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The fourth album released by Manic Street Preachers.

When Richey Edwards, the tortured, troubled muse of the band dissappeared from his hotel in London, it seemed that the band would never again surface. But in the style of New Order and Foo Fighters, they returned with a huge, powerful, optimistic slab of good old fashioned rock. It's a very cheery album, but the smile is forced and underneath the big anthems there's a grim determination to not give in to depression. Probably the most telling lyric is in Enola/Alone, where James howls

"All I wanna do is live
No matter how miserable it is"

The great irony is that Richey was the one who was obsessed with success ("Number one is the only number that matters"), but Everything Must Go was their first truly successful album - The Holy Bible sold a mere 60,000, Everything Must Go went multi-platinum. A Design For Life almost became their first number one, but was denied by Mark Morrison's 'Return Of The Mack' (if memory serves)

The title of the album comes from a play by Patrick Jones, Nicky Wire's brother. The Manics have recently bought the film rights to the play.

Track List

1.Elvis Impersonator/Blackpool Pier
2.A Design For Life
3.Kevin Carter
5.Everything Must Go (title track)
6.Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky
7.The Girl Who Wanted To Be God
10.[Interiors (Song for Willem DeKoonig)
11.Further Away
12.No Surface All Feeling

Richey wrote the lyrics of Elvis Impersonator/Blackpool Pier, Kevin Carter, Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky, The Girl Who Wanted To Be God and Removables. He also plays guitar on No Surface All Feeling (an old demo was incorporated into the finished song). As far as I know, this is the only song that Richey ever played on.

Track five on Everything Must Go by Manic Street Preachers.

For band who had such an intense, devoted following, including the so-called "Cult Of Richey", there was always a worry that they would be accused of selling out. This song is an appeal for understanding, as well as a declaration of rebirth.

This was released as the second single from the album, backed up with Black Garden, Hanging On and Nobody Knows What It's Like To Be Me.

Everything Must Go

Shed some skin for the fear within
Is starting to hurt me with everything
Freed from the memory
Escape from our history, history

And I just hope that you can forgive us
But everything must go
And if you need an explanation
Then everything must go

I look to the future it makes me cry
But it seems too real to tell you why
Freed from the century
With nothing but memory, memory

And I just hope that you can forgive us
But everything must go
And if you need an explanation
Then everything must go

Freed us eventually just need to be happy, happy

And I just hope that you can forgive us
But everything must go
And if you need an explanation
Then everything must go
And if you need an explanation
Then everything must go

Enola/Alone | Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky

A statement often screamed at American television audiences by silly-named men such as' Crazy Larry' or 'Crazy Eddie' during a local sales event. Everything must usually go when a store is undergoing liquidation or going out of business.

An example usually screamed in a fast talking "in your face" manner:
EVERYTHING MUST GO! Come on down to Crazy Larry's Bedding Barn and save big cause EVERYTHING MUST GO! We've got twin mattresses, queen-sized mattresses and king-sized mattresses at the lower prices around! We can't be beat! I've been slashing prices all over the store! Why? 'Cause I'm CRAZY! So come on down to Crazy Larry's 'cause EVERYTHING MUST GO!
Steely Dan's ninth album (excluding "Best Of" and concert albums), released June 10, 2003 on Reprise. The album is available on CD, DVD-A, and in a CD/DVD combination "special edition." It was also released on vinyl in Europe only. Some retailers are selling an import CD/DVD edition at high prices; this is only the Japanese release of the CD/DVD special edition and has no material not in the US release.

Track List:

  1. the last mall
  2. things i miss the most
  3. blues beach
  4. godwhacker
  5. slang of ages
  6. green book
  7. pixeleen
  8. lunch with gina
  9. everything must go

On everything must go, Steely Dan still has the comfortable, familiar sound they left fans yearning for when they all but disappeared after the release of Gaucho in 1980, while also evoking Fagen's outstanding 1982 solo creation, The Nightfly. While some bands try to reinvent themselves with every album, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker stick with what they know works -- it's comfort music, like the comfort food we all know and love. Yet beneath the jazzy, uplifting melodies are the usual inside jokes and black humor that fans have come to expect. It's the same method they used to sneak unsavory stories onto the easy listening stations during their first run at the game, back in the 70's.

Critics might pan the new work as too similar to past music, with no innovation, especially since this is one of the most quickly-created Steely Dan albums yet -- but the new songs still sound fresh despite the familiarity, and generally revolve around feelings of loss that would expectedly be known to guys in their 50's -- but have affected just about everyone in the US since 9/11. It's like a midlife crisis that we all can identify with.

Several tracks, of course, revisit their usual theme of old men relating to young women (or trying to) -- "blues beach," "slang of ages," and "pixeleen" bring us lyrics like "Here comes Trina -- the child bride | I said hey pretty girl -- can I cop a ride" and "Pixeleen | Dream deep my three-times perfect ultrateen" -- although "pixeleen" also seems to hint at the futility of falling for an on-screen digital creation. On the other hand, "things i miss the most" and "lunch with gina" show different sides of dealing unsuccessfully with past relationships.

