Vinyl Review – Know Your Enemy (Door To The River/Solidarity) by Manic Street Preachers :

Being a writer is such a strange thing. Some days you will write something which you think is amazing and you want everyone to read and then the next day it seems naive or foolish and you toss it in the garbage. Know Your Enemy has never, in my opinion been foolish or naive but I know a LOT of the fanbase that were turned off by it. It was a strange creature, sure, but no stranger to me than Generation Terrorists. I know people do that “Why can’t The Beatles be a single album?” Thing, but you have to take the art as the artist intended. But recently we heard different tales. Know Your Enemy, the 10/10 (spoiler!) record was going to be two separate records. A snarly punk fire called Solidarity and a calmer, more reflective twin called Door To The River. The closest we got to this was two singles released on the same day ‘Found That Soul’, a throwaway (don’t @ me!) punk track and the beautiful (I SAID Don’t @ me!) Beach Boys malaise of ‘So Why So Sad’. I remember my MSP friend Francesca sending me an MP3 (hey fellow kids!) of this track and she was totally bemused by it. But to me it was the BEST. In fact the only bad thing I am going to say about this version of the record, aside from lost tracks (yes, yes, I will get the 3cd version later, thanks) is that it takes off the perfect version of ‘So Why So Sad’ and adds the not-so-good-Al version by Avalanches. Bad move boys. But from there, it is magic…

Door To The River starts with the classic ‘The Year Of Purification’ a tune that deserves its new front-and-centre status. Side One also resurrects Door To The River, from the Greatest Hits record, now warmer and at home on an actual ‘real’ album. And that is followed by ‘Rosebud’, a new track that fits perfectly with the tracks I already know and love. ‘Just A Kid’ was one of my favourite b-sides (hey, fellow kids!) and sitting here it is still perfect, into ‘His Last Painting’, ‘Let Robeson Sing’, ‘Ocean Spray’ b-side resurrected ‘Groundhog Days’ and the sublime ‘Epicentre’, this might be the best side of the 2 album set.

Solidarity kicks off with the perfect ‘Intravenous Agnostic’, which I have probably put on a mixtape for you at some point, always one of my favourites. I’m still not a great fan of ‘Found That Soul’ but it was always fantastic live (56 gigs deep, baby!) and now it has been placed with its stroppy cousins, it is better than an opening track. I’m not sure the McCarthy cover ‘We Are All Bourgeois Now’ deserves an album place when ‘Royal Correspondent’ is RIGHT THERE. Again, you can get that classic track on the CD and also, you already own Know Your Enemy, right?

But here is a killer triple…’Freedom Of Speech Won’t Feed My Children’. ‘The Convalescent’, ‘Baby Elian’ Yes please, more please, YES. Then it gets really weird…Firstly ‘Masses Against The Classes’, the first new number one of the millennium, blasts onto an album, no harm, no foul, into the classic ‘My Guernica’. Amazing. ‘Studies In Paralysis’ is another new treat and then we bleed out with ‘Dead Martyrs’ and ‘Wattsville Blues’ (over Royal Correspondent? Really? Sure it wass magic seeing Nicky do it live at his solo gig but it is no one’s fave band track.) But THEN! The magic of ‘Miss Europa Disco Dancer’ as a closing kicker is incredible, I have always loved it but now it has been given an important place on the record and makes much more sense and surely, you are just going to flip it over after this classic closer?

Soundwise, James Dean Bradfield and Dave Eringa have brought a classic back to life, it is spritely, the drums kick, the guitars clang, it sounds fantastic. It doesn’t sound as shambolic and if you have not loved this record for twenty years already, you could believe this is a new and perfect Manic Street Preachers record. And we have been waiting a while for one of them, right?

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