Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

More than 25 years ago, he and his band were at the peak of their fame. “He doesn’t look like a rock star”

Two years ago, the famous Welsh band returned with a well-received album “The Ultra Vivid Lament” and, to the surprise of many, it conquered the British charts. The second number one in the band’s history became a fact, shutting up many critics. Journalists noted in their reviews that the new album is more of a reference to intellectual pop and does not have the feistiness for which the band was famous years ago. Created during the pandemic and marked by the death of the group’s bassist’s parents, the album is a look at the world outside the windows, an attempt to face reality and one’s own uncertainty, fear and sadness. The result is a delicate piece, woven with hit sounds, which is a melodic bridge connecting the works ABBA and The Clashalbum.

In an interview with the magazine “Forbes” after release “The Ultra Vivid Lament”asked about his next plans James Dean Bradfield stated: “At this age we have to be a bit realistic. We’re all over fifty, some things don’t come as easily as they used to. However, we are lucky that we are together as a team and we are happy with each other’s presence. We have patience for certain things and we know that sometimes things don’t come easy. The average period for a band with a record deal is about an album and a half, so when you release something, there should be more ideas in your head”.

Fortunately, the Manics don’t have to rush anywhere anymore. They have been operating at their own pace for years. They were never able to adapt to the surrounding reality and it was probably not even their goal. They always seemed to swim against the current, angering many people in the industry in the process. Despite sharp lyrics and crazy riffs on subsequent albums from the initial period of their activity, for many people they were not punk enough, and the glam rock image did not help in categorizing the group. In the times of Britpop dominating the islands, they turned out to be a breakthrough in their career after releasing it “Everything Must Go” too little Britpop, even though the media wanted to force them into one category Blur and Oasis. No one in the 21st century releases double albums anymore, they heard from the label in 2001. Twenty years later, this turned out to be the case Bradfield, Wire and Moore they were right, and the two-disc reissue “Know Your Enemy” proved that the group’s original concept was a great idea and fully reflected the power of their music.

Today, thanks to the more sublime, lyrical texts for which he is responsible, full of metaphors and allusions Nicky Wire music Manic Street Preachers does not lose its power to comment on reality. It does it in a more accessible way, according to the principle that you don’t have to hit hard for the message to be understood and received with full force. A good example of this approach is the album’s closing track “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours” recording “SYMM”. It refers to the actions of the South Yorkshire Police during the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 (the greatest stadium tragedy in British history, due to, among others, poor police actions, 97 people died – editor’s note) and although the song was criticized at the time of its release from the police chief, was well received by the victims’ families.

James Dean Bradfield recalled that when he looks at old photos of the band, he remembers the revolutionary spirit that guided the beginnings of their work. “It was as if we wanted to fight the whole world then” – he said in an interview with “Hot Press”. “Some may argue that we are a bit similar now, but when we look back at our past, it turns out that it was all born from our youthful idealism and was unfortunately a bit naive”. The musician added that after many years he looks at the message differently “The Masses Against the Classes” and tries to interpret the countercultural recording a little differently during concerts. Over the years, under the influence of growing experience, books and films, you can gain greater distance from certain matters.

Although the Manic Street Preachers never gained popularity in America, they successfully conquered the music market in Japan for years, and their work certainly left an imprint on British and European culture at the turn of the century. Celebrating the singer’s birthday James Dean Bradfield we will remind you of the group’s most important songs.

The first important moment in the group’s career and significant commercial success. The recording was accompanied by a characteristic music video, made in Japan, with James Dean Bradfield and the other musicians, standing still, against the background of moving passers-by. Breaking away from their edgy style for a moment, the Manics created one of the most significant rock classics, full of musical space, and, condemning the grim nature of capitalism, immersed themselves in a hit rhythm that was supposedly inspired by the recording “Dancing Queen” ABBA.

A beautiful anthem that opens the group’s latest album and is, in a sense, a look into the rearview mirror of the Manic Street Preachers musical bus that has been rushing through the years. The recording refers to the times before the guitarist’s disappearance Richey Edwards and is a memory of the 1993 tour in Japan. Even though the song did not promote the album, it turned out to be one of the most important recordings for the group’s fans for emotional reasons.

The Manics almost achieved their greatest commercial success. Although the song debuted at number two on the British charts, it still sold excellently. In the shadow of beautiful string parts and choral refrains, the musicians criticized the class system, and thanks to their excellent sound, they attracted attention, entering the music market with full force. Thanks to the popularity of subsequent single recordings, the album sold very well, reaching second place in the UK Chart.

In 1998, it seemed that the pop group Steps was the revelation of the season and would occupy the top of the charts. Surprisingly, this Manic Street Preachers recording, the first single from the new album, appeared at number one in the UK and suddenly became a popular hit throughout Europe, and even reached overseas, jumping to number 20 in Canada. The song, referring to the times of the Spanish Civil War, became an eloquent anti-war anthem. Although it was initially planned to be released only as a b-side to one of the singles, the subsequent decision to include it as the first single turned out to be an excellent move. Despite the long title, the song became the group’s favorite song played on radio stations.

The group’s vocalist took advantage of the break after recording a not very well received album “Lifeblood”to gather strength and record his first solo album. Although the musician’s dad called him Clint Eastwoodthis “The Great Western” is not an exploration of country music, but rather a tribute to Welsh idols John Cale and Pete Ham from Badfinger. Lyrically beautiful compositions show a slightly more delicate side of Bradfield.

After the album was released “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours” many orthodox Manic Street Preachers fans wanted the group to return to their classic, harder sound. Released as a stand-alone single, the song was well received and topped the British charts. The cover, referring to the Cuban flag, reflected the group’s socialist fascinations and was an announcement of the group’s concert in Havana, at which Fidel Castro. A few years later, Bradfield recalled that during their stay on the island, they realized that noble socialist slogans were just empty phrases compared to the poverty of the Cuban inhabitants.

For many, this album is a cult work, after all, it is the last release recorded before disappearing Richey Edwards, maintained in a sharp, rock atmosphere, known from previous albums. However, on “The Holy Bible” there was a sign that could indicate ideas for changing the sound. It is the last single promoting the album, which in terms of music is closer to what will appear on the album two years later. “Everything Must Go”.

The Manics came close to being back at the top of the charts in the UK. Despite the excellent reception of the duet with the group’s Swedish singer The Cardigans they had to settle for second place. “Send Away the Tigers” was seen by many critics as an attempt to find the pop power of “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours” in a slightly more rock form. It worked, and the song became one of the group’s most recognizable compositions in the world.

The face of a Chilean activist, singer and poet Victor Jara looks at us from the cover of the second solo album of the Manic Street Preachers singer. Fascinated by the figure, life and work of the dictator murdered by his assassins Pinochet activist, created together with the poet Patrick Jonesbrother Nicky Wirea beautiful musical portrait of Jara.

Though “Lifeblood” it resulted in two number two singles, and was the group’s first album in years that did not reach the Top 10. Despite moderate reviews, it was not accepted by the band’s fans, mainly for, as it was accused of, too polished pop sound. The musicians themselves were not satisfied with the effect of their work. James Dean Bradfield said he felt as if their music had lost its soul. Years later, the reception of the album was no longer so critical, and an anniversary reissue of the album is planned this year. “Empty Souls” despite the passage of time, he still proves that the songs from “Lifeblood” they still have excellent power.