Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"The most powerful and coherent political statement the Manics ever made"

While the anthemicism and clean lines of 1996's Everything Must Go came as a shock to many hardcore Manics fans, the record that had them really renouncing their former heroes in their droves came two years later. Twenty years on, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours is ripe for reappraisal.

As the Quietus' Patrick Clarke notes, it's hardly surprising that those who got onboard in the eyeliner, feather boa and 'Motorcycle Emptiness' days were appalled. 'The Everlasting' set out the LP's stall: lush, grand, sweeping, palatable to Mondeo Man and those whose 90s had been soundtracked by Shine compilations.

And yet Clarke is right to point out that the album is unfairly maligned as a sell-out. Take lead single 'If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next': a reflection on fascism and the Spanish Civil War originally slated to be only a B-side (incredibly), it took the band to the top of the charts. Detractors might claim that the message was diluted by the medium, but it's possible to argue the opposite: that, after years of preaching to the converted, the band were finally connecting with mainstream audiences without compromising their lyrical content.

Everywhere you look there are heavy themes set to deceptively graceful music. 'Ready For Drowning' deals with cultural imperialism and the colonial attitude of the English towards the Welsh, while 'Black Dog On My Shoulder' addressed depression at a time when, unlike now, mental health issues were given little attention and routinely trivialised.

And then there's the incredible 'SYMM', the track that closes the album, which saw the band sticking their necks out by controversially and bluntly accusing the South Yorkshire Police of gross negligence during the Hillsborough disaster. At the time, they were vilified for it - but twenty years later they stand completely vindicated. 'Liverpool Revisited', from latest LP Resistance Is Futile, is a poor relation in every respect - much as that album is largely a lame imitation of This Is My Truth.

Don't hold your breath for any twentieth anniversary shows (a la The Holy Bible), and I wouldn't go so far as Clarke in acclaiming it as one of their best - but at the same time don't dismiss out of hand a record that deserves a better reputation than it's got.

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