pain were alive and had endorsed donald trump

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 3 April 2020 18:57 (two months ago) link

(zhirinovsky, le pen)

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 3 April 2020 19:04 (two months ago) link

does anything else really sound like this album? even the manics never really did anything that had this particular sound (apart from journal for plague lovers, which is a conscious throwback/homage to THB and richey). i listened to joy division's closer for the first time in a while the other day and "a means to an end" did strike me as something that had influenced the sound of THB, but i can't think of much else.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 3 April 2020 19:09 (two months ago) link

nothing else sounds like either mix of this album, no, AFAICT. it was self-produced, right? the drums in particular sound so cool. Sean Moore was an absolute god on this.

if anyone's not heard the three outtakes they're all amazing, tbh they were all worthy of inclusion

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Friday, 3 April 2020 21:24 (two months ago) link

this might end up being the only summer where this sounds like a summer album

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Friday, 3 April 2020 21:25 (two months ago) link

For Archives of Pain - the pro death penalty song from a so called liberal/ socialist band - UTTERLY FUCKING DUD.

I don't think the song is meant to be pro-death penalty, though it's not exactly ironic either. Seems their intention is to fully inhabit this other perspective, commit to it strongly enough that their own view is almost undermined, or at least ambiguous. They do this all over the record, "fuck the brady bill" is another one.

Since James is the singer but not the lyricist, there's a space between the words and the delivery that's exploited to ths effect. James is totally committed.

LOL at the post that said Richey's lyrics were unoriginal.

Deflatormouse, Saturday, 4 April 2020 20:38 (two months ago) link

yeah I think this is well trod territory by now but I think Richey's main thing was prodding at liberals' comfort zones and acknowledging the allure/"purity" of extreme right-wing positions, but neither is remotely the same as advocating for them. it's another one of those things that makes this record so singular, James' utterly committed barking with Richey's dense and deeply ironic lyrics.

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Saturday, 4 April 2020 21:26 (two months ago) link

lol i was gonna make the same point but y'all did it better than me

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Saturday, 4 April 2020 21:31 (two months ago) link

Archives of Pain and "fuck the brady bill" are well over the line into edgelord territory IMO, also "when I was young PC meant police constable / nowadays I can't seem to tell the difference" is just hilariously bad. I believe Nicky is responsible for a couple of these, but Richey bears some responsibility for sure. It doesn't spoil the LP, but it does add this kind of petulent juvenile edge to it, which shouldn't be there.

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Saturday, 4 April 2020 21:44 (two months ago) link

there are left-wing arguments against gun control, though i've never really been sure what "fuck the brady bill" meant in the context of that song. the police constable line is bad but the rest of PCP feels like it's largely directed against right-wing/statist policies (banning shakespeare, opposing euthanasia, calling anti-choice policies "pro-life"). it's also hard to know how to take a "critique" of political correctness when it comes with lines like "king cigarette snuffed out by her midgets."

i agree that "inhabiting other perspectives" is the best way to understand the lyrics on THB. i remember in some interview around this time richey told simon price that he admired the harsh sharia law regime in sudan. even nicky said that he didn't quite understand what some of richey's lyrics meant, so i think there's always going to be some ambiguity there.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Saturday, 4 April 2020 22:13 (two months ago) link

"PCP" always felt to me like "fuck, there's only one song left on this thing, lemme cram in as many contrarian statements I may or may not believe in under four minutes as possible". And I've always enjoyed it that way!

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Saturday, 4 April 2020 22:55 (two months ago) link

I also don't think you can understand the political mixed messaging on this without noting the non-political stuff from the same sessions like "This Is Yesterday" or "Too Cold Here". I've never got the sense listening to this that Richey derived a ton of fun from playing devil's advocate or whatever.

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Saturday, 4 April 2020 22:59 (two months ago) link

Honestly, all this runs deeper than politics (and certainly deeper than devil's advocacy, yeah).

i've never really been sure what "fuck the brady bill" meant in the context of that song.

