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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 hard rock, and outsider status made them favorites of the British music press and helped them build a rabidly dedicated following.
For much of the band's early career, it was impossible to separate the rhetoric from the music and even from the members themselves -- the group's image was forever associated with lyricist/guitarist Richey James carving the words "4 Real" into his arm during an early interview. As the British pop music climate shifted toward Brit-pop in the wake of Suede, the Manics didn't achieve fame, but they did have notoriety. Legions of followers emerged, including many bands that formed the core of the short-lived "new wave of new wave" movement.
But as the group climbed toward stardom, the story didn't get simpler -- it got weirder. James' behavior became increasingly bizarre, culminating on the group's harrowing 1994 album The Holy Bible. Early in 1995, James disappeared, leaving no trace of his whereabouts. The remaining trio carried on with 1996's Everything Must Go, the album that established them as superstars in England, yet that came at the expense of the arrogant, renegade gender-bending and revolutionary rhetoric that had earned them their initial fan base. It was a bizarre, unpredictable journey for a group that once proclaimed that all bands should break up after releasing one album.
James Dean Bradfield (vocals, guitar), Nicky Wire (born Nick Jones; bass), Sean Moore (drums), and Flicker (rhythm guitar) formed Betty Blue in 1986. Within two years' time, Flicker had left the band and the group had changed its name to the Manic Street Preachers. In the summer of 1988, a fellow student at Swansea University, Richey James (born Richey Edwards), who had previously been the group's driver, joined the band as rhythm guitarist. They began recording demos, eventually releasing the single "Suicide Alley" in August. "Suicide Alley" boasted a cover replicating that of the Clash's first album, which indicated the sound of the group at the time -- equal parts punk and hard rock. A year after the single's release, NME gave it an enthusiastic review, citing James' press release -- "We are as far away from anything in the '80s as possible."
Indeed, the Manics were one of the key bands of the early '90s, and their career didn't get rolling until 1991. The New Art Riot EP appeared in the summer of 1990, followed by a pair of defining singles -- "Motown Junk" and "You Love Us" -- in early 1991 on Heavenly Records. The singles and the Manics' incendiary live shows, where they wrote slogans on their shirts, created a strong buzz in the music press, which only escalated in May. James gave an interview with Steve Lamacq for NME in which Lamacq questioned the group's authenticity; after an argument, James responded by carving the words "4 Real" on his arm. The incident became a sensation, attracting numerous magazine articles, as well as a major-label contract with Sony. Many observers interpreted the action as a simple stunt, but over the next few years it became clear that the self-mutilation was the first indication of James' mental instability.
"Stay Beautiful" was the Manics' first release for Sony, and it climbed into the British Top 40 late in the summer of 1991, followed early in 1992 by a re-recorded "You Love Us," which peaked in the Top 20. By the time they released their much-hyped debut album, Generation Terrorists, in February 1992 -- a record the band claimed would outsell Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction -- they had already cultivated a large and devoted following, many of whom emulated their glammy appearance and read the same novels and philosophers the group name-dropped. The Manics had been claiming that they would disband following the release of their debut, yet it became clear by the fall, when a non-LP cover of "Suicide Is Painless (Theme from M*A*S*H)" became their first Top Ten hit, that they would continue performing. Nicky Wire and Richey James had become notorious for their banter throughout the British music press, and while it earned them countless articles, it also painted the group into a corner. Comparatively polished and mainstream compared to its predecessor, Gold Against the Soul, the group's second album, appeared in the summer of 1993 to mixed reviews.
Shortly after the release of Gold Against the Soul, the Manics' support began to slide as the group began to splinter amidst internal tensions, many of them stemming from James. Nicky Wire ran into trouble over on-stage remarks about R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe dying of AIDS, but Richey James was in genuine trouble. Suffering from deepening alcoholism and anorexia, James entered prolonged bouts of depression, highlighted by incidents of self-mutilation -- most notoriously at a concert in Thailand, when he appeared with his chest slashed open by knives a fan gave him. Early in 1994, he entered a private clinic, and the band had to perform a number of concerts as a trio. James' mental illness surfaced on the group's third album, The Holy Bible. Reportedly recorded in a red-light district in Wales, The Holy Bible was a bleak, disillusioned record that earned considerable critical acclaim upon its late-summer release in 1994.