The title track is the most complex and impressive, and seems to be inspired by the whole dot com crash, claiming "we're goin' out of business, Everything must go." It's like "Black Friday" has finally come to pass, and we've got nothing left to lose -- and this time, the rich folks are feeling it as much as the masses. But somehow I'm convinced that Becker & Fagen will be back for another round.

The tracks in short:
the last mall
Consumerism as the world comes to an end
things i miss the most
loss -- but what hurts the most, losing the wife, the sex, or the Audi TT?
blues beach
70's style rock frustrated at growing old: "It's a stone soul picnic For the early resigned."
A new atheist anthem, or is the devil going hunting?
slang of ages
"Damn, she skipped dimensions" -- age differences are so much more pronounced these days! Also note Becker on lead vocals, which I haven't heard since he debuted "Jack of Speed" on the 1995-6 "Art Crimes" tour
green book
"The torso rocks and the eyes are keepers -- Now where'd we sample those legs?" -- jealousy, online pornography and sexual objectification in the modern age
More sexualizing of teen idols, but virtual ones
lunch with gina
Some women never take no for an answer... and in the end you don't want them too after all.
everything must go
the stocks have crashed, the company's gone under, "I move to dissolve the corporation | In a pool of margaritas."
The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist. - Kevin Carter

Richey James Edwards vanished on February 1st, 1995, on the eve of the Manic Street Preachers' US tour. Their third album, The Holy Bible, was a stark warning sign that all was not well, but his disappearing act was for all intents and purposes wholly unexpected. The band had penned a few lyrics for their next album, and spirits seemed high until that fateful day when Richey left his hotel room, never to be heard from again.

The band were caught without their lyricist, guitarist and friend. Could they go on? For several months, the Manics simply ceased to function as a group, the reality of what had happened needing to sink in. At Richey's family's urging, the remaining trio - James Dean Bradfield, Sean Moore and Nicky Wire - returned to the studio to pen the fourth LP. Everything Must Go is the sound of a band thrust into unfamiliar territory, not knowing quite how to go on but carrying on come what may. For the first time, Nicky pens the majority of lyrics (whilst a handful of songs use whatever Richey had left), and the result is a unique sound - not quite the harshness of The Holy Bible, yet not quite radio-friendly rock either.

Track Listing

  1. Elvis Impersonator:Blackpool Pier - The opening track criticizes the Americanization of traditional British culture, juxtaposing the picture of Elvis against something so essentially English. An angry, yet restrained opener, with James' guitars and lyrics daring the listener to question what's happening. Not released as a single."American trilogy in Lancashire pottery."
  2. A Design For Life - A song tackling the erosion of traditional, working-class values, written as more and more public services were being privatised. Released as a single on the 15th April, 1996, this very nearly became the group's first number one, but peaked at 2. "Libraries gave us power/Then work came and made us free"
  3. Kevin Carter - Sean shows off his prowess as a trumpeter in this song, lamenting the famous photographer who took his own life. Released as a single on 30th September, 1996, reaching number seven. "Bang bang club, AK-47 hour"
  4. Enola/Alone - A song about reflecting back on the past while trying to find a direction for the future. Read bol's excellent writeup here, which explains the song far better than I can. Not released as a single. "But all I want to do is live/No matter how miserable it is."
  5. Everything Must Go - This is the Manics asking the world, "We're going to keep going. Anybody have a problem with that?" The song is uplifting, an affirmation that no matter what's happened so far, they've got to keep going - but appealing to the fans to stay with them and lend their support. Released as a single on 29th July, 1996, reaching number 5. "And I just hope that you can forgive us/Because everything must go."
  6. Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky - After the previous song, the album takes on a more meloncholy tone with a song penned by Richey. The song is about zoo animals, inspired by a documentary on the subject. Not released as a single. Once you roared, now you just grunt, lame"
  7. The Girl Who Wanted To Be God - Another uplifting song, rising again from the fall of Small Black Flowers.... Named after a quotation by Sylvia Plath. Not released as a single."The dawn is still breaking/Its heaven is so high"
  8. Removables - A song that starts out nice and gentle - before ripping into a strong chorus, building up with more and more intensity as the song continues. This song is about the lack of permanance in modern art - "all removables". Not released as a single. "A bronze moth dies easily/Unknown to others, weak to me"
  9. Australia - A song about wanting to get away - Nicky wrote this about wanting to escape 1995, and the events that surrounded Richey's disappearance. Released as a single on 2nd December, 1996, reaching number 7."Sleep for a while and speak no words in Australia."
  10. Interiors (Song for Willam De Kooning - Willam De Kooning was a celebrated artist, before succumbing to alcoholism - his later paintings a shadow of his past glory. This song reflects on the past, asking if we'll be able to remember the past today. Not released as a single"Say you can remember, say 'where is the tomorrow'/Say where you are coming from, say what you have"
  11. Further Away - A love song from the Manic Street Preachers. Can it be? Certainly seems so, in this relatively gentle song covering both love, and homesickness. Not released as a single. "The further away I get from you/The harder it gets for everyone else"
  12. No Surface All Feeling - The album's final track, dealing with how the group have moved on from their earlier days - that they're not the same people they were when Generation Terrorists were released. Not released as a single."It was all surface, no feeling/Maybe at the time it felt like dreaming."

