Manic Street Preachers - This Is The Day: great or just plain lazy?
Could the release this weekend of the promo video for Manic Street Preachers' new single This Is The Day be a clue as to their plans?
The band have previously said they'll "disappear for a long time" but this video (for their cover of The The's 1983 song) seems like it's a goodbye. Never before have the Blackwood band celebrated their past in such a way.
They include some wonderful, evocative footage: from the very early 1990s to the present day, with plenty of shots of Richey. James looks cooler than cool in his Generation Terrorists garb, Nicky and Richey are shown camping it up and Sean's insouciant ambivalence at the 1997 Brit Awards is amusing.
This video reminds me of all the reasons I loved them in the first place: a British band whose combination of rockstar pretensions and alternative politics made them unique. They were simultaneously iconoclastic and reverential: they were enthusiastically paradoxical, sometimes demolishing the idea of the pop star, sometimes working with them.
There they are, frozen in time by celluloid, kohled-up and beautiful but there they are a few seconds later, fattened by encroaching middle-age but, it seems, having no less fun. The gap for Richey is brought into stark focus by this collage technique.
Mind you, different opinions are available. Manics biographer and music critic for The Independent Simon Price has an entirely different take: "It's incredibly lazy. Any fan could have cobbled that together with a couple of hours on Youtube and Windows Moviemaker.
"There are a few pieces of rare or unseen footage, and if they were gonna go down the montage route, they should have concentrated on that. Also, I have a phobia of videos featuring 'the guys' larking around backstage, pulling faces at the camera etc. It's such a rock cliché, like a Bon Jovi video or something.
I also hate the song and I've always thought Matt Johnson out of The The was one of the most pompous deluded bores of the soft-alternative 80s, the Steven Berkoff of pop. Apart from that, great work!"
Does, I ask Simon, mark an end for the band, a sign-off? "I think their recent public statements mark it as a (temporary) end for the band, not the video itself," he says.
"The video just marks it as one of those moments where they can't be arsed doing anything particularly interesting with it (see also Slash And Burn, Suicide Is Painless). Yes it has a nostalgic, valedictory feel, but so does approximately 50% of everything they've done since 1996, so I don't read too much into that."
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