And so, on the fifth day of ‘James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young’ we arrive at ‘E’.
And for this there were a few contenders.
But there was one that invokes so much nostalgia it was ultimately the only choice I could make.
E is for Everything Must Go
The Manic Street Preachers fourth album was their first release as a trio following on from the tragic and mysterious disappearance of lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards.
Although Richey’s musical contributions were questionable, his lyrics and personality were a fundamental part of the Manics DNA up to that point. Plus they were all friends from school, so the band felt his loss on a personal level.
‘Everything Must Go’ could therefore have been something much darker than it actually is. After all it’s predecessor, the Richey-inspired ‘Holy Bible’ is as bleak an album as you’re likely to come across.
‘Everything Must Go’ confounded expectations however, and is an uplifting (insofar as the Manics do ‘upbeat’), poignant and cathartic collection of songs, that marked the beginning of a period of sustained commercial success.
Growing up in Wales in the nineties means that the Manics are essentially royalty to me, and they are the band that I have seen live by far the most times.
I like pretty much all of their albums, including some of their more recent efforts. But the nostalgia-inducing albums are the ones from the nineties, both as a quartet and as a trio. Their 1992 debut ‘Generation Terrorists’ and the aforementioned ‘Holy Bible’, both could have been contenders for this alphabetised walk down memory lane.
But ‘Everything Must Go’ was an album that saw me through some of the worst of my teenage angst and it’s still a source of comfort when things are getting me down. Which, given the state of the world, means it’s been on the playlist quite a lot lately.
As with a lot of the albums I’ve been revisiting, it could be hard to pick a favourite track from ‘Everything Must Go’. Except that there is one track that just picks itself.
‘A Design for Life’ might just be my favourite song of all time.