Manic Street Preachers
The Holy Bible – 50 Further Facts

Expanded & Revised July 2021
from a piece originally published in March 2016
Compiled By: Steve Bateman

Intended as a companion-piece to my interviews with Alex Silva and Mark Freegard, in which they discuss engineering/co-producing and mixing The Holy Bible, respectively. This work in progress - and now more rounded - extra-long-form editorial, contains an assemblage of additional facts not covered in either of those articles, written in the style of a timeline-type of feature. It has also been carefully constructed as a resource for readers to be able to dip in and out of, rather than having to trawl through it all in one sitting. Because although cross-referencing is involved, a considerable number of these facts are self-contained, which will enable you to peruse them in any order, at any time and at your own leisure, should you so wish. This format shall also allow for amendments and future updates, whenever new info, vintage interviews or previously unpublished archival material may turn up. And, along with related tidbits / detailed supplementary notes + multiple Postscripts, although a number of these facts are well-known, others will hopefully be new and surprising to some MSP Fans. There are also now analyses of the golden Everything Must Go and Journal For Plague Lovers eras, combined with an examination of the bloodline that connects both of these long players to The Holy Bible, incorporated into relevant sections of this write-up. The bite-size and in-depth pieces of information, were all written with help from, or sourced from, A Critical Discography, BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Dazed & Confused, Guitarist Magazine, KERRANG!, Manics Promo Materials / THB Anniversary Editions, Melody Maker, MSPpedia, NME, Q Magazine, R*E*P*E*A*T, Select Magazine, The Face, 227 Lears, Wikipedia and many more amazing, inspiring and invaluable resources (credited throughout the article). Without whom, this exercise would not have been possible - a very special thanks to all! I hope that, even if in a small way, my pieces will also be worthy additions to writings on The Bible.

But just before the facts however, although his best friends and bandmates, James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore, legitimately believe that everything that happened to the totemic lost soul, Richey Edwards - whose beauty and understated presence, belied his inner torment - would most likely have eventually materialised in whatever career path he chose to pursue in life. Now older and wiser, they have accurately ascribed the dramatically sped-up disintegration of his personal well-being / temperament, followed soon after by his tragic disappearance, to the irrefutable harsh realties, sacrifices and consequences of being a full-time member in a professional touring group. Also putting an enormous part of his exponential decline down to having a creative outlet / emotional sanctuary, whereby Richey plainly and persistently suffered for his art. In fact, this was implicit, with his inquiring mind, worldly-wise inspiration and wrath filled meditations (where everything is fair game), plus his self-condemnation and the weight of incessantly and methodically writing erudite / bookish words - with deep levels of meaning - becoming all-consuming. To the point where sometimes, he was unable to think about anything else. Something which the music zine, Secret Meeting, perceptively termed as "the rabbit hole of Edwards’ psyche," also noting how "embedded right in the heart of this album, is the starkest insight to the issues that dominate it." Crucially though, and against all odds, this unholy outcome / complication didn't hamper or derail the countercultural and hyperliterate band for long. And by weathering these troubled times, carrying on and staying the course, thankfully, with a cream of the crop / evergreen record that is THB. Richey's memory, his heart and soul and his exceptional, heterogeneous and captivating highbrow lyrics - bolstered by the tantalising and mesmerising musical handiwork / tenebrous palette, masterfully provided by the other three equally as cultivated, aspirational, philosophical, sagacious, upfront, trustworthy and sincere Manic Street Preachers. Shall live on, by virtue of a rather significant, multifaceted, full-blooded, all-enveloping and towering LP. Which, as an inimical sonic volte-face that never lets up and delivers in spades, challenged perceptions of what an album could be, and to this very day, remains in a league of its own!

It is also an invitation to the abyss, while supplying listeners with an unparalleled feast of engaging, exhilarating and enrapturing auditory / mental nourishment, all marinated in darkness. As by bringing songs into being and presenting them as exposés that are streaked with hate, at the same time, The Holy Bible also seeks to raise levels of consciousness, foment change and instigate universal Panaceas, based on the strength of some of the greatest words ever committed to tape! Expertly crafted and executed with excellence and bravura, attack and immediacy, while toting all of the hallmarks / criteria typically associated with the phenomenon of a cult classic album, this is a long player that you can lose yourself in! And, not only did THB mark a turning point for the hard-charging foursome who, with a common goal, called all the shots (by visualising, strategising, actualising). But, when originally released in August 1994, it raised the stakes with a collection of 13 edifying, unstoppable and instantly recognisable tracks. While today, it is highly rated as a work of art, as a cultural artefact, as a puzzle to piece together and as a true masterclass in cerebral rock 'n' roll - due to its aura and mystique, its lyrical scope and the way in which the record unfurls new layers, with an explosion / proliferation of ideas, references and imagery to unlock, as well as how details and qualities reveal themselves over repeat listens. Because as soon as The Bible pulls you in, it is pure sensation, with a multi-sensory sound / concoction of textures, tones, oscillating chord sequences and emotional vocals / lyrics that shall burn themselves into your very soul! These are perfectly-formed and slenderised songs, that can be felt, as much as heard. Railing against the world and going against the grain with their black brew, the Manics' uppermost THB - which also comes conjoined with arresting artwork - has been branded as everything from, "Disturbingly traumatic" to "Laceratingly savage", to "Vile" to "Discomforting", to "A tangled treatise about failure, horror and dysfunction" to "The sound of a group in extremis hurtling towards a private Armageddon." To "An anomaly, an education and a warning from history" to "Dark euphoria", to "An immense intellectual colossus" to "A voice for the voiceless", to "A triumph of art over logic; A vindication of intelligence" by music critics. But now, looking back on this jaw-dropping era, when a competitive MSP enlisted for a tactical military mission, before then drawing up battle plans and waging a musical war that took no prisoners. Here are 50 Further Facts about the dark and divine, one of a kind and acclaimed album, that is The Holy Bible...


1. Recorded in late 1993, as a b-side for the Gold Against The Soul era, Life Becoming A Landslide EP. Comfort Comes is somewhat of a Holy Bible prototype and was the first domino pushed, as it famously set the tone for what fans could expect from the hardboiled record, that would soon follow in the shadowy slipstream of this fan favourite flipside. The scuttling, slicing and dicing, foreboding gem, was even included on the Japanese Faster/P.C.P. maxi CD single - most likely so that listeners could compare the similarities shared by both songs, as they are clearly cut from the same cloth. MSP biographer, staunch champion and superfan, Simon Price, even once hailed Faster as, "Comfort Comes turned upside down." Also worthy of note and adding a brand new twist to this fact, is that when readying the remastered 2020 Deluxe Edition reissue of Gold Against The Soul, after "tidying his house, going through the Manic Street Preachers' archives, moving studios and finding a load of stuff that he thought was lost forever." Nicky revealed to NME: "The b-side, Comfort Comes, is definitely the bridge to The Holy Bible, but interestingly, the demo of the title track of Gold Against The Soul is very The Holy Bible. It’s got some Simple Minds-sampling guitar. When I found that demo and played it to James, he was shocked as well at how it fitted in with our later post-punk ideas." As for the Americanised, and at times bombastic, GATS - or "the grand rock gesture" as JDB put it - paving the way for The Bible, and a remodelled Manics coming to terms with their past / rejecting it, as they all felt like they'd "gone astray" and hadn't yet reached their full potential. In 1994, Bradfield informed Club International: "We lost the power to 'speak in tongues' on that record. This time we've got that edge to it and it makes a world of difference. I don't even know if it will be a commercial success or not, but I'm really glad we've made a record that's got this much to it." Holding nothing back, he also renounced GATS in Hot Press by insinuating that the long player was humdrum and lacklustre: "The others mightn’t necessarily agree, but I thought a lot of Gold Against The Soul was shit. We were under enormous pressure - both internally and externally - to produce a big hit album and allowed ourselves to become self-indulgent. Most of the songs were based round the theme of lost innocence and as that’s precisely what we were experiencing at the time, we tended to look inwards rather than outwards. I don’t agree that we turned into Guns N' Roses, but we were listening to too much classic rock and those influences didn’t sit comfortably with what we’d done before. The Holy Bible took four weeks, as opposed to six months, to record and the stuff that we were playing on the studio hi-fi was The Clash and Joy Division. That’s more where we’re coming from." KERRANG! also published the following with the subheading, CORPORATE ROCK WHORES!: "The Manics' 1993 album Gold Against The Soul, was panned by the rock-hating UK press for being too mainstream. The Holy Bible is seen as a reaction to that criticism - and a rediscovery of the Manics' punk roots. "I don't hate Gold Against The Soul," James clarifies. "I've just got a few regrets about it. We swanned around for two years thinking we were totally in control of corporate things, and that was slightly naive. We thought as long as you didn't have Sergeant Major Sony barking orders at you, you were fine! To a certain degree, I think it affected the music. I worked with (producer and keyboard player) Dave Eringa quite closely on that album, and sometimes I'd think, 'Well, we could make this song a little bit more radio playable...' "When I listen back to that album, I hear moments when I diverged from the true point of it, that's all. But it's interesting to hear us exercise ourselves in a more commercial manner." In 2015, Nicky shared similar sentiments in a PureVolume Q&A, unveiling: "I think we’d reached the height of our attempt to be a straightforward rock band with Gold Against The Soul - it was our ultimate version of a band that we couldn’t really be. We tried, and we did a really good impression. But I don’t think we were being true to ourselves." As an inveterate theoriser / feeling cut adrift (something which can't be overstated enough), after surveying the cultural landscape in '94, he also put Melody Maker in the picture about how he saw MSP's place in the world at that time: "There's a poem by Tennessee Williams called Lament For Moths*, one of the first poems we ever read, which is about how the moths, the sensitive people, will always be stamped on and crushed by the mammoths - that really hit us, the sudden realisation that we were the moths of the world."

And, quickly sussing that at the top of the mountain, there's another mountain. On their position in The Music Industry food chain, even Bradfield saw the light, confessing to Melody Maker: "We lost all pretence of humility a long time ago. We know what our stature is." Similarly, NME also wrote about the four-piece's lack of joie de vivre: "Reconciling their high ideals with harsh reality, has been a slow and painful process for the Manics. What gave their cause such nobility - a gloriously naive refusal to acknowledge the possibility of failure - left them ill-equipped to deal with its less than total realisation." While as for the root cause of the group's sadness, heartache and disconsolateness, in an earlier Melody Maker piece, the music weekly put in print: "They relish their melancholy as a connoisseur would a fine wine. "That's been the truth since we were 15-years-old," confesses Nicky. "All I can remember is being melancholy. I've never said I was desperately unhappy. The truly unhappy people of this world are usually the ones who end up suicidal or living on the streets." What does your depression stem from? "It's just our natural mood," Richey offers. "We've always been like that. Where we come from, there's a natural melancholy in the air. Everybody, ever since you could comprehend it, felt pretty much defeated. You've got the ruins of heavy industry all around you, you see your parents' generation all out of work, nothing to do, being forced into the indignity of going on courses of relevance. Like a 50-year-old miner, worked in a pit all his life, there's not much joy for him to go and learn how to type. It's just pointless. And that is all around us, ever since we were born." Then why do you still live there? "I just want to deal with reality," replies Nicky. "I want to write about the things that go on around me." But what goes on around Nicky is not, by his own admission, life in Blackwood (which is 18 miles from Cardiff); he and Richey long ago chose to isolate themselves from even that. Instead, they occupy their minds with the rivers of printed words and moving images that feed into their homes. They monitor Britain as if they were in distant orbit around it. And it's not a hopeful picture." James also vented in OKEJ about their milieu: "We grew up in the middle of the miners strike. Demonstrations everyday, many people starved, our friends' families were evicted. We grew up to despise the environment in which we lived. Many miners were also self-convinced martyrs. They saw something romantic in starving and suffering. It was a part of being of their social class and they were proud over it. Absolute crap! Everyone deserved better! My generation started to rebel. We despised a lot of people and decided to be honest about it. Boredom was life. We were stuck in a vacuum." In 1994, Volume also eloquently noted: "They identified with the underdog, the lost the lonely and abused; disaffection and despair had never sounded so sexy." With Wire telling the music publication: "I don't think we could have done this if we hadn't grown up in a shithole, where the only way to escape was to create your own reality. We grew up in one of the most deprived areas of Britain. When we go home, nothing's changed, it's such an insular society. We had nothing, we had a cinema but that was closed down when we were twelve, so the only thing for it was to retreat to our bedrooms where we could play our records and put on our make-up. We were never particularly victimised for being weird, because no one ever saw us. Everyone has their own little gang when they're at school, that's what we're like. We realised as individuals we were very limited as people, so we had to fabricate ourselves and took a very academic approach at being a band. We were quite clinical. We were like magpies, collecting information, keeping dossiers on journalists and learning how to manipulate them." With Melody Maker insightfully writing of their 'calling': "The Manics have appropriated every extreme and every music industry touchstone as their own - small-town rage, ridiculously self-aggrandising claims, sloganeering, trashed beauty, alcoholism, lipstick, boas, breakdowns, anthems... these are out of circulation, now. No other band will be able to use them again. The Manics have made rock and roll their own. And it's in question whether they want it or not." In a 2015 interview with BBC Wales, not wishing to serve up more of the same or to feel artistically straightjacketed, Bradfield and Wire also reiterated the importance of rediscovering the music from their youth / deviating away from their rock 'n' roll flirtations.

James: "I was still living with my parents [in 1993-94] and I remember one day, just going through my record collection and there were so many records in there, that just weren't represented in our music anymore. It was just a slow realisation, that perhaps we'd lost our way a tiny bit." Nicky: "Like James said, all of a sudden, I was looking at The Skids and Magazine and The Banshees and starting to think, 'Where's that gone?' Because we were overdosing on Guns N' Roses, Alice In Chains and classic rock and stuff, and the vision that me and Richey tried to force on James and Sean, was to be this gigantic kind of rock band. But, it was all happening at the same time, Sean, myself, James and Richey, were all of a sudden gravitating to early Bunnymen and all of the records that kind of set us going - for James it was early Simple Minds - just all of those records that we loved, 16 to 15 to 14, they all just started tapping away at us... We just wanted to kind of reclaim the post-punk soul of the band." *Regarding Lament for the Moths by Tennessee Williams, it is widely believed that the Edwards' penned Everything Must Go track, Removables, drew some inspiration from this poem, i.e. the line, 'A bronze moth dies easily.' With MSP keeping a foot in the past and an eye on the future in 1995-96 then, lyrically and musically, this song is very Bible-esque in tone.

2. Proof that the Manic Street Preachers certainly considered enlisting Mike Hedges to helm and produce THB, could originally be found in a July 1996 interview with Select Magazine, whereby Nicky elaborated: "We were thinking about having him for The Holy Bible's more Gothic punk side." The reasons for this, are because in the past, the venerable music producer had recorded some of the antecedents / forerunners of the post-punk sound. While in Kieran Evans' devastatingly wonderful and lauded 2016 Everything Must Go feature-length documentary, Escape From History, James confirmed for sure: "We tried to get Mike Hedges to do The Holy Bible, because of The Cure and [Siouxsie And] The Banshees etc. He sent us a really nice reply, saying that he would love to work with us, but he was booked up."

3. Whereas the plush, opulent and luxurious residential recording environs used for Gold Against The Soul, Outside Studios (later known as Hookend Recording Studios) near the bucolic, Checkendon in Oxfordshire, cost £2,000 per day. By comparison, the since demolished, primitive and unheated, 16-track recording facility rented for The Holy Bible, Sound Space Studios (aka Soundspace) situated in the red-light-district of Cardiff, cost a mere £50 per day - with the area's scuzziness having inevitably seeped into the LP's overall morose make-up. Nicky unceremoniously said of this studio: "It was a shithole, really." Interestingly, RAW Magazine reported how Sony did offer MSP the chance to record in Barbados, but the tight-knit quartet collectively responded with a resounding: "Fuck off, no way - that's not us!" With Richey also telling the music publication: "It's not going to be one of those mega-expensive follow-up-to-the-big-hit jobs you usually get from a band in our position." As the well-known proverb goes, 'necessity is the mother of invention' and in 2011, Wire revealed to UNCUT: "We started to record in a palatial studio with a snooker room and a tennis court. But - and this was [Bradfield's] idea - ‘We gotta get away, it’s gotta be boot camp, it’s gotta be nasty, like Michael-Caine-in-Mona Lisa naasty!’ And it was a touch of method, recording it in the red-light-area in Wales." Now the stuff of legend, on their own volition and all singing from the same hymn sheet, they instead regrouped and hit the ground running, as they dismantled what the band had become, rewrote their rulebook, were self-sufficient, focused, well-rehearsed, determined, diligent, dedicated and chose not to use "all the resources at their disposal." And, while purposefully staying under the radar, in '94, Bradfield told Volume: "We didn't want to get into that decadent rock star rubbish, we wanted to communicate ourselves honestly." Then, in a rare, archived 1995 American Q&A published on The Quietus, a free-spoken James gave a firsthand insight into the making of THB, talking matter-of-factly about Sony being unaware of the new and improved group's plans, after they had used their initiative / optimised their time. As well as how their unfaltering, principal drive, has always been to write songs for themselves first and foremost: "'We've got this album, it's nearly finished. Do you want to come and hear it?' And of course we needed to mix it. But once the record company knew we'd gone and taken control of the situation, and they heard what we were doing, and they heard the directness, the energy and the attitude, they just went for it. They thought, 'Ah well, that's okay.' We took charge of their own destiny and I think they were almost thankful for that. It takes a lot of work off their hands... We do it for ourselves first. There's no prerequisites for what somebody's going to take from you. We just realised at one point that we're in love with failure. Everything we love just completely failed, whether it be an ideology, even religion. I think that's our biggest achievement: we realised we don't want to be in love with failure all our lives, and we want to do something about it." In a 2015 interview conducted by PopMatters, when discussing the nuts and bolts of The Holy Bible, throwing themselves into recording, MSP's work shift patterns and gaining traction with tracking individual instruments, James verified: "It was kind of standard practice back in those days. You go to a residential studio and you record a record. Residential studios back then were really lovely places to create and record. But we knew that it was just wrong for the music. Especially with the lyrics that had inspired the music. We knew that it would be a wrong decision to try and create this kind of music, which had threadbare emotions and hard political intent and acute observatory historical references in it. We knew that if we ended up trying to create this music somewhere in Surrey, England, which had four poster beds and every technical specification you could wish for, there would be something slightly off-message about that. I suppose, in our youthful, delusional state, we thought there should be some kind of 'method recording', our version of method acting. We should immerse ourselves in a shitty environment to try and replicate the edge in the music. And that’s what we did. We hired a studio which we had used before in Cardiff, which was kind of in the red-light-area, and had no mod cons. It was a very, very monotone kind of experience. And we decided we wanted that kind of utilitarian vibe to try and rub off in the music, I suppose. It all sounds pretentious and I wouldn’t want to repeat it all now, but we were young."

Wire said very much the same thing to Atomic Magazine in 1994, for their ACCIDENT WAITING TO HAPPEN article: "The reason this album sounds like it does, is because we didn't have the record company executives coming down every 5 minutes like you do if you're in a really posh studio in Surrey, but when you're in a grotty studio in the middle of Wales, they don't seem so keen." That same year, Nicky also told KERRANG!: "We just wanted to react against that excess. You don’t need the fucking swimming pool and the full-size snooker table... This time we were in the studio for about four weeks, and some of that time was rehearsing! We recorded during the winter, and it was pissing down with rain every day, so the locals didn't really seem to notice us. They just mooched around in parkas!" As for his lyrics, Richey divulged to NME: "We just kept concentrating on the words, trying to get them like we wanted. Trying to make them better. I don't think it's being a perfectionist, I just think it's trying to hone it down, do it properly." With Wire admitting to Brum Beat in their WAKING UP TO THE ABYSS article: "On Gold Against The Soul, we thought every song should have a big chorus and the lyrics weren't poetical at all." Returning to The Bible, commuting daily and starting each new day with the simpatico engineer/co-producer, Alex Silva (who manned the mixing console and oversaw every recording session), by all having morning coffee together in the office next to the studio's control room - except for Richey, with Bradfield vividly recalling on BBC Radio 6 Music in 2010: "Inevitably, the day would start with a 'Schhht!' - the sound of a can opening!" Edwards, who had just bought a flat in Cardiff Bay at Anson Court (which overlooked the old Bute East Dock and he was decorating and collaging), would pick-up James by car, while Nicky and Sean both travelled separately by train - Wire from Wattsville and Moore from Bristol, where he was sharing a room rent-free with his girlfriend, Rhian, who at the time, was studying at the city's University. The beat of the band, informed Select Magazine: "I used to commute in on the train. Regular work - drum 'til six and then go home. It was like a little office job." With Wire treasuring the fact that he could go home to his wife, Rachel, in the Valleys every night and watch Sky TV after a hard day's work. Richey assented in RAW Magazine: "It was great, we got to go home at the end of every day and just take things normally, instead of making a big deal about things. We save the big deals for the music..." Tellingly, during these labour intensive recording sessions, which were fuelled by musical aptitude and precision-tooled proficiency. With a renewed sense of purpose, as the long player was starting to take shape and in high spirits, a galvanised, revitalised and jubilant JDB recalled in NME: "I remember being on holiday down in Bishopstown, towards west Wales. I didn't have a mobile, I was calling the office every other day, asking, 'Anything happening, anything happening?' No festival offers coming in, nothing. I thought, 'This could be the end of the band. Fucking hell, we could be over after two records.' And quickly everybody was feeling like that, Nick and Richey, and then this mission statement appeared: must record in red-light-district of Cardiff, must forego big name producer, must go home and sleep at parents' house every night. And that's what we did! And it did feel great straight away. I'd just been dumped by my girlfriend, I remember the first song we did was 4st 7lb, and... I felt there was tension and there was pressure, but it just felt good straight away. I felt alive with something again, whereas before that I was just fearing things - the end of the band, being a fuckwit because my girlfriend had dumped me, the world not even wanting us to play some shit festival - and as soon as we stepped in the studio and started doing these songs, I felt alive with something I hadn't felt for about six months. It was actually a really strange way of feeling good, all your nerves were on end, but it just felt great." "James was the most feverish I've ever seen him work, really. I don't think he ever missed anything before three in the morning" once exclaimed Nicky, who also gave the low-down to Volume about MSP continuing to 'poke the bear' and the album's raison d'être: "There's always something to be angry about. I think we've all tried to deny it at some point or another, but being unhappy and dissatisfied is part of our make-up." And, while sometimes waspish, with a propensity for making insolent and sardonic declarations that have landed him in hot water in the past.

An unselfconscious Wire, has never been known for being subservient, meek or keeping his "uncontrollable mouth" shut anyway, so it didn't come as a surprise when during a '94 interview with i-D for their THE ART OF SELF ABUSE article, he declaimed: "We see ourselves as the only honest band around." With the publication also revealing in an exclusive scoop: "[They are] currently working on a third LP which they promise will be a "miasma of everything we listened to as young people; The Smiths, Echo And The Bunnymen, early Simple Minds and the Sex Pistols." Richey compares their work to books like Last Exit To Brooklyn, J.G. Ballard's Crash and Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. "Everything is some kind of repeat, but every generation needs one of those books."" As self-declared "musical obsessives" with a politicised agenda and a melting pot of eclectic cultural inspirations, on not wanting to stand still, be pigeonholed and expunging any preconceived notions that people may have about them, Edwards affirmed to RAW Magazine: "Our aim has always been to release the records that you didn't expect to hear from us, not the ones you did." Nicky meanwhile, disclosed to Atomic Magazine: "Our influences which have come out on our previous albums, have been a bit more manufactured, really. It was a bit more about what could sell records. We basically thought that we couldn't sell records if you weren't on the radio a lot and made classy videos, which is basically true. What with the MTV factor and all the rest of it." In 1994, JDB also told Creative Loafing: "There is a lot of trust between us. They trust me to never be blasé about interpreting the material." While in 2011, he swore to UNCUT: "The genesis of the record was Nicky’s idea, and the motivation. I really wanted to do a lot of my John McGeochisms, from Magazine. I was getting fed up with trying to ape Slash, because it was obvious the world only wanted one Slash and they didn’t want a five feet two bloke from Wales doing it." Throwing light on Sean's redoubtable input and participation, he equipped himself by getting into the mindset of the dextrous sticksmen he most admired, which then enabled him to really come into his own, by trying out a raft of new, inspired and top-drawer ideas that would both accentuate and propel the music. A modus operandi that Moore was far happier and comfortable with, than when as one half of MSP's top-notch engine room, he was rigged out for Gold Against The Soul as a "big rock drummer." Wire told UNCUT: "I think Sean was tired of trying to be a stadium drummer and his little frame was going, ‘Fuck, can’t I just pretend to be a post-punk drummer?'" Journalist, DJ and television presenter, Stuart Maconie, even once informed Nicky and Sean, "A friend of mine said to me that The Holy Bible was a great record, but 'bloody hard work.'" Moore: "It was never intended to be anything but." Wire: "I don't even see it as a record. I see it as a state of mind. One we were all in. When we were recording it, Richey wasn't suicidal or anything. He'd just bought a flat. He was still drinking and he'd come in about 12 o'clock, collapse and have a snooze and say, 'Leave me alone, I've had a big drink' in a nice Welsh voice. Then he'd get up and do a bit of typing and we'd record for a bit, then go round Cardiff and have a shop. Him and James would go out at night for a drink. It was actually quite nice." When chewing the fat over THB's gestation - as part of the Culture, Alienation, Boredom And Despair: A Film About Generation Terrorists 20th Anniversary DVD interview - in thirsting for a return to the exigent high standards, which they had set themselves since their inception, and after having inverted their sound. No longer feeling chastened or corporatised, James owned up to previous missteps and misfires on earlier outings, as a fledgling band, feeling that their language had been coerced: "Everything changed with The Holy Bible and we got back on track, in a bizarre kind of way." With an unwavering Nicky also evincing his relief at how within the rock 'n' roll pantheon - from its conception, to the importance of every element, to its intricacies, to the diverse selection of sounds, to its jam-packed surprises, to the album's pacing, to following in the post-punk lineage. At the precipice, a reignited and primed MSP came back with a vengeance, as the finished product was a shot in the arm that upped the ante: "The Holy Bible, more than anything, made us feel utterly superior to the opposition!"

In a 2005 PopMatters Q&A, Nicky even made the pronouncement: "We were an idea before we were a band and that put us in good stead, really, because I think that's what kept it together through everything. The idea of Manic Street Preachers being a lifestyle, rather than just four blokes who made music." While in '94, he also told Atomic Magazine: "I think the main aim of the band when we started, was to be one of the most important bands of The '90s, and I do think we have been, we've left a legacy that will be seen as important, both in our albums and attitude." Coming into existence in a pall of gloom - with no frippery, frills or superfluous elements - the magnum opus that is THB, didn't kowtow to anything or anyone! With Richey laying himself bare in on-point lyrics, that confront life's dark corners with an emotional fragility / very human defiance, pour pestilence into your ears and remain as relevant and vital as they were in 1994. This electrifying and essential first-rate LP - which reached astonishing new heights of creativity and easily resides in the realm of perfection - also marked the mannerly, deep thinking and gifted group out as outliers on the fringes. And, after their unceasing self-promotion / unshakeable self-belief and showing so much promise early on as "starry-eyed" underdogs - when they were cutting their teeth, trying to make a name for themselves and were hell-bent on forging a career in music, as a prevalent force and as "an intelligent band that mattered." In developing an illustrious legacy / desirous of having a seismic and undeniable lasting impact, The Bible embodies / is commensurate with the Manic Street Preachers' abundant talent and is a testament to their vision! Exceeding all expectations after giving 110% of themselves, and a pivotal moment in their career, as part of a 2014 piece for The Observer titled, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE REVISITED, the esteemed music writer, Dorian Lynskey, wrote about MSP scintillatingly stretching the rock paradigm and entering their imperial phase, as well as The Holy Bible's dynamism and deathly beauty: "One of that decade’s essential artistic statements in any medium. The work of four young men who accepted no ceiling on what a rock album could do, it’s an unblinking, self-implicating moral audit of humanity’s worst impulses, with guitar solos... [It] leaves the listener feeling soiled, traumatised and accused, with no safe place to stand [and] during the album’s in extremis moments, you can feel the walls closing in." With Sean telling Dazed & Confused in 1996: "The point about The Holy Bible, was that it was always going to be claustrophobic. It always had a private, insular feel about it; everyone wasn’t going to get it. It was very insular-sounding. But then we never really envisaged it as our world domination album. Or one to put on at a party, come to think of it." With lashings of harsh, metallic sounds, Moore has even denoted The Bible as "Avant-garde rock," shot through with "more of the Britishness that we lacked." In '94, Richey even guaranteed Metal Hammer: "We're doing it the way we've always wanted. I think we're getting quite close to fulfilling our style." Wire also told KERRANG!: "I just hope people realise that we've made something quite original with this record. A lot of people think originality has to be pretentious or Avant-garde, but it can also come from a band having its own sound. And this might be the first time we've defined our own sound. I'm quite happy about that, although I may not seem it." With Bradfield also hoping that MSP's infamy / past controversies would eventually evaporate: "The moral outrage is fair enough, but I wouldn't like it to be the pivotal thing around which everything turns. I hope that it passes off into something a little bit more level-headed. I'd like people to feel ashamed for being so easily aroused. In the end, we're only a fucking poxy little rock band!"

4. Nicky's working title for The Holy Bible, was The Poetry Of Death, with JDB once wisecracking that Wire had managed to "outgrim Richey!" Also noteworthy, is how underneath this text in Nicky's notebooks, another bilious phrase / potential album title is clearly visible. In keeping with - and still peddling - the biblical theme, it reads, Wretched Disciples Of Truth. Although never confirmed by Wire, could this have possibly been in contention at one stage, when deciding on what to name the long player?

5. In respect of risk vs. reward, and setting the wheels in motion, "Every single morsel of that album is us being in control, for better or for worse" once proudly pledged an unbridled and headstrong Nicky, in mapping out, essentialising, doubling down on, adhering to and solidifying their unassailable beliefs, hard-line objectives and iron-clad rules. This was a spectacularly unique state of affairs, as well as a blossoming transitional period for the self-contained band. But, prior to acclimatising to and hunkering down in the back to basics studio - or sanctum - sequestered away in Cardiff's Docklands, which had minimum production wizardry and was somewhere that the reconfigured and unified Manics were already familiar with, having previously recorded Suicide Is Painless (Theme From M*A*S*H) plus an assortment of b-sides there, earlier in their career with Alex. In admirably realising Richey's magnificent, penetrating, crushing and unremittingly dark visions as songs - who, as a compulsive and prodigious wordsmith, had given great consideration to his educational / illuminating discourse with impressionable listeners, to multidimensional lyrical narratives, word selection, he / she pronouns, metaphors, syntax, metre, verse-chorus structures, stanzas etc. And now, functioning with an almost innate survival mechanism, was flourishing and reaching the peak of his powers as a compelling songwriter and poet - with more unique, profound, stimulating, heavy-scale questioning, didactic, voluminous, thought-provoking, irreducible and literate lyrics, than ever before! Which go for the jugular and show a marked progression in the courage, gravitas and genius of his inward-looking and perceptive writing skills. Wire later recounted in Under The Radar: "I could tell he was in such a rich vein of this stunning prose and poems. We knew it was going to be pretty special." And, although sounding nihilistic, grim and discordant on record - at times, even crude and coarse. Most tracks were actually intuitively, meticulously and industriously written and sculpted by the virtuoso James, on an acoustic guitar at his Mum and Dad's (Sue and Monty) house in Pontllanfraith (Blackwood, Gwent). During BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Bradfield said: "Which is kind of strange, because there's a lot of stuff that you would only imagine could have been created on an electric guitar." Coincidentally, Sean also wrote the refined and unadorned verse music for The Intense Humming Of Evil, acoustically. And, though it may have hobbled or been seen by scores of composers as a taxing task, beset with great responsibility. On a roll, and with a wellspring of ideas that were flowing freely and at a rapid rate, an unfettered JDB effused about how his tried and true methodology, attention to detail and recipe for success, was owed to perseverance and his indefatigable stamina; fusing motivation with his tools of the trade and chipping away at his songcraft / soundscaping. Which in turn, triggered the organic, inventive, pared back, rough-edged, detailed, deft and awe-inspiring, unmatched sonic actualisation of (his songwriting foils) Richey and Nicky's torrent of words. Each of these musical compositions, were then bound together with his commanding / belting vocal delivery when dispensing lines, his venting, projection and vocal hooks, as well as his distinctive singing diction and cadence. As for MSP's first foray into recording demos for The Bible, in 2015, James unveiled to BBC Wales: "The first songs that we completed, were Die In The Summertime and Mausoleum, because they're the only two songs which have existing demos." From graft to greatness, on being assigned and entrusted with this duty, embedding himself in creativity, relying on his acumen, applying pop sensibilities and feeling emboldened after grappling with, then imbibing lyrics. Speaking about this symbiosis, being in tune with his obligation and feeling honour-bound, a vivacious and zestful Bradfield, gushed about this tacit understanding / 'unspoken language' to Sun Zoom Spark in 1994, for their PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED article: "I think that one thing which is sadly missing today in pop music, is the interpretative basis. I've got total interpretative carte blanche to do whatever I want and that's really a privileged position to be in." Also filling in PopMatters years later: "I think our music’s just always been led by the lyrics. That’s given credence and truth by the fact that I need lyrics in front of me to write music.

Nicky and Richey would always give me lyrics, and 99 percent of the time, I would always write music with the lyrics in front of me, and I would try and let the lyrics inspire the music. I was being given lyrics like Yes, Of Walking Abortion and Archives of Pain. Looking at these lyrics, there were twists and turns in there. There’s some kind of indecipherable, fucked up Iambic Pentameter in there, and I knew that these weren’t normal kind of lyrics - they weren’t even normal for us, really. And I just knew that the music had to twist and turn and convulse with the lyrics, as the lyrics were themselves. So it’s really as simple as that. I love the lyrics, and I remember being given Die In The Summertime and I remember being given Yes very early on, and thinking I must follow this muse that Richey created. Richey had written 70 to 75 percent of the lyrics on this record, and I was being given this stuff and I just knew I had to follow his direction. Otherwise, I’d be betraying the lyrics themselves... I don’t really think we were reacting against anything. I think we were just so secluded and so self-insulated against what was going on with the start of Britpop and stuff, that we didn’t even pay attention to it. Again, it’s that delusional state of just thinking that you’re right, and I think that’s the place we were in. By the time we’d finished mixing Faster, we still thought it could be a Top Ten hit, that’s how fucked up and deluded we were! Everything was led by the lyrics and they still are." Adding: "On The Holy Bible, despite the nihilism and despite the misanthropic bent, sometimes the lyrics are so pleading to be understood." Much of James' expressive, supporting, intruding, beckoning and committed playing on THB, was done using his favourite guitar - a Gibson Les Paul Custom 1990 Alpine White Electric Guitar (his very first), which he has since christened 'Old Faithful'. Although when laying down tracks, Nicky once accidentally snapped the guitar's neck off! While recording, the band also managed to blow-up a speaker and so had to loan some from music producer, Greg Haver, who worked in a nearby studio and had first met them while they were rehearsing, formulating ideas and hammering out songs for possible inclusion on The Bible. On the long player's challenging / cauterising mercilessness and brutal sense of impending doom - with the band beyond doubt, that the staccato nature of some of Richey's unpruned lyrics, is what was the catalyst that helped to spark their creativity and generate the constituent components, for the album's stern musical framework, severe / streamlined arrangements and sawtoothed post-punk sound, as well as its desolate and dissonant co-ordinates. A Critical Discography astutely noted: "In 1994, Edwards’ mind was a dark place and The Holy Bible has come to be seen as the ultimate musical expression of this period in his thinking. Reflections on the darker parts of life had long been a Manics staple, but not like this: the album was steeped in topics like prostitution, self-harm, anorexia, racism, political corruption, authoritarianism, the death penalty and the Holocaust. To paint these black pictures, Bradfield and Moore bent into workable melodies Edwards’ enormous range of historical, cultural, political and other references and allusions; the result read like an explosive, stream-of-consciousness purging of the whole bloodied wreckage of the Twentieth Century. It was frequently almost unbearably bleak, but always intelligent, impassioned and totally honest... The words were raw and close to the bone, suggesting a kind of rock that didn’t just return to the band’s punk roots, but invented a whole new soundworld, that dripped with a nihilism and menace that histrionic heavy metal pretenders could only dream of. The Holy Bible would be exposed, like a gaping wound." While when introducing their BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes appearance in November 2014, during his preamble, presenter John Wilson had this to say: "I think usually, the question of whether an album is a so-called tough listen, is entirely subjective. But, in the case of The Holy Bible, I think it's fair to say that it's indisputable. I mean, it's a record which teems with emotional pain, it's a record that really gets under the skin and lodges, often uncomfortably, in the brain." Wire: "We felt really self-centred, in that we were totally going against everything that was happening outside, and that's sometimes when we make our best records, when we're cocooned."

Bradfield: "I regard it as an amazing rock 'n' roll album, which is just infused with complete intent and ideas and observation, which is exactly what we wanted to do at the start - I just didn't know it would quite take that form. It's a very nihilistic rock 'n' roll album." Moore: "All I can remember, is the very long commute from Bristol and how I had to get as much done in the timeframe, to be able to get on the last train back. So, it was pretty fraught and I had to get a lot of things done quickly. [It was a day's work] and we didn't have the luxury of computers and Pro Tools, to be able to fix things quickly. There were no edits - everything was done complete and live!" In '94, JDB also told the Spanish radio station RNE Radio 3: "We just felt the songs were so basic, and perhaps when we wrote the songs, we wanted them to be as truthful as possible and as bare as possible, basically. We just didn't see the need for them to be produced. The Holy Bible, as an album for me, is not produced. It's just a representation of the songs... We wanted to get back on track, we wanted to get back in the right direction. So therefore, we didn't want anyone telling us what to do, because we had a clear picture of what we wanted to do, and what we wanted to do, was very simple and very truthful!" It could be said then, that THB is about untouched purity rather than trickery.

6. 4st 7lb - the threshold weight below which death is said to be medically unavoidable for an anorexic sufferer - was the very first song to be recorded for THB, on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1994. An auspicious start indeed! Talking about this ominous track and its coda, James - whose long-term girlfriend / fiancée of two-and-a-half-years had just called off their engagement ("his 'cherry picker' and partner since the age of 17" according to Loaded) - articulately observed in the course of BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes: "I remember I looked like hell, I'd just been dumped by my girlfriend - I just had that dumped by my girlfriend beard and a cold sore... Of all the songs on The Holy Bible, it has the most amount of words (Revol, This Is Yesterday and Die In The Summertime, are the most economical with word usage). And, when I looked at the main body of the lyric, I wanted to reflect the frenetic nature of this vanity that keeps analysing itself and keeps trying to find a reason for something which is so irrational. Then, I wanted there to be a resolution in the end, I wanted there to be some kind of defeat, because the lyrics at the end seem to have a self-knowing wry observation about themselves, that they knew they were being irrational, but they couldn't stop it." In 2011, each band member also gave their personal take on this track to Classic Rock. Sean: "It’s got that little extra section at the end, about the footsteps in the snow, trying to make it delicate as if you’ve become so light that you’re almost floating. That’s why it goes off at the end and lifts away, and you get all the anguish and the anger at the beginning of it. That’s a really good song." Nicky: "I think it’s incredible. The almost Eton Rifles start, that turns into that brilliant coda which floats on that line, ‘I’ve long since reached the higher plateau.’ A stunning lyric than can only come from someone who feels that kind of pain. It’s actually profound." JDB: "The one song that I didn’t enjoy writing the music to. There are moments of The Bible where I felt as if I was being really precarious about singing the thoughts of other people, channelled through Richey, but I felt slightly uneasy doing that song. I was glad when I finished. I felt like I was prying when I wrote it. It was a weird feeling." Of Bradfield's guitar playing, Wikipedia notes: "The song features the extensive addition of guitar reverb and the verse riff in the first half of the song, revolves around an arpeggiated diminished seventh chord." Along with the ascending / descending melody and complicated time-signature changes, as a listener, the strident, clanging, jabbing, frayed, wiry and needling guitars, plus the stabbing chord progressions, all strike your ears like sonic harpoons! When asked about 4st 7lb by NME in 1994 - which as a lyric, is almost conversational in tone - Edwards answered: "You could say that I had an eating problem. Because if I ate too much, and I was drinking, I got all puffed up and blotchy. And I'm too vain to be like that. I am a vain person. I couldn't handle looking like that, I couldn't look in the mirror. All is vanity. In the last year, I've been doing loads of exercise. I do about 1,500 sit-ups every day. I do some weights as well, I take them on tour with me. It's about trying to control my body; to eat less and get fit. I want a flat stomach, I wanna six-pack, I wanna stomach like Brad Pitt. I'm incredibly vain. But when I get puffed up, all the marks on my body get swollen up. They all grow and turn a funny colour, and I don't like looking like that. When I go to bed and I see those wounds, they look so nasty. It's better when they're a bit faded... I've never been 4st 7lb, never been close to it. But I can identify with certain feelings. The lowest I've got down to is just under six stones. That was my third year at University, that was the skinniest I ever got, during my finals. But again, that was all about control." Melody Maker even inquired: "On 4st 7lb, you want to 'walk in the snow and not leave a footprint*.' But surely, the very fact of doing what you do exhibits a desire to leave a mark on the world. Well... Am I taking it too literally? Richey: "No, no, no, there's definitely something in that. In terms of never wanting to be noticed, I've never wanted that. When I was young especially, I used to keep myself to myself. I don't feel I have the right to intrude on anyone else, and I don't think anyone should necessarily want to listen to me. I think my lyrics are valid. I can't speak for the music, all I can talk about is my words. I think I'm a good lyricist. I don't think I'm up there with the greats, but I'm doing alright. So I guess it's egotistical to publish your lyrics, but we always publish them because I want people to read them.

So I guess I wanna be noticed in that sense. In another sense, I wanna pay the fuckers back. There are so many people I would love to... just shove something down their fucking throats." Melody Maker: "You deride self-obsession. Yet on the notes which accompany 4st 7lb, you say 'Anorexia=Vanity', just another form of self-obsession. Richey: "I don't necessarily understand the contradictions myself, but in Ecclesiastes ("one of the Ketuvim / 'Writings' of the Hebrew Bible and one of the 'Wisdom' books of the Christian Old Testament, traditionally attributed to Solomon and consisting largely of reflections on the vanity of human life"), there's a line, 'All is vanity', and I do really believe that. I think everybody's first love is themselves. Some more than others. Some can divide themselves, and give something of themselves to another person. Which I've never been able to do, because I've never trusted another person enough to do that. I don't feel strong enough, that I could cope with the rejection if they left me. A lot of people don't cope with it, if something like that happens. I would not allow myself to be used like that. And also, I'd feel humiliated."" In '94, readers of Metal Hammer were also privy to this information from Wire as well: "4st 7lb also deals with personal freedom in an oblique way: "That's just a different way of looking at anorexia. I think some people see it as the ultimate form of vanity. They don't find much sympathy towards people because all they're doing is starving themselves, whereas a lot of people in various countries can't even get food. But sometimes, I think anorexia is people trying to take complete control of their bodies, so that there's no influence of society or state or consumerism." Nicky then deadpans, "Plus we have to have a song about disease on every album. On the first album it was Aids, the last album was about Tourette's Syndrome, and this one is anorexia. I think Richey's suffered from them all."" Speaking to NME about 4st 7lb, Wire similarly said: "Anorexics do see themselves as having complete control. Wanting to withdraw into themselves so that the 'state' - banks, shops, everything - is obliterated and they feel some self-control, which has always attracted Richey. I could tell Richey was getting really thin, but you try to make him eat and what can you do?" While in Select Magazine, journalist / broadcaster, Miranda Sawyer, mused: "They're one of a very few all male bands who have any valid ideas about women and image. There's a song on The Holy Bible called 4st 7lb about anorexia, that neither applauds nor disapproves, just notes that it's a way a girl can express her own power over herself." During a 1996 Melody Maker interview, the music paper actually quizzed James and Nicky about the potential detrimental psychological effects, that The Bible may have had on impressionable minds. JDB: "Am I aware of the damage we've done? I'm certainly aware that too many people realised they could aggrandise themselves through The Holy Bible. Maybe that the album did turn a few psyches around... And there's a parallel there, people taking the easiest route out of having to fulfil their ambitions, equating The Holy Bible with some sense of unrest that they feel themselves and thinking, 'Ah, right - copycat.' Richey wouldn't have found those people interesting. For a start, he was too vain to admire people like himself; it's well-documented that Richey was very cynical about these people. He got so sick of anorexics coming up and offering him fucking peaches. I'm not suggesting that all these people are fakes. But I think a lot of them are selling themselves short. And I think they need to be told." Chatting to ITV's The Beat, at Reading Festival 1994 (Saturday, August 27 - the night Primal Scream headlined), about Edwards' mental illness and his fixation with vanity**, Wire winced: "I think what it's made us question, is the vast amount of vanity in music and in The Music Industry itself. You realise that everybody's got such a large degree of self-importance. You come here today and you witness that, and it just sucks. You know, I think Richey had a massive kind of negative vanity, in that he was so obsessed with himself, that he completely damaged himself. It's just vanity really and I think we realised that we've got to do something about it, being in a band." In THB 20, Nicky noted: "His masterpiece. I didn't touch it at all. I looked at it and thought, 'I can't really relate to it.' I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just that I've no experience in those feelings.'

JDB: "He was obviously into his own personal battle with eating and vanity. So I talked to him about it. He conveyed to me - as did the lyric - the constant chatter in the head: 'I must pass a mirror without looking at myself.' 'What did that person think of me when I first met them?' 'Do I look as cool as Johnny Depp?' He said, 'It sounds cheap and nasty when I say it out loud, but it is a genuine thing that goes on in my head and in other people's, which leads to a very bad place.' The in-built tension in the music of people like Pere Ubu and Fire Engines seemed to me to be a good way to go, because of what Richey had described." In his Holy Bible track by track notes, Edwards wrote: "Vanity/innocence/anorexia - True or False. Finding your own self worth and admiring yourself for it, whatever that involves. Kate (Moss), Kristin (McMenamy), Emma (Balfour), Karen (Sky Agony Aunt)." In connection to this, the line, 'Kate and Kristin and Kit Kat / All things I like looking at', is a fantastic example of Edwards using alliteration. As for other lyrics on 4st 7lb, many years later on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "That line, 'Choice is skeletal in everybody's life.' I mean, it's just unbelievably brilliant and concise and poetic. And, 'I've long since reached a higher plateau' - I've never heard plateau in a lyric before." Bradfield: "I assumed that some of the songs were vicariously written from other people's point of view, or him observing other people, I didn't assume that it was all about him." Wire: "I'm Richey's biggest fan as a lyricist. I absolutely adore the places he went to and I could never go to those places. I kind of read them and they give me a strange sense of comfort, because they are so brave. You know, more brave than I could ever be!" While during the THB 10 DVD interview, when discussing not donating lyrics to every Manics song, Nicky reasoned: "That's the way we've always worked, I just had no problem with it at all." As for 4st 7lb, Louder Sound wrote: "Beginning with a heartbreaking sample from a documentary called Caraline's Story and drifting into a sick euphoria, that becomes more and more delicate as she wastes away, it’s a masterclass in restraint and musical sensitivity." Another point worth raising, is that in terms of Numerology, 4st 7lb could have been specifically chosen by Edwards to be track 7 in the album's running order. The possible reasons for this, is that "7 is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God's creation of all things. The number 7 is also important in Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. Spiritually, Angel number 7 represents spirituality, inner wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, mysticism, intuition, introspection, thoughtfulness and collective consciousness. Number 7 also signifies the importance of isolation, philosophy, perfection, dignity, ability to set limits, inner strength and perseverance." *In an interview with Albumism, David Evans - who authored The Holy Bible instalment of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series of music books - ruminated: "On the one hand, the line ['I want to walk in the snow / And not leave a footprint'] may indicate Richey’s own desire to fade away, but it’s also a covert assertion of self; in its honed beauty, it leaves a trace of the author on the page and in our minds. It’s also a testament to Richey’s voracious reading. During my research I came across a similar image in one of Tennessee Williams’ lesser-known plays, Eccentricities of a Nightingale (Richey was a humongous Williams fan), which I think is probably the inspiration behind it." The line in question, is spoken by the primary character of this play, Alma Winemiller, in which she describes love with the terminology, 'It's like walking in the snow without leaving footprints.' Interestingly, snow and purity also formed part of Edwards' untainted lyrics for Little Baby Nothing, 'You are pure, you are snow.' In their '94 LP review of THB, NME even proposed: "It's damningly significant that the most beautiful line on the album is, 'I want to walk in the snow / And not leave a footprint' and even that is placed within the context of the horrific anorexia saga that is 4st 7lb." While Sputnik Music wrote: "The lyrics are what make this album such a revelation, because Richey was visiting places nobody else dared to. Sure, you could say anyone could write about the characters presented on this album, but nobody else ever has with as much empathy for, and awe of, self-destruction. You can almost hear the pull of the knife across Richey's flesh in Bradfield's voice - thankfully, a voice with enough depth and versatility to handle such weighty matters."

**As for other emotive lyricism from Edwards that revolves around vanity, when chatting about Journal For Plague Lovers to NME in 2009, James said: "I think subconsciously we put some songs together on the record, I mean like All Is Vanity leads into Pretension/Repulsion. And All Is Vanity is quite self-explanatory what that deals with… that deals with just hating those momentary lapses of just falling into narcissism and then realising perhaps that even the appreciation of yourself, is just useless. And then that leads into Pretension/Repulsion, which mentions Odalisque by Ingres, which talks about the idealisation of beauty, or what is ugliness. I love the way that All Is Vanity deals with one issue and Pretension/Repulsion seems to resolve it for me. In a strange, kind of twisted way. Pretension/Repulsion could pretty much be another song that just said, ‘I have no judgement in my eye, I cannot behold anything.’" Nicky: "It’s one of the greatest rock couplets ever, 'Shards, oh shards, the androgyny fails / Oadlisque by Ingres, extra bones for sale.' That’s never gonna appear by anyone else. It shouldn’t work, but it does." Vanity is addressed again later in the article. Nicky: "I think the institutionalisation of beauty, and trying to be all those things that you're never gonna get to, and all that, the application to him seems to say, 'I've given up on all that bollocks.' 'I've long since reached a higher plateau', I think that line from 4st 7lb really counts on here. I think on this album, he really does reach that plateau of... the disgust has perhaps turned to ultimate realisation. Kind of got over the disgust and [quietly] just reached a new level. [Perks up] Having said that, though, he was a brilliant at saying 'you should stop being vain' and all that kind of stuff. But he was one for looking in front of a mirror for long, loooong periods." James: "Tapping his stomach, 'How many sit-ups have I done today?'" Nicky: "He did take weights with him on tour." James: "It was the Olivetti typewriter and the weights, in a suitcase. So the tour manager fucking hated him." Nicky: "He used to say to me, when he got a skinhead and he came in, 'Oh, you should really get one, it just clears you from all the vanity, and everything'. As he's looking in the mirror. It's like, 'It's alright for you, you always look fucking great.' I think the vanity thing as well, I know it troubled him, but it interested him as well, that idea of being trapped within vanity and constantly trying and then thinking it's pointless... it always just flips back and forth with him. Course, he never looked anything other than brilliant." James: "I loved that some of the lines [on All Is Vanity]…, that 'I would prefer no choice, one bread one milk one food'…" Nicky: "I love that." James: "That's showing his slightly unfashionable side, his left-wing authoritarian side. Sometimes, I'd prefer to live in a utilitarian Eastern Bloc culture, where I don't have to worry about choice and how glorious or glamorous I could be, I just wish I was restricted." Nicky: "And I mean, that still resonates with us so deeply today. The idea that there's just so much choice now, that when we apply that to music, people think it's great that there's so much music and that's so obviously not the case, because so much of it is utter drivel. And you know, too much choice in music has led to mediocrity. And I think it's that kind of idea that Richey liked experts. He liked people who he thought were thoroughly researched and immersed in each particular subject. And we're still like that now." James: "And just the idea that sometimes your emotions are not your best guides or friends. Or desire is not your friend or guide (laughs). Which is quite an unfashionable way of thinking, isn't it." Nicky: "It is." James: "It is relinquishing yourself to that old-style authoritarianism." Nicky: "I like that 'makes me feel like I'm talking a different language at times.' That seems quite a pointed reference. Perhaps he didn't even feel he was communicating with us. That everyone seemed... and it's true, because apart from those last 10 days, it was hard to keep up with him, to understand why his mind was working so fucking fast, and the level of consumption was just so gigantic... I think he felt he'd lost his art of communication with everything and everyone, apart from his own art." NME, 'I read the line, 'It's not what wrong, it's what's right' as a response to the question 'what's wrong?' Nicky: "Maybe, yeah. And then, because the next line is 'makes me feel like I'm talking a foreign language', maybe he felt like he couldn't explain himself.

And he couldn't explain himself, at that point. People in the same situation the world over just reach a point where there is no explanation." Wire and Bradfield also spoke about the iconic actor, Marlon Brando and the motion picture, Reflections In A Golden Eye, in which he starred. Nicky: "Marlon Brando does actually say in it (adopts Brando wheeze): "I'd like to live without clutter, live without luxu-reee". So um, the film itself is beautifully shot. Richey did have a fascination with the idea of Marlon Brando, with someone that was so beautiful." James: "He loved him because he was the idealisation in his mind of what the ideal man could be, but also because he turned to shit as well." Nicky: "Exactly, yeah. The idea that he walked around his island in a nappy, eating and fucking." James: "That's why he's his kind of like perfect role model, because he rejected his innate beauty and talent turned into Jabba The Hutt." Going back to THB, in 1994, Melody Maker put in print: "[4st 7lb is] very personal to Richey," murmurs Nicky Wire. "When they took him into the hospital, they said he was on verge of anorexia, and I think that point of view in the song is perhaps his point of view - anorexia as the ultimate act of self-control, total withdrawal, no one can get to you, a kind of suicide where you don't have to die." A lot of the lyrics to this LP seem very, very personal - yeah, there are a few upbeat, declamatory song (Revol, P.C.P.), but others seem impossibly dense, frighteningly intense, betray a haunted, unbelievably bleak vision. I'm reminded of the lyrics Kurt Cobain wrote for In Utero*** - near-unintelligible snatches of internal dialogue (a friend with some understanding of psychoanalysis threw down The Holy Bible lyric sheet halfway through the first song, Yes, and shuddered) - and, while it would be offensive to attempt O Level psychology here... "It's not O Level psychology," says Nicky calmly, "it's just fucking obvious. You're talking about Yes, 4st 7lb, Die In The Summertime - these are all Richey's songs. He's written about 70 per cent of this album. He just kept handing us complete lyrics that were absolutely perfect, absolutely beautiful, and yeah, very personal. I mean, he's not here to speak for himself, but I think he's explained himself pretty fucking perfectly in those songs." Similarly, Wire also told Sky Magazine: "When Richey gave me [4st 7lb], obviously I thought to myself, 'Should I ask him about this? Is there something building up in him?' I think it was, but you always think that with Richey. Basically he got to the stage where he'd completely explained himself on record, so I didn't change anything. I looked after the shrubs in my garden instead." Some of the most frightful and upsetting lines include, 'See my third rib appear / A week later all my flesh disappears / Stretching taut, cling-film on bone / I'm getting better.' And, 'I choose my choice, I starve to frenzy / Hunger soon passes and sickness soon tires / Legs bend, stockinged I am Twiggy.' In 2015, JDB revealed to BBC Wales: "I think we barely ever rehearsed [4st 7lb] at all and it's one of the hardest songs to play on the record. Even now, it's really hard to play - you've got to take a deep breath before you do that song. We recorded it in like 3 takes or so. Sean's part is unbelievably complicated, it's just pure emotion and I just remember thinking, 'This music must just be inside us,' because it felt easy once we actually started recording in the studio. It really was quite easy!" On a side note, The Boo Radleys played an acoustic version of 4st 7lb for Simon Mayo's, Classic Years, Radio 1 show on March 28, 1995, the day after their fourth album, Wake Up!, had come out and a couple of months after Richey had gone missing. In Rhythm, Sean said: "The people who are inspired by us wouldn't admit it anyway. For the simple reason that we would maybe not appreciate them. With The Boo Radleys, it's different, because they are friends of ours and we're very honoured that they covered one of our songs. It's a pity we couldn't reciprocate, but I don't think we could play their songs. Much too difficult for us." ***In 2009, James told BARKS: "Until I bought In Utero, I wasn't a big fan of Nirvana. But everyone liked it - especially Richey, who worshiped that album." While that same year, Nicky also told the German online magazine, "He loved [Kurt Cobain's] music and his lyrics. I remember a line, 'I miss the comfort in being sad' (from Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle), which Richey particularly liked. In Utero and The Holy Bible - the soundtrack to a rather sad year."

Notably, a couple of songs on the grunge trailblazer's In Utero, also reference the commercialisation of popular music and artists being sold as a product, so it isn't completely out of the question, that these tracks may have directly influenced some of Richey's lyrics. Firstly, in relation to Yes, although Serve The Servants is Cobain's most autobiographical work and is primarily a message to his father, whom he didn't have a good relationship with - writing in his journals: "Initially, this song was about coming of age during a time where you’re old enough to support yourself without the aid of your parents, a theme for the twenty-somethings." The title could also potentially be based on wordplay and allude to musicians serving a record label, who themselves are servants, in service to a disingenuous corporate CEO / 'The Man' who is all about the money! Because the line, 'Teenage angst has paid off well / Now, I'm bored and old', is clearly a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of Nirvana's immense success after 'selling' themselves, along with the limited shelf life that 'the hot new thing' has. Another hypothesis posted by a Nirvana Fan, is that "Serve The Servants is a reference to the biblical curse on Canaan, who had mocked Noah’s drunken nakedness - Genesis (9:25). "I am cursed" is Kurt’s complaint." Next, the title, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, is self-explanatory, but interestingly, this track also contains some lines that just might have been an inspiration on other songs penned by Edwards around this time. Firstly, if read aloud, 'A blanket acne'ed with cigarette burns' has a similar cadence and feel to, 'Soft skin now acne, foul breath, so broken' (Faster), and obviously, both lyrics contain the word acne - imagery that doesn't appear often in pop songs! While, 'Find, find your place / Speak, speak the truth', is redolent of, 'Find your truth / Face your truth / Speak your truth / And be your truth' from Judge Yr'self. Another connection to Yes (see Fact 23 for more on this track), is the classic black Nirvana t-shirt that is emblazoned with the iconic yellow Smiley Face, with X's for eyes on the front, and this rather flippant Nirvana maxim on the back, FLOWER SNIFFIN KITTY PETTIN BABY KISSIN CORPORATE ROCK WHORES. Like MSP, Nirvana also clearly felt like they were puppets following orders - Kurt was at the centre of a media circus as well - and with the insouciant and cavalier attitude of this casual top, the trio flipped off the establishment and showed just how contemptuous they were of mainstream culture. Also in connection to Cobain, in 2002, Wire revealed to Hot Press: "The saddest part for me, was Richey not being around when we became successful and having that platform to become an even bigger icon. You look back at The ’90s and, besides Kurt Cobain, he’s just the coolest person there was. I still admire him deeply as a lyricist and agent provocateur."

7. "It's not Yankee bashing" as Nicky brusquely put it, but neither does it pay glowing tribute to Old Glory, The Pledge Of Allegiance, The American Dream, The American Way or God's Country, either. Rather, it is a piledriving state of the nation address, that is partly comprised of ironic interpretations of USA Patriotism, with critical and stinging lyrical sideswipes at the Land of the Free (themes previously touched upon in the Generation Terrorists b-side, Dead Yankee Drawl, and also referenced in the Gold Against The Soul b-side, Patrick Bateman*). In THB 20, JDB said: "I didn't agree with some of the lyrics. While I understood Richey's problem with the Brady Bill, I didn't actually think it was a tacit way of stopping black people having guns. But of course, I still went with it. I saw the adversarial nature of the lyric: Democrats versus Republicans, hawks versus doves. I just thought Jets versus Sharks! I'm going to design it as a demented version of West Side Story! It's the American Musical gone wrong." Following the song's chorus with BVs, we hear the high voltage and pinballing, call-and-response lines, 'Conservative say: There ain't no black in the Union Jack / Democrat say: There ain't enough white in the Stars And Stripes' (which later cleverly switches to MSP's school of thought, 'And we say: There's not enough black in the Union Jack / And we say: There's too much white in the Stars And Stripes'). In 2015, James enlightened the Chicago Sun Times: "That song is about a time and a place. It wasn’t even something I was archly angry about. I obviously disagreed, but the Reagan era was a fascinating time in politics and very easy to write about." And, still flabbergasted by Richey's lyrics, another time in Classic Rock, he marvelled: "When I first saw it I was like, 'How the fuck do you expect me to write any music to this!?!' Then I saw the challenge, and just how great it was - the jump from character to character, the pace of the editing was amazing. It had touches of West Side Story, for me. I’ve no idea how Richey felt when he finished a lyric like that, if he was happy or empty. I’d love to have known." Intriguingly, in pre-production rehearsals (Sound Space Studio's rehearsal room was situated downstairs), the band almost gave up on this song, but Sean said that he knew exactly what to do with it and went onto add one of his most skilful, unrelenting and memorable drum tracks ever! And, if you were to go over the multitracks for Ifwhiteamerica... with a fine-tooth comb, this particular salvo, is indeed a galloping and hulking musical augmentation! Informing Classic Rock about this tumbling, musical bedrock in 2011, Sean buoyantly revealed: "It’s me trying to be Topper Headon, in a strange sort of way. I remember the quote at the beginning - I did all the samples. Richey would source it and I’d be the one dragging it off old VHS tapes. It’s one of those songs where it just happened, the ideas were there, the little fast tom. I was thinking all the time of London Calling. For us it was the end - third album, everything’s bombing, fuck it, let’s do what we want." Nicky: "I think it’s a true classic album track: inspiring drums, great guitar riff, it’s ferocious too. It’s one of those songs that you can only play it live if you feel it. You can’t fake it in front of an audience." Wire (as has Bradfield on many occasions) also ballyhooed about Moore's dynamite 'rhythmic punctuation' to NME: "Sean was like a fucking jazz machine as well, the drumming on that record is out of this world. Ifwhiteamerica..., I'd never heard anything like that." With the music weekly declaring how the song "furiously alternates between detailing the heinous interventions of US post-war foreign policy, and the anodyne positivity of its global dominance of media and pop culture." In a 1993 interview with the Japanese television programme, FOCUS, Edwards spoke of his dismay with the Americanisation of world culture, including in Asia: "I think the whole world is being sanitised by American banality!" While in '94, Wire further expanded on this mental picture to Melody Maker: "It's not a completely anti-American song. It compares British imperialism to American consumerism. It's just trying to explain the confusion I think most people feel about how the most empty culture in the world can dominate in such a total sense." Also telling Metal Hammer: "I'm not part of this thing, that thinks British music is the best and we should all stay in Britain and wave the Union Jack and then things will be great. It's just that people do bow down to American culture. Sometimes, I think I've got to make myself like basketball and stuff like that, but I just can't."

