Friday, April 24, 2009

Know Your Enemy

Rock band Green Day will release their first album in years in May. It's called 21st Century Breakdown - which is a halfway or more rip-off of the title of the album put out by Joe Strummer's band the 101'ers called Elgin Avenue Breakdown. After it's release, Joe promptly left and joined a little unit you may of heard of called The Clash. So, given all that Green Day owe to Joe and the Clash musically, parodying an album title is certainly understandable. 

Anyway, I've not heard any of the new Green Day set yet, but I have to say that I like the Bay Area band quite a bit. Especially over the last few years as they've upped their game to sing about political issues instead of "I'm board and poor me" topics.

Another naming coincidence (?) is that the first single from Green Day's new album is called Know Your Enemy. You can buy the song now in iTunes if not elsewhere. But, Know Your Enemy is the name of an entire album of songs by an excellent political rock band you probably have never heard of - Manic Street Preachers. 

If you have never heard the Manics, you need to go out and get their debut Generation Terrorist, their artistic peak album The Holy Bible and their commercial hit Everything Must Go. The Welch band has many other good albums out, but those are essential. In early 2001 they also put out a CD called...Know Your Enemy. 

The Manic's Know Your Enemy was a return to a more aggressive rock sound after a couple more commercial outings. 

And there's lot to admire on this one - including that they kicked off their tour that year with a show in Havana, Cuba. You think Green Day is going to make that political statement? No, they're not.

At any rate, whether it's the ripping Found that Soul, the touching Ocean Spray, the polemic Intravenous Agnostic, the sunny Why So Sad, the disco (disco mocking that is) Miss Europa Dancer, the beautiful and educational Let Robeson Sing or political My Guernica or Freedom of Speech Won't Feed My Children...this record has a lot of songs to like and to ponder.  

So much so that I'd recommend that you check it out at the same time as you get Green Day's single Know Your Enemy and new album. Compare 'em. Who is singing about real issues? Who is more musically adventurous? I love me some Green me. But, if you like them too I think you're gonna love the Manics.

Check it out. Oh, and if you've never heard the 101ers, you should check that too. Joe Strummer in his early days and definitely rockin'.

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