It has come to my attention that the third Manics album, The Holy Bible, was released twenty years ago today, on the 29th of August 1994. I have a clear memory of catching the bus into Southport, as a spotty 16 year old, to go and buy it from Our Price.
It was the first CD that I ever bought with my own money.
Of course I’d bought records before — so, so many embarrassing records ** — and cassettes, but I’d come to the party with CDs somewhat late. I’d only just got my first CD player the week before (a reward from my parents for doing well in my GCSEs) and The Holy Bible was the third CD in my collection, joining Definitely Maybe and His n Hers, which had both been given to me.
They were soon to be joined by hundreds more, the proceeds of my first job washing dishes at the Cathay Garden, but The Holy Bible was the one I played to death. I can still remember almost all of the lyrics, and I could probably quote you any of those little snippets of speech that play at the start of most tracks (“I wonder who you think you are? You damn well think you’re god or something? God give life and god taketh it away. Not you. I think you are the devil itself…”, “I eat too much to die, and not enough to stay alive; I’m piggy in the middle…”) For a while it was the default disc that I left in the player — this being a time when you had to get up and walk across the room, pick something out of a case and physically swap the disc if you wanted to listen to something else — and because I used it as my alarm, the opening riff of Yes still engages some kind of Pavlovian response that makes me think I should get out of bed and go and study A-Level Maths…
But now twenty years have passed and my copy of The Holy Bible is gathering dust in my parents’ house, and I’m on the other side of the world carrying round a small rectangular device that can store several thousand songs and fits in my pocket. Every now and again I experience a pang of nostalgia for mid nineties indie. I recently chucked everything I have from 1994 and 1995 back onto my pocket sized magical music device and have been enjoying rediscovering the delights of many forgotten and not so forgotten indie bands (…Gene, the Bluetones, Sleeper, Suede, The Wannadies…) I wonder what happened to all of them?
Now they’re as far in the past as Glam Rock was when I was listening to britpop. Oh man. Twenty years. This is what it feels like to get old, isn’t it?
** For reasons lost to history, the first record I ever owned was Chas n Dave’s 1987 Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup song, Hot Shot Tottenham. To this day I have no idea what possessed the nine year old me to want to own this 7 inch single — I am not and have never been a Spurs fan; I was a (clearly somewhat confused) Everton supporter even then. Perhaps I just really liked the song…