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Baker's Dozen

Reinventions Of The Near Future: James Dean Bradfield's Favourite LPs
Emily Mackay , September 23rd, 2014 08:25

With their Holy Bible shows just announced, the Manic Street Preachers frontman talks Emily Mackay through his all-time favourite albums

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The Blue Aeroplanes - Tolerance
It's not quite finished, and that's why it's a classic example of what they were becoming, and that's why I love it. I love coming across a record when you can hear what the band could become. Unfortunately with them, I don't think they really ever got there. For me, they could have been the British R.E.M.. I remember myself and Nick saw the band at WOMAD fest in 1986. We decided we had to go to one festival to see what everything was about - it was either '85 or '86 - and we saw James, when they'd just come out with 'Hymn From A Village', when they were a completely different band, and they were brilliant to be honest. We saw Siouxsie And The Banshees and Arrow, and I think The Housemartins were there, and we also saw The Blue Aeroplanes. They were fucking amazing; one of the best live bands I've ever seen. It was pre-Bez and they had a dancer with them onstage; he was called Wojtek [Dmochowski] and the singer was just scatting poetry over the music. For a band that made quite delicate music they were full-on, they were moving lots, it was just pure fully formed erudite freneticism. It was just lovely. We came away thinking, "Wow, we'd love to be in a fucking band who connect onstage like that, with what's in their music and really physically trying to impose yourself on an audience." I love this record because it's got a song on it called 'Arriving', which has the line: "I saw the sun shimmering on a broken breeze." Nick was obsessed with that line when he was young. There's another song called 'When The Wave Comes' which is beautiful, the actual song 'Tolerance' is just brilliant. It's not a perfect album but you can hear this promise of what this band could have been. Me and Nick went to this festival and we fucking hated the experience of going to this festival, we hated people were trying to sell us drugs, but we loved seeing The Blue Aeroplanes. It was a little Damascene moment which made us really, truly believe about how physical a gig could be. We were determined to not be a band that stood still and just looked at our feet or guitar fretboards after that; we were determined that we would move round shitloads. We walked away quite loftily saying, "We're never coming back to a festival unless we play one," which just shows how snotty and fucking deluded we were.

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Sep 23, 2014 12:47pm

Er maybe, 'Righting' some musical wrongs committed against Caledonia?

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Sep 23, 2014 12:56pm

Hahahaha at the list of bands that wiped the floor with the rest of the country. Orange Juice were good...Associates were good...Josef K were patchy....the rest meh. WIPED THE FLOOR. Hahahahahahah. Get lost Jimmy B.

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Sep 23, 2014 12:56pm

"whether it be fucking Frank Bloke or Mumford And Sons with their Cath Kidston version"

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Sep 23, 2014 12:57pm

Also, why is dressed like a middle manager from Dartford?

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Sep 23, 2014 12:57pm

Yeah, and let's not forget Fire Engines in that beautiful Scottish lot that James mentions.

What a glorious day it would be to see a Davey Henderson feature around these parts; Fire Engines/Win/Nectarine No.9/Sexual Objects...... Get on it.

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Sep 23, 2014 1:06pm

Love his choices or not but he's mentioned the "Sons And Fascination" / "Sister Feelings Call" double whammy and as far as I'm concerned I'll cut him slack for some of the others. It's still an astounding pair of albums that sound like the past and future being played at the same time. They never bettered them since, either, regardless of the stature they got and the changes they made. Even if you hate what Simple Minds became (and that'll be a high percentage on here, I'd wager) these are still something to enjoy with guilt-free gusto.

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Sep 23, 2014 2:00pm

"We're never coming back to a festival unless we play one"....or get our own toilet!

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Sep 23, 2014 3:53pm

I totally agree with the point about (a lot of) modern metal, but 'Them Bones' by Alice in Chains is in drop-D tuning, tuned down half a step. The same tuning/method that he's criticising (pedant alert over ;p)

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Mr. Odd
Sep 23, 2014 4:15pm

Blue Aeroplanes!! I've never been into his music but anyone who loves the Aeros has better taste than most.

