Friday, 31 October 2008

Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists

In 1992 the Manic Street Preachers said they would release one double album, shift millions of copies, headline Wembley and split up.

The first part they managed (Generation Terrorists). Sales-wise it did okay and spawned half-a-dozen hit singles ('Motorcycle Emptiness' finally catapulting them into the nation's consciousness) but certainly didn't top the 6-million target. Headlining Wembley was still some years off - in 1992 I saw first them at the Astoria (capacity: 1,600), The Town & Country Club (now the Forum, capacity: 2,100) and the Kilburn National (now defunct so no official capacity available, but probably 1,500 - 2,000).

And of course they didn't split up.

Generation Terrorists is a pretty messy album in places and, like the 'Use Your Illusion' albums, could have benefited from a little trimming down. But then the same could be said of the White Album (does anyone really listen to 'Revolution 9'?) or the Stone Roses debut (with its pointless backward track, 'Don't Stop' - it's not big and it's certainly not clever) and both turn up regardless in every 'Top 10 Albums Of All-Time' list that is needlessly compiled. 'Flawed genius' I believe is the phrase.

I'm not saying that Generation Terrorists deserves to take its place next to those albums in rock history, but its very existence says a great deal about the Manics. How many bands, without a notable hit to their name, have had the audacity to release a debut double album? It certainly couldn't happen now. But the Manics worked the press, built up their notoriety (peaking with the infamous 'For Real' incident) and polarised the masses as they went along. Love them or hate them, you couldn't get away from them. Not bad for a band that were dismissed as second-rate Clash (or worse, second-rate Birdland).


Anonymous said...

still love this album, as you say messy but with some real gems.

MarkEMoon said...

I still love this album, it had it's flaws but also had some mighty fine tunes although why they decided not to include the mighty "Motown Junk" on there I still cant fathom out 16 years later, I loved the fact that the band exploded on the UK music scene in 1991 making some pretty outrageous statements, acting like a gang and generally pissing the NME off, they went to make other great records (well "The Holy Bible") before entering the "Man at C&A Years"

MarkEMoon said...

Oh, I quite liked Birdland btw (not sure if that will result in a lifetime ban from the blog :-)) the album was awful but those early EP's (Hollow Heart, Paradise, etc) were great (as was the free live album they gave away at the Bath Moles club gig)

DGW said...

Heh heh .. don't worry, I'm not anti-Birdland but merely pointing out they were hardly up there with the Clash!