Although the Manics' critical reputation was restored and James was playing with the band, even giving numerous interviews with the press, all was not well. Prior to the American release of The Holy Bible and the band's ensuing tour, James checked out of his London hotel on February 1, 1995, drove to his Cardiff apartment, and disappeared, leaving behind his passport and credit cards. Within the week he was reported missing and his abandoned car was found on the Severen Bridge outside of Bristol, a spot notorious for suicides. By the summer, the police had presumed he was dead. Broken, but not beaten, the remaining Manics decided to carry on as a trio, working the remaining lyrics James left behind into songs.
The Manic Street Preachers returned in December 1995 opening for the Stone Roses. In May 1996, they released Everything Must Go, which was preceded by the number two single "A Design for Life." Their most direct and mature record to date, Everything Must Go was greeted with enthusiastic reviews, and the Manics became major stars in England. Throughout 1996, the band toured constantly, and most U.K. music publications named Everything Must Go Album of the Year. Despite their growing success, several older fans expressed distress at the group's increasingly conservative image, yet that didn't prevent the album from going multi-platinum.
Everything Must Go didn't just go multi-platinum -- it established the Manics as superstars throughout the world. Everywhere except America, that is. The album received a belated release in the U.S., appearing in August of 1996, and the group attempted an American tour, opening for Oasis. It should have led to increased exposure, but a blowup between the Gallaghers led to Oasis canceling the entire tour, leaving the Manics at square one. They returned to the U.K. and toured, receiving a number of awards at the end of the year. They didn't deliver their much-anticipated follow-up, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, until August of 1998. The album was another blockbuster success in the U.K., Europe, and Asia, but it didn't receive a release in America, since the Manics were in the process of leaving Epic in the U.S.
For a while, there was simply no interest in the Manics by American labels, but another multi-platinum album and numerous awards in Britain revived interest. The band signed with Virgin, which issued This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in the U.S. during June 1999 -- nearly a year after its initial release. Know Your Enemy followed in 2001, although it was not well received, and the band moved to Sony for British distribution of 2004's Lifeblood. Both vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield and bassist Nicky Wire followed this release with solo albums, and then reconvened in 2007 to record the edgier, punk-influenced Send Away the Tigers with producer Dave Eringa. After its release, the band quickly set to work on another album, using Richey James' abandoned lyrics as inspiration. "All 13 songs on the new record feature lyrics left to us by Richey," the Manics wrote on their website in early 2009. "The brilliance and intelligence of the lyrics dictated that we had to finally use them." Titled Journal for Plague Lovers, the album was recorded on analog tape by veteran engineer Steve Albini and released that May. Postcards from a Young Man, the band's tenth studio album, followed in 2010.
After releasing a compilation called National Treasures: The Complete Singles in the fall of 2011, the Manics released a super-deluxe 20th Anniversary edition of Generation Terrorists in 2012. Meanwhile, the band plugged away in the studio, working on a ludicrously ambitious project tentatively titled 70 Songs of Hatred and Failure. At one point they despaired of simply having written too much material, before hitting on the idea of releasing two very different albums. The first, a folky, almost entirely acoustic, emotionally raw effort entitled Rewind the Film, appeared in the fall of 2013, and the second, the "spiky" and Krautrock-inspired Futurology, was slated for May 2014.
Manic Street Preachers are a Welsh alternative rock band, formed in 1986 in Blackwood and consisting of James Dean Bradfield (lead vocals, lead guitar), Nicky Wire (bass guitar, lyrics) and Sean Moore (drums). They are often colloquially known as "The Manics", or simply, "Manics". Originally a quartet, the band became a trio when primary lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared on 1 February 1995. Their early combination of androgynous glam imagery and critical social lyrics about "culture, alienation, boredom and despair" gained them a loyal following and cult status.
