well, in a little over 3 (three) weeks since it was sent, my package of the (then) new Manic Street Preachers single has arrived!
a bit of a grumble first, sadly. townsend records, they who established the "exclusive" Manics store which was the only place you could buy this from, don't seem particularly concerned about international orders. the three weeks this took to get to me, oddly, seems to have little to do with the usual superb standard of service from the SA Post Office, and everything to do with how it was sent. for some reason they send the stuff in a normal padded envelope (amazon, HMV and recordstore use much sturdier, possibly cheaper cardboard packaging) and further just put standard 1st class UK domestic postage on! it's a wonder it arrived at all!
at least everything more or less arrived in one piece - one of the CD boxes is broken, but by some miracle the 7" is in one piece.
OK, grumble over (for now). how are the songs? well....
(It's Not War) It's Just The End Of Love : i've heard it quite a few times already, so no surprises. repeated plays does not render the song dull and tiresome, so i guess for now it will stand up as an above-average tune from them. if this represents the whole album, though - and who knows when my copy of that will land! - i would be a bit dubious. i don't expect the band to be all serious and what have you, but there is such a thing as "too much pop" from the Manics. i still maintain this would be better if it was called (It's Not Love) Just The End Of War.
I Know The Numbers : the b-side of the 7". as far as i can work out, essentially a James Dean Bradfield solo number, for it sounds like just him and his guitar. not sure if Nicky wrote the words of James did it all by himself. a pleasant enough acoustic track, really - not strong enough to be on an album, but not a "oh, this will do for a b-side" thing either. James' voice and guitar are never, ever a waste.
I'm Leaving You For Solitude : this is excellent! and also available for free - for some reason the band gave this b-side away as a free download on their official site a little while ago. let us be honest, as many have pointed out this song is little more than a slowed down Hey Jude with different words. and i have no problem with this, it sounds excellent!
Distractions : wow! please let the album sound more like this than the a-side! great James vocal, the band hitting some great notes on this rather catchy tune! if this got stuck on as track 3 of a CD single instead of squeezed on to the album Postcards From A Young Man, there must be some class stuff waiting! i suspect this might be the most played b-side of the lot, although Solitude will be a close second. great guitar work from James, Sean Moore really sounding like he's having fun on drums. Nicky's bass is, well, Nicky's bass.
Ostpolitik : an instrumental number. who is that doing the keyboards? sounds great! good guitar riff breaks it up a bit, a toe-tapping drum and bassline is a constant. sounds desperately like there were meant to be some words on it, i guess they couldn't get them to fit and just decided to let the instruments do the talking. no bad thing.
Lost Voices : the "excusive" track that you get only on CD2 when you get this bundle. rathe heavy bass pedal on the drums, some sort of distort trick going on with James' voice. has the sound of a semi-classic track that they have not or simply could not take any further. by no means is it essential listening, but if you happen to have it, not a bad tune to play once or twice.
OK, back to ranting. i am getting somewhat confused by what the record industry wants us to do, really. on the one side, the record labels are crying that "downloads" are killing music, everyone is pirating everything, and they are struggling to sell music in the conventional manner. odd, then, the approach that industry leaders Sony have taken with the new Manic Street Preachers releases. they have, in their wisdom, blocked all access to promo videos on sites to countries outside of the UK. you cannot purchase legal downloads of albums cross-border, yet they have made no effort to make it available to purchase legally in many countries. and finally, it seems, they have left selling & shipping the records outside of the UK to a company with a distinctly haphazzard approach to doing it. strange, and it makes you wonder if people just download the stuff via less-than-legal ways more out of frustration at not being able to buy it than they do just to get it for free.
i am no expert, but perhaps Sony's bizarre approach of trying to limit the sales of the record worldwide had some bearing on this excellent set of songs only getting to number 28 in the charts?
ho hum, whereas it seems tricky to get the new Manics records, it is worth the hassle for great tunes like these! now let's see when the album lands!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!