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(Send Away the Tigers, 2007)
The Send Away the Tigers record is still often seen as the Manics’ “comeback album”, even though 2004’s Lifeblood scored two UK #2 singles and has been increasingly well-received over time. In any case, the catalyst for the success of SATT was the enduringly popular"Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”. In place of the political invective of their earlier singles, the Manics titled the song after the last line of a suicide note written by a friend of the band and worked in references the Who and Pink Floyd. The real masterstroke was to draft in Nina Persson of the Cardigans for a rousing duet. Apparently, the Swedish chanteuse was so ultra-professional in the studio that she required only a few takes to nail the vocal; for the promo video, she was granted her female version of the Manics who were gradually reunited with the real deal by some obliging roadies. Like its parent album, the single narrowly missed out on the UK #1 spot.
(Everything Must Go, 1996)
It was primarily Richey Edwards’ unique lyrical efforts and his exhausting, intellectual interviews that secured his cult icon status—he was never a true musician. While compiling their first album after his 1995 disappearance, however, the remaining band members included a portion of his guitar playing in “No Surface All Feeling”, the record’s final track. This fact alone has helped the song remain a fan favourite all these years later, but it’s hardly the most noticeable part of the piece. Instead it’s the Manics’ toying with a quiet/loud dynamic that entertains the most, as they slot quiet, regretful verses against an explosive chorus. “It was no surface but all feeling”, sings Bradfield, “Maybe at the time it felt like dreaming”. As with so much of the Everything Must Go album, it was full of the sense that the band were ending one phase and beginning a new one—both personally and creatively.
(This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
For however long Manic Street Preachers last, little they can ever expect to do in the future will match the glorious achievement that was smuggling a song about the Spanish Civil War with an ungainly title to the very top of the British charts. In the heady days of 1998, the Manics were at the very peak of their commercial and cultural influence, and this was the song which had finally secured them their first UK #1. Fifteen years later “Tolerate…” is still a beguilingly strange and unique record, a song that drags up messages from the distant past while still sounding in some way like a thing of the future. Amazingly, Bradfield’s vocal part was completed in just three takes, during which he walked around the studio with a handheld microphone. The song, which had originally been envisioned as b-side material, sold a massive 156,000 copies in its first week on sale.
(Gold Against the Soul, 1993)
Written by Edwards about “the idea of something beautiful in a decaying place”, “Roses in the Hospital” is arguably one of the key centrepieces of the Gold Against the Soul album. In 2002, the song was a subject of a somewhat cruel twist when a phrase from its lyrics was used as the title for the greatest hits collection Forever Delayed yet the song itself was not included on the tracklist. Sean Moore puts in a tremendous drumming performance, especially on the song’s extended outro which is interspersed with random interjections from Bradfield (including a nod to Manics icons the Clash).
(The Holy Bible, 1994)
Despite being for the most part an extended plunge into the very blackest depths of the human experience, The Holy Bible actually ends an amusing note—“P.C.P.” may be jet black in its humour, but this barnstorming rocker about political correctness and censorship is also very funny. One or two of the lines in this Edwards-penned effort are so esoteric that even the most hardcore of Manics enthusiasts aren’t necessarily entirely certain of their meaning. What is clear is the quote from a genocidal autocrat from the 2000AD comics series “Nemesis the Warlock”, an efficiently brief but blazing Bradfield solo and the immortal line “Systemised atrocity ignored as long as bi-lingual signs on view”. After 1994, the Manics would never again record anything quite as deliriously furious as this classic.