As for the unusual, compressed typography of the track title, the eagle-eyed 277 Lears - a blog / web project of collected writings focusing on The Holy Bible - cleverly discovered how "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart might possibly be traced back to a song by McCarthy, named Antiamericancretin." The site goes onto add how "McCarthy’s leftist vision of an England ‘Bowed beneath a baseball bat / Beneath an ice-cool Cola can’, a country sold on ‘fast-food chains’ and ‘trivial TV’, are echoed in Manic Street Preachers’ breathless attack on the vacuity and violence of American life on Ifwhiteamerica… - a song that in fact takes on American and British nationalism as twin menaces." The well-researched and informative essay, also deconstructs previously undocumented thematic links between Ifwhiteamerica… and Of Walking Abortion, plus how key lyrical inspirations in the acerbic and castigating Ifwhiteamerica... were derived from source material including Paul Gilroy’s** study of black identity and national identity, There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack: The Cultural Politics Of Race And Nation - noting how "the choice of ‘Conservative’ (not ‘Republican’) and ‘Democrat’ (not ‘Labour’) contribute to this blurring of the two nations. Yet, America remains the focus from beginning to end." Among many other insightful and intertextual lyrical studies, 227 Lears also explores the article, GUN CONTROL IN THE USA, written by Kevin Young - published in the November 1993 issue of Living Marxism. "In which Young argues against the implementation of the Brady Bill, in a piece of writing that unquestionably shaped Edwards’ contribution on the topic to Ifwhiteamerica..." e.g. lyric reference to the line, 'God made men, Samuel Colt made them equal, so says the old Wild West proverb***.' As well as this, 227 Lears percipiently spotted and homed in on how other Living Marxism editorials, more than likely impacted Richey's thinking behind Of Walking Abortion (WHO'S NEXT - HITLER? written by Joan Philips / published in LM No. 61 - November 1993) e.g. lyric reference to the passage, 'A burial took place recently in a small country church in Kenderes, Hungary. But it wasn’t any old burial. For a start, the deceased (Horthy) had been dead for nearly half a century. Even more bizarre, the spectacle was broadcast live on government-controlled television in the manner of a British royal wedding.' And, P.C.P. (THE RIGHT TO BE OFFENSIVE written by Unknown / published in LM No. 64 - February 1994) e.g. lyric reference to the line, 'Bans are for bigots and Big Brother.' A Critical Discography also documents how Ifwhiteamerica...'s "first verse in particular, is steeped in references to a whole range of countries in which the US has interfered over its relatively short history, from Nicaragua (where it supported the brutal and murderous Contra Faction and was convicted of illegally mining territorial waters), to Mexico (which the US absorbed an enormous tract of following the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, and seeks to keep immigrants off land in which their ancestors were born). The song attacks the US for its naivety in adopting the concepts of Manifest Destiny, American exceptionalism and a kind of national superiority complex, that has encouraged generations of US politicians to provoke dozens of bloody entanglements in foreign countries, in the false belief that the American way of life is inherently superior to any other. By contrast, the second verse turns its attention to American domestic life, pointing out the collective apathy of much of the population concerning endemic inequality and huge levels of violent crime, especially in poor, black inner-city communities in cities like Los Angeles and New York. The chorus is focused primarily on racism, but mentions British politicians as well as American ones. This reflects the opening quote from the Republican Party’s GOP TV channel, advertising its coverage of Ronald Reagan’s 83rd birthday event; his political ally and former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, being the special guest. During the 1980s, the two had espoused the Neoliberal Agenda that continues to dominate Western political discourse. One of Thatcher’s famous comments was, "There is no such thing as society"****: Ifwhiteamerica… proposes that this was becoming true of America, also."

*A Critical Discography wrote: "[Dead Yankee Drawl] works to expose and attack what the band saw as the worst aspects of American culture (greed, insincerity, environmental destruction and historical short-sightedness, mainly). In terms of references, however, the track is a true milestone, referring to a large number of places, people, historical events and much else besides. The Manics had done this almost from their beginnings - and it would become a major trademark of theirs - but Dead Yankee Drawl contains a sheer weight of references that would go unmatched until The Holy Bible was released in 1994. [On Patrick Bateman] the opening and closing samples to the track create an ironic atmosphere, as they sandwich the study of an egotistical maniac between two cornerstones of American civilisation - The Star Spangled Banner and The Pledge Of Allegiance. Again, this fits with Suicide Is Painless, which used the United States flag as its cover." **Dazed said of Gilroy: "Writer and professor of American and English Literature known for his works on the cultural politics of race and nationality. His 1987 work, There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack: The Cultural Politics Of Race And Nation, looked at evolution of the relationships between race, class and nation over the previous 20 years. Part of the title was borrowed for Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart, to suggest that this was the view of Britain's Conservative government." ***With reference to the lyric, 'If God made man they say, Sam Colt made him equal.' Throughout history, there have been many variations on this Old West adage, although it is firmly believed that the original version came to fruition on March 5, 1836, when Samuel Colt formed Patent Arms Manufacturing. At that time, the company's slogan was: 'Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.' Nicky told Melody Maker: "The last lines, 'Fuck the Brady Bill / If God made man they say / Sam Colt made him equal' are about the gun laws that Clinton is trying to bring in. It would disenfranchise the black community, who generally don't have licences. The white rednecks in middle America do have licences, but statistics show they cause as much crime." While in his explanatory notes, Richey wrote: "America is still trying to convince itself it is positive, enlightened and absolute. Zapruder the first to sow doubts behind the reality/death of JFK. Brady Bill typical - glorify gun culture until The Massacre gradually moves from the inner cities to the suburbs. The consequence arrives. Still believe Democrats are an alternative." On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Bradfield actually admitted: "The lyrics to Ifwhiteamerica... scared the living daylights out of me to be honest. I was like, 'How the hell am I ever going to sing that?' [The way the lyrics turned out] I did sing them like that as a joke to myself and I thought, 'Wow that's amazing, it feels a bit like West Side Story or something.' It's Mooro's fault, he was the one who introduced me to all this kind of music! But, I wanted a completely horrible, dark and viscous version of it, basically. For me, in my silly head, I just saw drama in the lyric and I saw the tableau of disagreement in America, with 'the haves and have nots.'" Briefly going back to the country's coast to coast positivity and its 'Images of perfection, suntan...', when roasting the US's famed 'Have A Nice Day!' sunny way of thinking and pulling it to pieces, Edwards told The Zine: "That's why American culture is so reliant on anti-depressants. Britain isn't - people aren't ashamed or embarrassed to be a bit gloomy. In America, it's as if you've got the plague - you're a leper if you have a bad day, and don't wake up and say, 'Great day, great coffee, I love my life.' People in Britain never do that. That's why the good days are always so special because they're so real." Some of the lyrics for Ifwhiteamerica... which address this include, 'Please smile y'all', 'Your morals only run as deep as the surface', 'Cool - groovy', 'I love a free country', 'The Stars And Stripes and an apple for mommy.' Plus, 'Morning - fine - serve your first coffee of the day / Real privilege, it will take your problems all away / Number one - the best - no excuse from me / I am here to serve the moral majority.' In 2014, James extolled the virtues of Richey as a lyricist / songwriter to NME: "When I’m singing things like Ifwhiteamerica... I think, ‘Fuck me! What an amazing privilege it was to work with you.'"

That same year, Guitarist Magazine printed: "It's a cliché that musicians always claim their new album is their best. But when Guitarist asks James Dean Bradfield what he thinks his finest guitar / writing moment is, he shoots straight back: "The Holy Bible. We were having slight diminishing returns with (second album) Gold Against The Soul, compared to the first album, and with The Holy Bible we risked everything, including having a record contract. I remember recording Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart, thinking there was no one making music like that." In 2018, JDB also talked to Absolute Radio about lines that 'jump off the page': "That was always the sting in the tail with a Richey lyric, it wouldn't just be about the one thing. There would be the question there too!" ****On the topic of American consumerism/British imperialism, Edwards and Wire may also have drawn inspiration from the Killing Joke song, Age Of Greed. As part of their vintage Old Music section, The Guardian wrote: "Taken from the 1990 album, Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions, Age Of Greed opens with an American advertising monologue about special deals on obscene amounts of meat, and then launches into seven blistering minutes lambasting the greed culture of the Thatcher years, from the point of view of someone at the desperate bottom of the pile: 'You just treat me like a commodity / You didn't know I couldn't afford to feed my family / I just want to kill. I just want to take a gun / And put it to your head and pull the trigger". In 1990, it was the utilities being privatised by a Conservative government, not the NHS, and Jaz Colman's lyrics echo the "feather the nest and fuck the rest" mentality of the governing elite. This includes a damning indictment of a society funding consumerism with credit card debt: 'Exchanging the hours of your life for the cash you've already spent / Eating rubbish so you can pay the rent." The spoken-word sample at the start of this track, is very reminiscent in both style and tone, to the TV trailer for GOP TV's Rising Tide used at the beginning of Ifwhiteamerica... Also worth mentioning, is how the idea of the Americanisation of world culture carried through to MSP's next long player, Everything Must Go. One précis of the opening track, Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier, actually describes it "as a song that reflects the way in which the UK accepts American culture and worships it."

8. By now, it is crystal clear that these are not songs of faith and devotion, and that The Holy Bible is an immutable and misanthropic, 'Monument To Misery'. With JDB elongating his pronunciation of words and avowing that "matching the sounds with the songs was a very natural effort." For example, the dizzying, gouging and eviscerating rhythmical post-punk guitar riff on Of Walking Abortion - which hijacks and bombards your ears, with brutish and nerve-shredding voracity - was influenced by one of the musical genre's forefathers, Magazine. In THB 20, JDB said: "The lyric dealt with how righteousness can be perverted into pure evil. At this point, I'm used to writing the music for these words and I just went straight to my memory file, 'If I can somehow have a modified version of the riff from The Light Pours Out Of Me by Magazine...' So I just lengthened it, different notes and that was it. Clock DVA and Magazine, they were my inspirations." And, although the portentous, gnarled, mordacious, thrawn and barbarous song "takes its name from a passage and lifts one or two additional ideas" (i.e. 'The male is an incomplete female, a walking abortion, aborted at the gene stage'), from the radical feminist manifesto by the late Valerie Solanas, SCUM Manifesto, which was self-published in 1967 (the authoress advocated the elimination of men from society and attempted to assassinate Andy Warhol in 1968). The MSP fansite, A Critical Discography, continues: "The song is really much more broad in its focus. The core argument of the song is that all people (rather than just men), are collectively responsible or guilty for all the atrocities and injustices that happen in the world ('Who’s responsible? You fucking are'). There is surely a large element of exaggeration or satire to this, conflicting as it does with the somewhat more positive outlook expressed in many more Manics songs, but in Wire’s words, it was designed to highlight the "worm in human nature that makes us want to be dominated" and which, historically, has allowed populations to accede to the murderous machinations of the dictators the song mentions in its second verse - Mussolini, Hitler, Horthy and Tiso." Another interesting pont also worth touching upon, is how Of Walking Abortion - along with Mausoleum and Faster - all feature several more lines penned by Nicky, than he could initially recall from memory, which in preparation for The Holy Bible's 20th Anniversary in 2014, he only rediscovered after reinspecting pages from his and Richey's lyric / ideas notebooks from the 1993-94 time period. On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "Of Walking Abortion, I actually kind of started that lyric myself and then he took it to another level of hatefulness, I guess." While Bradfield told RNE Radio 3: "Patriotism is quite a bad thing in any situation, I think. It's the root of all evils... Basically, some of the songs on the album, just pinpoint how much more patriotic Europe has become, or the Eastern Bloc has become. We're supposedly living in a unified Europe, whereas I think it's become more patriotic than unified." As for fascism, before Richey had even attempted writing a song about this issue, he had previously poured scorn on it in a letter dated April 1993, which was posted out to partisan uberfans signed-up to MSP's mailing-list. Part of this bulletin read, 'Fascism is not a political problem. It is a psychological one. A hidden need to submit freedom. Be told what to do.' While during a 1995 US interview, James also raised the question: "If we can't learn from recent history, how can we learn at all? If we promote ourselves as this free-thinking civilisation, what's the point in being born, if these things can come back?" With subject matter, multimedia references, words and imagery overlapping across a rash of tracks on The Holy Bible, the idea of hollow consumerism present in Ifwhiteamerica..., can also be found in the incisive Of Walking Abortion lyric, 'A moral conscience - you've no wounds to show / So wash your car in your 'X' baseball shoes.' Which, based on convincing suggestions, Dazed believes to be a comment on "the scramble to cash in on Malcom X's legacy after the release of Spike Lee's biopic on the black rights activist in 1992, and people adopting moral causes as a fashion accessory." There are also several references to consumerism and products within Generation Terrorists' soundbite lyrics / haikus. A style of songwriting, which at the time, Edwards compartmentalised as "primitive" and "very confused," because of the way in which both himself and Wire - on the same wavelength and with short attention spans - would consume culture in various forms and ways.

Before they would then regurgitate lyrical ideas and phrases onto paper in a somewhat hodgepodge manner, which JDB had to edit and try to work up into a memorable tune. In some ways, this is comparable with the William S. Burroughs / David Bowie 'cut-up' writing technique. But, returning to? Of Walking Abortion, this song is even connected to Archives Of Pain, as the lyric, 'Little people in little houses, like maggots, small, blind and worthless' alludes to the ruthless child serial killers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley*, and is based on a diary entry written by Hindley's 17-year-old brother-in-law, David Smith, who Brady began trying to systematically brainwash and aimed to recruit. Dictated to Smith by Brady, the original line in his diary actually reads, 'People are like maggots, small, blind, worthless fish-bait.' Smith is also the man credited with stopping the killing spree of 'The Moors Murderers', after witnessing the couple’s fifth and final murder in October 1965, before then going to the Police. 227 Lears also called to attention how the Valerie Solanas and Ian Brady quotes had been referenced by the Manics in the past. Firstly, the full Solanas text: 'The male chromosome is an incomplete female chromosome. In other words the male is a walking abortion; aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples', was printed alongside Little Baby Nothing in the Generation Terrorists sleeve artwork. While the Brady line, popped up in a diary entry that Richey wrote while the band were recording their debut long player in late 1991. Published in the February 1992 edition of Select Magazine as SEVEN DAYS IN THE LIFE OF... RICHIE EDWARDS OF THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS, here is an extract from Wednesday: 'Feel depressed. We leave Black Barn tomorrow. There's thousands of pictures to be taken down. Breakfast is always sad on Wednesday though. (Because) The music press arrives. Go back to bed. Stay there until the Six O'Clock News. Rip down my bedroom wall. I don't want to leave Keith, Johnny, Stalin, Flavor Flav, Axl, Liz Taylor to be as maggots. People are like maggots. Small, blind and worthless.' In terms of the abnormal grammar / phrasing of the outré song title, Of Walking Abortion, as part of his track by track notes, Richey wrote: "Should we have been born/still born/walking sideways unable to make a decision of any consequence. Modern life makes thought an embarrassment." Something else of interest, is how on both the studio recording and whenever played live, during the song's chorus, JDB actually sings the original plural title, Walking Abortions. *With relevance to Brady and Hindley, in a 2017 article penned by Dorian Lynskey for The Guardian entitled, SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN: HOW IAN BRADY CAST A DARK SHADOW OVER POPULAR CULTURE, he wrote: "No serial killers have exercised and repulsed the British public as much as 'The Moors Murderers' - as artists from The Smiths to Marcus Harvey have discovered. In Autobiography, Morrissey remembers the long shadow that 'The Moors Murderers' cast over his northern childhood. "A swarm of misery grips mid-60s Manchester as Hindley and Brady raise their faces to the camera and become known to us all," he writes. Then later: "Everyone appears to know someone who knew Myra Hindley, and we are forced to accept a new truth; that a woman can be just as cruel and dehumanised as a man, and that all safety is an illusion. In adulthood, this memory of collective trauma, revived by reading Emlyn Williams’ sensationalist 1967 account Beyond Belief, inspired Suffer Little Children, the first song Morrissey and Johnny Marr wrote as The Smiths... Released in 1984, Suffer Little Children triggered tabloid uproar and divided opinion. The grandfather of John Kilbride condemned it, yet Morrissey forged a friendship with Lesley Ann Downey’s mother. When art takes on a landmark atrocity, people will always clash over whether the artist is acknowledging or exploiting it, remembering the victims or glamorising the killers." Moving onto MSP, Lynskey noted: "Growing old in jail, Brady and Hindley inspired examinations of guilt, punishment and forgiveness. The Manic Street Preachers’ Archives Of Pain, an alarming exploration of the logic of capital punishment, derided Hindley’s attempts to rehabilitate herself: 'A drained white body hangs from the gallows / Is more righteous than Hindley’s crochet lectures' (the murderers were caught shortly after the abolition of the death penalty)... Britain has experienced other serial killers - Peter Sutcliffe, Fred West, Harold Shipman - but none quite as symbolic of an evil so absolute that it is almost supernatural, no images as familiar and enduringly chilling as those mugshots, no folk devils so guaranteed to stir the tabloids’ ire. Even now that Brady is dead, artists must approach the murderers and their victims with caution." Having teed up Archives Of Pain, this grisly number is covered in greater detail throughout Fact 10.

9. After taking stock, while in the first instance it was a steely and undaunted Wire, who beget / unpacked the idea of not using "all the resources at their disposal" and hiring a low-rent studio to record The Holy Bible in, before the Manic Street Preachers would then begin to distil their inimitable music into its purest form. He also tried to convince JDB, that the brooding, ethereal and subdued, She Is Suffering, could be MSP's Every Breath You Take (The Police) and a ginormous 'Transatlantic hit'. Now however - and feeling that this track isn't indispensable - not only would Nicky "definitely take it off" the record, but it remains the Manics music video that he most despises (the promo clip was directed by Adolfo Doring and has also come in for much derision from others). Wire told NME: "It doesn’t really fit The Holy Bible anyway. I just don’t know… I think She Is Suffering suffers slightly more from sort of, the man coming to the rescue syndrome." Drafting in Generation Terrorists producer, Steve Brown, for additional production and to help ripen the music, as James was bereft of inspiration and simply "didn't know what to do with the track." She Is Suffering has also now become his least favourite song on The Holy Bible, after the Manics had famously maligned the absurdist, ragged and helter-skelter, Revol, for years (they now have a newfound appreciation for it). In THB 20, JDB said: "It's a bit of readymade metaphor: The defiled feminine purity etc. I never quite got there with that lyric." While in a 2001 MOJO Q&A, Bradfield once humbly conceded: "That thing of using 'she' and 'beauty' as a metaphor never really sat that well with me. I thought we were a bit out of our depth and I didn't think it was one of Richey's best lyrics (neither did Nicky or Richey). I wanted Ifwhiteamerica... to be the single." Furthermore, Wire has since aired his own regrets of having She Is Suffering as a single, once telling KERRANG!: "I don't know why we picked Revol or She Is Suffering as [Holy Bible] singles, Yes or Ifwhiteamerica... would have been much better." At the time, Nicky elaborated on the meaning behind the track to Melody Maker: "It's quite a simple song, both musically and lyrically. It's kind of like the Buddhist thing where you can only reach eternal peace by shedding every desire in your body. I think the last line, 'Nature's lukewarm pleasure', is Richey's view on sex. I can't really explain it, but that's the way he sees it." While in his explanatory notes, Richey wrote: "'She' is desire. In other Bibles and Holy Books no truth is possible until you empty yourself of desire. All commitment otherwise is fake/lies/economic convenience." In reference to this, as part of 227 Lears archaeological song study, it is discovered how Richey took some inspiration from the educational text, The Teaching of Buddha (specifically the Human Defilements chapter*) and also used a quote from the opus, underneath the album credits in The Holy Bible CD lyrics booklet. 227 Lears even lays out how lyrically, Edwards adapted the epigraph to one of his most cherished books by Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask. The inscription reads: ‘Beauty is a terrible and awful thing’ - originally from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1880 novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Mishima was "a famous, quasi-fascist and masochistic Japanese novelist greatly respected by Richey, who believed in the revival of the Bushido tradition. In 1970, he committed ritual suicide - or Seppuku - by disembowelling himself with his sword after the failure of a Tokyo Army Base coup." When bringing up Mishima during an interview with the Japanese magazine, Music Life, Edwards imparted: "He had sensitivity in his work and it fitted in with his life. His work is absolutely beautiful! Full of kindness and beautiful music. And he built up his body - he had a really strong physique. He was tremendously sensitive" (incidentally, Love Like Blood by Killing Joke, was inspired by the Mishima novel, Spring Snow). As well as purloining the Dostoevsky line, Dazed notes how both the book and song "take in similar themes, exploring the connections between beauty, desire, intellect." The She Is Suffering CD1 single / 10" vinyl, also feature a quote from The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz. Another worthwhile point, is how a bushel of tracks on THB have lyrical themes / imagery in common with Joy Division's output, so perhaps the song title, She's Lost Control, partly inspired the title, She Is Suffering?

As an aside, at a Manics gig once, James told a story of how around the time of this elegiac, seductive and sullen single's release - which was by no means a sure-fire hit, peaking in the lower reaches of the UK Top 40 - he telephoned MSP's A&R man, Rob Stringer, to enquire how The Holy Bible was selling. With Stringer pulling no punches and tersely likening the moribund album, to having "gone down like a Lufthansa," in respect of its cold reception / floundering commercial performance. For its European release, a 2trk and a 4trk tour edition CD single were pressed, which both included the 7" radio edit of She Is Suffering, as well as an exclusive acoustic version taken from a live performance on MTV's Most Wanted. Notably, in order to have a more mainstream chassis, on the 7" radio edit, the single's intro and outro were both truncated, while Bradfield's guitar solo was also sheared. In terms of the game changing THB as an amassment of top-grade songs, and on people's emotional investment. With heartfelt enthusiasm, James has openly acknowledged that he's "conscious of how many of the album tracks are far superior and much more loved by fans, than any of the singles released from it" - with the exception of The Bible's vital ingredient and crowning glory, the invigorating Faster. Which ultimately, is what underpins and has led to the LP's survival, prosperity and reverence - a true one-off and a cut above! Another talking point is how although when discussing MSP's career trajectory in Backbeat, JDB once deliberated: "Looking back on our history, if there was only Generation Terrorists, Gold Against The Soul and Everything Must Go, something would be seriously lacking." Contrariwise, and coming from a diametrically opposed standpoint, a tentative and pensive Nicky, once rebuffed such estimations however during a 1996 Melody Maker interview, when he ingeminated the more disaffected facets of the Manic Street Preachers' music: "It's pretty upsetting because that myth has completely taken over what the band was originally about. When Richey went missing, I didn't get any kicks from this great rock 'n' roll myth happening around me. It made me very, very ill. And originally, the band was never about self-hate anyway, it was about injustice in society, and with The Holy Bible it became so inward-looking, too inward-looking for my liking, to be honest. It was never the intention to carry on in that vein, but now we're destined to be frozen in time as this myth." Similarly, in 2021, he told MOJO: "You could say The Holy Bible is personal because of Richey's lyrics. But it's not our raison d'être." On the other hand, in 1994, James actually emphasised to Club International Magazine: "One of the things I've always liked about us is that we create our own hype and make our own expectations. We have always been relevant to ourselves... Another thing I like is that we're hard to judge, we're loved and hated at the same time. That is something we always wanted." While i-D asked Bradfield about both his personality traits and his singing: "I've never been a subtle person, I believe in high intelligence and high aggression, and I believe the two mix very well." What about the passion in your vocals? "Passion implies you believe in something and with us we never really believed in anything, it's always been quite nihilistic. I don't like passion, it sounds like very traditional notions of heroic failure." So what do you sing? What do you find in the twisted poetry of Nicky and Richey's lyrics? The pain? He pauses and, in a voice that shows no fakery, he agrees. "Yeah, I sing the pain."" *The 'vine' reference in She Is Suffering's lyrics, could also tie-in with the True Vine in the Bible, "an allegory or parable given by Jesus in the New Testament, found in John (15:1-17), that designates Jesus' disciples as branches of himself, who is described as the True Vine."

10. 'Nothing turns out like you want it to.' 'Don't hurt, just obey, lie down, do as they say.' 'Analyse, despise and scrutinise.' 'Life is for the cold made warm and they are just lizards.' 'I've been too honest with myself / I should have lied like everybody else.' 'The only way to gain approval / Is by exploiting the very thing that cheapens me.' Along with these jolting and transparent key lines, and their insular / sermonising lyrical thread - words which are brimming with revulsion and revile - plus the unforgiving onslaught of The Holy Bible's dyed-in-the-wool, hell on earth, discontented, resentful and (never once rose-tinted) sour worldview; 'Life is lead weights, pendulum died / Pure or lost, spectator or crucified / Recognised truth Acedia's blackest hole / Junkies, winos, whores, the nation's moral suicide.' Where 'Loser - liar - fake or phoney / No one cares, everyone is guilty' for all that is wrong with the world, which has mutated into nothing more than an unethical and unconscionable abomination / 'systemised atrocity' (something that fans and critics believe is a reference to both J.G. Ballard's novel and to the Joy Division song, Atrocity Exhibition), and 'The massacred innocent blood stains us all.' With a sizeable chunk of The Bible's galled and outraged lyrics, using the fallibilities of the past, to illuminate the shortcomings / failings of our present and what is missing (everything that the Manics have always stood for and so long a favoured trope); the disreputable and unwholesome underbelly of a cutthroat society, apathy, taboos, having to sell yourself out, geopolitical misdeeds, fragmented hegemony / democracy, corruption, capitalism, avarice and socio-economic issues. Plus, virulent and insidious injustice, American/British nationalism, unchecked institutionalised racism, war crimes / historical revisionism, Political Correctness and the inescapable / unrecoverable loss of childhood innocence (the latter of which subject-wise, was more than feasibly the impetus for positioning This Is Yesterday and Die In The Summertime side-by-side, as 'longing for youth' nostalgia-filled bedfellows, in the final tracklisting). Other gritty, real-life and odious themes also subsumed and saturated in spite on THB, include how anybody - on account of the human condition - has the capacity to commit wicked, nefarious and sadistic sins, or despicable and unspeakable evil deeds. A microcosm of the whole record; 'The centre of humanity is cruelty / There is never redemption / Any fool can regret yesterday*.' And, exhibiting the lyrical flair / prowess of MSP's conceptualist, mastermind and lodestar, having had a long-held allurement to countries who employ torture methods, the penal system and death sentences. One of the bravest and most beguiling songs ever penned by Richey, is the jarring, lurking, predatory and vengeful Archives Of Pain (named after a chapter in a 1993 biography of French philosopher Michel Foucault, The Lives of Michel Foucault** by David Macey, which Edwards and Wire both read at University). In '94, Nicky told Melody Maker: "[That book] had quite an influence on us. It talks about the punishment matching the crime. But the song isn't a right-wing statement, it's just against this fascination with people who kill. A lot of people don't like to see rapists getting off with a £25 fine. That line, 'Kill Yeltsin, who's saying?' - well, Yeltsin is a figure of hate to us. A person who's basically an alcoholic... That's a personal, petty Manics thing." And, by taking some of its malice / lurid thematic inspiration from this tome, Archives Of Pain seemingly advocates the use of the death penalty for some of the world's parasites; cunning and maniacal, fascist war criminals / tyrannical megalomaniacs, as well as vindictive and convicted, unhinged serial killers, who have all committed deranged, callous, senseless, heinous and inhumane crimes. Yet, are implausibly and disgracefully treated as celebrities*** by the mass media, or sinisterly glamorised, lionised and hero-worshipped. Which, in turn, spawns more (a keynote also present in the Slash N' Burn lyric, 'You need your stars / Even killers have prestige', and given prominence to in 227 Lears essay). The Guardian even wrote that Archives Of Pain is "a treatise on the innate human need for revenge." With Richey imparting in his track by track notes, "Bentham's 'Panopticon' - visibility is a trap. Foucault - Savagery is necessary. Is revenge justified? Nothing in common with Manson or Dahmer cult and its current fashionability. There is no glory in innocent death. Death/Murder/Redemption part of the human condition."

Also cautioning us how 'Killers view themselves like they view the world, they pick at the holes', the song contains many other unforgettable lines such as, 'If hospitals cure then prisons must bring their pain / Don't be ashamed to slaughter', 'Nail it to the House of Lords / You will be buried in the same box as a killer, as a killer, as a killer', 'Pain not penance, forget martyrs, remember victims', 'Execution needed / A bloody vessel for your peace', 'If man makes death then death makes man', 'Not punish less, rise the pain', 'Sterilise rapists, all I preach is extinction' and 'Give them the respect they deserve.' But, concerning the lyric, 'Nail it to the House of Lords / You will be buried in the same box as a killer, as a killer, as a killer.' An MSP Fan posted the following theory in the comments section at A Critical Discography, in which they interpret this line as an attack on people who question the reinstatement of the death penalty: "A more likely explanation is in the House of Lords reference itself. Anyone with an objection to the proposed reinstatement of capital punishment which the song 'espouses', could object by symbolically nailing their opinion to the doors of the second chamber. If ever such a medieval proposal as the reinstatement of hanging were proposed, it would have to be discussed and ultimately approved by the Lords. So perhaps, the song implies, you may voice your disgust but we all end up in the same box." In 2006, JDB - who has named Archives Of Pain as "the most contentious song on The Bible" - also clued in R*E*P*E*A*T: "To reiterate the fact, the lyric was about coming from a left-wing perspective, but actually just saying that, 'Despite my political leanings, despite the essence and the core of what I am, I think I believe in Capital Punishment. I believe the punishment should fit the crime.'" While during 2015's No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, when linking Archives Of Pain with religion, he states: "The reasoning behind a song like Archives Of Pain, is that if you don't believe in God, you expect the state to serve out justice. If there's no punishment to fit certain crimes, then justice doesn't exist and if justice doesn't exist, then people revert back to God." Adding: "Great things came out of religion in the past. It did give us order, it did give us humanity to a degree, but now we've evolved, it's beneath us!" Bradfield also declared to an American reporter: "Our songs are at their best when they're at their most irrational or like three minute well informed news stories." And, when grilled by Sun Zoom Spark about opening people's eyes as to what they could expect from The Holy Bible, James acknowledged: "The new album's a lot more dense and obtuse - if it was a book, you wouldn't say there were many sympathetic characters in it. We treated it almost like an essay. We started off with the title, we didn't have one lyric or one piece of music written... We've always been a band who wanted something to believe in, but couldn't find anything and there's one pivotal song on the album, Archives Of Pain. It started out as a riposte to that line in Therapy?'s Trigger Inside ('Now I know how Jeffrey Dahmer feels') and, even though I really like Therapy?, we just couldn't agree with it, so decided to come up with a modern response. It went on to become a Capital Punishment diatribe and by the time we'd finished the song, we sounded like a bunch of right-wing cunts. It's basically O Level Sociology, left and right eventually meet and they become impossible to differentiate from each other. And I thought that's what we'd become, when one side becomes totally fucked up. We started out as such a traditional working class band, and based all these situations on anywhere we could find a strand of unfilled ideology, but we've drifted further and further sideways. By the end of this song, I realised that we were just a product of our times. We'd believed in so many things only to become disillusioned. That was one of the first songs that we'd finished and it was then that I realised, that the whole album would be quite ambivalent in terms of its morals." Although Archives Of Pain was the track that Nicky and Richey "worried about the most and did the most work on," in a PopMatters Q&A with Bradfield, they mooted how in the liner notes for the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Holy Bible, the album is described by writer Keith Cameron (who also quizzed JDB and Nicky for the fascinating, retrospective segment in the THB 20 booklet: Chapter and verse. Track by track. 13 Reasons to believe in The Holy Bible.), as "a triumph of art over logic."

Which a cordial, chuffed and gracious James, found flattering: "It’s always nice when somebody else says it, because you can never say that about what you’ve done yourself, because it makes you an arrogant fool if you make such a statement about your own record or book or film or piece of furniture - whatever you’ve created. But I can see some kind of logic in that statement. I don’t really think a band like us, that comes from a very left-wing area and place in history, ever expected to write a song like Archives of Pain, which talks about Capital Punishment and talks about it within a song - openly questions it and openly investigates and doesn’t condemn. I don’t think a band like us, from a working class area in South Wales, were ever meant to write a lyric like Faster, that has ambitions of overcoming everything with the power of your own will and your own self-made intelligence. And I don’t think that would be married to that post-punk influenced music. So there is a natural ridiculousness of us coming from South Wales, from a very working class, proud area; actually doing a record like this was nothing anyone expected. We didn’t either. So I kind of accept Keith’s statement, and Keith is one of the best music journalists Britain ever produced, so I’ll stand by his statement. It’s always better when somebody else says it." With James, Nicky, Richey and Sean taking immense pride in the evolution of the Manic Street Preachers, when questioned about treasured tracks in a 1994 interview with Q Magazine, JDB got straight to the heart of the matter by stating that that the apoplectic Archives Of Pain, is "one of the most important things we've done (something which he maintains to this very day), it shows how fucked up and confused our times are. And it shows that we're still arrogant and unafraid enough to make judgements, even miscalculated ones." He also got more off his chest during an American Q&A, which was carried out in February 1995: "Other groups, if they'd written something that they didn't know they believed in and that didn't fit in with their manifesto, so to speak, it would be off. But, we thought we'd leave it on there." In 1996, James even contemplated in Melody Maker: "You go and see a film like Seven and you realise that most people can't become what they want these days, and the one thing you can become is a killer. It's the easiest thing in the fucking world." While during the THB 10 DVD interview, Nicky said: "I read it, and I just couldn't believe that it had come from his mind, because it's actually quite a pro death penalty, right-wing kind of song. It's a song for victims, basically." Sonically, this song is also renowned for boasting one of James' premium, piercing and titanium-coated, soaring guitar solos. As part of Guitarist Magazine's 2010 Q&A, ROCK 'N' ROLL EVANGELIST, James recalled of this conjuring: "Well, that solo was constructed. The guy that engineered The Holy Bible was a chap called Alex Silva, who is a good friend, and we had that song to do. We'd rehearsed the song, but we hadn't rehearsed it with the solo in. And it was one of the only songs where I didn't have any idea what to do: the bars were just there, staring at me like a challenge, because it’s quite a long section at the end. So we sat for two hours and I just kept playing, going round and round. It started off as an idea because Archives Of Pain is about 'Janus Head' philosophy, where in the most fucked up situations, left and right become indistinguishable from each other. There's this misconception that authoritarianism is the preserve of the right, but it's not, is it? Kruschev was trying to delineate Stalinism for a fucking decade, wasn't he? So that’s what the song is about and I thought the solo had to have some militancy about it, a wildly out-of-control intelligence. Now that’s bullshit pretension, you've got to make that clear, but you’ve got to be daft sometimes. So I spent two hours trying to convey this idea of being ashamed of a certain malevolence inside oneself, two hours sketching it on repeat and then I just did it. I had John McGeoch in my head when I did it, he’s one of my Gods." Getintothis wrote: "Consider for example the solo section of The Holy Bible’s Archives Of Pain, which writhes and winds up, pressurised into such a fervour that it feels almost more claustrophobic at its conclusion, than even at the most verbose passages." While Dorian Lynkskey offered: "Bradfield’s contorted guitar solos are like yowls of distress."

Archives Of Pain just happens to also possess one of Nicky's finest, pulsating and most devilish bass lines, which is brought to the forefront and sounds demonic - almost as if it has crawled out from the bowels of hell wrapped in barbed wire, laced with hostility and malicious intent, ready to annihilate, slay and slaughter! Wire's "personal favourite" bass line, drills directly into your bones! In THB 20, JDB said: "Richey's often portrayed as being all about pomp, vanity and introspective intelligence, turning the reflection of the mirror out onto the world. Sometimes it was just pure, intelligent rage. And very unexpected rage. He believed justice was a part of the left-wing's canon, just as much as the right's. As soon as I read the lyric, it's the only time I've felt, 'It's hard being in this band.' I didn’t know how to portray the weight and for it not to seem frivolous. I thought the very first thing people hear they’ve gotta know this is serious. So it’s channelling two of the best bassists of all time, Jah Wobble and Barry Adamson, and then obviously other things follow from that, be it a little Magazine or PiL, one of the few bands that could pick a serious subject and not cheapen it by putting it in a rock song. That was my ambition and those were templates, to underpin it all." In a 1999 interview with Rhythm, Sean chose this particular track, as having the drumming performance he's most proud of, recounting: "It's something I wouldn't normally do - it was one of those sudden rushes of blood. Even now I couldn't really play it to you." Notably, James periodically "nagged" Sean to put a harmonizer**** (studio effects processor) on the pulverising drums during The Holy Bible sessions, in order to make them sound boxy / claustrophobic. And, as Archives Of Pain was in the process of being recorded, Blur's poptastic new single - the Club 18-30 tribute, Girls & Boys - hit the airwaves, causing Nicky to fret: "It might not be our time." Similarly, Bradfield later disclosed in NME: "I remember being in a taxi with Richey and we heard Oasis' Supersonic***** on the radio. We felt a bit bowed by it, in a strange commercial kind of way." Hinting at MSP's more melodic, palatable and accessible side - which had been nigh on wiped out with some clout on The Bible - JDB's Mum, even once unhesitatingly asked him why they "no longer wrote nice songs like Motorcycle Emptiness." *The lines, 'There is never redemption / Any fool can regret yesterday' could plausibly refer to The Lord's Prayer, as well as to the Church and the forgiveness of sins / temptation, i.e. Absolution: "A traditional theological term for the forgiveness imparted by ordained Christian priests and experienced by Christian penitents. It is a universal feature of the historic churches of Christendom, although the theology and the practice of absolution vary between denominations. Some traditions see absolution as a sacrament - the Sacrament of Penance." The Act of Contrition: "A prayer that people say to God and a priest listens to them while they say it. This act of the will proves to the priest that a person is seeking reconciliation with God. The priest stands as a legal and sacramental witness to this repentance." Atonement: "A doctrine found within both Christianity and Judaism, that describes how sin can be forgiven by God. In Judaism, Atonement is said to be the process of forgiving or pardoning a transgression." And also, to Confession: "A sacrament. The sacrament of confession is one of the seven sacraments recognised by the Catholic Church. Catholics believe that all of the sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ himself. In the case of Confession, that institution occurred on Easter Sunday, when Christ first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection." **When referring to David Macey’s biography, The Lives of Michel Foucault, 227 Lears wrote that the chapter concerning the French philosopher’s 1975 work Discipline and Punish, was of particular significance. Also singling out other probable THB lyrical touchpoints present throughout the same tome, e.g. references to lines in The Archives of Pain chapter, 'power does not suppress desire: it produces it...' (Yes) and "Shalom, shalom" (Of Walking Abortion). The blog also thinks it likely that Wire took the working title for the album, The Poetry Of Death, from the same book, "a phrase which appears in a discussion of Foucault’s friendship with the composer Jean Barraqué and the latter’s enthusiasm for Hermann Broch’s novel Der Tod des Virgil."

A Critical Discography also obtained / referenced a quote from Richey about this tome and its impact on him (as well as the importance of foregoing prayers for deliverance, mercy and clemency, for heartless, cold-blooded murderers, in favour of retribution), from a 1994 Melody Maker Q&A with Simon Price: "I like the idea in Archives Of Pain I took from Michel Foucault, when he advocates a return to 19th Century values of execution and Capital Punishment. You know, it appeals to me, but you shouldn't only bring back Capital Punishment. It should be compulsory that your body be kept, have oil poured over it and be torn apart with horses and chains. It should be on TV, and four or five-year-olds should be made to watch it. It's the only way. If you tell a child 'That's wrong', he doesn't really learn. But if you show a body being ripped to shreds, after Blue Peter, he's gonna know. But then, that's really right-wing. Which I'm not. On things like censorship I think everything should be allowed on television. You know, I mean anything. I don't know who believes that anymore. Every left-wing party says there should be some degree of censorship, that some things are bad taste. But it's unjustifiable for anyone to decide what is bad taste." On the THB b-side, Sculpture Of Man, he even wrote, 'War censored, no blood on TV.' With The Holy Bible's tentacles grasping all sorts of subjects into its clutches, censorship and puritanism, are topics that shall resurface later on with the album's closer, P.C.P. But, returning to Archives Of Pain, some people are still confused as to whether or not this track does actually endorse retributive killing / the concept of an eye for an eye (a saying that "comes from various passages in the Bible, including in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and is sometimes expanded as 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'"). With A Critical Discography noting of this undercurrent: "Few songs in the Manics catalogue, if any, have inspired as much fervent argument over lyrical meanings as Archives Of Pain. The song’s savage lyrics have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways, many of which are conditional on the listener’s perspective on Edwards’ beliefs and state of mind while he was writing. As a result, Archives Of Pain has been variously described as a frank advocacy of Capital Punishment on Edwards’ part, an argument for Capital Punishment from a third party perspective with which Edwards did not agree, a contemplation on a subject on which Edwards had not made up his mind, and various others. All in all, Archives Of Pain reads very much like a song by McCarthy, the major influences on the Manics who wrote songs from the perspective of their ideological opponents more often than not. Like Archives Of Pain, their songs could often be confusing for this reason. Ultimately, we will probably never understand the song any better than we do currently, given Edwards’ disappearance. However, while we are on the subject, here is a somewhat more off-the-wall partial explanation: Archives Of Pain cannot be understood without reference to Of Walking Abortion, which posits that everyone must bear a degree of responsibility for the evil in the world. This makes sense of the 'All I preach is extinction' line, because everyone is guilty of horrific atrocities and the reasonable penalty in the mind of our narrator is death. This brings to mind The Dark Judges from the comics anthology 2000AD - in their warped logic, all crime is committed by the living, therefore life is a crime and the apt penalty is death. The Dark Judges - evil equivalents of the comic’s hero Judge Dredd - went on to wipe out the whole population of their home planet, located in an alternate dimension and known as Deadworld. After all, we know that Edwards was a fan of 2000AD, thanks to his references to it in P.C.P." Intriguingly, A Critical Discography (which takes a deep dive into The Bible, with an eye-popping and sweeping glossary that runs the gamut, containing almost every album track + b-side lyrical reference, allied with punctilious annotations) also points out that on the actual LP itself, during the last chorus of Archives Of Pain, James curiously sings the self-referencing and self-implicating Manic Street Preachers, in place of Milosevic. And, although visible in preliminary versions of the lyric sheets, this emendation was never printed in the final lyrics booklet.

Interestingly, someone has commented on A Critical Discography, that a Forever Delayed Forum member once posted how they had "asked one of the band exactly what was said at the end of the second chorus - they confirmed it was Manic Street Preachers and that they included it to say that no one was innocent, even themselves." So, this lucid Meta-reference, was indeed intended to unambiguously play into The Holy Bible's overarching concept that 'everyone is guilty.' The famed music writer, John Harris, even fluently noted: "In the past, music had tended to deal with humanity's woes via what Bob Dylan called 'finger-pointing songs', angrily taking issue with the adult world and/or the establishment. This album, by contrast, bluntly contended that the Manics and their audience were complicit in just about all the horrors it described." It could even be argued that the line, 'I don't mind the horror that surrounds me' from 4st 7lb, is yet another comment on an impassive society's nonchalance and indifference to what's going on around us. While the Of Walking Abortion lyric, 'Who's responsible? You fucking are', is in many ways, The Holy Bible's coup de grâce. As for the lyric, 'The weak die young and right now we crouch to make them strong', Richey may be suggesting that when all is said and done, praying for victims or expressing sympathy is 'just for show', as this will never lead to true justice? In 2011, Bradfield told Classic Rock: "When you look back at those two lyrics and see the ambition in the words of Nick and Richey, you get that thunderbolt sometimes. Apart from the obvious human tragedy that went on, it's such a shame they don't get to write lyrics together anymore. With Archives, that's when I knew that album was going somewhere where I thought no one else had gone before. I was excited by his bravery, so the song had to be this idea of lurching into battle." ***Concerning idolatry, "scripture strongly advises against the following of idols other than God." ****Speaking to The Quietus in 2016, about how MSP managed to get a pukka post-punk drum sound on The Holy Bible, James let the cat out of the bag: "When you go into the studio sometimes, you're moving the drums around in a really stupid muso way, because where you put the drums in a room affects how they sound. And I loved records like Pornography by The Cure and Joy Division records and Wire records and Magazine records and Banshees records and Wah! records and Associates records where everything starts with the drums. You make them sound boxy, and you put a harmonizer on them, and sometimes you make them sound like it's been recorded by a computer. And on a lot of those New Wave records, the drums are optimised to hell. And that's a philosophy of recording: you record the drums in a very tight way, then put effects on them, to make it sound slightly other-worldly or cold. Which is what a lot of those post-punk records were built on." *****On feeling like misfits and outlanders, during BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "It just felt like, apart from maybe In Utero, we had nothing in common with anyone." James: "Except for the rock 'n' roll spirit of Oasis, a tiny bit." Nicky: "Richey loved them, he loved that first record!" Bradfield and Edwards actually went to an Oasis gig at TJ's in Newport on May 3, 1994 - and on a related Oasis note, during a '96 Q&A with RNE Radio 3, JDB said: "Liam Gallagher reminds me of Nick a tiny bit, because he's got a certain rage inside of him. Whatever's on his mind, he always says - he's completely honest!" The previous year, James was one of the very first to ever hear Oasis' world-beating and classic sophomore album, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, after Noel Gallagher gave him a promo cassette following a chance meeting on a train journey. Noel has gone on record to voice his admiration for MSP and all they do, also once revealing how he was particularly taken with the You Love Us music video (Columbia version), when he first laid eyes on it. In 2016, Wire actually talked to Buzz about opening for Oasis: "They were some of the best of times. I was talking to Noel last year and it was only then we sat down and actually realised how many gigs we did together [in 1996], not just around the UK and Ireland, but all across America. And they were falling apart, and for once things were going well for us, and every week we’d get a good bit of news. We would be done by 8 o’clock each night and then we could sit back and watch them and enjoy the drama. But they were great to tour with, they treated us really well. It was a pleasure, really. We’re cut from the same cloth and both have that vicious humour, and I think anyone who comes from the same background as us, we find pretty easy to get on with." Adding in Louder Than War: "I loved Oasis' simplicity of chords; their yearning and melancholia. That sad melancholy gives a comfortable feeling, the Morrissey melancholy that you can enjoy."

11. In a 2011 NME Poll, the Manics themselves, named the fearsome and formidable fireball that is Faster, as their 'Best Single' - quite the accolade! Which was labelled by the longstanding music publication as, "The most incendiary tour de force of their career, the band on the point of glorious combustion. It is the dark heart of The Holy Bible that emerges as Manic Street Preachers' Number One of their own Top 40 hit parade. What else? A Molotov cocktail of post-punk guitars powers along one of Richey's most freeform and barbed lyrical displays. The result of one of the most intense compositions of all time and one of the most exhilarating pop songs of all time." While in April 2018, as part of an 18 month long, comprehensive social media 'song contest' run by the Twitter account, Every Manics Song; "All studio tracks pitted against each other (nearly) to decide the most accurate & unofficial complete song chart ever!" With votes coming from genuine MSP Fans, it was announced that out of over 200+ tracks in their back catalogue, Faster was once again in pole position, after being ranked and rated as the band's all-time greatest song (The Holy Bible was also the most popular era and LP - with or without singles included - by average track score). In 2013, this track was also voted No. 1 by music fans in a PopMatters countdown. Breaking down the furious urgency of the full-throttle Faster, which was the last time that Nicky and Richey "collaborated lyrically on an even keel." Nicky once stated in Melody Maker: "Frankly, a lot of it is all Richey again, and I was always completely confused by it. But when he wrote it he told me it was about self-abuse. The opening line is, 'I am an architect / They call me a butcher' - and of course, he's been carving into his arm and all that... I think it's the most confusing song on the album. I added some stuff about the regurgitation of 20th Century culture, and the way that everything's speeded up to such an extent that nobody knows if they've got any meaning anymore. It's probably the first time that we've written a song and not completely understood what we've written." Thoughtfully adding during a 1994 NME interview: "It's not a post-modern nightmare number, it's more a voyeuristic insight into how our generation has become obliterated with sensations. We could deal with things but we prefer to blank them out so that virtually every atrocity doesn't have that much impact anymore. I don't even know if that's a bad thing, I don't know if we're not on some kind of path to a superbeing where all emotions are lost and everyone finally gets on perfectly because of that. The world is such a violent place. What we experience from the everyday world, what we read and what we see makes you realise that there's worse and worse things happening all the time. Perhaps it might reach such a low point of existence, something good may come of it." In 2011, he also informed the music weekly: "It's my title. I think the outro, 'Man kills everything' is mine. 'If you stand up like a nail...' is a Chinese proverb. So it's a perfect synthesis of everything, really. I think 'I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing' is the great catchphrase of The '90s. And for Richey to actually write, 'I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer', it shows an almost heroic self-indulgence. But it makes you great. Because at the time, Blur's Girls & Boys went Top Five and I remember thinking, 'What the fuck are we doing?', just completely ostracised. But then I remember having a moment thinking, 'This is brilliant.' We'd never felt so alone and we really were distanced from everything else. And that's why we were 'the biggest cult band in Britain.' It was one of those moments when you're never gonna do something that good again. You might do something more commercial, more uplifting, which we have done. But the cult-dom of it - I think it was once described as 'a heady mix of Ace Of Spades by Motörhead and Anarchy In The U.K.'" Intriguingly, Wire had actually been working on a song idea based around the lyric, 'So damn easy to cave in / Man kills everything', but after sifting through his best friend's words, Richey took away 6 lines and incorporated them into Faster (one of these included, 'I've been too honest with myself I should have lied like everybody else'). In 2001, when discussing Faster with MOJO, Bradfield revealed: "[Nicky] would give Richey just titles and then Richey wrote under the title. I thought that was impressive." When Edwards gave the finished, amorphous lyric to James, it had no punctuation whatsoever, who has since categorised this specific song as "one of Richey's soothsaying lyrics."

Also telling NME: "There's a lot of prophesy, in terms of the acceleration of everything - joy, pain, death, consumerism." In 2006, JDB even revealed to R*E*P*E*A*T: "I can see that Richey perhaps wrote the lyrics for [GATS era b-side] Donkeys, and then shortly afterwards, he wrote Faster. Because where Donkeys is quite self-pitying, I almost felt like he was riposting himself on Faster, with a lyric like 'Self-disgust is self-obsession.' Not completely - that’s not the meaning of Faster, but there are elements of it, where he’s just disgusted with how soppy he had become on a song like Donkeys. But, I still love Donkeys!" Interestingly, the line, 'Self-disgust is self-obsession, honey', was a turn of phrase actually coined by MSP's longstanding Press Officer, Gillian Porter, which she used when anatomising Edwards' own perceived inadequacies, scornful opinion and scathing critique of himself. "I'm on my own, I'm very selfish. 'Self-disgust is self-obsession' - that's the truest line on there, probably" he once claimed in NME. Also echoing the lyrical theme found in Archives Of Pain and the most logical reason why a portrait of Soviet serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, is placed next to Faster in THB's CD lyrics booklet. Descried by 227 Lears, when identifying a lesser known aspect of (or hidden meaning behind) Faster's message during a US Q&A, Bradfield set forth: "We’re a civilisation where we’re constantly trying to find a cure, cures for death, we’re constantly trying to find cures for diseases. But also, we’re a civilisation that’s grown up with an obsession with death. Or, we’re a civilisation that’s grown up with an obsession with, like, mass murderers. How the hell do we function when we’re obsessed with prolonging life, and we’re obsessed with people who kill? It’s about the strength to believe in life and death." Yet another inspiration was drawn out by Simon Price: "According to Richey, the point of the song was that morality is merely obedience to the ruling caste. He said that the song was inspired by Yukio Mishima, whose elitist, quasi-Nietzschean notions of nobility are usually - if simplistically - interpreted as being right-wing." For his explanatory notes, Edwards wrote: "Strength through weakness. All morality sown in the soil of the ruling caste. Self-abuse is anti-social, aggression still natural. Society speeding up - finds worth is failure." During a solo turn on BBC Four's Songwriter's Circle in 2011 (a TV series in which viewers are presented with the stories behind songs and exclusive performances), James meditated: "I think this lyric is way ahead of it's time, in terms of just showing the onset of brutality." On the subject of Mishima, his influence also stretches across other songs on The Holy Bible. Firstly, in Mathijs Peters' hefty and exhaustive monograph, Popular Music, Critique and Manic Street Preachers, Mishima's interest in 'equalising body and spirit' is discussed - something which was a source of fascination for Richey and would feed into some of his lyrics for She Is Suffering. While 227 Lears is beyond doubt, that Die In The Summertime is connected to Mishima's 1953 collection of short stories, Death in Midsummer. With the book taking its name from an included short story of the same title. But, going back to Faster, the title is rumoured to have a double-meaning, based around the aforementioned idea of the acceleration of society, as well as fasting - it was also the adopted name for the first recording studio, Faster Studios (formerly Stir Studio), that the Manic Street Preachers owned in Cardiff between 2005-16, which was about 200 yards away from where Soundspace used to be. In terms of matching the sentiment of the "cold voiced" words, with a full-throated "disembodied vocal" and sonic enhancements (on record, James comes across like a man possessed). Bradfield, with his high level of artistry, wanted the music to sound as if it was "regimented, parallel-lined, compressed, stark and in control of itself." And, after putting pressure on himself while writing music at his parents' home, by thinking, 'This has got to be a single, it covers so much in one lyric.' JDB later came clean to Q Magazine: "So, of course, as soon as I decided that, it wouldn't happen." Famously, Faster was rather tricky and troublesome - though pliable - going through 20 reworked overhauls / iterations. Yet apparently, the Manics' manager, Martin Hall, was never overly fond of this track at any stage of its development, or indeed the finished / assiduously remoulded version either! In 2002, Bradfield admitted to Muzyka z Glosnika: "It is simply very schizophrenic.

After 20 attempts, I came to the conclusion that I should simplify it as much as possible. It is enough that the words themselves were already quite confusing." While on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, James said: "In the end, the simplest idea worked and that was the 20th idea... It just felt like suddenly things were changing, when you saw that lyric. Somebody wrote in one of the reviews, 'As soon as you heard Faster, you realised the stakes had been raised.'" The blueprint / yardstick for this song was Faith No More’s crunchy, From Out Of Nowhere, with an unfazed Sean proclaiming in NME: "It's us at out most visceral best, spitting bile and we just looked good, good video, good song." And in Classic Rock: "The lyrics weren’t in the form that they ended up in, but just that bit ‘stronger than Mensa’ was enough for us." With Bradfield also confessing: "It was the hardest one to write music to by a million miles (including Sean's metronomic drums in the final section). I was worried, as I knew it was the key to everything on the record. So I stomped around, and then put Never Mind The Bollocks on and that was it. Sometimes the way Johnny Rotten’s voice goes down the middle of a song and barely changes, it’s about the twists and phrases and the commitment to the words. And that’s exactly what it needed, that straight line through the middle." James also elaborated to NME: "It's something that connected with the darker parts of all ourselves and it's hard to get a career out of those moments." With Nicky later musing in Classic Rock: "It was a defining moment for us. That song laid it all out. It was like a band manifesto." Dorian Lynkskey even offered: "Faster is as terrifying as it is exhilarating, a militant howl of intermingled self-justification and self-disgust." Offering up another viewpoint, on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "I mean, the trouble with a lot of these lyrics, is that we didn't really talk about lyrics. We had an instinctive sense, but you can never exactly indulge yourself, that you knew exactly what he was trying to say. I can't, and I think I knew him pretty well. It's quite Manics-esque really, that you know, 'I am superior to all of the past literature that has ever existed.' We just felt beautifully obscured from the whole world." With regard to Richey's 'I am' proclamations in Faster, an incalculable amount of MSP Fans and music critics suspect that the lyric, 'I am an architect' was inspired by the lines, 'I am an antichrist / I am an anarchist' from the seditious Sex Pistols song, Anarchy In The U.K. However, a never-before-documented connection with The Gospel Of John (The Gospel according to John is the fourth of the Four Gospels of the New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), was recently posted by a YouTube user. Who, having conducted Exegesis (Biblical Studies) in the past, directed people's gaze towards this religious text, as "Jesus makes 8 'I am' statements, while likewise in Faster, Edwards also makes 8 'I am' statements." It wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that this interrelatedness is far too coincidental, to have not been done on purpose. Interestingly, "the term 'I am' relating to God appears over 300 times in the Bible, first in the book of Genesis (15:1) and last in Revelation (22:16). This has led to the Biblical God sometimes being referred to as "The great 'I am'."" As an aside, Manic Street Preachers lyrics and song titles are very popular tattoo choices amongst MSP Fans, with Nicky telling Absolute Radio in 2021: "Someone's had, I think, all the lyrics of Faster on their back. You've got to admire that - the pain threshold!" Faster and She Is Suffering were both premiered live in Thailand at Bangkok's MBK Hall (at a pair of 4,000 capacity shows), rescheduled from January 10-11 to April 22-23, 1994. These concerts were dubbed, FROM DESPAIR TO BANGKOK, by the Thai promoter. When reporting on these nights, the English-language daily newspapers for Bangkok, The Nation and Bangkok Post, ran the headlines, MANICS BRING CHEER TO STREETS FULL OF DESPAIR and MANIC PREACHING IN BANGKOK, respectively. While using the hilarious headline, YOU LOVE DUST!, NME even set down in black and white: "At the first gig, the venue’s ceiling started to collapse and surveyors were called in to check the damage. The second show went ahead after the building was declared safe."

MSP's first magazine cover story for The Holy Bible era, also took place in Thailand* for the NME - which published on May 28, was awash with revelations and details about Richey's fluctuating, and beyond the pale, behaviour. The article was penned by the highly regarded music critic, Barbara Ellen, and illustrated with iconic photographs shot by the legendary Kevin Cummins. Whenever used as the opener in set lists throughout that year (openers recurrently seesawed between Faster, P.C.P and Revol), Faster had an extended intro, with JDB calling out to the crowd: "Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello..." as a nod to John Lydon's greeting / mantra on the PiL song, Public Image. Nicky joked on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes: "It was very hard for me, because I kept coming in too early!" At 2014-15 THB gigs, the group also used Faster (Vocal Mix) as their walk on music, just as they did in late '94 - when they even sometimes had an Air-raid siren! From time to time, the Manics would even take to the stage to the mournful strains of Carl Davis’ theme to The World At War. Interestingly, when the Manics played songs from The Bible live throughout 1994, the spoken-word samples weren't part of their artillery at that time (probably due to the headaches that synching everything correctly could cause). However, as Bradfield and Wire would interact onstage with crowds by introducing certain tracks etc. If Faster appeared later on in set lists, Nicky would sometimes say the 1984 sample, 'I hate purity / Hate goodness / I don't want virtue to exist anywhere / I want everyone corrupt', before the band then launched into the cannonade that is Faster! During concerts nowadays, whenever Faster turns up in the set list, "searchlights strafe the crowd and the stage glows a hellish crimson" as a live review in The Observer so marvellously put it! For history buffs, The Holy Bible's centrepiece, the adrenaline-charged, primal and ferocious Faster, was announced as the lead single in early May, then mobilised and deployed on May 31, 1994. Which, battle ready and leading the charge, officially signalled the start of the promotional campaign for its landmark parent album. In 2015, an elated Wire remarked to Under The Radar: "When people got the first taste of Faster and P.C.P. they just felt like, 'Oh, we've got our band back. This is the band we fell in love with, almost even better than before.' I can't remember any negative reaction, really." Someone who did sit up and take notice of this crash of thunder, was Keith Cameron, who heralded Faster as "the album's brilliant keystone track - arguably the definitive Richey-era Manics song." While another music columnist, Taylor Parkes, was so taken with the vortical Faster - after being snagged by its screeching forcefulness, its assault on the senses and its bulletproof invincibility - that feeling it was the crème de la crème, he gave kudos by ecstatically eulogising: "As always, the music was credited to James Dean Bradfield and drummer Sean Moore, but it was Bradfield's contribution which clearly signalled the change in tack: the sheet-metal-cutter tone, the skittish riffing, the new approach to layering and texture, the sharp corners, the brutalism. Forty-five seconds in, it was clear that now the Manics understood that subtlety isn't the opposite of power." In '94, with pricked up ears, NME wrote: "Faster is pure white heat fury; the polished sludge of Gold Against The Soul substituted for a whiplash fury; a treble-heavy clang of paranoia, tears and loathing. It sounds as if the Manics have tossed aside thoughts of US domination like a rag doll, rediscovered their love for art terrorist sloganeering and quite simply, gone for it. Even better, with double a-side P.C.P. they've abandoned the woolly liberal-mindedness of yore and produced a sordid, black mascara'd blast of anti-political correctness taboo pricking. Yeah, as 12th singles go, a classic." "The band’s manifesto writ large," is how Classic Rock tabbed it, with the BBC describing Richey's words as "nihilistically narcissistic" and HMV declaring that it is Edwards at the "peak of his powers as lyricist." While in 2014, The Guardian emitted this eloquent summation: "It celebrates the same sense of working-class pride in knowledge that A Design for Life would later eulogise, 'I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer / I spat out Plath and Pinter... a truth that washes that learnt how to spell.' The song sounds like a revolution engine starting up, a fearsome exhilaration energy, with a shrieking, leaping, grating guitar line, a machine-gun staccato verse cramming in Edwards’ every word.

