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Old 14-01-2018, 14:11
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Europa Gluten Free Europa Gluten Free is offline
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The Folly of the Manics - What should they have done?

One of the things I love most about the Manics is how they believed so strongly in the rock n roll myth. It took them from the rubble and shit of Blackwood to the soft rock of GT, the stadium rock of GATS, and the post-punk of THB in 3 years (!) before they reached their critical and commercial apex in 1996. The Manics were always about each era - it was the manifesto that inspired the lyrics and drove the music.

But because of this, they've made some questionable decisions in their history - artistic decisions that perhaps were the wrong move. Some of them they acknowledge, some of them they don't. And some of them they are completely wrong about (Lifeblood anyone?).

So, I thought about us pointing out some errors the Manics made at certain points and perhaps we can imagine what they might have done instead and what might have come of it?

DISCLAIMER: This thread is just for fun. And a bit of daydreaming. It is not meant as a criticism of the band.

I have a few, but I'll get us started with one that's close to my heart:

1. Know Your Enemy.
This era is a complete mess. (In a good way!) I do love the second half of the album. But Cuba was so incredibly naive and egotistical. The two singles was a crap idea.

What they should have done: They should have released two albums over two years as Wire has often mentioned. One could have been completely angular and weird (a la Intravenous Agnostic) whilst the other more commercial (SWSS, Door to the River, FD), They should have put Masses on one of those albums. They should have included most of the b-sides on those albums. They shouldn't have gotten so fat.

What would have happened: It would have saved us from a (crap) Greatest Hits era (although Jimbo looked good in 2002!), and a pretty pointless stop-gap b-sides era. It would have also lead to a reimagined Lifeblood, or perhaps straight into a less superficial SATT type era with straightforward rock without having to be afraid about commercial failure and being forgotten.

Last edited by Europa Gluten Free; 14-01-2018 at 14:15.
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  #2  
Old 16-01-2018, 15:30
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They are always going on about singles, and being a great singles band ect, so I kind of wish they had done more nine album singles, similar to how alot of the clash and jam singles were'nt on any albums. The only one they have done is masses. There by the grace of god dosnt count as it was to promote the greatest hits. Prologue to history woulf have been a great non album single, as would forever delayed and leviothan.
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Old 16-01-2018, 15:56
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It's taken me about 20 years to like the second half of Know Your Enemy. Talk about a slow burn!

James should do another solo album, TGW was pure gold.

Futurology and Rewind the Film should swap titles. RTF was the bloody futuristic sounding one!

The second half of TIMT is much underplayed. Play it more.

Every video of them stood around doing nothing undersells the band ridiculously. Do some funny/creative ones in the style of Nixon or Tolerate.
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Old 16-01-2018, 19:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suicide Aldi View Post
They are always going on about singles, and being a great singles band ect, so I kind of wish they had done more nine album singles, similar to how alot of the clash and jam singles were'nt on any albums. The only one they have done is masses. There by the grace of god dosnt count as it was to promote the greatest hits. Prologue to history woulf have been a great non album single, as would forever delayed and leviothan.
What about Motown Junk ? The New Art Riot EP ? Suicide Alley ? Theme From M.A.S.H ? Together Stronger (C'mon Wales) ?
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Old 16-01-2018, 20:25
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Originally Posted by Aestivate View Post
What about Motown Junk ? The New Art Riot EP ? Suicide Alley ? Theme From M.A.S.H ? Together Stronger (C'mon Wales) ?
Ok, i forgot about those, but my point is they threw away some great potential singles as b sides, and the probably shouldnt have.
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Old 17-01-2018, 13:14
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  #7  
Old 29-01-2018, 14:40
tomd2103 tomd2103 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Europa Gluten Free View Post
One of the things I love most about the Manics is how they believed so strongly in the rock n roll myth. It took them from the rubble and shit of Blackwood to the soft rock of GT, the stadium rock of GATS, and the post-punk of THB in 3 years (!) before they reached their critical and commercial apex in 1996. The Manics were always about each era - it was the manifesto that inspired the lyrics and drove the music.

