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Album Review

Manic Street Preachers have always been a band of very specific charms, something that has not translated outside of the U.K. particularly well. Although it boasts a generous 20 tracks, the 2002 compilation Forever Delayed isn't likely to change that situation, even if it has the lion's share of their big singles, since a band devoted to sloganeering doesn't play outside of their province, or era, without some knowledge of their context. Plus, it's bewilderingly sequenced — not chronologically, not as a set list, not with the hits loaded toward the front but as if you had all six albums on shuffle play on your CD carousel — this disc careens between its 20 songs, occasionally gaining momentum through its juxtapositions (the opening one-two punch of "A Design for Life" and "Motorcycle Emptiness" captures the essence of the two phases of the band) but more often illustrating the extreme difference in the band during the Richey James Edwards and post-Richey eras. And though they certainly don't avoid Richey — his face is on the cover, he provides the subtext of the band's entire career — they do submerge the unsettling The Holy Bible, a record as nakedly honest and disturbing as In Utero, by just including one song, "Faster," from what is surely their best album. True, its music is too dark to sit comfortably next to the later hits, but without it, Forever Delayed is missing the pivotal point in the Manics' career, especially since Richey was at the heart of their music and worldview, even after his disappearance in 1995. His descent into despair is necessary to understanding the band, and it's what fuels their two great albums: the harrowing The Holy Bible and the triumph of Everything Must Go. Though Forever Delayed contains many excellent songs not on either, the context is so jumbled the music is somewhat diluted and novices would be better to hear either of those albums first. [Initial pressings of Forever Delayed contained a bonus disc containing new remixes of classic Manics songs, none particularly interesting. It would have been much better to offer a second disc of non-LP B-sides and rarities, since there many out there waiting to be collected.]


Formed: 1991 in Blackwood, Caerphilly, Wales

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Dressed in glam clothing, wearing heavy eyeliner, and shouting political rhetoric, the Manic Street Preachers emerged in 1991 from their hometown of Blackwood, Wales, as self-styled "Generation Terrorists." Fashioning themselves after the Clash and the Sex Pistols, the Manics were on a mission, intending to restore revolution to rock & roll at a time when Britain was dominated by trancey shoegazers and faceless, trippy acid house. Their self-consciously dangerous image, leftist leanings, crunching...
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