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Manic Street Preachers - Album by Album, edited by Marc Burrows - Review

Thursday, December 2, 2021

So a couple of things you might not know about me is that I am a huge fan of the Manic Street Preachers and have been since I was thirteen years old in 1997. I even have part of a lyrics of theirs - 'cheap tarnished glitter' - tattooed on my inner wrist. I am also a zinester - you can see all the zines I have for sale here on Etsy. So when Marc put out a call for "book reviewers, zinesters, and Manic Street Preachers" specialists to review this new book, I obviously fitted the bill in all three respects, so I contacted Marc. He sent me an electronic copy of the book for review. I wasn't otherwise compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I had seen the book previously as a few of my friends are featured - Rhian, who I know through The Libertines primarily, Phoenix, who I must have come across way back when in Manics forums but didn't know until a couple of years ago, and Claire, who I met through Twitter a few years ago. I was excited to read their essays.

The book is made up of essays by different people on each of the Manic Street Preachers' albums, from 1991's Generation Terrorists to 2018's Resistance is Futile. Alongside is a chronology of the band, from singles they were releasing to tours they were doing, and including information on the disappearance in 1995 of Richey Edward's, one of the band's lyricists and sort of rhythm guitarist. It's an enduring mystery and one which the band had to move past musically in their subsequent albums. 

Now, I'll admit I stopped closely following the band after 2001's Know Your Enemy. I did keep up with the next two released, which were compilation albums. Lipstick Traces' second CD is made up of covers of other songs, and I absolutely loved that one, I played it to death at university. I liked parts of Journal for Plague Lovers and Postcards from a Young Man, so I've listened to those on Spotify and so on, even if I don't own the physical CDs. So I haven't followed the band closely for a while, but I was still excited to read the book. 

It had a strong start with Rhian E Jones chatting about Generation Terrorists. I loved the essay on Gold Against the Soul, which I think is an excellent album and is underrated by both the band and fans. Writing about The Holy Bible (one of the darkest and most terrifying albums ever written, focussing on Richey's mental health problems and so on) was never going to be easy, but the author did it brilliantly. Phoenix Andrews' writing about Everything Must Go was personal and reminded me of my own teenaged Manics fandom. Claire Biddles' essay came towards the end of the book, and taught me things about an album I don't know at all. I liked that - I learnt a lot about the later albums that I'm not familiar with. So many of the essays were personal but also political, which is something you can say about the Manics themselves and their music. 

Any fan will like this book I'm sure, so buy it for the Manics fan in your life. I'm giving it four out of five.

If you'd like to buy my zine about the Manics, it's available, here

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