Rediscovered track of the month: Sep ’16
Manic Street Preachers, A Design for Life
It is sacrilege to say the Manics were better after Richey? I suspect the purists will find that a tad too much to take but although I was aware of them in their Richey years I never dipped in, never really got with the ‘look at my cool, self-inflicted razor wounds’ thang.
So come 1996 I purchased the album on which this track finds itself. I still have it in glorious vinyl. I don’t know what caused the change of heart — a more accessible, gentler edge? Surely not — the lyrics are as sharp as ever with the band’s customary ban on smiling enforced as strictly as ever. More commercial? Maybe. No bad thing but I suspect it was the massive airplay that this track and the other catchy single “Australia” got. The pop station Eins Live in Dueseldorf — back when radio was important for music dissemination — seemed to be playing them non-stop at one point. Also remember that in the late nineties Britpop was ruling not just in the UK, but across Europe too. In Germany they even used an Oasis song on the title credits for their Euro ’96 TV coverage.
Occasionally the Manics stray into shouting as oppose to singing but this is more than made up for by the biting protests and excellent guitar work. I saw them live in Edinburgh once and Bradfield is a superb guitarist who could easily have gone down the guitar God route if he’d wanted to.