Manic Street Preachers – Kevin Carter (CD One)

“Kevin Carter” is a solid song – a 1/8th-RHCP guitar riff with shakers turned into a catchy alt-rock song with the guitar kept fairly well down and lyrics about a photographer who took a famously depressing photo (you’ve seen it – it’s a starving kid in Africa and a vulture waiting for the child to die) and killed himself because he couldn’t handle the misery. Don’t think you can blame the guy. Richey’s lyrics (left from before he died) aren’t too deep, but major points for writing a song about such a sad topic. Few bands take on depressing subjects like this, while spreading awareness (when I was a teen this was the first I’d heard of it), and extra points for bucking expectations and making it a song that sounds almost happy until you realize  it’s about the least happy thing ever. There’s even a trumpet solo that I don’t hate! Probably because they’re not trying to “rock out” but instead a bit jazzy. But oh god what a sad topic for song.

B-Sides! These are some of the best from this period – “Horses Under Starlight” sounds like music for the credits of a film of an impoverished favela. A mournful, bemused horn solo over soft “ba-da-da-da-da” wordless vocals. At least, until it gets all schizo in the last thirty seconds. Reminds one of Dylan’s “Wigwam” but for that.

“Sepia” and “First Republic” have strangely drowned for Manics songs, and that hurts them, but the first is something sad about Richey and the second is something political with precisely one fun moment. There’s better, and you won’t need to play them at parties, but they’re up to something. I know that Chumbawamba hate Nicky Wire for his soft socialism (or maybe his embrace of Castro that shows a complete lack of judgment or objective thought), but musicians openly displaying their idealistic political views in such direct terms is unusual. I know, they’re all left-wingers, but Springsteen sings songs about workers, not openly starting a new country or who to vote for. There’s something sweet about Nicky’s open and continued bemoaning of specific aspects of capitalism and desire to start a new nation. At least that’s what I tihnk. Though he’s WAY off on Cuba, where they don’t allow fun things like dissent ever. Why not just make an album praising Chairman the fuck Mao?

Okay, enough for now, but let me say this: there are a lot of shitty capitalist countries, but there are some good ones. There are NO completely socialist countries that work as well as Norway or Sweden. We know exactly what works: a capitalist system that OTWABAL rewards hard work and luck while providing regulation (so fuckers don’t cheat the system) and a strong safety net (so poor people don’t die in the streets). This WORKS. This creates a vibrant middle class, innovation, and a large number of happy rich people. Every nominee for “best country in the world” is this. Maybe a truly laissez-faire capitalism can work or maybe government can run the means of production successfully. But whose millions of lives are you going to toy with because of idealism? Can’t we all be Germany and work together to cure AIDS and go to space? It’s sad that people are more swayed by emotional appeals and short-term gain than they are by countries that actually work.

6/10

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