Ranking The Manics Songs – Postcards From A Young Man

Golden Postcards

Ten albums – not many bands make it that far these days, and certainly not with the same level of consistent success and quality. And this album is now ten years old and the band is still going. That’s one of the many reasons to love them. This album, described as their ‘last shot at mass communication’, has many moments of pop goodness and embraces some choice and unusual influences (Gospel and Motown) while not relinquishing their central roots. Sadly, this was one of the main instances of the band simply picking the wrong songs to be singles – but luckily there were still three and therefore a bunch of alternatives to ponder over. Here is my ranking:

  1. I Think I’ve Found It
  2. All We Make Is Entertainment
  3. Golden Platitudes
  4. Don’t Be Evil
  5. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
  6. Hazelton Avenue
  7. It’s Not War
  8. The Descent
  9. Auto-Intoxication
  10. The Future Has Been Here 4Ever
  11. Postcards From A Young Man
  12. Some Kind Of Nothingness

My main issue with a lot of the B-Sides around this time and till today, is the reliance on uninspired instrumentals and Nicky vocals. I managed to replace one song with a B-Side for my fantasy tracklist:

  1. It’s Not War
  2. Postcards From A Young Man
  3. Broken Up Again
  4. The Descent
  5. Hazelton Avenue
  6. Auto-Intoxication
  7. Golden Platitudes
  8. I Think I’ve Found It
  9. A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
  10. All We Make Is Entertainment
  11. The Future Has Been Here 4Ever
  12. Don’t Be Evil

I toyed with adding I’m Leaving You For Solitude or Midnight Sun, but they don’t really fit the grandiose nature of the album. This seems like a respectable album. Let us know what your ranking would be!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Journal For Plague Lovers

Journal For Plague Lovers

Maybe it was the simple act of using Richey’s lyrics again, but the music of Journal For Plague Lovers is fucking glorious. It isn’t simply a matter of the fury, the feeling, and the riffs returning but something about embracing those past ghosts and genius entirely revitalized every aspect of their outlook and output. The result is one of their best albums, and arguably the best album of 2009. If I have any real criticism, it’s that too many of the songs end in an abrupt way – a sudden or stilted stop instead of a more thought out conclusion. That’s just me though. More than any of their albums, almost every track is on an even level so my ranking is more pointless than usual. Here it is:

  1. Virginia State Epileptic Colony
  2. Peeled Apples
  3. Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
  4. All Is Vanity
  5. Me And Stephen Hawking
  6. Doors Closing Slowly
  7. This Joke Sport Severed
  8. Marlon JD
  9. She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach
  10. Marlon JD
  11. Bag Lady
  12. Pretension Repulsion
  13. William’s Last Words

No bad songs here at all, and Number 13 could just as easily be in the top five. No ideal version here – most of the bonus tracks released around this time are instrumental or not exciting – no singles were released for the album so there isn’t the usual collection of B-Sides to rip through. Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Send Away The Tigers

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After the mainly piano-based and electronic antics of Lifeblood, the band headed once more back to their guitar roots with the straightforward angular rock of Send Away The Tigers. Generally well received at the time, it’s an album which is mostly forgotten now beyond its major single. The band itself has once again been critical of certain songs but also credited it as getting them back on track and helping them to fall in love with making music again. Here’s my ranking of the ten tracks and the one hidden song:

  1. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  2. Autumn Song
  3. Send Away The Tigers
  4. Winterlovers
  5. Imperial Bodybags
  6. Underdogs
  7. Rendition
  8. I’m Just A Patsy
  9. Indian Summer
  10. The Second Great Depression
  11. Working Class Hero

Essentially everything above is a few steps below Your Love Alone Is Not Enough in terms of quality, with at least 7 of the lower ranked songs being interchangeable for me. No bad songs at all, just high average or thereabouts. It’s a short album but still garnered four singles, so that means we have plenty of B-Sides and alternatives to add in for my ideal version of the album:

