Thursday, 27 November 2008

Richey James Edwards, R.I.P.

This week, one of the most famous cases of a "missing person" came a stage closer to being closed. The "person" in question was Richey James Edwards (or Richey James as he preferred), original member of Manic Street Preachers, who disappeared from a London hotel on February 1st 1995. His car was found abandoned near the Severn Bridge.

Whilst many presumed he had comitted suicide, 14 years have passed until his status of missing has been changed to "presumed dead", despite various alleged sightings during that time.

It seems appropriate, therefore, to dedicate this week's post to the late Richey James Edwards, surely one of the greatest lyricists of our times, and his band Manic Street Preachers.

Coming from Wales, The "Manics", as they became known, quickly achieved a reputation as a band with a political message and were linked almost immediately with The Clash and The Sex Pistols. After 6 years of demos, ep's and a series of volatile gigs, in 1992 they released their first full-length album, Generation Terrorists (Columbia), which boasted great tracks such as 'Motorcycle emptiness', 'You love us' and 'Stay beautiful'.

This magnificent debut was followed-up by a more ordinary album, Gold Against The Soul (Columbia, 1993), and many thought this was a signal the Manics would leave the music world without a trace (the band had even said themselves that they would break up after the first album). However, they came back with a 3rd album which, in my humble opinion, is one of the best of the 90s - The Holy Bible (Epic, 1994). This is a dark, hard album, typified by tracks such as 'Of walking abortion', 'She is suffering', 'Revol' and (personal favourite, mainly because of the title) 'Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart'. It was during this time that Richey's already erratic behaviour became increasingly accentuated and just before the group's scheduled tour of the U.S. his disappearance occurred.

For the next 2 years, we heard more about Richey being seen across the world and rumours the band would finally split than anything related to their music, but in 1996 the Manics brought out Everything Must Go (Epic), which finally established them as one of the U.K.'s biggest bands. Much poppier and certainly easier to listen to, but still retaining songs of a highly political content ('Kevin Carter' is a fantastic example of this) and, at the same time, offering anthems such as 'A design for life'. Indeed, for most this was the album of the year.

Since 1996, the band have released a further four studio albums; This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours (Virgin, 1998), Know Your Enemy (Virgin, 2001), Lifeblood (Sony, 2004) and Send Away The Tigers (back with Columbia, 2007) as well as the compilation Lipstick Traces (Sony, 2003).

Whilst it is probably true that the band has never reached such a level as "Everything..." each of the following albums have always graced us with a track or two to enjoy and highlighted the band's commitment to the socialist cause: 'Tsunami' talks of the deliberate flooding of a small Welsh village to benefit the English and 'Baby Elian' deals the U.S's treatment of Cuba (and ensured they became the first western band to play in La Habana, complete with a dinner invitation from Fidel Castro).

Now that Richey is no longer missing, it will be interesting to monitor the band's next move, given that 14 years after his disappearance, Richey James Edwards is as an important a part of the Manic Street Preachers as ever, a theory confirmed by the fact that their next album, due for release in Spring 2009 will consist exclusively of songs written by the man who is no longer with us.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the Manics, check out their discography by clicking on the thumbnails and listen to some of their tracks on the jukebox below.

Manic Street Preachers:
James Dean Bradfield, vocals and lead-guitar
Nicky Wire, bass and vocals
Sean Moore, drums and vocals
Richey James R.I.P, guitars



Create a playlist at

Note: These tracks are copyright. I probably shouldn't put them on here, but all I'm trying to do is let people listen to some music and get an idea of why the Manics are so brilliant. I'd rather not get into trouble with the police, so if this is a problem, let me know and I'll remove the tracks.