Following Edwards' disappearance, Bradfield, Moore and Wire persisted with Manic Street Preachers, and went on to gain critical and commercial success. They have won more than seven NME awards, including the lifetime achievement ″Godlike Genius Award″, eight awards and they have won the BRIT Awards four times. To the present day the band has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide and they are one of Britain's premier rock bands. The band's later albums retained a leftist politicisation and intellectual lyrical style while adopting a broader alternative rock sound. Altogether, they have garnered eleven Top 10 albums, fifteen Top 10 singles and have reached No. 1 on the UK charts three times—with their 1998 This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours album, the 1998 "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" single and the 2000 "The Masses Against the Classes" single.Jovanovic, Rob (2010). A Version of Reason: The Search for Richey Edwards. Hachette. ISBN 9781409111290. "BBC Wales – Music – Manic Street Preachers – Richey Edwards". bbc.co.uk/wales. Retrieved 9 July 2012. Owen, Paul (27 November 2008). "The Manics' Lyrics Were Something Truly Special". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 9 July 2012. "Manic Street Preachers". bbc.co.uk/wales. Retrieved 9 July 2012. "From Despair to Success". news.bbc.co.uk. 12 February 1999. Retrieved 9 July 2012. "Final Farewell for a Cult Hero". independent.co.uk. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
ContentsHistory1.1 Formation and early years (1986–1991)1.2 Generation Terrorists to The Holy Bible Richey Edwards Era (1992–1995)1.3 Everything Must Go to Know Your Enemy (1996–2003)1.4 Lifeblood to Journal for Plague Lovers (2004–2009)1.5 Postcards from a Young Man and National Treasures (2010–2012)1.6 Rewind the Film and Futurology (2013–present)
Formation and early years (1986–1991)
The band was formed in 1986 in Oakdale Comprehensive School, Blackwood, South Wales. During this time, Bradfield had tried writing lyrics but this later changed and Wire wrote all their earliest lyrics, leaving Bradfield, alongside the classically trained Sean Moore when he joined, to write the music. Original bassist Flicker (Miles Woodward) left the band in early 1988, reportedly because he believed that the band were moving away from their punk roots. The band continued as a three-piece, with Wire switching from guitar to bass, and in 1988 they released their first single, "Suicide Alley". Edwards joined the band on guitar and often made contributions to lyrics with Wire, designing record sleeves and other artwork as well as driving the band to and from gigs.
The origin of the band's name is unclear, but the most often-told story is that Bradfield, while busking one day in Cardiff, got into an altercation with someone (sometimes said to be a homeless man ) who asked him "What are you, boyo, some kind of manic street preacher?"
In 1990, they signed a deal with label Damaged Goods Records for one EP. The four-track New Art Riot E.P. attracted as much media interest for its attacks on fellow musicians as for the actual music. With the help of Hall or Nothing management, the Manics signed to indie label Heavenly Records. The band recorded their first single for the label, entitled "Motown Junk".
Their next single, "You Love Us", sampled Krzysztof Penderecki's "Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima" as well as Iggy Pop. The video featured Nicky Wire in drag as Marilyn Monroe and contained visual references to the film Betty Blue and Aleister Crowley. In a now legendary interview with then-NME journalist Steve Lamacq, Edwards carved the phrase "4REAL" into his arm with a razor blade to prove their sincerity. He was taken to hospital and received a total of seventeen stitches. Columbia Records of Sony Music UK signed the band shortly afterwards and they began work on their debut album.
Generation Terrorists to The Holy Bible Richey Edwards Era (1992–1995)
Their debut album, Generation Terrorists, was released on the Columbia Records imprint. The liner notes contained a literary quote for each of the album's eighteen songs and the album lasted just over seventy minutes. The record contained six singles and sold 250,000 copies.
The second album, Gold Against the Soul, displayed a more commercial, grungy sound which served to alienate both fans and the band itself. It was released to mixed reviews but still performed well, reaching number eight in the UK album chart. The nature of the lyrics also changed, with Edwards and Wire eschewing their political fire for introspective melancholy.