  1. Send Away The Tigers
  2. Underdogs
  3. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  4. Anorexic Rodin
  5. Fearless Punk Ballad
  6. Rendition
  7. Morning Comrades
  8. Autumn Song
  9. Leviathan
  10. Boxes And Lists
  11. Imperial Bodybags
  12. Little Girl Lost
  13. Winterlovers
  14. Umbrella
  15. Ghosts Of Christmas

Both of those last two would be hidden tracks, naturally. That’s actually a pretty great album right there. I’m sure the order could be switched around to flow better. Let us know your ranking and picks in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Lifeblood

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Perhaps more than any other album the band recorded, Lifeblood has been unfairly criticized. It seemed like critics and fans both agreed that it was a little bland, lacking both the political conviction, the rage, the creativity, and the tunes of anything else they’d done before. I’d argue each of those points, though I’d agree that the rage has been muted or transformed and concede that while the lyrical creativity was decreased, the musical inspiration was high. It’s an album I like a lot, though the funny thing is that most of the tracks which the detractors agree upon liking, are the ones I’d cut. Here’s my ranking:

  1. Glasnost
  2. Cardiff Afterlife
  3. To Repel Ghosts
  4. I Live To Fall Asleep
  5. Emily
  6. A Song For Departure
  7. Empty Souls
  8. Solitude Sometimes Is
  9. The Love Of Richard Nixon
  10. 1985
  11. Fragments
  12. Always/Never

Luckily, the band had been going through a particularly productive period of novelty releases – Greatest Hits, B-Sides, EPs etc, so there are plenty of songs from this time which I would much rather have on the album instead. The good thing is, most of them fit the tone and musical landscape of the album. Like these:

  1. Happy Ending
  2. A Song For Departure
  3. I Live To Fall Asleep
  4. There By The Grace Of God
  5. Automatik Teknicolour
  6. To Repel Ghosts
  7. Everything Will Be
  8. No Jubilees
  9. Emily
  10. Door To The River
  11. 4 Ever Delayed
  12. Everything Will Be
  13. Glasnost
  14. All Alone Here
  15. Cardiff Afterlife

Fifteen songs is likely still too many – I could cut it down to 12, say drop All Alone Here, Automatik, and one of your choice and we would have a damn near perfect album. Let us know your picks in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Know Your Enemy

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If many of the band’s traditional fans jumped ship after the release of their previous album, most of their new found fans left after Know Your Enemy. The band’s sort-of return to a more abrasive punk sound alienated those expecting another If You Tolerate This while the hardcore fans were disillusioned by the lack of musical focus and new-found experimentation. I’ve typically been a supporter of the album, as I am of each, but I’m not so jaded so as to not recognise its many flaws. It’s just so damn long – its sixteen main tracks making it even longer than their debut. Many of the songs repeat the same sentiments, quite a few are interchangeable musically, while the more experimental moments often fail. Apparently it was supposed to be two different albums, something which likely would have been the better option, but the record company wasn’t playing ball. So we have sixteen songs, plus one hidden track, but thankfully a few B-Sides worthy of replacing what did make the cut. First, my ranking:

  1. Epicentre
  2. Ocean Spray
  3. The Year Of Purification
  4. Found That Soul
  5. Let Robeson Sing
  6. Freedom Of Speech Won’t Feed My Children
  7. Baby Elian
  8. My Guernica
  9. The Convalescent
  10. Intravenous Agnostic
  11. So Why So Sad
  12. His Last Painting
  13. We Are All Bourgeois Now
  14. Dead Martyrs
  15. Miss Europa Disco Dancer
  16. Royal Correspondent
  17. Wattsville Blues

Then, a better edit of the album:

  1. Found That Soul
  2. Ocean Spray
  3. Intravenous Agnostic
  4. So Why So Sad
  5. The Year Of Purification
  6. My Guernica
  7. The Convalescent
  8. The Masses Against The Classes
  9. Epicentre
  10. Baby Elian
  11. Freedom Of Speech Won’t Feed My Children
  12. We Are All Bourgeois Now

