A Design For Life
Wales is not widely recognised for its contribution to pop music. Outside of The Stereophonics, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, and very few others, it is mostly associated with serious tenors, and male voice choirs. There is however a notable exception, in the form of the Manic Street Preachers. They have an unusual history. Formed in 1986, their first album was released as a four-piece band, enjoying some critical acclaim, but not the sales success that they had hoped for. Nine years later, in 1995, their guitarist, Richey Edwards, inexplicably disappeared, and they were forced to continue as a trio. Edwards’ disappearance has been the subject of much speculation, and many unconfirmed sightings. But he has never been seen since, and was declared legally dead, in 2008.
After his absence, the band went from strength to strength. They adopted a guitar-based orchestral rock style that stood them in good stead, and they have since sold over ten million records. Lead vocalist James Dean Bradfield has been consistently good over the years, and the band’s arrangements and orchestrations have lifted them from their roots in the Punk and Indie scenes where they originated. They have released fifteen albums, and won numerous trophies, including those awarded by the NME, and an Ivor Novello award. They continue to perform to this day, but this 1996 release is still their best yet, as far as I am concerned.
(Stick with it, it gets better…)