The Manic’s were right in the middle of their spikiest punkiest period when the HELP project came along.
War Child is a wonderful charity who do the right thing for the most vulnerable often by the medium of rock and roll. In 1995 they put together a record which set a new tone for Charity work in the music industry.
The premise was ambitious but for once devoid of cheese. The music that came from HELP was worthy in it’s own right. An A List of mid nineties alternative musicians all went into different studios on the same day. They each were tasked to record a new track, mix, master and deliver it that day. For release on a compilation album the following week.
Pre-internet the pace of pop culture was gaining the momentum it required to keep up come the millennium. This rapid cycle of create, produce, promote spoke of the urgency of the situation.
So The Stone Roses, Terrorvision, Radiohead, Paul Weller, Nene Cherry, Terry Hall, Blur, Oasis, Portishead, Massive Attack, The Charlatans, The Levellers, Salad and among others Manic Street Preachers laid down their contributions on September 4th.
I put my order in for a CD that day. I had it by the 9th. The record is a series of snapshots that sound exactly like summer 1995 to me. Some bands wrote new material (Terrorvision and The Charlatans both smashed it), some reworked their hits (Massive Attack played a blinder here while The Stone Roses kind of dropped the ball) and most recorded covers.
The Manic’s version of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head updated the song for the Britpop era. All that 60’s retro cool that was swinging in London again fitted perfectly with what they did here. It’s become my definitive version of the track.