Released on: Lifeblood (Album #7), Sony Records, 1 November 2004
If ‘The Love of Richard Nixon’ was a somewhat jarring and surprising lead single for Lifeblood, opener ‘1985’ provides a clearer and more impressive mission statement for the album as whole. Themed around the year 1985 – the year before Manic Street Preachers formed – the song is backwards-looking and nostalgic in its lyrics but pointedly forward-thinking in its more fully-formed summation of the band’s new and much more electronic style.
Laden with more political and historical references than other songs on the album, ‘1985’ can be seen as a rumination on a formative period in the development of the Manics as individuals and as a band. In 1985, the future members of the Manics were surely still taking on many of the influences that would help define them as a unit; the song refers to works of fiction (George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four), music (The Smiths), and philosophy (Nietzsche) as well as an iconic moment in sporting history (Torvill and Dean’s 1984 gold medal for figure skating).
Dramatic, exciting and confidently combining Bradfield’s guitar with crisp electronics, ‘1985’ is a great deal more effective than ‘Richard Nixon’ and might easily have been considered as a lead single. As a reflection of the song’s quality, ‘1985’ has been better remembered than perhaps any other song on Lifeblood.
Wire’s brother Patrick Jones produced a series of videos to accompany a number of the songs of the Lifeblood era. Made in a crude style using low-def archive footage, these included a piece for ‘1985’.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“circle the wagons we’re under attack”
Orwell – George Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair (1903 – 1950). English novelist, essayist and critic best known for his 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Torvill and Dean’s Boléro – Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean, English ice-skating duo who won the gold medal in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-Herzegovina). Key to their win was a routine set to Boléro, a 1928 one-movement orchestral piece by French composer Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937).
God is dead – a famous phrase originated by Friedrich Nietzsche, first in his book The Gay Science (1882). Put simply, it refers not to the literal death of an actual god but rather states that Christianity is no longer the sole source of morality.
Nietzsche – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900), German philosopher known for his works Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil.
Morrissey and Marr – Steven Patrick Morrissey (1959 – ) and Johnny Marr (1963 -), vocalist and guitarist respectively for Manchester rock band The Smiths, which was active from 1982 to 1987.