By early 1994, Edwards' personal difficulties became worse and began to affect the other band members as well as himself. He was admitted into The Priory in 1994 to overcome his problems and the band played a few festivals as a three-piece to pay for his treatment.
The group's next album, The Holy Bible, was released in August to critical acclaim, but sold poorly. The album displayed yet another musical and aesthetic change for the band, largely featuring army/navy uniforms. Musically, the band had shifted to a darker, post-punk-influenced and almost gothic sound. In support of the album, the band appeared on Top of the Pops, performing its first single, "Faster", which reached No. 16. The performance was extremely controversial at the time, as the band were all dressed in army regalia. Bradfield wore a 'terrorist-style' balaclava. At the time, the band was told by the BBC that they had received the most complaints ever.
Shortly after, on 1 February 1995, Edwards disappeared from the Embassy Hotel at Bayswater Road in London after checking out at 7:00 A.M. His car was found abandoned 17 February at the Severn View service station near the Severn Bridge. A car park attendant reported it had been there for three days; police search of the car revealed that it had been lived in for a few days. Edwards was never seen again, although the band have kept a percentage of the royalties aside should he return. He was declared presumed dead on 23 November 2008 by his family. The band commented that they respect their decision. Manic Street Preachers was put on hold for six months and disbanding the group was seriously considered, but with the blessing of Edwards' family, the other members continued.
Everything Must Go to Know Your Enemy (1996–2003)
The first album without Edwards, Everything Must Go contained five songs either written or co-written by Edwards, and was released to overwhelmingly positive reviews. The bulk of the lyrics were written solely by Wire including number two hit single "A Design for Life". The album was shortlisted for the 1996 Mercury Prize award for best album, and won the band two BRIT Awards for Best British Band and Best British Album, as well as yielding the hit singles "Australia", "Everything Must Go" and "Kevin Carter".
1998's This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours was even more successful across most of the world, eventually selling over 5 million copies and giving the band their first No. 1 charting as well as first No. 1 single in "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next". ( sample (help·info)) It was written about the Spanish Civil War and was inspired in equal parts by George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and The Clash's "Spanish Bombs". The album also included the hit singles "You Stole the Sun from My Heart", "Tsunami" and "The Everlasting". Again, the Manics won the Best British Band and Album awards at the BRIT Awards in 1999.
After headlining Glastonbury Festival, T In the Park and V Festival, the band played the Leaving the 20th Century concert at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 31 December 1999, the first concert to be held there, with 57,000 people attending and the final song being broadcast around the world by satellite as part of 2000 Today.
In 2000, they released the limited edition single "The Masses Against the Classes". Despite receiving little promotion, the single hit the No. 1 position on the UK Singles Chart, beating "U Know What's Up" by Donell Jones to the top. The catalogue entry for the single was deleted (removed from wholesale supply) on the day of release, but the song nevertheless spent seven weeks in the UK chart.
In 2001, they became the first popular Western rock band to play in Cuba (at the Karl Marx Theater), and met with president Fidel Castro. Their concert and trip to Cuba was documented and then released as a DVD entitled Louder Than War. At this concert they revealed many tracks from their upcoming sixth album, Know Your Enemy, which was released on 19 March. The song "Ocean Spray" was written entirely by James about his mother's battle with cancer. The first singles from the album, "So Why So Sad" and "Found That Soul", were both released on the same day. The final single, "Let Robeson Sing", was released later. The Manics also headlined Reading and Leeds Festival.
The greatest hits (plus remixes) album Forever Delayed was released in 2002, containing two new songs, "Door to the River" and the single "There by the Grace of God". An album of B-sides, rarities and cover versions was released in 2003 entitled Lipstick Traces (A Secret History of Manic Street Preachers), which contains the last song the band worked on with Edwards.
Lifeblood to Journal for Plague Lovers (2004–2009)
The band's seventh studio album, Lifeblood, was released on 1 November 2004 and reached No. 13 on the UK album chart. Critical response to the album was mixed. Tony Visconti helped the band produce three songs on the album, which was followed by a UK arena tour in December 2004.
