Manic Street Preachers have released a new version of their classic ‘Spectators Of Suicide’ featuring Gwenno for charity. Check it out first on NME below, as Heavenly Records’ Robin Turner explains what makes the band so special.
‘Spectators of Suicide’ was originally recorded for the Manics’ 1991 EP ‘You Love Us’, their last release for their original label Heavenly Recordings. It was then re-recorded for their 1992 major label debut album ‘Generation Terrorists’. However, to mark the release of Believe in Magic: Heavenly Records by Robin Turner (named as one NME‘s Best Music Books Of The Year), the band made another version of the track featuring fellow Welsh artist Gwenno – who is also on Heavenly’s current roster.
Author Turner, who worked at Heavenly throughout the ’90s until 2004, told NME how he was “deeply honoured” that the band had made such a fitting new rendition.
“When the book was originally going to come out, there was this idea of doing launch parties,” Turner told NME. “I asked James [Dean Bradfield, frontman] to play a couple of acoustic songs for us at The Social, but that’s all gone out of the window this year so I asked him to do an acoustic version of ‘Spectators’ that we could use on the radio or something.
“He gave it a go and called back and said, ‘I’ve done it with the band, but I want a female voice on it – how do you feel about me getting Gwenno?’ He hadn’t connected the idea that it was an artist from the label 30 years ago with an artist on the label now. He sent it back and I was just like, ‘Are you fucking serious?’ The Manics are a band I approached as a fan long before I ever worked with them.”
Heavenly is currently home to likes of Confidence Man, Working Men’s Club, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, while also signing Saint Etienne, Temples, Flowered Up and The Vines over the years, and also creating legendary London clubnight The Heavenly Social (founded by Turner and the label’s Jeff Barrett) where The Chemical Brothers rose to prominence when they were still known as Dust Brothers. This led to the creation of the capital’s iconic venue The Social.
“The Manics released two singles with Heavenly in ‘91 and could not be more effusive about their time with the label and what it meant to them,” Turner told NME. “They still feel part of the family, despite only putting out seven songs 29 years ago. That bond is the same with so many bands on the label. Artists might move on but they’re still grounded in Heavenly.”
Looking back on his time with the label and what he captured in Believe In Magic, Turner said that it took a certain “state of mind” to be involved with Heavenly.
“That state of mind is like being in a particularly good pub at about 6pm or 7pm, and someone you’ve just met for the first time suddenly starts talking to you about music, you’re connecting, it’s not condescending and it just feels like someone is opening doors for you – that’s what Heavenly has always felt like to me,” he said.
“It’s somewhere that’s non-clique-y. I joined Heavenly as a kid who’d interviewed Saint Etienne for a fanzine and ended up working there. It’s a community and a place where you’re not afraid to turn the music up, push the chairs to the side of the room and just go, ‘Fuck it, let’s see what happens’. It’s somewhere you can lose yourself – in music and in friendship.
“It’s a label not afraid to take risks, it doesn’t need to adhere to focus groups or follow trends.”
Check back at NME for more of our interview with Turner. Order Believe In Magic here.
Thanks for all the donations and entries so far! All money goes straight to @TrussellTrust Let’s see if we can beat the target today please. This is a one off Manics T-shirt. 🤩 https://t.co/51Vy2b8aSE pic.twitter.com/byvUNK0GV8
— 1 of 100 (@weare1of100) December 15, 2020
Fans can also donate to win one of 100 one-t-shirts designed by bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire. Taken from an exclusive illustration from Believe in Magic, the t-shirt reproduces Wire’s handwritten lyrics for Spectators of Suicide. Visit here for a chance of winning, with all money going to the Trussell Trust.
Speaking of the new record, Bradfield said that the band’s 14th studio effort, the follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed ‘Resistance Is Futile’, won’t contain any references to the coronavirus crisis, as it would be like “adding insult to injury”. Bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire meanwhile, told NME that the record was sounding “expansive” and had a “retro-futuristic” vibe to it.
The Manics have also rescheduled their planned Cardiff Arena shows for the NHS until July 2021. The concerts were originally due to take place this December at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, with one free for healthcare workers and the other a fundraiser for health service charities.
Bradfield released his second solo album ‘Even In Exile’ over the summer, while Wire has been working on “modern, electronic, soothsaying” solo material.