Manic Street Preachers
reatest hits albums often emphasize the change, or lack thereof, a band has undergone in their career. The Manic Street Preachers are ten years on from the release of their vitriolic, venomous and superb debut album Generation Terrorists and the transformation highlighted on Forever Delayed is certainly considerable. Unfortunately, in the Manics case, it is pretty much obvious to anyone, except themselves, that this change has been an unfavourable one.
In 1992 it was assumed that the greatest hits collection of the Manic Street Preachers would, in fact, be composed of only one album’s tracks. The Manics told us, initially, that they only ever intended to make one album before going their separate ways. Whether the impact of Generation Terrorists was unsatisfactory to the band (or, as the more cynical may suggest, the pay-packet) a second album surfaced just over a year later. The group has since worked at a prolific rate: an album every 18 months. Even the disappearance of founding member and vivid lyricist Richey Edwards between The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go has not affected the rate of their output, thus far.
The album starts with the first post-Edwards single “Design For Life”. It came at a time when the group needed something big, a statement that justified their existence without the man many thought embodied the group. “Big” does not begin to describe this slab of poetry condemning the Britpop culture’s philosophy of “we don’t talk about love/we only want to get drunk”. The denunciation of the culture that it was sold to raised the stakes for other Britpop groups, illustrating the need for all bands to reach for something higher. This mammoth career defining statement has been undercut, however, by later work. On this disc “If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next” and “The Everlasting” exemplify this all too well. The latter, in particular, is symptomatic of the deterioration of a band that once screamed “You Love Us” and set out to tear down the walls of society into simply a competent MOR guitar band.
Possibly the most infuriating thing about the band and this release is that when the Preachers were good, they were untouchable. “Motorcycle Emptiness”, possibly their most famous track, is as lucid a portrayal of isolation as ever penned. Its vulnerability made it stand out, especially, at a time when the band was being dismissed by many as sensationalist youths trying too hard to emulate their idols Guns ‘n’ Roses. It soon became clear that the band was attempting to be far more than a Guns ‘n’ Roses cover band—but tracks highlighting these ideals are left off in favour of the hideously ponderous “Tsunami” and “So Why So Sad”. It seems that, to illustrate the band’s importance that the decision to include tracks like “Yes” and the infamous “ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart” would have achieved this goal far better.
“There By The Grace Of God” and “Door To The River” are the unremarkable new tracks. It is difficult to imagine anyone hearing either of these songs and feeling compelled to buy this album. Their rendition of the theme from M*A*S*H* “Suicide Is Painless” also appears on an LP for the first time. A far more attractive proposition than either of the new singles, it shows the Manics on top of their game and is the perfect vehicle for James Dean Bradfield’s remarkable voice.
A greatest hits made up of the Manic Street Preachers’ truly strongest moments would be as essential a purchase as any compilation in recent memory. Unfortunately Forever Delayed is not this by a long distance. It has moments where you’ll be awestruck by their passion and fervour, but ultimately it contains too many periods of tedium for it to warrant a combination of the words “Manic Street Preachers” and “Greatest Hits” in its title.
Reviewed by: Jon Monks
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01