A tenth anniversary edition of The Holy Bible was released on 6 December 2004, which included a digitally remastered version of the original album, a rare U.S. mix (which the band themselves have admitted to preferring to the original UK mix) and a DVD of live performances and extras including a band interview.
In April 2005, the band played a number of shows as the Past-Present-Future tour – announced as their last for at least two years. The band released an EP entitled God Save the Manics with only a limited number of copies available and given out to fans as they arrived at the venue. After all the copies were gone, the band made the EP available as a free download on their website. In September, the band contributed the new track "Leviathan" to the War Child charity album Help!: A Day in the Life.
The band's eighth studio album, Send Away the Tigers, was released on 7 May 2007 on Columbia Records. It entered the official UK album charts at No. 2. Critical response to the album was largely positive, with some critics hailing the album as the band's best in a decade. A free download of a song entitled "Underdogs" from the album was made available through the group's website on 19 March 2007. The first official single released from Send Away the Tigers was "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough", which features Cardigans vocalist Nina Persson. The second single, "Autumnsong", and a third, "Indian Summer", were released in August.
The band released a Christmas single in December. "The Ghosts of Christmas" was available as a free download on their official website throughout December 2007 and January 2008. In February 2008, the band were presented with the God-Like Geniuses Award at the NME Awards ceremony.
The ninth Manics album, Journal for Plague Lovers, was released on 18 May 2009 and features lyrics left behind by Edwards. Wire commented in an interview that "there was a sense of responsibility to do his words justice." The album was released to positive critical reviews and reached No. 3 on the UK Album Chart.
On 18 June 2009 the Manics officially opened the new Cardiff Central Library. Wire later said in an interview with The Guardian that the occasion had been a great honour for the band. "For us, it seemed like a chance to give something back to Wales. Seeing one of our lyrics – "Libraries gave us power", from A Design for Life – inscribed on the opening plaque was in its own way as affecting as playing the Millennium Stadium."
Postcards from a Young Man and National Treasures (2010–2012)
On 1 June 2010, the band announced on their homepage that a new album called Postcards from a Young Man will be released on 20 September. James Dean Bradfield said that the album would be an unashamedly pop-orientated affair, following 2009's Journal for Plague Lovers. "We're going for big radio hits on this one", he told NME. "It isn't a follow-up to Journal for Plague Lovers. It's one last shot at mass communication."
On 26 July, the first single from the new album, "(It's Not War) Just the End of Love", was played on the breakfast shows of BBC Radio 2, BBC 6Music, XFm and Absolute Radio. It was released on 13 September. The title had previously been suggested as a working title for the album by Nicky Wire. Three collaborations were also confirmed on the band's website later that day: Duff McKagan would appear on "A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun", Ian McCulloch will add guest vocals to "Some Kind of Nothingness" and John Cale will feature on "Auto-Intoxication".
The band embarked on a UK tour to promote the album, starting in Glasgow on 29 September 2010. British Sea Power were the support act for the band on the tour. Two further singles have been released from the album – the McCulloch-featuring "Some Kind of Nothingness" and the title track "Postcards from a Young Man".
The band initially announced that their next album has the working title 70 Songs of Hatred and Failure and will sound very different from Postcards. "The next album will be pure indulgence. There's only so much melody stored in your body that you can physically get onto one record. It was just so utterly commercial and melodic." However, Nicky Wire contradicted this in 2011 while doing promotion for their greatest hits compilation National Treasures. When asked why the band was releasing the compilation Wire stated: "It's just the end of an era. Not the end of a band. We're gonna disappear for quite a long time."
A 38-track singles compilation, National Treasures – The Complete Singles, was released on 31 October 2011, preceded by the release of cover single "This Is the Day", originally by The The. On 17 December, the band performed all their singles in full at the O2 Arena in London. In April and May 2012, the band embarked on a European greatest hits tour.