Its darkly rushing chorus is a perfect example of how Bradfield’s music lifted Edwards’ lyrics into something that, though harsh, was also full of an almost joyous energy, a mile-a-minute thrill and a sense of limitless audacity." Just before The Bible's flagship, knockout single, Faster, received its very first daytime airplay on BBC Radio 1 however, having first besieged his ears, before then hitting him full-pelt. Left feeling that it was almost unrecognisable as a Manic Street Preachers song, a shell-shocked DJ Mark Goodier announced: "And now for something a bit different..." In 2015, Nicky told BBC Wales: "I remember hearing it and thinking, 'Oh, my God - that doesn't sound like Parklife or Live Forever,' which were all out at that time. Just hearing it on the radio, it made me feel really good! To get a Top 20 hit with a track like Faster, it seems Centuries ago that, you know, you could have a chance of doing that. It still staggers me now when we play it, thinking, 'We were on Top of the Pops doing that!'" Interestingly, some 8 years later on November 18, 2002, at Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show - which was filmed in Cardiff St. David's Hall - possibly taking their cue from Nirvana's fabled MTV Unplugged In New York 1993 concert, Faster was reimagined and retooled as a much mellower, euphonious and sweet-sounding, intimate semi-acoustic track, complete with a dulcet toned JDB. Introducing the song on the night, he said: "Even though it may seem a wee bit laid-back compared to the original, the sentiment's still the same." The band continued to perform the track this way during their 2002-03 Forever Delayed Greatest Hits Tour, and an official live recording of this version can be found as a b-side on the exceedingly rare, alternative European CD reissue of Motorcycle Emptiness - which was primarily sold in Finland. In conclusion, Wire once told KERRANG!: "It's got some of Richey's best lines - there's no computers involved, it's just him devouring culture to the point where he has to get it out, at any cost. To see his brain accelerating was kind of disturbing, but also made you marvel at his intellect." Adding in UNCUT: "Faster is still probably our most original and powerful piece of music." *Speaking about the Thailand trip on Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show, Rob Stringer (currently Chairman of Sony Music Group and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment) recalled: "The trip to Bangkok was absolutely bizarre! There's not many rock bands that have played there, and the name of the magazine that was the equivelant of the NME, was Generation Terrorists - it was named after their first album! Thailand is a very, very straight country politically and it believes in the King and Royalty and the Manics had a song around that time, called Repeat. So, we're playing in a [city] that's obsessed with Royalty, with Nicky Wire starting off the set saying, 'Repeat after me, fuck Queen and Country.' Which didn't go down well with the police at the gig and I think Nicky spent the rest of the night hiding under his bed, because he was convinced that the Thai police were going to come and get him. Richey had a different way of celebrating the Bangkok night life. While Nicky was hiding under the bed, Richey was out in bed and it was surreal - it was absolutely surreal! Each band member handled it in a completely different way. I think the headline on the NME was BANGKOK SUCKER BLUES, which I thought was a perfect slogan for that trip!" At the time, Stringer allegedly threatened to take legal action against any publication which printed articles that painted the touring party (which included MSP, management, press officers, friends etc.) in an unflattering light, or implicated any of them in Edwards' actions / yo-yoing way of behaving, fearful that this could adversely affect his reputation within The Music Industry. In the KERRANG! feature, HAND JOBS & HOLY BIBLES!, they printed: "Others have complained. The head of the Manics' record company threatened to sue the journalist who accompanied the band to Bangkok, if she wrote about Richey and the prostitute. "He was paranoid about his corporate identity," snorts Bradfield. "He didn't want to get caught up in any of the seediness. Fucking hell, no matter what a journalist says, we would never try and censor them. We always try and accept everything with good grace." It is, of course, profoundly ridiculous that one wank from a prostitute can cause so much indignation in a country where seven million people devour Page Three over breakfast.

"It's really hard to believe that people would be shocked by it," Bradfield nods. "Because they've got a mate who would do exactly the same thing, or they'd do it themselves. It's just human nature." The Manics have always gone out of their way to shock. "Yeah, I think we probably have done," grins bassist Nicky Wire. "Me and Richey always think that we've gotta be more interesting onstage, 'cos we can't say a lot with our instruments. We're not Eric Clapton! I know that Richey would say that's why he's cut himself onstage - to feel justified in what he's doing. It's like when I wear a dress. It's sort of playing up to things. Basically, being in a band for me is not about making friends, it's more about making enemies. I don't know why that is, but it's always been the way I've felt. I like to keep my bitterness. See, if you make the effort to meet a lot of bands, then in all honest most of them are alright. That's why I refuse to do that, because most bands still write shit music and shit lyrics! I want to be objective about it."" During the Carling Homecoming television transmission mentioned above, Wire also said: "Thailand certainly wasn't a highlight, but it's a piece of history really, that stays with you. You can't get rid of the bug that it left." And, after touching darkness and darkness touching MSP back, still reeling from residual feelings leftover from that time, he later tapped into these emotions by writing about the vestiges of this hellacious and ill-fated trek (and losing the plot), on the buzzsawing, guttural and potent Know Your Enemy offcut / b-side, Ballad Of The Bangkok Novotel. Which, in 2001, featured a rare, corrosive and ram-raiding lead vocal by Nicky himself. Stoking the embers of Thailand, the nonstop and emotionally frail and cadaverous lyrics are cloaked in despair, some of which are very Bible-esque in tone. Here's a soupçon: 'Rats are crawling on my feet / Shrivel to nothing for the company / Lizards and geckos cover me / Military Police are after me / But everybody else seems so happy.' 'Mini-sized apples filled with disease / Even the water tastes like tea / On a diet of Gaviscon / Look at me I'm fucking gone.' 'Breakfast, my mouth tastes like piss / Masturbation, there's nothing left / In a daze, anorexic haze / Look outside and join the insane.' With the final frazzled verse reading, 'I think that I have seen the Devil / Satan smiles at me in the mirror / Revolution in the Golden Palace / Four sickly boys are losing resistance / So much porn and alcohol / I'm so numb to my hormones / But my liberty is winning / Five years later I'm still shaking.' Interestingly, in a roundabout way, this track is also connected to the enlivened, burnished and multicoloured Australia, as in 2016, Wire revealed the following to The Quietus: "I remember my body was absolutely fucking frozen. I was not well at all. Ever since we went to Thailand in 1994. I weighed nothing, I was very unhealthy. I had this liver condition, that I've still got, and I turned yellow. It was a horrible time." So the bit in Australia about 'My cheeks are turning yellow / I think I'll take another pill' is literal? Wire: "Yeah, it's totally true."

12. Although at the outset, he reasonably felt some uneasiness over whether the Manics were qualified enough to write about such a heart-rending subject, telling The Guardian in 2004: "I did feel, 'Should we actually be writing these songs?' It's a hard thing to justify; to try and sing a song and convey those feelings when we're so removed from them in terms of culture and history. Without wanting to sound flippant, it was, 'Can we get away with this?' Is it expression or the grossest sensationalist voyeurism?" A first draft of the infernal, irrepressible and imposing, The Intense Humming Of Evil - the preternatural and suspenseful sister song, of the glowering Mausoleum and some of the earliest Holy Bible tracks to be written*, after the band's pilgrimages to sites of former German concentration camps, where they witnessed first-hand, the ghostly detritus and remnants of these death camps during their Gold Against The Soul European Tour in autumn '93, which helped lay the groundwork for THB - was considered insufficiently judgmental by Bradfield, who asked for a rewrite. Explaining to Q Magazine: "It's a song about the Holocaust and you cannot be ambivalent about a subject like that. Not even we are stupid enough to be contentious about that." This isn't dealing with the minutiae of life, and James really knows how to get the emotion across in MSP's lyrics. In THB 20, an info capsule for the uncowering and unnerving, The Intense Humming Of Evil, reads: "Against a spartan industrial clank, this is both a requiem for the victims of the Holocaust and an indictment of its perpetrators, as well as the revisionist historians who seek to deny the truth." JDB: "I struggled with it, so I handed it over to Sean. He presented a verse and a bridge - it was really atonal. Sean is the only one of us who can read music at all, so I was surprised, thinking he would come up with something more florid. He started saying something about Penderecki and John Cage and minimalist delineation of modern song structures, to make more out of less. Of course, it made complete sense. The lyric was a massive part of Richey's history degree. He hadn't just watched one episode of The World At War - he'd gone deeply into it, very obscure writing. I remember him talking about Holocaust deniers - of the battle between the reality versus the myth of history, and how important it was to read as much about it as possible. It's hard to listen to. You can only do this kind of thing when you're young." Coupled with the hypnotic, propulsive and grinding factory / piston noises as its churning, prominent and suffocating sonic backbone, it has the tenseness of a pressure cooker. And, if you were to compare it to any other song in the band's entire body of work, it's like chalk and cheese. A Critical Discography wrote: "The Intense Humming Of Evil is significant in a more subtle way than its sheer darkness - in being neither a rock song nor an acoustic piece, it is a very early example of a Manics track which is primarily about atmosphere and creating a particular feel. This type of approach would become much more prominent on later records, although of course the band would never record anything quite like this track again." On a side note, Moore has since confirmed to R*E*P*E*A*T, that the atmospheric, plangent and lifelike, percussive / thumping tonal noises which ratchet up the song's intensity, are indeed 'Industrial Sound Samples'. And, having demystified what these noises are, Sean then went onto explain how they were painstakingly created into a loop using his state-of-the-art, Akai S1000 Sampler, before then being amalgamated into the downtempo song's evocative and haunting sound design, as a thrumming ambient backdrop. In all likelihood, these particular pounding machinery noises, would have been procured from an official 'Sound Library' floppy disk, manufactured specifically for use with an Akai S1000. Many listeners rightly feel, that these clanking sounds, more than serve their purpose and add greatly to the track's gut-wrenching realism. By the same token, and reinforcing the lofty LP's connective tissue, it is also revealed in David Evans' THB book, how buried within the writhing, white noise on Of Walking Abortion - which punctuates each line that Bradfield sings in the verses - there are actually field recordings of Valleys industry and local steelworks, which were originally collated by Alex Silva to form part of the soundtrack for a Welsh theatre play, about the origins of the Industrial Revolution (1790 - 1870). He then edited, re-purposed and used this cacophonous din, as a rhythmical tool on The Holy Bible.

Remaining on the subject of reverse engineering, innovative production tricks and non-musical sounds, the bleeping noises at the beginning of Die In The Summertime (the result of James switching pickups while the guitar was feeding back), bring to mind the closing 'SOS' Morse code distress signal utilised on The Clash song, London Calling. And excitingly, it transpires that Mick Jones also used one of his guitar pickups to emulate these string of beeps. So, as JDB's all-time favourite band, this creative process surely proved to be an inspiration during The Holy Bible sessions! But, going back to The Intense Humming Of Evil's lyrics, as one of his "historical obsessions," Richey was justifiably appalled by, and denounced, reprehensible and intolerable Holocaust deniers, who deplorably and unpardonly attempted to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry: "It's the most horrific event in world history" he stressed while being interviewed on Channel 4's Naked City. In 1991, Edwards even actually stencilled 'HOLOCAUST' onto one of his shirts and also referenced concentration camps in his lyrics for Born To End on Generation Terrorists. While in '94, he told Melody Maker: "A film like Schindler's List worries me. It's very dangerous. It gives Schindler some level of humanity, and with an issue as horrific as the Holocaust, you have to be very black and white about it. You can't allow grey areas. There's gonna be kids who'll grow up thinking that Schindler was okay and just a bit confused. Maybe he was. But that event was so bad, you have to judge anyone who had anything to do with it on those terms." Richey recapitulated this to NME: "Because I am a melodramatic drama queen, I can't help that. Everything I've ever liked in literature, especially, has been along those lines. I guess I identify with victims, but that's just the way I am... Everything I've ever studied in my life; At University, I specialised in the Holocaust and Nazi/Soviet Foreign Policy. That's what I did. I find it... 'interesting' isn't the right word... I find it compulsive that in such a short space of time that the Holocaust is rendered almost obsolete. I find it really frightening. We've actually been to places like Dachau. I spent all my life in education studying it, and when you actually go there it means nothing. It's only when you come back and you realise that there are books by people like Arthur Butz, and the book The Hoax Of The Twentieth Century that suggest it's all a lie; it's somehow a Jewish Christian conspiracy. This is being seriously debated by intelligent people. They suggest that some of the death camps were built after the war by the Americans, to basically put the blame on Germany, to make them feel bad, when nothing actually happened. That's being debated in Universities now, and I feel that's really, really frightening. Six million lives are worth nothing. If they're that cheap, then what do you matter? That's a more serious issue than Derek Beackon getting in. It worries me more, because historically it is more dangerous." Similarly, Melody Maker published the following: "Richey talks about author Primo Levi, whose poem, Song Of Those Who Died In Vain, adorns the Gold Against The Soul LP like a black flower. Levi survived the Holocaust, only to have his suicide prove, many years later, that he had done no such thing. "He dedicated himself to documenting what he saw. And yet within a few decades, you've got books being written, saying the Holocaust was a lie, which are getting some kind of academic credence now. And that is really, really offensive. And dangerous." "When the Universities justify theories like that," adds Nicky, "that's when history can be really tarnished. Not when some thick bastard wins a council election. But the more books in libraries, the more historical fact which gets washed away, the more dangerous it becomes. It's the same thing with Political Correctness; it wants to destroy words, rid language of them." Edwards also once insisted: "All you can do to the past is to never want to be like it." While in his track by track notes, he wrote: "Winners dictate history... Never question our own past - myth of Churchill." On May 8, 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill made his Victory in Europe speech, in which he officially announced the unconditional surrender of Germany and the end of the Second World War in Europe, pronouncing: "History is written by the victors." Aware that 700,000 bodies were buried underfoot at Dachau concentration camp, the title, The Intense Humming Of Evil, alludes to the sombre, eerie and droning / deafening silence that the Manics noticed while in the grounds of at one-time death camps, where even birds don't fly over.

A dismayed and disbelieving Nicky, mournfully remembered in Melody Maker: "Dachau is such an evil, quiet place. There's no grass, and you don't even see a worm, let alone any birds. All you can hear is this humming of nothing." Something which is also cited in the dour and festering formations of Mausoleum's taught, caliginous, gloom laden, ravaged and reverberating chorus about Belsen. A vortex / refrain, that sees Bradfield singing with smouldering vocals, 'No birds - no birds / The sky is swollen black / No birds - no birds / Holy mass of dead insect.' Wire: "That song was originally going to be called No Birds, but PiL already had a track with the same name. Then, Richey said that he had a much better title, and I concurred, Mausoleum sounded far more scary!" Unveiling to The Quarterly in 2014: "I wrote the original lyric ideas in my hotel room after walking around Belsen. I was struck by the lack of creatures and the silence. There’s greenery and trees, but it seemed to me even nature couldn’t face touching that horror. The first time we went to Japan, we visited the museum in Hiroshima. We’ve always faced up to universal truths as much as is humanly possible and it’s been a good thing for us, because truth’s about the only thing that has kept the band going." Nicky also divulged the following to i-D in '94: "We actually saw human suffering on a large scale for the first time in our lives. Not on TV pictures, but we went to Belsen, and seriously, there wasn't even a grasshopper, no birds, nothing. It was totally silent. We went to Hiroshima and they told people not to take any flash photography. And still tourists were taking pictures, flashes going off everywhere, it could've been fucking Butlins." NME noted: "The Intense Humming Of Evil stares into the heart of Europe's darkest guilt - the Holocaust - raising the awkward spectre of Churchill's support for eugenics and opposition to social reform, 'Churchill no different / Wished the workers bled to a machine.' Mausoleum, meanwhile, questions if, judging by our behaviour, we can really say we honour the memory of victims of that genocide." In THB 20, JDB said: "We're the band where one death camp isn't enough! In my head was the Simple Minds song called 30 Frames A Second, where the riff is repetitive and Jim Kerr scats over the top. So I went for an updated version of that, more stripped-back, more heavy. There's more lyrics in the bridges than in some people's entire songs. I remember thinking, 'The only way I can do this is to try and be Jello Biafra!' I'm reaching for inspiration from people that have inspired me - I'm looking for help.'" Also paying heed to the re-emergence of fascism while travelling around Europe (which was fast becoming a hotbed for Far-right, Authoritarian Ultranationalism and domineering autocrats), with "the right-wing resurrection of the image of Mussolini in glorious terms in Italy, Le Pen in France** and The National Front in Britain" according to James. He put forward in the same 1995 American interview: "Touring does have an effect on you, because you experience different strains of ideology and failed ideologies." With Edwards once phlegmatically declaring that as a band, MSP "haven’t got well-defined ideologies." In 2005, Nicky - who also believes that these experiences may have subconsciously seeped into some of his words for Of Walking Abortion - expanded on these tracks to PopMatters: "I find The Intense Humming Of Evil quite unlistenable. It reminds me of our days off (from touring) Gold Against The Soul, when we visited Belsen and Dachau, the death camps, which was in typical Manic Street Preacher fashion. Most bands, on their day off, would look for a pile of drugs or drink or whatever - we decided to visit the death camps on our days off. We didn’t go there for a laugh. We were driving and we felt we should see this. It’s our idea of forcing humanity to face itself. They were pretty startling days. That was definitely one of the seeds for it, really. In Germany, Gold Against The Soul wasn’t selling many copies, and we were travelling around thinking, 'We’ve got to regain our soul.' We were all on the same wavelength. We knew that regaining control was the main priority. Going back to Cardiff and a crappy little studio was the essence of that, really." Also admitting to Under The Radar: "[The lyrics] are brilliant, but they’re almost journalistic rather than lyrical, and I think James just really rose to the challenge at this point.

He felt a desire to create something really original: sounds of our youth, and the darkness and the melancholy of Wales, transferring that into all the places we’d visited on tour and the death camps of the Holocaust. I think he just loved the challenge of trying to make those words into tunes." JDB also spoke sensibly and persuasively about this during the aforementioned US interview, vocalising how although most acts are intemperate / debauched 'Party' bands*** when on tour, and live on "a staple diet of pornography, alcohol, cigarettes, sex, etc. etc." A principled and strait-laced MSP aren't so shallow, hedonistic or vapid however, instead taking a keen interest in their surroundings / a country's history and with a strong moral compass and unbreakable guiding principles, "like to think that they're better human-beings all-round." Bradfield: "You do go to these places and it's true, you don't hear any birds singing whatsoever and that's really strange. It just had a massive effect on us and I think if something has an effect on you, and you're a songwriter, and you decide not to write a song about it, I think you're copping out you know?" Dorian Lynkskey even surmised that The Intense Humming Of Evil sounds "paralysed by incomprehensible horror that they can only express in comfortless noise... they seem to be tunnelling their way into the song and never reaching the bottom." On May 28, 1994, the Welsh firebrands, provocateurs and antagonistic agitators, performed at the Anti-Nazi League, Carnival Against The Nazis, in London, Brixton Brockwell Park to over 100,000 people. Interviewed at the event on the day by BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat, a no-nonsense and realistic Richey, spoke his mind about wanting to help raise awareness and how this gathering had struck a chord with the Manics: "When we started off, something like this would not appeal to us at all. When Red Wedge**** happened, when we were like teenagers, it was just a horrible concept! But with something like this concept, I think it's just more fundamental. It's just basically human nature and something's got to be solved, and you know, we've got a moral obligation to play this concert." 227 Lears noted how MSP also contributed a quote for use in the concert programme: 'Fascism is blindness, intolerance, ignorance - a refusal to believe or learn from history. Those who doubt this must realise concentration camps are the only conclusion fascism is capable of.' *Speaking to Melody Maker in '94 about the brother/sister songs, Mausoleum***** and The Intense Humming Of Evil, Nicky reiterated about their germination: "These two can be twinned together, because they were both inspired in the same way. Last year we visited Dachau, Belsen and the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, and those three places had quite an intense influence on us, and on the whole album... In the museum at Belsen, there's the original sign which hung there. It says, 'Welcome to Belsen Recreation Camp'. It's the same with the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. When you're young, you're brought up to think that the Americans dropped the bomb because they had to end the war, and loads of Americans would have been killed otherwise. But when you go there and see the pictures of the whole city completely flattened, and the black rain, and all the people who died from the secondary effects... If anyone goes to those places and doesn't feel an immense sense of loss, they've got no soul. The lines, 'Churchill no different / Wished the workers bled to a machine' are about how Britain always thinks that it has a superior attitude. But as soon as the war was over, the attitude was, 'Let's get back to normal and exploit as many people as we can again. Keep the Proles happy, tie them to their machines, and send them out to war again to be killed when we need to.'" Other standout lyrics from Mausoleum include, 'Humanity recovered glittering etiquette / Answers her crimes with Mausoleum rent' - is Edwards suggesting that although on the surface, the world's code of behaviour is once again all about civility, politeness, niceties and having good manners, because of the Holocaust and Hiroshima, humanity will forever be in eternal debt? Similarly, although allusions to concentration camps pervade nearly all of the lyrics in The Intense Humming Of Evil, with the line, 'You always mistook fists for flowers', Richey may have used the word 'flowers' as a symbol of sympathy for victims of the Holocaust.

Thus implying that 'fists' - in all likelihood a reference to the 'clenched fist' salute used by German anti-fascists to express unity, strength, or resistance - were nothing more than an exercise in futility? Continuing with other lines from Mausoleum that will fix in the mind, there's also, 'Never knowing what you hoped for / And safe and warm but life is so silent / For the victims who have no speech / In their shapeless guilty remorse / Obliterates your meaning.' 'Come and walk down memory lane / No one sees a thing but they can pretend / Life eternal scorched grass and trees / For your love nature has haemorrhaged.' Plus, 'And life can be as important as death / But so mediocre when there's no air, no light and no hope / Prejudice burns brighter when it's all we have to burn.' While in The Intense Humming Of Evil, there's, '6 million screaming souls / Maybe misery - maybe nothing at all / Lives that wouldn't have changed a thing / Never counted - never mattered - never be', as well as, 'Drink it away, every tear is false.' On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "It just felt that the cruelty of humanity was going to be examined down to the finest detail, filtered through Richey's amazing intellect." In 2009, NME also printed the following exchange between James and Nicky, in which they discuss if they were ever taken aback by any of Richey's lyrics. Wire: "In inimitable and bizarre Manics way, we just never get shocked by stuff like that. Even when he was around, you know, when he gave us The Intense Humming Of Evil. JDB: "Yeah, I didn't think, 'Oh gawwwd', I thought, 'Cool, this is going to be difficult, but enjoyable.' Which is bizarre, because the subject matter of the lyric is awful. It's just the way we've inoculated ourselves against certain realities and just got on with the creativity I suppose." Wire: "It's just our knowing ourselves, all four of us, or all three of us since Richey's disappearance. If you've known someone since you're 5-years-old, you don't need to go through all that bullshit that other bands do, you just don't need to. There's telepathy, there's kinetics involved, you know, there's trust?" JDB: "I mean, I feel pretty embarrassed, sometimes, actually saying, articulating what I think the songs are about, because we don't really talk like that, do we?" Wire: "No." JDB: "We might say one or two sentences, this or that, but it isn't like Inside the Actors Studio, where we talk and talk and talk and try to interpret things, and what we would call something, it was a lot more, sign language between each other." The lyric, 'Arbeit macht frei', is a German locution, meaning "Work sets you free" or "Work makes one free." The slogan is known for appearing on the entrance of Dachau and other Nazi concentration camps, with this expression coming from the title of an 1873 novel by German philologist, Lorenz Diefenbach. It was famously referenced by MSP once again, in their ubiquitous and far-reaching modern classic, A Design For Life (Bradfield once unveiled: "I think that is the first song we wrote, post-Richey"). Regarding the other German words used in The Intense Humming Of Evil, here are their meanings (courtesy of A Critical Discography and online dictionaries). Transports of invalids = An official Nazi euphemism for the transports used to take people to the death camps. Lagerstrasse = "Camp Street". Used to refer to the main avenues in concentration camps / the road leading to the gas chambers and crematoria. **While playing live in Bordeaux at Le Barbey, on October 1, 1994, in Melody Maker's CULTURE, ALIENATION, BORDEAUX AND DESPAIR article, they reported: "During Repeat, the Controversy Alarm goes off in The Wire's head and he grabs the microphone, reeling off a list of prominent French politicians which ends with "Jean-Marie Le Pen, François Mitterrand - all scum. All fucking fascist SCUM." ***In terms of the clichéd rock 'n' roll lifestyle, Richey told The Zine: "We've been around bands who feel the need to be a rock band twenty-four hours a day. They come into your dressing room, kick tables over, chuck food around, treat people like shit... then do a really crap show, come off stage, go 'Party' and smash things up. I find that kind of exhibitionism really appalling. There are very rarely parties after our concerts. We're usually in the dressing room for fifteen to thirty minutes, then it's back to the hotel, and everyone goes to their bedroom."

****In a never-seen-before 1994 Portuguese interview (later published as an NME world exclusive), Edwards preconised: "I think we might be one of the last Marxist rock bands in England, but I don't think we have that much in common with people like Billy Bragg, because they tend to go onstage and tell people what to do. When I was a teenager, Billy Bragg was obviously quite popular, but when you saw him or read about him he was just another old man telling me what to think. A thing that had a big impact on us when we were young, was when Billy Bragg and a few other musicians did the Red Wedge tour, but they were onstage and saying, 'You must vote for this particular party, you must think this certain way.' Well, that's something I'm not prepared to do. I don't want to force my opinions down people's throats. We write our lyrics and you take whatever you want from them, or maybe you take nothing from them at all, but that's your decision. If there's any worth in democracy, it's that you're allowed to make up your own mind. And when a musician goes onstage and says, 'You must do this', that's very bad.'" Richey reasserted his views in Melody Maker for their STANDING UP TO THE NAZIS article: "The idea that rock bands can change anything has been defunct for about two decodes now, but just for us personally, it's important to show where we stand. Were quite an apolitical band, in the sense that we've never been impressed by stuff like Red Wedge. But something like this is an issue which is much broader than politics... So that's why we're not embarrassed to play [the Anti-Nazi League, Carnival Against The Nazis], even though we haven't done something like this before. When we started off, we would never have imagined us doing something like this. Because the whole Red Wedge thing had a big impression on us when we were young. We thought it was the biggest bullshit thing ever. It was just like going to school with old men saying, 'Do this, do that', and you are not allowed to make your own judgement! We just wanted to do this gig on a basic emotional level. Certain bands need to be political, but we're not like that. We don't want to shove our opinions down peoples throats. We're not The Levellers, and we're not going to a benefit concert twice week for the rest of our lives. It's going to be quite rare. But this is the first time we've agreed to do something like this, and that's enough of a statement in itself." RAW Magazine also published: "A great day out for an undoubtedly righteous cause, Richey dismisses the idea that such events are little more than preaching to the converted by reminding me that he, at least, took the threat of a resurgence in fascism seriously enough to have majored in the subject when he spent six years studying for his degree in Political Science. "It's very important that people like us stand up and be counted, I think, not just as a gesture but as a platform with which to bring these issues up and put them under the microscope. If us doing a concert like that helps persuade Manics Fans that fascism is a bad thing, then I think that we've done all we can do."" *****On the Nancy Espace Seichamps, France set list (September 26, 1994), potentially in relation to the Mausoleum lyric, 'The world lances youth's lamb-like winter, winter.' Edwards hand-wrote a quote from John (1:29): 'There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.' Also in connection to this song, an MSP Fan once commented on A Critical Discography: "[Mausoleum is] certainly about the after effects of the Holocaust and the Japan bombings; the lyrics seem to put forth that post-war society wrings its hands and pretends to be civilised, but ultimately ignores the human costs that were so grave (no pun intended), that even the birds and nature have deserted the sites. The line, 'Holy mass of dead insect', refers to the Japanese rituals of honouring the insects inadvertently killed from farming - in the same way that the millions dead are given lip service, but were essentially considered insects and collateral damage." The track, Yes, also accommodates a reference to insects in the line, 'Funny place for the social, for the insects to start caring' and is just one of many examples of recurring words on The Holy Bible (some of which chop and change between past and present tense), if you study all of the songs' lyrics. For example: air / breathe, beauty, birth / life, blood / bleeds, burn / scorched, clean, crucified, cry / tear, death, dignity, flesh / carrion, flowers, fat / hunger / skeletal / skinny / starve / weight, guilt, hurt / self-abuse / wound, impotent, kill, liar / lies, mirrors, moral, nail, naked, nature, nothing, pain, pity, puking / sickness, purity, regret, repent, rot, scarred, self-esteem, shrink / shrivel / sinking / sunken / swollen, silence, solitude, soul, sterile, target, virgin and weak. As a matter of fact, if you spend time looking through Edwards' complete lyrical output, you will catch sight of an inordinate amount of words - or 'Richey-isms' - that reappear through the years. Continuing with this train of thought, when playing Yes live in 1994, James would sometimes introduce the song by saying: "This is about the least progressive word in the English dictionary."

13. Intolerant to all forms of censorship and believing it to be wrong. When discussing Faster's double a-side in Time Out, the projectile P.C.P. - a song about the grating, poisonous and oppressive, scourge of Political Correctness, which strives to blot out words and "abolish the power or right of an individual or a community, to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction." Mowing down anything even remotely PC, an uninhibited Edwards - who by now, had been characterised by some people with epithets such as "dissociative," as "a negaholic", as "humourless" and as "a pariah" - noted about this thorny issue: "Political Correctness is more sinister than anything anyone can ever accuse us of. It's all about language. It's all aimed at the working class. I read The Guardian and The Times. I also read The Sun - it uses language which is accessible. Lenny Bruce said being scared of words is also what gives them their power. The word 'nigger' is not frightening. You know, his famous quote where he just says, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger'? PC just builds more walls. That's an important song in understanding what we do. It could be construed as quite a right-wing point of view, but then at the same time, every left-wing party seems to be advocating censorship of some kind. Which I can't really agree with." In Metal Hammer, Wire also doled out: "The Dustin Hoffman film of the Lenny Bruce story was a big inspiration on that song. When he gets up and does that speech about 'every spic in here, every nigger...' it's just fantastic, because that's what gives a word its power and its violence - when you suppress it." Richey even avowed to RAW Magazine in '94: "In principle, I think the idea of PC is actually OK. But where it might be good at qualifying the big things - racism is bad, prejudice of any kind is despicable, and so on - the so called minorities it's supposed to protect, end up being victimised by these restraints to the point where they have no identity left at all. Not being able to say exactly what you mean, even if it's hurtful to someone else's feelings, is an important part of free speech. Without it, you're not protecting anything, you're censoring it! And that's a whole different thing to think about." Metal Hammer also published the following: "P.C.P, for example, which addresses the concept of Political Correctness: "People should be allowed freedom," Nicky believes. "The thing that offends us about PC is that it doesn't really take into account the weak or the feeble; it's just basically restrictive." But surely the PC brigade say they exist in order to protect those who can't protect themselves? "Yes, but so do fascists and communists, and they never do. They're all pretty much the same thing. A lot of people have got sort of warped minds about liberalism. They think liberalism means you can't say certain words - you can't describe a black person as a nigger and you can't describe a gay person as a faggot. I think it's interesting that Niggaz Wit Attitudes refer to themselves as niggers, that they'd have to be described as that because they'd been oppressed, you know? Enslaved for like 150 years, they got a definition. And to get rid of a word like that is quite dangerous, I think. It's Orwellian."" On a related note, N.W.A records were plastered with Parental Advisory Labels (PAL)* and in Club International Magazine, Richey harangued The Music Industry for the use of these, arguing that they should be boycotted and terminated: "I'm really against putting those Parental Guidance stickers on [The Holy Bible]. That just seems like the trendy thing to do, to make people think you're outrageous. It's ridiculous. We'd rather say something like, 'Contains language that you use every day and shouldn't be surprised that we do too'. That would tell it like it is. We're not in the business of shocking people just for the sake of it. What you see is what you get and if people happen to be offended by that, then that's their problem!" In The Face, Edwards stood up for himself once again and further exerted his opinions about Political Correctness, by protesting: "There comes a point when it's no longer worth living, you can't do anything." Doffing their hat to THB as "a major return to form," the publication also put in print: "James, meanwhile, professes to miss the days when things just used to fall apart. The last album suffered from a lack of chaos, he adds... The new single, P.C.P., is a corker, the furious lyrics made up of a series of cut and paste one-line meditations, as their best lyrics always were. "We lost that on Gold Against The Soul," says Richey, echoing James.

"We got too self-conscious. I mean, critics are always struck by what a great lyricist Elvis Costello is, how complete his songs are. I think he's completely crap. My generation is the soundbite generation. My attention span is incredibly short. My words reflect that." He pauses a moment, considering. "I remember wondering, 'Why isn't there a British band from our generation that we can all love?' There's never been one, has there?" While NME wrote: "There's Richey's horror of PC-ness (which led to the writing of the apocalyptic P.C.P.): "Shutting down the BNP could lead to so much. If you give any government the power to silence a political power, however dodgy, they will end up abusing that power." Similarly, in '94, Scathe Fanzine asked Edwards, 'Do you think that organisations like the BNP should be banned?' With Richey responding: "No, I don't believe you should ban anything at all. It's all question of censorship. If you allow an establishment like the British government to ban a party - because they're the ones who've got to do it - there'd be nothing to stop them banning something else they found distasteful. All censorship is wrong. I mean, even if you think about music, okay, ban Shabba Ranks, why not ban Public Enemy for being anti-Semitic? It's just as offensive, but Public Enemy are a cool band, so nobody really mentions it. The public have got a mind of their own. Ban Red Hot Dutch, ban porn, why? As long as it's in an adult orientated environment. People have got to be treated as human-beings." Yet further information about the full-bore and excoriating, P.C.P., can be found in Melody Maker and THB explanatory notes from 1994. Nicky: "I think that's more than anything about the right to freedom of speech, and freedom of the media. Once the state gets control of that in a country, you know everything's fucked. That's the one thing that I think is really frightening about Political Correctness - the eradication of words. It's just so Orwellian - destroying words, changing dictionaries and changing the meaning of words (hence the lyrics, 'Teacher starve your child, P.C. approved' and 'P.C. she says inoculate, hallucinate, beware Shakespeare'). Obviously, PC as an idea is inherently good. So is socialism and so is communism, and they ended up being abused. A lot of PC followers take up the idea of being liberal, but end up being quite the opposite." Richey: "Links PC+PCP+New Moral Certainty. Language aimed at the working class. Condemns the very people it aims to save. Self-censorship wrong. 'Liviticus' used by homophobes to justify their hatred. To take one sentence from the Bible to justify views very PC." Intriguingly, while not an acronym strictly speaking, as it alludes to more than just one thing, P.C.P. is nevertheless a very clever song title, as it melds together references to Political Correctness (PC), to a Police Constable (PC), to the hallucinogenic drug, Phencyclidine (colloquially known as either the abbreviated PCP or as Angel Dust) and to the Portuguese Communist Party (Partido Comunista Português). MSP song titles written in this style and with multiple meanings are scant. In THB 20, an info capsule for the joyriding P.C.P. reads: "For all its frenzied flow and sometimes contradictory rationale, Edwards' critique of PC's 'New Morality Certainty' concludes the album on a paradoxically high note: waving, not drowning." Be that as it may, whereas some music critics and fans do interpret the lyric in this way, and feel that The Holy Bible ends on a bold and defiant note. Others meanwhile, have interpreted P.C.P.'s closing line, 'Pass the prozac, designer amnesiac', as a sign of Richey's resignedness. If that is the case, then almost as if joining the dots, pessimism rears its ugly head in the very first line of Journal For Plague Lovers' pulsing opening track, Peeled Apples: 'The more I see, the less I scream.' The lyrical theme of despondency, is something that resurfaces in several other songs on this long player as well. But, returning to P.C.P., in THB 20, Nicky said: "P.C.P. reads like an amazing bit of prose. As a song, like Revol, it's the fabulous disaster of the record." JDB: "My musical inspiration was Therapy? At this point, they were managing all these reference points that I liked - metal, some post-punk and delivering it in a really tight, condensed pop way. It's the one lyric I seriously couldn't get an angle on. I kind of know what it's about, but it's convulsed in its way of making its point. But I don't think that's a crime: to admit sometimes you weren't quite understanding your lyricist. Because I was on message with most of it."

While on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Bradfield said: "I saw it as connected to Archives Of Pain, in a strange kind of way. Because obviously, in Archives Of Pain, he was saying, 'Don't assume that I believe [wholly and unconditionally in left-wing politics]. I believe in some justice in life and some kind of dignity and some kind of scientific probe into problems.' And with P.C.P., I saw it as him just slightly taking his badge off and saying, 'That hard-driven, classic labour socialist kind of attitude that came out of the Valleys, is softening up and we're not quite fit for purpose at the moment." Interestingly, there is an unpublished line, 'P.C.P. gives me no home', which James sings as backing vox. A twirling vocal, with a lyrical sentiment that also interlaces with the closing triad, 'This land bows down to / Yours, unconditional love and hate / Pass the Prozac, designer amnesiac' and inarguably adds more fuel to the fire, with respect to the apodictic accounts of Richey's growing feelings of disconnection from the broken world around him, and what the future could possibly hold for an increasingly atomised society - where freedom is curtailed and people lose their identities while living under a repressive regime. Something that cultural critics have likened to Ballardian (Ballardian is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as "dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments") and to Orwellian** (Orwellian is defined in the Collins English Dictionary as "of or like the society portrayed by Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which a totalitarian state exercises almost total control over the public and private activities of the citizens." While A Critical Discography defines Big Brother as "the enigmatic ruler of the state of Oceania, subsequently a term for government oversight or surveillance"). The website, Bustle, even published a thought-provoking article entitled, 5 TIMES GEORGE ORWELL'S 1984 PREDICTED THE FUTURE. When addressing Newspeak, they wrote: "In 1984, the totalitarian rule has gone so far as to create a completely new language with the purpose of confusing and persuading it's citizens. The language, Newspeak, follows the same general rules and patterns as English but it eliminates all negative words, to minimise the possibility of "crimethink" - a.k.a. having rebellious thoughts that don't align with Ingsoc's ideology. For example, "bad" is "ungood" in Newspeak. The trick of Newspeak is that it is similar enough to be recognisable, but altered enough to encourage a specific way of thinking. Today, the media uses the same techniques to persuade consumers. Television stations will use specific words to describe a group of people that creates praise for one set of people and inherent disdain for another. For example, the media will likely call attention to religion when the perpetrator of a crime happens to be Muslim. That inherently leads to Islamaphobia by constantly associating the religion with violent crimes." While Wikipedia notes how: "Orwell was interested in linguistic questions and questions pertaining to the function and change of language. This can be seen in his essay, Politics and the English Language (1946), as well as in the Appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four. As in Politics and the English Language, the perceived decline and decadence of the English Language is a central theme in Nineteen Eighty-Four and Newspeak." In terms of other art which has a 'future shock vision', a cultural critique of the classic film, A Clockwork Orange, noted how "Its power still entices, shocks and holds us in its grasp." Ratiocination that can also be attributed to The Holy Bible. But going back to P.C.P.'s premise of society being policed, this is something that percolates into the chorus, 'P.C.P. - a P.C. police victory / P.C.P. - a P.C. pyrrhic victory', with Richey implying that although Political Correctness is a police victory, on the other side of the coin, such imbalanced law and order is nothing more than a pyrrhic victory - "a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. A pyrrhic victory takes a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement or damages long-term progress." (A Critical Discography notes how "this was named after King Pyrrhus of Epirus due to his battles with the Roman Empire"). In fact, for Richey, Political Correctness and the legal system have become interchangeable, 'When I was young P.C. meant Police Constable / Nowadays I can't seem to tell the difference.'

The track also addresses future mass surveillance of communities, as outlined above, e.g. 'Ten foot sign in Oxford Street / Be pure - be vigilant - behave' (see also the Heavenly b-side / Generation Terrorists version of Spectators Of Suicide and Crucifix Kiss on GT). While then dealing with state intervention into personal freedom, e.g. 'Doctors arrested for euthanasia', 'If you're fat don't get ill', as well as how intimacy shall become more and more structured and supervised, e.g. 'Lawyers before love, surrogate sex.' At the same time, some inscrutable curveball lyrics have also been thrown in for good measure, e.g. 'Europe's gravestone carved in plastic' and 'Bring fresh air, king cigarette snuffed out by her midgets, by her midgets.' As for the former, perhaps Edwards intentionally chose the word 'plastic', because it is a synthetic material that doesn't decompose, i.e. the line could conceivably be read as a metaphor, with the word 'gravestone' actually representing all of the horrific events that have taken place throughout Europe's history, and how Europe will never be able to escape its past? If so, this would then wed the lyric thematically, to Of Walking Abortion, Mausoleum and The Intense Of Evil. In connection to the latter line (which could go in tandem with the lyric, 'Kill smokers through blind vanity'), this may well be a reference to the BIG TOBACCO'S BIG LIE scandal and the CEOs from 7 major American tobacco companies (American Tobacco Co., Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, Liggett Group, Lorillard Tobacco Co., Philip Morris U.S.A., RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, U.S. Tobacco), who were subpoenaed to testify in court. Wikipedia elaborates: "Dubbed the '7 Dwarfs' (by whistleblower, Jeffery Wigand, who was a senior research executive at Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, where his research focused on the increasing addictive effect of nicotine in cigarettes), [the '7 Dwarfs'] testified together before the U.S. Congress during a hearing on the regulation of tobacco products, on April 14, 1994, in which they collectively denied, under oath, the addictive nature of nicotine, despite at least one published New York Times report at the time, claiming that it has the ability to be more addictive than heroin, cocaine or amphetamines. Several of the tobacco executives also lied under oath, falsely stating that their companies did not manipulate nicotine levels in cigarettes." TIME meanwhile, put down in black and white: "Most infamously raising their right hands and swearing that nicotine was not addictive. The panel, led by Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California, was having none of it: for six hours - all televised - members interrupted the witnesses in midsentence, ridiculed their testimony and all but accused them of lying. One exec insisted that cigarettes were no more addictive than coffee, tea or Twinkies. "The difference between cigarettes and Twinkies," Waxman shot back, "is death." It's pretty hard to work up a comeback to that zinger." While Tobacco Free Florida reported: "Within months, a perjury investigation was initiated by the Department of Justice. Ultimately, the Department of Justice claimed it did not have enough evidence to prosecute for perjury, because the CEOs testified under oath that they believed nicotine did not addict people. Because they had used the word "believe," they could not be prosecuted for perjury." The motion picture, The Insider, is based on this true-life story. Although the lyrics for P.C.P. would have been completed before The Waxman Hearings took place, perhaps Richey had read newspaper coverage in the run-up to this lawsuit and after gleaning all of the facts, extrapolated the eventual outcome, i.e. he foresaw how recreational smoking could eventually be 'snuffed out', due to the leading firms who manufacture cigarettes, inadvertently shooting themselves in the foot? In respect of the "7 Dwarfs" appellation given to the 7 major American tobacco companies, Edwards may have changed '7 Dwarfs' to 'midgets' for cadence / phonetic reasons, as the way in which JDB sings each word, means that they do rhyme and commingle. Or, it could simply have been adjusted to stop any confusion with Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? As for 'king cigarette', this could refer to cigarettes being each corporation's #1 signature product and how when it comes to their profit margins, they are the be-all and end-all - or quite literally, the 'king' of their wares.

This is purely speculation, but it's interesting to surmise if there may be a correlation between the BIG TOBACCO'S BIG LIE scandal and the lyric, 'Bring fresh air, king cigarette snuffed out by her midgets, by her midgets.' On a similar note, what would Richey make of newfangled e-cigarettes and vaping... Humorously, Noel Gallagher once berated Muse's Dominic Howard at the 2013 Brit Awards for using an e-cigarette. NME reported: "Gallagher recently said the Muse drummer was symbolic of an "instantly forgettable" Brit Awards night last month, and the blandness of The Music Industry in general. "There are no characters left in The Music Business. When we first started going, there was a healthy percentage of people, and we were all dirt-kickers from council estates, and we all couldn’t believe our luck that we were at the Brits. You go in now and everybody is a careerist. It’s very corporate, and you know what I’ve actually seen people doing at the Brits? Eating. I saw the drummer from Muse smoking an electronic cigarette. A cigarette with a battery in. I had to say to him, ‘Really? Really? Is that where you are at? Do me a favour, mate, either have a proper one outside, or don’t have one.' It lit up green when he had a drag of it. Nonsense. He said that immortal line, 'Oh, you know how it is, mate.' And I said, 'I’m sorry, mate, I actually don’t.'"" As a huge fan of Oasis and rather fond of headline-grabbing soundbites / hyperbole himself, I'm certain that Richey would be tickled pink by this jibe! But, returning to his lyrics on THB, even as far back as 1994, Wire wisely disclosed to NME: "The Holy Bible is so dense, that it'll take a lot of time for people to understand." As for rummaging through songs himself, hunting for meanings after the fact***, in 2008, Nicky was still bewildered by some of Edwards' more crusading and tangential lyrics (with subtexts) on THB, which flit freely between subject matter, telling NME: "There are things on The Holy Bible where I don't understand what he was trying to say, even now. I never listen to the lyrics looking for clues anymore, but I do listen to them to feel close to him. The flow of the words on P.C.P. floor me." Interestingly, although Wire would go onto reference Wales and Welshness many times in his lyrics from the late '90s onwards, Richey's acknowledgement of 'bi-lingual signs on view' in P.C.P., is a rare early example of MSP making mention of Wales in one their songs****. While the reference to neon in the lyric, 'Grey not neon, grey not real', awakens memories of 'Under curfew from neon barbed wire' in Spectators Of Suicide and 'Under neon loneliness' from Motorcycle Emptiness - a lyric that was inspired by (Nicky's elder brother) Patrick Jones’ poem, Neon Loneliness. As for the line, 'to be scared of, of feathers', this could well be another biblical reference, as the website, Sign Meaning, explains how "a feather is one of the most common biblical signs, which signifies moving freely through life." With the website, Catholics & Bible, writing: "In many cultures around the world, feathers have a significant meaning. In almost all cases, they represent the divinity. For instance, the Aztecs and the Mayans associate feathers with wisdom. The Egyptians associated feathers with the Goddess of truth. While all this may be true, the question most people ask themselves is, what does the Bible say about feathers and their symbolism? The Bible associate feathers with holiness and purity as embodied in angels which are the purest and most divine creatures that God ever made." Perhaps Edwards is equating the notion of being policed, with the idea that 'moving freely through life' and remaining holy and pure in society's eyes, will be wholly dependant on whether or not 'the right words are used'? Or, maybe 'feathers' is a metaphor for the truth - something which people will become increasingly 'scared' of speaking? Because in Judge Yr'self, he entreats, 'Find your truth / Face your truth / Speak your truth / And be your truth.' More straightforwardly and unambiguously, 'to be scared of, of feathers', could even possibly refer to the idiom, 'to ruffle someone's feathers' and people being 'scared' of upsetting others? As for the right to freedom of speech, and freedom of the media, in modern times*****, P.C.P. was way ahead of the curve and arguably presaged the terms, Snowflake and Cancel Culture (which came into the collective consciousness around 2016-17).

The Independent elucidated: "Snowflake, is used in reference to individuals who deem themselves unique or special (the characteristics of a snowflake in nature are unique) and therefore deserving of recognition or special treatment. It also carries a connotation of being inherently wet and fragile. The term was Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016 and takes the definition further, to make explicit reference to an age group, saying: "The young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations." According to Urban Dictionary, a Snowflake is: "A very sensitive person. Someone who is easily hurt or offended by the statements or actions of others." It continues by saying, that actually, the term has "nothing to do with politics" and Snowflakes can be liberal or conservative in their views - but usage would show that it is a term far more readily employed by the right to describe the left, than the other way round. "Whether it is a compliment or an insult is a matter of opinion and depends on the context," it adds. Where did it come from? Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 book, Fight Club, has been credited with coining the phrase Snowflake, with the phrase: "You are not special, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake." The 1999 film adaptation also includes this line." Snowflakes have also been lumped together with the so-called, Cotton-wool Generation. It's interesting to think what Richey would have made of this, of Keyboard Warriors and also of Cancel Culture, which "refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (cancelling) public figures and companies, after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive." Also known as Call-out Culture, it has become "a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles - whether it be online, on social media, or in person." At this point, it would be all too easy to apply some of P.C.P.'s other lyrics to the divisive terms, Snowflake and Cancel Culture, such as: 'P.C. she speaks impotent, sterile, naive, blind, atheist, sadist, stiff-upper lip, first principle of her silence, of her silence' and 'Liposuction for your bad mouth boy / Cut out your tongue, effigies are sold / Words discoloured, bow to the bland / Heal yourself with sinner's salt.' As debatably, they foretell the outcome of a society which is swayed by, and capitulates to, mandatory restrictions - with Political Correctness becoming a figurative tourniquet in an evergrowing and interminably anodyne world. Another polarising term in today's vernacular, is Woke, which Collins English Dictionary defines the modern usage of as, "Someone who is very aware of social and political unfairness." Regarding P.C.P. as a complete track, A Critical Discography proposed: "As the album’s closer, the song provides a rare moment of relative levity immediately after the crushing darkness of The Intense Humming Of Evil; fast-paced and with some oddball lines, it is actually quite amusing in places. The track has a kind of darkly playful aspect to it." While as for P.C.P.'s status as a double a-side single, there would appear to have been some historical revisionism on the band's part, as this hurtling juggernaut wasn't included on either of MSP's Greatest Hits and Complete Singles collections, Forever Delayed and National Treasures, and it wasn't mentioned in NME's 2011 feature, WE SANCTIFIED THE SINGLE AS A HOLY PHENOMENON, either. *Over the years, Parental Advisory Labels (PAL) logos have been used on selected MSP UK / International releases. But as for JFPL's artwork (which features British artist Jenny Saville's painting, Stare******), in 2009, this went one step further with BBC News reporting how "The top four UK supermarkets - Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco - stocked the CD in a plain slipcase, after the cover was deemed "inappropriate." Adding: "Concerns have been raised that the cover for Journal For Plague Lovers, a portrait by artist Jenny Saville, looks like it is splattered with blood. Singer James Dean Bradfield called the situation "utterly bizarre." "We just thought it was a beautiful painting. We were all in total agreement," he told BBC 6 Music. The frontman disagreed that Saatchi favourite Saville, who also painted the cover for the band's 1994 album The Holy Bible, had intended to depict a bloody face. "It is her brushwork," he said. "If you're familiar with her work, there's a lot of ochres and browns and reds and browns, and perhaps people are looking for us to be more provocative than we are being.

We just saw a much more modern version of Lucian Freud-esque brushstrokes. That's all we saw. You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs, but you show a piece of art and people just freak out." **On the subject of the term Orwellian, there are obviously references to George Orwell's work via Faster's 1984 spoken-word sample, while the Revol CD singles / 10" vinyl have a quote from Orwell's satirical allegorical novella, Animal Farm. But, he is also referenced in the glacial pop grandeur of Lifeblood's great lost single, 1985, and in 2021, the band even released a political anthem entitled, Orwellian, which was the lead single from their fourteenth studio album, The Ultra Vivid Lament. ***In '09, The Guardian wrote: "Even Wire himself admitted to looking for clues and secret messages in the words his friend had left behind, but not Bradfield: "As soon as I realised everyone was trying to do a Columbo on Richey, I stopped looking in bags for notes, for hidden meanings in lyrics, because I knew they weren’t there. Richey wouldn’t be that crass." ****In 2009, Wales Online published a vintage interview with Richey, which was conducted by music journalist, David Owens, in 1992 - not long after the band had signed to Sony and released their debut album, Generation Terrorists. The publication wrote: "A lost tape giving a stunning insight into the mind of lost Manic Street Preacher Richey Edwards has been unearthed." One of the questions Owens raised was, 'Do you support the Welsh language?' Edwards: "I always think people should just be prepared to accept reality. At the end of the day, the Welsh language is basically dead. It doesn’t matter to the majority of people, so let it die a natural death. I don’t think you can ever reinvent something that is failing, especially with the language or culture. If people always try to cling onto something, nothing would ever change. We never would have had pop music, because it would have been: ‘This is the way music must be made and it must never change.’ And I think that’s what makes a country or a music scene interesting or vibrant. I think if you say: ‘Everything must be like this’, it’s so stagnant and boring. It’s so conservative. I think that’s one of the reasons why we have a Tory government because people are scared of change. We’ve been away since January and when we came back, one of the first things I saw on the TV was a big case of some Welsh kid who, instead of putting a learner plate on his car, he put a D (Welsh language learner plate) on. It was a big thing. If they seriously think that’s an important issue - I mean, that occupied the news, it was a big deal to all those involved - it’s just pathetic. All the things you could worry about and he wants to put a D on his car. Now if they think that’s a big deal, then they’re the most blind, self-obsessed people I’ve ever come across. They must be insane. I just think it gets to a scary level when they’re so obsessed with nationality. It’s dangerous - one of the most divisive things since the fall of the Russian empire. Every single country is starting petty little nationalistic wars against each other. You’ve got the rise of fascism again, you’ve got the rise of anti-Semitism. It’s dangerous. Misogyny, racism, it’s all coming back. It’s just petty little jealousies." As for 'bi-lingual signs on view', the BBC wrote: "One of the priorities of the Welsh Language Society (Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg) from the 1960s onwards. The campaign was seen as a success, as bilingual signs are now seen throughout Wales." *****In respect of the right to freedom of speech, and freedom of the media, in modern times. A number of music critics have noted how with a change of heart and turning this concept on its head, comparatively speaking, Know Your Enemy's Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children, balances this idea out by sizing up what Nicky perceives to be some of the less positive aspects about freedom of speech. ******Interestingly, Jenny Saville's actual 2004-05 oil on canvas painting, Stare, measures in at a whopping, 304.8 x 250.19cm or 120 x 98 1/2". While her 1993-94 oil on canvas triptych, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face), measures in at an even more gargantuan, 274 x 640cm or 108 x 252". The art website, Gagosian Quarterly, ran a remarkable piece about Saville in their Summer 2018 Issue, which "studies the evolution of Jenny Saville’s practice" and also covers the Stare series.

Here are some extracts: "As the late, and great, art historian Linda Nochlin wrote in 2003, the formidable power of Saville’s paintings derives as much from their sheer scale as from the ambiguity of their subject matter. But Nochlin also identified the ambiguity of the work’s formal language, "a language that inscribes a conflict at once visceral and intellectual between the assertive pictorial naturalism of the subject matter and the openly painterly, at times almost abstract, energy of the brushwork. It is as though a Sargent had mated with a de Kooning before our eyes, and the coupling was more of a violent struggle than a love match." This sense of tension, almost violence, is a defining characteristic of Saville’s work to date. Her portraits of large, mostly female nude bodies - "I try to find bodies that manifest in their flesh something of our contemporary age" - provoke discomfort as much as fascination, repulsion as much as attraction. The technical bravura of the brushwork vies with the often brutalised appearance of the subject matter; lyrical passages of abstraction coexist with figurative details, the visceral with the conceptual... At a moment when there was open criticism of Saville’s decision to paint such a subject, the works’ scale constituted an assertion of the validity of the figure, and particularly of the female nude, as a subject matter for painting. It was also a reaction to the status of painting at a time when the medium was overtly identified with a particular kind of mostly male, large-scale work, perhaps masking a very real concern over its continuing adequacy: "They actually shocked me, those paintings being so big now. I wanted to be taken seriously as a figurative painter. I remember, when I was at college, everybody was into [Anselm] Kiefer and [Georg] Baselitz, and big-time macho paintings. If you painted figuratively, it was seen as a little quaint. I liked those big paintings. I loved [Jackson] Pollock and [Mark] Rothko and all those enormous paintings. And I didn’t feel like being figurative was quaint. And I didn’t want to make paintings that were going to go in someone’s living room. I wanted to make paintings that were going to be in big spaces, that would be taken seriously." The scale of these paintings forces the viewer into a powerful, even uncomfortable physical confrontation with them. It also emphasises the materiality and construction of the painted surface itself... The revelations for Saville of watching a surgeon at work extended beyond the body, it informed her practice as a painter: "I liked this idea that flesh was something you could manipulate and move, in the same way you do with paint. So the idea of paint as a substance, as a potential body, and flesh being moved by a surgeon, came together. And I think watching a surgeon at work actually changed my painting technique because I could see what the layers of flesh were like, and the manipulation of a human body, in the same way that you move paint around. And I wouldn’t have made such scraped, thick paint had I not seen the surgeon at work. It was really influential." The idea of paint as a kind of liquid flesh became more instinctive for Saville when she was working on the Stare series, from 2004 to 2011: "I was working on the Stare Head when I was pregnant with my son, and it was so profound to be making flesh in my body while I was trying to produce flesh on a canvas." Struck by the port-wine stain on the face of the subject in a small photograph in a dermatological textbook, Saville produced a number of works based on the image. Uncertain in gender, the face in these paintings stares out somewhere slightly beyond the viewer’s gaze, appearing not fully present yet physically insistent: "I guess there’s something enigmatic about a person, or a look, that runs through my work. It’s a kind of blank intensity." Saville has spoken of how the repeated address of the same subject gave her the freedom to test and expand her ways of working, so that her paintings, while remaining figurative, also became more abstract. She was able to explore abstraction in her handling of the paint, moving from the particular to sensations and ideas with more universal resonance. The Stare paintings demonstrate this thought in process, introducing the paradox of combining the durational notion of time with a stasis corresponding to the work’s subjects - the stare, a prolonged act of fixed looking."

14. Revol (short for Revolution / Lover if read backwards) and This Is Yesterday, were late additions to The Holy Bible and both written side-by-side. The band rehearsed these tracks in late May '94, before then laying them down on June 6 and 7, respectively. So, just under 3 months after the other 11 tracks had been completed. In 2014, JDB disclosed to NME: "It was in our pocket for a long time. That's why two other songs got recorded at the end. We'd lived with it for so long, that we realised just in time that it wasn't balanced. Well, in its own fucked up way." Thinking that THB was 'in the can' in mid to late March 1994, James and Nicky expanded on these tracks during the same NME Q&A. Bradfield: "We thought we'd finished The Holy Bible and then two songs came at the end, which were This Is Yesterday and Revol (the penultimate and final song written, respectively), which just goes to show. This Is Yesterday is a lot of people's favourite moment, because it has some kind of tenderness, some kind of openness, some kind of oxygen in the structure of the song. And Revol doesn't. I think I fell back in love with Revol, because it's one of those songs that actually becomes a tiny bit more relevant as time passes." In THB 20, Nicky said: "Revol came late - James thought he'd written something like Iggy Pop, which could be a hit. The delusion!" JDB: "We had 11 tracks and I realised it was not quite there yet. In the event, This Is Yesterday was the song that solved it, not Revol. But I read the lyric and bizarrely, Revol was one of the lighter moments on the record: imagined sexual proclivities of despots and leaders. I reached straight for Stuart Adamson in the choruses - for one of many times in my life." While in Melody Maker at the time, Nicky admitted to finding the lyric discombobulating: "All those lines like 'Breshnev married into group sex', are just analogies, really. It's trying to say that relationships in politics, and relationships in general, are failures. It's very much a Richey lyric, and some of it's beyond my head. He's saying that all of these revolutionary leaders were failures in relationships - probably because all his relationships have failed!" Wire also later recalled in NME: "I'll never forget Richey giving me the lyric. He was just mashed out of his head in Portugal, he was a mess and we weren't on 'til three in the morning in fucking Porto or somewhere. It's one of his finest, I think." Can you put yourself in his head? Where does an idea like group sex in the Politburo even come from? Nicky: "I think via a kind of highly intellectualised, oversaturated intelligence, where Richey's got so much information going on. For him, what's coming out makes perfect sense. It's the classic sign of what you call the true artist I guess, whereas I always worry about how I communicate. Some people think my lyrics are fucking clunky, but Richey was always like, 'Well I understand it, so that's enough!' Then you get something so fucking forceful and real and true that... I think they speak their own language, Richey's lyrics. On The Holy Bible, in terms of rock music, I think he invented a new lyrical language*, which wasn't easy for James to fucking put music to!" However, an adamant Bradfield has long maintained: "Language has always been our weapon." Also telling Volume: "Our lyrics are getting stronger and if you hurt a couple of 'nice' people along the way, or offend them, then that's necessary." As for the coruscating, raucous and steamrollering, Revol**, Edwards actually expanded on the song's lyrics in an interview with RAW Magazine for their SEX, SCARS AND REVOLUTION... piece: "Revolutionary leaders are very powerful icons when you're young. They were all idealistic and ill-fated, 'cos power corrupts, but they are a very extreme symbol. They offered something to believe in, something that went sour. I linked that theme to the same theory with love. The words start off with love being all-consuming and fantastic and ends up falling apart with 'alimony, alimony' being repeated." A Critical Discography also explained: "The lyric juxtaposes the names of various political figures with sexual hang-ups, predilections and related phrases - all of the leaders mentioned in the first verse are the heads of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), listed in chronological order (although Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko are omitted). The second verse lists more varied leaders, including British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain and Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam."

Nicky later confessed to KERRANG!: "I have no idea what the lyric's about, I just remember Richey in a drunken state going, 'Revol - lover, lover - revol, it's going to be great, Wire!' I look back on The Holy Bible with immense satisfaction and sadness, because you can never do something like that again." In 2009, The Quietus also published the following: "There are very few albums that came out in the 1990s where I'll still catch myself thinking, 'What does it mean to juxtapose these stages of sexual development with all these communist leaders?' Wire: "Revol is a mad song." Bradfield: "Talking about Revol, I said to him, 'You're just making a load of despots get together aren't you?' And he said that was pretty much it." As for Revol sonically (which was smothered with congealing textures, then slathered with Mix FX), in 2001, James shared his thoughts with MOJO: "I think it sounded terrible. There's an American version of it that sounds fucking brilliant though. This guy Tom Lord-Alge mixed it and it's mega. When we do the Greatest Hits, we'll definitely put the US version on it. It's much tighter, molten, really powerful." As MSP Fans will know, this never happened. Regarding the German and Italian words used in Revol's chorus, here are their meanings (courtesy of A Critical Discography and online dictionaries). Lebensraum = "Living space". It was a basic principle of Nazi foreign policy. Hitler believed that eastern Europe had to be conquered to create a vast German empire for more physical space, a greater population, and new territory to supply food and raw materials. Kulturkampf = "Culture struggle". The struggle between the Roman Catholic Church and the German government from 1872 to 1887, over control of education, civil marriage etc. Raus = "Out". The shout of "Raus Raus" was one of the first heard by many concentration camp inmates, as they were herded out of trains by German troops. Fila = "Form a line" or "Line up". A similar WWII-era camp command. As for the lyric, 'alimony alimony', it is possible to draw connections between this line and Edwards' lack of faith in people: 'Oh virgins? Listen, all virgins are liars honey' and 'Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave' (Yes). Between his leeriness of intimate relationships: 'Lovers wrapped inside each others lies' (She Is Suffering). As well as between how in the future, he can only envision affection being spliced together with mistrust and money: 'Lawyers before love' (P.C.P.). But, going back to The Bible's sonorous reprieve and Wire's ode to the halcyon days of childhood, warming memories and long departed youth - which comes in the form of the majestic, melodious and mellifluous, This Is Yesterday. In THB 20, JDB said: "I had the tune in my pocket for a couple of weeks. There is a little echo of Ghosts by The Jam in there, or In The Crowd - both songs, actually. I realised there's not one moment of oxygen on the album, where you can flourish in this calm moment, flourish in this boredom, flourish in this regret... our basic melancholia default position. It just needs to be there." While in '94, Nicky told Melody Maker: "That's the simplest song, musically and lyrically, on the album. It's about how people always look back to their youth and look on it as a glorious period. No matter what walk of life you're in, you always revert back to childhood and look at it as a beautiful time when, as the song says, 'Someone, somewhere soon will take care of you.'" A Critical Discography wrote: "Top billing must go to Bradfield, however, for his phenomenal guitar solo before the final chorus - brief but brilliant, it is possibly the single finest example of his ability to imbue a solo with huge emotion and is undoubtedly one of the greatest solos on any Manics record. Wire's straightforward lyrics explore in a very concise way, the feelings of someone apparently staring oblivion in the face and feeling regretful and apologetic for the way they have lived their life (bringing to mind Hubert Selby Jr.’s quote used at the start of an earlier Holy Bible song)." Interestingly, Digital Spy reported how at one of the THB London Roundhouse shows in December 2014, just before the group played This Is Yesterday, Wire admitted onstage: "When we recorded this song, I wasn't 100% convinced it should have been on the album, because it's very tender and melancholic - I'm fucking glad of it now, because I'd have a heart attack otherwise!" So, The Bible could very nearly have been whittled down to a 12trk album, where Faster would have bled into Die In The Summertime.

