My Writings: My Reviews Of Books About Manic Street Preachers

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Manic Street Preachers

Mick Middles
Omnibus Press, 1999 - 208 pages

Manic Street Preachers

(1 of 5 stars) Less a biography of the Manic Street Preachers, this book is more of an opportunity for the author to show his skill at purple prose, and to lecture readers through the guise of placing the Manics in the context of their Welsh roots.

The author gives the impression that he thinks of himself as an expert on Wales. He uses anything in the narrative as a jumping off point for a tangent into some aspect of "Welshness", (a favourite term of his.) This, from an Englishman from Manchester, whose parents retired to Wales years ago. If he believes his own claim of not understanding Welshness, I don't understand why he wrote this book the way he did.

The author's credibility is further made suspect (at least, to me), by his many references to interviews and conversations he supposedly had with many of the people involved with the Manics' story. Although, I don't recall any with any of the band members themselves.

There are obvious factual errors in this book. Here, Richey's birthday is 27 December 1969. This would make him the second-youngest Manic. In fact, Richey was the oldest member, having been born on 22 December 1967. In a song-by-song run-down of the album, The Holy Bible, "Faster" and "This Is Yesterday" are both missing. In a section on the latest Manics album, This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, the lead vocals on "My Little Empire", are supposedly Nicky Wire's. A look at the CD's booklet, or a listen to the song, tells you that James has the lead vocal on this song, with Nicky providing a co-lead. (Actually, to my ears, Nicky isn't much more than a background croak.) The author's interpretations of the Manics' songs are sometimes unbelievable! A bizarre error in this book occurs when the author writes about Richey's disappearance. On 31 January, Richey and James check into the Embassy Hotel, and the next day, Richey vanishes. So far, so good. But, the next day, (presumably after the day Richey goes missing), February dawns. This implies a date of 32 January!

There's other problems. Until Richey's vanishing, the rest of the band rarely make an appearance. There are plenty of obscure references, (just who were the band called The Worst?), statements that don't really belong, and an inexplicable tendency to refer to The Fall quite a bit. The author has also apparently diagnosed Richey. It seems that all of Richey's problems stemmed from a lack of self-confidence, which was a result of his lack of musical ability. It's a real shame the author wasn't able to talk to Richey's doctors at the Priory!

This book is a difficult one to plod through. And it's not worth the effort!

(Review written: 2001, 10 August 2003, and 24 January 2011)

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