But because of this, they've made some questionable decisions in their history - artistic decisions that perhaps were the wrong move. Some of them they acknowledge, some of them they don't. And some of them they are completely wrong about (Lifeblood anyone?).

So, I thought about us pointing out some errors the Manics made at certain points and perhaps we can imagine what they might have done instead and what might have come of it?

DISCLAIMER: This thread is just for fun. And a bit of daydreaming. It is not meant as a criticism of the band.

I have a few, but I'll get us started with one that's close to my heart:

1. Know Your Enemy.
This era is a complete mess. (In a good way!) I do love the second half of the album. But Cuba was so incredibly naive and egotistical. The two singles was a crap idea.

What they should have done: They should have released two albums over two years as Wire has often mentioned. One could have been completely angular and weird (a la Intravenous Agnostic) whilst the other more commercial (SWSS, Door to the River, FD), They should have put Masses on one of those albums. They should have included most of the b-sides on those albums. They shouldn't have gotten so fat.

What would have happened: It would have saved us from a (crap) Greatest Hits era (although Jimbo looked good in 2002!), and a pretty pointless stop-gap b-sides era. It would have also lead to a reimagined Lifeblood, or perhaps straight into a less superficial SATT type era with straightforward rock without having to be afraid about commercial failure and being forgotten.
I think they found themselves with a real dilemma at that point. It's easy to forget that they were a very big band back then and over a six month period, had headlined Glastonbury, sold out the Millennium Stadium and had the first number one of the new millennium.

Only speculating of course, but I think they were probably really torn as a band around that time, as they seemed to have a love / hate relationship with the success they had experienced. As Masses highlighted, there was obviously a desire to strip things back, but I also think they had enjoiyed their success (why not!!) and wanted to prolong it. I think that confusion is reflected in Know Your Enemy and it has always seemed a bit directionless, even though it is far from being a bad album.

Hindsight is wonderful thing, but I have always thought that they may have been better off signalling their intent with Masses and following it up with a 'back-to-basics' / 'clear the decks' kind of album. It would have been the kind of move Blur did with their self-titled album and it might have set them up nicely to move forward from there. The songs for that kind of album are there in Know your Enemy (Found That Soul, Intravenous, Ocean Spray, Let Robeson Sing, Year of Purification, Dead Martyrs, The Convalescent, Royal Correspondent, Baby Elian, Freedom of Speech) and those along with one or two of the more experimental songs would have made a strong 10-12 track album.

The period after Know Your Enemy (the two compilation albums and Lifeblood) produced some of my favourite Manics songs (There By the Grace of God, Door to the River, Forever Delayed, 1985) and it would have been interesting to see an album reflect that three year period as a whole rather than those songs be spread over three albums. I guess it comes back to that conflict though and I'm sure there is pressure exerted on successful bands to keep the cash coming in.
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Old 29-01-2018, 15:15
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Not a very constructive input from me, but I think they should have stopped after EMG. That would have cemented them as one of the finest rock/punk/pop bands of their time and beyond. Almost everything after that has, I feel, done more harm than good.
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Old 06-02-2018, 23:05
The Quatercircle The Quatercircle is offline
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I think KYE is a masterpiece and Lifeblood is amazing.
Almost wish Send Away the Tigers wasn't such a success though as that led to the regrettable PFAYM. We might have gotten a different album otherwise.
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Old 07-02-2018, 17:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomd2103 View Post
I think they found themselves with a real dilemma at that point. It's easy to forget that they were a very big band back then and over a six month period, had headlined Glastonbury, sold out the Millennium Stadium and had the first number one of the new millennium.