Interestingly, when MSP appeared on BBC Radio 2 in July 2021, for Jo Whiley's Sofa Session, they were asked: 'Which for you each, are the most emotional songs that you do?' Nicky replied: "This Is Yesterday is one to me. Sometimes, James does that acoustically... It's just the era that we did it on The Holy Bible and what transpired afterwards. In a raging storm of an album, it's a bit of kind of peace and tranquillity, so it always cuts me up a bit that one." James meanwhile, selected Motorcycle Emptiness and Motown Junk, and Sean chose A Design For Life. Also in relation to THB, during the same interview JDB unveiled: "It's undoubtedly harder for us to play Holy Bible songs now, [because] it feels as if that kind of period has passed for us and we should leave it where it is, really. Because it stands for a version of us, where it really was four of us, you know?" With respect to This Is Yesterday, the lyrical theme sprinkled throughout this track, also flickers in some of the words that Nicky penned for the shimmering, Further Away, i.e. 'The more estranged I feel from my youth' and 'Feel it fade into your childhood.' *Apropos the unconcealed and unconstrained, information overload lyrical content / style of Ifwhiteamerica..., Archives Of Pain and Revol (with the latter pair somewhat related as rouges' galleries). There is every chance that hard-bitten, tough-minded and and high-octane 'List Songs', by the likes of Faith No More - We Care A Lot, Billy Joel - We Didn't Start The Fire and R.E.M. - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), which all have rapid-fire allusions to historical events and namecheck leading lights / luminaries, could have subconsciously trickled into Richey's mind and birthed new ways of how he thought about / undertook songwriting for The Bible? **On the Frankfurt Batschkapp, Germany set list (November 7, 1994), possibly in connection to the Revol lyric, 'Withdrawn traces, bye bye.' Edwards hand-wrote a quote from Hubert Selby Jr., 'Seepy seepy, bye bye.' Notably, Richey would also often very sweetly say, "Bye bye," whenever bidding a fond farewell to someone.

15. A differently sequenced tracklisting of THB's 13 songs - which was obviously later revised and rejigged - appeared on an early pre-release PR information card, and even included some of the alternate song titles. The original running order was: Yes, The Intense Humming Of Evil, Walking Abortions, She Is Suffering, 4st 7lbs, Die In The Summertime, Mausoleum, Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'scountrywouldfallapart, P.C.P., Revol, Faster, Archives Of Pain, This Is Yesterday. Interestingly, along with the bio / press release on the back of this PR information card, at the bottom, it states: FIND YOUR SALVATION IN THE HOLY BIBLE. Other song titles nearly used include: R.E.V.O.L and No Birds (rechristened Mausoleum). Renowned for their proclivity for strong LP and song titles, with regard to tracks on THB, around 10 titles came from Nicky and his suggestions for Yes and Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart, mean that these are some of the shortest and longest titles ever, in the Manic Street Preachers' song index! The title, Yes, was uprooted from the lyric, 'Someone will always say yes', and funnily, Wire has joked how he was miffed when McAlmont & Butler also used this title for their lustrous, orchestral pop classic, Yes. He told Buzz: "I still love that McAlmont & Butler record, but I’m still annoyed they nicked my song title for Yes! Even though all the lyrics were Richey’s, the title was still mine. And ours has the better lyrics definitely. It’s a glorious record though." And, although this is a well-worn story, it's important to mention that McAlmont & Butler's Yes was produced by Mike Hedges, which is the reason why the Manics went back to him, to ask if he would be interested in producing their fourth album, Everything Must Go. In 2011, Sean told Classic Rock: "We found out [Yes] was Mike Hedges, and he had that connection to bands like The Banshees. We thought we’d call him, and he came straight to Cardiff. James got him drunk, though we still ended up working with him." Bradfield filled out this story during a 2016 Q&A with The Guardian: "I’m a massive Tamla freak, so I asked Mike Hedges to produce it - I love his string work. The first song we played him was A Design For Life. He said, 'It’s your jukebox song, a song like The Jam’s Eton Rifles. It just works.' I got hammered with him in Cardiff, seven pints of Brains SA, and then three months later he was with us in Normandy, recording in a Chateau." The rest as they say is history and much more about the Everything Must Go era, can be found in the latter half of Fact 48. But, returning to The Holy Bible, as for Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'scountrywouldfallapart, the kernel of this track's meaning / nucleus of the title, is thought to have come from a quote by the late Lenny Bruce (an American stand-up comedian, social critic and satirist, renowned for his open, freestyle and critical form of comedy, which at times was controversial, amoral, profane and risqué). However, this has never been officially authenticated by the egalitarian MSP and some believe that confusion may have arisen, due to the fact that Edwards and Wire spoke about him during interviews in relation to P.C.P. and censorship. Something else also worth mentioning, is that Nicky has called Ifwhiteamerica... "one of the greatest song titles of all-time!" As for the placement of Yes and P.C.P. in The Holy Bible's tracklisting, visually, there is a symmetry / orderliness in some respects, as both titles have three letters.

16. The in-your-face and frantic Sculpture Of Man - a pocket rocket which has constricting sweet and sour, quiet and loud dynamics - is the sole b-side dating from this period (Too Cold Here, Love Torn Us Under and all live tracks were recorded later). In NME, Nicky called this spiky and vigorous lethal injection of a song, which is bursting at the seams with pejorative words: "The darkest lyric ever!" With James continuing: "That's completely Richey's. But that just shows how bullet-nosed we were." Some MSP Fans, are also convinced that the length and feel of this feral and fiery track, its sonic scaffolding, austere, corkscrewing and disorienting guitar riff, as well as JDB's elasticated topline melody and ceaseless fusillade of enunciated words / strangulated barks, were heavily influenced by the punchy, unrestrained and incinerating punk rock blast, Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out, by The Replacements. A Critical Discography even noted of Sculpture Of Man: "At just 1:55, it is among the shortest Manics tracks ever." Something else worth touching on, is that for the Manics' own reasons, The Holy Bible era also has one of the smallest hauls of songs specifically written and recorded for use as contemporaneous b-sides - only 3 in total. Lyrically, Sculpture Of Man marries Edwards' consternation at what the world may come to, with some truly graphic and shocking imagery. A Critical Discography wrote: "The clipped, vulgar lyrics are nowhere near extensive enough to put across a complex message, but seem to be about the contrast between real and fake, authentic and synthetic." While the unornamented and understated, Too Cold Here and Love Torn Us Under, further paint Richey as a prophet of doom, by parading his despondency and pessimistic views about relationships / people's behaviour in general. A Critical Discography notes: "Of significance [in Too Cold Here] is the line, 'Everyone asks what’s wrong but what’s right', which is very similar to a phrase used in All Is Vanity." Musically, both of these chilled out tracks could almost be thought of as close relatives of Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky and Removables, while the Die In The Summertime lyric, 'A tiny animal curled into a quarter circle', could easily slot into Small Black Flowers..., as many animals do crumple and curl up when scared. Interestingly, just before the 2003 odds and ends, b-sides, rarities and covers compilation, Lipstick Traces (A Secret History Of Manic Street Preachers), was released, MSP Fans could vote via the band's official website for which b-sides they would most like to see included (also later being able to download DIY inserts provided by the group, to print off, cut out and place inside the 2CD set). Fan favourites, Patrick Bateman and Too Cold Here, were some of the most popular choices, receiving a superabundance of votes! However, they were never included on this anthology, as the Manics famously abhor both songs and feel that they are uninspiring and anaemic - with Bradfield in particular, finding the middling metal-esque music of Patrick Bateman intolerable and plodding, and even once condemning the homespun and no-frills, Too Cold Here, as being drab and pedestrian.

17. With its booming insurrection, although the rock-solid, unfiltered and explosive Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart, plus the sedate, sentimental and tranquillising This Is Yesterday - a winsome, tender, moving, luminous and fleeting breather amid the mental and emotional bloodletting, which momentarily enables the outlying and unshrinking Holy Bible to transfigure, were long thought to have been the sole work of Wire. When putting together the pristine, exemplary and life-enriching 20th Anniversary Box Set for THB, on closer inspection of his lyric / ideas notebooks, he actually discovered that Richey had contributed more to both songs than he remembered, i.e. although Nicky started them, most of the final drafts of Ifwhiteamerica... and Of Walking Abortion came from Edwards. While on This Is Yesterday, Richey penned a sprinkling of assorted lines including, 'Why do anything when you can forget everything.' Fascinatingly, if you were to combine all of Edwards and Wire's traded lines and wide-ranging lyrics together, unbelievably, there are over an astronomical 2,800 words across all of the tracks included on the record! With Q Magazine once giving its affirmation, adulation and seal of approval to this surfeit of lyrics, by trumpeting: "The Holy Bible is among the most lyrically ambitious albums any rock group has made!" In many ways, The Bible could even be used in the study of linguistics. The lyrical length of songs, ranges from around 20 lines up to 48 lines, give or take. This long player also unequivocally demonstrates and validates the importance of language and the power of words, and how they can permeate your mind. But, due to the vast amount of pre-internet information, intellect, knowledge and wealth of words crammed into THB's unequalled, labyrinthine lyric sheets - some of which could even be classified as prose, vignettes or as hard-hitting investigative journalism - and encompass everything, from cultural, historical, philosophical, political and societal connections, to weighty subject matter, to overflowing well-read literary references. JDB, sometimes even without a moment to take a breath, recorded far more lead vocal takes than usual (for comping) so that he sung every syllable correctly. With his incomparable and unmistakable, Herculean powerhouse voice, reacting to and cutting through the music when called for. While at other times, his dynamic and versatile vox techniques, intonation / timbre and outstanding approaches to singing, gel perfectly with the array of convulsing sonics, stacked abrasive lead / rhythm guitar tones and countermelodies used on different compositions. Also making The Holy Bible on their own terms, and by now, a fundamentally sound, well-oiled machine in the studio - when probed in 2004 by the blog, ireallylovemusic, about the nimble rhythm section's listening habits, musicianship and contributions. After chewing this over and filled with twinkling amazement, Nicky marvelled: "It doesn't happen often in a band's career when you all start listening to the same sort of music and reading the same sort of things. With us, it was Wire, Magazine, John McGeoch (PiL, Banshees, Visage) was a big influence on James, Jah Wobble was a big influence on the bass sound and Gang Of Four were a big influence as well. It was all the music we grew up listening to. When we first started, Guns N' Roses came along and changed us for a couple of albums, but this music was our natural habitat. Post-punk was what we listened to the most, because we missed out on punk. Sometimes in a band there is a telepathy and even in the rhythm section, with me and Sean, that was happening on tracks like Ifwhiteamerica... it was just like speeded-up Adam And The Ants! We didn't need to speak about it. We just felt like we were doing the right thing." And, on the breakneck-paced, 2000AD, 'Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!' (a slogan uttered by Tomas de Torquemada, puritanical and xenophobic villain in Nemesis the Warlock) referencing P.C.P., although always much more coil springed, jittery and venomous live than on record. With much élan, Nicky exuberantly raved about the velocity of this punk thrasher and its bouncy, guillotine melody, bursts of beatific energy, plus the song's slingshot instant gratification: "You can hear a real joy in our playing!" On a side note, Richey was a lifelong, true-blue comic book fan and in The '80s, he even once had a drawing of the character, Ace Garp, published in an issue of 2000AD when he was younger, winning £3.

Then, the ultimate dream of any comic strip fan, in 1993, Richey himself was immortalised within its hallowed pages, when the long-running British science-fiction comic anthology satirised the 4 REAL incident in a storyline titled, MUZAK KILLER - LIVE! PART 3. The character based on Richey, was called Clarence of the Crazy Sked Moaners. While in a different story, ZENITH, dating from 1992, a character named Domino (a Nicky Wire doppelgänger) even wore a Manic Street Preachers t-shirt! Pertaining to Richey's partiality to comic books, in an educative essay, 227 Lears tackles "how the influence of comics on Edwards’ lyric writing has been largely overlooked in critical texts on Manic Street Preachers," in particular, comics penned by Neil Gaiman and Peter Milligan. The latter wrote Shade the Changing Man, with 227 Lears examining the way in which this comic book's "evocations of historical totalitarian violence, caustic commentaries on contemporary culture and complex, painful and often pessimistic depiction of love." As well as its "themes of identity, sexuality, insanity, religion, addiction, abortion, suicide, use of religious imagery and references to writers including Arthur Rimbaud"* etc. left a lasting impression on Richey and would influence both his lyric writing, plus personalised set list quotes around the time of The Holy Bible. 227 Lears even discusses how Richey adapted some of the character's standout lines, submerging them into his own lyrics. Case in point, in "Issue #37 from July 1993, THE PASSIONCHILD, a mute child finally speaks and tells the titular character Rac Shade: 'I live on the inside. I found nothing out there. I find nothing in here but at least it’s my nothing.'" Also in company with this Faster umbilical link, the sparse Too Cold Here, possesses "a possible Shade pun ('Always look for shade / To cover your eyes')" and cribs from "Issue #49 from July 1994, A SEASON IN HELL, as a pregnant Kathy recalls a painful memory of a sexual encounter in her past and concludes: ‘Sometimes it’s easier to make love to a stranger than to ask a friend to hold you.’" Interestingly, as well as looking over these specimens, 227 Lears also zeroed in on a quote from a 1993 Melody Maker interview with Richey, in which he voiced his distaste for Judge Dredd: "When 2000AD came along, it was very macho; something I could never like. Judge Dredd was like watching a fucking Dirty Harry film: this holier-than-thou cop blowing people away." Notwithstanding this chastisement, although never licensed or used, MSP originally wrote and recorded the fluid and blistering Judge Yr'self, in the hope of pitching for the 1995 Judge Dredd movie adaptation starring Sylvester Stallone (Edwards excitedly told his father that a song might be featured on the soundtrack). But out of respect to Richey after he had vanished and not wishing to dwell on this, the track was put on the back burner and wasn't completely finished until its poignant inclusion on Lipstick Traces (A Secret History Of Manic Street Preachers). As one of the final songs that the shy, gentle and softly-spoken Richey penned before he went missing, lyrically and sonically, Judge Yr'self patently has its foundations in THB (the music video is appropriately included on the 10th Anniversary Edition). In 2003, Nicky spoke to Planet Sound about Judge Yr'self, which was the last song that MSP ever wrote as a four-piece band: "We made it for the Judge Dredd film, as me and Richey were huge fans of 2000AD. Richey had a cartoon printed in the comic when he was 12, which I've got at home. I was drawn in a Dredd strip, which was - and is - a highlight. It felt appropriate to use the song now. We hadn't finished mixing it when Richey went missing but Dave Eringa's mix is, I hope, how it'd have ended up." Planet Sound also asked: 'Is it hard listening to Judge Yr'self?' Wire: "Quite the reverse. It's been well documented that the final two weeks we recorded with Richey for that song were one of the happiest times the band had, there was no sign of anything wrong. Hearing that song, it brings back good memories of those sessions. When Richey went missing, it was never even discussed that the song would be used for Judge Dredd, it would have been so wildly inappropriate. But it's celebratory, so I'm glad it's out now."

While in a Q&A with Bang, Nicky added: "We literally recorded it at the last session we ever did [at House In The Woods**, near Cobham in Surrey on January 31, 1995], along with a rough cut for No Surface All Feeling, Further Away (both Everything Must Go tracks) and a few other little things (Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky, Dead Passive, No One Knows What It's Like To Be Me, Judge Yr'self... also written but not demoed, because MSP ran out of time, were Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier and part of Kevin Carter). I was looking back at Richey's lyric - I've got it in a huge folder of his Judge Dredd stuff - and there's loads of references to the film in it. I think he actually won a competition once, in 2000AD. I was actually portrayed in it myself, which Richey was really jealous of! Not in a nasty way or anything. I've still got it on my wall. It's ironic that he was the one which cared about comics, and I got featured! [Judge Yr'self is] Richey's template: automated, aggressive... which, musically, is where he wanted us to go. Not that he had a clue musically, of course! Sean did a techno version of it at the time. We've incorporated bits of that into the new mix. We never actually ended up submitting it to the soundtrack. But then Richey disappeared, and it was one of the many things left unfinished. We've got loads of them." Nietszchian philosophy also had a colossal influence on Edwards' words for this song. As regards the fraught tensity of Judge Yr'self and THB, in a 2015 interview with Ultimate Guitar, when disassembling the LP's innards, JDB reiterated about The Holy Bible's untarnished lustre: "In its own way, even though it's regarded as an album which has a bit of indelible punk spirit in it, it's quite a muso (musician's) album. There are some awkward little time-signatures on there and the drums are very much linked in with the guitars. The bass is very much linked in with the guitars too and the bass is not always on the bass drum. There's a lot of post-punk chords and effected bass on there, which weaves in and out of the music. And it's quite a muso little record, really. I'd say it's a post-punk album influenced by bits of Rush. It's a very kind of infused album and there's a hyper-reality about the lyrics." *In 2021, Bradfield explained to Times Radio how he believed the role of politics within MSP's music, was counterbalanced, or stabilised, by the band's love of specific writers: "Because of Richey and Nick, and the way their brains worked you know, all of our interest in politics was always tempered by stuff like the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, Situationist riotings and people like Guy Debord from the 1968 Paris riots. The politics was never doggerel in our music, I don't think. It was always tempered by how very serious and deeply pretentious writers, looked to history and tried to reframe it. So that gives you a nice gloss to everything... For me, we had a nice angle on stuff to stop it becoming doggerel, I think." **With regard to the House In The Woods demo sessions in early '95 and not knowing if the Manics would have had the wherewithal to continue recording, if they'd been dropped by Sony after The Holy Bible. Sean has since explained how the band felt they "needed to make the most of the [multinational conglomerate's] resources why they still could."

18. Interestingly, James has described the guitar as "an instrument that spoke his language and he felt an affinity with." While in another radio interview, he once confessed how he "never felt completely comfortable as the lead singer of the Manics, until The Holy Bible" - and before then, would've "just preferred to have solely been the lead guitarist, with either Nicky or Richey as the frontman, because they had the cheekbones for it*!" Still holding onto some of those feelings however, and perhaps viewing songs as a canvas to put his voice onto. In 2004, Bradfield underscored this fact when he asseverated to Guitarist Magazine: "Sometimes I've resented putting vocals over the music, especially on The Holy Bible." As for the monumental music that he created, one of JDB's favourite ever critiques of this was penned in 1994 by the Melody Maker music critic, Taylor Parkes. Who descriptively wrote and spotlit how: "The Holy Bible sounds as though it was created under so much fucking pressure that songs that would once have been fat, rampant anthems have buckled, been crushed and flattened, broken down, emerging as thin, white-hot strips of purest vitriol." *When interviewing James in 2004, Guitarist Magazine published the following with respect to the band members' individual contributions and to MSP's doctrine: "We've always had natural roles in the band," Bradfield recalls. "Sean, because he'd been a trumpet player and was into jazz, was obviously going to be the drummer. It was obvious Richey was going to be the spokesperson, the visual icon and a great lyricist - he just was. Nick was obviously a musician like me, but he was tall - he had to play bass. And I was the only one who could really play guitar and sing, so we just slotted into our roles." The Manic Street Preachers arrived in a flurry of eyeliner, sloganeering and quasi-GN'R riffing in 1991, splitting rock fans down the middle. Politics and rhetoric aside, the Manics were clearly able musicians - particularly Bradfield - though their keenness to establish their own agenda meant, punk rock-style, that they slagged off just about anybody that might be competition. "It was kind of a schtick, but we were honest," Bradfield recalls. "When we came through there was nothing in the NME about lyrics, about music of substance, it was all just taking drugs and getting off your face. We were a little Welsh Presbyterian about it all, very pious. We were working class and believed people shouldn't do that: you must fight, educate yourself, don't lay your brain to waste with a fucking Joe Bloggs top and a little pill! We couldn't accept that music was about these consumerist tokens, the clothes you wear. So we diverted attention away from our musicianship, because the music was very much a vehicle at that point. We hid behind stuff, I admit. Music Is Obsolete - we did say that (sigh) a couple of times..." As for James, Nicky and Sean's personal musical inspirations / influences, here are some extracts from magazines which specialise in writing about specific instruments and the musicians who play them. Beginning with JDB, in 2010 he told Guitarist Magazine: "My two first loves, guitarist-wise, were Stuart Adamson and Steve Jones and I suppose my third great love was John McGeogh of Siouxsie And The Banshees and Magazine. There's a kind of netherworld between those influences, which Stuart Adamson kind of bridges, and Bill Nelson [Be-Bop Deluxe] does a bit as well. We do come from a punk-rock background, but we also come from a very digested, pretentious, nerdy background too, and fusing those two things together is why we work sometimes... and sometimes it's why we fail, you know? In other words, if the song isn't working after half an hour of playing it together, then we just dump it and move on. You need to have that rock 'n' roll edge to things that we always loved when we were young." Bradfield's 'guitar rig', also consists of a variety of effects pedals and amps. During No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, James also states: "Music never feels that cathartic to me. Music always makes me feel aggressive, and making music makes me feel aggressive. I kind of like that feeling!" In 2014, when chatting to Nicky, Bass Magazine printed: "For me, it's about keeping out of the way of great melodies and great riffs. Obviously, if your band is based around a bass riff like the Chilis (Red Hot Chili Peppers), it's different. But for us, I always felt there was so much going on between James' guitar and the vocals, there was no need for me to interfere with that."

Wire says that his bass lines are inspired by the bands he has always loved. Renowned for playing his bass low, Wire says: "It's been the fucking bane of my life. It's ruined my shoulders and back jumping around with it, but I could never do it any other way. Peter Hook was a hero and even Ronnie Lane had it in a really good place, as did Sid Vicious. Duff plays it low too. I do regret it, as it's so much fucking easier to play it a little higher." He adds: "For its absolute deepness but simplicity, I love the bass line in Public Image by PiL. Considering Jah Wobble wasn't really a bass player, they turned up with such an amazing comeback single: that bass rumble fucking destroys you. It's unsurpassable. I wish I'd written some of Jah's and loads of Geddy's (Rush) bass lines. They add countermelodies to everything - vocals, guitar and drums. Every instrument is speaking in its own language, it's totally astounding." While in 1999, Rhythm wrote: "Sean is a self-taught drummer. "Before I picked up a drumstick I played trumpet in youth orchestras and big band jazz orchestras" he explains. Apart from the odd dabble on kit during breaks in band practise, Sean had little interest in the instrument until his cousin James and friend Nick decided to get a band together. "None of them wanted to play drums" he recalls, "so I volunteered. I took all my inspiration from people like Topper Headon (The Clash), Clem Burke (Blondie) and Keith Moon (The Who). At the time, in the mid-eighties, there weren't any contemporaries as such, apart from maybe Stewart Copeland (The Police). I was very retrospective. I looked very much towards the past for inspiration. I took the ideal of Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones) and Ringo Starr (The Beatles), where it doesn't really matter how technically proficient you are, as long as you play to the melody and do it in a tasteful way - then hopefully, I could blag my way through it. I seem to have done all right so far..." Interestingly, In No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, Wire says that "the true soul of Sean, is his trumpet playing."

19. Carefully sourced by Richey and in keeping with / highlighting the songs' themes - sometimes adding a menacing and dystopian atmosphere, as they seamlessly cross-pollinate with the music. Every dialogue sample* on The Holy Bible had to be cleared for usage, in turn, costing Sony a lot of money. Wire once quipped that "The record label didn't mind, because The Holy Bible cost us hardly anything to make!" When asked about these samples by Under The Radar in 2015: 'Was there source material you were aware of that might have been influential on the writing of the lyrics?' Nicky replied: "The lyrics definitely came first most of the time, at this point. We’d sort of done it [using samples] really early on with Motown Junk, for instance, and the original You Love Us, where we’d had these strange intros and some nit bits: Penderecki and Lust For Life and Public Enemy. We wanted to get back to that. We wanted to have strange intros, spoken-word. So we just let our imaginations run wild, really. Anything that was empathetic to the tone of the song we used. Mostly Richey, again, because most of the lyrics were his, so he had the main insight into those words, but I think it really enhances the album - whether it’s the start of Faster, or J.G. Ballard in the middle of Mausoleum. It kind of illustrates the lyrics sometimes, almost better than some of the words, because sometimes they’re really impenetrable. You have these quotes that really illuminate the songs." In reference to the protruding and diffusive sample used on Mausoleum, when talking to The Face in June '94 for an article entitled, BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS, citing the novel as one of his favourites, along with Last Exit To Brooklyn and American Psycho, Richey expounded: "When J. G. Ballard wrote Crash, he said that what he was trying to do was force humanity to look itself in the mirror, then rub its face in its own vomit. That was what we wanted, too." With Nicky additionally looking to write about the atrocities caused by "the human capability to inflict pain on its own race," and an intransigent Richey reasoning in a Melody Maker interview: "Henry Miller said 'At the edge of eternity is torture, in our mind's never-ending ambition to damage itself.' That's what we would like to write about." Arriving just over 14 months after its predecessor, Gold Against The Soul, when later elaborating on The Holy Bible's concept, or through-line, a perspicacious Nicky cogitated: "There’s an overriding philosophy behind the whole album: evil is an essential part of the human condition and the only way to get over it is recognising all hypocrisies, all evils - recognising it’s in us all - which I guess is not a liberal view." *In the THB 20th Anniversary booklet which is enshrined in the Box Set, we learn that Richey had hand-written a list of potential samples, some of which weren't used: Ifwhiteamerica... = Shopping Channel. 4st 7lb = Fitness Video. Die In The Summertime = Fairground.

20. Financially, with all band members existing on a low income at the time - a teeny £250 per month each, later rising to £200 per week - which was an unfathomably minuscule amount of money for an international act signed to a major label (although Sean did admit on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, that the reason for this, was due to the cost accrued from musical equipment, recording, the pressing of records, music videos, marketing, touring etc). James, who "didn’t have a pot to piss in and nowhere else to go," was still living at home with his parents during the making of this long player, with the others 'clubbing together' so that he could stay in a Marriott Hotel one night a week as a treat! In 2005, Nicky even revealed the state of his personal finances to PopMatters and how the band certainly weren't minted: "We hadn't made any money until then, to be brutally honest with you. I couldn't even get a mortgage, I was living with my in-laws around the release of The Holy Bible." Notably, part way through recording - after having seen them play live and been magnetised by the Washington DC indie hardcore outfit, later purchasing some of their LPs - one of JDB's morning wake-up songs and on repeat studio favourites, was Learned It by Girls Against Boys. "I really latched onto that song and I think they had a small bearing in the music I wrote for The Holy Bible, so it’s a good memory for me" he unveiled on BBC Radio 6 Music. However, not everyone in MSP recollects Bradfield’s choice of alarm call so fondly. "I remember James' obsession well," laughed a mystified Nicky of hearing the song a lot, who squirmed: "To my pain!" With regard to the unpleasant setting and seedy side of where Soundspace was located, in the red-light-district of Cardiff. Late at night, both Bradfield and Alex would be aware of glue-sniffers and sleazy / louche characters hanging around outside, as well as prostitutes prowling the streets, who even sometimes performed sexual acts with dissolute and licentious clients in their parked cars. In fact, on Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show, Nicky remembered: "James would do the late night session from 11pm onwards, and there would always be some businessman having a blow job in a [Vauxhall] Cavalier as he walked in!" Then, in October 2016, just before JDB played Faster acoustically at Brickstock in Cardiff, he spoke briefly about recording The Holy Bible near to Jacobs Market and jested: "Sometimes, these things are not what they seem. You think there are bands stuck in studios and they're reading Foucault, The Torture Garden and endless tracts on the human condition. But, me and Al, would just be sat there and then we'd hear something going on. Alex went down to the door and said, 'James, come here - quick!' And as he looked through the letterbox, I said, 'What is it?' And he went, 'Two people fucking!' And at that point in my life, I stayed and watched (much chortling from the audience)." Gently chuckling to himself afterwards, Bradfield jovially continued: "It wasn't Dogging then... I mean, we were on private property - they were fucking doing the wrong thing! Not us!"

21. While refining the Manic Street Preachers' sound / twisting melodies into new shapes, and managing to make atypical song lyrics, scan and rhyme in unison. Although the productive THB sessions weren't protracted by any means, when compared to some bands' studio time, they did involve long hours* for workhorse James in the well-natured sonic laboratory, along with engineer/co-producer Alex Silva. 16 hours per day, sometimes more, 7 days a week for 1 month - with the pair also eating breakfast, lunch and dinner together! In his element and once likening working in recording studios** to "Summer Camp," Bradfield has since described this juncture of his career as "one of the best times of his life!" Elaborating to MOJO in 2001 with alacrity: "Brilliant memories. All the dark humour around that time makes it seem happier in retrospect than maybe it actually was. Regardless of the lyrics, I remember Richey as being quite cuddly at that point (who as previously stated, was regularly holed up in the studio's Gaffer-esque office with his Olivetti portable typewriter, typing lyrics and also went to the odd nightclub in Cardiff with JDB). He didn't seem in the perpetual motions of darkness as the lyrics might imply. It was a happy period, recording that album, even though it was done in bleak surroundings. It felt like we were all pulling in the same direction. I remember thinking if this is our last album, it's a fucking brilliant album to finish on. We felt it was our final riposte." James also joshed in NME: "Me and [Richey] would go to the dodgy disco and we’d have a good laugh. A bit of ‘pullage’, all that kind of stuff. Try and get girls. Really ordinary things." As indicated earlier, 11 tracks were completed between February to March, while Revol and This Is Yesterday were actually finished in early June. And, in spite of the fact that "some bands wouldn't have even used Sound Space Studios to record demos in, even though it had an amazing angular drum room" in the opinion of Nicky. The studio (which was around 20 feet long), vicinity, environment and 'method recording' to stay on-message, proved to be advantageous, as it fortuitously suited everything about the lo-fi and stylised Holy Bible perfectly! In 2015, JDB confessed to Ultimate Guitar: "Gold Against The Soul was slightly hollow. I think we're a band best following our own lead. We're a band best following an idea or we have a little mini-manifesto before a record. With that record we didn't. We just kind of knew we had to do a second record and keep the momentum going and we fell into that very clichéd trap. I think the record has some good guitar work in it but it's not enough. It's holding up a bit of an empty fortress. The Holy Bible was a rearguard action against ourselves to a certain extent. We knew we'd failed ourselves and fallen into the biggest rock 'n' roll cliché in the world: the difficult second album. So, I kind of think to create something that was born of a big idea I suppose, sometimes you need some creative failure to spur you on. On the first and second album, we'd had all the trappings of being a newly-signed act for Sony - we just felt we had to strip ourselves and disavow ourselves of all those trappings, of being a signed act to a major record label. It was definitely the best thing we could have done. We actually recorded on smaller tape; we didn't record on conventional tape. We recorded on tape you'd use for demos usually and recorded on very small 16-track decks. Working within those limitations made everything so vital." With Wire, who habitually wore a football manager style coat loaned from his Dad (JDB has joked that this resembled that of "a Lower League Football team manager's jacket") to keep warm in the "freezing studio" - which didn't even have a television, reflecting in The New York Observer in 2015: "It makes you realise the power of youth, feeling fearless and, in blunt terms, not giving a shit. Which obviously dims with age and having kids and responsibilities, and all that. It does make you realise the power of the four of us locked away from mainstream Britain in the early 1990s, and how glorious that feeling was." Also once affirming: "It just felt like a brilliant environment, to create what felt like some sort of piece of art." Interestingly, in 1996, Nicky admitted to Melody Maker: "You couldn't make an album like that if you were actually feeling the way the record would suggest, because you wouldn't have the discipline." When interviewed by BBC Wales in 2015, James also declared: "I think it's a snapshot of the time and it's a snapshot of Richey to a certain degree as well, in terms of the lyrics and the tone that it set.

I associate it with those times and all of the information that Richey was digesting, and then Nick trying to balance things out a bit." DJ Huw Stephens noted: "The album's subject matter didn't darken the mood in the studio, when four friends got together to record what would become one of the band's most celebrated works." Wire: "At that time, we'd still be sitting down and watching rugby or football as well... We were getting chips from Canton, reading the NME and watching crap telly." Bradfield: "It's true, being in the studio wasn't like the Marlon Brando scene from Apocalypse Now or something. It wasn't backlit with shadows everywhere. We were going to Servini's Café in Cardiff and still getting excited about eating half a tuna melt!" At the end of making THB, James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, bought Alex Silva a bottle of Champagne, among other gifts, as a thank you for all of his hard work. However, when Alex arrived home later that day, his long-term partner announced that she was leaving him as he'd spent so little time with her! With Alex jesting that the Manics had "left him with a bottle of Champagne and a broken heart!" Also clarifying to Wales Online: "The last day alone was a straight-through 36 hour session and when I got home my girlfriend of five years, with whom I’d just bought a house, said she’d had enough and walked out. That’s still James’ favourite topic of conversation whenever he talks about me - in the nicest possible way, of course." In 2014, based on his credentials, JDB and Wire told NME about their reasons for choosing Alex to engineer The Holy Bible (who to this day, they still speak very highly of and even reunited with for some production work on their twelfth LP, Futurology). James: "We wanted to use somebody local. Local recording engineer for local music! Even though he's about five years older than us, he knew the reference points we were talking about because he'd seen those gigs. He'd been with Magazine at gigs. He understood it all and he was just looking for his break, he was looking to move away and get somewhere so he was committed to it too. There was a bit of serendipity. Richey really got on with him as well, so he was a central part of it, it all fell in place. But it was seven day weeks, we'd take half a Sunday off, that kind of thing. Everything felt essential. That was the backdrop for the recording of the record. And people used to get shagged in the alley where the studio was, because it was where all the pimps used to do all their work. It really was grim, it was fucking grim! And I was getting a taxi home every night. Once every two weeks I think, I was allowed a room in the Marriott Hotel. It was actually brilliant because it felt like we'd again committed to a vision of something, and in my mad raging adolescent world then it felt like method acting." Nicky: "[Richey would] pick you up, but for some reason I wasn't on the route, so I'd get the bus from Wattsville to Newport and then get the train. It was freezing cold, it was a really cold winter, I had a football manager, Brian Clough style sheepskin coat." Discussing the mixing stages*** of The Holy Bible with Mark Freegard, and then, its critical reception, Wire imparted to PopMatters: "That year in particular, obviously, was the year of Nirvana’s In Utero and everything else - it was a pretty bleak year and it just seemed to all come together at the same time. I remember we were in Britannia Row, which was where Joy Division recorded Closer, we were there when we heard that Kurt Cobain had killed himself (Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home on April 8, 1994, after dying from a gunshot wound to the head on April 5). We were mixing The Intense Humming Of Evil, or some other really bleak track. It was a pretty bleak moment - it actually felt like a lot of connections were falling into place... In terms of the press in the UK, I think the difference was that it was the album they’d always wanted us to make. When we first started, I guess they’d been not disappointed, but you know, Generation Terrorists was so cosmetic and glam, and Gold Against The Soul was this cavernous, empty and miserable stadium rock. I think the fact was that the band that they’d wanted to love, all of a sudden they could love. We’d always been a band to cherish critically, but I don’t think we’d ever made the record - maybe with the exception of Motorcycle Emptiness - that people wanted." In a Quietus editorial entitled, THERE ARE NO HORIZONS: THE HOLY BIBLE AT 20, one penman, Taylor Parkes, contemplated:

"It's this awkward convergence, this extra step, this push-and-pull between those twisted lines and Bradfield's attempts to make musical sense of them, which stops The Holy Bible sounding monolithic or self-indulgent... The Holy Bible has what British groups always used to have over everyone else: a kind of mobility, a liveliness, an aversion to wasted space. It's still hard rock, but it's hard rock coarsened and enriched with the urgency of post-punk and the mordancy of metal. Aside from anything else, it suited the band a whole lot better: the Manics were always capable of generating power, in a seething, pummelling kind of way, but in strict stylistic terms they never really rocked. Sean's drumming was too rigid for that, Nicky's bass lines nailed to the beat - they always sounded like punks at heart. The Holy Bible finds a way to harness that and elevate it. They'd never sound this sharp again... Almost all these songs view their subject through a prism of disquiet, but only three or four are purely introspective... The Manics understand their medium so well, they rarely sound less than totally convincing... Out of the babel and the noise comes a truth, or a set of truths, which have seldom been expressed so abstractly yet with such intense immediacy." *On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "I know James wouldn't say this, because he's way too humble. Undoubtedly, the tone of the record is Richey's album, but James worked unbelievable hours. The voice on this album, it's never sounded like that again... It's as much his record in many ways, as Richey's, I have to say that musically. You know, he was working until 4 in the morning every night!" Nicky then joked: "I noticed, he did like it when me and Sean would go off." Bradfield: "Get the guitars out!" **In the late nineties, as part of the Essential Albums of 90's Everything Must Go Documentary, when discussing studio life, JDB enchantingly told Steve Lamacq: "I like to sit there and people walk in and they go, 'Oh, James is being an artist today' and I'm just going, 'I need to focus, I need to focus...' I've got loads of ideas that I always want to try, and if somebody gets in the way of it, then I just have a strop. I think Sean and Nick try and come into the control room a lot and they try and make me relax, and out of them being more relaxed about it, Nick and Sean come up with ideas that I wouldn't have. It's almost like fulfilling obligations when I record. All of the ideas I naturally had when I wrote the song, I've got to try all of them out! I actually enjoy it in a masochistic kind of way you know? I like the actual discipline of it. Everything that's there in my head - or our heads - has got to be done and if something's not tried, I become a bit of a drama queen! It's like, 'Oh, this idea could've just made everything fly, it could've given it wings!' It's a very focused time for us and we don't really drink when we're in the studio, obviously we don't do any drugs or anything like that and nobody from our social circle, is ever in the studio with us. It's all about work, completely and utterly! I think it's the one time as a band, we just actually all really get on and we actually love the experience of being in the band, when we're all in the studio together!" ***Something that is a little known fact, is how MSP's longstanding producer, Dave Eringa, had a minor role in The Holy Bible. Although uncredited, he did a recall for the final mix of She Is Suffering, as Mark Freegard was unavailable. He revealed to R*E*P*E*A*T: "I wind James up by saying that that means I worked (in however stupidly small way) on The Bible!" As for the song's atmospheric textures, Dave explained how these were embroidered into the arrangement using a synth pad, which "runs in the background through the entire track." Dave also mixed the bone-rattling and screwdriving, Sculpture Of Man, as well as demoing Judge Yr'self in its original form before the final 2003 mix, telling R*E*P*E*A*T: "We did a more programmed version of Judge Yr'self during the January 1995 demo session. It was the same arrangement, but more electronic in the drums. It was just a case of finding what worked best for the song. We were just demoing as a tester for the Judge Dredd movie, so it's quite normal to try out a couple of different treatments!"

22. When remembering Edwards' presence in the studio for The Holy Bible sessions, in 2015, Nicky informed Under The Radar: "He was very controlled at this point, actually. The problems didn’t really start until we’d finished the record. Obviously, there was always something; the four of us were pretty extreme, but Richey was more extreme than the rest. Nothing unravelled, really, until we finished the record. He was very organised like he always was. Like we all are, really. We were very disciplined, making the record." With The Guardian reporting in 2004: "If such songs as 4st 7lb and Die In The Summertime had eloquently portrayed a hellish kind of personal breakdown, the ensuing months rapidly blurred the distinction between the band's art and their collective life. "Richey started drinking things like Tennent's Super, which seemed to say, 'I've lost the enjoyment of drink; I just need it,'" says Wire. "By that time, he seemed weak, light, as if he was going to a different place."" Talking about Edwards after his disappearance to Dazed & Confused, Nicky remarked: "What made Richey the way he was? There is no dramatic thing, that's the scariest thing of all. To be honest, I think that, if anything, it's because his childhood was so happy that when he reached the age of responsibility, he couldn't handle it. He genuinely loved being young, but when you leave school, that's when the real world hits you. That's the most traumatic thing, having to grow up and realising - as he would put it - that everything was shit. Richey used to say 'you're born unmarked', then he'd look at himself and go, 'now I'm scarred'. They do say that 27 is the optimum time for males to commit suicide or breakdown, usually because of a longing for a disappearing youth." In '94, Edwards told NME: "A lot of people had terrible childhoods, but personally up to the age of 13, I was ecstatically happy. People treated me very well, my dog was beautiful, I lived with my Nan and she was beautiful. School's nothing, you go there, come back and just play football in the fields. Then I moved from my Nan's and started a Comprehensive school and everything started going wrong. In my 20s, there's nothing that's been that spectacular since." In a 2004 interview with The Times however, Wire did assure everyone: "It wasn’t all death and misery - even in misery he could be extremely funny. He made his own choice, he wasn’t mad." As for the hair-raising, impaling and horrifying sentiment of Die In The Summertime, in THB 20, JDB said: "The lyric actually does scare me. I didn't bother asking Richey what it was about, I was like, 'If you know, I dot want to know...' I remember seeing the title, and thinking, 'It's that tension in the words: Die - in - the - summertime.' Like, Tropic - of - cancer: The tension of opposites, innocence versus the reality of the world. There was something almost David Lynchian in the lyric. I remember writing the song, thinking, 'This is a bit Kiss In The Dreamhouse by Siouxsie And The Banshees' - well, that's perfect. That shard of beauty that can almost be shattered with one gust of wind is perfect for this." At the time, Nicky told Melody Maker: "Again, it's all Richey's, and there's lots of disturbing images, 'Scratch my leg with a rusty nail / Sadly it heals... A tiny animal curled into a quarter circle.' It was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, and I found it pretty disturbing when Richey first showed it to me. Now, of course, it's even more so, and I think this and 4st 7lb are pretty obviously about Richey's state of mind, which I didn't quite realise at the time. Even if you're quite close to someone, you always try to deny thoughts like that." While in his track by track notes, Edwards wrote: "Condition of old age - youth always remembered fondly. OAP wants to die with favourite memory month in mind. Adult memories tawdry, of little value." Later telling NME: "I would like to be able to write, 'I'm feeling supersonic / Give me gin and tonic' (Oasis), but I just can't do it. I think that it's a brilliant lyric, but whatever ability that is, I haven't got the ability to write that line. I don't feel that way, you know. The last time I felt supersonic was when I was about 10-years-old, I expect... Whatever you think about our lyrics, at least they're true. Die In The Summertime was written before anything had happened to me, that was basically an old man looking back over his life, over his favourite period of youth. His childhood, basically. Everybody's got a perfect mental time of their life, and that's what that song is about. And it was written last summer."

23. Becoming "restless and twitchy" when not creating, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, James has never thought of himself as a perfectionist when it comes to writing and recording music - or mining for gold. Having pragmatically expressed anxieties about how a laboured / workmanlike approach, overthinking technical decisions or constantly tinkering, can in the long run, be detrimental to creativity and result in "paralysis through analysis." But, after his initial concerns as to whether or not he'd even be capable of servicing selected THB tracks, by turning some of Richey's words / tongue-twisting lyrics into singable songs, e.g. Yes: "You crazy fucker. How do you expect me to write music to this!?!" As pure Year Zero and the "most natural thing" that MSP has ever done, years later during an album by album commentary, a decisive JDB revealed of this onus and tipping point: "Other than Lifeblood, The Holy Bible was the only other time I've had to re-design what I do. That album gave me so much confidence. Once I'd done that, I knew that - in terms of pure musicality - writing a song to whatever words I was given, there was nothing for me to be scared about anymore*." Even now, Bradfield still manages to impressively summon the magical interplay between words and melody, while embracing stylistic shifts and mastering other musical genres. As for Edwards' 'sunless afternoons' and declaring in Yes, 'I can't find myself', during his last ever interview with Music Life in 1995, he opened up about his past foibles, plus penning lyrics and how this made him feel much happier within himself, volunteering: "Sometimes, I'll write solidly for a few days and it'll be nothing but rubbish, and then I'll worry I won't be able to write anything else. That makes me feel sick in myself. At times, I'm just fed up with myself, but I know it's the result of something I've done and I have to accept that... I have no regrets. Regrets are meaningless. You can't change yesterday or tomorrow. You can change only this present moment. I try thinking, like, 'There's only today, I'll do what I can do today'... All I was doing was destroying myself. But to me, the worst thing I did was keep trying to be normal, which is how I ended up in hospital. Now, I wake up in the morning and I know what I want to do - I want to write, it makes me feel better in myself. It'd be easy to churn things out, and if I didn't care about words I could just write some rubbish - you know, write in rhymes and make the songs easy for James to sing. But I value writing songs, I do regard myself as a good poet, I work hard. Songwriting is an art and I really try my best at it. I get such satisfaction from it, and I didn't want to lose that part of me... The band is getting better and better. The lyrics are, too. I've found better ways to express myself. Though I don't need to know if my words have become more acceptable than before, I hope they have. Some songs on The Holy Bible are pretty clear. I don't think I've changed what I say, but maybe I'm saying it in a different way." When asked which Manics lyric has been the hardest to put music to, Sean answered via Twitter: "Yes was a challenge, hence the time-signature of the song**." With its bracing / lilting melody and crystalline, cyclical verse guitar line / note pattern motif - a burrowing earworm - also rooted in The Penguin Orchestra Cafe's surging and swirling, Music For A Found Harmonium. As at the time Bradfield was writing the music for Yes, he kept hearing this instrumental track being played on the radio, which he absolutely loved! For Nicky however, the resemblance to another song also springs to mind: "The chorus of Yes is just like Wire's Outdoor Miner. James and Sean absolutely loved Wire when they were young" he told Metal Hammer. As for Nicky's meaty bass line, he admitted to Bass Magazine: "Yes actually doesn't really work, but it does. James was like, 'It's just not the right notes!' and I said I know, but it works." With reference to the song's meaning, The Guardian wrote: "Yes is a raw mea culpa in which the Manics' surrenders to Music Business protocol, were equated with the more stomach-churning aspects of prostitution." Dumbfounded by his friend's composing abilities, Wire marvelled in Under The Radar: "I think James had [a 'Is there even a way to make a song from this?'] moment a few times. I still can’t believe James turned Yes into such a melodic song, really, because when you see the lyrics written down, there’s just so many of them - and they’re so awkward!"

Concerning some of the words for Yes - which is quite an opening statement - in a 1994 NME feature entitled, DON'T GIVE UP THE DEITY JOB, Nicky disclosed how as a group, MSP felt they had objected themselves as media whores: "You might think it reads about prostitution, but it's the prostitution of what we've felt over the last three years. It catches up with you, in all honesty. It caught up with Richey. I think we've always been searching for some kind of truth and we came to a lot of conclusions about what happened to us. Our protective shield had just been blown away. It's not to say we've hated every moment of being in a band, and I don't know if we betrayed ourselves in some kind of way, but there's a line in there, 'There's no part of my body that has not been used', and I think that might start with me and Richey having love bites on the first NME cover, then escalates to Richey or whoever sleeping with groupies to cutting yourself. It's like what Red Indians believe, that your soul is taken away when you're photographed constantly. It does get to a point where it feels like that... I think we realised there should be an end and we've either got to start again, which I think we have on this album, or end with dignity. Attitudes within ourselves became blurred. As much as anything, we just wanted to make an album that reflected the way we felt, which was much more depressing than our previous albums." Later adding: "I think the disillusion was always there. But it's the first time we've admitted it to ourselves. It's the first time we've ever felt that we have lost lots of dignity. Sometimes music is the least important thing in the world, unfortunately." In '94, Wire also told Brum Beat: "[The Music Business has] got everything sewn-up. Grunge could've been threatening, but it was MTV lead, which sums it up. It ended up not mattering how powerful some of the music or figureheads were - it was marketed in the same way as Pepsi or Coke. That’s something we've always fought against. We've admitted that we’re part of the machine, but we've tried to use it. However, it’s got to the point where we're completely disenchanted with it... [Romanticism in music] is important, but a lot of people do romanticise about something like punk too much. I was too young to experience it, but later, I was able to relate to the Pistols and The Clash. The best thing to come out of it, was the idea of a band like the Pistols ripping off record companies rather than being ripped off by them. I don’t think that will happen again!" In a 1995 American interview, James discussed the sordid, state-led prostitution services that MSP had witnessed while on tour, specifically in Germany, Holland and Thailand, and how people living there had become numb to this. Going onto explain how the band themselves, felt like they had become commodities: "We'd made some mistakes working for Sony and it can get to you - you can be manipulated and we'd forgotten how to say no basically, as a group. The song, Yes, is drawing the parallel between us and prostitutes." While Nicky told Melody Maker: "It looks at the way that society views prostitutes as probably the lowest form of life. But we feel that we've prostituted ourselves over the last three or four years, and we think it's the same in every walk of life... There's a line in there, 'Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want.' You do get to a position when you're in a band where you can virtually do anything you want, in any kind of sick, low form. It's not something we've particularly indulged in, but it is a nasty by-product of being in a group." In his explanatory notes, Edwards wrote: "Prostitution of The Self. The majority of your time is spent doing something you hate to get something you don't need. Everyone has a price to buy themselves out of freedom." In 227 Lears essay about Yes, it is noted how "in addition to the television material sampled, the lyrics excerpt fragments from a newspaper article. As Wire indicated in an interview with Metal Hammer in September 1994: "Yes, for example: we had just read this article about prostitutes in Nottingham and it was written around that. Prostitutes are derided by society as a very low form of human life, but most people do the same thing every day of their lives - they just don’t do it in a sexual way. But in all honesty, the lyrics are about being in a band and prostituting yourself every day. It completely is. There’s one line in there, 'There’s no part of my body that has not been used.' We feel like that really, being in a band - there’s not much left with any purity.""

227 Lears excavated how "the article, CHILDREN FOR SALE ON THE STREETS OF UK CITIES, written by journalist Nick Davies appeared in The Mail on Sunday in November 1993 and could equally have suggested the song’s key opening phrase. Edwards used other elements to help shape his startling vision. Davies first reports on the harrowing activities of two boys, Jamie and Luke, one of whom recounts the first time that he was asked to "T" somebody, explaining that this stands for ‘toss’. Edwards in turn elaborated on this: ‘I "T" them 24/7 all year long.’ Later in the piece, Davies quotes a senior official of Notts County Council who says of the difficulties faced in confronting the issue of child prostitution: ‘Our community homes now contain a combination of the most damaged, deprived, depraved and delinquent children, and they are incredibly difficult to work with. And our problem is that we are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We pick up the pieces when they have been damaged. At best, we may find a remedy. At worst, we are just running a damage-limitation exercise.’ The report also features references to ‘old ladies’, a young girl evading ‘24/7’ watch by her social worker, a child being ‘conceived’ of a pimp and prostitute, a boy being raped ‘on video’." In connection to the latter - and although never actually materialising in the completed lyrics for Yes - during a '94 Melody Maker Q&A, ALL THAT GLITTERS..., Wire and Edwards alluded to the extremely dark and murky world of underground circulated snuff films. Nicky: "It's a period of readjustment for us as people and as a band. We've reached some sort of conclusion in our career, and the question is, what next? And what we want to do next is very dark and very depressing." Richey: "When we write lyrics, sometimes we'll come up with something that we think is really good, and works really well with James' melody. And I hate having the thought in the back of my head, that we can't possibly print this in a lyric sheet, because people will misunderstand it." Nicky: "On the next album, there will be nothing left out. Whether we get crucified or not. There's new songs about snuff movies, and if you write about that, you've got to go into some kind of graphic detail." Richey: "And I know what people are going to say, that it's cheap. Look at American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. It was completely misunderstood by the media. And they probably knew why they were doing it, but they just chose to ignore it. When I read it, I didn't find it cheap at all. I found it frightening and very moralistic." HMV also reported that "widely-read and a self-confessed media junkie, Richey intends to write lyrics on the whole range of human suffering for the next album: "I hope it will raise the moral consciousness about such terrible events in the world."" In THB 20, JDB said: "By then, some of the other songs had been written, so I knew what tone the record was going to take on: it was going to be a hard listen. It wasn't going to be an easy sell. I saw the lyric of Yes, and for me it had the most empathy of any of the lyrics. Of course there was anger in there, there was abject pity, but there was also pity felt for the subject. He was very guarded about the inspirations on Yes. So I wanted the music to be empathetic too." As for the song's simple but effective name, Nicky once gave away: "Richey had been struggling to think of a title that summed up exactly what the track was about. So, I suggested Yes, which he thought was perfect!" When interviewing Wire in 1994, Melody Maker wrote: "Searing. Endearing. Enduring. Enticing. Incisive. Indecisive. Divisive. A mingling of masochism and machismo. Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world at a time when rock 'n' roll means nothing at all. "Well, this time we seemed to be capable of saying everything we wanted to say. We weren't shoehorning the lyrics in this time, the lyrics suggested the melodies, these beautiful, beautiful melodies - James is so happy with this record, and he's not a man who's easily pleased... Right now, I don't wanna go out, I don't wanna make any friends, at the moment all I want to do is make enemies. I've never felt this much contempt for everyone and everything in my entire life. And I don't feel the need for anyone to like me anymore. Jesus, it's hard enough to like myself." He takes a deep breath. "Basically, we've reached a point now where we feel as if we've prostituted ourselves so fucking much, just given and given and given, that we've given everything away, and we've got absolutely fucking nothing left of our own and we played up to that, you know - Culture Sluts***.

But these things... these things catch up with you. There's a song on the album called Yes which is about this, the feeling that you've just been completely used up. I mean, I remember dressing up as sperm for some Italian fashion magazine, do you know what I mean? That was our credo: say yes to everything." Dada in reverse. "Yeah..." His thin face swells with a huge, empty grin, "We were like the TSB: 'The Band That Like To Say Yes.'" And then he stops smiling. "We always thought that, deep down, we were in control. And we weren't. We fucking weren't. The last six months have just been completely fucking horrible. I mean, I hate whining rock stars but, Jesus, for the first time in my life I feel as though I've got the right to be miserable. This is the first time in my life I've ever felt cheapened. I don't feel like I've got anything of my own left at all. Absolutely fucking nothing at all."" Nicky also told Metal Hammer: "I wish we could be like Pearl Jam and say, 'Fuck it, we're not doing anything. No videos; maybe a Rolling Stone interview once a year.' But on one hand I don't think we should, because I think we explain ourselves, and on the other hand, we've got to anyway because we haven't sold 20 million albums like Pearl Jam... It's the nearest thing we've ever done to some sort of artistic statement. We've nicked loads of samples and we've just made the record that we wanted to, which doesn't cater to anybody except ourselves. I suppose I just want people to take it seriously, but that sound so pretentious!" When writing about The Holy Bible's "spindly deportment and unvarnished presentation" and Yes (although this sentiment can easily be applied to all 13 tracks), Keith Cameron posited: "From within the bristling mesh, lines poke out that pierce the senses, they stay there, lodged, haunting long after their moment has gone, like little psychic aftershocks." In 2020, the Manics Podcast, Do You Love Us?, interviewed the band's long-time close friend, confidant, work colleague and Philip Hall's widow, Terri Hall. Who, after selecting Yes as one of her all-time favourite MSP choice cuts, uncovered how ahead of The Holy Bible's release in the Land of the Rising Sun, an aghast executive / label rep from the Japanese division of Sony, actually telephoned the Hall or Nothing office to ask if they could "talk them through the lyrics," as they were convinced that some of the unsanitised, objectionable and lewd language present in Yes, must have been typos! As otherwise, this could have kicked up a fuss in Japan. In their 1994 album review, NME even wrote: "Hell, in corporate rock terms this album is commercial suicide anyway, as even the wildly catchy likes of Yes are splattered with expletives and soiled by a stroppy production. Fuck being radio friendly, The Holy Bible isn't even people friendly." THB is indeed never behoven, or slavish to, family-friendly content! With Keith Cameron musing: "[On Yes] the Manics' anthemic sensibilities are compacted by a brute minimalist credo. It is their Tabula rasa, one of the all-time great opening album tracks - because it's effectively the album in miniature - scorching the earth for what is to come and effectively nullifying everything that came before." Lastly, on a related note (having also previously written the lyrics, 'My idea of love comes from / A childhood glimpse of pornography / Though there is no true love / Just a finely tuned jealousy' for Life Becoming A Landslide), in September '94 as part of their PORN! IS IT GOOD FOR YOU? issue, Select Magazine interviewed James and Richey about their experiences with, and views on, pornography. Towards the end of this chat, and indicative of what makes him tick, when asked by Miranda Sawyer: 'What turns you on?' Edwards avowed: "The books that I find erotic, that turn me on are stuff like Dennis Cooper's Frisk, or Mishima's Confessions Of A Mask, or J.G. Ballard's Crash - which is very sexual all the way though. He dreams of being in a car crash with Elizabeth Taylor: auto-imagery, just piling into Elizabeth Taylor and the tail lights meshing into each other, the bonnet being ripped out. It's very violent. There's a Japanese film called Tesuo, The Iron Man, I love that film. All it is is a man turning into a machine, and in his mind he's got a girlfriend and a potential male lover. I find it really sexy. I think people are becoming more machine-like and that's the imagery I like. Also sex and death are closely linked. Sadomasochistic imagery, bleeding..." Is that why you cut yourself up a lot? Richey: "I find it attractive. I find it... sexual."

*In 2009, Professional Music Technology wrote: "The Holy Bible remains not only the Manics greatest moment, but James Dean Bradfield's finest moment as a guitarist and composer, having to match the complex lyrics by Richey Edwards with suitable music, pushing Bradfield's talents to extremes: "The Holy Bible was the only other time where I had to reconceive what I make. But at the time, one really needed it. Because if you hear a song like Yes or Faster, I felt a little voyeuristic... Obviously, Richey was on a misty line of thought on some of these songs. Sometimes I thought, 'There are too many bloody words there, how does this degenerate want me to write a song or guitar part to it?' It was the only time where I considered my songwriting as a technical challenge in itself, to make it that the music agrees to the words. I could follow a method, like a method actor. To say that it resembled an academic exercise makes it cold, but I liked to do that."" **In a 1998 Q&A with The Face, when directing their attention towards Edwards' vessel to communicate, and the combination of consonants and vowels in the words or phrases found within his complex lyrical tapestries. The prestigious and influential monthly glossy put in print: "Previously, [the Manics] had attempted to edit and shoehorn the lyrics into the kind of shapes which pop songs demand. For this, their masterpiece of extremity, they resolved that there would be no editing whatsoever. Everything would be included, and the songs would have to cope. Sean: "Richey had no concept of music in terms of metre and bars and beats. A line could go on and on and on. In a way, he was very indulgent to his impulses. Nicky has the same impulses, but then he manipulates them in a much more universal and user-friendly way than Richey ever did. Richey was more... I'd say honest. Truthful about it. He'd actually say, 'This is it', and push it right in your face. Whereas Nicky will sort of sidestep, dress it up. People sometimes can't digest things in its raw form." During The Holy Bible 10th Anniversary DVD interview, when putting into words how it felt to step into someone else's skin, not doing the lyrics a disservice and doing his utmost to zone in on the sweet spot, when crystallising Edwards' emotions. As he ventured into previously unexplored areas and found his way into songs, an inquisitive and noble JDB verbalised: "Some of [Richey's] lyrics, I wouldn't say surprised or shocked me, they confused me. Because obviously, some of them were coming from a very much more voyeuristic level, and some of them were coming from a level of personal experience as well. I remember thinking, 'How am I supposed to get in the mindset of some of the people he's writing about, and also, the way he's feeling right now?' You know, it was a double-whammy kind of thing." Keith Cameron even noted: "There are subtle shifts in authorial perspective throughout The Holy Bible. Three songs are delivered in the third person." And, while on first reading some lyric drafts, James could apprehend songs such as Ifwhiteamerica..., Of Walking Abortion and Archives Of Pain, as they were more in harmony with MSP's stock-in-trade. He found it much harder to comprehend the unorthodox lyrics for tracks including Yes, 4st 7lb and Faster. In 1994, Bradfield actually confessed to NME: "Yes is the song I find hardest to sing. It doesn't put a lump in my throat or anything, it just makes me feel that I can't do it justice. It makes it feel a bit futile, a bit cabaret." Wire even conveyed the contrasts, disparities and duality between himself and his best friend, in a 1996 Hall or Nothing press release penned by the revered writer, broadcaster and music journalist, Jon Savage: "He was black and I was white. I'm not pretending to be the same kind of lyricist as Richey... I don't reach the depths of madness and self-hatred that he did." While simultaneously ruminating: "That was the difference between me and Richey, he always wanted to be understood but I preferred being misunderstood. I get strength from feeling that no-one likes me, that I'm being anti-fashion." Even once going as far as to say in NME: "With The Holy Bible, we just wanted to make a statement that was anti-everything. But in the end it was too grim. It's one of those albums. You won't play it very often, but it's comforting that it's there nestling in your collection somewhere. Like Unknown Pleasures. You'll get it out once a year."