Finally, my ideal version of the album, restored to 17 tracks – it’s still a bit excessive and I’d probably drop Track 17 altogether, but it’ll do:

  1. Found That Soul
  2. Ocean Spray
  3. Intravenous Agnostic
  4. Locust Valley
  5. So Why So Sad
  6. The Year Of Purification
  7. Fear Of Motion
  8. My Guernica
  9. Just A Kid
  10. The Convalescent
  11. The Masses Against The Classes
  12. Epicentre
  13. Masking Tape
  14. Baby Elian
  15. Little Trolls
  16. Freedom Of Speech Won’t Feed My Children
  17. We Are All Bourgeois Now

What is your ranking of the songs on Know Your Enemy? What songs would you drop or replace? Let us know in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours

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I’ve always had a strange relationship with their fifth album. I think I appreciate the songs more than I enjoy them, beyond the ones I genuinely love. I love the craftsmanship and the ideas, but the lack of energy and the fact that most of the second half just feels like dirge after dirge creates an unfair view of the whole. Few of the songs are outright bad – they’re just not songs I choose to listen to repeatedly, not over the many many better songs they have. Here’s my list:

  1. Ready For Drowning
  2. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  3. Tsunami
  4. The Everlasting
  5. Nobody Loved You
  6. You Stole The Sun From My Heart
  7. My Little Empire
  8. Black Dog On My Shoulder
  9. You’re Tender And You’re Tired
  10. Born A Girl
  11. Be Natural
  12. I’m Not Working
  13. SYMM

The bottom five songs – those I feel mostly ambivalent about and their ranking could change dependent on the weather. SYMM I’ve softened more on over the years, the other four I still like as standalones – when listening to the album as a whole though, it’s during that second half run where it drags. Like Everything Must Go – there aren’t a slew of great B-Sides to replace those with. Most of the B-Sides, while nice experiments, aren’t appealing to me. The band’s recent revisionist re-releases of their own albums has seen them replacing their own songs with B-Sides they preferred – TIMTTMY being one of the victims of this. Because of that, I’m going to nick a song from the previous album’s era and slap it in here. Here’s my take on what they album could have been:

  1. The Everlasting
  2. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  3. You Stole The Sun From My Heart
  4. Ready For Drowning
  5. Tsunami
  6. My Little Empire
  7. Prologue To History
  8. Sepia
  9. Born A Girl
  10. You’re Tender And You’re Tired
  11. Black Dog On My Shoulder
  12. Montana/Autumn 78
  13. Nobody Loved You

There you have it, my take on another great album. What’s yours? Let us know in the comments!

Ranking The Manics Songs – Everything Must Go

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Like The Holy Bible before it, the task of rearranging Everything Must Go to make it better (in your own personal opinion), is unenviable. That was never the main intent of these posts, and just something which happened along the way. More on that later. The task of ordering my favourites is still difficult, but much easier than on their previous album. Here is my list:

  1. A Design For Life
  2. No Surface All Feeling
  3. Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky
  4. Further Away
  5. Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier
  6. Interiors
  7. Removables
  8. Australia
  9. Enola Alone
  10. The Girl Who Wanted To Be God
  11. Kevin Carter
  12. Everything Must Go

It’s another case of me wanting to drop the title track, but you can’t really do that without needing to come up with a new album title. With this album there are quite a few songs which people would want to switch out for others – just in my case it’s some of the more well known tracks I would maybe replace. The main problem here is that most of the B-Sides of this era I rank as similar to the album tracks I would want to replace:

  1. Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier
  2. A Design For Life
  3. No-One Knows What Its Like To Be Me
  4. Enola Alone
  5. Hanging On
  6. Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky
  7. First Republic
  8. Removables
  9. Interiors
  10. Australia
  11. Sepia
  12. Further Away
  13. All Surface No Feeling

Let us know what, if anything, you would change about this classic album and what your personal ranking is!