Only speculating of course, but I think they were probably really torn as a band around that time, as they seemed to have a love / hate relationship with the success they had experienced. As Masses highlighted, there was obviously a desire to strip things back, but I also think they had enjoiyed their success (why not!!) and wanted to prolong it. I think that confusion is reflected in Know Your Enemy and it has always seemed a bit directionless, even though it is far from being a bad album.

Hindsight is wonderful thing, but I have always thought that they may have been better off signalling their intent with Masses and following it up with a 'back-to-basics' / 'clear the decks' kind of album. It would have been the kind of move Blur did with their self-titled album and it might have set them up nicely to move forward from there. The songs for that kind of album are there in Know your Enemy (Found That Soul, Intravenous, Ocean Spray, Let Robeson Sing, Year of Purification, Dead Martyrs, The Convalescent, Royal Correspondent, Baby Elian, Freedom of Speech) and those along with one or two of the more experimental songs would have made a strong 10-12 track album.

The period after Know Your Enemy (the two compilation albums and Lifeblood) produced some of my favourite Manics songs (There By the Grace of God, Door to the River, Forever Delayed, 1985) and it would have been interesting to see an album reflect that three year period as a whole rather than those songs be spread over three albums. I guess it comes back to that conflict though and I'm sure there is pressure exerted on successful bands to keep the cash coming in.

Agree with most of this. You can hear the conflict in the band's thinking on KYE. For me it's one of their best albums, totally sums the band up IMO, flitting between wanting to be dark and serious and totally pop at the same time.

I personally can't think of anything obvious that they should have done differently. Every album has it's place - there are no dud albums - and i can't wait for RIF.
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Old 11-03-2018, 11:09
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Haven't had time to compose a considered reply to this thread until now.

It must be nigh-on indisputable that KYE and the Cuba phase was the definition of folly. The band self-consciously destroyed the success they painstakingly built-up and peaked with (TIMTTMY and Masses). I seem to remember that the Cuba trip led them into serious financial difficulties, too.

KYE is a glorious mess that I love but I agree that it would have been wiser for them to have been more disciplined, paring that monster into two albums (one political and headlined by Masses and the other West Coast and sombre).

Musically we are for the most part nearly all passionate fans of TBTGOG/Lifeblood eras, so I don't consider that period to be folly at all; but it is very much a commercial hangover to KYE and the band feel that it damaged them. No doubt they look back and see that following up the successful EMG/TIMTTMY formula with its antithesis (KYE) and think that it damaged them in the long term, losing them a great deal of commercial momentum.

For the record, I don't regret KYE. I love it. There is no way the two album-approach to KYE would have been the third EMG/TIMTTMY that the charts and music-buying public wanted anyway. I doubt even a TBTGOG/Lifeblood cherry-picking would have been the third EMG/TIMTTMY.

Every album is a gamble. I am far more frustrated by, for example, PFAYM than I ever was by KYE.
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Old 11-03-2018, 14:40
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If an anniversary release of KYE ever happens I hope they split the album in 2 like originally planned
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Old 11-03-2018, 18:12
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I love this thread, and I've actually got a reply in me. But on the other, it's kinda interesting because in a way bands are most interesting when they're flawed. So the folly of the Manics is the thing that makes them so interesting.
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Old 11-03-2018, 19:13
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I think they really buggered up Futurology - Rewind the Film was well received, they should have pushed Futurology back to the following year, built up momentum with the Holy Bible 20th Anniversary tour, previewing a few songs like Europa and Let's Go To War, then banged it out in Spring with a decent tour, promoting it like they are with the RiF build up.
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Last edited by Marconi Delorian; 14-03-2018 at 12:48.
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Old 12-03-2018, 15:49
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Almost wish Send Away the Tigers wasn't such a success though as that led to the regrettable PFAYM. We might have gotten a different album otherwise.
I agree with all this.

The PFAYM-era b-sides are a glimpse of what could have been. Red Rubber in particular has always been one of my favourites and a missed opportunity.
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