In a '94 write-up titled, RAPID MOOD SWINGS, Sky Magazine trenchantly reported on how the indomitable and immovable record's explicit content, may be too much to handle for some and could even repel listeners: "A collection of desolate poetry containing beauty, bile and plenty of Manic wisdom about the heart of the human condition. Prepare to be told that you are a walking abortion. That you are no better than Adolf Hitler. That much about love is lies and self-deceit. "We could scare a lot of people," says Bradfield nonchalantly. "People don't want this many things pointed out to them. People are so fucking dumb."" While NME published: "Fiercely self-critical, James holds himself responsible for not interpreting the lyrics on the previous album as well as he should have. Of the new record, he says simply that these are the best lyrics he's ever seen and so he just tried to be as truthful as he could." The music paper also wrote: "Yet instructive though these are to the Manics' unremittingly pessimistic end-of-the-millennium diagnosis, they could all to a lesser or greater extent, be said to conform to existing MSP culture bunkers. More harrowing - for obvious reasons in view of recent events - are a trio of wired missives from the verge of some personal abyss: 4st 7lb, Die In The Summertime and Yes. Gone is the escapist bluster of Gold Against The Soul. Musically, these are brittle, jagged rockscapes." As for whether or not JDB felt browbeaten, or bludgeoned, by having to continually sing these words, in 1994 he told Sun Zoom Spark: "I get fed up with people when they ask questions like that. I am stable enough to take the lyrics as somebody else's sentiment and if I'm ever worried about something within those lyrics, then I can ask about it. I find it really confusing - the inverted snobbery that seems to arise when someone has to sing somebody else's lyrics. I could maybe understand if I was to be equated with Roger Daltry, but I'm not. We all grew up with each other, we're all very similar people to a crucial degree, but it's not like we're four cartoon characters like The Who or something... I get more scared watching Salem's Lot than I do reading any of our fucking lyrics, because at the end of the day, we don't have to take it quite as seriously as Richey. That's not to say that's why the situation arose. It's always been our intention to manifest a serious attitude, but it's not the same as taking yourself seriously. That has always been our attitude - never ever pat yourself on the back because you wrote a certain lyric or some music. So I never get that worried about it because, ultimately, I've probably had more problems with other songs, which were completely detached from Richey's opinion or his state of being. I probably took more umbrage at things Richey and Nicky have said about other people in lyrics. Not to a great extent, just to the level of having an intelligent discourse about it. I've never had a problem with having to sing anything about what Richey's saying, because I'm so close to him and the level that we all work together on, means that we can never take ourselves that seriously in each other's company." In 2009, Wire and Bradfield also discussed Edwards lyrics with The Quietus. Nicky: "I kind of know what Yes is about, but I can't relate to it. Not really." James: "And he was notoriously opaque when you asked him a question about lyrics. You would ask him about Yes and say, 'Is it voyeuristic, is it vicarious, is it observational, is it personal?' He wouldn't really clear it up sometimes. He was never very vociferous in explaining these things." Interestingly though, Edwards always loved the challenge of interviews and could talk for hours and hours and hours, with Wire once joking how sometimes at the end of the day, having chatted so much, his loquacious friend would be "left with a nasal voice." ***Having long spoken about just how important the music press was to all of the band, as they were growing up in Wales. Richey also acknowledged how it is a double-edged sword for every artist, as although musicians do need publicity, deep down, they are always aware that the press can blow with the wind and sabotage / hinder their career on a whim. So, in August 1993, when Melody Maker asked Edwards, 'Have you ever felt used by the music press?' for a feature titled, DON'T BELIEVE THE TYPE! He stood his ground and snapped back: "Of course. We are just brain-dead, sheep-fucking, rugby-playing, leek-eating morons. Racist - oh no.

TO LIVE AND DAI IN LA – THE WELSH DRAG ON – THE RHYLL THING – GUNS N' DAFFODILS – YOU SEXY MERTHYR FUCKERS – THE NEWPORT DOLLS – MEEK LEEK MANIFESTO – DAI HARDER – THE BOYOS ARE BACK IN TOWN. Would POTATO-EATING PADDY ever get a Therapy? cover line?" The music paper also posed the question, 'Would you have "made it" without the press?' With a contrary and surly Edwards retorting: "Of course." In connection to anti-Welsh bigotry, this was also addressed by MSP during Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show. Bradfield: "I think we were put on the back foot straight away. You know, one of the first ever pieces about us was, 'How can this band be good, because they're from Wales?' And then, all of the puns started and all of the headlines: SEXY MERTHYR FUCKERS – DOUBLE GLAM SLAM..." Moore: "A lot of people were sort of laughing us off, thinking we were little provincial people, 'What do they know!?!'" Wire: "If it was done about any other ethnic group, it probably wouldn't be tolerated. You'll see every headline mentions leeks [and] daffodils. But we said right from the start, we want to be the biggest band in the world. We don't want to mean 'Anything To Anyone', we want to mean 'Everything To Everyone'. Nationality wasn't an issue." In 2009, The Guardian even wrote: "Wilful contrariness has always rather been the Manic Street Preachers' thing. Bradfield: "We came from the Valleys, we were Valley Troglodytes and proud of it, but we were ferociously nerdy indie kids who loved sport, which other ferociously nerdy indie kids didn't. When we first came to London, we were always trying to work out a way of making people try and believe in us, while making people hate us at the same time."

24. Career-wise, despite having tasted a modicum of success and had an abundance of plaudits, the group still felt like failures. With the autodidact and careworn Richey, pondering in the December 1994 issue of Molotov Cocktails Fanzine: "In maybe twenty years we might have an impact on somebody because of what we believe or what we say, but we’re not important now. That’s just the nature of culture. The thing is, like, art bases all its importance on death, the end, you know, the final comeuppance. Popular culture bases itself on sex and violence, and sex and violence is truly more real to the majority of people than death and the end and bankruptcy. You know, when everything falls apart." Nicky shared a similar sentiment in a Melody Maker Q&A: "We always dealt in the dilemma of being in a band, success - what we consider success - and art, and how to mix them. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be commercially successful, because we wanted to reach people's minds. But then we realised that becoming that is the most difficult process of all. We're not satisfied with being small. Any other band in our position would be completely happy. We've had ten consecutive Top 30 singles. We've been on Top of the Pops five times in just over a year. We've had two gold albums, sell-out tours of Japan and Europe. We still outsell critically acclaimed British bands by five to one in many cases. It's just that we're always going to strive for more... Most genius is popular and that's especially true of music. There are so many people who say things like, 'I'm the next Brian Wilson', or, 'We write songs as good as The Kinks.' We feel we haven't got the right to say that until other people judge us on those terms. That's the dilemma we face up to and most bands don't. Whatever we've achieved, we never see it as any kind of achievement." On reaching his own personal summit - with an audacious death-or-glory inclination - in a '94 interview with MTV's leftfield centric 120 Minutes, a cool, calm and collected Edwards, put forward: "[Making millions of pounds from music] is for the lucky few, I don't think it will be us actually... All we've ever been interested in doing is making a record which encapsulates a mood and a time, and then it can be a full stop, you know, bye bye." He went onto talk of his great sadness about how in the seasons of life, nothing lasts forever, and as the years roll by, how there's less and less to discover and inspire you, in terms of books, films and music etc, concluding: "You just end up a barren wasteland, just trying to find something new, which never really occurs." Describing himself as "maudlin" and placing his first love of penning lyrics way above travelling, staying in hotels and playing concerts ("all very nice" but not a patch on the times when he was alone in his flat writing). While aware that the supremely high calibre, breadth and depth of MSP's lexicon - which colours outside the lines - was what elevated them to another plane and massively separated them as sui generis, from their peers also operating within the rock sphere. In a 1992 interview with Siren Magazine, Richey postulated: "I can't see any way that music can go forward, we always thought that the only way that rock music could go forward was with the lyrics." When Simon Price adroitly addressed the immeasurable and tempting appeal of MSP's intermixed, unconventional and enviable lyrics, their pearls of wisdom, plus the layered and nuanced, disparate encyclopaedic elements of the band's output - which has without question set a benchmark in music that deserves to be applauded! As part of his breathtaking review of Futurology for The Quietus, he wrote: "Like all the Manics' best work, it is rich with these sorts of cultural, political and artistic references. It creates a pop-up museum in the mind, sending the listener on a potentially endless exploratory journey, pursuing the pointers and chasing the clues." Notably, irrespective of people's acceptance or understanding, Edwards always treated songwriting* as an art form and never aspired to be compared to any other lyricists - he was especially proud of Archives Of Pain and Die In The Summertime. But between 1993-94, he was incapable of 'switching off' and had started devouring a book a day / was gleaning information and accumulating references, that sometimes JDB and Wire couldn't even get their heads around, which they would then have to ask him about!

In 2009, James told NME: "I would think I was being intelligent, just by reading a novel that none of my friends had read before, but sometimes he was reading like The Teachings of the Eighth Pope. Or something that was beyond my grasp." As songs were being gathered for The Holy Bible, a clear-eyed Nicky (who was ensconced in newlywed bliss / enjoying domesticity and "not so much on his game" with writing lyrics and reading, preferring instead to concentrate more on his bass playing), concluded that his songwriting partner's gumption, unforced / thriving creative flow and reams of contributions - which were outstripping his - were perfect anyway! When addressing having to decode lyrics loaded with meaning, on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "Richey was reaching some sort of peak of intelligence. He was just reading so much and taking in so much culture. I mean, I couldn't keep up with him, no way - half of the references when he was bringing lyrics in, me and James would look at each other and go, 'Who is Horthy? Who is Tisu?' And that made it really exciting, because you just felt it was a writer at the very top of his game!" Later adding: "Undoubtedly, we've influenced more people in an educational way**, than we have bands. All we've ever done is try to be a conduit and pass things on, that we think sometimes say it a lot better that we can say it ourselves." As for the sheer quantity of lyrics that the scholarly Richey kept giving to him in 1994, during a Radio 1 Evening Session interview in May '96, Nicky said: "He never threw in any lyrics in the river, that's complete rubbish! He gave us lyrics about 5 weeks before he went missing, just because he had a lot of lyrics anyway - he was always giving me lyrics." With Wire then warm-heartedly joking: "It was like, 'Oh, give it a rest, Rich!' you know?" With Edwards' lyrics on The Bible containing a multitude of searingly memorable, honest and endlessly fascinating / absorbing words, one of the greatest, most quoted and famous lingering lines of them all, remains, 'I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing.***' This was also the provisional title nearly used for MSP's ninth long player that became known as Journal For Plague Lovers, which in many ways, is a spiritual successor / companion-piece to The Holy Bible. With some fans and music scribes, even affectionately referring to them as 'Richey's albums' or as 'Richey's Old and New Testaments'****. When dissecting Edwards' lyrical preoccupations, tendencies and contributions during the 2009 documentary, Shadows & Words, Wire emphasised: "Richey loved low art and he loved high art." Also telling NME: "Richey was unlike any other rock star of our era. He towers above so many people in popular culture. I was reading this piece by Mark Larson the other day - he used to do Newsnight Review - and he said that, when you mix high art with low art, both are just as important and deserving of scrutiny. When you combine them both, that makes the most interesting art. That's what Manic Street Preachers had the ability to do. And no member more so than him. He was voracious in terms of knowledge. Sometimes, by the age of 26, 27, I thought he'd almost chewed everything up that he could. You could see his intellectual arrogance in the whole, 'I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer' thing. Richey kind of used education as a revenge tool. When he got his A levels, there was a TV crew outside the gates of our school. They go, 'What did you get, Mr Edwards?' and he goes 'Three As.' They go, 'And what were you expecting?' He looks right at the camera and, completely deadpan says, 'Three As.' It's hard to say [which songs he was most proud of being involved in], I think he probably became pretty dissatisfied towards the end. Lyrically, I think he always felt the next song was going to be the greatest, because he was putting so much work into it by the end." *On November 29, 1994, Richey's final ever television interview took place in Sweden for ZTV's Artistspecial programme. During this Q&A, he gave some of the most insightful and candid comments about himself and his lyrics ever put on record. Here are a few excerpts: "[The Holy Bible] is the first album I think, where I've escalated my lyric writing. I think it's better than the previous two albums... It's more like the idea I've got in my mind. I've always had an idea in my mind, how I want to express myself and I think the first album was just slightly too naive. I've got a rhythm and a melody in my mind that I know James has also got, and it's trying to get them to match perfectly.

I think early on, we were so inexperienced, it was hard to get them working properly and now when I write, I can almost hear James' music and I know what works and what doesn't work... Every day of my life, I feel that I'm not as good a writer as I could be, or I'm not as talented as I could be. I try and constantly read and improve my mind and get a better perspective on world history. Nobody's ever going to get good enough to know everything, but I think I try, which is more than a lot of people do... When I see my lyrics written down, even though I know what the song's going to be like, I can't really imagine how James could possibly sing the words. But, I think that's the best thing about us and the one thing we do that's quite different from most bands. I think we operate in quite a traditional rock format musically, but I don't think there's any groundbreaking music left at all - nothing ever sounds that new to me. I think my words are not that special, as regards to literature and poetry, because it's all been done before. But in terms of being in a rock context, my lyrics are not really, 'Baby I love you', 'Baby I miss you', 'Baby comeback' or 'Baby go away'. Which, is like 95% of every record in every record shop in the world. Whatever kind of writer you are, it obviously expresses something of what you feel... I think it's perfectly natural to have an interest in the things that actually go on around you. You know, if I wrote lyrics constantly about relationships, I would think that I was walking around with a big plastic bag over my head, like ignoring everything that goes on, pretending things don't exist. So, I really think everybody should write like I write. I think everybody else is a bit strange, really... The people I care about, think I write good words. The people I care about, think we write good music and that's all I'm really interested in. I don't want any kind of applause, if it's on terms I cannot except... [Everything associated with being in a band] is not as satisfying as maybe getting two or three lines in a lyric, that you really think encapsulates how you feel, you know? That's what's really important to me. If I can look back on a lyric and think that's a good song, that's as good maybe as other works that I really respect, that's what I'm in a band for... I have a dream of writing a lyric which I think is flawless, really. That has got no broken edges, that makes sense to me - not to anybody else - but just makes sense to me. That I think in 15 to 20 lines, I've written a lyric that sums up exactly how I feel about everything. Not just how I feel today, or how I've felt all my life, [but] everything I've read, everything I've seen, everything I believe. That in those 15 to 20 lines, you can just say it all you know?" In 2009, NME printed the following exchange between Bradfield and Wire about Richey's lyrics. JDB: "Yeah, in the past, you know, just because he would hand you some lyrics that it actually seemed it might be impossible to put music to them, didn’t mean that they weren’t written as lyrics." Nicky: (cackles at length) "Or that’s what you thought!" JDB: (chuckles) "So that kind of process hadn’t changed." Nicky: "He wasn’t looking for an Ivor Novello, was he, the boy. He was looking for a Pulitzer Prize." JDB: "And strangely, I’ve never thought about it, but he was never looking to be compared to any other lyricist." Nicky: "No, he wasn’t, no. He just wanted to be J.G. Ballard." Later in the interview, Wire also said: "He loved writing as well, physically, with pen and paper. Me and him always used to say as a running joke, when people asked 'What instrument do you play?', he'd play the pen and I'd play the paper. And the sound of a typewriter is just erotic. The sound of a computer is a gigantic turn-off." In terms of the Wire / Edwards songwriting partnership, ahead of receiving their NME Godlike Genius Award in 2008, Nicky said: "I've just got loads of memories. To be honest, sitting down and writing lyrics together at my desk in my Mum and Dad's (Irene and Allen) house - I just don't know anyone else who does that in rock history, really, people who write words together who can't really play their instruments! It's just such a bizarre thing you know? I just love [those times] and we wrote lots of lyrics together - I guess there's the Lennon/McCartney and Jagger/Richards thing - but just as words, that's pretty special!" **In 1994, Melody Maker interviewed both Edwards and Wire about self-educating themselves and being brainboxes. Richey: "I know some people, a lot younger than me, who get excited when they discover a new author, or a new band. But we've exhausted all those possibilities." That's a prodigious claim. But the Manics are a prodigious band.

Their career is a microcosm of rock 'n' roll mythology: from lippy, small-town young guns ready to take on the world, to world-weary cynics, jaded, depressed, disillusioned, drunken or downright dependent, inside of three years. Nicky agrees. "We grew up very early. By the time I was 16, I'd read and studied the complete works of Philip Larkin, Shakespeare, all the beat generation, every film. I find it unbelievable, the intensity of us as people and as a band. You get bands these days, they're 30-years-old, and they've just discovered Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Everything we discovered, from Betty Blue to Malcolm Lowry, was no big deal. Everything came fast to us. And like you say, we are a microcosm. We get bored so easily that we put into three years everything that took The Rolling Stones 20. It's just the way we are; we are modern people." In 2009, Wire enthused to about MSP Fans' unquenchable thirst for knowledge: "I believe that we, too, have brought some people closer to education. This is much more important than all the gold records. I'm proud of that." While in like manner, in 2016 he told The Guardian: "If we’ve achieved anything, it’s to give clues to a more rewarding life, like Morrissey talking about Oscar Wilde, or The Clash talking about Allen Ginsberg." ***On the Exeter University set list (October 18, 1994) and possibly another influence on his 'I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing' Faster lyric, Richey hand-wrote a quote by Sylvia Plath: 'Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.' On a related Everything Must Go note, when starting her diary afresh on November 13, 1949, Plath wrote: "As of today - I have decided to keep a diary again – just a place where I can write my thoughts and opinions when I have a moment. Somehow I have to keep and hold the rapture of being 17... I want, I think, to be omniscient... I think I would like to call myself 'The girl who wanted to be God.'" ****Talking to ireallylovemusic, Nicky averred: "[The Holy Bible] is our most coherent statement, even though people say it's Richey's album. No album that we do is ever dominated by one person and this is true here, because obviously Richey never wrote any music." During an extended interview for the special features on No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, when addressing people who fail to observe James, Nicky and Sean's contributions on The Bible, Moore states: "You see [Edwards' lyrics] written down on paper without the rest of it, I wouldn't say they fall down, but they need the music and everything else behind it then, to give it that gravity." Richey was officially declared ‘Presumed Dead’ on November 23, 2008, at the request of his parents (sadly no longer alive) - who also gave MSP their blessings to record Journal For Plague Lovers. A number of newspapers also printed obituaries for Edwards and typical headlines included, AFTER 13 YEARS, THE PARENTS OF MISSING ROCK STAR RICHEY EDWARDS ADMIT HE'S DEAD – CASE CLOSED: HOW 14 YEARS OF HOPE ENDED – COURT DECLARES MANIC STREET PREACHER DEAD – FINAL FAREWELL FOR A CULT HERO – RICHEY MANICS RESTS IN PEACE. As for the Manics' reasons for making this LP, the emotion that came afterwards and the subsequent album played in full UK / Ireland Tour, this has all been well-documented. But, some key points worth mentioning, include how at the end of the House In The Woods demo sessions on January 31, 1995 (where MSP had spent the previous 5 days), after the group had completed their preparatory work, Edwards gave / bequeathed a folder to Wire with a picture of Bugs Bunny and the word OPULENCE hand-written on the front. Inside, the ring binder contained the words to 30 or so potential songs. The band actually mentioned more about this, during a '96 interview with NME. Nicky: "He gave me lyrics first, and I said, ‘Oh, why don’t you give them to Sean over Christmas?’ Sean had them and then he did photocopies." James: "And loads of those lyrics had been around for a while anyway. No music has been written to any of his lyrics since he’s gone missing." Having looked at them on and off over the years, it was Bradfield's idea to finally use them, as he couldn't stop thinking about the words and swamped with ideas / wanting to put them to music, a whole 13 years later, he simply stated: "It just felt like the right time." JFPL was recorded on analog tape by the esteemed engineer, Steve Albini, for two reasons: a) It fulfilled one of Richey's dreams because of Albini's work with Nirvana on In Utero and b) "The Holy Bible sounds analog, it’s something of a time capsule" as Nicky put it.

The LP was laid down at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, between October 2008 - February 2009. Lastly, after listening to the album and reading Edwards' lyrics, Jenny Saville again very kindly allowed MSP to use one of her paintings without charging them a fee. Interestingly, Nicky's wish list included: Richey’s lyrics, Steve Albini and Jenny Saville, so all three boxes were checked! Having said that, Wire was worried that Journal For Plague Lovers "could seriously damage" the band, if the record was perceived by the public as being conscienceless and exploitative. In 2009, The Guardian reported: "At one juncture, after listening to the finished album in the studio, Wire suggested they didn't release it at all. "I said, 'Let's just fucking dig a hole and bury it and make it even more of an art statement, say we've made this great album, but it's just too much to give away.' James was like, 'After I've done all that work? Fuck off!'" This was an album they almost had to make, regardless of the reaction. Bradfield: "Deep down I was thinking, I couldn't have changed that much, I couldn't have forgotten that much about Richey that I can't do this. If we couldn't reconnect with what Richey wrote, even at the apex of what was happening with him... fucking hell, if we couldn't do that then we would have lost a part of ourselves that we hadn't even realised we had lost." That same year, JDB told Billboard: "A lot of the lyrics [which revolve around the fallout of The Holy Bible] are at peace with themselves. There's a feeling of serenity. We knew we had to represent that on the record and there was going to be a softer side to it, that The Holy Bible didn't have." He also unveiled to BARKS: "The theme is different - The Holy Bible deals with anger, hatred - this is the end of the anger in [Edwards]. I don't know how to take [all of] it, [but] it's not a sequel. Some of the tracks on this album are more delicate - it is more gentle, there is more fragility, suspicion in the lyrics, because of giving up. So it's a natural ending to The Holy Bible, not a sequel. The title, Journal For Plague Lovers, seems to indicate an understanding of the people who he met at the hospital - I feel like I don't understand doctors. The notes left by Richey were in the form of a diary or a journal - I guess there were 28 lyrics. Some were scribbled artworks and thoughts, a lot of collages, more than lyrics. [It felt like looking at] a book to understand a lyric, so I thought the title, Journal For Plague Lovers, was perfect." Nonetheless, Wire admitted to "It was indeed difficult to find a title, because Richey wrote so many brilliant lines. For example, I would have liked to call the album, I Know I Believe In Nothing But It Is Nothing, but that was more of a personal thing. In the end, we chose Journal For Plague Lovers, because the record is actually a kind of diary for us." Adding: "When people think of The Holy Bible, they think of Richey Edwards. He defined the band at that time." Interestingly, Bradfield also told Filter: "When Richey gave me the lyrics for The Holy Bible, I was mainlining into them; but with these, I wasn't." That same year, Nicky and JDB also spoke to NME's Emily Mackay about JFPL in a series of print and online exclusive RICHEY'S FINAL MYSTERY Q&As, from which I have fused together some of their answers that cover aspects connected to THB. NME: 'You’ve said that the time just felt right to use the lyrics that Richey left behind. What in particular had changed?' Bradfield: "For me, personally, I suppose it was the fear of having to make music that could live up to the lyrics. There were lots of other factors, but it did start like, that there was a factor of, ‘Would it be tactless to even 10 years after…?’ It just needed to feel as if the distance between the event of Richey’s disappearance and us coming to an understanding of the lyrics, it needed just to be a long time, really. You just gotta let the dust settle in a very natural way, and you can’t take a guess when that’s gonna happen. But I think the overriding responsibility was actually being able to make music that lived up to the lyrics." Wire: "But when we looked at the lyrics, it was just the brilliance of the lyrics - I’d forgotten how much I missed him as a lyricist, how much of a fan I am of his intellect, and his fierce, kind of, rigorous critique of culture, and all those things made me realise I could never do what he did, and it’d be wrong for me to even try. He obviously loved stuff like Of Walking Abortion, Mausoleum, Faster. I think there is elements of that on there.

But it doesn’t matter, that’s not our driving force, it’s just that the lyrics had to… they dictated the mood, I think, of the record. And they’re slightly different to The Holy Bible. The lyrics are much less full of utter hatred and putrefaction of the human race. And there is a surreal sense of humour in some of them as well. A lot of the anger of The Holy Bible was quite positive, in a way, quite purgative. But some of the lyrics on Journal For Plague Lovers feel… not exactly defeated, but there’s a more sort of closed..." Bradfield: "Serene and resigned." Wire: "Yeah, I think there is a sense of more calm. It’s like, he’s been through this process of doubting everything and questioning everything. And the conclusions he reached, they’re not particularly happy. But it does seem like he’s reached them, he’s been through the process. There’s less railing against the world. There’s less chance of solving a problem, there’s more chance of recognising what it is, and accepting it, after this really rigorous process of ingesting everything. But then, he’s not around, so we can’t say for sure." NME: 'Did you find the individual nature of his lyrics pushed your songwriting around them in a certain direction, that maybe it hadn’t been for a while?' Wire: "Oh definitely, James might be too humble to say this, but he definitely touches places that I can’t. And therefore, it does push James to write music in a different way. Because it’d be embarrassing if I tried to do that, you know. Became all jagged! And angular! And compounded by so many references… it’d be embarrassing if I tried to be him. But it does push you in other ways." NME also asked: 'The rejection of morality and law and eternity, is very sort of... losing any sense of centre.' Bradfield: "On the record it rejects ideology, it rejects God, it rejects love, it rejects possibility... I think our main perspective, perhaps when we've gone through any kind of emotions when we were writing or recording these things were, that it's nice to just admire a lyricist or somebody who has poetry in his soul, etc. I think it's fairly obvious that I wouldn't want anybody to kind of challenge themselves as much as Richey challenged himself. I wouldn't want anybody to go down that road anymore. And I don't hear any echoes in my head or my heart about the way Richey felt sometimes. I just stand back and admire his writing. Like I said, to actually turn something that ugly into something beautiful and erudite, is something that he was trying to do all the time. And regardless of what happened in the end, it's about admiring somebody who's trying to process or turn personal emotion into creativity." NME: 'Journal For Plague Lovers, I felt this could have been about a number of things, but the main impression I got was of it being to do with the medical establishment.' Wire: "Mmm. That's good, that, actually. As in, doctors being gods?" NME: 'Yep.' Wire: "I took it more literally as just being like, a secular masterpiece like Bill Callahan's Faith/Void, but I can see where you're coming from. [Reads through lyrics aloud] I think there's a fair bit of doubt in religion in there as well. I don't really get the 'PG certificate, all cuts unfocused line...'. Does that imply some kind of censorship, then? It's funny, it's the one track with a title which doesn't seem to quite match the concept. Journal For Plague Lovers doesn't seem to relate so much to the song as others. If it's about what I think it's about. It's not very good, I know, but some of the stuff, we just don't fucking know." Elsewhere, the interview also scrabbled through other similarities with THB - lyrical themes, sonics, spoken-word samples etc. Wire: "Peeled Apples and All Is Vanity are probably the two most Holy Bible kind of tracks. [Bag Lady is a secret track, because] we thought it was too grim, musically. And also, we wanted 13 tracks like The Holy Bible and we wanted a secret track like In Utero. Just a petty rock 'n' roll thing." Bradfield: "The drudgery of symmetry… Even though, when the record was finished we shied away from comparing it to The Holy Bible, we wanted some kind of symmetry to The Holy Bible. With the artwork, with the number of songs on it. And for lots of reasons, I think. The record is different, but I think they're the same... There's a painting by Jenny Saville on the first record, and now there's a painting by Jenny Saville on this record. But they're different. Because the triptych on The Holy Bible shows the wide spectrum, there's a variety of topic choices on The Holy Bible. It's a lot more varied. There are a few more political songs on The Holy Bible than people ever imagine.

And there are a lot more wide-ranging references on The Holy Bible. But obviously, this record is a lot more personal. And that's why we chose the up-close portrait of the young girl - it represents how much more personal the record is. Essentially, it was the extra track because we couldn't have 14 tracks on the record for aesthetic symmetrical reasons. But I think Bag Lady is the most reminiscent of The Holy Bible. Perhaps that's why we shied away from putting it on the record as well. Sonically, it actually sounds like the Bible, sounds more claustrophobic, I mean it sounds too crammed with perhaps just a bit too much stuff." NME: 'The image of walking in half view of all mirrors (Faster has a reference to 'false mirrors') is strangely terrifying.' Bradfield: "Yeah, and that’s another reason why it was left off the record, because it gives a feeling... it's not as resolved, the lyric itself. This is the only lyric that really weighed me down, I wouldn't wanna inhabit that lyric too much. I wouldn't wanna sing it every night on this tour. I don't know why, it just makes me feel like that sometimes. And the push and pull between pretension and repulsion between being vain and rejecting any notion of what is ugly or beauty, must have been exhausting at this point, when it gets to lyrics like this I think. It would be [difficult] for me to sing it every night, I must say... Bag Lady was the only sound that we actually worried about from a listener's perception, of what we were trying to do. Because that is the song that just came straight away from the lyric." Wire: "It's just got the most miserable chord ever." Bradfield: "I mean, we just felt even though that was what came out, we just felt it didn't suit. For people like us to come out with music like that, it was just a little, mmm..." Wire: "I guess that we felt maybe we were being a little bit contrived musically." Bradfield: "But it was at the end of the record, so we were losing our perspective at that point." Wire: "We did think, 'Does this sound like we're trying a bit too hard to sound like The Holy Bible?' Someone really shook me and James up yesterday by pointing out that after William's Last Words, the first line of Bag Lady is, 'I am not dead', as if it was meant to be some kind of resurrection! I hadn't realised that. That is not something we contemplated. For me, on The Holy Bible, Die In The Summertime had some of the most biting images, and this one as well. I'm kind of sure that he did say this was about someone he met in the hospital, he took a lot of stuff down verbatim. This was a comparatively long lyric, about a page. And it does seem to be about a female, quite a successful lawyer who has, for want of a better word, lost it." Moore also discussed the hidden track, Bag Lady (which is only included on the standard JFPL CD for some reason and the lyrics aren't published in the booklet either), and its babbling and crazed delirium, during a 2011 interview with Classic Rock, stating: "I remember the lyrics being handed to me by Richey. I've still got them. He gave them to me the last weekend we saw him, believe it or not. It was the closest I could get to Dave Grohl in my playing. I went to visit Richey in hospital in Cardiff when he was ill, and he was going on about this mad corporate lawyer who was there at the same time, who was ranting and talking constantly through the night and kept Richey awake. And he just wrote these ramblings all down and that became that song. So that's why I like it so much - and the fact that I nailed it in one brilliant take. But our engineer fucked it up, so we had to do it all again." Hot Press also put in print: "Strangely enough, songs like Marlon J.D. and William's Last Words, make Plague Lovers a more biblical album than The Holy Bible ever was. James: "Yeah, God pops up a lot in the lyrics. I think that's disgust at what you called functional beauty. The substance he found in it was the iconoclasm of religion in the end. I think he really tried to explore the functional beauty of how religion is supposed to liberate your soul in the present and in the passing on, and he didn't find it whatsoever. I mean, he went to church quite a bit when he was young, but the veneer of beauty is really how religion comes in on the record. For him, the functional was dead and the veneer was alive."" During their joint 2009 Q&A with NME, Nicky and James were also asked about the religious imagery in Doors Closing Slowly*****. Wire: "I think James had the most trouble singing this one. It is incredibly sad. The first line, 'Realise how lonely this is, self-defeating, oh fuck yeah.'

There's even a kind of pathos involved as well. Just the last couple of lines, you know, 'Listen to the selfish ones, they are the voice of accomplishment.' See, I don't know if he's saying there, the pressure of relationships, that's the idealism of that, he's never gonna get there, that idea of accomplishment is just so ugly, alien to him... 'Unarmed Army Salvation', that's the hardest bit to sing." Bradfield: "Sally Army." Wire: "Yeah. 'The shadow is the cross, OK... silence is not sacrifice, crucifixion is the easy life.' It's just a classic Richey line. That's him pressing buttons that he knows he's pressing. I know." NME: 'That last line is quite sort of Richard Dawkins in a way.' Wire: "If you apply it to religion, definitely. That kind of self-centred righteousness that if you don't understand faith, well, you know... if you haven't got faith then you will never understand. His religious obsession or rejection of it is quite strange." Bradfield: "It runs deeper than you would ever have thought." Wire: "It ran really deep and it's not something I just don't think we've ever felt. Being oppressed by religion, it just hasn't been a realisation in our time, in our country." Bradfield: "No, we've always thought there's been a really good separation of church and state." Wire: "Exactly. I mean, he went to Sunday school for a couple of years and he always talked about how he really hated it and didn't enjoy it, but it does seem to have had more of an impact (laughs) than just a couple of years of Sunday school." Bradfield: "I just think he found it galling that the supposed beauty in religious art, like the depiction of death as being beautiful and glorious kind of troubled him and inspired him by the same turn. And again, the objectification of like, sacrifice and suffering, and how it can be always represented in some kind of beautiful tableau, I think he always found it, like I said, inspiring and disgusting at the same time." Wire: "Despite that, I was always waiting for the moment when he converted to something, some obscure religion, just to piss people off." Bradfield: "Zoroastrianism. Worship of fire, I believe..." Wire: "I think this is the most stunning piece of music on the record, Albini really, it was the one time he actually arranged four bars of music. He said, 'I'm really embarassed about it, I hate doing this, I never do this, but just lay back on the first four bars and invert the beat on the intro, and then you've got that Harlem funeral sound'... and he called it really humble, he said 'it's such a humble song.' I think he genuinely liked this song. Yeah, I think it's a proper piece of music. It kind of reminds me of In The Neighbourhood by Tom Waits. Velvet Doom March, you called it, didn't you?" Bradfield: "Yeah, Velvet/Harlem funeral dirge." NME: 'Did he read the Bible at all?' Wire: "He had read the Bible, but more literature that sprang up around the Bible and related to it. But I think he did go through a stage of reading the Bible. I'm useless with all that stuff, you know, P.C.P., read Leviticus and stuff like that, I know nothing about chapters of the Bible. It's just like listening to a neverending fucking Nick Cave record, innit. Over and over, here's another fucking chapter..." In 2016, Wire told The Quietus: "I like to think we did the fucking best that anyone could do, with it. We struggle to play any of the songs off it live. It's not that we don't like it. In fact, Sean loves that record, because he did the drums in two days and Steve Albini let him go, 'Yep, you're done!'" With no singles released from it, as it was designed to be a singular listening experience, Journal For Plague Lovers was released on May 18, 2009 and charted at No. 3, managing to spend a total of 5 weeks in the Top 100 of the UK Albums Chart. The LP was praised to the skies by both MSP Fans and reviewers, with UNCUT raving: "A brave, compelling record that stands shoulder to shoulder with the Manics' best." With regard to studies of JFPL, Wikipedia has noted: "In 2020, an in-depth analysis of Edwards' lyrics on the album by Guy Mankowski (with input from Edwards' sister, Rachel) was published in the journal, Punk & Post-Punk. Mankowski concluded that 'in Edwards' lyrics, a number of metaphors reconfigure the malleability of the physical body and expand the concept of how self-fashioning can be applied in relation to it'." *****As an aside, the synth-heavy, wintry and otherworldly, Picturesque (which was released in 2005 as part of the EP and collector's item, God Save The Manics), features a handful of lines from All Is Vanity and Doors Closing Slowly (both of which, are coincidentally cheek by jowl in the Journal For Plague Lovers tracklisting).

Apparently, Nicky had discussed both of these songs with Richey, just prior to him going missing, which is why he felt he had the right to merge some of these lyrics with his own words for Picturesque. The adapted lyrics in question, are verse 1 (taken from All Is Vanity), 'I would like, I would prefer no choice / Just one bread, just one milk, one food for all / I'm confused, I only want one truth / I really don't mind being lied to / Don't mind being lied to.' Verse 2 (taken from Doors Closing Slowly) 'The shadow is, the shadow is a cross ok / But judgement must, judgement must be willing today / Silence is not sacrifice, crucifixion the easy life / Crucifixion the easy life.' And verse 3 (taken from All Is Vanity) 'The luxury of one more try / Pretend humility the ugly lie / Humility the ugly lie.' Interestingly, on JFPL, this lyric uses the word 'dye' rather than 'try'. With this in mind, when Journal For Plague Lovers was released, some of Edwards' artwork and hand-written / typed lyrics from his OPULENCE folder, were reproduced in the limited edition 36-page, Deluxe 2CD Folio (although for James, Nicky and Sean's own personal reasons, some parts of the originals have been censored). But what's interesting, is that because MSP Fans had access to these lyric drafts, they were able to contrast and compare the recorded songs with what was actually printed in the Digibook. However, as you are able to see the process of adaptation / how some lyrics were substantially edited and rearranged, this caused ripples of anger in some sectors of the Manic Street Preachers' fanbase. Who impassionedly questioned why the group would dare edit and alter Richey's "unspoiled words." However, the band rightly defended themselves, explaining that this was the way they had always worked, with JDB often having to try and make lyrics scan as best he could (almost like a co-author), which Edwards was totally fine with. At this stage, the Manics hadn't really ever published many of Edwards' lyric drafts, so accepted why some people may not understand any revisions etc. In 2009, Wire told NME: "There's probably between eight and ten maybe, that were too impossible. Some of them are little haikus, four lines. 'Dolphin-Friendly Tuna Wars', that's one. 'Alien Orders/Invisible Armies', that's one [the band have recorded an instrumental that takes its title from this lyric]. 'Young Men', which is quite Joy Division. They just didn't feel right. We'll probably put them all out in a book one day. There's not gonna be a Journal For Plague Lovers Two. The special version of the record does come with the original version of the tracks on there. So you can see the editing process, if there is any." Bradfield also admitted to XFM: "For years, we haven't felt like we were ready to tackle the lyrics or use them in any songs. But as the time has passed, it suddenly felt that it was right to use these lyrics. Over the years, myself and Nick have picked up the lyrics and looked at them in awe, but haven't felt ready, but it was only two years ago that we felt ready, like we could do this really. We really enjoyed it, but there was a sense of responsibility to do Richey's words justice. I suppose that was part of the whole thing of letting enough time lapse. Once we actually got into the studio and we started actually making the music, it almost felt as if we were a full band again. It was as close to him being in the room again as possible. We actually enjoyed feeling as if we were in a band with Richey again." Headline specimens from this time include, A LEGACY OF LOSS AND LYRICS – A WORK OF GENIUS – BETROTHED LYRICS AND EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS – LYRICAL JOURNAL OF LOST LEGEND – MANICS' HOMAGE TO MISSING MATE – MANICS READY TO SHARE RICHEY'S LAST WORDS – MANIC STREET PREACHERS FIND SOLACE IN PLAGUE – MANIC STREET PREACHERS MINE JOURNALS OF VANISHED GUITARIST – MISSING BAND MEMBER IS STILL A PRESENCE – MISSING MANIC'S LYRICS CONTINUE TO INSPIRE – RICHEY'S TIMELESS LAST WORDS – THE GREAT PLAGUE. During No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, James states: "It was obvious at that stage in his life, Richey was a person that didn't give a flying fuck about writing a hit single. So when we wrote the music to these lyrics, we very much tried not to write a single." With Sean adding: "Journal For Plague Lovers was an artistic statement. We made a conscious decision to make it artistic and to say that this is a piece of work, as opposed to just a collection of songs." As for the denouement of the creative process, JDB concludes by saying: "I think we did it in a very respectful manner. It was a great experience - there was nothing contrived about it and it was as real as it could be!" In this documentary, Wire even describes Richey as "the demon seed" of the Manic Street Preachers. While in 2011, he was completely honest with Classic Rock about the whole experience: "It was a dangerous album to do. James was pushing it, but I was conflicted that we might lose momentum by doing that, that people might have thought we’d run out of ideas."

25. Speaking about trying to connect with, then convey the complexity of the eye-opening lyrical content on The Bible - which dived headfirst into previously uncharted waters for the Manics, while concurrently refusing the brevity commonly associated with the concise nature of most song lyrics. James once unveiled to NME: "It's just about believing it as much as the author believes it. Sometimes it really was not about questioning anything in the lyric, but just going along with it, because you knew there was this militancy here that would only work if you're 100 percent committed to it." In 2004, JDB also told The Guardian: "For me, it just feels like something that could only ever have been done in Europe. There's a morass of remains. We went through two World Wars, and it's man's greatest achievement that we now live in Europe in peace. But the record says that there are ghosts there: it's built on blood, bones and rubble and we still live with those things." Sean has since described the topics tackled in Edwards' lyrics as being "as far as Richey's character could go." And even though Nicky has revealed Edwards' oft gallows humour, i.e. when handing him the lyric sheet for the macabre Archives Of Pain, how he had a big smile on his face and announced: "Here you go Wire, you'll like this one!" Then, for the rip-roaring and rampaging Revol, which covers the sexual peccadilloes of totalitarian leaders / oppressors (orgies in The Kremlin etc.) by means of scattershot lyrics, he interjected: "I think you'll love it!" Nicky has still expressed hang-ups that having put so much of himself into his words over the years, that towards the end of 1994, inside Richey had finally become "an empty shell." Bradfield has even talked about the substantial amount of pressure placed on Richey by some asinine, vindictive and ill-natured people at the time, who after scrutinising the extremities dredged up and ingrained within his lyrics and believing his words to be prophetic, would ghoulishly goad and urge: "If he truly means all of these things, then he'll do something drastic to prove that he is 4 REAL." As for their culpability and whether or not Edwards himself, ever worried that he could be perceived as 'fake'. In a 1996 Q&A with Select Magazine, Nicky pondered: "I wonder whether Richey felt he had to justify himself. The lyrics on The Holy Bible were so harrowing, that a lot of the press would say, 'How can you justify these records unless you top yourselves afterwards?'" When asked about his motivations behind the record during a '94 HMV interview, Edwards was "certain that the group's visit to Belsen, Dachau and Hiroshima, influenced their entire perspective of the role of themselves as individuals and as a band." While James reflected in a Stateside Q&A: "The title, The Holy Bible, seems like a very good metaphor for a lot of things. We took the Ten Commandments (aka the Decalogue) and realised that they had contradictory failures in Western terms." With the Irish Evening Herald printing in their BIBLE THUMPERS BLAST IT OUT article: "The new album, The Holy Bible, is designed to challenge complacency at all levels. "It sounds really pompous and it is," admits James. "But it gave us a good sounding board for all the lyrics. It's a sarcastic Valentine to religion itself." Frontman James sums up the band's philosophy when he declares: "We've got a shake 'n' break altitude."" However, JDB was once taken aback by a comment that Edwards made, pointedly telling Loaded: "Even when I'm in the studio on my own, I'm working for the rest of the group, I'm working for them. But Richey has persuaded me there's no catharsis* in art. We made the new album without the record company's permission, laid down our own money for it. It's completely uncompromising in every sense, and it's our best album yet. I really hoped Richey would find some kind of redemption in it, but he didn't. And that's upsetting." With regard to Edwards' more personal lyrics, when playing Yes live now, excusably and forgivably, James is rarely able to sing the tormented line, 'I hurt myself to get pain out', which deals with Richey expressing frustrations about his need to self-harm, as he "can't shout, can't scream." In 1994, Edwards confessed to NME: "When I cut myself I feel so much better. All the little things that might have been annoying me, suddenly seem so trivial, because I'm concentrating on the pain. I’m not a person who can scream and shout so this is my only outlet. It’s all done very logically."

In a feature aptly titled, CUTTING EDGE, he also unveiled to Time Out: "You just get to a point where if you don't do it to yourself, you get a feeling that something really terrible is going to happen, and when that moment comes, it's the logical thing to do. It doesn't hurt. You're not screaming and shouting. A couple of days later you feel like a sad fuck, but that's part of the healing process; after that you feel really good. People that harm themselves, be it through anorexia or razors, know what they're doing. Which is why I get annoyed when Lord Justice Templeman, presiding over the Spanner Trial, says that "cruelty is uncivilised." How can any member of the ruling classes say that when you consider the backgrounds they come from?" Adding in NME: "Where is this rule that the body is that sacred - thou cannot mark thine own skin? I'm not into piercing, but the whole Spanner Trial interested me - when those men were taken to trial for piercing parts of their body. Justice Templeman said he was sending them to prison because "cruelty was uncivilised." What right has he got to say that - in terms of an individual's democratic right to choice? I've never hit anybody in my life. I might have done things to my own body, but that is my right." As for Richey self-harming, livid about ignorant questions posed by complete strangers on a daily basis, a pugnacious JDB bit back by ranting in Loaded: "People will say to me, 'Do you think you did everything you could to stop Richey doing this?' I say, 'Yeah.' Then they'll go, 'Are you sure?' And at that point, I just want to fill their faces in." On a lighter note and concerning the extensive and teeming, cultural, historical, philosophical, political and societal signposts + literary references used throughout The Holy Bible. Over the years, an inexhaustible amount of MSP Fans, bookworms and English Lit students, have all been led to discover a variety of texts, which chalked up to Bradfield labelling this long player in NME as "one of the great reader albums." NME's Emily Mackay even once cleverly wrote that "The three Rs for the Manics, are Reading, Writing and Revenge." As it happens, in February 2017, an unofficial academic book entitled, Triptych: Three Studies of Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible was published. Whereby three authors "reconsider The Holy Bible from three separate, intersecting angles, combining the personal with the political, history with memory, and popular accessibility with intellectual attention to the album's depth and complexity." 2019 also saw the publication of three brand new MSP tomes, kicking off in March with the controversial, Withdrawn Traces: Searching for the Truth about Richey Manic (which includes a foreword by Rachel Edwards and is the first book written with the co-operation of the Edwards family, testimony from Richey’s closest friends and unprecedented and exclusive access to Richey’s personal archive). Then, in May, the long-running title, 33 1/3 (a series of short books about popular music, focusing on individual albums) explored The Holy Bible**. And finally, in November 2019, Edwards' Oakdale Comprehensive school friend, Richard Fry, published This is My Truth Richey Edwards Now Tell Me Yours, which he "decided to write to Richey Edwards via writing a novel for his fanbase and anyone else who might be interested... In this story, Fry describes his friendship with Edwards, how their friendship ended and later in 2017, Fry's quest to discover Edwards' whereabouts. Fry puts to his readers the reasons why he is certain that Edwards' disappearance was faked and tries to analyse the events that led him to his conclusion." As for books that may have been inspired by MSP lyrics, A Critical Discography spotlights how in 2000, "American writer James Gleick published a book called Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything." In reference to other media forms which have covered The Bible, in 2014, a Kickstarter-funded THB DVD documentary was also produced. Titled, The Holy Bible: My Testament, its synopsis reads: "On the eve of a sell-out tour, this exclusive series of interviews will explore the huge significance of the Manic Street Preachers’ third studio album in a way never done before. Twenty years after its release, we want to assess its huge significance and cultural impact. Award winning music journalist, Manics’ biographer and tour support DJ, Simon Price, will be in conversation with some of The Holy Bible's biggest fans about the importance of the album and why it means so much to them."

*As for Richey's long-held belief that there is "no catharsis in art." In '94, he admitted to The List: "When we started off, people said, 'Here's another left-wing band who think music can change something,' but we've never really believed that. I think that music can only change things on an individual level. In terms of society or culture, it means fuck all. We're not the sort of band that is ready to put our name to any political party in Britain. There's no fundamental difference in choice between them." Similarly, when chatting about some of MSP's controversial and outlandish soundbites in the past, Nicky told Metal Hammer: "This controversial tag thing - we don't particularly enjoy it anymore. But something, like the viscous mole of nature that was in Hamlet to destroy everything, is in us. I can't say the album is anti-religion at all. It's just a rewriting of how we think everything's gone wrong, I suppose." **Placing the 33 1/3 book under the microscope (a paperback that also uses the Welsh notions of Hiraeth and Hwyl*** when analysing the Manics and their songs), in Concrete Islands' review they propounded: "The Holy Bible is an important historical touchstone: not just significantly revisited by the band via tours and reissues, but by generations of fans discovering it for the first time. More than anything, Evans’ book is a reminder of the album’s strength as a recurring galvanising force. Most Manics fans can trace its influence as a way of looking at the world in their own lives and work: a model for thinking, a design for life." On a related note, in 2010, James spoke to Guitarist Magazine about the Manic Street Preachers' uninterrupted flow of using educational quotes on their record sleeves: "Rock music is still vital, it can still turn on a part of your brain which has perhaps laid dormant. There's an inverted snobbery where certain people think it's vulgar to talk about influences or wear them, literally, on your sleeve. But so many of those quotes were put there to articulate an idea we were trying to finish, you know? If you don't quite get it, then go to this and someone more erudite than us might be able to explain it for you. It wasn't some kind of reading club, where we were saying, 'Here, look what we like.'" While during Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show, he estimably said: "I like the fact that other musicians made me go out and read other books, listen to other records and it would just be nice to know, that other people could be affected by us, the same way I was affected by other musicians. It's just kind of a bit of a philanthropic chain letter, I suppose." ***Hiraeth is "a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter likens it to a homesickness tinged with grief and sadness over the lost or departed, especially in the context of Wales and Welsh culture. It is a mixture of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past." The Welsh word, Hwyl, has been defined in English as "a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy."

26. Length-wise, The Holy Bible clocks in at 56:17, with Revol being the shortest song at 3:04 and The Intense Humming Of Evil the longest at 6:12. On completion, and in striving to shame the world into improvement, expulse / eradicate all evils and make a difference. As purveyors of intelligent rock 'n' roll, by yearning to "make lyrics a vital organ in pop music again" and suffused with self-confidence, a satiated, poised and unabashed JDB was convinced that the engrossing, conquering and ineffaceable record - which is boiling over with brio and superlative bite - was a "positive" artistic statement and would do well, as although sometimes 'speaking in tongues' and pronouncing certain words in a scything, unclear manner. With its social commentary and vivid depictions of disillusionment, depression and despair - all shrouded in darkness - where nothing is sugar-coated. By comforting the troubled and troubling the comfortable, being informative and rich in content, when anyone who had ever felt marginalized did hear the messages / axioms in the songs, or were impelled / encouraged to do further research and put the pieces together by using the long player as a stimulus, they would see the world from a different perspective and think: 'Finally, the gospel truth!' Because at times, some of Richey's lyrics can be cryptic and inexplicable. However, on any perceived obfuscation with the way in which he disseminates information when singing, or people potentially mishearing lyrics. In a 1995 Melody Maker Q&A, with all things considered, Bradfield unashamedly rationalised: "I wanted our message to be powerful but quite unintelligible, in such a way that people would want to find out more, find out what would drive us to create music that sounded like that." In some ways then, certain Manic Street Preachers songs could perhaps be thought of as Trojan Horses which are smuggling coded lyrics - especially when infiltrating daytime radio / making incursions into The Charts. Similarly, in 1997, Nicky would spell out Richey's brainpower and scholarliness to Select Magazine, as well as how he himself was flummoxed and mystified, by some of Edwards' more enigmatic and perplexing lyrics on The Bible: "Richey was so intelligent, that he ended up trying to condense so much that it was unintelligible... Of Walking Abortion was one of the most extreme examples of that, 'So wash your car in your 'X' baseball shoes'. I just didn't know what the fuck he was on about. All the weight of reference to Eastern European or Nazi culture and figureheads. Revol? I didn't have a clue what that was about. Even Richey said afterwards, that he didn't know what it was about. It's lover spelt backwards, or so he kind of tried to explain it. A decline in relationships. I don't fucking know!" The web project, 227 Lears, actually casts an eye over connections to The Who song, Won't Get Fooled Again (referred to in Richey's track by track notes: "All adolescent leaders of men FAILED. All love FAILS. If men of the calibre of Lenin and Trotsky failed, then how can anyone expect anything to change. Won't get fooled again.") While then bringing to the fore, how the Revol music video / THB era integrates some slogans from Black Mask and Up Against The Wall Motherfucker publications / leaflets (two New York City provocateur groups which existed from 1966-69). Disentangling The Holy Bible songwriting process, James elaborated in a US interview carried out in February '95: "We're quite an academic band and when we start recording an album, we treat it like an essay almost. We start with the title, then we write the songs. So, the title of the album is like a question for us and then under that title, we try and answer all of the questions - only for ourselves through all of the songs. The inspiration for the title, The Holy Bible, came from this little news bite we read that said: 'There are more Holy Wars going on in the world one time last year, than at any other time in recorded history.' That kind of set our minds off and we just looked at the Ten Commandments, and they have all failed and contradicted themselves in Western terms. If you compare Christianity with Islam, Christianity has failed in its own eyes. Whereas Islam, is still strong in its own people's eyes. I'm not expounding any kind of religion, that's just a fact! So basically, we just thought that we'd try and give our version of the Ten Commandments - or Thirteen Commandments. You know, The Holy Bible, divine truth... Well, this is our divine truth! It was just a good framework to work under." In 2011, JDB did admit to UNCUT however: "Singing Richey’s lyrics was like a set of sarcastic Commandments. It just felt like sin to sing them."

Bristling with vigour and feeling that by not playing it safe creatively, they had outdone themselves, Bradfield even once summarised the LP and its undimmed power in Q Magazine as: "A Holy Chalice burning through everything it touches." Also telling OKEJ: "This time we've written with our souls." When getting to grips with THB's baleful, vituperative, righteous and weaponised tirades, Simon Price wrote about the might of MSP's dissenting voice: "The sound of intolerance [and] an intelligent, sustained attack on the liberal consensus." Adding how although previous Manics albums "carried uncomfortable messages via melodic, commercial rock. The Holy Bible message and medium were inseparable: the music, discordant and irregular, is onomatopoeic for the content." And, even though in 1994, James insisted in Consumable: "We've never felt the need to explain any of our lyrics - that's enough of a political statement." The meaning behind every lyric was printed in explanatory notes for journalists (subsequently published in The Holy Bible tour book + referenced throughout this extra-long-form editorial), with all descriptions by Edwards and thus further emphasising the ferocity of his mind and intelligence. Echoing JDB's thoughts - whist also addressing the crux of THB - Richey judiciously and cogently remarked to ZTV: "If the Holy Bible is true, it should be about the way the world is, and I think that’s what my lyrics are about." Adding in Metal Hammer: "The title just seemed to complement the lyrics. I went to church for 13 years, I've read most holy books there are, but I don't find much in it apart from cruelty. That's the centre of human existence." Also attesting in the same magazine: "It's not a religious album, but the imagery is very important to us." MSP Fans will be cognisant of references to religion and a higher power, dating way back to songs including, Are Mothers Saints?, Patrick Bateman and Nostalgic Pushead. However, the band's most overtly religious track is most certainly Crucifix Kiss (which features the extremely provocative lyric, 'Christin me Fuhrer Nazarine') - with an incredulous and outspoken Edwards, once damning the crucifix (or "fashion accessory") he was wearing in a chiding diatribe against religious iconography, during a detonating 1992 Canadian televised interview for MuchMusic. Whereby he exhorted: "[Jesus is] the ultimate icon isn't he? The ultimate useless, fake symbol of all time! The biggest waste of space there's ever been! You know, I went to church for thirteen years and it never taught me anything, apart from messing my brain up. The more you dehumanise Jesus Christ* the better! The more he becomes like a Campbell's Soup [Can] the better! I just find it really sad that he was held up in such high regard. He's just such a useless waste of space in the human imagination. The more he gets turned into a Coca-Cola tin, the more happy I'll be!" Richey also spoke to ZTV about antiquated attitudes within religion*: "The Catholic church, still pretends that contraception is somehow illegal or immoral and an alien invention (a vantage point ripped into in the P.C.P. lyric, 'Learnt censorship, pro-life equals anti-choice'). Well, you've got to operate in the time you live in. It's the end of the 20th Century - you can't pretend it's the year 1350 again. In most European countries, the very fact that women priests may be ordained, offends a lot of religions and they're the people who have been offended by the title, The Holy Bible." Interestingly, even though Edwards began carrying a book of biblical quotes on tour with him in late '94, when commenting on Richey's fixation with organised religion and his misgivings about the church, Nicky once divulged to VOX: "He’s always had this thing about it. I’ve never really talked to him about it, but he’s always made out that it really pissed him off and fucked him up." Hitting a nerve and rankled by this perspective however, Richey's sister, Rachel, has since gone on record to categorically dispute such a theory. And, although The Holy Bible's themes are far from blessed / celestial, even more religious references are discussed in Mathijs Peters' rigorously researched and in-depth academic tome, Popular Music, Critique and Manic Street Preachers, with the author ferreting out how "All Is Vanity takes both its title and its inspiration from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament... [with Richey] seemingly longing for a religion that, in Nietzsche's words, was based on 'the art of holy lying'."

In the Melody Maker interview from November 1994, which Peters refers to, Simon Price wrote: "I question him on another rumour, that while in hospital, he "found God". "Found God? The Big Chap? No. It's something that interests me, but you've only got to look at our name, we've got Preachers in our name, I was made to go to chapel 'til I was 13, on our first album you've got Crucifix Kiss, a cross on the cover, a quote from Nietzsche about Christianity, so it goes deeper..." Than the typical rock 'n' roll religious imagery? "Madonna uses religious imagery, and I think that's totally justified. I think she was fucked up by the Catholic church. Pearl Jam use religious imagery, and I can see through it a mile off. It's just really sad. And also, I've spent my whole life studying history, and most events are shaped by some antagonism or fundamentalist belief in God. I dunno if I'm agnostic, atheist or a believer, but I think there's something in people that's really flawed in that sense. Why spend all your time denying something which you believe doesn't even exist? 'It's all bollocks, it's all bollocks, he's not there.' If you don't believe it, don't even bother talking about it. But it's obviously something that's there in the middle of man, just there to think about. It's a question of, everyone knows they're gonna die, so everybody wants to know where they're gonna go. That's why everyone wants to die 'A Happy Death', to quote Uncle Camus." "'The cut worm dies in peace'," he adds. "William Blake." In P.C.P., Edwards even wrote, 'Life bleeds, death is your birthright.' Also in connection to systems of faith and worship, God-fearing churchgoers, Bible-bashers, religious zealots and heretical sects, during a 2006 long-form and unabridged interview with R*E*P*E*A*T, when stewing over religious conservatism, dogma, hectoring, sin and salvation, a fretful JDB decried organised religion, fuming: "No religion has any part in our society whatsoever!" *It has been well-documented how for the sleeve of Generation Terrorists (although ultimately, it would have proven to be far too costly), Nicky and Richey wanted to use Immersion (Piss Christ) - a 1987 photograph by the American artist and photographer Andres Serrano, which remains one of the biggest scandals in contemporary art! Artsper Magazine wrote: "Religion has always been a central theme in the history of art. However, when contemporary artists tackle the subject, they always know how to add a touch of provocation to spark controversy. Yet very often, the issue lies in the context... [Serrano] placed a crucifix with a figurine of Jesus in a jar of urine (his own) and blood. According to him, the crucifix is an object that has been trivialised in the United States; The artist wanted to pay tribute to Jesus Christ and remind everyone of the suffering he endured for humanity. However, Serrano’s work was not perceived in the way he had hoped. The creation process and the title outraged a number of Catholic communities; in fact, the photograph was vandalised on several occasions." **Another MSP / Nirvana link, is the way in which Richey and Kurt Cobain shared similar views about God and archaic religious organisations + their outdated beliefs. Religious imagery is also at the centre of Nirvana's iconic, creepy, dark and dismal promo clip for Heart-Shaped Box (which was directed by the legendary Dutch photographer, film director and music video director, Anton Corbijn). Christian philosopher, Dr. Taylor Marshall, interpreted the visuals as "A comment on the Catholic Church’s [anachronistic] stance on abortion." Also decoding other symbolism within the video: "Christianity is depicted as the old man and Nirvana is waiting for it to die. The old man is crucified and wears a Santa hat showing that religious belief in Christ is like belief in Santa, a mere fairytale to make us feel better. Heart-Shaped Box seems to be an angry reflection on the weakness of Christianity, dead foetuses in utero ('in the womb' or the 'heart-shaped box'), and the corruption of youth (the girl moving from white to black)." Also noteworthy, is how the overweight woman in a bodysuit, with human organs painted onto it and with angel wings affixed to her back, mirrors In Utero's artwork. Coincidentally, the actress invites comparison to the woman in Jenny Saville's painting, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face).

27. The now iconic and delectable album cover, was cooked up, put together and artfully designed by Richey (aided by Simon Ryan at Ryan Art*), then fine-tuned while he was hospitalised. It features Jenny Saville's spellbinding triptych, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face), front and centre, which depicts three perspectives on the body of an obese woman in her underwear, across 3 panels**. After seeing the painting in a weekend Independent Sunday supplement magazine, Edwards contacted the Saatchi Collection to buy it (Juanita Boxill was the gallery representative he spoke to), but was put off by the £30,000 asking price. Saville originally declined the band's request to use the artwork, but changed her mind after a 30-minute phone call from Richey, in which he described every track on the record in detail, giving them permission to use it for free. In a 1999 radio interview, Nicky said: "I don't think it was until The Holy Bible, that we probably hit our stride in terms of artwork. We both saw the picture in the Independent Magazine on Sunday first off, and I remember I phoned Richey up and said: 'That's brilliant!' and he went: 'Yeah, I loved it!' He phoned her up the next week and it was a marriage made in heaven. The painting seemed so striking and the album seemed so messed-up at the time." 227 Lears noted how in 2010, Wire reiterated this fact to writer Dan Richards: "I remember the day vividly... because in the magazine, was a special on Jenny Saville - the first time we’d been exposed to her - and we both phoned each other up and said, ‘Those paintings are amazing.’ It was a sort of psychic thing that me and him had." 227 Lears also adds that the article was written by critic David Sylvester and published on January 20, 1994, with Saville explaining to Richards: "The first time I did the Manics thing, I was living in Glasgow. I’d just done the show at the Saatchi Gallery and Richey Edwards called me up and we had a conversation about anorexia. I wasn’t initially keen on doing an album cover but then, after talking to him, I really wanted to do it because we had a lot of interests that were similar - about technology and the body, writers we liked - and he faxed me the lyrics to 4st 7lb and I read that and said, ‘I’ll do it. Use the triptych, you can have it.’" This particular painting showing a confrontational image of obesity, was chosen by the Manics' aesthetes, Edwards and Wire, because of its portrayal of 'beauty in perceived ugliness'. Louder Sound wrote: "A breathtaking challenge to the 'Male Gaze' that has dominated the art world for centuries." And, as is the case with all MSP artwork and sleeve quotes, it complements the character and lyrical / musical inspiration of the album within - also adding to the total immersive experience. The back cover features a photograph (painted on by the late artist, model and stylist Barry Kamen***) of the group in military uniforms and a quote taken from the introduction of Octave Mirbeau's book, The Torture Garden (something that James actually hollers during the 'Spoken Middle 8' on the alternate version of Revol). This long player is also the first instance of the Manic Street Preachers using Gill Sans typeface, with a Cyrillic style reversed 'R' in their album art (the 'N' however isn't backward)****. The font, although not on any of The Holy Bible's singles, would be reused on later LPs and has become an easily recognised motif of Manics' artwork. The typeface is almost identical to the lettering used on Simple Minds' icy Empires And Dance (released in 1980), one of Bradfield's favourite records, and coincidentally, the post-punk progenitor's third LP - which was also recorded in Wales at Rockfield Studios (MSP now have the very mixing desk that was used during the Empires And Dance sessions, installed in their studio). With the way in which the sleeve welds together warfare visuals, with clean / sophisticated minimal design, a white background and a small still of the band posed on the back cover, other obvious likenesses to The Holy Bible's artwork. JDB: "Yes, we did plagiarise the sleeve art for The Holy Bible. A little nod*****." An additional element worth mentioning, is that of all MSP's albums, this is the only one to incorporate the tracklisting on the front (as did each of THB's accompanying singles) - which with sleeve art, is generally quite a rarity in itself! Finally, when originally released in '94, both The Holy Bible's title and its cover, caused quite a stir and a bit of a brouhaha.

