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Manic Street Preachers
- Generation Terrorists (20th Anniversary Edition)

Generation Terrorists is a mess, but a sometimes great one, with hints of what they would be capable of when their focus became clearer.

Ross Clelland

Jan 11th 2013 | Label: Wunderkind/Liberation
The ongoing fashion for anniversary editions and reissues tends to concentrate on the accepted masterpieces – we all need a new copy of London Calling every five years – but this goes against that grain. In parts, Generation Terrorists is Manic Street Preachers getting it hugely, gloriously, over-reachingly wrong. They were perfectly naïve and passionate punks of the purist model; angry young (Welsh) men full of piss and vinegar – and a little mascara – quoting Nietzche, Burroughs and Joe Strummer with equal fervour. Even within, they were an odd mix: the classically-trained Sean Moore, the literate James Dean Bradfield, the sincere Nicky Wire and the near-cliché wildcard, Richey Edwards – self-loathing, self-medicating, self-destructive, romantic rock mess incarnate.           

Somehow, they managed to get signed to an eight-album (!), lotsa-money deal and promptly offered up a 70+ minute double album debut where they tried to cram in every bit of their political manifesto and all their musical touchstones. Producer Steve Brown – whose former credits include The Cult and Wham! – merely tries to make sense of it all. It sprawls, from the self-explanatory Slash N Burn and NatWest-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds' righteous bank-bashing to the six-minute reflections of the towering Motorcycle Emptiness. The targets are external and internal: America, love, materialism. At one point, the working title was the perfectly descriptive Culture, Alienation, Boredom, And Despair; the refrain of Little Baby Nothing's broken dreams. That song altered when unavailable first choice guest singer Kylie Minogue (yes, really) was replaced by Tracii Lords – the former porn star somehow making it even more right.

And so it went. Generation Terrorists is a mess, but a sometimes great one, with hints of what they would be capable of when their focus became clearer.


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