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Manic Street Preachers Generation Terrorists  
Q -In 1991, rudimentary bassist Nicky Wire put the Manic Street Preachers' as-yet-unrecorded debut into perspective: "Whether we sell millions of albums or we fail abjectly, we'll still have said  everything we have to say in one double album." This sort of reckless claim (they also promised to split up afterwards) was emblematic of the band's introduction into rock'n'roll society from faraway South Wales. Seemingly too shy and bookish to shoulder the burden and self-sacrifice of world domination, they were nonetheless driven like no British rock four-piece since punk. Arriving at Paddington station ready-wrapped in self-stencilled Clash shirts and Boots warpaint, they peddled a theoretically pure version of punk that was utterly out of step with the ecstasy-lobotomised early-'90s. Kicking up a stink with scissor-kicking singles like Motown Junk and You Love Us was easy. For a band with only two musicians, an epoch-making double album was not. Exiled, like proper rock stars, to Black Barn Studios in Ripley, Surrey  with Wham! and Cult producer Steve Brown, eight weeks turned to 24 and Sony's bill tipped half a million. For this once-in-a-lifetime band, nothing less would do. The 73-minute result, released in February 1992, went to Number 13 and bore three Top 20 hits. They didn't split up. But it did say everything they had to say. Brown's experience lends a widescreen confidence to otherwise minor conceits like Natwest-Barclays-Midland-Lloyds, but even then it was clear that James Dean Bradfield was playing out of his skin, carrying the project musically with riffs cast-iron (So Dead, Born To End) and moving (Motorcycle Emptiness).Co-lyricists Wire and the spooked Richey Edwards supplied the essential window-dressing, not least in the sleeve's meticulously-collated quotes (Camus, Ibsen, Confucius). Imagine Guns N'Roses with brains. Lest we forget, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours did not happen by accident. Generation Terrorists may be flawed (Little Baby Nothing's self-conscious duet with Traci Lords; a version of Repeat designed vainly to impress Public Enemy; a marked "dropping off" toward the album's end), but it remains a landmark, whose insane intellectual ambitions are frequently matched by visceral thrill and pop potency. Seven years on, they're still too clever for America. 
4 out of 5 stars 
NME - The first thing to acknowledge about ‘Generation Terrorists’ is that the Manics have done it, they’ve pulled it off, they’ve released the debut double album they’d set their black rock’n’roll hearts on all along. A provocative presumptuous gesture at the best of times (a debut double album, if you don’t mind!) but in today’s straightened climate of compilations, reissues and record company play-safe policies, it’s nothing short of a modern miracle. Mind you, for the racoon-eyed dreamers of the Welsh Valleys, the real shit is only just approaching the fan. Not least because every flag hoisted in their honour in the hearts of the faithful there’s a barrage of hostility, scorn, ridicule - the heavy artillery of the rods press-aimed straight at their puny, trembling frames. ‘Generation Terrorists’ is destined to be panned severely, both for a variety of very good reasons (we’ll come to those later) and a plethora of silly, sulky ones. What people must decide at this point - the release of, if nothing else, the most ambitious, scene-stealing debut album of the ‘90’s so far - is where they stand regarding the Manics. Are they the rods heavyweights, deluded Strummer bunnies or nothing more than a huge pair of frilly pop bloomers snagged for all eternity on the Great Tree Of Hype? Do you view their major creative thievery, their peacock pretensions and dizzying perv need to be both loved and have their crotches boiled at the altar of the Rode Greats with simmering disgust, condensing snorts or jealousy, agony and admiration, tinged with re-touched nostalgia for your own one true love, the only person that ever meant anything to you: yourself (leastways, the person you were always meant to be)? Decide now, snivelling pop brethren, or prepare to face a lifetime in a world that will never ask you an important question again. One thing’s for sure: sitting on the fence won’t