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Richey Revisited

Stuart Bailie | 08:56 UK time, Tuesday, 12 May 2009

I spent a fair amount of time with Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers. We conversed in London and Los Angeles, in the Blue Mountains of Wales and in sundry festival enclosures. Our last meeting was shortly after his departure from the Priory in 1994. That Christmas, I watched him onstage at the Astoria on Charing Cross Road, pretty and almost entirely vacant. A few months later and he carried off the most absorbing vanishing act in popular music.

manics.jpgAs you know, the Manics have put together a new album, based on Richey's last creative writings. I'm listening to 'Journal For Plague Lovers' at the moment and I'm reassured that it sounds barbed and belligerent. It doesn't ask you to find it attractive, while the production of Steve Albini sustains the edge.

The lyrics are only starting to register, but I expect them to be intelligent and artfully distressed. His scything style was informed by the great philosophers, the doomed authors and the UK tabloid press. It was James' job to make these work as performance pieces, and he's clearly not lost the knack of the rock and roll hieroglyph.

Making sense of this will be the work of student dissertations for a few decades to come.

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