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Sep 23, 2014 5:21pm

In reply to autechrejambo:

i think his criticism relates to dropping lower than that...but to be honest that relates to a different type of metal. i would agree that there aren't the same kind of 'rock metal' bands like alice and chains around any more, which some would say is a good thing

interesting list anyway. will have a listen to a few of these on the back of it…which i suppose is kind of the point/benefit of this column….and not a place to make snarky comments….

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Sep 23, 2014 5:22pm

In reply to Robxxx:

that last comment wasn't in response to autechrejambo! :)

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Sep 23, 2014 6:22pm

That festival that they saw The Blue Aeroplanes at would have been the one off Womad Clevedon one near was a good one!

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Paul Rangecroft
Sep 23, 2014 7:06pm

Nice to see some praise for Big Country's Steeltown a few weeks before the anniversary tour.

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Sep 23, 2014 8:50pm

Nice job on identifying Wire's "154" and the Simple Minds' "Sons and Fascination" (and you could add the accompanying release "Sister Feelings Call" right with it) as their best efforts respectively and 2 of the greatest albums of all time. Specifically, 154 utterly blew my mind when I heard in my late teens around 1980 and it has never lost one bit of it's impact 35 years later.

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Sep 23, 2014 10:15pm

The love of early 80s Caledonia always pretty obvious influence on the Manics. Stuart Adamson's choppy style, especially from Big Country's Inwards (one of the great lost songs) is pretty obvious on the Holy Bible. And Steeltown was a pretty in commercial fuck you. Good to hear JDB flying the flag here.

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Sep 24, 2014 11:45am

In reply to raveydavey:

As opposed to flying a kite.

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Sep 24, 2014 4:37pm

Good list. The Julian Cope quote really resonated with me too although JDB slightly paraphrases it here. It's actually, 'I dress like a cunt so people can't see how sensitive I am,' which is an amazing thing to say. He's not wrong about Fried either, it's a brilliant album, recorded within six months of his only slightly less impressive debut.

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Sep 25, 2014 5:35pm

In reply to Carpathian:

hear hear; was convinced this was a wilfully obscure list of albums by artists I've heard of but weren't recognised as their best album, or artists I've never heard of. To pick Sons/Sister as the Minds best album is just as wilful, but the sentiments are accurate, and yes is definitely better than anything else by the Minds. Of course Holy Bible font recalls Empires and Dance.

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Oct 3, 2014 2:07pm

So right on Big Country - people like John Doran from The Quietus and other like minded narrow minded hipsters think hypocritical wankers like Bragg are a gift from god, yet Big Country were far more in tune with the working class. Some folk seriously need to broaden their horizon if a more Scots folk influence is something bad.

Fuck the haters.

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Kenny G
Oct 3, 2014 4:24pm

Eye-opening list and great read. JDB is always worth a listen. Some great choices with Simple Minds' Sons & Fascination/Sister Feelings being my favourite - still sounds astounding today.

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Oct 3, 2014 8:18pm

In reply to Kenny G:

Big Country spoke for those with no voice. God bless you Stuart and thanks Dean

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David O'Ryan
Oct 3, 2014 9:43pm

That's the best piece I've ever seen written about Bug Country

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Oct 3, 2014 10:15pm

God bless you, JDB - Stuart Adamson is one of the very best guitarist/song writers to come out of the British Isles. So many good Big Country albums to choose from.............................

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John Doran
Oct 5, 2014 1:23pm

In reply to MattD:

For the record: I don't like Billy Bragg's music at all and I do like Big Country's music. I love how I'm becoming this hipster bogeyman. "If it wasn't for bearded people like John Doran beheading decent brits in Syria…"

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Oct 27, 2014 12:19pm

What a joy to read someone talk about Roy Buchanan & the beauty of a great guitar solo. I always loved the Manics for having the sense to fuck off all that silly anti-technique posturing of punk rock & indie. Great bakers dozen from James, just makes me wish they were touring Futurology instead of The Holy Bible!

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May 13, 2015 3:00am

Fucking brilliant album and I'm so thankful that someone like James recognized it.

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