Well, the other part of that lyric is "If god made man they say/ Sam Colt made him an equal."
This is a theme they revisit a few times from different angles:
"If man makes death, death makes man"
"God gives life, god taketh it away, not you."

It's about judgement. The fundamental question at the core of The Holy Bible may be 'who has the authority to judge?'
and it doesn't take a clear stance on this. It's really more concerned with raising and investigating the question, and the album both examines and demonstrates in deeply unsettling ways how moral judgement can be both dehumanizing and empowering. Perhaps *especially* on the more intmate material like 4st 7lbs.
Trying to pin down the band's political stance is the wrong approach to this record IMHO. It's far too distrurbing to be taken as a ringing endorsement of anything, but it's equally immersive and compelling. If THB is overtly against anything, it's complacency.

By the way, I think Journal for Plague Lovers is closer to the sound of Generation Terrorists, and probably closer still to their earlier day-glo punk stuff like New Art Riot than THB. There are passages that refer very explicitly to THB, like the Peeled Apples intro and riff, Bag Lady... JDB invented a singular musical language for this album that seems designed to unsettle. Brittle metallic textures, nauseating modulation fx, bII chords that undermine the sense of key, Klezmer harmony - I don't hear any of that on Journal. It's a much straighter hard rock sound.

The Klezmer stuff evokes the religious element, but also the Eastern European landscape, WW2. It hammers you over the head with Holocaust imagery, really.

If there's a heavier album in all of r'n'r I haven't heard it yet.

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 01:33 (two months ago) link

What's an example of klezmer harmony on this? Never picked up on that influence.

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 02:00 (two months ago) link

So, I do think the brief lead guitar break and solo in Archives of Pain are supposed to evoke a Klezmer dirge, probably more in approximation than any studied imitation. That's the one I had in mind, but... are there others? I thought there were several, but glancing at the tracklist now, I don't recall any others. Sorry to disappoint!

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 03:15 (two months ago) link

lol no worries

I do agree w brad that this perfect album sounds exceptionally perfect and prescient at this time. I think I've said this elsewhere but JDB's overall work on this album is unbelievable and that sometimes gets overlooked amidst the tragedy of it all.

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 03:39 (two months ago) link

I think the view that it's James's masterpiece has been gaining traction? I haven't read much about this band tbh, at the time I was more plugged in most articles concerned the resentment of "old fans" toward new fans who got onboard with everything must go.

It's a major masterpiece album and James deserves a great deal of the credit for that, yeah.

Agreed that PCP is basically a postcript. It's the lightest track on there by far. Probably a necessary measure.

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 04:18 (two months ago) link

relistening once more and freshly in awe of the solo in "This Is Yesterday", a moment of theatrical uplift worthy of Queen

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 04:51 (two months ago) link

This Is Yesterday is my favourite track on the LP.

Wuhan!! Got You All in Check (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Sunday, 5 April 2020 06:34 (two months ago) link

"why do anything when you can forget everything?" kills me every fuckin time

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 06:50 (two months ago) link

"fuck the brady bill" was inspired by the "left" libertarian canard that the bill was intended to strip gun rights from poor african americans. [citation needed]

Paperbag raita (ledge), Sunday, 5 April 2020 08:06 (two months ago) link

this is yesterday is probably my favorite track on the album too. i was taking a walk the other week and listening to THB and the line simon quotes just crushed me. and yeah it is definitely JDB's album as much as richey's, he really took the challenge of those lyrics (some of which probably seemed virtually unsingable) and ran with them. it's on a whole other level than any other manics album (tho i'm enough of a fan that i can find something to love about all of them).

