Readers review: Manic Street Preachers

Fans make their case for their favourite Manics album

The Manic Street Preachers' Nicky Wire will be speaking to Gareth Grundy in this Sunday's Observer about his new book, Death of a Polaroid – A Manics Family Album.

To mark the occasion, earlier this week we asked readers to submit reviews for their Manics album of choice. Here are some extracts from our favourites.

Generation Terrorists


Generation Terrorists twists and turns us through the Manics' ideology, delivering a new statement and a new cleverly worded punch with almost every track.


It is the album that made me think about myself, who I wanted to be, whether I wanted to embrace stupidity and typical teenage rebellion like a lot of my classmates. Or did I want to take pride in my intelligence and rebel against my expected rebellion.

The Holy Bible


The album will always be overshadowed by Richey's disappearance following its release, yet as the band has stated on numerous occasions, putting his words to music was a far more cathartic process for Richey than the money-sapping Priory clinic. Nicky Wire has said that when Richey disappeared on 2 February 1995, he did so in the best frame of mind in years. Whatever went after were decisions made by a sound mind. One thing is certain; the album left behind is a thirteen track leviathan that you can immerse yourself in forever.


This is a furious punk metal hybrid – stung by criticism of their previous classic rock influenced album the Manics had dared to believe in parity with their key texts here – Joy Division, Magazine, Wire, Gang of Four – fusing these into something distinctively their own. The playing has a lethal focus, with James Dean Bradfield's singing of Edwards's lyrics and his demoniac guitar playing, especially on Archives of Pain, really standing out – it's a purging record for the Manics and Edwards.

Everything Must Go


Everything Must Go is an album that combines the best of the Manics and shows them at the peak of their commercial and critical success, and rightly so. Even without all the emotional weight behind it, this is a coherent album on its own. The band may have changed beyond recognition both musically and visually, but this album reminds us why we should be glad they are still here at all.

This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours


This Is My Truth. Tell Me Yours is a much maligned record and is held up by various commentators, critics and fans as the moment the Manics lost their edge and ceased to be relevant. In my opinion, it is the moment the Manics really became one of the UK's most special bands and it is certainly their most honest, reflective and beautiful album.



On Lifeblood, the Manics don't bombard the listener with the kind of heart-on-sleeve overtly-intellectual politics that came before, nor with the wall of noise guitars or Guns N' Roses influences that some require from Wire and co, and those two factors might, in their combined absence, be enough to make the album unsuccessful for plenty of fans. I feel, however, that in eschewing some of the cruder tools at their disposal, the band left more room for the listener to find themselves, in just the same way many great pop songs do.

Send away the Tigers


This was it. This was the album that proved the Manics were still relevant, still eloquent, still there. This was the album that proved that, after 15 years, they still had something to say. From the first guitar riff, I was hooked. This was a band which said something, meant something, were something.


Most bands, at this point of their career, are happy to reflect on past glories. But the Manics have never been "any other" band. The release of Send Away the Tigers marked the start of the next phase of the Manics: their development into and recognition as, well, National Treasures.

Journal for Plague Lovers


Even with the endless story of Richey Edwards hanging over the creation of this album as a giant spectre, Journal for Plague Lovers is an artistic success in its own right – as much as Journal is the closing of a personal chapter for the Manics in their final manipulation of Richey Edwards's unique prose into rock music, it also earmarks a band undergoing a late-career renaissance.

However, our favourite review came from historycannotbefalsi, who wrote about Lifeblood, and who'll be receiving a copy of the Manics book in the post.



Generations will come to the Manics and buy this album last after all the bitching this album receives from the band. I don't care how many politics degrees they have, the Manic Street Preachers are morons for letting this album be regarded as their weakest link. They have never made an opening to an album any better than 1985. Even with Richey.
In 2004, British music seemed to have a mental breakdown. All the hopes and promises for the 21st century all fell down so they resorted to really embarrassing guitar guff such as the Libertines and Franz Ferdinand. The Manics at least were looking forward. And for a band that prides itself on being out of synch with everything, Lifeblood offers this stance in spades. Everyone was moaning about Dubya Bush... the band record The Love of Richard Nixon. Islamic sounds became "vogue"... the band record a song with a Russian word. (Glasnost) Everybody goes online and gets active with 24 hour news ... the band record I Live to Fall Asleep. Derek Acorah begins to raise his profile... the band record To Repel Ghosts. 2004 sees the largest expansion of the European Union... the band record Fragments. All those epic Fox made American shows like the terminal CSI's and 24 ... and not one of them had A Song For Departure on their soundtrack. The world reached out to each other ... and the band gave us Solitude Sometimes Is. I agree there was some confusion over the single choices (and yet they both went top 2) but Lifeblood is the best thing they put their name to for the past decade. In fact, I'll even put it above Everything Must Go. One criticism I've heard the band say is "We recorded all the parts separate from each other." That's all? Then play in the studio with songs this great with all three members then! Lifeblood isn't the populist comeback they would of wanted. But it's not the unfocused abomination you'd get the impression of if you listened to the band speak of it. And thanks to it being reduced to £3 or thereabouts in the shops, you simply haven't got a reason to not buy it. If you want noise and guitars, take your pick on any of the other albums. (*cough KNOW YOUR ENEMY *cough) But if you want to hear a band be fearless and try to take their music into new territory then really, Lifeblood is the one you are looking for. History cannot be permanently falsified. The Bush and Blair of this world will be judged and exposed in time. And on the day of judgement, when the Manics are revived from their tombs, Jesus will be there going "Soooo... Not a great fan of Lifeblood, eh? Well guess what, I've been stationary dancing too on my iPod on repeat for the past 100,000 damnations? Yeah! Down you go so-called Manic Street Preachers!" You have been warned ...


Adam Boult

The GuardianTramp

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