Manic Street Preachers
THE NEW album by Manic Street Preachers is musically their most mellow to date.
It makes much more use of instruments like the piano and harmonica. Tracks such as “1985” and “Empty Souls” rank alongside some of the band’s best songs.
Lyrically the themes, while beautifully poetic, are disappointingly conservative. Although the bitter experience of the miners’ strike features on “1985”, mostly the emphasis is on dealing with personal demons and trying to find inner peace.
The band use a quote from the philosopher Descartes: “Conquer yourself rather than the world”. There is also a bizarrely perverse paean to Richard Nixon.
However, “Cardiff Afterlife”, a love letter to the band’s missing guitarist Richey Edwards, provides a touching moment.
The Manics have always been a great voice of articulate rage against the system. Let’s hope the inner fire isn’t burning out.
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STEVE EARLE’S recent concert in Bristol reflected the mood of the US anti-Bush opposition.
Steve, sombre but optimistic, was apologetic for the failure to beat Bush. He played as many songs from his Jerusalem album as the new The Revolution Starts Now. He dedicated the song “Rich Man’s War” to the dead on both sides in Iraq.
Perhaps the highlight was an emotional “Christmas Time in Washington”. It ended with Steve alone in the spotlight giving a clenched fist salute. He’s a fighter, and he’s one of us.