On 10 October, the band announced via Facebook that a film-interview-documentary about their album Generation Terrorists will be screened at 2012s Sŵn Festival as a Welsh exclusive. The film was shown at Chapter Arts Centre on Saturday 20 October, with all profits being donated to Young Promoters Network. The film was made available in the 20th's anniversary re-issue of Generation Terrorists, a boxset that includes the remastered album alongside three CDs featuring demos, B-sides, a 28-page booklet, a 10" vinyl and the documentary. On 16 October, the band played an acoustic version of "Damn Dog" for Dermot O'Leary's show on BBC Radio 2.
Rewind the Film and Futurology (2013–present)
In May 2013, the band announced an Australasian tour for June and July, that would see them play their first ever show in New Zealand. This tour coincided with the British and Irish Lions rugby tour to Australia and the Melbourne concert on the eve of the 2nd Test featured Lions' centre Jamie Roberts as a guest guitarist on "You Love Us".
In May 2013 the Manics released information about their most recent recording sessions, saying that they had enough material for two albums; the first would be almost exclusively without electric guitars. The name of the first album and title track was revealed to be Rewind the Film on 8 July. The lead single of the album, the song "Show Me the Wonder", was released on 9 September 2013 to a positive critical reception. The album itself was released on 16 September 2013 and reached No. 4 on the UK Album Chart. The second single of the album "Anthem for a Lost Cause" was released on 25 November 2013.
The other album, Futurology, the band's twelfth studio album, was released on 7 July 2014. The lead single from the album, "Walk Me to the Bridge", was released as a digital download on the day of the announcement, on 28 April. The album sold about 20,000 copies in its first week and reached No. 2 on the UK Album Chart. The second single from the album, "Futurology", was released on 22 September 2014.Price, Simon (20 March 1999). Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers). Virgin Books. ISBN 0753501392. "What's in a band name? Here are the stories behind the monikers". The Independent. 11 April 2008. Retrieved 16 October 2014. "Band Name Explained: Manic Street Preachers". Retrieved 16 October 2014. "Pictures of Richey Edwards Remembered – Photos – nme.com". nme.com. Retrieved 14 April 2013. Simpson, Dave; Lynskey, Dorian (29 July 2006). "'You Woke Up on a Thursday and It Smelled Like a Top of the Pops Day' | Music | The Guardian". guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 2 March 2013. Cartwright, Garth (26 November 2008). "Obituary: Richey Edwards | Music | The Guardian". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2 March 2013. "Manic Street Preachers | Artist | Official Charts". theofficialcharts.com. Retrieved 10 July 2012. "God-Like Genius Award". Manic Street Preachers. Archived from the original on 4 March 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2013. Murray, Robin (31 March 2009). "Manic Street Preachers News: Manics Talk New Album". Idiomag. Retrieved 2 March 2013. "Music Blog:'If you tolerate this ...': Nicky Wire on library closures". The Guardian. 7 February 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2014. "Manic Street Preachers Announce UK Tour and New Album details | News | nme.com". nme.com. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2013. "Manic Street Preachers Reveal Working Title of Next Album | News | nme.com". nme.com. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2013. "Manic Street Preachers on the UK Riots – NMETV Latest Music Videos and Clips | – nme.com". nme.com. Retrieved 3 March 2013. "Manic Street Preachers to Celebrate 21st Anniversary with Singles Collection | News | nme.com". nme.com. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2013. "Manic Street Preachers / Official News (Global) / Send Away the Lions Part 2". Manic Street Preachers. Retrieved 21 July 2013. "Manic Street Preachers / Official News (Global) / Manic Street Preachers Film to Be Screened at Sŵn Festival 2012". Manic Street Preachers. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2013. "Manics announce Auckland show". 3 News NZ. 2 May 2013. "Manic Street Preachers set to release two new albums". Guardian.co.uk. 4 June 2013. Morgan, Luke (2013-07-08). "Manic Street Preachers stream new album title-track 'Rewind The Film'". The Line Of Best Fit. Retrieved 2014-04-19. Nissim, Mayer (2014-04-28). "Manic Street Preachers reveal Futurology, 'Walk Me to the Bridge' video". DigitalSpy. Retrieved 2014-04-28.