Due to the controversial religious overtones of the long player's name and the image of the rotund woman in her undergarments, which some people called "morbid and grotesque." When interviewed by Music Week in 2018, Nicky ruminated: "Calling our third album The Holy Bible was brave in retrospect, but when Richey suggested it, I didn't even think about it, it just seemed totally natural. I remember there was one territory in Europe that wouldn't release The Holy Bible because of the title - perhaps a Catholic country, I don't know - and that was the first time I thought, 'Fuck me, it is a funny old title.' But at the time, it wasn't a debate at all. Fair play to Sony/Epic, they never said a word. It was a much freer time in terms of artistic license." For some outcriers, it was felt that the use of this title was even "hubristic." *In the THB 20th Anniversary Box Set booklet, a letter from Richey to designer, Simon Ryan, about the LP's design can be partially seem. Some of this reads: "Yr designs are fine for the album. It's exactly what we want." And later: "Lay it out like new Beastie Boys LP (tho' obviously not the same type face) as that has a huge amount of lyrics." One could hazard a guess, that the record / lyric layout that Richey was referring to, is Ill Communication. As because this album was released in the UK on May 31, 1994, the timelines do therefore match up. Interestingly, it would also seem that the photographic montage of the Beastie Boys on the inner sleeve, proved to be an inspiration for the way in which the pictures of the Manics were used on both the Faster/P.C.P. CD Digipak inner sleeve, and on the cover of the 10" vinyl. **The following quotations, emanate from a powerful, inspiriting and riveting appraisal that Emily Kirkpatrick submitted to Artsy in 2020, entitled, THIS ARTWORK CHANGED MY LIFE: JENNY SAVILLE’S "STRATEGY": "I remember poring over the glossy pages of [Saville's] eponymous coffee table book: the brutal reds and pinks of her oil paint delivered in thick brushstrokes, the undulating rolls of flesh becoming their own vast landscape, the bodies pressing against the confines of the canvas. But what I remember most aside from those big, brutalist forms, were the faces - unapologetic, defiant, daring you to deny their majesty. The impact of finding Saville’s work at that precise moment in my life, didn’t occur to me until years later when I was able to see her triptych painting Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) in person... Standing 9 feet tall and 21 feet wide, the work is a force of nature. A presence that demands your undivided attention, and not merely because of its scale. The obese figure in this painting is undeniably beautiful. She is quite literally a work of art put on display so as to be praised and admired. Through the mere act of depiction, Saville underscores the worthiness of this form and its right to occupy this vast space. In a 1994 interview with The Independent, Saville said of her work, "It’s flesh, and the paint itself is the body, but the theory behind each one is essential, as important as the painting. I’m not trying to teach, just make people discuss, look at how women have been made by man. What is beauty? Beauty is usually the male image of the female body. My women are beautiful in their individuality." The underwear-clad figure in Strategy is the epitome of that message, showing off her physique from every angle while looking the viewer dead in the eye with the same stoic, unimpressed expression. A look that seems to say, "So?" The work forces the viewer to reckon with their own preconceptions, projections, and insecurities of what it means to be a fat woman by refusing to engage with any of them. This painting is not meant to shock or disgust or make some kind of statement on body positivity. In the liminal state of Saville’s work, this woman is permitted to be exactly as she is. She exists as a pure, unadulterated version of herself. Perhaps for the first time in her life." In 2009, Nicky confessed to Wales On Sunday: "We were lucky, I guess. Apparently, it's next to impossible to get permission to use art like that normally, because there are so many hoops you have to jump through first." That same year, James also told BARKS: "Richey loved [Saville’s] entire work. When I went to search the gallery with him, Richey saw the same work for hours. I knew he was pleased." As stated above, The Holy Bible's artwork, along with some of Edwards' lyrics on the LP, challenge traditional representations of women, who are often defined by how men see them (the 'Male Gaze'), or by how society expects women to look and behave.

***In 227 Lears profile piece on Barry Kamen, the site came across how as "a friend of the design house responsible for overseeing the sleeve and booklet design for the record, Kamen visited their offices during the production of The Holy Bible and while there painted [blue halos and a circle of fire] over a photo of the band taken by Neil Cooper." This picture also echoes the photograph of MSP with painted white halos, on the Motorcycle Emptiness limited edition 12" picture disc. ****Interestingly, the website, Auto Lingual, reveals how "the backward letters in the Cyrillic script used for writing Russian, aren’t backward at all, but are actually entirely different letters that simply look like letters from the Latin alphabet (reversed 'N' = EE and reversed 'R' = YA)." Adding: "It’s clear that both typefaces have inspired one another in their history, in order to turn out so stylistically similar." Usage of this kind, has been referred to as Faux Cyrillic. Also worthy of mention, is how the dots situated in the spaces between the songs on the front cover tracklisting, and in-between each line of the published song lyrics, are referred to as "an interpunct (also known as an interpoint, middle dot, middot or centred dot). This punctuation mark consisting of a vertically centred dot, was originally used for interword separation in ancient Latin script." Notably, in the standard Journal For Plague Lovers CD lyrics booklet (which has printed words, rather than reproductions of Richey's hand-written and typed lyric drafts like the Deluxe 2CD Folio does), middots separate each line, just as they do in The Holy Bible CD lyrics booklet. Incidentally, vinyl versions of Nirvana's In Utero, also have interpoints between each song title in the tracklisting on the back cover. So, knowing just how important this record was to Edwards, perhaps this is why centred dots were also adopted for THB's sleeve art? *****In the Bible, and even today, "the colour white is associated with purity, things that are good, innocence, honesty, cleanliness and perfection." And, although The Holy Bible's themes aren't virtuous, pious or unsullied by any stretch of the imagination, with the lion's share of the lyrics dealing with a contaminated, gruesome and hideous world, that is soaked through and overspilling with darkness. Possibly for Richey, by putting his own spin on things, the colour white could play into his idea that "everything on there has to be perfection"? Similarly, the front cover for Joy Division's Closer, also features a sombre picture framed by a predominantly white canvas, as well as having a customised interpunct either side of the album title on the front sleeve, and either side of the band's name on the back cover. Both the artwork and chiselled into stone looking font, were designed by the legendary Peter Saville. On a separate note, although The Holy Bible is continually compared to Nirvana's In Utero, sonically and lyrically, as well as how this LP offloaded fair-weather fans, there is also another parallelism. As the image used for In Utero's front cover, is for all intents and purposes, a female figure - albeit one created for medical instruction: a Transparent Anatomical Manikin (TAM) with angel wings superimposed. Like Edwards, Kurt Cobain was equally as enamoured by the human body.

28. With Richey being a stickler for detail, the astounding, immaculate, appetising, exquisite and ingenious CD lyrics booklet (which is a 12-page staple bound insert, and uncommonly, has the songs in non-running order), is imaginative, tastefully done and a veritable visual feast, as it is replete with various interspersed images that each add garnish to, amplify and are inextricably linked with their corresponding tracks. Populating these pages are, Of Walking Abortion = A photograph of Margarete Clark, who has a Siamese twin appendage growing out of her belly (originally taken at the James Strates Shows in 1949 and later published in Daniel P. Mannix’s 1976 book, Freaks: We Who Are Not As Others)*. She Is Suffering = An illustration of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns, licensed from an Ecce Homo postcard. Yes = An abstract piece of fine art depicting a cum shot. 4st 7lb = A picture of an apple (probably because as part of a balanced diet, both health and nutrition experts believe that this fruit can help with weight loss and reducing belly fat). Faster = A painted portrait of Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo - the ‘Butcher of Rostov’ as it appeared in a series of controversial True Crime trading cards, released by Eclipse in the US in 1992*. This Is Yesterday = An illustration of the Sacred Heart (religious iconography). P.C.P. = A still of British Police Officers taken during a gas mask drill at East Ham Police Station on March 13, 1937 (also a reference to the lyric, 'bring fresh air')*. The Intense Humming Of Evil = A still of the gate at Dachau, the first concentration camp which opened on March 22, 1933 and was installed in a former munitions factory. Mausoleum = A plan of the gas chambers at Belsen concentration camp (Richey initially entertained the possibility of putting a plan of the gas chambers at Dachau, with The Intense Humming Of Evil, so these images could be interchangeable). Die In The Summertime = Photographs of each of the Manic Street Preachers as children. Archives Of Pain = A drawing portraying the 19th Century execution of the French lawyer and statesman, Maximilien Robespierre*, one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution, by guillotine in 1794 (Richey found this in a book owned by designer, Simon Ryan). Ifwhiteamerica... = A skewed version of Richey's US handgun image (a 'finger gun' hand gesture painted 'Red, White and Blue' in reference to the 1993 Brady Bill). Revol = A still of Lenin's corpse, the first Soviet Union leader who was embalmed in 1924 and whose body went on public display by 1925 (it has been lying in state in a fairly small but stately mausoleum located on Red Square - the public courtyard outside the Kremlin in Moscow). *Details courtesy of 227 Lears. The well-thought-out and praiseworthy booklet, also contains black & white portraits of James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, images of crosses / cemetery gravestones, album credits and a Buddhist saying from the Tripitaka alongside a dedication to the band's co-manager / publicist, Philip Hall, who had died from lung cancer aged 34, on December 7, 1993, after bravely battling the disease for a good deal of years. Notably, the MC has quite a few discernible artwork modifications. Firstly, due to space restrictions with cassette inlay U-Cards, this meant that certain imagery had to be left out, although something that's unique to this release, is how centred in-between the black & white portraits of James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, IFWHITEAMERICATOLDTHETRUTHFORONEDAYITSWORLDWOULDFALLAPART appears in red, block capital letters. While on the back panel, the lyrics are published in the correct running order, with a muted CCCP medal logo in the background (as also used in the CD lyrics booklet credits). In Withdrawn Traces: Searching for the Truth about Richey Manic, it is revealed how a studious and fastidious Edwards, had designated A4 folders chock-full with ideas, pictures and scribbled notes etc. for each MSP album, including The Holy Bible. As well as scans showing artwork design layouts and lyrics being proof checked by Richey in early July '94, he had also asked Sony's legal department to check for permission to use the Octave Mirbeau, Torture Garden quote. Also of interest, is that at one stage, it would seem that the record was going to be dedicated to the memory of both Philip Hall and to Richey's close friend from University, Nigel Bethune.

We even learn how Edwards had penned instructions for James, when composing the blaring and horrisonant crescendo / admonishing finish, to Of Walking Abortion (a blood-curdling, mangled and ear-splitting shrill shriek, that sounds like Bradfield has gargled with sizzling battery acid): "Maybe end like Rage Against The Machine - Killing In The Name Of?" And how JDB had a revised lyric sheet for The Intense Humming Of Evil, as requested. Early working drafts for other embryonic song lyrics, can also be found interpolated throughout the 2014 THB Box Set booklet, featuring alternate lines and words which have all been thoroughly analysed in essays by 227 Lears. Interestingly, in the THB 20 booklet, we also ascertain that Richey had hand-written a list of potential images and even sketched fitting ideas for the CD lyrics booklet, which were either quashed for reasons unknown or later tweaked. It would appear that both Edwards and Wire had also foraged stock photo agencies such as Alamy, in quest of suitable imagery. Although certain songs were still awaiting pictures and finalised lyrics, sharing common ground with his final choices, here are some of Richey's unused / alternate picture suggestions along with his notes: Yes = Prostitution and money / fat business man / The My Boy Story / hermaphrodite. Ifwhiteamerica... = Based on Steve Gullick 1st Maker cover, band hold gun to their head wearing US flag glove or Stars & Stripes ring (visible) or hand painted. Of Walking Abortion = Foetus. She Is Suffering = Bangkok Pain Taker Buddha (Richey also references the back cover design / silhouetted figure with overlaid lyrics for The Pogues' Tuesday Morning single sleeve, designed by Ryan Art, which is more than likely how Simon came onboard to help Edwards with art direction for The Holy Bible). 4st 7lb = Jenny Saville painting / detail / sketch. P.C.P. = A photograph of Richey with gold-painted skin, wearing his military jacket emblazoned with the sewn-on PCP letters (this was taken during MSP's Melody Maker, GILT TRIPPING WITH THE MANICS, cover shoot for the January 29, 1994 issue). Another point worth touching on, is how tucked away, there appears to be a note on an artwork proof next to The Holy Bible text, which says, 'Not on cover. Use a sticker.' Perhaps Edwards toyed with the idea of only having Jenny Saville's painting on the tangible sleeve, with the album's title, Manic Street Preachers and tracklisting remaining on the plastic case in the form of an adhesive label, whenever people removed the CD lyrics booklet or MC inlay card?

29. Necessitating high-grade, striking artwork for each of the front covers of the long player's individual singles - which would also suit, embellish and reinforce The Holy Bible's lyrical themes / strong visual style, after this had been finalised. Three entrancing paintings were then hand-picked and licensed relatively inexpensively, from the maverick, subversive and prolific German artist / sculptor, Martin Kippenberger (1953-1997)*. The contract can be looked over in the THB 20th Anniversary Box Set, and each picture is oil / mixed media collage on canvas dating from 1982-83, boasting interweaving communist, capitalist, social realist and totalitarian imagery. Part four of a five-part panel, Fliegender Tanga (Flying Tanga), was used for the first single and tri-fold Digipak, Faster/P.C.P. Sympatische Kommunistin (Likeable Communist Woman), appeared on part one of the two-part single, Revol. While, Titten, Türme, Tortellini (Tits, Towers, Tortellini) - credited under its French title, Des tètons, des tours, des tortellini - was the cover artwork on both parts of the two-part, third and final single, She Is Suffering. The limited edition part ones for Revol and She Is Suffering (7" radio edit), are housed in Z-cases with spaces to hold CD2, which were released a week later (at one time, a record label tactic to try and keep singles high in The Charts, when CDs were the dominant commercial format). Both have additional inner and back cover artwork, including a mock D-Day stamp** and a Joanne Celnik painting, Balance, respectively. CD2 for Revol (which has a front cover featuring a live photograph of James performing at Glastonbury '94) and She Is Suffering (which has a refashioned front cover featuring portions of Des tètons, des tours, des tortellini, in a row of circles with alternate, subtly sepia-toned colours***), are each packaged with J-Cards in maxi single slimline cases. All CD sets have 'hype stickers'. In the THB 20th Anniversary Box Set booklet, it would appear that Richey originally wanted each CD2 to come encased in cardboard sleeves. Also of note, is how an MSP Fan on the Forever Delayed Forum, once stumbled across the sleeve for the 1961 LP, The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out, and presupposed that this must have had a bearing on Richey and Ryan Art's design ideas, for both the Revol and She Is Suffering front covers. Opting for a different aesthetic approach on the limited edition numbered 10" vinyls however, these instead feature a montage of Manics tour pictures (P.C.P./Faster) and music video stills (Revol, She Is Suffering). Every format - CD, vinyl and cassette - also comes adorned with a customary related literary sleeve quote and has exclusive, extra tracks nestled away. Faster/P.C.P. was the only single to be issued as a 7" and there is also a 3trk 12" DJ promo of The Dust Brothers mixes (now better known as The Chemical Brothers), in a grey sleeve tagged with the sticker, 'M.S.P. done & dusted' - a revamped alternate version was issued for RSD 2020. The release dates for The Holy Bible singles were: Faster (May 31), Revol (Aug 1) and She Is Suffering (Oct 3), which entered the UK Top 40 at No. 16, 22 and 25 respectively, during June, August and October 1994 (Faster remained in The Charts for 5 weeks, Revol for 3 weeks and She Is Suffering for 3 weeks). In Europe, only CD1 for Revol and She Is Suffering (available as either the aforementioned 2trk or a 4trk tour edition), were issued and came in maxi single slimline cases. Going back to Kippenberger, in 227 Lears broad-ranging profile study of the controversial and hard-living artist / sculptor, the essay also looks into how Nicky chanced upon his work in a book, as well as indicating how Fliegender Tanga was based on a 1979 photograph taken by snapper, James Andanson, entitled, First Coke In Red China. The A Manic Body Politic web project, also identifies how an enlightened Nicky was aware of Titten, Türme, Tortellini, utilising the Two Towers located in Bologna, Italy, and that this panel is part of a larger series, Null Bock auf Ideen (created in the same year as Fliegender Tanga). *Interviewed in 1999 for, by the conceptual, video and installation artist, Jeremy Deller, at The Unconvention Exhibition in Cardiff. Nicky opened up: "After The Holy Bible we were looking for a single cover for Faster and P.C.P. If you remember, it was a Chinese or Japanese kid with a bottle of Coke, sucking on a straw. I'd only vaguely heard of Kippenberger before that, and I found it in a book. I thought it was perfect.

And from then on, I really got into him. He's not that famous. Obviously, in Germany, he is more. But he's lived to the minute, the exact opposite to me, in every sense. It's the same idea of the cover to the Sex Pistols' Holiday In The Sun - a holiday in other people's misery. And then for Revol we used one of his pictures and for She Is Suffering. He had a big impact. He's an artist of our time." **In 227 Lears song study of Revol, it is pinned down how inspired by a news story that ran in the June '94 issue of The Face, which covered F.I.R.E. (First Issue Reserved Edition) - a group of anarchic and anonymous artists who created a cluster of provocative and fictitious US postage stamps in 1994. As well as taking inspiration from the Royal Mail D-Day 50th Anniversary Commemorative Mint Stamps (a presentation pack was issued on June 6, 1994), Richey then created the faux stamp artwork used for the inner-sleeve of the Revol CD1 single. 277 Lears also adds how "from the photographic reproductions of working materials that appear in The Holy Bible 20, we can see that Edwards has hand-written the Solzhenitsyn question - Celebrate or weep? - underneath one of the featured stamp artworks." ***Circles may have been chosen for She Is Suffering CD2, because "in Christianity the circle represents eternity and sacred union. A circle has been referenced many times in the Bible as the shape of heaven, and as the beginning and ending of time... It represented holiness, perfection and the Divine chosen ones." Richey was also captivated by the idea of drawing a perfect circle (something that is referenced in both the Virginia State Epileptic Colony line, 'Draw a perfect circle' and Bradfield's lyrics for The Wrong Beginning*, 'To draw the perfect circle') and once quoted Vincent van Gogh on man's inability to draw a perfect object, figuring: "The only perfect circle on a human body is the eye. When a baby is born, it's so perfect, but when it opens its eyes, it's just blinded by the corruption and everything else is a downward spiral." In 2009, Wire and Bradfield also spoke about this to NME. JDB: "It stands for the Scalextric of his mind. Racing around, and sometimes crashing, and getting back on…" Nicky: "But he did always go on about it, if you remember, he was obsessed with the perfect circle and Van Gogh’s figure eight and all that (something that is referenced in Peeled Apples, 'The figure eight inside out is infinity'). It was a kind of a recurring theme that he never seemed to get to grips with." JDB: "Drawing the perfect circle’s meant to be the test that has sent many an artist into insanity." *James' solo track, The Wrong Beginning (from his debut long player, The Great Western), was penned in tribute to Edwards and his inability to ever find something perfect in his life. And interestingly, the first verse, 'Please don't ever tell me / I really don't want to know / How it could have been different / If you would have had blue eyes', refers to Richey's belief that, even though he had an honest-to-goodness upbringing, his life would have been so much better, untroubled, happier and contented, if only he hadn't been born with brown eyes. In '94, he told Time Out: "I do believe that if I'd been born with blue eyes, my life would be completely different. I wouldn't have ended up going to University, I'd be married and I'd be a bank manager." On a similar note, when Martin Hall's son was born, Richey sent him a Christmas card - which rather than having any season's greetings or well wishes - simply read: 'Blue eyes good. Brown eyes bad'. Around this time, Martin also had a private conversation with Edwards, to express how he was deeply concerned about any suicidal tendencies that Richey may have, especially as everyone was still learning to live with the incredibly sad loss of Philip and didn't want any further tragedy. Edwards promised him that he "would never do anything stupid."

30. Having first begun to outline their intentions for The Holy Bible, lyrically and musically, to management / reporters from late 1993 onwards - songwriting had already commenced in the summer of '93, with tracks including Yes (the very first song to be written for THB) and Die In The Summertime. The public's curiosity was then piqued in mid July '94, when the record's title / tracklisting and August release date were officially announced (Melody Maker misreported that the LP cover would feature a sumo wrestler, after they'd had their first glimpse of the artwork). But, on July 19, following a particularly alarming bout of headlong heavy drinking and self-mutilation, after going missing for 48 hours and locking himself away in his flat, things took a turn for the worse for Richey. The backstory goes, that a saturnine Edwards had been living on his own without anyone to speak to, as he didn't have a telephone and kept thinking about the smallest things over and over, lifting the lid to NME in October 1994: "The little things, you see, are the worry; that put me in a mood that I can't really control. Nothing else happens in my mind; I just get swamped by one idea. It can be anything, and then I'll just stop functioning. I think, what does it mean? I'm intelligent, why can't I understand that? Just a line in a film or a book, and I've lost it. The last one that happened, when I was hospitalised, was just a tiny little thing on The Big Breakfast from Lee Marvin singing that stupid song, I Was Born Under A Wandering Star. There's a line in that, 'Hell is in hello', and for two days, I couldn't do fucking anything. What's it mean, hell is in hello? What are they trying to say? What is the point in that? Just little things. And then I realised that something was not quite right." Addressing this ordeal and predicament, JDB (who revealed that this was much more serious than a breakdown and was closer to a metaphysical meltdown) notified Select Magazine: "We monitored things but we're a pretty moody band, one of us is always brooding so... he said a couple of things to Nicky one evening that Nick thought were a bit funny, then the next day we couldn't get in touch with him and we knew." Wire told KERRANG!: "[Richey's personal issues had] escalated to a point where everybody got a bit frightened." On a collision course, a vulnerable, dwindling, sapped and stupefied Edwards - whose frame of mind meant that he now couldn't even move and so was catatonic / incapacitated - had long been prone to bouts of crying and had mentally plummeted. After coming unglued, he was first admitted to Whitchurch Hospital in Cardiff (which both he and Nicky later described in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest terms). Then, to The Priory Clinic* in Roehampton, south London (where the Irish singer-songwriter, Sinéad O'Connor, was also a patient at the same time), on July 28, for 10 weeks of rehabilitation, to help him convalesce and overcome his expediting, self-destructive problems / learned behaviour (manic depression, cutting himself, stubbing cigarettes out on his arm, alcohol dependency, drug use, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and borderline-anorexia nervosa, while in pursuit of 'the perfect body'). Richey also enrolled as an AA Member (Alcoholics Anonymous) and was still mourning / processing the deaths of the Manics' mentor, Philip Hall, and his best friend at University, Nigel, who had hung himself earlier that year. By this point, the situation was grave and had reached epidemic proportions. Waifish and wasting away, Edwards weighed only 6.5st and was teetering on the edge. Sean told Select Magazine: "He had to go there, because there was nothing else we could do. He'd been in Whitchurch NHS** where they've got no money and they just knock 'em out with drugs. It's not treatment. I don't think he ever saw a psychiatrist." While Wire testified to Brum Beat: "It got to the point where he looked such a mess - he'd lost so much weight and there were cuts all over his body - I honestly thought he might go that way. Then you start asking yourself, what could I have done? Like Cobain, Richey is a very private person - he never talked about his problems. When he first started cutting himself, I thought it was just his way of entertaining [himself], but it obviously took a wrong turn." In Sun Zoom Spark, Bradfield also brought into the open: "Richey's a very academic person, he loves routines and timetables. When we were working, he always had timetables that he had to follow.

But then we had some time off and he'd spend his time taking drugs and drinking and doing a bit of slashing here and there, and that's how it all started, really. We've always been a very clinical band, because we've always believed in creating some kind of self myth. We've always admitted that, but then it went way beyond that and got to a point where it became really irrational. Before, everything he did was quite rational, he always did things to make a point which we weren't ashamed of. Then he started doing it in private. When he was doing it and trying to kid us that he wasn't, we realised that it was time to give him a good slap. He did admit to himself that he had a problem and needed help, but the solution was kind of imposed on him. He basically acknowledged that he wasn't as resilient in mind and body as he thought he was, so he kind of became humble, I suppose." Nicky told Melody Maker: "I think for a lot of people, it's like the final act of self-control. Nothing can alter your course; you've got to keep control of what you're doing. But of course, it's like a slow death. Any association with self-abuse and self-control is quite romantic in a naive sort of way, but obviously, the reality of anorexia is much worse than the idea." Around this time, anorexia was also receiving copious amounts of coverage under the media lens, and with Edwards long believing that "There's a certain kind of beauty in taking complete control of every aspect of your life. Purifying or hurting your body to achieve a balance in your mind is tremendously disciplined." He also confessed to Time Out: "I've been hit lots of times for no reason, but I've never thrown a punch back. If I refuse to do that then I might get beaten up badly, but I would feel still feel better than the person who's doing it to me. There's a Latin quote which I can't remember - it's actually in Green River Rising (a revered prison novel by Tim Willocks) - that strength is restored through wounding." In November '94, Simon Price would actually quiz him about this excogitation for Melody Maker. "It sounds as though the flipside of vanity is an inferiority complex. Richey: "That's what it is. I think so. Linked with a 'victim mentality', maybe." I can't figure out your feelings on puritanism. Sometimes it seems to disgust you, but surely anorexia is an extreme form of puritanism? "Oh yeah. Again, I think my views are completely flawed. My idea of purity is completely split down the middle. It's in denial with its own logic. The idea of not eating food, the idea of a political prisoner, say the Maze Block going on hunger strike, when I was young, I thought it was so beautiful, the best thing anyone could do. It's all about injuring yourself to a certain extent. But for a reason, for an absolute reason. That's why I liked Bobby Sands [IRA martyr and Republican icon who died in the Maze protest by self-starvation in May 1981]. That's why I thought he was a better statement than anything else that was going on at the time, because it was against himself." Briefly emancipated from this 'redeeming' thought process, with reference to his undoing and debilitating metaphysical meltdown (though he could sometimes be "obstinate, pig-headed and uncooperative," he had reportedly twice been forced to attend psychiatric facilities in summer and winter '93, with both occasions proving unfruitful as he relapsed). Edwards eventually set the record straight when he unassumingly elucidated to NME: "Basically, I wasn't in a very good frame of mind. My mind wasn't functioning very well, and my mind was stronger than my body. My mind subjected my body to things that it couldn't cope with. Which meant I was ill. For the first time, I was a bit scared, because I always thought I could handle it. I've read lots of books about tolerance of pain, and pain thresholds. The euphoric agony, basically, is a sensation which your mind blocks off. You control yourself. It's all about control. About proving a point to yourself, which I did very easily, but then I realised that I couldn't do anything. So I went to hospital... I pushed my body further than it was meant to go." And, although this crisis / stumbling block was addressed by Hall or Nothing as "nervous exhaustion" in a communiqué***. Some supercilious, disrespectful and detestable detractors, insensitively and shamelessly revelled in reporting this as a suicide attempt. Or, within these concocted, scurrilous, misleading, libellous and sickening stories (which spread like wildfire), astringently pontificated that it was all part of an elaborate publicity stunt.

But, the media-savvy band, though self-confessed press junkies and appreciating 'dirt dishing' scandalmongering, (unable to preempt any such reports) were mortified by the distasteful, flagrant lies and obscene accounts printed in each of these accusatory, inflammatory, exploitative, unkind, slanderous, harmful, demeaning and reductive news stories. Which, rife with presumptuous, toxic gossip, shot full of holes and impinging on their private lives, were anathema to the band and to Richey, his mother Sherry, father Graham and sister Rachel. Typical headlines included, RICHEY: FROM DESPAIR TO CARE and RICHEY IN NEW SLASHING DRAMA. On the subject of this being reported as a publicity stunt, Edwards never had any ulterior motives and fully expected this to happen, later countering on ZTV: "Selling a few more copies of a CD, is not very high on my list of priorities," in respect of his 'philosophy of life'. Choked with incensed indignation and scolding / aiming vitriol at those complicit in propagating apocryphal and concocted misinformation, each and every one of these egregious, unsubstantiated, disparaging and unwarranted stories was justly rebuked. In KERRANG!, James groaned and vociferated about this backlash and being pilloried by the media, growling: "I can't believe how tabloid-esque the music press has been. This week they said I was fucking leaving the band! The week before they were saying there was tension in the band. Then it was suicide. I don't min a bit of sensationalism, but only if there's some truth there as well. There don't actually seem to be any ethics left in journalism." But having played with the media since you started, you must have known that it was neither decent or ethical. Shouldn't you have expected a backlash? "No, I've never expected a journalist to be completely irresponsible. We've always been a moralistic band really, even though we have been quite manipulative. I think the press are breaking a basic code of decency by using the words 'suicide' and 'tension' at the mere sight of a bit of trauma within the band. For Richey, couldn't that make things much worse? We've suffered a lot at the hands of the press. We've been completely ridiculed, but we've never complained about the freedom of a journalist to rip the shit out of us in print if he wants to." And, although for the duration of The Holy Bible era, MSP were the subject of a slew of attention-grabbing headlines, column inches and write-ups. Because of his susceptibly to being perceived as a 'tortured artist', this label was soon foisted onto Edwards when music magazines/papers later began to either cast aspersions, or deify Richey, by singling him out as front page news for his 'newsworthy saleability' - much to the group's irritation, who took umbrage at this. Bradfield told KERRANG!: "Twice Richey was put on a magazine cover when we were told it would be a group shot. We were a bit indignant about it, but there's no point in moaning about it. Richey's now healthy and off the sauce. He doesn't do any drugs and he's not cutting himself up at the moment. He's kind of back to normal. Well... that's what 'normal' is supposed to be." Amid this cloying media glare, hullabaloo and character defamation / blatant smear campaign, plus the rampant rumours and growing / gnawing press conjecture that the Manics' tour dates were now in jeopardy and how they wouldn't continue without their mouthpiece, Edwards (who abstained from doing interviews for some time after this). Feeling fidgety due to his grievances, an aggravated, vexed and reproachful JDB retaliated: "There's certainly more than a 50 percent chance that we would've split up if he'd left the band. From the band side of things that's the only time resentment ever came into it. Actually, it's not really resentment, it's more that now and again I was thinking 'being in a band just isn't any good for him, we should just pack it in' but he didn't want that to happen at all. That was the only time when things became compounded to such a degree that it felt like they were going to explode." Valiantly and tenaciously soldiering on regardless, thanks to their stalwart, 'the show must go on' and 'we shall not bow to disaster' Protestant work ethic. MSP played as "the dreaded power trio" as "an absolute last resort, rather than letting everyone down" in the throes of these circumstances - "a badge of honour" as Nicky put it - fulfilling all of their remaining summer festival commitments (Germany, Netherlands, UK) in the interim. This also helped to pay for Edwards' treatment. James informed Melody Maker: "Our priority was to make sure Richey was OK.

At first we didn't think about what we'd do as a band. We could have cancelled the tour, but he wanted us to carry on playing while he was away. But it's not the same. Playing [the inaugural] T In The Park Festival (Saturday, July 30) was terrible without him." In 2014, Wire told Radio X Scotland: "I think we were on below Blur. I remember it really well. It was hot, it was sweaty and we were full of mad energy." And, even though "it felt like betrayal" and the Manics absolutely loathed festivals (unsanitary etc.), they also realised that they couldn't be averse to playing them, as it was of paramount importance to 'reach' people. During the THB 10 DVD interview, Sean rationalised: "We were always used to playing as a three-piece, really, so going onstage was just an extension of what we did in the studio anyway." Wire even recently tweeted: "Reading '94 was the peak of anger-worry and disillusionment, but still great." While at the time, during a Q&A with the broadcaster / television presenter, Gary Crowley, Bradfield joked about Richey being missing in action: "We weren't really catering for our female section of the audience!" Nicky and JDB were also interviewed at this event by ITV's The Beat. Nicky: "We've known each other for so long and we've all sort of got our idiosyncrasies, but it reached a point where Richey's became massively overblown - his mutilation, his drinking and his lack of food. It reached a peak of ugliness, really. Himself, us and perhaps his parents as well, realised that something had to be done... The thing is, as people and as a band, we're probably more open as friends and all the rest of it - all that crap American style talking - than any other band you know? We've done nothing else but talk for like 5 years constantly, so we all know each other's faults and problems. It's just that sometimes, you can't do anything about them. It needs to reach a peak for something to be done, really." James: "It really was a very sharp intake of breath, in terms of like when he finally went off [the rails]. Because we played Glastonbury (on Friday, June 24, where in an infamous outburst, a brash Nicky flared up and brazenly spouted the impudent: "I say, build some more fucking bypasses over this shithole!") and he really, really enjoyed himself... I think the thing is, we've always been quite a nihilistic band in terms of not believing in anything. But we've always been the kind of band that really wants to try and believe in something. So, I think it's just really accumulative and any kind of signs are very hard to read, when it's been an ongoing situation for like 4 to 5 years you know?" After visiting Edwards during his stay at The Priory Clinic however (who would often play Debussy as he found the French composer's music "soothing", although any lyrics he penned whilst a patient there, were "too fucked up to use" according to JDB), though naturally worried, distressed and protective, James, Nicky and Sean dubiously called into question how beneficial the Twelve-step programme treatment actually was to his mental health and well-being. It would become a bête noire. Under duress, a despondent Richey even looked askance and expeditiously deconstructed and deciphered its stifling, inherent faults, as well as seeing through the therapy's over-reliance on, and liberal use of, antidepressants: 'Pass the Prozac, designer amnesiac' (P.C.P.). After having spent 6 weeks there, on September 8, Edwards discharged himself early. In 1996, James, Nicky and Sean spoke to NME about Richey's time in The Priory Clinic, which specialises in ‘acute psychiatric problems’. Wire: "We all think The Priory filled him up with a lot of shit. All the things The Priory stood for, in one way or another, Richey had ridiculed viciously in the past. You can’t expect someone to come around to something like that. Sometimes, I think that one of the positive things he’s done is that wherever he is, he knew he’d never become the person The Priory wanted him to be. Deep down, he knew it was just crap. It’s pseudo-religion anyway. If he’d become a born-again Christian, I think it would have been better." Bradfield: "Whatever happens, I do think you come back a completely different person. They destroy their self, so to speak. They just want you to be another person, and that’s their job." Wire: "Richey said that to me anyway. He said, ‘I can’t do anything I want to anymore.’ He really missed drinking. The one constant in his life which he enjoyed was drinking. The fact that it put him to sleep. He’d drink on his own - not a social thing."

Moore: "It was a companion." Nicky also theorised about Edwards' inner-turmoil, emotional oversensitivity and the burden of adulthood: "Richey feels things so fucking intensely. He always had this vision of purity, of perfection, a kind of childlike vision, that became completely obliterated. A misprint on a lyric sheet, or whatever, would just upset him so much, and he got to a stage where he just couldn't stop himself from doing anything." With JDB adding in Sun Zoom Spark: "A psychiatrist is always going to pick a target to establish the problem and we were scared that the target would be us. In the end, thank God, it was something else." Later conceding that upon leaving the rehab clinic, Richey had "come back an altogether different person," even as far as wanting to be called Richard. Edwards told NME: "I do call myself Richard. That's my name. It's always been my name, ever since the day I was born." But it's not symbolic of some determined personality change? "No, nothing like that. The band have never called me Richey anyway. They've always called me Android, or something like that." As for his final thoughts on The Priory Clinic, a riled, disgruntled and dejected Nicky erupted, berating the rehab clinic and accusing them of "ripping the soul out of Richey." Upon reflection, with deep-seated antipathy, James also bemoaned and vehemently asserted his utter disdain for anyone who judged, discriminated against or denigrated Edwards. Also explaining to NME, how the ratio of personal songs vs. songs not particularly in the first-person, has always leaned towards the latter: "The only thing that perhaps pissed me off in terms of what's happened to him, is in relation to the terms that people are gonna view Richey. They'll think that he's a walking capital letter 'I' - all ego. And yet on the new album for me, his two best songs are written from his point of view, but through other people, not himself: Ifwhiteamerica... and The Intense Humming Of Evil. I think he's maybe deflected attention away from the way he can write about other people and turned it all on himself. It's the only thing I'm angry about, because that makes him look very vain." Bradfield also admitted to Gary Crowley, how each member "always exist on our own terms and we never really censor each other in any kind of way." Also speaking in defence of his best friend, favourite lyricist and "esoteric genius," years later, Wire posited to the BBC: "As a kind of physical and internalised hatred and dissection of humanity, The Holy Bible is pretty untouchable." And, although he could have easily corroborated JDB's assumption about his unsung attributes, instead, not wanting to wallow or gripe. An impervious, unembittered and unguarded Edwards - who by now, had penned such staggering, heartbreaking and contemplative clear-cut lines as: 'I don't know what I'm scared of or what I even enjoy.' 'The only certain thing that is left about me / There's no part of my body that has not been used / Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame / Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave' (Yes). 'Problem is, diet's not a big enough word / I wanna be so skinny that I rot from view.' 'I want to walk in the snow / And not leave a footprint / I want to walk in the snow / And not soil its purity.' 'Choice is skeletal in everybody's life.' 'Self-worth scatters, self-esteem's a bore / I long since moved to a higher plateau.' 'Yeh 4st 7, an epilogue of youth / Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse / I've finally come to understand life / Through staring blankly at my navel' (4st 7lb). 'Scratch my leg with a rusty nail, sadly it heals / Colour my hair but the dye grows out / I can't seem to stay a fixed ideal.' 'Childhood pictures redeem, clean and so serene / See myself without ruining lines / Whole days throwing sticks into streams.' 'The hole in my life even stains the soil / My heart shrinks to barely a pulse / A tiny animal curled into a quarter circle / If you really care wash the feet of a beggar****.' As well as, 'I have crawled so far sideways / I recognise dim traces of creation' (Die In The Summertime). Measuredly, modestly and felicitously intoned to the Dutch radio station, NPO 3FM, in November 1994*****: "I'm not really worried what people think about me. Because I judge myself harsher, and on more strict terms, than they ever could probably, I think." Also once unbosoming to NME: "I do have a very childlike rage and a very childlike loneliness." Likewise, the THB era also gave rise to an infamous, obsessional and fanatical subculture - or subsect - known simply as 'CoR - Cult of Richey', who themselves identified with Richey.

Bradfield once said: "Around the time of The Holy Bible, it was slightly disquieting the kind of stuff that would be attached to us in terms of some fans. I was never comfortable with that." Also telling NME in 1996: "I do find them a bit Cracker-esque, now and then." An attentive Simon Price, would later smartly jot in Melody Maker how this clique, in-group, or tribe, precipitated: "The Christing of Richey (ever since the hospitalisation, the idolatry has stepped up a gear, beyond mere canonisation). To some he's become a stigmata martyr, "He Bleeds For Our Sins". There has always been an element of ghoulish voyeurism to the 'Cult of Richey', we are all of us (would-be) spectators of suicide, hypocrites happy to live a 4 REAL life by proxy******. Stay just fucked up enough to write all those great songs, we seem to be asking, but not so fucked up that you aren't around anymore." This period would also later become the marker for Manic Street Preachers' pre / post Holy Bible phases (first act before second act) and defined fanbases ('old fans vs. new fans'). James has even termed fixated, indoctrinated and loyal devotees / addicts, who are in thrall of THB / terrifically precious about the long player which has chimed with them, who savour it as their saviour and sacred scripture, who luxuriate in its all splendour and pay obeisance by carrying a torch for it, as 'Bible Ites'. He elaborated on this legion of bewitched converts, during an American interview that took place in 1995: "Those kind of fans, really became a visible minority around the time of The Holy Bible and it's not a derogatory term. I call them the 'Bible Ites', because I think it's quite a scary little term and it gives them an intimidating presence, which is cool!" *In 2002, music journalist Stuart Bailie penned the following as part of his excellent, THE ART OF FALLING APART, editorial for MOJO: "The Priory method used questionnaires, drama therapy and yoga, among other things. Patients were encouraged to keep a log book and to read from a book called Believing In Myself. Even when Richey was being treated, Nicky was sceptical about some of the ideas, especially the drama. The dilemma was plain. Their friend needed help, yet the Richey they cared for was the sum of many spiky, valuable parts. Presently, he'd taken to writing LOVE down the length of his fingers and quoting from Leviticus and Ecclesiastes. But when I spoke to him later, he was ambivalent. "Religion has always been pretty central in my thoughts. I'm surprised people think The Holy Bible is a strange title for an album. I've read the Bible back-to-back and what I find in it is not what they taught me in church. I was made to go to church when I was young - my parents didn't go, but I was made to go. You're a little kid and you're five minutes late or you miss a Sunday, and some appallingly fat old man in his eighties is screaming fire and brimstone in some little Welsh Elim Chapel. I could never reconcile that with what I'd read in the Bible. The core of The Priory system was a 12-point recovery programme. One section asked each patient to reconcile themselves with a higher power. Richey could only think of nature as a likely answer, but realised cruelty was also part of that scheme. However, he reckoned, he had plenty of time to think that issue through in the coming weeks." In connection to this, in 2009, NME put in print this conversation between Bradfield and Wire, while they were promoting JFPL. JDB: "I think [Virginia State Epileptic Colony] talks about how when the malady doesn't fit the cure. And how the cure sometimes homogenises the person. And it'll be like, 'PG certificate, all cuts unfocused'... the cure will sometimes bring a bland focus to what is a real problem." Nicky: "(to JDB) You think it's more his journey, then, this? A comment of more, 'they're all trying to change me'? Because of course, The Priory is a mixture of all pseudo-God and religious bollocks and doctors trying to cure you." JDB: "And submitting to some symbol, or God." Nicky: "Ripping your soul up." JDB: "I think that [Journal For Plague Lovers, Facing Page: Top Left and in a strange way, Virginia State Epileptic Colony] link together and the sense of community that you get with the people that you meet when you're having treatment." Nicky: "He quickly realised, when he was in The Priory and not the NHS hospital, that the cure basically means having to destroy the entire entity that you are. And I don't think he's prepared to do that for the sake of survival in the modern world."

JDB: "He had this amazing quote once, when we went to The Priory and he was very pissed off with somebody that was trying to treat him, and he said 'they would just believe that something was wrong with me, if I went and sat in the bushes with a camouflage hat on and pretended I was in some kind of war. Then they would think there was something wrong with me.' Which is a bleak fact." Bradfield and Wire also discussed William’s Last Words and Bag Lady. JDB: "[They] were the only two written as pure prose... I think there are some people he met when he was in one of the two places having treatment and I think he just took in, just digested other people's stories and experiences." Nicky: "Especially the NHS hospital in Cardiff in Whitchurch, which was... I mean, The Priory was grim in a different kind of way. In a... not false, but just a wrong sort of way. But the NHS hospital, obviously everyone was trying really hard, but it wasn't a nice place to be. It was, how can I put it, visiting in there, it did wither your soul. I don't know, is this song about that? He was kind of capable of just a kind of pettiness towards any idea of marriage or love, or relationships." As for Facing Page: Top Left, NME stated: 'This seemed to me to be kind of about women's magazines, or maybe magazine culture in general.' JDB: "That did... you kind of have to be careful talking about lyrics, because like Nick said, we can never be sure if we're being accurate. But there was sometimes, when we'd visit Richey in certain places, some women having treatment, you know, alongside him, that would be impeccably turned out sometimes, in the place, there would be a garish use of lipstick and very made up etc. And that did strike me that maybe there was something about that in that lyric. But I still think it's part of the little community of Journal For Plague Lovers, Facing Page: Top Left, Virginia State Epileptic Colony. It is just about how you become homogenised under the gaze of certain doctors and analysts and how you kind of lose yourself in treatment." In closing, Nicky effused: "It's been an eye-opener to me today, because that theme of doctors or institutions trying to really stamp their authority does seem to have come through." NME: 'I suppose the danger with all of these songs would be to assume that they’re all about Richey himself.' Nicky: "Yeah, I think it would because in the songs and in the ones we haven't written up as well, there was so much context, and I don't think it's entirely internalised. Like I said, if you're consuming that much culture, I think he'd be pretty insane to connect everything to himself." While in a Q&A with Reverb Magazine, he noted: "I think [JFPL] is more a natural conclusion than a follow up. It does seem like a natural step as you grow, but there's a couple of years difference between the lyrics and obviously we're different as musicians. The fact that we're writing the words of a 27-year-old definitely energised us. They're not the lyrics of a young man, there's a man that's at the peak of his intellect and powers. But they did give me an opportunity to feel. Songs like Marlon J.D. or Me And Stephen Hawking are probably our fastest played songs in a long time, so it's like going back to that time capsule of 1994. [The lyrics] did dictate in an energetic sense." Also telling NME: "For one thing, I think Richey never did anything to show, this is the mind of a man, a 27-year-old at his creative peak. He was just saying what he thinks, it’s not like, I’ve read this or I’ve seen that. It really wasn’t about that - he just took it to heart. He had more desire and more uncontrolled desire, to be an artist. We’d never say something like that, you know, it’s not in the Manics canon to say ‘we’re artists’. It just usually means you make fucking terrible records. But I think he was, he was, y’know. He wouldn’t have said it himself, but that’s what he’d become." **Speaking to BBC2 Close-Up for the 1998 MSP documentary, From There To Here, about Edwards' stay in the NHS Metal Home, a visibly choked up Wire dispelled the health centre's procedures: "When I saw him there, it was pretty hard. He was drugged out of his skull, just sort of wandering around in pyjamas." With a narked Moore also reliving those times and noting how he wasn't mollified by their treatment, as for him personally, something in the water didn't compute. Of his trepidation, he said: "The biggest thing that really, really disturbed me, was the first time that I visited him in Cardiff at the clinic that he was at.

He was there in his armchair, smoking a cigarette and at the time, he was sort of very shaky and he was on medication. He still managed to get up out of his chair and sort of have a little smile and say, 'Hello Sean, thanks for coming down and visiting me.' I just thought, 'This isn't the place, there's not going to be any improvement here you know? You can't stay here.'" ***On August 8, 1994, the Manics' PR company, Hall or Nothing, issued the following statement: "Speculation that Richey is leaving the band is completely unfounded. He is, however, very ill at the moment and things have now developed to a point where the band - but more importantly Richey - have decided that he needs to seek psychiatric help to deal with what is basically a sickness. Even from the clinic he is still very much involved with the artwork design and other marketing aspects for the forthcoming album, which everybody feels is the band's greatest release to date." Martin Hall also contributed his comments: "There were contributing factors to his decline. The death of Philip (Martin's brother and co-manager of the band, who Richey was very close to) was one of them. But now Richey says he would have probably ended up the same way, regardless... The thing is, he doesn't see anything wrong in cutting himself. It makes him feel better. It's his way of releasing pain and his argument is, 'It doesn't harm anyone else.' It's almost like a badge to show that he's emotionally strong enough to deal with problems in his own way. He was at the point, though, where no one - not even himself - knew how far he might go. If he had carried on without any help, he might have ended up killing himself. It's like watching Shane MacGowan when he was in The Pogues. You think to yourself, 'Why doesn't someone stop him drinking?' But you realise you can't do much about it. You can't be with a person 24 hours a day. I don't know if we should have done more for him earlier on. But I don't think we saw or wanted to admit how bad the situation was getting. Looking back, you can see that he'd planned the 4 REAL incident. But he hadn't told the rest of us. Richey was worried about what was going on as well, it wasn't just us. It's not like we had him committed to the clinic. At first, we weren't going to tell anybody about him going in, but as the rumours started we had to. The worst was that there were some allegations of hype... Even we wouldn't stoop that low. We're trying not to sound melodramatic, but he was very ill. And some people probably think he's stupid, but he's actually very bright, very intelligent. I've been speaking to Richey virtually every day and he seems much better. We've kept him involved in what's going on. I haven't shown him any of the recent press, but we took him the artwork for the LP to check through. It's hard setting a definite date for when he'll be back, but he wants to play the tour in the autumn. At the moment that looks likely." ****In reference to the lyric, 'If you really care wash the feet of a beggar' (Die In The Summertime), "the early Christian church introduced the custom to imitate the humility and selfless love of Jesus, who washed the feet of the Twelve Apostles at the Last Supper (John 13:1-15), the night before his Crucifixion. While Maundy (from Old French mandé, from Latin mandatum meaning "command"), or the Washing of the Feet, or Pedelavium, is a religious rite observed by various Christian denominations." *****During the NPO 3FM radio interview, Edwards also talked about his self-image, about his previous vices and how he now lives straight and clean, as well as chatting openly about self-abuse / wanting to hurt himself, rather than another human-being: "Everybody's got a different code of living, a different set of ethics." He also spoke of how he always felt the need to prove himself against other people, in terms of academic grades and how he constantly tried to get better and improve all of the time - from his body and mind, to the way in which he envied people who could speak different languages (this was something he struggled with and French was the only exam that he failed). However, Edwards also revealed how although he was quite a physically weak person at school, his intelligence made him different to others. Which is why he was so disappointed in himself for drinking / taking drugs, after he had graduated from University, because he "never wanted to interrupt his mind," having previously avoided all mental stimulates. Advised that alcohol would help him sleep, for a short time, he was able to function when drinking / using drugs, but this then escalated his tolerance levels.

Fully aware of the issues that this can cause, especially when on tour, Richey confessed that the last thing he would want is to end up like somebody like Shane MacGowan (incidentally, for press inquiries, The Pogues were also represented by Hall or Nothing): "When I see Shane onstage, sometimes when he can't even sing anymore and he's falling over and they're talking about the genius of the man, I find that very, very patronising. It's just like watching somebody die very slowly and that upsets me, because I think he was like a Godlike lyricist and I don't think that's there anymore, really. I don't find that enjoyable and I don't find the thought of being like that myself very enjoyable." And on being in love: "I've told myself I've been in love lots of times you know, but that's kind of forced... I would just say I've been in lust, I've been physically attracted to people for lengthy periods of time, to the exclusion of everything else, but I wouldn't necessarily call that love. Because if it was love, it would last. I'm too old-fashioned in that sense - if it doesn't last, then it's not love you know? Because I think love is eternal, probably." In 1995, he also talked to Music Life about living clean / staying sober and the time he spent in hospital: "I haven't had a drop of alcohol since last summer. Until then, especially since I left college, I'd been drinking an enormous amount. I didn't eat properly when I was drinking, and my vanity made me hate the idea of having a big ugly beer belly. I didn't want to be fat. So I was always drinking and I felt sick all the time. I was able to read, but I couldn't tidy the house, clean the bath, watch a film, I couldn't do anything else... I got lost somewhere. I just went there [psychiatric facilities], then came out to come back to reality... I didn't feel under any pressure at all... I don't feel much different. I just realise I've got more time. 'Cos my lifestyle has become 'healthy'. I've quit the alcohol and everything. I can now use the whole day. I used to start drinking as soon as I woke up, so the day was shorter. Some people maintain that all the best writing is done by alcoholics and junkies. That's all crap: the more addicted you are, the less time you have to write. You just lose sight of your motivations and intentions. I wasted whole days. I'd wake up and feel so sick that I couldn't do anything. I lost day after day." In another earlier interview, Richey also said: "It's all about self-discipline. Like, self-obsession is connected completely with self-loathing, and it's the same with, if you've got a weight problem. It's all about... finding some worth in yourself, knowing that you've got the discipline to do it, and knowing that other people maybe can't do it. And it's also, I think, really connected to the fact that you almost feel, like, silent, you have no voice, you're mute, there's just no, you've got no option. Even if you could express yourself nobody would listen anyway. Things that go on inside you, there's no other way to get rid of them." While he also told Music Life: "People say to the mentally ill, ‘You know so many people think the world of you.’ But when they don’t like themselves they don’t notice anything. They don’t care about what people think of them. When you hate yourself, whatever people say it doesn’t make sense. ‘Why do they like me? Why do they care about me?’ Because you don’t care about yourself at all." ******As for Edwards self-harming, in a '94 Q&A with Wire, NME stated: 'So much of your rhetoric now seems all too much like self-fulfilling prophecy.' With Nicky recalling: "I know. That first Sounds front cover, the first song we ever wrote was Suicide Alley... The first time I ever saw Richey cutting himself was in University, revising for his finals. And he just got a compass and went like that (draws invisible blade across arm). But I knew a lot of people at University who did that, so when he did 4 REAL, obviously I was really shocked. And you know, you think you've got to do something to prove something or make it more interesting. We want things to be perfect, and not just what we read with loads of other bands." The music weekly then inquired about Edwards' hospitalisation and if this could affect the band's long-term future. With a downhearted Wire glumly replying: "Everybody just got really scared when we saw him. We're in a position where we don't know what to do. It was obvious that he had to go to hospital. There was no other option. He realised it, we realised it, his parents realised it. He's just really ill, in a lot of ways, at the moment. I don't want to get maudlin about it, but obviously something's gone a bit awry...

Basically, the way we see it, is that he'll be back as quick as possible and if it ever comes to the point where he's not coming back, we won't continue. It's impossible to say what will happen. It's just a wait. He won't be doing Reading. And if he can't do the tour in October, I don't think we'll do it. He wants to do it. It's depressing." KERRANG! also published a story about this in August 1994. Wire: "Richey's not doing Reading. He just doesn't want to do it. We don't particularly want to do it either, but I think so many tickets have already been sold, there's so many contractual obligations, etc. So, we'll do it and get it over with. When the British tour comes, if he's not ready for it, then I'm not sure whether we'll do that or not. As a three-piece it gets completely demoralising - it's just not the same. Besides being in the band, we've been friends for so long. It'd seem like a betrayal. We're carrying on at the moment because we're hoping everything will be alright. Hopefully it will." And if it isn't? If Richey decides that he's neither physically or mentally strong enough to be in the band for any length of time? Bradfield: "If he doesn't think he can come back, then I'd have to seriously entertain whether I could carry on with the group. I haven't made any concrete decisions. The basic bottom line, though, is that I'm sure he is coming back. And in the end, the most important thing is his well-being as a friend." Wire concludes: "I would never want him to kill himself over something like a band. We could say that we'd never continue without Richey, but if we did get the urge again, people will turn it round and throw it back in our faces. I would never feel like doing anything without Richey, that's all I will say. The worst thing about it would be if people think this is one of those things we're usually categorised for - a hype or an image. I can categorically say it's not that at all. I wish it was." Both Nicky and James also put Melody Maker in the picture about this difficult time, who once noted how the pair "would make nervous jokes about Richey's recent actions, twitchily calling him "a nutter" to defuse difficult interview situations******, and lead the questioning away from such a delicate subject." Wire: "When we played in Glasgow without him, it was horrendous. It just felt like a massive fucking spiritual betrayal, and it looks pretty certain now that we're going to have to play Reading without him too - I mean, we thought of just doing nothing, not doing press, cancelling gigs, but we talked it over and decided that we were duty-bound to fulfil certain responsibilities - but we'll be so fucking resentful that he isn't there, that a lot of fucking anger is gonna come out, I tell you. But, you know, right now he just needs to get better." Bradfield: "It's strange. Richey never had as many setbacks as a kid as me, he's more acutely intelligent than me, he's more beautiful than me - and yet he has more problems. Problems that I'd just snip off with fucking scissors in two seconds flat, really get to Richey. But he has a very acute perception of things, and you can't lose that perception. It's just a matter of how you channel it. And this is it. It sounds insultingly flippant to say, 'Ooh, these things happen' or something, but - basically, what is is, we all saw Richey's problems getting to a stage where things were gonna get very, very nasty, and now he's going to see a psychiatrist and try to nip that in the bud. That's the true story. Those are the facts." In September '94, Nicky even told Brum Beat: "Richey always saw himself as a weak person. He tried to cover that up with either drink or mutilation (Yes, Faster, Die In The Summertime and P.C.P all have references to Richey either maiming himself or others having body parts mutilated), it happens to a lot of people in bands, but the more sensitive just crumble. It's a question of how you deal with it. He came to a point where there was no going back. It's a kind of artistic thing as well. It’s hard to separate walking up to the abyss and falling into it... With a band like us, it's not really just about the music - it's a question of keeping control of everything. But the general fuck ups that occur can really end up getting to you. I’m lucky - I can just come home and distance myself from it, but I don't think Richey could. It just got to the stage where things just overwhelmed him." Sky Magazine also printed the following with quotes from Nicky: "There's a trigger in Richey that he can't control. He doesn't have a second skin; he absorbs everything too easily. He has a mental illness. It's not schizophrenia or anything like that, but he's mentally ill. Manic depression.

Initially Richey was put in an NHS hospital but "the place was on its knees. He just sat there drugged up to his eyeballs on Prozac." He was moved to a private clinic and the treatment continues, comprising "Trying out about four different therapies at the same time. Experiments. Seems a pretty vague way of doing things to me. This year he has sunk into the kind of depression that drives a soul to smoking 40 cigarettes and a bottle of vodka a day. Wire brightens when he considers the clinic: "He's having these intellectual battles in there right now. He knows what they're doing, all these questionnaires: 'You can't trick me!' He's on some sort of prescribed drugs and shitloads of therapy and he's even doing fucking drama classes. There are obviously things that Richey will not do; I can't see him putting up with that 'I am a cushion' stuff somehow." Wire has allowed himself to think about the future of the Manic Street Preachers if Richey doesn't return. Will the band carry on? "No," he states, flatly, "not in any shape or form. The thing about Richey is he's never seen his own worth in the band - you can tell him his worth a million times and he thinks it's all down to his guitar playing or something." Wire shrugs. "That's the way he is. And that's why things will always be different for Rich."" In 1996, NME asked Nicky: 'Did Prozac bring about a change in Richey’s personality?' With Wire answering: "To be honest, I don’t think it did. It could have worked, but I don’t know if he would have let it work. He was determined to show that, ‘I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer / I spat out Plath and Pinter’. I mean, you can look back at Richey and say there are so many cues, right from day one, and think, ‘Oh something’s gonna happen.’ But it’s pretty hard. The first thing I ever said in an interview with the music press was, ‘We’re going to set fire to ourselves on Top of The Pops.‘ You don’t say things like that for shock, there’s some sort of sub-consciousness. I worry about ourselves, as people. If you looked at our book and video collection when we were about 18, it’s virtually all the same. It all centred around alcoholics. Romantic drunks. Suicides..." Returning to what happened in Edwards' flat on July 19 - which is what set the ball rolling for his treatment / led to MSP having to play gigs without him. In a December 1994, Melody Maker article entitled, ARCHIVES OF PAIN, (while on tour with the Manics in France in November '94) Simon Price wrote of his regret about never cutting to the chase and asking him for the truth about this scenario: "Richey's spell in hospital began, one lurid rumour goes, after a suicide attempt. The myth goes like this: Richey tries the old slit wrists/hot bath method, and, surprised to wake up the next morning and find himself alive, phones up his mother to say, 'I've done something a bit stupid... I think you'd better call an ambulance.' Is this true? And what of the statistical evidence that a high percentage of attempted suicides eventually succeed? This is the question I don't ask Richey. As soon as I get home, I feel a complete coward. He seems like he wants to talk, like he wants to set the record straight. I know he'd have answered." However, in the December 1994 issue of Time Out (for what was to be Edwards' final British interview), he revealed: "Apart from the band and a few people close to me, no one knows what happened. That's because I choose not to talk about it. There has to be some kind of privacy. Inevitably, I'm bound to be misrepresented, but that's something that everybody has to deal with, whatever job they do." ******Simon Price also wrote: "A feature of recent MSP interviews has been a nervous reflex impulse to deflect uncomfortably probing questions with (the darkest, hallowest) laughter. Human tragedy becomes tagi-comedy." As well as noting: "It has been suggested, mischievously, that Richey James' hospitalisation has had the same effect as Kurt Cobain's suicide (instant canonisation, waves of empathetic adoration, sudden respectful recognition that he does mean it, he is 4 REAL after all), with the difference that Richey is still around to enjoy it." As a matter of fact, Select Magazine actually concluded their THB album review by showing genuine gratitude for all of Edwards' sacrifices: "Let's hope he realises that, with a record of such unsettling, morbid resonance as The Holy Bible, no further gestures are required. Not at all."

Thinking back to making The Bible during a RAW Magazine Q&A in late 1994, James recalled: "It was about three weeks after we started to suspect that something was seriously wrong [with Edwards], that I actually listened to the album again. It brought back a lot of memories of sitting in a studio for 15 hours a day! It was hard work and I wasn't having the best time anyway, what with Philip Hall dying of cancer, my engagement being called off and a couple of very serious illnesses in my family. I definitely thought, 'Fucking hell, you fucking cunt', but like I said, only for about two seconds! In some ways, after thinking about it, I'd say that what has happened to Richey has filled me with a lot of belief in the album. I never thought that we were voyeuristic and I think the album was heartfelt in every way, but there's even more of a personal perspective on it now... There's something really cold about the way we deal with this whole Richey thing. Well, it's not in any way disparaging, but you can't wallow in it. We're a vicious band. We have always taken the piss out of each other, which is our way of dealing with things. I just keep worrying that my flippancy will carry very badly to the page." In 2009, Wire and Bradfield actually told a lighthearted anecdote about this period to NME. Nicky: "When he was in The Priory and Eric Clapton was there and he offered to come round and jam on the guitar, that was one of those moments where you couldn't write anything funnier, in a tragic situation." JDB: "God bless Clappo, he wasn't being nasty..." Nicky: "He wasn't. He just thought, 'Hey, rock 'n' roll musician, come on.' I would love to have been there to see Richey's polite, 'Well, maybe not...' 'Matron, bring my Strat, close the door.' And Richey's like, 'Fuck, I'm getting out of here!' Be that as it may, when Wire published his visual biography, Death Of The Polaroid: A Manics Family Album, in 2011, he revealed to Q Magazine: "Some of The Holy Bible-era Polaroids are odd, because they're from when Richey was hospitalised. There's a shot of me and James that's bleak."

