Living With The Manics -
A Cautionary Tale

It never ceases to amaze me how perfectly logical, intelligent, well-meaning people can exist within a charade that teeters on a belief firmly based in whimsy.

Take religion - a strange beast if ever there was one. People spend their natural lives being 'good' in the belief that they will be blessed with eternal life. So, however shitty life may be, everything will be all right in the afterlife. I'd be interested to know if they'd change their behaviour if you could prove there was no after life - would they just go 'fuck it' and become utter bastards, finally freed of there do-gooding shackles? Many priests seem to have started early. But I digress.

Music is a powerful tool that, throughout history, has been used to stimulate and manipulate. But as many have said in the past, music and politics don't mix. While I recognise this is quite a sweeping statement, enough good examples present themselves to back it up.

I see two types of political music - that that is and that that is made out to be. The first type is strewn with the bodies of those that burn the brightest and fade the fastest or those that do well and, almost without exception, sell out in middle age (this goes largely unnoticed as there loyal fans have sold out/aged along with them). A notable exception is the Levellers, who still sell out large venues but hold true to their principles. I'm sure there are others.

The second type I have an acute hatred of/pity for - those bands placed on a political pedestal by fans/management/media and who milk it for all it's worth under the guise of 'doing it for the kids'. My two favourites are The Sex Pistols and The Manic Street Pistols Preachers. I view these two with equal contempt - the Pistols for starting it and the Manics for dragging it out for so long when they could've grown old gracefully.

Anyone that thinks the Pistols were a political band is, in my oh-so-humble opinion, a fool. They were a bunch of working class thugs-cum-fuck ups that jumped at the chance to be naughty teenagers on a big budget. I care more about the Countryside Alliance's plight than they did about politics or revolution.

But I think I loath the Manics more. In my mind, there are few things sadder than fattening, ageing middle-aged men pedalling piss-weak dross to a bunch of blinkered fans desperate to hear one more great record from their heroes. I often draw comparisons between U2 and the Manics - angry youths made multi millionaires - but U2 made a deliberate move to distance themselves from this stigma and I think their music benefited from their honesty.

If the Manics, or the Pistols for that matter, mean a lot to you and you now want to smash my face in, then I'm sorry. It's just that I keep trying to, but I don't get it. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's you. The fact that I don't find either band's music in any way inspiring probably doesn't help (although there's no denying that the Pistols made some cracking pop songs, although nowhere near as many as their reputation and fame would suggest).

If you can, or feel you should, justify their status as anything other than mediocre pop bands I'll be fascinated to listen. Answers on a postcard to REPEAT Towers…

Me? I'll just go back to the comfort of my CD collection in the knowledge that if I want to learn about the world I'll make my opinions based on books/newspapers/personal experience etc, not from half-arsed pull-quotes from old NMEs.

Chris 'in trouble now' Marling