Thursday, February 03, 2005


Richey James Edwards went missing (suspected suicide) ten years ago. This man has long fascinated me. Can't say I've ever shared his taste in make-up, but what a song-writer... THE HOLY BIBLE (album number 3) was one of the best albums of the 90s. And look at the The Manic Street Preachers since he "left"... Quite honestly, they have turned to shit. For a short while his spirit lingered and they still had it, using up what remained of his lyrics in the album EVERYTHING MUST GO. But what since? You can't tell me "The Masses Against the Classes" is a return to form. It's a fucking parody.

No, ignore the "Manic Street Preachers PLC" we have today. Go back to THE HOLY BIBLE. It's a filthy, angry, glorious call to arms. People say it's bleak as hell, and basically a long suicide note from Richey. No way. He might well have topped himself not long after recording it, but these songs almost sound like celebrations.

Sure, the songs dwell on how shit everything is. You cannot deny that. Some themes at random:
loss of youth an how shit adulthood is
capital punishment
sexual depravity of world leaders
menstruation and, er, how shit it is

But when you present shitness with such panache as this it kind of gives you hope. You see beyond the brown, so to speak. Check this lyric from "Yes". Surely - surely - he intends some humour here?
And in these plagued streets of pity you can buy anything
For $200 anyone can conceive a God on video
He's a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock
Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want

No matter how bad things get, this "bleak" album always lifts my spirits. James Dean Bradfield's (often almost military) arrangement has a lot to do with this, coupled with his agonised, defiant voice. But I can't help thinking it's all about Richey. He's the shaman, dancing around and cutting himself and pouting for the cameras and taking on all the shit around him and ultimately, ten years ago, throwing himself off the Severn Bridge (allegedly).

Mind you, a friend of a friend of a friend reckons they saw him in a Swiss ski resort a couple of years back, working behind the bar.

The other reason Richey fascinates me - he went to the same university as me (Swansea). On my very first day I remember getting a flyer under the door of my "hall of rez" room - a gig by a new "local" band called The Manic Street Preachers. I didn't go. I had a toga party to attend to, or something equally forgettable. But I haven't forgotten that flyer.

Later I found out Richey had lived in the same building as me. I doubt our paths would have crossed, even if we had been contemporaries (he had just left as I was arriving). From what I've read in his (numerous) interviews, he hated all those pissed-up students who wasted their education. He was reading in the library all the time (for that you have to admire him)... or at his digs in town, writing "Motorcycle Emptiness" with Nicky Wire. Although I did like the library, I was more often getting pissed and puking in a gutter.

(But Richey, I was never one of those middle-classes wankers you so hated. I never got a penny from no one. Honest. Every penny I pissed up the wall came straight out of my overdraft. Does that make a difference?)

(Probably not.)

But those lyrics... I'll leave you with another (from "Die in the Summertime"):

Scratch my leg with a rusty nail, sadly it heals
Colour my hair but the dye grows out
I can't seem to stay a fixed ideal

Childhood pictures redeem, clean and so serene
See myself without ruining lines
Whole days throwing sticks into streams

4 real?


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Anonymous said...

Hullo... you don't know me, but I'm commenting here because I completely agree with your post. The Manic Street Preachers are an awesome and far under-acknowledged band. Totally loving the lyrics about anorexia, cutting, etc. ... yet, somehow, he manages to make it not sound whiney. Also about them being shit after Richey died... er, disappeared... I accidentally bought a post-Richey album the other day, and it was such a painful surprise when the music started playing. Give it up, guys. Anyways, just wanted to let you know I agree!