On the DVD included in the immaculate tenth anniversary edition of the album, James Dean Bradfield admits that, yeah, pretty much we're never ever going to be that good again.
For all the unfathomable misery that went into much of the lyrics, the music in The Holy Bible is utterly astounding, life-affirming, challenging and unforgettable. It's remembered as Richey's Album, and it is, but it's also a product of James Dean Bradfield's own torment, the result of which was the most captivating music offered by a British Rock band since fuck knows when.
The record starts with the hissing ambience coating a quote from the documentary flick Pimp's Pro's, Hookers And Their Johns. "You can buy her", says a fella with a thick New York accent. "You can buy her. This one's here, this one's here, this one's here. Everything's for sale."
The song that follows, Yes, is among the very best track-one, side-one's of all ever. It's up there with Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn or Celtic Soul Brothers, with London Calling or Smells Like Teen Spirit, with the sneering "Hi, I'm Johnny Cash" and then Folsom Prison Blues from Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison.
And probably none of those open with a lyric as mesmerisingly bizarre as;
"For sale? Dumb cunt's same dumb questions,
Virgin? Listen, all virgins are liars honey."
And that's before the chorus arrives, with its oddly rousing suggestion;
"He's a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock,
Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want."
Bradfield admits he hadn't a clue what it was about, how the hell he was supposed to construct a melody around it, how the hell he was gonna sing the damn thing. In fact, there's almost a comical challenge being issued by Richey's lyrics, a sniggering mischief, an attempt to see just how far he can push James' melodic abilities. Not many folks could carve a tune out of a line like, "I eat and I drink and I wash and I can still say thank you, puking - shaking - sinking, I still stand for old ladies can't shout can't scream, hurt myself to get pain out", and make it catchy, by God. It feels odd to be so elated by the delivery of such harrowing sentiments, but a fella can't help it.
Yeah, motherfucker! Puking shaking sinking! Whoo! And so on.
Richey's lyrics also namedrop throughout, flinging out references and surnames like nobody's business. Nicky Wire, himself no stranger to a paperback or seven, admits he hadn't a notion what half these things were, who half these people were, what were even names and what were movements, who can tell?