Broken Up or Still Around? Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Know Your Enemy’ 2022 Remaster Reviewed

Here is what I know about the state of the world:

1. We are rich.

2. There are no wars or anything (real wars, that is).

3. Ummm. Very little continental drift going on (that’s probably normal).

4. Somewhere, the president’s daughter is “like, totally wasted” right now.

There. One minor problem. Otherwise, things are swell. I haven’t really researched this much, but if something major was going wrong, I’m sure someone would have told me. So what are these Manic Street Preachers bitching about?

Pitchfork review posted March 19th 2001, roughly six months before Americans became aware of bad things happening in the world apart from Jenna Bush being arrested for underage drinking

I discussed the Manics’ 2001 commercial hari kari ‘Know Your Enemy’ at length in my 50’000 word list of their 100 greatest songs published last year. I mentioned that it all started when an aging British revolutionary folk icon turned his nose up at the band’s private Portaloo at a Scottish festival. I mentioned how Manics bassist/lyricist Nicky Wire would later confirm that he wouldn’t have that same folk icon’s “Dick pissing in my toilet for all the money in the fucking world”. I mentioned how that shot of verbosity occurred during a T in the Park performance that acted as an reinvigorating reminder of the band’s routes as angrily political agitprops. I mentioned how people had mostly accepted they would never be that exciting again after the morose and Phil Collins infused ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours‘ had sold roughly seventy two squillion copies, making the band Britain’s biggest rock band after Oasis had politely taken their dog out of the fight with ‘Be Here Now‘. I discussed at length their line in the sand statement single The Masses Against the Classes*, the scuzz punk call to arms that became the first new UK number one of the 21st century. I noted how this moment – along with them playing the song live to 57’000 people at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium at new years eve 1999 – represented the absolute peak of their commercial success. For the benefit of the TL:DR generation, I then explained the release of their sixth album a little over a year later in meme form:

And despite everything I’ll discuss in this review, I still absolutely stand by that visual point. It’s simply inconceivable that the band ever believed that ‘Know Your Enemy’ would be a commercial success, and it’s likely that they correctly assumed that it would cut ties with the mainstream to such an extent that they would never again experience anything close to the success that they enjoyed in the late 90s. Their previous album, 1998’s ‘This is My Truth…’ sold five million copies worldwide (!), while ‘KYE’ sold 500’000. Nicky Wire would later even concede in Mojo Magazine that much of those sales were to dissatisfied customers, and also remark on how it marked the band’s commercial downturn:  “To this day, you see ‘Know Your Enemy’ at service stations for £2.99, because they bought so many thinking it was by one of those commercial bands! In retrospect, it sold half a million copies. Imagine what we’d give for that now.”

So, yes: commercially, it was ritual suicide. But was it any good?

Continue reading “Broken Up or Still Around? Manic Street Preachers’ ‘Know Your Enemy’ 2022 Remaster Reviewed”

Cheap Tarnished Glitter: Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against the Soul 27th Anniversary (??) Deluxe Reissue, Inspection and Reevaluation

“I like bands with a lot of fuck-ups, who flirt with disaster, it just shows that they’re fallible. All humans are fallible, after all. And we’re just a reflection Of that.”

Nicky Wire, The List, 1993

Firstly, let’s just fuck the room’s elephant in the ass and admit that there is really no deep logical point in this reissue. ‘Gold Against the Soul’ may have been released on June 21st, but that release came in 1993, and I don’t think there is a wider habit among the music industry for rereleasing albums on their 27th anniversary. This is a legitimate and gorgeously packaged celebration, yes, but the intentions of its release are simply financial- the band knows that they still have a pathetic, rabid and obsessive fanbase, who will jump at the chance to buy a lavishly packaged and expanded edition of one of the band’s less well regarded albums. Yes, including me. But let’s just stop and look at the optics here- here are the most viewed pages on the Necessary Evil blog this year:

(*fuck, I am so old. Like, properly, well-adjusted and responsible adults were born after this album was released. Your boss at work was born after ‘Gold Against the Soul’ was released! Your weird uncle Freddy’s girlfriend was born after this album was released, and she’s the oldest girlfriend he’s has since his 1998 divorce!)

This can mean only one thing: time to pander to all those pathetic Manics fans again!

Continue reading “Cheap Tarnished Glitter: Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against the Soul 27th Anniversary (??) Deluxe Reissue, Inspection and Reevaluation”

Rumble in the Bumble pt.6

part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5

Part six! This site’s previous longest series* was the (intermittently ongoing) ‘Greatest Songs Ever‘ collection, which has so far taken eighteen months to dribble to five entries, yet this trawl through my misery caused a dating app that I have since realisedreally don’t want to be on is already on its sixth entry in less than ten days! Maybe I don’t actually like writing about music, and actually prefer instead cataloging my sad and emotionally draining attempts to date as a sober person. Sorry, as a non drinker of alcoholic drinks, I realise that ‘sober’ suggests a higher bar of not relying on recreational supplements that I unfortunately cannot meet.

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(*Unless, of course, you count my albums of the year lists as an ongoing series, in which case there have been around 450 posts since 20072007!! My girlfriend wasn’t even born when I started this shit! She’s probably not even heard of Les Savy Fav!!)

Dating if you drink is easy. You just go to a place where people drink, you’re entertaining enough drunk and she’s drunk enough to not know any better, you have sex that neither of you 100% remembers in the morning, then you stay together for ages because the buses back to Chorley are really unreliable and it seems like the option of least resistance just to stay together. There was no widely used social media back then, so basically as far as both of you were aware this really was as good as it could get- in the late 90s and early 00s your average young adult knew of the existence of maybe twenty four people, and one of those was Toby Anstis. And, come on, Toby Anstis? Never happening.

Hmmmm… Maybe I’m not thinking of ‘people who drink’, but rather ‘people with debilitating problems with drinking’…? And maybe all you were ever likely to be matched up with were people with similarly ruinous issues…?

But it was easy, is all I’m saying!!

Anyway, let’s take a look at the latest bout of options. Most of them will be British, so some sort of ruinous drinking problem is pretty much a given.

Continue reading “Rumble in the Bumble pt.6”