This review was first
published on CLUAS in 2002
Other albums reviewed in 2002
Manic Street Preachers
A review of their greatest hits album 'Forever Delayed'
Over a decade of making music, 6 albums, a still unexplained disappearance, and a lot of self-centred sneering have been woven into a Greatest Hits album for the Manic Street Preachers. It's a wide variety of songs painting a picture of their reinvention from their somewhat subdued origins, overseen by the unprecedented disappearance of Richey James Edwards.
Without any confirmed sighting since 1995 Ritchie has been declared officially dead. Not that the remaining members seem to have taken this to be the case. It's rumoured that all of the Manics' earnings even since his departure is still split 4 ways, should he ever resurface. Further testament to this is his depiction on the album's cover along with James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore. This may well have brought the band down to earth with a bang, and as a response, it brought the best out of Bradfield and Wire in terms of song writing and their constantly shifting musical influences.
From their early days, the blunt punk fury of "You Love Us" and "Faster" are featured along with the classic "Motorcycle Emptiness". Later, the quartet turned trio made the brave decision to pick up and carry on after Rithie's disappearance. That decision gave birth to "Everything Must Go", arguably their finest hour. Filled with anthemic tunes like "Design For Life" and "Kevin Carter", this was a pop-rock album (partially written by Richey James) that seemed to belie the dark subject matter of the songs themselves and propel them to probably unexpected levels of success, hence their inclusion on this compilation. This was another turning point for the band.
With "This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours" (their first album with no contribution from Richey) came an intricate and emotionally challenging set of songs, devoid of the bombastic nature of what had gone before. The single "The Everlasting" is pure melodic bliss even if doleful in its way. Equally doleful is "If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next", a gloomy yet universal anthem performed majestically. The only non-corrosive track on that record was "You Stole The Sun From My Heart" a rush of pure commercial energy.
Then came the album "Know Your Enemy" which saw the Manics change direction again. It had virtually no similarity to the soul-baring nature of its predecessor and "So Why So Sad" strikes a less heart-felt but still despondent emotion. Strangely, "Ocean Spray" and the kicking "Found That Soul" are not included here. Perhaps their omission allows the songs to dwell in the dark room atmosphere that the Manics like to sit in.
If you're quick off the mark, there's a special edition of this compilation available which includes a bonus disc of remixes overseen by the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Ian Brown, the latter who produced an intriguing churchy remix of "Let Robeson Sing".
This compilation portrays the Manics as a tried and tested group of musicians and while they seem to concentrate on the more negative side of life, the power that they use to express it cannot be ignored. Negative or not, these dominant songs are what made them a force in the '90s rock scene. By comparison, as many consider The Smiths to be one of the most important bands of the '80s, equally the Manic Street Preachers many would argue were one of the most important bands of the '90s. And in this compilation, it shows.