do (what do you need with another splinter up the ass?) Love’em or Hate’em the Manics are too crucial to languish in the limelight of your lethargy for long. Having said that, it must be stressed that ‘Generation Terrorists’, a monster 18 tracker, incorporates all the Manicisms that ever irritated, amused and mesmerised detractors and fans alike and then some. Firstly, as this is the album the Manics always intended to make, it is not new-wave, home-grown, ‘quirky’ or UK-cuddly. It is a great woolly rock mammoth aimed at the US market with the kind of precision and determination lone assassins reserve for offing American presidents. This is both good-it’s production by Cult twiddler Steve Brown gives ‘GT’ a strong, solid, epic feel - and bad - its occasional appalling blandness is as genuinely horrific as any homophobic/racist sexist bon most hardened rocker like Guns ‘N’ Roses (MSP faves, apparently) might retch up and, at times, the band’s struggle to be perceived, aurally at least, as shaggy haired blue-jeaned Americans reeks of a desperation beyond the Chunderdome. On the other hand, and in some obscure way this is supremely heartening, the Manics have not compromised their abrasive, agit-pop, scratch-mix, slogan-choked lyrical style one iota despite having realised (presumably) that the Yanks won’t understand one word of what they’re saying. To be brutally frank nobody not even a coked-up Mastermind contestant with ‘Mark E Smith B-sides: Analyse and Discuss’ as a specialist subject, would understand most of them, simply because they’re gibberish: punky, provocative, petty-sounding, mismatched, sloganeering buzz-phrases cobbled together without a thought for grammatical coherence or even emotional clarity. Almost every track has got some cringe-worthy, astonishingly crass and clumsy line so I can’t/won’t list them here. Besides, who really gives a Rhett Butler if, occasionally, Ritchey and Nicky’s (for they are the lunatic-lyricists in the Manics’ squad) crazed, undisciplined, misanthropy-as-photomontage cum Social Commentary-news style provokes the listener into believing they are forever trapped in a cartoon world dreamed up by Jamie Reid, John Craven’s Newsround and a team of bored lab-rats. Moving onto that most pickled of chestnuts: Is it derivative? The answer has to be ‘Yes’. In this department the Manics are to the creative life-force what Ronnie Biggs was to British Rail, though where the bulk of ‘Generation Terrorists’ is concerned, their main steals are from the archives of ancient and modern heavy rock and not the arse-end of spiky sub-Clash culture as they are normally charged. Thus they get to sound like the Stones, the Pistols Public Enemy, Joe’s lot, Billy Idol, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Elvis Costello, REM, the Velvets, Led Zeppelin, the Dead Kennedy’s, Queen, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Ruts, Poison, Europe, Meatloaf and Cher (courtesy of the much trumpeted duet with porn icon Traci Lords) and anyone else with half a grain of pop or Nick grit you may like to mention. The real question is ‘Who Cares?’ Expecting a rock band of the ‘90s not to sound like their forefathers and immediate contemporaries is like expecting human beings to give birth to different shaped babies every time. The essential appeal of rock’n’roll is its myriad of different interpretations of the same unoriginal idea: namely that loud, noisy music makes people feel alive. Deal with it, or die. What’s more important is that the Manic Street Preachers have transcended their sleepy provincial roots and produced something for the Global Everybody. Their enemies expected ‘London’ Calling: The Remix’ and they’ve come up with ‘Use Your Illusions’ ‘I’ and ‘11’ the Gunners only ever had illusions about. When the kids of the future sit in the Manics’ lap and ask what they did in the Music Wan of the Early ‘90s, at least the Manics can truthfully say that they did their bit and weren’t foot-soldiers of the Great Army Of The Mediocre. Similarly, who cares if  ‘Generation Terrorists’ turns out to be this years turkey, the Ishtar/Heavens Gate of vinyl People who steer too close to the sun often get their wings melted. The great thing is - the Manics dare to fly. So stuff the marking system. 
ten out of ten 

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