31. By way of promotion and as something of a prelude, based on Rob Stringer's suggestion, every word from every song on The Holy Bible was reproduced as a bountiful lyric centrespread advertisement* in the public domain, via the music press and the Reading Festival '94 programme, in the run-up to the release of the album - although all explicit words in this preview were blacked out. Mirroring the printed lyrics theme and to tie in with the idea of showcasing MSP's words**, each single - Faster/P.C.P., Revol and She Is Suffering - also had its own full-page and mini press adverts. NME, who wrote of the LP, "At last it's all making sense. Manic Street Preachers are finally sounding as fucked up and fragmented as their interviews always said they were," even gave away a free 4trk flexidisc 7" sampler entitled, Verses From The Holy Bible, which was covermounted (with sellotape) to the front of their August 27, 1994, issue. The excerpts were: 1. She Is Suffering 2. Yes 3. Archives Of Pain 4. Ifwhiteamericawastotellthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart. The latter song is erroneously titled. Also of interest, is that whereas advertisements, promo, reviews etc. used to remind buyers of new releases out on a Monday, as The Holy Bible's release date coincided with a Bank Holiday Weekend, the album was instead available from most record shops on the Tuesday. *In 2014, Bradfield and Wire spoke to NME about the centrespread advertisement. JDB: "Usually [when you release a long player] you fucking book the back page [advert] of the NME and the first inside cover or whatever. The advert for The Holy Bible was the middle two pages of the NME with all the lyrics, and nothing else. We were realising that the music was completely beholden to the lyrics for once. You've got to buy into that, but once you start doubting it then things can... it really is a miserable experience. It's almost like setting up what a political party's gonna stand for and halfway through you're thinking, 'Fucking hell, dunno if some of this is right.' It's that bad feeling of 'we can't quite deliver the message if we're not all on the same page.'" Nicky: "The tactic for the advert was brilliant as well - 'Well, they'll all be reading it at Reading and want to go and buy the album!' And Rob Stringer was like, 'That's a fucking good idea'." JDB: "And Rob, the king of fucking unit shifting, even bought into it." Nicky: "It's a long fucking process, we'd finished the album for a long time as well." **The Bible was always about reading as much as listening, with the THB 20th Anniversary Box Set bumper booklet going the extra mile, as it is packed to the gills with lyric drafts, new interviews, a melange of ideas and notes, photographs, artwork / single design layouts, tracklistings, tear-outs for inspiration, Soundspace recording session log sheets, tour schedules, posters, teaser / full-page ads, MSP relics, 'Easter eggs' and more!

32. THB hatched (or was "thrown to the wolves" as Richey put it) on the very same day as Oasis' era-defining, Definitely Maybe: August 30, 1994 - just as the zeitgeist in the UK was transforming and the nascent Britpop was really starting to take-off! At the time however, Wire revealed in a news story: "We thought about delaying it until September or October, but Richey was insistent that it should be 'business as usual' and we're just hoping that he'll be fit for the tour." The long player, issued through the Epic label (a Sony subsidiary) and MSP's "most complete album, by a long way" according to Richey in NME, gatecrashed the UK Albums Chart at No. 6*, and the Scottish Albums Chart a No. 9. John Harris called The Holy Bible an "unwelcome guest at the party." And, although it didn't chart in mainland Europe or North America (as an import), it did however make a tiny dent in the Japanese marketplace, where it was released on September 8, 1994 (with 3 bonus live tracks recorded at Glastonbury '94), peaking at No. 48 on the Oricon Albums Chart. Also of note, is that whereas some parts of Europe - including Bulgaria, Poland and Spain - had cassettes produced exclusively for each country. Conversely, as a devoutly religious country, Italy ostensibly refused to sell the LP at all based on the grounds that the title, The Holy Bible, could be construed as deeply offensive or even sacrilegious by Italians. The record also had a small-scale release in both Australia (featuring an explicit content warning CD sticker on the standard clear jewel case), and in Asia (where unique Indonesian, Israeli and Thai MCs were manufactured for the latter), but in China, it was only ever available as an unofficial bootleg CD. And, although garnering much fanfare / fervour upon release, being widely-praised by critics and having a Sony Music Entertainment Global Marketing Plan, it sold poorly - a 'radio friendly unit shifter' this was not. To casual observers, THB must have seemed radioactive to the vast majority of the record buying public. Having said that, on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire enthused: "[It sold] 22,000 the first week. That's not bad actually, I was quite pleased with that!" Earlier in the Q&A, he also asserted: "We were still convincing ourselves, that there was some sort of commercial viability in it. Then, taking it on tour and playing it live and the words getting shouted out every night and sung back to you by audiences, it kind of seemed to take on something more serious." In September 1994, BBC Greater London Radio asked James: 'What have you made of the reviews of the album so far?' With JDB responding: "A lot of them have been quite dated, really. Especially like reviews in Q, just saying punky pop and things you know? On this album, I see us as being quite a modern band, really. I don't see us as being that retro - even though it's guitars, bass and drums." Bowled over, NME wrote: "Musically, The Holy Bible isn’t elegant, but it is bloody effective. When it comes to stripped-down surges of punkoid fury, this is James Dean Bradfield’s baby and he isn’t going to water down his curious rottweiller growls and yelps for any financial gain." While KERRANG! put in print: "Typically, the Manics have responded with a bitter, twisted, angry and self-pitying album called The Holy Bible. A despairing and unforgiving catalogue of protest and misery, it's the first thing they've done that deserves to be called great. But no matter how much raw pain and power the Manics have dredged up through 13 howling, open-wound songs, the shit-storm surrounding their ugly recent past and their uncertain future refuses to clear." A follow-up KERRANG! editorial published in December '94, MANIC DEPRESSION!, was also very enthusiastic / encouraging and included additional quotes from Bradfield: "Released in August, the Manics' third album is their darkest and most controversial to date. It is also one of the great rock albums of '94. "We knew The Holy Bible wasn't commercially the strongest album we could release," reflects Manics' frontman James Dean Bradfield. "But for us it was like regaining our own image, so in those terms it's been very successful for me. The general essence of the album is dark and fucked up." A year ago, bassist Nicky Wire predicted that the Manics' third album could be either "50 minutes of misery or utter Punk." The final, ugly picture turned out to be a combination of both - the massive iron wheels of P.C.P., Faster and Archives Of Pain grinding alongside the wondrous She Is Suffering, 4st 7lb and This Is Yesterday. "We didn't purposefully set out to do that," James notes.

"We just didn't have it in us to do anything else. We knew there was something inside us waiting to get out, and that it would be impossible to try and do something else! It's our most confused album..." Are you ever confused by Richey and Nicky's gloomy, difficult lyrics? "I kind of modified my attitude. I didn't necessarily have to have an empathy with the lyrics or agree with them. The only thing I had to do was understand them. There were some songs like 4st 7lb (a grim journey through anorexia nervosa), where it was obviously going to be quite voyeuristic for me to sing them. This has probably been the most interesting album to do, because I did feel alienated by some of the lyrics sometimes. Not in a bad way, but just because of the confusion I felt when I first read them."" After later receiving positive feedback from fans, an appreciative and reassured JDB gratefully told RAW Magazine: "Well, I'm glad that people have taken to the album. It's not a party record, it's not ABBA Gold, but there are a lot of basic home truths on it. The respect that we've had is cool." Continuing: "We don't want to rely on the past. It gave us our grounding, but I want to be a modern band in both our sound and presentation. It's become an obsession and it's hard, because rock bands are by definition based on a sense of tradition. We always said that we wanted to be a band that believed in something, but we had nothing to believe in... That was the most modern thing that anyone could say!" In a 2004 feature, The Guardian wrote: "Perhaps most remarkable of all was the contrast between the album and its context. Somewhat inevitably, its commercial fate paled in comparison to the kingpins of Britpop: while Blur and Oasis racked up sales that ran into the millions, the Manics managed a modest 35,000. Wire remembers when he first appreciated The Holy Bible in its entirety. He and the other Manics were travelling home from an appearance at the Radio 1 Roadshow (June 2, 1994), and they listened to a cassette of the new record. "That was when the realisation came," he says. "It was, 'It doesn't seem like this is going to give us anything but trouble.'" A couple of years later, even James would reappraise THB during an interview with RNE Radio 3: "The Holy Bible feels like a very nihilistic kind of album, there were no answers in it, so to speak. I think of it as a bit of a fucked up, warped quest to find some kind of warped, fucked up truth and we found that that album just confronted us, more than it did any audience. It didn't give us any respite." While in 2016, Bradfield told This Day In Music Radio: "The Holy Bible was a very nihilistic, claustrophobic experience. It was something which was such an indelible statement and you either liked it or you just hated it!" Similarly, in 2018, when quizzed by the oldest German-speaking music magazine, Gitarre & Bass, he fessed up: "We literally forced people to come to terms with our opinion and our point of view. But I guess sometimes we exaggerated this, because we were too idealistic and too heroic. Which was definitely my mistake." As for other truth seekers in music, Nicky once told Q Magazine: "For me, John Lydon and Morrissey are the ultimate truth seekers. Uncontrollable working-class rage. It only exists in a very few of us. The fact that Morrissey called an album Viva Hate! His performance at Glastonbury - you could tell there was a man, like me, waiting to explode with venom and hate." *THB was initially in The Charts for 4 weeks, going from 6 to 25 to 56 to 77, before it fell off altogether. However, the album did re-enter the lower end of The Charts at sporadic intervals during October 1994, September - October 1998, February 1999 and December 2004. All in all, according to the Official Charts Company (OCC) history, The Holy Bible has spent a total of 11 weeks in the Top 100 of the UK Albums Chart and achieved its highest position in the Top 10 during its week of release.

33. Advance Holy Bible promo cassettes, limited edition CD / vinyl picture discs with 'hype stickers' still intact, the UK MC, the aforementioned Japan-only CD, official out-of-print Thai album / maxi single cassettes and the Indonesian MC (all featuring artwork variations). An original withdrawn CD pressing of the US Mix of THB (a spattering of these crept into circulation and surfaced in Canadian record stores in March 1995, but the pushed back date of July for the full, widespread North American release was eventually scrapped). All singles and promos - including the Faster/P.C.P. promo CD which has an infrared coloured sleeve - and live bootlegs. Along with highly-coveted ephemera, such as the above-stated pre-release PR information card, press releases, a Japanese-only promo postcard set, posters, flyers, record shop display standees (including a jumbo reproduction of Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) by Jenny Saville), tour itineraries, AAA laminates, hand-written set lists, ticket stubs and a shedload of magazine/newspaper/fanzine clippings etc. Plus of course, any items signed by all 4 members, remain some of the most desirable and prized MSP collectibles amongst ardent superfans!

34. In America, Faster had an exclusive, bespoke promo CD furnished with an action-packed live shot of JDB on the front cover, as well as an alternate music video cut from live footage filmed at The London Astoria, December 1994. Directed by Tony Van Den Ende, it contains some of the final released footage of Richey and was the last promo video that he would be captured on film for. Concerning other alternate music videos, in early 2008, the director of the UK promotional clips for Faster and Revol, Chris D'Adda, posted 'Director's Cut Versions' for each of these videos on his (now deleted) official YouTube channel, with the supplementary notes: "Faster - The original cut of the video before the record company had their way with it! Revol - Original edit of Revol, containing various still images which do not appear in the TV release version. Richey came up with pages and pages of ideas for this video, including the two blood drenched girls in UN uniform, but as usual, it was all a big compromise mainly due to budget restraints. That snowdrift in the corner, is made out of salt by the way and I think I remember the flying over mountains bit, being archive footage from one of the Superman films!" Both 'Director's Cut Versions' can be viewed at Interestingly, there is a Manic Street Preachers promo clip curio that is linked to The Holy Bible era, as a random alternate music video for A Design For Life exists, in which this song sits atop The London Astoria live footage, as seen in the US version of Faster. Notably, at one time, it was commonplace for British artists to have to remake music videos for the States, as record companies over there had their finger on the pulse, as to what would work best image-wise and visually on contemporary MTV. With the specific aim of getting 'heavy rotation', in order to then market / sell an act to the masses in the most successful way possible. Hence why some UK and US promotional clips for the same single, are vastly different. After rewatching the bootleg VHS recordings uploaded to YouTube of The London Astoria, December 19 and 20 gigs. It would seem that the professionally filmed live footage compiled and edited together for the American Faster promo video, was shot on December 20 and 21, due to the clothing worn by the band (there aren't any shots of Richey wearing his white bIG fLAME t-shirt / camo trousers for example, which he had on at the December 19 concert). And also, because the official promo clip closes with footage of the group infamously wrecking their instruments, which happened at the very end of the December 21 show (more on this can be found in Fact 40). As for The London Astoria live footage ever getting a full scale release, sadly, in 2008, Sean told R*E*P*E*A*T that this is something that will never happen.

35. While touring in early 1994 (which also included a Philip Hall / Imperial Cancer Research Fund Benefit concert at London, Clapham Grand on March 2, with support from The Pogues and where as part of MSP's set list, they covered the Faces' Stay With Me with Bernard Butler, as this was Philip's all-time favourite song), the consummate group visited army surplus stores and bought clothing / military medals to wear onstage, in homage to The Clash and Echo & The Bunnymen's camo apparel / battledress. With both Nicky and Richey even sometimes applying army face paint. Edwards informed RAW Magazine: "When we started the band we never thought of the ritual of touring. We wore white jeans and spray-painted shirts, but they were really impractical, you couldn't keep them clean. Now there's always an Army & Navy store in any town, so you can always get hold of this stuff if you need to... I've always been fascinated by films like The Deerhunter and Apocalypse Now and I just thought they looked cool." And, although The Holy Bible creators wore exactly what they wanted to and acknowledged the mix 'n' match ambiguity (British, German, Italian army uniforms, with out of synch war medals etc). It could be argued that the visual presentation of each member, helped to differentiate their personalities, personas and roles within their fabled 'division of labour' - in terms of their individual / collective powers - parameters that were never once broken. This arresting military makeover / impeccable restyle (which later extended to how MSP's gigs and dressing rooms were lit and decked-out), "represented the control and discipline that they were trying to get back" after becoming too 'rockist', as well as "reaffirming their existence" (a world away from the retro casuals and sportswear, which was de rigueur for Cool Britannia). Nonetheless, at the time, some fickle, ravening and pernicious music hacks / news correspondents, did query the incongruous mismatched approach to the band's uniforms (regimental, outdoor, naval, berets, budenkovas, combat caps). And also, the hypocrisy, disregard and implications of adopting this new look, after they had previously written a song, La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh), which sympathised with the plight of impoverished and embittered war veterans and featured the lyric, 'I sold my medal / It paid a bill / It sells at market stalls / Parades Milan catwalks.' Not allowing these opinions to niggle him or having any qualms about this dilemma however, knowing full well that MSP aren't superficial in the slightest / that the war medals were not merely 'fashion accessories'. While also alert to the fact that no conversation about THB, could ever be complete without addressing the group's appearance / visual identity - something which Drowned In Sound labelled as, 'Terrorist Chic'. An unperturbed Wire is confident that this is "the best that any band has ever looked" and once rhapsodised in VICE: "I remember when we had The Holy Bible era, just being able to go to army stores and buy all that military regalia and feeling like it was us against the world. Defined within a uniform, if you like - and James’ sailor suit and stuff. That was really fucking cheap. They used to love us in the Army & Navy stores, especially the one in Cardiff. They’d be like, ‘Oh, here you are, we’ve got some new camo in…’" The group also continued to wear clothing / t-shirts which bore shorthand slogans and quotes* onstage for each of their tours, some of which were Armed Forces themed. One of the most notable, is Bradfield's, KILL 'EM ALL - let GOD sort 'em out!, t-shirt (this has links to the US Marine Corps, who are thought to have unofficially adopted this saying during the Vietnam War). As outcasts, Nicky has even described wearing these clothes as "a massive release," "blissful" and like "a security blanket." In a 2014 interview with NME, Wire and JDB both looked back on this time with great fondness. Nicky: "[Sean] was happy because he loves putting a fucking uniform on and being mean and grumpy at the best of times!" James: "Once he'd found his United Nations beret he was fucking ready for it." Nicky: "He couldn't wait to fucking just buy tons of badges and lapels. Everywhere we'd go around Britain, we'd raid the Army & Navy surplus stores." James: "The best one we found was in Hull." Nicky: "Oh, it was fucking amazing!" On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Moore said: "[My] United Nations beret had a Soviet Star, just to give it a little bit of balance."

But, having previously proclaimed in Melody Maker: "The devotion that a fascist dictator can achieve, just shows such a terrible flaw in human nature. There's always a chance that it'll be revived, because there's a worm in human nature that makes us want to be dominated", i.e. 'Hitler reprised in the worm of your soul' (Of Walking Abortion). When probed in '94 by NME, about Maoism and the image of the controversial Chinese communist revolutionary, Chairman Mao, sewn onto one of his jackets - which on the face of it, could be an affront to many people. Never afraid to ruffle feathers, it prompted Wire to reply with temerity: "I've always had a slightly dodgy fetish with people of great power, even if they abused their power to a massive extent. How Mao managed to come from such humble surroundings, to become leader of a quarter of the world and managed to drag them forward at the expense of 43 million people is amazing. To do that, in your own head, you've got to be amazingly strong. I just really admire the way he refused all Western influences. He made Richard Nixon seem like a complete fool and I hated Nixon, because he was like a slimy second-hand car dealer. I think that Mao looked really great. Exciting stuff, exciting times." As for the military medals, JDB once disclosed how Sean - renowned for being MSP's big spender - became a bit of a band in-joke, as he would inevitably buy and accrue the most expensive ones, who after kitting himself out, later quipped that rather than being the Manic Street Preachers, the group had actually metamorphosed into the Manic Street Army. Interestingly (as brought to attention by Mathijs Peters), in Dorian Lynskey's book, 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, he characterises these very war medals / accoutrements as 'a symbol of corrupted idealism'. On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Bradfield said: "I think some of the lyrics, had the ability to make me feel like we were aesthetically and politically up against everybody else. I don't know if I'd go as far as 'war', but we liked the idea of presenting this united front, that there was something behind what we were doing." Wire: "We'd read all the sort of Dexys stories of Kevin Rowland you know, 'Must go for 6 mile runs in the morning and wear the same clothes.' There was a metaphorical war, shall we say, against everything around us. We enjoyed that, but [the sense of discipline] didn't last long, because you've got to be incredibly strong to do it!" Bradfield: "I practised for 2 months, the self-realised philosophy of 'Denialism', where I wouldn't drink." Moore: "It was our Heart Of Darkness (novella that Apocalypse Now was based on), really. We were going up the river..." This attire and strengthening aesthetic, was used consistently by the group during the promotion of The Holy Bible, including in their press shots, music videos and television appearances - thus giving MSP an inviolable, resistant and sturdy esprit de corps. A sneering, belligerent and enraged performance of Faster on the June 9, 1994, episode of BBC's Top of the Pops (complete with cutaway shots of the grinning presenters, Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, jigging around in amongst the excitable teenybopper throng), rattled the cage after James wore a black IRA style balaclava, engendering a record number of (knee-jerk) complaints - over 25,000! Which at the time, and recently set down in writing by Record Collector, was "the most complained about musical moment in BBC history." Mired in controversy, it even made headlines around the country, including in the local newspaper for Blackwood (a perfect exemplar being: MANIC THREAT TO THE NATION), which thrilled Nicky and Richey, due to the vilifying, Malcolm McLaren-esque scandal of it all! Perhaps unsurprisingly then, this four-pronged attack and masterstroke, was Wire's "defining moment of the year." And, although many flabbergasted viewers interpreted this as a gesture of support for The Irish Republican Army, peculiarly, on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Nicky said: "A lot of the complaints were about the fire! But, it's an amazing performance and it did feel dangerous!" JDB was absolutely right, Faster was infamous "Top of the Pops Gold." Not to mention, eyeball spinning, retina searing, whiplash viewing - although the very next day (as documented by Q Magazine), Sony were sent into flurries of panic and warned MSP: "You'll never get on Top of the Pops again!" If truth be told, after the turbo-charged Revol had entered The Charts in early August, Wire made it known to KERRANG!: "We were supposed to be there again the other week, but we were 'overlooked', shall we say."

When the last show was transmitted on July 30, 2006, Bradfield regaled The Guardian with the Faster balaclava tale, as part of their special celebrative piece: "It was a gigantic deal, TOTP. The first time we did it was incredible. I just felt like, 'I'm never going to work again, Grandma!' When we did Faster, Richey wanted me to wear a balaclava. Because we were all dressed in army regalia, it felt like we were parodying the use of legitimate power, like the Special Forces (SAS - Special Air Service). It didn't enter our heads that people would see it as an Irish Paramilitary symbol. The BBC never said, 'Take that off.' When there was a reaction, we were quite shocked, to be honest. They told us it was the most complaints they'd ever received." This performance was ranked No. 9 in The Observer's Top 10 TOTP Most Memorable Moments. Interestingly, during the THB 10 DVD interview, James cerebrated: "[The balaclava] was Paramilitary and Military... illegal and legal use of power!" And, for a very brief period of time - though quickly jettisoned - it became apparent that some IRA supporters did take note of this incident, but this was obviously a collective that the Manic Street Preachers were never affiliated / aligned with, or endorsed in any way, shape, or form. On June 9, 2021 (the 27th Anniversary of the instantly iconic Faster TOTP performance), for a very special 'on this day' tweet, Nicky posted: 'We loved playing on Top of The Pops - we’d grown up watching it - so much fun - so many memories sat in the canteen spotting the cast of Eastenders - this is PEAK alienation and rage'. Also worth bringing up, is that after scouring the net on a fact-finding mission and going by what it says in a vintage issue of KERRANG!, it would seem that prior to the Faster promo clip being filmed and the Top of the Pops TV performance, it was actually Wire who was the instigator and first suggested that JDB should wear the balaclava during a photo shoot for Manic Street Preachers publicity shots! Bradfield would also once again don a balaclava (sans JAMES scrawled across the front of it in white), for the first couple of songs in the group's flinty, dazzling and earth-shaking set at Glastonbury Festival 1994**. *A thorough list of MSP's garments from all eras, which feature slogans and quotes - either handmade / spraypainted or on manufactured clothing - can be found at But here are some tasters in alphabetical order from The Holy Bible days, along with who wore what (including additions / notes by myself, from separate research), not mentioned anywhere else in this feature... ALL SENSATIONS ARE FAILURE (Richey) – ALL TARGET NOW (Richey) – ALL VIRGINS ARE LIARS (Richey) – BIG MAC SMACK PHOENIX R PLEASE SMILE Y'ALL (Richey) – CIRCLE IX COCYTUS (Richey: Dante's Inferno 9 Circles of Hell reference) – DON’T GET OUT OF THE BOAT (Richey: Apocalypse Now reference) – EVEN RATS KNOW WHERE THEIR TAILS ARE (Richey) – HEY, ASSHOLE (Nicky) – I PRAY TO THE WALLS, IT'S ALL THERE IS (Nicky) – IF YOU POSSESS VIRTUE, YOU ARE ITS VICTIM (James) – I’M SO MODERN THAT EVERYTHING IS POINTLESS (Nicky) – JUST DO IT (Richey: Nike reference and perhaps an acknowledgement of passive consumerism / commodification) – LOSER LIAR FAKE PHONEY (James) – MARIJUANA WILL SAVE WORLD CAPITALISM (Richey: as seen on his black shirt in The Holy Bible CD lyrics booklet, which was possibly inspired by the article, Will Marijuana Save World Capitalism? penned by E.B. Maple (Peter Werbe) and published in Fifth Estate #342, Summer 1993. Fifth Estate (FE) is a US periodical based in Detroit, Michigan, that begun in 1965 and is an anti-capitalist, anti-state anarchist magazine, which prints articles of theory and practice about rebellion, resistance and revolution) – MEDIOCRE LAB (Richey) – MY MIND IS A LETHAL WEAPON (Nicky) – THE SLOUGH OF DESPOND (Richey: hand-written in white on the back of his sailor suit tabard, which is a Christian allegory reference. Wikipedia notes: "The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come, is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious, theological fiction in English literature." Adding: "The Slough of Despond is a fictional, deep bog, into which the protagonist Christian sinks under the weight of his sins and his sense of guilt for them. It is described in the text:

'This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called The Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.'" The Word Detective also reveals the following: "The Slough of Despond is a metaphor, of course, and Bunyan depicted The Slough as the repository of humanity’s sins and moral failures. But many subsequent writers, from Emily Brontë to William Somerset Maugham to John Steinbeck, have used The Slough of Despond, to mean either a prolonged state of extreme depression or a material state of dire poverty and suffering." – THERE IS NO CHOICE (Richey) – THEY COULD ONLY BEAT ME UP, BUT THEY COULD NOT DO ME ANY REAL HARM (Richey) – THEY FUCK YOU UP YOUR MUM AND DAD. THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO (Richey: the opening lines and among his most frequently quoted, from one of Philip Larkin's best-known poems written in 1971, This Be The Verse) – WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (Nicky: a reference to George Orwell's 1984 novel. SparkNotes says: "These words are the official slogans of the Party, and are inscribed in massive letters on the white pyramid of the Ministry of Truth, as Winston observes in Book One, Chapter I. Because it is introduced so early in the novel, this creed serves as the reader’s first introduction to the idea of doublethink. By weakening the independence and strength of individuals’ minds and forcing them to live in a constant state of propaganda-induced fear, the Party is able to force its subjects to accept anything it decrees, even if it is entirely illogical - for instance, the Ministry of Peace is in charge of waging war, the Ministry of Love is in charge of political torture, and the Ministry of Truth is in charge of doctoring history books to reflect the Party’s ideology."). WE INTEND TO DESTROY ALL DOGMATIC VERBAL SYSTEMS (Richey: as seen in the picture where Edwards is clothed in a t-shirt with a William S. Burroughs quote / image, and is also wearing a militaria helmet with VIRGIN written on it, while pointing his iconic 'finger gun' hand gesture painted 'Red, White and Blue' to his head. This photograph was most recently republished in the THB 20 booklet). **Surprisingly, in 1994, Volume printed the following: "James nearly gags on his whisky when their much vaunted Glastonbury performance is mentioned. "It just seemed like the worst gig we'd ever done, it was like cabaret for post-degree students."" In 2007, Nicky also addressed his infamous bypass comment in NME, confessing: "It was supposed to be a joke. As I was saying it I thought, ‘This is going to be really funny.’ Then this deathly silence descended on the place. But back then, it felt like we were aliens whizzed in from Wales, with absolutely nothing in common with anyone else there. That’s the stupid justification for what I said. We were absolutely 100% alone and slightly teetering on the edge as a band. It was one of our greatest performances, even though it was deeply disturbing because of what was happening with the band. It was painful but glorious." While in 2011, he told UNCUT: "I remember feeling incredibly superior at that point. When we’d turn up at festivals and we’d see all these fuckwits in their Fred Perry shirts and two-tone jackets, the Britpop fucking look, and we were dressed like Apocalypse Now... At Glastonbury, there was just pure enmity from us to them and them to us. I felt powerful. I was fucking spitting in the camera." Then, in 2014, on the eve of their fifth Glastonbury appearance, Wire and Bradfield were again prodded by NME about their '94 debut (they were the penultimate act on the NME Stage, before Friday night's headliners, The Pretenders). Nicky: "The famous bypass show - I remember it vividly, because we were so grumpy and grouchy and we were on the edge of falling apart. It was the peak of our internalised hatred for everyone and everything! I look back at the footage now, and I just wonder how could I be that angry about nothing at the time. But I remember it really vividly well, that if you're going to go for it, at least be 100%. I'd like to think we'll retain some of that spirit in all our shows, really. 20 years on, to be playing the same stage, same sort of slot, there is a kind of serendipity about that. So I'd like to think we'll do a bit of The Holy Bible." JDB: "The Holy Bible for us, is indelibly connected with Glastonbury." Interestingly, in October 2013, Wire actually told DJ Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music: "We've wrestled with the idea of doing a gig playing the whole of it, but I'm not so sure... I'd like to do it at Glastonbury actually, I really would." So, even though MSP had had a chequered history with the iconic festival, surprisingly, the only time that the group may have ever played The Holy Bible, live in full, would have been at Glastonbury!

36. Talking about wearing the balaclava or "hiding behind it," a self-effacing James later pondered if subconsciously, this was perhaps his own way of "daubing on actor's paint," to help distance him from the personal nature of the lyrics that he hadn't actually penned himself. Many years later, Q Magazine actually reported how this balaclava had been repurposed as a far less intimidating tea cosy at Faster Studios! And, there's every chance that it still is used as a tea warmer at MSP's new recording facility / HQ, Door To The River, which is located in the idyllic, Caerleon (5 miles Northeast of Newport). With MOJO noting how this recording studio is "situated above the Rive Usk, with horses in adjoining fields."

37. Something that is emblematic of, and personifies bands of the Manics' ilk, is the way in which the whole package is treated with such high esteem and of great consequence! And, imbued with ingenuity and a transformative power, The Holy Bible era also typifies the harmonious and faultless fusion of music and image. With many of Mitch Ikeda's (Manic Street Preachers official photographer) favourite photo sessions and pictures - formal, informal, live etc. - that he's taken of the pre-eminent group, dating from this point in their history, due to the reinvigorated quartet's striking look, demeanour, camaraderie, collaborative companionship and considerable chemistry. During the THB 10 DVD interview, James said: "I think it's our most definitive period - we've never been scared to admit that... As an era, it deserves to be represented in every way, including the visual sense." On a related note, in '93, Melody Maker asked Richey: 'Do you think we are too conscious of image, and not conscious enough of music?' With Edwards replying: "You can never be too conscious of image. Those without image do not truly care about music. They treat it as a fucking hobby." With style and substance, The Holy Bible era is an indisputable artistic / aesthetic apex, and because of the perfect symmetry that they had onstage with Richey as well (an effervescent JDB still waxes lyrical about being flanked by his two wingers to this very day*), Nicky and Sean also believe that this is MSP both in their prime and at their visual peak! As a matter of fact, when discussing the Manics' togetherness and brotherhood in a 2006 NME Q&A, Bradfield brought up the legendary rock photographer, Pennie Smith. Avidly affirming: "The Best Photograph Of Me Is… A Pennie Smith picture of us backstage at the last Astoria gig. It’s one of the last proper pictures of all of us together, and we look so assured that we’re a band. It looks like the calm before the storm. It felt like we expected something, but I didn’t know what." In 2002, MOJO also published the following: "Pennie Smith took a memorable photograph of Richey on the drum riser, dismantling Sean's kit, one day shy of his 27th birthday, looking absent-minded in fierce surroundings. "There's one shot that gives me the creeps," Pennie remembers, "only in retrospect. Richey's looking at me and through the camera. Even when I took it, I thought, 'What was that look for?' Not making anything bigger of it, but he didn't usually catch the camera's eye, he was usually too busy. He was like in his own sweet world, but maybe knew the camera was there. It's like you're locked into something that's nothing to do with the gig or the audience. Sometimes you know what it is, and sometimes it's in the abstract and later it makes sense. Yet I did some group shots at the time, and in a lot of the pictures he was just really laughing."" As for Richey's presence onstage, in 1994, Melody Maker stated: "He simultaneously embodies and supersedes the role of rock star; his interpretation is definitive, brilliantly observed, played out in full and heartfelt and, in having studied his subject so well, he a) becomes a Master in Iconography - and therefore an icon himself - and b) proves the whole art form redundant; he highlights the weaknesses in a career which will be, in the end, a couple of gold discs on the wall and a clutch of laminates slung around the bedroom door-knob. As Taylor Parkes said in his Glastonbury review, "The Manics triumph is that, where they could have been the full stop at the end of rock 'n' roll, they chose to be its question mark." Richey embodies rock star and rock star values so well, that he makes the notion of rock star obsolete." Also noteworthy, is how in '94, JDB explained to Volume: "Individually we've always been pretty powerless, but together we make up for each other's inefficiencies. Nick's handsome and has always been the most popular with the girls; Richey never had any musical talent, but he's so articulate and sensitive to everything around him, Sean is brutality personified, he pisses everybody off because he doesn't like anybody or anything and then there's me who's a bit musical and a bit of a lad**." Bradfield also stressed to Hot Press: "Although what he does onstage isn’t particularly structured, Richey makes a massive fucking noise and without him, there’s a big gap which makes the rest of us extra-aware of our mistakes. He’s musical Polyfilla, plugging all the holes***."

*On the subject of the perfect symmetry that the band had onstage with Richey, in 2016, Nicky told The Quietus: "You used to have James and Sean down the middle, and James is the utilitarian ditch-digger, and Sean behind him is the man of few words who powers everything, and then you had the two wingers. There was a bit of Cheap Trick about us, definitely. But I think [James] thought, 'If it's just me, on one side, like that...' Suddenly it's not the flying wingers." In 1994, Wire even admitted to Brum Beat: "That's the dichotomy that faces us. When Richey and I have been onstage, we've felt more like entertainers - you know, him cutting himself and me wearing a dress. We felt that we had to contribute - especially me, as although I'm confident, I feel quite restricted musically. It almost becomes a freakshow. Whereas, I’m sure James feels we can make a difference." In 1992, David Owens asked Edwards: 'Do you think it’s quite good to be put up there (on a pedestal) and people looking at you and thinking, ‘I find him really sexy, I want to sleep with him’? You must get a thrill out of that, mustn’t you?' Richey: "No, because I think the way we’ve enjoyed music, the bands that mattered to us, I’ve always had their pictures on my wall. I didn’t have pictures of The Rolling Stones because I liked The Rolling Stones, I had them on my bedroom wall because I loved to look at The Rolling Stones. I loved seeing Keith. I loved seeing Brian. Loved seeing Mick. And that’s a good thing. It’s just really cool and the music was something that mattered as well. Image has always been really important to us. If people were just coming up to us and going, ‘Oh, I like your music but I think you look bad; oh, I couldn’t put a poster up on my wall because I don’t like looking at you’, I would think we were a crap band. I would think we were a really crap band. I would never buy a record ever, if I couldn’t like the group. Probably the only group I’ve ever bought a record by, that I can’t stand looking at is Metallica, because they’re just really fucking horribly flawed." The article continues: "Do you think it is easier to sell a band who have got different, distinct traits to other bands? Richey: "I think you must be a bit stupid if you haven’t got something different to say. I mean to stand up and go: ‘We’ve got nothing to say, just judge us on our music’ is so uninteresting." What came first with you? The image and the things you say, rather than the music? "Yes, because there are so many good records in the past that you can go and buy and listen to and we were quite happy to do that, but we just wanted to reflect what was going on now and what was happening in our lives - about having nothing to do. That was the big thing when we started the band. After we had got all our ideas about how we wanted to look and what we wanted to say, then we thought about getting a guitar. You can teach anyone to play guitar: it’s easy. There’s hundreds of bands in Cardiff that play guitar, you know." Are people surprised when they talk to you, because you have an outward appearance of being like four fucking revolutionaries, but when they talk to you you’re quite shy, retiring and softly spoken? They expect you to be ‘in your face’? "I think that’s typical of most people’s prejudices, they either expect people to be like a drunken yob attacking everything, or just someone who’s got nothing to say. But we’ve got really outspoken ideas on everything - we just don’t think you’ve got to smash someone in the face to say it. People have always confused working class people, that they’re either pathetic little wallflowers or they’re just basic morons. You can be both - you can be sensitive. You can have sensitivity with a physical presence."" **As for JDB thinking of himself as "a bit of a lad," in '94, KERRANG! published the following: "Only Bradfield makes any attempt to indulge in the rock 'n' roll shagstyle. "I like a good fucking drink, and now and then a little bit of laugh with the girls!" he smiles. "Nick has got something to focus on in life, which I completely admire and perhaps I'm jealous of, but in the meantime I'm just going to enjoy myself. We've always been completely different as people. None of us have ever been replicants. That's why we were all friends in the first place, because we realised that we all had massive fault lines in our personalities and we made up for each other's sad little inadequacies." What are your sad little inadequacies? "At the moment, a reactionary attitude towards relationships. I'm not a chauvinist, but I probably hide my insecurities about women by having too many one night stands. I think that's pretty sad. I also get pissed too much...""

***Regarding MSP's tour preparations with Edwards, in autumn 1994, as part of their MANIC'S DEPRESSIVE article, NME reported: "The Manics are rehearsing at Blue Stone, a converted farm in Pembrokeshire. It was vacated two weeks ago by Take That, and it looks lovely and wild. The group's back line is installed in the main hall, and you're pleased to see that Richey's Telecaster guitar is racked up on the left, just like it used to be. Below it is a set list for the upcoming French tour they're playing with Therapy? Two cover versions on this list; Nirvana's Penny Royal Tea and PiL's Public Image." In terms of Glastonbury, the music weekly printed: "Richey, who was usually ambivalent about playing gigs, [said]: "I did actually enjoy the gig. More than everybody else in the band, really. I don't really enjoy many concerts. And then it was back to Wales..." Edwards also readdressed his recent hospitalisation: "I wasn't coping very well, and I thought my body was probably stronger that it actually was. My mind was quite strong. I pushed my body further than it was meant to go. And then I went to hospital in Cardiff. That wasn't much good. The band came down to see me and it was pretty obvious that there wasn't much point in me staying there... I didn't know what the fuck was going on. James will tell you, I couldn't even talk, I was just stuttering. I was taking medication - Librium and stuff. Though it calmed me down, because I could get to sleep at night... I was there for about eight days and then Martin (Hall, the band's manager) found a place for me in London, and I got taken there. That seemed to work out - I came out last week and I feel quite good. I want to do these French dates with Therapy? I think it will be quite good for me, because there will be less pressure and stuff. There won't be so much for me to worry about - we'll just be doing about a half hour set. That'll be good." So you're keen to play again? "If I do the gigs over there and I'm not doing very well, then it doesn't really matter. I don't really want to come back and do the British tour right away. At first, I wanted to do Reading. I was never under any pressure from the band to do it; they just said, whenever you feel better, you can do it. But I wanted to do it because it was Philip's (Philip Hall, the band's co-manager died of cancer earlier this year) Birthday, and we did it two years ago and I really remember enjoying Reading. But it wasn't worth it, I couldn't have done it. But I've learnt all the new songs for these French dates. I've been here for a week. I went back up to the hospital on Wednesday and that was all good. I'm quite looking forward to it. I think it will be good." Also concerning life on the road, Richey told NME: "Sleep is constantly throughout every lyric I've written from the start. It's a big thing for me because I'm scared to go to sleep. 'Cause the things I get in my head, I don't like. That's the reason I ever started drinking - to knock me out. I've tried sleeping tablets, but I don't really like them. I like the effect of drinking. I can get a blank sleep - be out for five or six hours and wake up and then do my job." In Faster, a whip-smart Edwards perceptively wrote, 'Sleep can't hide the thoughts splitting through my mind.'

38. Around mid-September 1994, it was reported by some news outlets in their roundups, that whilst he was a patient at The Priory Clinic, "Edwards had eyed the planned October tour as the motivation for his recovery and this goal seemed to speed-up his improvement. He even stressed his new resolve - how he was practising his guitar and wanting to tour again, because he felt that he was "cheating" the band by missing out on gigs like the Reading Festival. He dismissed any suggestions of a suicide bid, but fretted over his self-obsession, even worrying that interviews might be seen as an "angle" - using illness to sell records." NME also noted how "Richey [was] wary of posing for solo photographs. It will look contrived, he feels, like he's using his illness to sell records - an accusation that cynics have already levelled at him." At the time, even Wire was feeling discouraged and having moments of defeatism, confessing to Atomic Magazine with low spirits: "I don't feel strong at all at the moment. I always used to but not now. I think we'll feel better in 6 months time, but at the moment everything seems such a chore. It's just like we're getting back on the treadmill again, nobody feels like doing it. We don't really feel like going and playing loads of dates in Europe and Japan, when before we were really up for it. We've lost complete control of the band and ourselves. This album is the best record we've made and the reason behind making it, was to try and claim back a bit if ourselves. It can always be looked upon as a true representation of ourselves. But to get straight back on the promotional trail, you just feel like you're losing control straight away again." Nicky also averred in Sky Magazine: "If you look at Richey, the person inside lacked the self-esteem, that ultimate trait of your artistic nutter. I've always said things to him like, 'Well, you're just a fucking nutter anyway!' in an offhand way." While in an interview with Loaded, JDB said: "I was really worried about the therapists asking Richey to submit to a higher God, and then trying to reconstruct his life. Because that's crap. I keep thinking they'll put a disclaimer on his work. That would be awful. He has actually started to reject some of the therapy now, which is a sign of a very intelligent person. But it's scary when you're depending on these people to recognise the vital signs, as regards your mental state." On this note, James also told Q Magazine: "I was worried that, because Richey's undergoing treatment, he'd turn into Peter Gabriel, lyrically. He's living on a different proverb a day at the moment and I didn't want our songs to turn into psychobabble. But he's kept his own voice, which is admirable. It hasn't weakened us. But I'm not prepared to say, 'Hey, it's made us stronger.'" An NME article even published the following exchange between Bradfield and Edwards. JDB: "I think it would make me angry if Richey's songwriting just became therapy. I always thought that we wrote about other people apart from ourselves, in a much better manner." Richey: "I wouldn't allow that to happen, I would leave if that was the case." While on the mend and the road to recovery though, James had a hunch that a restorative upturn / betterment could happen, if Edwards was to set himself goals such as maturely finding a meaningful relationship with a girl*, which could then in turn, aid his recuperation. James informed Sun Zoom Spark: "Interacting on a 'day-to-day' basis hasn't changed at all, but when we kick into 'professional gear' I do get worried. I'm always aware of the myth, he has a sense of timing at least... There weren't really any signs that it was going to happen before it did, but once it did happen, we were in quite a schizophrenic state. The first thing we did was to almost ignore that we were in a band, because we'd known each other since we were children, so we tried not to talk about the band. I was having to deal with so many things that he'd had to deal with in the past, that I realised when we'd finished the album - which we all really loved - it didn't seem to have the desired effect on his psyche or whatever you fucking want to call it. So now and then I got slightly resentful and wanted to smash his face in, just like anyone might in a closely knit family. If he hurts himself, then he hurts us too, not professionally but personally. Then you've got the flipside, which IS professionally... actually, 'professional' is probably the wrong word, because we always made up for each other's inadequacies. We did for each other what we couldn't do for ourselves. It was always more than a job. I guess it was definitely a schizophrenic couple of weeks."

But, upon his return to band rehearsals, in 1996, NME reported how Richey "was breaking up pieces of chocolate on a plate - demonstrating to whoever was watching, that this was all the nourishment that he needed. He was also developing a large thyroid cyst on his neck, possibly as a result of the pills he was taking... Nicky remembers some aspects of his dress with unease. "It's a well-known fact that anorexics try to cover up their condition with baggy clothes all the time. And on the first day of the British tour, Richey walks in, and he's wearing the tightest pair of girls' leggings that I've ever seen in my life. He still wanted the rest of the world to know that he was completely fucked up. Everyone knew already. I said, 'Why are you doing that? You haven't got to prove that you're whatever you are.'"" Beginning in late September 1994, the Manics supported Therapy? in France for 11 gigs (Sept 20 - Oct 1 , with Bradfield later proclaiming in the Newcastle Courier: "It went really well, going to France was probably the best thing after what's happened. There was no pressure and no hidden agenda. It was almost like we were starting again. In Britain, we are always judged on moral grounds and expected to back-up statements, that wasn't going to happen in France." JDB also told NME: "I'd gone back into being a complete pisshead again, unfortunately. Sean'd be playing [video games] every night, Richey was actually getting on with Therapy?'s Andy Cairns quite well, they were talking about Foucault and that sort of thing. Although he had some dark moments on that tour, he was engaging with people." In a 2019 Classic Rock feature**, when remembering Edwards - who by this point, had managed to curtail his drinking - Cairns said: "I’d known James for a year or so and we’d always meet up for a drink. He’d given me a promo cassette of The Holy Bible, just before we did Monsters Of Rock in 1994. I’d been listening to it intently. In fact, we listened to Faster and P.C.P. in the dressing room before we played Donington. At that point in time, we were more popular than the Manics in certain places in Europe, and towards the end of August that year, we’d been chatting about them touring with us. I was such a huge fan of the band and James’ guitar playing, so it was a no-brainer. I’d met the whole band before quite a few times, and I’d always got on well with them. What I liked about them was that they were fiercely intelligent... Around that year, we’d crossed over from an indie and punk crowd and were starting to get a lot more of a heavy metal crowd. I think a lot of the Gallic metallers found it quite difficult. [The Manics] didn’t go down badly, don’t get me wrong. I know James enjoyed it, but I think they found it quite hard work. After they left us, they got some more European dates with Suede and they definitely found that a lot more enjoyable. I think the Suede audience was a lot more compatible and I think they had a lot more fun doing that stretch of it. I could certainly tell that some of our audience didn’t get it. We’d be somewhere in France and James was wearing a sailor’s suit and Gallic men in the audience were confused. I remember Richey was wearing a t-shirt with a FAIRY Liquid logo, but Liquid was taken off - so it just said FAIRY. You can imagine Dominique down the front in his Pantera shirt, would’ve found this quite strange. But I was really, really glad they came. I just wish it had been better for them." In Melody Maker, JDB told Simon Price: "You develop an instinct for when a whole country just doesn't get it. We realised that when we supported Therapy? a few weeks back. If there was any way we could have done this tour and bypassed France, we would have done." Interestingly, while on the road in France (and not something which he does often), Sean wrote the melody and fleshed-out some of the music for the skyscraping, No Surface All Feeling, on MSP's tour bus by using Bradfield's acoustic guitar. The tour opening for Therapy?, was soon followed by 16 of the Manics' own UK / Ireland headline shows (with special guests Sleeper + Dub War) throughout October (5 - 25). Before a further 22 European dates, equal billing double-header with the insatiable ones, Suede*** during November (7 - 29) and early December (1 - 4), who were promoting their sprawling masterwork and pièce de résistance, Dog Man Star. Although both groups were kindred spirits / two of the most talked about bands in Britain and got on well (plus antidotes to Britpop - a musical movement that they each wanted to usurp and supplant, but ultimately, were unable to dethrone).

By all accounts, with a general air of malaise, this tour was somewhat of a tainted, gruelling and draining slog for MSP and their crew - at times even abysmal - especially as they were having to keep a cautious eye on, and safeguard, a disenchanted Richey round the clock. Guzzling alcoholic beverages in front of him etc. was not permissible. Therefore, Edwards' reluctance to tour, only magnified the rumblings of his discontentment and dolefulness. Drenched in melancholia, a plaintive, ailing and homesick Nicky - who himself was languishing, aching with crippling torpidity, underweight due to anxiety and missing his wife - later brought to light how he finally recoiled / succumb to his immobilising, corroding and ungovernable emotions: "It wasn't making me happy anymore. It was a long tour. Nearly breaking point for the band." Also revealing to Melody Maker in '96: "When I wrote Further Away on the Suede tour in 1994, I was aware that, for the first time ever in my life, I was starting to grow away from Richey. He came out of The Priory, full of this 12-point recovery programme and all that shit, and he just wasn't the same person anymore as far as I was concerned." With JDB lamenting in NME, how the fractures in their friendship and exacerbating dissension in the ranks, was not conducive to the rigmarole of touring and came as a rude awakening: "It was the first time I'd thought we weren't all reading from the same page. Richey was marking gigs then [having previously marked every day out of ten] and not a lot of them were getting very good marks. We were enjoying them and he was giving them shit marks. I just thought, 'This ain't making him happy.'" And, while Edwards would recurrently take naps on the couch at Sound Space Studios, as The Holy Bible was in the process of being recorded. Touring was a whole different ball game. Nicky: "He just lived in his bunk the whole time, it was like a rabbit hutch. He was on 60 cigarettes a day, 20 cups of coffee and then he'd complain that he couldn't sleep! He'd stand under this vent on the bus just puffing away." Sean: "He was always trying to get me to teach him how to play Come As You Are by Nirvana. He was obsessed by nailing that. Never did, mind." NME also printed that "James would stay up all night drinking - the rest wouldn't see him until 7pm, just before showtime. James figured that was OK, because he thought they disliked his company anyway." And how "Richey had read an interview in the music press with Welsh band Dub War, who’d supported them on the UK tour. The band mentioned the Manics’ guitarist several times in what seemed like a dismissive fashion. They said that he wasn’t drinking half as much as his reputation suggested, and that Richey and Nicky used to swan around their hometown of Blackwood like stars. These weren’t deadly accusations, but it worsened Richey’s now-crumbling morale." The band were offered an extended run of gigs across Europe by their concert promoter, but due to the strains on their relationship with Edwards, his mercurial unpredictability and the mounting above-named drawbacks; his continued self-harm, anorexia, quirks, deteriorating mental health, paranoia and a steady slide into introversion. It was ultimately decided, that after wading through the final leg of the tour with meagre enjoyment and twinned with James, Nicky and Sean's exasperation, plus the fact that on the morning of December 1, Nicky found a depleted and fried Richey, cracking up outside the group's hotel in Hamburg, Germany, repeatedly banging his head on the wall with blood streaming down his face, on the brink and pleading to go home. That, burnt out, this would have been a recipe for disaster and a foolhardy decision. Surprisingly though, Edwards was keen to carry on with life on the road and had been practising guitar more / learning new chords****, since his stay in The Priory Clinic. But, it goes without saying, that this would have been unsustainable for any band. Therefore, three of the Manic Street Preachers' own shows in Linz, Prague and Vienna, which were booked to take place on December 6, 7 and 9 respectively, after the Suede tour had finished, were hastily cancelled (the rescheduled dates mothballed for February '95, would also later be axed). Making memories though, a sliver of comic relief did come one night in Germany however, before this nix, which assuaged some of the psychological unease. When Bradfield's white Potemkin, Russian Battleship naval sailor suit, revealingly split all around the crotch as he star jumped onstage!

In a 2006 Q&A for his official website, he recalled: "Because I was drinking quite a lot on tour, every night I'd go onstage and all of the alcohol from the previous night, would just come out in the sweat." So, due to being the only sailor suit that he owned and never once being washed after multiple tours, it had a nauseatingly horrid stench from the alcohol soused sweat, and eventually, the fibres just started to naturally rot away. At the gig in Germany, JDB wasn't wearing any underwear either, as by this point of the tour, it all needed laundering. James actually named this is as "the most embarrassing moment of his career" and also attempted to preserve his modesty, by adding: "Well, this is my excuse, it was in one of those really cold hangars of a venue and it was just like last chicken in the shop. There was nothing there to admire in the front row whatsoever [and] my inadequacy was there for the whole front row to see. I felt pretty bad, definitely." Funnily, Bradfield bought this particular sailor suit, because he thought Richey looked "amazingly cool in his black one with the tabard," though later joked that although this "pissed [Edwards] off a bit," it wasn't nearly as attractive on himself at any rate, with JDB just thinking: "Fuck it, I'm gonna wear it anyway!" He's also told another humorous and entertaining anecdote, about how unshaven and looking rugged backstage at a summer festival once in 1994, some girls asked him why he had "a '70s footballer hairstyle" - much to his horror! Commendably though, like any good soldier, James would without fail conscientiously polish and shine his black Dr. Martens Boots before each and every gig. In terms of MSP as a live experience at this time*****, although Bradfield deliberately used less guitar pyrotechnics on The Holy Bible, fans fondly remember these shows / festival appearances, due to the gait of his scorching guitar lines, the healthy doses of riffs and JDB's raw vocals - along with Nicky, Richey and Sean's one of a kind backing! Favoured cover versions in set lists from this era, included the speckless / chirpy, Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David / performed by B.J. Thomas) and the dirty / fuzzy, Pennyroyal Tea (Nirvana). Speaking about these faultless and exalted choices, an ebullient James disarmingly and endearingly unveiled to The Telegraph: "We’re kids of the 1970s, and we all had the same cultural touchstones - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being one of them, because we all loved the blaze of glory ending and I’d been covering that song in the live set for a year and a half. By that time, Nicky and Richey wanted a break in the set so they could go and redo their make-up, because they sweated so much. So I started doing Raindrops." In 2016, Bradfield also told The Quietus: "The first time I ever played it was those Bangkok gigs we did, before The Holy Bible was out, in my solo bit in the middle of the gig, and those gigs were fucking brilliant. That song was just a bit of relief, really, perhaps showing that we were a bit more human than we seemed. Because we knew The Holy Bible was looming and there wasn't going to be much room for levity." This track would also go onto become the Manic Street Preachers' first ever recording - or apprehensive studio "test" - without Richey, for the 1995 genre-defining War Child charity album, HELP. The trumpet solo was performed by Moore. As for Pennyroyal Tea, with a history of refusing to fawn and bend the knee, JDB cleared up MSP's reasons for covering this in Sun Zoom Spark, explicating: "I think that we perhaps interpreted the song in a different way. It was to do with an old abortion potion, but the way we took it was like a pun on Penny Royalty (Monarchy), because that's the way we've been forced to look at ourselves at times. We've put a bit more into that cover than others we've done. We thought we'd pick something a bit more contemporary, something that's a bit more relevant to us in its essence." Also telling RNE Radio 3: "We've been accused of being tinpot Royalty sometimes ourselves you know, Penny Royalty - just like nothing, pretend Kings and Queens, basically." Adding: "Sometimes we just do a cover for sentimental reasons." *In 1994, James divulged to NME: "When we recorded the first album, he was royally fucked up then in terms of every kind of abuse. He would cry a lot. But it always got back on an even keel quite easily. This last Christmas, I felt he was the oldest and yet the youngest of us all. He'd only experience things by forcing himself into situations. He was quite immature in terms of what he'd experienced in life, never been in relationship, things like that.

So perhaps then I realised that he definitely was beginning to feel emptier. No matter what I said there was nothing I could do to make him feel better. But it's still a surprise when something happens." As for intimate relationships (also briefly touched upon in Fact 14), in a 1993 interview with Melody Maker, Richey deduced: "The animalistic nature of man seems to mean that you’re bound to find other people physically attractive. And there’s something dishonest about shutting those feelings off - it seems puritanical to deny yourself that. The idea of sin is still so widely pervading." On a side note, in Comfort Comes, Edwards noted: 'The difference between love and comfort / Is that comfort's more reliable and true / Brittle and mocking but always there / A crutch for enmities saddest glare.' While in She Is Suffering, he wrote: 'Lovers wrapped inside each others lies' and 'Beauty she is scarred into man's soul / A flower attracting lust, vice and sin.' And finally, in This Joke Sport Severed, he penned the poetic line: 'Jealousy sows rejection with a kiss.' One of the pages in the limited edition Deluxe 2CD Folio for Journal For Plague Lovers, actually shows detailed lists hand-written by him under the headings, 'Basic Needs of all Individuals' and 'Elements in healthy relationships'. In the June '94 issue of The Face - which covered the infamous, whirlwind Thailand jaunt - Richey was quizzed about lust and past dalliances with groupies, with Edwards stating: "I'm not a very sexual person... I don't need the physical closeness of a relationship. And I'm afraid of the pain that goes with it, to be honest. I think it's more of an animalistic urge... Sleeping with someone, for me, is a change from wanking. If we go on a 25 date tour, I might sleep with one or two people... Every time I've slept with a groupie, I've always felt dirty afterwards. It's very functional... It's just people who come backstage. I like perfect aesthetic bodies, but most of the people I sleep with, I'm not really physically attracted to at all." He also avowed: "It's important not to be embarrassed by your past. The contradictions are part of what we are." In 2003, when discussing his vacillating views, Nicky told The Telegraph: "Richey always used to say to me, hypocrisy is an essential part of everyday life. Which applied to him more than most people." As for the French tour dates opening for Therapy?, The Times put this in print: "The first day I was really, really nervous," James says, picking at the label on the bottle with his thumbnail. "I was so on edge about Richey, in case he started cutting himself up again. I kept thinking, 'If you cut yourself up now, son, everything will be wasted.'" Do you understand why Richey does it? "Well, um, everyone's got a corner of their heart and mind you can't get into. Richey was always much more into books and films than rock 'n' roll, and I think those art forms are much more idealised. I think they influenced the way he viewed life, and the way he thought it would be." James pauses, and looks out of the window. "Whenever I talk about Richey, I think of that quote from Rumblefish, y'know, 'He's merely miscast to play; he was born on the wrong side of the river - he has the ability to do anything but he can't find anything he wants to do.' If he hadn't been in the band, he'd probably end up like Richard Briers in Ever Decreasing Circles, very cardigan, very slippers. And it's as easy to go down the slippery slope living that lifestyle as it is being a 'rock star'. There are an awful lot of housewives hooked on tranquillisers, you know?" Do you think Richey will ever hurt himself again as badly as he has done? "Well," James starts, slowly, "he has wanted to cut himself on this tour already, but hasn't. And that's a first. We're taking things slowly. He knows he can leave the band whenever he wants, whenever it gets too much. From the first time we knew Richey, we knew we wanted him in the band. If he left, the band would probably be over. I can't imagine the Manics without him." And I can't imagine a world without the Manics. More than vital. Still the best rock band in Britain." **With a penchant for reading, Andy Cairns from Therapy?, also waxed lyrical to Classic Rock about some of the books he and MSP had swapped while touring together: "On 22nd of September 1994 - my Birthday - we played the Rouen Exo 7. This was the third gig of the tour and I hadn’t really seen Richey, Nicky or Sean. I’d only really seen James the night before. I’d watched the two previous gigs, and I remember bumping into Richey and I had a couple of books under my arm and he asked me what I was reading.

I was reading The Story Of O by Pauline Réage, which he had, and I had this book called Dark Eros: Imagination of Sadism by Thomas Moore. It’s a philosophy about the dark side of love and the dark side of sex; he’d never seen it before. So I said, ‘You can borrow that, if you want’ so he took it off with him. Richey gave me a couple of books. He gave me Elegy Written In A Country Church by Thomas Gray - which he signed ‘Love Richey’ - and a William Blake poetry book and that was just really nice. And James gave me Yakuza Diary: Doing Time in the Japanese Underworld by Christopher Seymour and Nicky gave me a poem by Tennessee Williams called Lament For The Moths - it was all very lovely. He and Nick never went out with us after the shows, though. They always seemed to have early nights. We did have a table football tournament which he took part in. That was quite good fun. There was nothing untoward went on and there was no inkling, certainly among us, that Richey wasn’t in a good place. It was a really good two weeks." In 2011, MSP spoke to Classic Rock about writing No Surface All Feeling. Moore: "I wrote it on the bus while we were doing the Therapy? tour. Richey was always trying to get me to teach him Come As You Are. But in the meantime, that song came about. At the time, we were listening to The Smashing Pumpkins, we were big Hüsker Dü fans too - Candy Apple Grey, all that stuff." Wire: "Absolute beauty, I think. I wrote the lyrics before Richey disappeared. I think he thought it was a tad sentimental. I think we needed a bit of that at the time. It’s a pouring out of emotion, and that cascading drum roll and the great guitar outro." Bradfield: "[It was one of ] the last band demos Richey ever heard. He quite liked Surface because he loved Siamese Dream and it reminded him of that. I was quite hurt by that, as I felt that song was more of a human moment for us and that he would see the humanity in it, but it wasn’t his bag." ***The Suede / MSP Tour was covered in David Barnett's superb Suede Biography, Love & Poison, presented here as a citation: "Suede were doing particularly well on the Continent where the music press had less influence. Many Suede fans didn't even know Bernard had left until they turned up at the gigs. Some didn't even notice then. Support on the first European leg of the tour came from Manic Street Preachers who, as well as covering The Drowners, had previously demonstrated their appreciation of Suede by making Metal Mickey 'Single of the Week' in Smash Hits, and complimenting Brett and Co on looking like rent boys. The Manics had also just released a brilliant but difficult album, The Holy Bible, and were suffering personal problems of their own, due to the increasingly wayward behaviour of troubled rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards. With a history of depression, drinking, eating disorders and self-mutilation, Richey had been in and out of hospitals and rehab clinics and had missed several of the band's gigs that year, including the T In The Park and Reading Festivals. "I remember Richey being very withdrawn," says Brett. "He was the only one of the band who wasn't very sociable. I think I spoke to him once. My memory of him is him just being withdrawn." Richard Oakes remembers making an effort to speak to Richey after a gig in Oslo. "Richey obviously had all his problems and he was always quiet so nobody ever went near him," remembers Richard. "We were on our bus waiting to go and the Manics' bus was parked next to us and it was bitterly cold. And somebody from our crew came on and said, 'That guy from the Manics is sitting outside in his pants!' And everyone was like 'Pffff, what a weirdo!' and I thought to myself, 'I'm going to go and talk to him!'" Sure enough, Richard found the Manics' guitarist sitting outside in the Scandinavian winter dressed only in his pants and socks and a very thin cardigan. "I went down and said to him, 'Aren't you absolutely bloody freezing?' and he said, 'Yes, but I want to be.' So I was like 'Okay... are you enjoying the tour?' And he had this laminate round his neck with a list of dates and he pointed to the ones he'd enjoyed, this one, this one and this one. And he said, 'This must be amazing for you, you're so young, you've come straight from school, you've got your whole life ahead of you.' And I was aware the whole time that while I'm having a great time on my first tour with Suede, this lot are on the point of breaking-up, I'm speaking to the reason that they're breaking-up. It was a strange juxtaposition."

Despite Richey's problems, Brett maintains the tour was an enjoyable one with the other band members getting on well with each other. "The rest of them were always very friendly," he confirms. "I got on very well with James, I know James quite well still, I bump into him in Marks & Spencer's quite a bit! I felt quite a kinship with the Manics at that time, because I felt as though we were going through similar periods of our career. The whole cartoon Britpop world was just starting to happen and it felt like we were exiles. It was appropriate that we were touring Belgium and Holland and places like that, like weird deposed kings."" While checking out Suede in France, as part of Melody Maker's, OOH, AAAH, STREET PREACH-AH! article, JDB told Simon Price that "It's just too painful watching them." With Price replying, 'What?' and Bradfield answering: "It's obvious. Brett's so cool." ****On Edwards practising guitar more, NME wrote: "Generally, Richey didn’t care about his lack of guitar skills. James would give him lessons, but there wasn’t a great improvement - and besides, James said he always envied Richey for his cheekbones. Wasn’t it as important, James argued, to take a good photo as to take a cool lead break?" *****For a recent Instagram post, Nicky uploaded the live picture used on the front cover of the venerable Tom Sheehan's beautiful tome, You Love Us. Manic Street Preachers In Photographs 1991-2001, which was taken onstage in France at the Paris Bataclan, during the band's co-headline European tour with Suede. Wire's caption reads: 'And finally this beauty from @tomsheehan The only bass I regret trashing - it was a classic. Tom’s book is so good.' As part of R*E*P*E*A*T's 2017 interview with Sheehan, I asked him: 'Was using photographs from The Holy Bible era, for both the book's slipcase and front cover intentional?' With Tom responding: "No, there isn't a reason why those images were used on the book's slipcase and front cover, but they're both from Paris which is extraordinary! The other thing is, as I was talking to [music journalist] Sylvia [Patterson], she said, 'You do realise Tommy, that the live picture on the front cover itself is a bit like Pennie Smith's shot of Paul Simonon on the sleeve of The Clash's London Calling?' I went, 'Fuck me, when did I take that picture? Years ago!' But, it's never, ever struck me - they're both bass players, both smashing the guitar, different shots, but there's a connection if you want to look at it that way. The extraordinary thing is, the Manics are fans of The Clash and it's like, 'Did we write it this way?' No, we didn't (laughing)! We didn't sort of shoehorn that bass picture onto the front to make it like a homage to my dear friend Pennie, or Paul. We just did it." During their European and UK tours, at select dates, MSP would decimate cheaper instruments at the end of particularly unwieldy and supercharged shows!

