Latest releases reviewed

The Holy Bible 10th Anniversary Edition 

Generally thought to be the Manics' most inaccessible album, The Holy Bible hardly seems the likeliest candidate for the redux treatment. It was the last album made with troubled guitarist/lyricist Richey James - some have called it Richey's extended suicide note. Certainly, the lyrics are the Manics' darkest ever, and you'd be wise to approach tracks such as Of Walking Abortion, Archives of Pain, 4st 7lb, Mausoleum and The Intense Humming of Evil with a back-up supply of Prozac. But tunes such as Yes, Revol, Faster and IfWhiteAmericaToldtheTruthforOneDayIt'sWorldWouldFallApart are exuberant, angry bursts of metallic fire and spit-polish musicianship. Look on this as both a monument to their missing comrade and a reminder that, for all their posing and pretension, the Manics sometimes put their music where their mouths were. - Kevin Courtney

Three Imaginary Boys - Deluxe Edition

It's been a good 25th year for The Cure, so why not celebrate with a fully remastered special edition of their 1979 début, the one featuring the lamp, the fridge and the vacuum cleaner on the cover. This wasn't the wasted punk of The Sex Pistols or the urban combat rock of The Clash; here were three nice, middle-class kids from Crawley, making sparse, minimal new wave that perfectly reflected the soulless sprawl of suburbia in the late 1970s. Its appeal was in the clean, uncluttered chime of 10:15 Saturday Night, Accuracy, Object and Fire in Cairo, and the whiff of grammar school existentialism in the lyrics of Grinding Halt, Meathook and the title track. CD2, featuring home and studio demos, including early versions of Boys Don't Cry, is only for the serious Curehead, of which, no doubt, there are still many.  - Kevin Courtney

Rock 'n' Roll

Remixed, remastered and sanctioned by Yoko, Lennon's covers album was nearly not released in the first place back in the 1970s for a variety of complex legal reasons. Recorded mainly at a difficult time in his life - the "Lost Weekend" years and in the middle of legal cases relating to the dissolution of The Beatles - this nostalgic journey back to the early days of rock 'n' roll is a potent reminder of the base The Beatles built their sound on. Lennon obviously rejoiced in singing these old standards he first heard as a teenager. His take on Lieber/Stoller/King's Stand By Me is still mightily impressive, as is the gleeful romp that is Slippin' and Slidin'. Brimming with enthusiasm and passion for these tracks, Lennon never sounded better. The only ill-advised moment is a misread of Bobby Freeman's Do You Wanna Dance, but everything else is accomplished with vigour and vivacity. And that iconic front cover photo is thankfully still in place.  - Brian Boyd