Everything Must Go still doesn't completely shake off Richey - although I doubt any subsequent Manics album has, either. There are still lyrics penned by the band's resident poet, and much of the album is focused around coming to terms with the fact that the band simply will never be the same. The sound isn't as refined as on This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, nor as angry and as harsh as The Holy Bible, but is still very much 'their' sound - the lyrics are still solid, with Nicky certainly a talented songwriter in his own right.

It's a fine album, and sold more than any Manics album before it, but doesn't define the band nearly as well as other albums. Generation Terrorists was angry, raw and unpolished, The Holy Bible painful and morose, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours the band coming to terms with being a three-piece. Buy this album if you want to get into the group, without plunging in too much at the deep end - and remember, it has A Design For Life on it. Can't be all bad.

Previous: The Holy Bible
Next: This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours

A review of Everything Must Go, the 5th Manic Street Preachers album, released in 1996

Everything Must Go is an astonishing achievement from a band who were, by their own admission, falling apart. In the year previous, the band's lyricist and spokesperson Richey Edwards disappeared after a slow decline into depression. Any other band would have disintegrated, and given that the Manics are a band formed through close childhood friendships, it was almost expected that it was the end for them. However, this is what makes Everything Must Go even more amazing - the fact that the band didn't give in, but went on to make one of the most defiantly successful albums in music.

Everything about the album, from its title to the front cover to the songs themselves, suggest a clean slate; the need to grow, move on and reinvent. Many pointed to this as the Manics forgetting Richey and ignoring his memory. However, Edwards' influence is everywhere in the album, both in lyrics he wrote before his disappearance and those written by remaining lyricist Nicky Wire. The Manics fought back in the only way they knew how; by creating the most powerful and emotional songs of their career, never veering into the traps of sugary sentimentalism that many bands who have lost members have fell victim to.

Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier may seem like an odd choice to open the album - it was never a single, and it certainly isn't the best song on the album. A Richey lyric, it's a bizarre, obtuse criticism of the Americanisation of Britain set to the colossal, monsterous rock song template that continues throughout the album. Following on is the song that triggered the reinvention of the band, A Design For Life. Undeniably moving, marrying both the band's working class aspirations and soaring musicality, it is the kind of song that you have to sit back and take in as you attempt to comprehend its power. Next is Kevin Carter, another Richey lyric. Here the music and lyrics work in perfect symmetry to create a distinctive, musically sophisticated number that most bands would kill to create.

The next two songs are arguably the first on the album that deal directly with Richey's disappearance. The first, Enola/Alone is a heartfelt lyric by Wire. A melodic and soaring track, James Dean Bradfield sounds painfully emotional as he sings of attempting to find a desire to live "no matter how miserable it is". The following title track has similar themes, as the lyrics plead for forgiveness. Whether this was directed at Richey, the listener, or both remains to be seen, and gives the song even more emotional power, like a punch in the guts.

Following on is another Richey lyric, Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky. Its gentle, acoustic nature is deceiving; a lyric inspired by the fate of caged animals, this track is breathtakingly beautiful and endlessy affecting. Next is The Girl Who Wanted To Be God, a co-written effort by Edwards and Wire. A twinkly guitar number inspired by Sylvia Plath, this kept up the tradition of literary references in Manics albums. The next track, Removables, is bizarrely abstract within the context of the album and strangely nonsensical. There is no trace of optimism here; easily explained when you realise it is a Richey lyric from 1994.

As the album reaches its conclusion, the last four songs are written by Wire alone. Australia is another track that captures the desire to escape, with surprisingly dark lyrics given its soaring, driving music. It almost feels as if it is taking off. Interiors (Song For Willem De Kooning) is a song inspired by a Dutch painter, yet still contains lyrics implying the need for forgetting through comfort and companionship, as the lyric states "take my hand together and we will cry". Given the circumstances, this is infinitely moving. Further Away is a first for the Manics - a love song. Despite this, it is not overly sentimental or sappy, and is of course a classic Manics rock song. Some things just never change.

The album closer is the monumental, gigantic-sounding No Surface All Feeling. Featuring Wire lamenting the band growing further apart and starting to live separately after being so close for years, it is perfect for the end of the album. A spectacular track, it seems to expand into a massive epic symphony before crashing down into a noisy mess of guitars which gradually fade out, leaving you to absorb what you've just heard.

Forget the history. Forget the controversy. Everything Must Go is an album that combines the best of the Manics and shows them at the peak of their commercial and critical success, and rightly so. Even without all the emotional weight behind it, this is a coherent album on its own. The band may have changed beyond recognition both musically and visually, but this albums reminds us why we should be glad they are still here at all.

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