James Dean Bradfield - An English Gentleman (Columbia)
UK release date: 25 September 2006
When I was at school, a friend of mine decided that to impress girls, he'd crib notes out of famous films and repeat them to aforementioned jailbait in the hope of making him appear 'interesting.' It didn't work, obviously, but one of them, a quote from The Usual Suspects, when Kevin Spacey looks deep into the eyes of a policeman and intones "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn't exist" stuck. Perhaps he would have got a little more action if he'd pursued the girl wearing heavy eyeliner and a feather boa crying "The greatest trick Nicky Wire ever pulled was convincing the world he was the talented one in the Manics!"
Perhaps not. Anyway, I digress. Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield's solo career has already won him plaudits from critics tired of bassist Nicky's risible schoolboy poetry, and his album, The Great Eastern has had markedly better reviews than most of his erstwhile band's recent output. Second single, An English Gentleman is dedicated to the late Phillip Hall, the Manics' early mentor and publicist, and is a moving, poppy tribute, that, if we're lucky, may set the tone for a new record from his group.
Melancholic without being gloomy, poppy without being cheesy - JDB has taken well to this solo lark, lovely layered guitars, 'ah'd' backing vocals and all. We can only hope that on return to the studio with the Manics, Nicky Wire will stop pulling the wool over our eyes and allow James Dean Bradfield a couple of writing credits.