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 08:15 (two months ago) link

I'm amazed by artists like JDB and Elton John that routinely write to other people's lyrics. I'm only an amateur songwriter but I find my lyrics and music are always informing each other, and the ability to change one to suit to other seems crucial

And I agree that many of Richie's lyrics look unsingable on the page, so that's an even greater feat in JDB's case

Vinnie, Sunday, 5 April 2020 11:10 (two months ago) link

his geetar playing is totally unreal throughout too

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 14:48 (two months ago) link

"fuck the brady bill" was inspired by the "left" libertarian canard that the bill was intended to strip gun rights from poor african americans. (citation needed)

the language might be blunt but "gun control efforts by a racist system disproportionately impacts black people" is a pretty defensible take

https://blogs.ischool.berkeley.edu/w231/2018/02/27/racial-bias-in-the-national-instant-criminal-background-check-system/

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 15:33 (two months ago) link

It may be Richie’s brainchild, but JDB’s soul carries the vision. Wouldn’t have worked otherwise.

Mule, Sunday, 5 April 2020 15:34 (two months ago) link

And I agree that many of Richie's lyrics look unsingable on the page, so that's an even greater feat in JDB's case

The way that they force the lyrics to fit the vocal melodies has always struck me as pretty singular and something I'm surprised doesn't get mentioned more. (I know only their early albums and have no idea if they continued doing this.)

visiting, Sunday, 5 April 2020 17:02 (two months ago) link

oh they did

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 5 April 2020 17:06 (two months ago) link

yes it just evolved from "how do I make a song from this inscrutable polemic" to "how do I make a song from nicky wire listing off his collection of posters"

brechtian social distancing (Simon H.), Sunday, 5 April 2020 17:16 (two months ago) link


"fuck the brady bill" was inspired by the "left" libertarian canard that the bill was intended to strip gun rights from poor african americans. (citation needed)
the language might be blunt but "gun control efforts by a racist system disproportionately impacts black people" is a pretty defensible take

https://blogs.ischool.berkeley.edu/w231/2018/02/27/racial-bias-in-the-national-instant-criminal-background-check-system/

. That's a convincing take on the line in the context of the song. So the idea is Sam Colt made men equal (to one another). It was another footnote after all...

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 19:07 (two months ago) link

Dissing the guy who inadvertently video taped the Kennedy assassination seems uncalled for tho - any ideas what that one's about?

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 19:13 (two months ago) link

'Assassination porn' is my best guess.

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 19:15 (two months ago) link

Like, comparing the fascination with the Zapruder tape to pornography. Abraham Zapruder was the first to watch it in private. Idk.

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 19:24 (two months ago) link

like being able to watch the crucifixion on repeat

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Sunday, 5 April 2020 19:27 (two months ago) link

Wow. Glad I asked, thx Brad

Deflatormouse, Sunday, 5 April 2020 19:58 (two months ago) link

Been thinking about this album and thread in the last couple of days (I don't dare listen, it's like opening pandora's box). Assumed the prescience referred to had something to do with covid-19 LOL. Not sure why I thought that since the conversation here highlights its relevance to this particular moment: That reducing everything to opposing dualities/binaries is bullshit and reality is a clusterfuck.
Duh. Embarrassingly slow on the uptake. I mean, I don't even call myself a liberal.

I'm very slow at everything including reading, so I don't read a lot of books. But there were two periods in my life when I read a book every 2 or 3 days. The first one was in the 8th grade, this was the only album in the world that mattered, it was all-enveloping so I went online and found a list of Richey's favorite books and read almost all of them over a period of some months. The thing is, that seems to be the common narrative, seems to be everyone's story about about this record. And people talk about this like it's embarrassing, like it's not absolutely incredible that maybe tens of thousands of kids responded to this album that way.

In terms of the emotional/psychological impact, no other rock music was the same combination of bleak and immersive. I never listened to a lot of metal and the only other music that came close to that for me was gangsta rap. Like I said, I don't dare play this album in certain moods because it's so potent, it usually puts me in a deep funk. But I'm glad that I was 13 and not 35 when I heard this. It's much harder now for music to penetrate like that.

Deflatormouse, Wednesday, 8 April 2020 00:43 (one month ago) link


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