In late 2005, both Bradfield and Wire announced that they intended to release solo material prior to a new album by the band. A free download of Nicky Wire's debut solo offering I Killed the Zeitgeist was posted on the band's website for just one day, Christmas Day 2005. The album was officially released in September 2006. It charted at No. 130 in the UK. The sound of the album, which Nicky referred to as his "nihilistic anti-everything album", was inspired by, among others, Neu!, The Plastic Ono Band, Einstürzende Neubauten, The Modern Lovers, Richard Thompson and Lou Reed. Only one official single was released, "Break My Heart Slowly", which charted at No. 74. Nicky toured small intimate venues across the UK with his band The Secret Society, affording fans the opportunity of seeing their hero at close quarters.
Bradfield's solo album, The Great Western, was released in July 2006. It reached No. 22 in the UK. The sound of the album was inspired by, among others, Jeff Beck, Badfinger, Simple Minds and McCarthy. Two singles were released: "That's No Way to Tell a Lie" (No. 18) in July and then "An English Gentleman" (No. 31) in September. The latter is in remembrance of the first Manics manager Philip Hall, to whom The Holy Bible had been dedicated. James toured the album with a band that included Wayne Murray, who would subsequently play second guitar for Manics live performances. James' solo gigs featured covers of The Clash songs "Clampdown" and "The Card Cheat", both from the album London Calling.
In a later interview, when the band were collectively asked what they had learned from making a solo album, Sean Moore dryly quipped, "Not to do one"."Nicky Wire– Official Site". nickyssecretsociety.com. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
Collaborations and covers
The band released a split single in 1992 with The Fatima Mansions, a rock cover of "Suicide Is Painless", which became their first UK Top 10 hit. They have recorded many cover versions of songs by other artists, primarily as B-sides for their own singles. Bands to whom the group have paid tribute in this way include The Clash, Guns N' Roses, Alice Cooper, Happy Mondays, McCarthy, Chuck Berry, Faces and Nirvana.
The band's first musical appearance since Edwards' departure was recording a cover of "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" for The Help Album, a charity effort in 1995 in support of aid efforts in war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Lightning Seeds' song "Waiting for Today to Happen", from their fifth album, Dizzy Heights (1996), was written by Nicky Wire and Ian Broudie. That same year, James Dean Bradfield and Dave Eringa produced Northern Uproar's first single, "Rollercoaster/Rough Boys". The 808 State song "Lopez" (1997) features lyrics by Wire and vocals by Bradfield. It is featured on their greatest hits album, 808:88:98. Kylie Minogue's sixth album, Impossible Princess (1997), features two songs co-written and produced by the Manics: "Some Kind of Bliss" (Bradfield, Minogue and Sean Moore) and "I Don't Need Anyone" (Bradfield, Jones and Minogue) were produced by Bradfield and Dave Eringa. Bradfield provided backing vocals, bass guitar and production for the Massive Attack song "Inertia Creeps" (1998), which features on their successful third album, Mezzanine. Patrick Jones's album of poetry set to music, Commemoration and Amnesia (1999), features two songs with music written by Bradfield: the title track and "The Guerilla Tapestry". Bradfield plays guitar on both songs. Furthermore, the track "Hireath" features a section called "Spoken Word", in which Nicky Wire talks about Welsh identity.
In February 2006, the band contributed a cover version of "The Instrumental" to the album Still Unravished: A Tribute to the June Brides.
In February 2008, the Manics covered Rihanna's hit pop song "Umbrella". Their version appeared on a CD titled NME Awards 2008 given away free with a special souvenir box set issue of NME magazine, which went on sale 27 February. Additionally, the Manics' version of the song was made available on iTunes since 5 March 2008. Despite being chart-eligible (it reached number 47 in the UK), the release was not intended as an official single. Two further versions (the Acoustic and Grand Slam mixes) were later made available on iTunes and now comprise a three-track Umbrella EP.
James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire contributed an original song, "The Girl from Tiger Bay", to Shirley Bassey's 2009 studio album, The Performance.Cite error: The named reference Everything was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference God-Like_Genius was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference charts was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Manic Street Preachers". Manic Street Preachers. Archived from the original on 1 April 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2013.