I feel I can’t rank this record any higher. It’s designed to accompany a drug trip and I have been stone cold and continuously, shamelessly sober since its release three weeks ago. Well…kinda… all my prescription medications kind of mean I’m blissfully high as a kite 24 hours a day so as not to acknowledge the overwhelming pain of day to day existence. But that’s my norm, so it doesn’t count. Sometime in January, I’m going to take some psychedelics and then blog about my altogether more valid opinion. That’s not a joke. It’s an excuse to take drugs as a professional study, why on Earth would I turn that down?
Yeah, it’s a bad idea, but name one good idea in my wntire life? And look how succesful I am. Exactly. Expect a potentially life destroying blog entry some weekend in January. You realise that I’m killing myself for your entertainment? Good. Just checking we’re on the same page.
The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.
Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.
(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)
I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.
You want an intro? You got that in part one! Let’s get down to the dirty, sticky and dangerously unhygienic business:
This was an important year for me, this was when shit got real. Yeah, Labour won the election, which I was aware I was supposed to celebrate but not yet conscious enough to know exactly why, just that ‘our team won*. Princess Diana died, inspiring a nationwide reaction that even 13 year old Alex Palmer recognised as being a bit fucking much**. All that was meaningless background noise though, as most importantly 1997 was the year that I became really switched on to new music. Before this point, most of the albums I’ve listed would have been discovered by me later and posthumously lusted after in the kind of nostalgic necrophilia that I would later grow to despise. Yeah, sorry if you’ve already imagined me as an incredibly cool seven year old bopping his head to Soonby My Bloody Valentine. From this point on, these important albums in my life and personal development were pretty much all discovered as contemporaries. Seriously though, ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah’ was the first CD that I ever owned. Yeah. I’m that cool/weird.
In 2010 Spin Magazine listed the greatest albums released since the magazine’s conception in 1985, since I’ve been (ahem) alive for a large part of that time I’m going to quickly list the top 20 and briefly state why they’re now way near as good as the top record of 2016*:
*erm, assuming that all the records released between 2010 and now were comparatively garbage
20 My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
Speak up, mate, speak up! I can’t bloody hear you over all this racket! Also: know how many albums Ireland contributed to this year’s Necessary Evil? None! Your country’s a musical nonentity!
19 Jay-Z: The Blueprint
Oooooh! Look at my big cigar! A guy smoking a cigar this big couldn’t possibly be subconsciously compensating for something else could he?? Pathetic!
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first: I’ve always pronounced it ‘Bon Ivor’
Because of this I set up a Google Alert to tell me when somebody finally made a ‘Bon Iver the Engine’ meme, as I truly believed that such a witty reference to both an ultra hipster musical act and an old children’s’ show would truly bring the world together in these troubled times
No, but apparently he’s one of those ultra-hipster tossers who chooses to pretentiously pronounce his name the way it’s spelled, so the reference is lost
Last weekend I went with my brother to the cinema to see the Terminator 2 3D re-release, because the only movies I care about are the ones I liked when I was a teenager and can equate it to a time when life’s relentless, ghastly struggle hadn’t yet destroyed all the optimism and vague concepts of pleasure that once trickled through my young veins, and I reject any new movies because they implicitly suggest younger people are getting enjoyment that is no longer available to me