39. As for the well-documented events / pressures with Richey, and his past issues with alcohol, he confided in RAW Magazine: "The worst things that have happened in my life have been because of human emotion. Living life day to day isn't enough. We need to be more futuristic from my bitter experience of life so far... The reason I drink is to forget about problems, so when I'm drunk that's the last thing I'd be thinking about doing. Alcohol is sedation, not pain. When you get pissed you forget all your troubles and enjoy yourself." By now however, Edwards was no longer drinking and so this could be one of the main reasons, that led to the shocking incident which occurred after one particular European date with Suede in autumn '94. Put simply, Richey - who prone to "days of wobbliness," racked with agony, insecurities and pangs of helplessness / hopelessness, bedevilled by demons and with a storm brewing inside - was becoming a danger to himself and had once allegedly acquired a meat cleaver intending to chop off his fingers, so that he didn't have to play onstage. And, although this broad-bladed butcher's hatchet was taken away from him, it has been inferred that Edwards took inspiration from a tour story that he had once read about the unswerving, erratic behaviour of Def Leppard's late six-stringer, Steve Clark. Who had once tried to smash his knuckles on a sink, so that he wouldn't have to play live due to stage fright (Clark was a depressed alcoholic, who numbed his pain with booze and drugs, both prescription and hard narcotics like cocaine). NME put in print: "Intrigued by the life and death of Clark, in the same spirit, Richey used to dream about chopping off his fingers." Then, backstage following a gig at the Amsterdam Paradiso on November 24, Edwards cut himself vertically down his chest - an injury which required 36 stitches according to some reports. NME wrote: "The Manics played a terrible show in Amsterdam and everyone was depressed, except Richey, who was oddly cheerful. Afterwards, Nicky pulled up his friend’s shirt to discover he had carved a vertical slash down his chest. 'I feel - alright now,' said Richey. Nicky was in bits, but since there were journalists over to see the band, Sean took them out to a club, pretending nothing had happened." Unsurprisingly, all of this had taken its toll on an emotionally drained, conflicted and crestfallen Wire - to the point where, riddled with resignedness and unable to muster much enthusiasm, he told JDB that he could no longer brush these excruciating emotions aside / envisage proceeding with this manner of living, and wanted to leave the by now, impaired band. Bradfield fully understood, but then went out and got drunk later that night and by the next morning, had completely forgotten that this conversation had ever taken place. On that same tour, the 12-string acoustic guitar (Fender F-5-12) which most of The Holy Bible was written on, was lost. And, although this instrument was eventually retrieved, Nicky's suitcase was later left on the side of the road instead of the (Phoenix) tour bus, and so he lost all of his clothes! At one time, due to his reservations, a distant, pining and reticent Edwards, did consider not touring anymore - something which he never became accustomed to - but soon changed his mind, as he didn't think that by shirking the toughest part of being in a group, which made it feel like a monotonous, tedious and mundane routine, would be fair on the others. He stated in NME: "When Nick and James were coming down to the hospital in Cardiff, I was thinking about it a lot, and I suggested that I wouldn't play onstage anymore, but I would carry on writing words and doing the artwork and stuff. I convinced myself that that's what I wanted. I'd seen them down to the front door and when they'd gone, I was really upset. I couldn't think what I was going to do. 'Cause it's not enough for me just to do the words. I kind of think I'd be cheating on them, 'cause the touring part is the worst bit - the bit that no band really enjoys. It's the thing that makes it feel like a job, because you know what you'll be doing in three months' time at two o'clock in the afternoon. I felt bad thinking, 'Well, I'll just stay on my own in the flat and just write words.' That's not enough. So I phoned them up, and I was in a bad way. I said, 'I'm really gonna try. I'm gonna practice more on guitar' and that's what I've been doing. I'm worried about it; I'm worried about next week. But it's not fair for me to just stay here." NME countered, 'But if you haven't been well, you have every excuse not to have to do it.'

Edwards: "Yes. But I've had enough time off. I've missed lots of important concerts with the band, and fucked lots of things up, and I want to come back and get ready for the British tour, really. It will be the first time I've played the new songs, apart from Faster and P.C.P." Speaking to ITV's The Big E in 1994, Richey discussed how he would actually be unhappy in any job, concluding: "That's just life. Jaded is a word you come to know and cherish." With Wire wholeheartedly agreeing, how being in a band and at the coalface when on tour, isn't as glamorous as people might think, but they had to accept that this was the nature of the beast. For a RAW Magazine Q&A entitled, ROAD HOGS!!, they actually asked Richey, 'Which member is the least suited to road life and why?' Deeming this to be unbearable, repugnant and nothing more than a necessary evil - of being in the trenches, he spurned this way of living, writing with disrelish: "All of us. Stupid fucking ritual. To enjoy touring, you must like being dictated to. Wake up at 7am, travel, soundcheck, hotel, gig, bed. Worse than prison." Acting with the utmost decorum, when broaching the subject of Edwards not touring anymore - and at no point ever unfeeling or pressurising him to tour - James, Nicky and Sean had willingly, considerately, selflessly and meritoriously provided Richey with viable 'exit routes', that wouldn't disrupt or impede them in anyway. JDB told Sun Zoom Spark: "There was the option to be some kind of Professor Griff type character, but basically, we were happy to go along with whatever Richey wanted. That was the whole dictum, 'whatever you want you can do.'" But, although not requisite, as an integral member and as mentioned above, Edwards didn't want to ever feel that he was being disloyal to the group or letting them down. In a 1996 interview with the glossy Japanese music periodical, Crossbeat, when discussing this conundrum and attempting to accommodate Richey in the best way possible, James recollected: "When his condition worsened, the first thing we told him was, 'We're satisfied to end things here. It's quite dignified, as a band, to end now.' If we were just going to suffer more, we were happy to have The Holy Bible as our last album. But at the time, belonging to the band was something irreplaceable to him, by all means he wanted to remain in the band. So we decided to go on." In '96, Sean also enlightened Dazed & Confused: "He seemed quite into that idea. But then he phoned up saying he couldn’t do that and he wanted to be part of the band full time. In retrospect, I think that was the wrong decision, because touring, especially on that last European tour with Suede, proved to be very detrimental to his health and personality." Around early autumn approximately, Edwards also had some new tattoos inked and in the sublime / unputdownable, Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers), Simon Price clarified: "There were two intricate circular diagrams, one with the words Hemisphere, Jerusalem, Of Land, Of Water, Hemisphere, Hell and Mount Purgatory, apparently derived from the seven concentric circles of Hell as depicted in Dante's Inferno (coincidentally, Nirvana also have a Vestibule t-shirt, while Purgatory's circle is referenced in Yes' lyrics). The other bearing the Caina, Antendra, Ptolomae and Judecca, with the condemning additions, 'Traitors to their Lovers, Traitors to their Guests, Traitors to their Country, Traitors to their Kindred'. Obscure biblical/classical references, and more fuel to the rumour that Richey had found God in the Priory. The third tattoo read, 'I'll surf this beach', a quote from Apocalypse Now." This latter inking, was due to the fact that Richey had become obsessed with the iconic war motion picture, and in particular, identified with Dennis Hopper's crazed photojournalist character. He even began wearing the same make of one of the cameras (Olympus), used by the actor during filming. Another classic movie namechecked by Edwards - and one of his most watched, along with Apocalypse Now and Edward Scissorhands - was Taxi Driver. Odds-on, because its themes interconnect with Richey's own criterion; abject enmity and repulsion at a revolting, undesirable, devious, dog-eat-dog and morally bankrupt world. Which, in Taxi Driver, is also somewhere that has undergone a slumlike sea change, having transmuted into a grimy, polluted and black-hearted cesspit, which is overrun with grotty lowlifes (dregs of the earth, miscreants, scumbags), whilst also being infested with a fiendish sickness.

However, although the screenplay depicts the depravity and ungodly squalidness of a progressively desensitised human race. The film's protagonist / avenging angel, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), wants to rid all ills, by cleansing society and inoculating humankind - waking a sleeping species from its coma / inertia (Bickle is also referenced in the Manics b-side, Patrick Bateman). Arguably, some of The Bible's lyrics such as, 'Dulling, get money, but nothing turns out like you want it to', 'In these plagued streets of pity you can buy anything' and 'May as well be heaven this hell, smells the same' (Yes). As well as, 'Junkies, winos, whores, the nation's moral suicide' and 'Who's responsible? You fucking are' (Of Walking Abortion). Plus, 'A morality obedient, only to the cleansed repented' (Faster), could even be applied to Taxi Driver when interpreting the message behind this motion picture. Placing yet further emphasis on Edwards' fondness for this feature film, during the THB era, Travis Bickle's 'June 29th Journal Entry' was even played over the PA after gigs, as it echoed Richey's own complete control / self-improvement frame of mind and strict, disciplined fitness regime. Which, as explained earlier, included an eyewatering 1,500 sit-ups a day! Funnily, as also indicated previously, MSP's long-serving Tour Manager, Rory Lyons, always moaned about the weight of Richey's suitcase, as it contained both his Olivetti portable typewriter and dumbbells (Edwards took homemade compilation tapes of music on the road with him as well). During the arduous and toiling tour with Suede, Richey had also started donning a white, workman's boiler suit, on which he had scribbled Rimbaud verse* in black felt-tip pen on the back - captured for posterity in Tom Sheehan's iconic stills for Melody Maker's, RICHEY MANIC'S SEASON IN HELL, cover story (including those snapped in the Catacombs Of Paris, where after caressing some of the skeletons, Richey darkly remarked how the human skulls and bones stacked in rows in the underground Catacombs, reminded him of "a nut bar."). Each of the Arthur Rimbaud quotes were taken from A Season In Hell - an extended poem in prose written and published in 1873 (Rimbaud, the enfant terrible of French modern literature, best known for Une Saison en Enfer, stopped writing completely by the age of 21). Then, along with his tattoos and newly-dyed hair - which Simon Price described as "an outrageous bottle-ginger rent-boy fringe." A sometimes bestubbled Edwards, also started etching words onto the fingers of his right and left hands, such as LOVE and HUMILITY. Delineating to Music Life: "I write something on my fingers every day. Mostly LOVE. I never write HATE, because I don't hate anyone. I'm more negative about myself than anyone else. I don't want to waste time. Even though I have terrible experiences with people, I can forget them. I just think 'Fuck off' and that's the end of it." Bradfield told NME that when Edwards wrote LOVE on his hand, that this was "just bollocks. Priory stuff." With the publication also reporting how "Richey was still following the 12-points, reading out stuff he’d taken from the hospital that sometimes embarrassed the others. Nicky said they sounded like prayers." On The Holy Bible's triumphal rallying call and perennially unnoticed positive slant (although some listeners have spoken of how infectious they find THB / the way in which endorphins are released in their brain and bodies every time they play it, arousing such intense reactions as euphoria and ecstasy), an unflappable and exultant JDB, later mulled over in the music paper: "It gets overtaken by the idea of the gathering storm of... that kind of rock iconoclastic myth that became Richey. But I think what people miss out is the actual overpowering sense of victory that you get sometimes when you listen to it. And of course, that's overlooked because people think that, with the way things ended for Richey, that there's only ever a negative thing to see. But he's ripping this out of himself... sometimes he's trying to speak for other people, sometimes he's just speaking for himself, and sometimes he's speaking for history. But he's ripped it out of the core of himself this record, and I feel a sense of empowerment. Which of course does get lost, because Richey went missing, he's not with us. But yeah, I remember playing it on the road when we were supporting Therapy? in France, and I came offstage feeling great every night." Also bullishly telling The Guardian in 2004: "It's not an album with a Hollywood ending.

But the liberation of playing the songs and realising that we'd found a new voice, a collectiveness of thought, was an achievement. It felt valiant. And when I went onstage every night and sang those songs, it was like being in a fight every night. I enjoyed it. It was a good feeling." When unshackled and catching fire onstage, spurred on by the inexorable, flaming and fervent reaction from a sprightly audience - where unabating melodies ricochet and converge amidst noise-drenched guitar, bass and drums counterpoints. Bradfield has also pressed home his surprise, at how some of The Bible's singular and uncommon lyrics, incite mass singalongs! More on which later. Therefore, the darkness of THB, should never belie the fact that this album gives so many people so much joy! Long praising the Manics as 'good copy', in a January 1996, THE RETURN OF THE MANICS, 4-page special for Melody Maker, Simon Price - a genned up, key eyewitness who had a rapport with James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, and was always congenial company - committed to paper an abridged version of the time he had spent on the MSP / Suede Tour. In which he shrewdly predicated: "I last met Richey Edwards in Paris, in November 1994, in the back of a darkened tour bus. The most striking thing was his ability to analyse his sickness in a detached way, act as a doctor and patient. (Playing an unmarked blank tape recently, I found the interview and was astonished to hear him laughing and joking about his problems). It is this prismatic clarity which makes me question whether Richey was ever "insane" at all. If anything, Richey is too sensitive and intelligent for a brutal and crass world... but we shouldn't think of him as a victim. His desire to experience everything drives him to extremes of degradation (his notorious night in the red-light-district of Bangkok) and purity (the discipline of anorexia, the rigour of his mind). His dead pupils voraciously devour the world, with the fermented misanthropy of Larkin and the piercing intellect of Chomsky: a razor to his flesh, Occam's Razor to the rest of humanity. As I once wrote, 'the mortuaries are littered with people who were too sensitive for this world. What sets Richey apart is his ability to actually articulate the horror.'" Often classed as "One of the finest minds of his generation" and as "A fierce scholar," at that time however, there were whispers from some (who postulated Edwards was suffering from mental illness), that the foreshadowing Holy Bible was written in a condition of Hypomania - a mild form of mania - leading up to his hospitalisation in July '94. There are even people from fans to 'think piece' writers, who after perusing and evaluating rancorous lyrics that demand your attention, and in which the profusion of pain is palpable. Adduce with aplomb, that THB - which now takes its rightful place in the upper echelon of the annals of music history - was not merely a cry for help, a work of art, a parting gift, the incarnation of wisdom, or Richey's writing reaching its apogee. But moreover, it was Edwards' epitaph. AllMusic wrote: "Only in that brief moment in The '90s, when the record industry was grappling with the impact of alternative rock going mainstream and just as Britpop was hitting its stride, could the Manics release such a dark, difficult album on a major label, get it played on such pop-oriented programs as Top of the Pops and MTV’s Most Wanted, and make appearances at the Glastonbury and Reading Festivals. And then, in a flash, it was over. Richey James went missing on February 1, 1995, and after that The Holy Bible was frozen in amber, forever seen as his last will and testament, just like how In Utero seemed like a suicide note in the wake of Kurt Cobain's suicide in April 1994." While on tour in Europe, Richey apprised ZTV: "I guess you've got to put your faith in something. It gets to a point where you really can't operate anymore as a human-being, you can't even get out of bed, you can't make yourself a cup of coffee, without having something go badly wrong, or your body's too weak to walk. There comes a point, where if somebody says, 'This will work or make you feel better,' then I think you've got no option, really... When I drank, I drank to forget about certain problems I had. Now, just because I've stopped drinking, doesn't mean those problems have gone away, I've just found a different way of dealing with them. Solutions do not miraculously appear, unfortunately... For me, sleep is a fundamental part of my day - it shapes my day. I like to go to sleep, [but when] I can't sleep and you're lying awake in bed thinking about things, things gets too much sometimes. But now, I cope with it...

I don't think [my metaphysical meltdown] has anything to do with being in a band, I don't think it's anything to do with being a writer, I don't think it's anything to do with The Music Industry. I mean, there's lots of things about The Music Industry that I completely, inherently dislike, but that's not a problem you know? Everybody's got a job to do and every job involves pressure - I quite like pressure, it makes you feel a bit alive you know? But the hospitals that I've been in, mental illness doesn't take into account what job you do... You've just got no control." On tenterhooks about his undernourished, wraithlike, capricious and off-kilter friend, a harried and distraught Nicky later told NME: "Thailand [in April ’94, when Richey slashed his chest with a knife] was the first time that I felt something was going wrong. And then we went to Portugal (May 6 at Faro Semana Académica do Algarve + May 10 at Braga Enterro da Gata) and things were going awry. It’s not as if it was a matter of time, but I did feel something was gonna happen." James: "Portugal is a bogey country for me. The first time we went there, we heard that Philip [Hall] had died. The second time, we were shrouded in... uuurgh, it was horrible. Richey was involuntarily crying all the time." As part of Q Magazine's SMILE, IT MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN article, JDB also said: "We have to watch how we govern ourselves now. Without being corny, Richey and I were, if not quite birding and boozing buddies, something like that. We'd go out or stay up after the gigs. We can't do that now. I wouldn't want it for him. As far as his treatment is concerned, it's just not on the agenda. We don't want to be unfeeling dickheads." 20 years later, in 2014, Wire and Bradfield discussed touring The Holy Bible in '94 with NME. Nicky: "[At] Glastonbury you can [discern our] vividness and the utter contempt and hatred at that show, you've only got to watch it online to see. I'm not sure why we were all so ridiculously nasty and puerile and spiteful... If you look, I'm actually thinner than Richey in Thailand. I'm six-foot-two, I had this liver problem that wasn't diagnosed at the time, either. Richey was still kind of... we were worried about him, but for someone who had written so unremittingly about disavowing yourself of false gods and false beliefs, etc. and speaking truth, he suddenly became obsessed with getting a girlfriend didn't he, there was a bit of that. Not obsessed with getting a girlfriend, but was he loveable? There were a lot of conversations about that on the bus. And about playing guitar - all of a sudden he cared about what he was playing and stuff. Just petty little things really that shouldn't really matter... the idea of being 'stronger than Mensa' just started to deteriorate." James: "It started to taper off a bit. He'd gone off message himself, which worried us a bit." Nicky: "And you know, the fact you could see the way the drink was affecting him. It affects you quicker when you get into that alcoholic phase. He looked withered, he looked small as that summer went on. This fucking endless summer of just... we didn't even do that many gigs I don't think. We did Glastonbury, we did Reading, I think we did [Dutch festival] PinkPop as a three-piece when Richey was not well." Interestingly, in 1996, Bradfield owned up to Select Magazine: "I really enjoyed how The Holy Bible confronts the audience, but that album confronts us, too. You play it onstage and you can feel Damien around the corner. It feels like handling a cursed chalice. You can feel the lesions breaking out all over your body." In 2016, when covering EMG 20 and how MSP rebuilt themselves / raised the bar with yet another career apotheosis, Louder Than War Magazine also addressed "the dark trip traversed by The Holy Bible." With Wire divulging: "Early on, whilst we were playing The Holy Bible every night and making it work, it felt like an amazingly tight band reacting against the world. But then it started to get worse. There were the trips to Thailand** that were not quite in control. Richey was unwell and I caught a bug that stayed with me for a long time. Nothing good came out of that trip, just the raw fucking nihilism of the whole trip that really affected us. After The Holy Bible, there was a lack of control from the early days when everyone was being united and the force or the four of us together, which was our strength - that disappeared. We were working hard to finish the album. We were ploughing on and recording the third album in three years. Richey was waking up with scars appearing and I felt terrible all the time.

On The Holy Bible tour, we must have played the songs from the album every night and it was intense. It was not much fun to play Archives Of Pain and The Intense Humming Of Evil all the time." LTW noted how with The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, "sometimes it feels that the two albums are bookends to an era. The Holy Bible may have been more claustrophobic and one or the darkest records ever recorded by a charting band, but its darkness hung over the follow up album." Nicky: "We were aware of Richey's state all the time from the previous three years. In the early days, there was the Steve Lamacq interview when we first saw how serious it was. We were all on edge, and with The Holy Bible being like that, we knew things were serious. We understood Richey's words and the implications of them. Lyrics like, 'I am stronger than Mensa...' but then it's not all internalised on The Holy Bible though - Archives Of Pain is about Capital Punishment and it's my favourite lyric on the album, it's unbelievable." Getintothis even wrote about the monochromatic THB's "abrasive, heavily flanged guitars, death rattle riffs, dolorous atmosphere and all-consuming monomania," plus how the record was "hermetically sealed" and "almost revelled in its own horror, looking at the world and seeing only, to appropriate J.G. Ballard and Joy Division, an atrocity exhibition." While with heart-on-sleeve honesty, Wire opened up to the Yorkshire Evening Post: "I think generally, I realised I could never match Richey’s extraordinary internalisation and intellect and consumption of culture. I’d like to think I could hold my own, but in terms of writing lyrics it’s just never going to happen... [Richey was] absolutely fearless." *The Rimbaud verse written onto Richey's white, workman's boiler suit, by hand was: 'ONCE I REMEMBER WELL, MY LIFE WAS A FEAST WHERE ALL HEARTS OPENED AND ALL WINES FLOWED… ALAS THE GOSPEL HAS GONE BY! SUPPOSE DAMNATION WERE ETERNAL! THEN A MAN WHO WOULD MUTILATE HIMSELF IS WELL DAMNED, ISN’T HE?' In relation to this image, in 2008, Nicky gallantly chose some of his favourite photographs of Edwards for an NME feature titled, THE LOST GODLIKE GENIUS: "I love the one of him in the catacombs in Paris for the Melody Maker cover in 1994. I think towards the end, he looked like The Man Who Fell To Earth. He'd absolutely his own style by then. He looked transcendent. He never lost that feminine beauty that you don't see so much today." **In 2015, Rachel Edwards told Wales Online: "The fact that he was really intelligent and sensitive and that he was the force behind the band their lyrics, just seems to get forgotten. On one occasion, the band were playing in Thailand and a fan threw some knives on stage with a note saying, 'Cut yourself for me'. He was genuinely appalled by it and told me, 'What a shit thing to be remembered for.' He wasn't someone who just self-harmed." In MOJO's autopsy of the enervating Thai dates, they reported: "Richey chose his moment during the acoustic session near the end of the gig at the MBK Hall. James Dean Bradfield was singing an acoustic version of Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, allowing the others a chance to leave the stage for a bit. In the toilet adjacent to the dressing room, Richey took one of the knives he'd been given and sliced at least 10 strokes on his chest. He then sat down and lit up a cigarette. Presently, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore sat beside him on a sofa, and they passed a few minutes quietly before returning to the stage for Motorcycle Emptiness and You Love Us. "Richey showed me the note," recalls Kevin Cummins, who photographed the incident. "He'd been sent these ceremonial swords, which were like a table-top gift. And this kid had said, 'Would you slash yourself onstage for me?' Richey said to me, 'That's ridiculous. It's just exhibitionism. Why would I do that?' So he cut himself backstage instead." Publicly at least, the band tried to make light of it. Sean's response was that "the only people who are disturbed by Richey cutting himself are those that don't know him."" In 2008, Kevin Cummins also spoke to The Observer, about the time he shot Edwards for NME's October '94 cover story, THE SCARRED REVIVAL: "I photographed him clutching a statue of a nymph in a garden. While I was shooting he drifted off into his own world. He was holding the statue so tightly his knuckles went white. Tears streamed down his cheeks. I felt guilty. I felt like I was intruding on a part of his life that was no business of mine. I was wondering how to tell him the session had finished - how to break the spell - when I heard Nicky Wire laughing. He shouted, 'Fucking hell, Richey, You'll do anything to be in the NME...'"

40. Only accepting this offer, because they were firing on all cylinders and in such robust, fine fettle live-wise, thanks to their musical chops - a lean, mean, fighting machine! Between December 19 - 21, 1994, The Holy Bible Tour culminated with the Manic Street Preachers playing three momentous and heaving sold out Christmas shows, at The London Astoria, which would be the last time that Richey ever performed with the band. Who, 'tattered and torn' and predisposed to downcast ire, was peaking in his "eccentricities," "weirdness" and "nastiness" according to Nicky - in turn, adding to the all-embracing, dispiriting and punishing "misery." Having all "weirdly" suffered from spontaneous nosebleeds after soundchecks, due to an unknown problem with the venue's loud sound system frequencies. Every night, the crew turned the speakers and monitors down, but there was no change - which made James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, "paranoid that this could lead to brain haemorrhages." Then, on the final night, as a release of the simmering inter-tension / animosity (unusually and dismissed as an aberration, the inner circle hadn't really been getting on for the past few days), the combustible, rousing and "edgy" gig ended with the Manics smashing up not just their equipment to smithereens, but also saw them razing the venue's lighting rig, causing £26,000 of damage! It's mind-boggling now, to think that this could have potentially bankrupted the band. Nicky told Melody Maker: "Those last 10 minutes were the closest the four of us had felt to unadulterated happiness for years." With Moore adding: "It was almost as if we were trying to destroy everything, so we could never play another gig." Starting with Edwards piling into the drum kit and Sean then pulling down the lighting tower, on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Wire said: "I remember looking round and thinking, 'Oh, brilliant, I'm joining in this! And I had that vision of James with a Father Christmas hat on at the end..." Bradfield: "Just playing a bass drum pedal into open space, thinking, 'I hope my guitar hasn't gone!'" Of the heavy atmosphere, Nicky added how they were "an ominous batch of shows to be part of." And, knowing that they were "on top of their game and stupendously tight" at each of these intoxicating, thunderous and molten shows - MSP in excelsis! In the aftermath of this untamed carnage, the group's pent-up appetite for destruction at the last gig and laying waste to the Astoria - with Simon Price logging how in the thick of the maelstrom, he surveyed "Richey beating himself about the head with the splintered remains of his guitar, and, with a disturbingly calm smile, dive-bombing into Sean's drum kit." As part of NME's live review, they wrote: "Richey is left alone onstage, hitting himself over the head with a splintered mic stand, before he, too, takes his leave to applause that the word "tumultuous" doesn't even begin to describe. Richey was the last to leave the stage to applause. From anyone else it would be dull cliché. From the Manics, it's a fitting finale to a show that serves as a short, sharp, shocking reminder that they remain the only band on earth to radiate intelligence like Stephen Hawking squared, AND provide dumb rock thrills like a hundred Axl Roses. Consequently, if only one band is going to mean the world to you, it should be them. Now that's entertainment." In 1996, Nicky volunteered to NME: "I was so nervous every night, that the end was just a relief. It was just brilliant. We were transported back to the days of Motown Junk. Beautiful. It meant more than any of the songs. Until we saw the bill... And then Sean drove back with Richey the next day." Wire has also since unreservedly and emphatically declared that much of The Holy Bible era was "instinctive." But, on that fateful night and after going out in a blaze of glory - as a harbinger of what was to come and putting paid to the Manics' long-earned momentum, after paying their dues - Nicky cannily predicted the symbolic and long-lasting repercussions: "Something's stopped, something's changed here." In the wise words of Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, 'The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.' NME reported how MSP were resting up over Christmas after the fabled Astoria gigs: "Nicky saw quite a lot of Richey over the holidays. He’d come over to the house and they’d exchange presents, like always. Then, one night, as the four band members sat watching a video of the Clapham Grand gig in March ’94 - when the Manics played with Suede’s Bernard Butler - Richey asked for a bowl.

He proceeded to crumble two bars of chocolate into the bowl, before scoffing the contents up. The old anorexic routine again. Nicky: "He didn’t have to do it in front of me. I knew he was fucked up." James: "Among us we’d take the piss out of it, and you’d laugh. It still had an edge to it amongst us, as four people. And he would take the piss out of himself as well. So it-wasn’t all po-faced." In 2014, Wire and Bradfield recounted these heavy-going gigs / events again in NME, also talking about a dyspeptic and cynical Edwards. Nicky: "That was the worst thing that I can remember personally. There was really high tension and I don't remember [the time] that fondly, really. Apart from the gigs, which were fucking electric, but there was a lot of tension around." James: "It was probably the least we've gotten on, just for those couple of days actually, just the tension. Richey was not nice to be around those couple of days." Nicky: "I don't think he realised it." James: "I don't think he was being spiteful at all." Nicky: "Sean was particularly fucking angry, spiky, prickly." James: "To smash everything up was just for effect - you know, 'I've had a bad couple of days at work here!' It was literally that, there was no pre-planned, 'Oh, I hope somebody's taking a photo of this', because actually there aren't that many photos." James: "We barely even had any gear left that worked after that gig. It was all the good stuff." Chatting to The Guardian in 2009 with shattering candour, a grief-stricken, beleaguered and woeful Nicky, again reflected on being caught in the eye of the storm: "From Thailand to the smashing up of the Astoria, it was hospitalisation, no money, drudgery, hateful, miserable, awful. It felt like Richey was drifting away. I'd just lost him. Couldn't talk about rugby or cricket or football. He'd call you up at strange times about some documentary he'd just seen or something he'd tracked down. It was hard work, it was baffling at times. He was finding it really hard to sleep. When people talk about the wounds or the blood, the only real tragedy is when you lose someone kinetically, someone you've known since he was five, you've done all those things with and you feel you can't communicate. It was terrible. But in the last three weeks, there was a serene calmness to Richey, he was laughing more, the pathos and the irony were back. Maybe that's because he had reached some conclusions and he just felt some inner peace. We did a recording session and came up with some great tracks. So the Daily Telegraph and the Mars bar, I just saw it as a little, 'Things are going to be OK.' Which maybe, in his mind, that's what it was. But different meanings of OK, I guess." Whenever grilled about MSP as a live entity during that time - who were always turned-up loudly and along with their last gang in town mentality / individually assembled army fatigues and combat garb, felt at their strongest onstage - JDB often wistfully remarks with vim and verve, how "powerful, united and unbeatable" the band were (something which is also substantiated in live reviews and fan testimonials from that time). Touchingly adding during the THB 10 DVD interview: "If I can be so bold as to say it was our peak, in terms of the way we looked, it's painful to look back at yourself when you're thinner and you're just younger. It makes you realise that that indestructibility of relative youth, gives you such an armour and it gives you such an identity. People don't actually realise, that it's so much easier to be in a band when you are younger and when you've got the ability to wear certain clothes and not feel like a dick. It gives you an armour plating and it makes everything much easier. You're not just only standing behind the music, you're standing behind an image too! And that makes being in a band much easier, because you feel as if you're part of something and there's more than one answer to all of your questions or your accusations - you've got the way you look to fall behind as well, and it's a complete armour coating! So, it's kind of painful sometimes, because it's something you can't reclaim and you've got to let that go with the onward march of age." And, when reminiscing about the turbulent, volatile and unbound Holy Bible shows - 'the thrill of stepping onto the stage, the rush of the performance, the pure animal interrelation with an audience, the complete surrender to the moment, the loss of self, the physicalness of it all, the feeding frenzy of communal love, the religion, the glorious exchange of bodily fluids and the wanton abandon,' as Nick Cave once so eloquently chronicled / capsulised the live experience.

After casting his mind back, a sanguine Bradfield evaluated: "I do remember so much about the actual mood that prevailed at those Astoria gigs. There were just lots of little things that were happening at the time, that seemed to add up to the feeling that you felt as if you were part of a bit of 'a moment in time.'" Also of note, is how the photographer Pennie Smith, snatched 'a moment in time' by capturing the final ever images of James, Nicky, Richey and Sean onstage together. Speaking to the TV show, Entertainment Daily, in 2002 ahead of Mitch Ikeda's MSP Photography Exhibition at Proud Galleries in London, Bradfield said: "The pictures of us at our last gig at the Astoria with Richey, are really prophetic. Because obviously, something had broken inside of us at that point and we'd broken everything up onstage that night, and things after that gig, were never quite the same." In April 2021, Nicky actually posted a backstage shot of the Manics on Instagram taken by Pennie, with the caption: 'Astoria 1994 - a band ready to destroy'. In connection with these dates, on March 27, 2020, as part of a moving and revealing radio documentary interview entitled, My Brother Richard (uploaded to SoundCloud), the stout-hearted Rachel Edwards spoke to Ray Meade about life in the 25 years since the disappearance of Richey. And, when remembering the final, epochal London Astoria date on December 21, 1994, she empathetically recalled: "I absolutely agree that it was Richey's goodbye, because I found out later that on that gig - unknown to me at the time - he had invited all key people from his life that had meant something to him to that gig. And people that he cared about, he rarely spoke about the band to them, because he didn't - he was a person outside the band. So, for example, he'd invited me, he'd invited a friend he had met in hospital, he'd invited a University friend, all people he would not normally have invited - all to be there that one night! I believe that whatever he had chosen to do, he had already decided. He knew that was the last gig. I had already seen him on that final tour at the Cardiff Astoria, but the fact that he invited us all to that final night on the 21st of December, to me, speaks volumes now. If I'd only known that then. What he had decided, I don't know, but he'd decided." The London Astoria and Soundspace* shall always be entwined with Richey's memory and The Holy Bible, and yet eerily, each building has sadly long since been knocked down. Meanwhile, on January 26, 2021, an understandably upset and forlorn Rachel Edwards - who has undergone so much uncertainty and hardship - posted the following wary notification on the official Facebook page, that she has lovingly created in memory of her brother: 'Richey's DNA will not be upgraded by the Met Police, as it was decided that it is "neither proportionate or necessary to upgrade the sample."' Though contestable, this obstacle could lamentably scupper the discovery of any new information and stymie future searches. In the face of adversity, Rachel has now tirelessly, resolutely and courageously campaigned for information of Edwards' whereabouts for the past 26 years, talking openly about her perpetual loss, uncontainable turmoil and irremediable life changes, while endeavouring to challenge distorted public perceptions about Richey (who at the time of his vanishing, as mentioned many times in this extra-long-form editorial, was unwell, living with the stigma of self-harm and had been prescribed psychiatric meds). Numerous scans of Edwards' hand-written THB tour set lists, including a plethora of quotes reflecting his mental process at the time, along with decorative drawings / doodles, can be accessed via the tip-top MSPpedia's extensive Gigography pages. But, of particular note, are the final (prescient?) quotes that Richey would ever scrawl underneath Manics set lists, for the galvanic December 19, 20 and 21 Astoria gigs respectively: "You are now within a foot of the extreme verge" - King Lear. "I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity" - Simone de Beauvoir. And, "I believe in alcoholism, venereal disease, fever and exhaustion. I believe in the genital organs of great men and women. I believe in the inexistence of the universe and the boredom of the atom. I believe all memories, lies, fantasies, evasions" - J. G. Ballard. Also worthy of attention, is that support for night 1 came from Marion + Andrew Weatherall, night 2 was Strangelove + Andrew Weatherall, and night 3 was Whiteout + The Dust Brothers.

James also played acoustic cover versions of Bright Eyes (Art Garfunkel) at each date, as well as Last Christmas (Wham!) at the final show, whilst comically sporting a Santa hat. *Although Sound Space Studios relocated in 1998 and operated until 2015, the original recording facility was situated on Crichton Street, close to Cardiff city centre and just south of the main railway line. It was demolished in 1998 to make way for the Callaghan Square development - an extension of the city's central business district that now dominates the area. Wire rightly feels, that the studio's first incarnation should be much more celebrated, as many Welsh acts of repute recorded and rehearsed there in the early '90s, and of course, it's where THB was made! On Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show, after visiting the demolished site in 2002, he stressed: "There should be a national monument for Welsh music, [or] they should have made it a listed building. I mean, not only for The Holy Bible and all of the stuff that we did here, but Catatonia, 60 Ft. Dolls, the Furries (Super Furry Animals) - everyone did it here! It's tragic that there's not even a plaque, when you consider some of the shit they put up!"

41. At each of The London Astoria dates, a limited quantity of temporary transfer tattoos (coloured green and black) depicting the Ecce Homo postcard illustration of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns, along with the band's logo draped across the top, were handed out to fans queuing outside the venue on a first-come-first-served basis. This is yet another highly sought-after collector's item!

42. Other notable merchandise / mementoes from this period include, a balaclava, a beanie hat, dog tags, a stunning souvenir tour programme and some of the Manic Street Preachers' most popular, fetching, irresistible and enduring t-shirt designs. Such as the sterling hammer and sickle Soviet Russian 'Veteran of Labour' CCCP medal logo (a symbol meant to represent proletarian solidarity - a union between the peasantry and working class - that was first used during the 1917 Russian Revolution, the hammer representing the workers and the sickle representing the peasants)*. The stellar, repeated face pattern of Jesus Christ and WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? YOU FUCKING ARE. Plus, there are also splendid t-shirts featuring the Faster/P.C.P. front cover artwork with a Faster lyrics backprint, as well as multiple CCCP medal logo t-shirts that have different backprints. These include the "They are deceived..." passage quote from Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir and slave narrative, Twelve Years A Slave (as seen in several of Mitch Ikeda's MSP THB press shots + the Faster/P.C.P. CD Digipak inner sleeve). And, not forgetting the rather irate / provocative, I AM HYPOCRITE WHORE-STUD SLUT CUNT-COCK ARTIFICIAL PIECE OF C2Oth MOTHERFUCKING SHIT (possibly partly inspired by the slogan on the back of Nirvana's Smiley Face t-shirt, as mentioned in Fact 6). Most short / long sleeve garments came in an assortment of colours; black, blue, burgundy, grey, olive green, white etc. and some even have backprints with tour dates. Unofficial bootleg t-shirts mainly used Jenny Saville's painting, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) - either as a triptych or as a sole Front Face figure - with Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible for frontprints and the UK Tour advertisement as backprints. *When asked by Us Against You Fanzine: 'What event in history would you like to have been at and why?' Richey replied: "1917 Revolution - Russia - most important event in shaping the 20th Century." Also proclaiming in NME: "I get lots of personal letters. Not all of them are ecstatic - a lot of them are very critical, because we set ourselves ridiculous standards. We're on our third album now - we're only supposed to have made one that sold 20 million - the biggest debut the world has ever seen. Stupid, naive, impossible targets. But again, it's all into failure. Everything I've liked has always failed in some way. That semi-logo we've got, the Soviet veteran of war medal, CCCP. The reason I liked that was just because it did fail, that it was a beautiful dream. But it's completely disproved; not the ideology of it, but the way people put it into practice. When people talk about us, they've still got this idea that the music can actually like, 'change the world' or 'smash the system.' That's nonsense; I've never thought a band could ever do anything that important. It can change individuals, it can create a common ground for important issues, but in terms of actually doing something, changing the economic infrastructure, it's not gonna do that, it never has done. That's what needs to be changed if anything's to happen." CCCP is an abbreviation of USSR in Cyrillic letters, which stands for Union of Soviet Socialists Republic or what was Communist Russia (1922-91). Notably, on one of Nicky's jackets, he had a sewn-on Soviet flag alongside the vintage Manics slogan, DESTROY WORK. This flag is also an international symbol of the communist movement as a whole and its nicknames were, the Hammer and Sickle and the Red Banner. In a 2014 article entitled, THE ART OF FALLING APART: REFLECTIONS ON THE HOLY BIBLE, Wales Art Review noted: "In spite of the Soviet imagery that underpins so much of the album’s artwork and merchandise, The Holy Bible is anything but the left-wing text it is often mistakenly assumed to be, its ruthless political worldview wilfully defying history, tradition, and at times, even logic. It is a work of intentionally reckless extremes and outright contradictions, its themes swiftly careering between victimhood and Nietszchian retribution, the untethered influence of libertarianism never far from its scarred coalface. The intimate and tragi-delicate personal control that Richard Edwards presents so astonishingly within the lines of 4st 7lb - ‘I want to walk in the snow and not leave a footprint’ - at jarring odds with large swathes of much of the album’s content; passages steeped in horror and loathing in which Edwards presents himself as judge, jury, and unashamed executioner - a man with the seemingly divine right to occupy the gaping chasm where truth and justice once resided. He is after all ‘an architect’, ‘a pioneer’, a man who ‘spat out Plath and Pinter’, and one who in the sampled dialogue of J.G. Ballard (himself explaining the rationale behind his dystopian 1973 novel, Crash) ‘wanted to rub the human face in its own vomit and force it to look in the mirror.’" The publication also declared: "[The Holy Bible] will forever be revered as the most revolutionary moment in the band’s volatile back catalogue."

43. Following Faster/P.C.P., Revol and She Is Suffering, there had been murmurings that Yes was purportedly set to be the last single lifted from The Holy Bible (with Richey's TSB bank aping, 'MSP the band that likes to say YES' artwork, possibly intended for use as the sleeve... perhaps there would have even been a promo video compiled from live footage shot at The London Astoria?). This plan of action was briskly binned however, after the mysterious disappearance of Edwards (who'd not long shaved his head as his 17-year-old dog, Snoopy, had recently died and because he wanted to "shed himself of all vanity.") In 1995, Richey informed Music Life: "If I can't sleep, I tend to have destructive ideas and I have to do something to sort them out." Also mentioning how he had thrown a bevy of stockpiled, notebooks filled with lyrics etc. into a river, as he "just felt like abandoning things." Adding: "Since Christmas I'd been writing a lot of stuff, but when I look at them again I realised 80 per cent of them just weren't very good. Some people keep everything they write, but unless it's good, you shouldn't. I mean, you can see this flat isn't big enough to keep everything anyway. So I spent a whole night reading through it and then threw away what I didn't like." He would then permanently retreat, by extricating himself from the life he once knew (thus bringing the four-piece Manics to a premature end), cementing his place in rock 'n' roll mythology and the '27 Club', on February 1, 1995 - the day he and James were due to fly to New York for US promotional duties. And then there were three... Edwards had rang his mother the day before, hinting that he wasn't keen on the upcoming trip, but he didn't sound overly troubled and had only left behind some personal belongings in his London Embassy Hotel room (Room 516), which gave scant clues as to his whereabouts. These personal possessions / bits and bobs, included a carefully wrapped box of parting gifts for his friend, Jo, which had a smattering of quotes stuck to the side and a three word note saying, 'I Love You'. In 1996, NME pumped Bradfield and Wire for more information about Jo. James: "That’s personal." Nicky: "He had a relationship with a girl over a few years. That’s the only girl he had any feelings for and he did really like her but…" James: "He never talked about it so there’s no point in us talking about it." The parcelled-up package reportedly contained books, pictures and VHS videos (Equus and Naked). Eerily though - and arguably symbolically - weeks before this, Richey had also allegedly given copies of the Russian novella, Novel With Cocaine, to friends - whose author M. Ageyev, handed over his manuscript for publication then fled without trace, never to be heard from again. In the Manic Street Preachers' darkest hour, the next day, Martin Hall filed a 'Missing Person Report' on Edwards with the Metropolitan Police and his family also placed an advert in their local paper, which ran for three days and implored: 'Richard, please make contact. Love Mum, Dad and Rachel.' The events that took place around this time, both in the lead-up to and in the aftershock of Edwards disappearing, as well as James, Nicky and Sean's conflicted emotions, are well-documented. And, although JDB made good by fulfilling the American promo trip alone, as the weeks went by and fears grew, with everyone accepting that the seriousness of Richey's vanishing may not be resolved in the short-term / that nothing could be done to ameliorate these circumstances. Despite their best-laid plans, this meant that all upcoming Asian concerts (February 19 - 26) and North American shows (February 27 through to April) were cancelled. A rather irked Japanese promoter, balked at having to acquiesce quietly and even tried to sue the band, protesting that if the Manics didn't play live in his native land, he would "lose honour." Left in limbo after these ramifications, Wire told BBC2 Close-Up, how touring after such a heartbreaking happening would have been tantamount to Edwards' disappearance: "We were going, 'Well, how do you expect us to come when he's gone missing? I don't fucking care about your honour!' I mean, how bad would that have seemed, going to do a tour of Japan, when your best mate's gone missing!?!" Suffice to say, the promoter had to swallow his pride and would have to learn to live with this ignominy, as these gigs never went ahead.

As for America, having long had a frosty relationship with Sony in the United States, who'd previously changed artwork / tracklistings and airbrushed / remixed songs without MSP's consent - much to their chagrin! It was genuinely thought that the muscular, buffed and shined, hi-fi US Mix of The Bible, which rinses and removes the dank decay, but never sounds too smooth or antiseptic - and for once, the Manics were really pleased with (how many bona fide classic albums can you think of with an alternate mix?) could be a success commercially! During the THB 10 DVD interview, the band each gave their own take this scenario. James: "They'd requested to remix The Holy Bible and we were like, 'Oh, fuck - here we go again! Just let them do it and we'll say we hate it.' You know, that's usually what happens with the American record company and it came back, and to our ears, it was brilliant actually!" Nicky: "The remix that was done by Tom Lord-Alge, does beef it up a lot. It gives it a lot of American savvy, really. It sounds more like a rock record." Sean: "It gives it that New York, New Wave sort of feel about it. So, it just gives another angle on it - it's just a little bit more finished and a little bit more professional." James: "The mixes came back and they sounded even more powerful, a bit more radio friendly, but it was powerful still." Nicky: "[When we heard it for the first time, I think we did think, 'This is better than ours'], I think at least eight tracks of it are pretty monumental! Faster was the only one we were disappointed with - I think the UK version of that, has the edge (A Critical Discography noted: "This is often thought of as the weakest of Lord-Alge’s efforts, described by Keith Cameron as having been "defeated" by the song. Hardly surprising - such a singular, incredible effort by the band was always going to rebuff modifications by anyone else."). Nicky continued: "I remember Rob Stringer, our A&R man, saying how good [The Holy Bible - US Mix] was as well." James also discusses how the "American Mix vs. the British Mix, is a track by track thing." Later adding: "When I listen to the American mixes, some of the mixes like Yes, if I turn it up loud, it actually makes me feel the way we were playing the songs live." On top of this alternate mix, there was going to be greater label support as well. A new executive had just been assigned to MSP, who 'got' them and understood THB, so "ironically," the group were very excited about the record company's involvement this time around, which was much more positive. There would have also been audience-focused alternative / college radio airplay + ample and lengthy North American dates (some supporting Sponge), which hopefully, would've all helped the band to raise their profile and make serious headway Stateside, for the very first time and possibly even 'break America'. A country that had always had "a blindspot to the Manics" according to Bradfield. But spookily, Wire, who always packed weeks in advance of every looming Manics tour, as well as dyeing and cutting his hair in preparation, didn't on this occasion: "I never really felt in my heart of hearts, that we would go." Reiterating on BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes: "I didn't think Richey was going to disappear, but I just never felt like we were going to do that tour." Dislocated after Edwards had gone missing and in a state of flux, MSP continued to conduct themselves honourably, but had no choice other than to call off all imminent / slated concerts. They were quizzed about this quandary / hurdle and sticking to their guns, by Crossbeat in '96. JDB: "It was supposed to be a huge tour of about 40 dates, but the decision to cancel was an easy one. We reached that conclusion one week after Richey's disappearance." Nicky: "We had no hesitation cancelling it. It was a relief. I didn't want to go to America anyway." JDB: "I didn't feel any resentment about that at all. But after two months without any contact from him, I started to feel anger. Probably because of the distress his family, and we as his friends went through. But as a band, professionally, there was no resentment. The only anger that surfaced was a personal one, I couldn’t care less about the American tour." In due time, the US branch of Epic then decided to pull the plug on the entire THB release / marketing campaign, citing the Manic Street Preachers' inability to properly publicise the record by completing their touring commitments, as the key reason for thwarting this.

Sadly, this was par for the course and meant yet again, that unable to capitalise on possible opportunities because of this unpreventable outcome, the group's fate was sealed. So, with touring blighted and their hopes dashed, to this very day, they unfairly remain virtually invisible across the Atlantic. In 1994, Bradfield opened up to Q Magazine: "This is our third album and we've only played six fucking gigs in America. That's got to stop. We're still in love with the idea of The Beatles kissing the tarmac at JFK. We're still in love with the word 'million'*." While in 2015, Nicky revealed to Under The Radar: "We were sold as kind of being the new Jane’s Addiction, and we were going to do at least 18 dates, I think. So our record company was happy with that and they were building all the promo around it, and they loved the remix." Also once revealing to ireallylovemusic: "You had a lot of death metal bands in America quoting it as an influence." While in 2005, Wire admitted to PopMatters: "We had a chance of just building and building... which is what was happening in the UK, really. All of a sudden we had become a genuine cult, and sometimes that's the best thing that can happen to a band. I think it can give you real longevity. Because people buy into the... not just into the record, but the whole ethos. But it just wasn't to be. It would have been great just to have six months of playing to a couple of thousand people a night in America - it would have been fantastic... The record was doing really well [in Japan], just because, once again, the cult thing." Nicky has long believed that being a cult group is "an asset." With respect to Richey's vanishing and everything falling apart, during the build up to this catastrophic, horrendous and devastating occurrence, he had long been enamoured with the 1970s sitcom, The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, as well as the 1983 film, Eddie And The Cruisers, whose central characters both disappeared. Edwards was even intrigued by Marlon Brando's reclusive lifestyle, and as a voracious reader, had read numerous books and articles about people disappearing. Plus, there were also several links to / parallels with other troubled figures / tragic icons, who he had an affinity with and empathy for. These included some of his favourite writers who left with a grand gesture; Arthur Rimbaud and J.D. Salinger, both famed for living lives of seclusion in self-imposed exile - 'Solitude, solitude, the 11th commandment' (Yes). As well as Guy Debord, Primo Levi, Yukio Mishima and Sylvia Plath - who all committed suicide. The artist Van Gogh, who shot himself at the scene of his last painting, following a history of self-mutilation and asylums. The actor / comedian, Tony Hancock, who died after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. And the rock stars, Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), who drowned while under the influence of drugs and alcohol after taking a midnight swim in his pool, aged 27. Ian Curtis, who hung himself in his kitchen in May 1980 - coincidentally on the eve of Joy Division's US Tour - and Kurt Cobain. In 1996, Select Magazine said to Nicky: 'You realise that The Holy Bible will always look like a suicide note?' With Wire responding: "Of course, but the stuff he left us with in the [OPULENCE] folder is worse than anything in The Holy Bible. He was saying, 'Life lies a slow suicide' in Motorcycle Emptiness. The first record we did was Suicide Alley, before Richey was even in the band. And we did do Suicide Is Painless, but that was my idea. Richey wanted to do a Bay City Rollers song, but I liked the lyrics. If you'd gone into our houses when we were 20, you'd have found the same books, the same records, the same videos. We were all attracted to the glamour of suicides and alcohol and beauty, that Rumblefish thing of self-destruction. It's just Richey took it a lot further. Richey took things a lot further than us. Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain were the two Richey icons. The Hendrixes and the rest were just decadent. But Kurt and Ian meant to do it - took control. That was more fascinating to Richey." As for Cobain, not only did Edwards purchase the exact same type of black suede, 'Converse One Star' trainers that Kurt was wearing when he shot himself at his Seattle home in April 1994. But, giving this notion further credence, he even had death camp style striped-pyjamas which matched those once worn by Cobain as a stage outfit.

Richey was photographed in these and the trainers during his final interview on January 23, 1995, with Music Life (January 27 also marked the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which was surely on Edwards' mind when he opted to wear the striped-pyjamas). He also had a similar jacket to one of Kurt's - as pictured in Richey's 'Missing People' campaign poster - and Nirvana's In Utero, was found in the stereo cassette player of his Vauxhall Cavalier at Severn View (formerly named Aust) Motorway Services. The car was reported as abandoned on February 17, 1995, just a couple of days after the South Wales Police had issued a public statement about Richey's disappearance from the London Embassy Hotel. His father, Graham Edwards, had appeared on Cardiff's Red Dragon Radio to appeal to his son to get in touch and the Manic Street Preachers had also released an official band statement. Some sectors of the media, cynically believed that this bombshell announcement was a set-up, in order to sow the seeds of hype stories and headline specimens from 1995-96 include, BAND IN PLEA TO MISSING ROCK STAR – CUT AND RUN – DESPERATELY SEEKING RICHEY – FROM DESPAIR TO WHERE? – IS RICHEY THE WILD REBEL OF ROCK ALIVE OR DEAD? – MANICS GUITARIST FEARED DEAD – MISSING CULT POP GUITARIST SOUGHT – MOTORCAR EMPTINESS: MANICS MYSTERY STILL UNSOLVED – PARENTS PRAY FOR THE LOST PREACHER – PREACHER'S PROPHESIES BECOME ALL TOO REAL – RICHEY JAMES! MANICS STAR'S ABANDONED CAR FOUND! THE SEARCH GOES ON... – RICHEY MYSTERY HAUNTS GROUP – RICHEY WHERE ARE YOU? – ROCK STAR'S VANISHING ACT OR SEVERN BRIDGE SUICIDE? – SWEET EXILE. In 1996, Bradfield and Wire said the following to NME. James: "Once and for all - all of the stories that are going around: we haven’t got a fucking clue. We swear on our lives. We’ve had journalists going up to Martin [Hall] saying, ‘We know where he is’, and it really upset him. And there’s still the same level of scepticism." Nicky: "There was a rumour the other day on one of the local radio stations, that he was living back home. There’s also this mythical taxi ride that he had up the Valleys..." Sean: "Obviously if he is alive, he doesn’t want to be found." Recognising that "Everyone's got a corner of their heart you can't quite understand," as stated earlier. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight however (when there was a looming cloud over them), in a moment of clarity and with typical integrity, keeping his composure, an upstanding JDB has acknowledged that himself, Nicky and Sean - the founding members of MSP - should really have picked-up on the intensifying anguished content in Richey's words, as a warning sign / red flag for what was bubbling beneath the surface. Indubitably deducing that during the notorious, blood-stained and unsavoury Thailand trip in April '94 (as Wire has also pointed to), the Manics caught a ruinous bug - figuratively speaking - which symptomatically, they were unable to shake off from that moment onwards and which activated a cataclysmic chain of events. Nicky confided in NME how on the Thai dates, it got to the point where the group felt "so cheapened as individuals that it is like a freakshow." This was indeed an omen and is where the cracks first started to show with the quixotic Edwards / his public downfall began. Who, feeling that "everything in life had let him down," was emotionally entrapped, gaunt, emaciated, disfigured and had reached a low ebb / now enveloped by darkness. As he was trying to face up to the once latent realisation, that although being in a band was once his lifeline, the disheartening / demoralising non-creative aspects; Record Business variables and the ongoing, fatiguing album-tour-album treadmill - which he clearly struggled with, as it was becoming less and less enjoyable and greatly contributing to his blackened mood, chronic insomnia and illness, would never cure any of his plights, existential dread or entrenched and debasing / fatalistic outlook on life. Just look at Richey's lyrics between 1988-93 though (before THB / JFPL) and pessimism is writ large - with his downward spiral beginning early on and evident in such defeated lines as, 'It's not that I can't find worth in anything / It's just that I can't find worth in enough' (So Dead).

It could even be argued that this notion extended to his first love of writing, as in the grand scheme of things and because of culturecide, Edwards committed to paper how 'Culture sucks down words' (Motorcycle Emptiness) and how, 'Words are never enough, just cheap tarnished glitter' (From Despair To Where). In Too Cold Here, he even tragically tendered, 'The mind is the smallest prison of all.' As previously mentioned, Nicky was also deeply saddened by the sobering fact that Richey felt life beyond a carefree childhood, was joyless, blemished and meritless. In 2014, Wales Art review wrote: "Most illustrative of this is the aching melancholy at the heart of Die In The Summertime, the recurring heaven/hell leitmotif that had been utilised since the band’s earliest days, to represent the cruelty of the passing of time and the purity of youthful innocence over crushing adult anxiety." On life becoming more complicated and the impermanence of everything, in a 1993 Music Life interview transcript, a lugubrious, yet honey-tongued Edwards proffered: "As a child, you don’t have a care in the world, you play with friends, climb trees, go swimming, you have no other interests other than those fun things. When you turn 15 or 16, there’s still a lot of fun things you can do, like getting a Walkman, buying CDs, going on holiday, but it’s rare that you can lay your head on a pillow without worrying about anything. Yet, children fall asleep easily. Even though people are supposed to be happier as they get older" (an idea also referenced in the She Is Suffering lyric, 'No thoughts to forget when we were children'). On the monstrous 'road to ruin', where money can't buy happiness and human experience is an empty futility - because for Richey, people's existence "is so fucking pointless**." Who could ever forget his infamous quote from Smash Hits in April '92: "Our manifesto is 'Don't do it, kids, never get past the age if 13'." In 2004, Nicky stated in The Guardian: "Die In The Summertime is the most frightening song there, lyrically and musically, in that it does merge into prophecy. Obviously, it took six months longer than that - if he did die, or disappear, or whatever. But when I listen to it and when we play it live... lines like, 'A tiny animal curled into a quarter circle' - they're amazing lyrics, but there's that idea that nothing gives you any pleasure anymore; that, post-childhood, life has been utterly empty. I still find it chilling." This is a cautionary tale. Edwards had also voiced his dissatisfaction with the potential musical direction for some of the Manics' next LP (what was to become Everything Must Go). The Quietus wrote: "In Bradfield's telling, as they pulled into the London Embassy Hotel underground car park [and listened to what had been recorded on Richey's in-car stereo], he asked Edwards what he thought of the new music. "I said, 'Which one's your favourite?' And he said, 'The others are OK, but Small Black Flowers...*** is the one I really like.' With a shrug of the shoulders, he was a bit ambivalent about No Surface All Feeling; he was a bit ambivalent about Further Away. But he was nailed on to his affection for Small Black Flowers... straight away." On Channel 4's Carling Homecoming TV show, James also confessed: "Kevin Carter was one of the last songs that I played to Richey on the acoustic, that he'd written the lyrics for and I wrote the music to. I played it to him the night before he went missing - it's got a tiny, wee bit of a salsa feel to it - and I remember him just going, 'Urgh, it sounds a bit like The Girl From Ipanema or something.' I was like, 'No, don't worry, it won't sound like that, it'll be cool - it'll be really cool!' And I just remember thinking, 'Oh God, why didn't I make it sound like Trent Reznor dying inside of a food blender or something?' He might've liked it you know? The last song I played him, he might've liked, if it hadn't been Kevin Carter. So, it's kind of a bittersweet funny memory that song." Edwards also reportedly said: "I don't want my words to sound like that." As for life on the road and feeling that he was in a rut, during her interview with BBC2 Close-Up, Terri Hall poignantly reflected: "He certainly didn't like touring particularly, but I think for him, the idea of doing it again and doing it for a fourth or fifth time, was probably too much, really. Although he would never admit it, because his life was the Manics. You know, to suddenly drop out and be an ex-member of the Manic Street Preachers living in Cardiff Bay, was not glamorous. So his alternative was to stay, and to stay, was obviously making him ill and making him unhappy."

Upsettingly then, for a wondrous, unreal and special talent - even with medication - it really was a case of from despair to where... If any emotional succour can be taken from this sad situation, and Richey's all-engulfing descent into desperation however - which will always evoke outpourings of grief, as he was a deeply affecting and prolific lyricist, whose words continue to be pored over (amusingly, sometimes handing over lyric sheets to JDB who recalled of his 'drinking buddy' in Hot Press: "There would be a sly little grin at the corner of his mouth, 'See what you can do to that, ya prick!'"). It's that he once stated in NME: "In terms of the 'S' word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain." After MSP's future was dramatically plunged into uncertainty and in the tempest of tabloid attention, the band dusted themselves off and in 1996, Bradfield told Melody Maker: "One thing I know is that towards the end, Richey became very obsessed with some kind of victory over himself. He really didn't want to be a loser. But, because we haven't got a clue what the fuck happened to him, people can't take that as a testament in blood, that he failed or he succeeded. All I know is that, as I say, towards the end, he was totally obsessed with this idea of victory. Which makes you think... it's only an assumption, but... maybe he wanted to divorce himself from everything he created?" Wire: "You know... I just hope he's at peace." That same year, the group were also questioned about this by NME. Nicky: "That's what hurts as much as anything - the fact that perhaps he just didn't like us anymore." James: "That's the worst thing. He left us completely and utterly in... nothingness." Sean: "From the day he left, we know nothing. Absolute zero." James: "Perhaps one morning he just woke up and said we're a bunch of dickheads, fuck off. That would be really upsetting wouldn't it? He was adept at dramatic symbolism and stuff. You would expect something, just a little tiny thing. But at the end of the day, no matter how many little lies that were going around about what's happened, there were no clues." And, although worrying if he ever really knew Edwards, Wire optimistically opined: "Personally, I still think he's alive, although I've got no physical evidence or reason to think that he is. But I do... how can you accept that he's dead, when there's no body, no evidence whatsoever? It's irrational." With JDB compassionately adding: "I can't help thinking, 'Richey, if you could just have held on a little longer, things might have been a lot different. Maybe then you could have had all these things you wanted. You might have been happy.'" Having previously written, "Why do anything when you can forget everything. Memory more comforting than future" in his track by track notes for This Is Yesterday. During Edwards' final television interview with the Swedish station, ZTV, when asked about MSP's future, he wryly mused: "Future… that’s a big nasty word, isn’t it?" More recently, in a detailed 2019 Wales Online editorial entitled, THE NEW CLUES THAT SUGGEST MISSING MANIC STREET PREACHER RICHEY EDWARDS STAGED HIS OWN DISAPPEARANCE. The website brought readers up to speed, by scrupulously covering Withdrawn Traces: Searching for the Truth about Richey Manic, and how the book delves deep into Edwards' family tree. Noting how the stories about his Great Aunt Bessie living as a hermit for more than 80 years and his Uncle Shane going 'off grid' for five years, after embarking on a voyage to America in the early '60s to gain his professorship at the University of Austin, Texas, may have influenced his own disappearance. As well as these mysterious figures and other new evidence, insightful discoveries and theories about Edwards' obsession with the perfect disappearance, the tome also exhumes an early fascination with going missing and starting a new life in Richey's schoolwork. With Wales Online enticingly writing how the hardback "sheds fresh light on events surrounding his disappearance - a story that, 24 years on, still endures as one of the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll mysteries." When navigating these irrevocable and unbelievably hard times, having spoken honestly about how in the months following Edwards' vanishing. People close to him were concerned that when consoling himself, a sorrowful Nicky was trying to repress, block out or numb the pain after his fallen comrade had disappeared (Wire was actually treated for stress-related illness, with his doctor recommending that he either undergo some bereavement counselling, or take Temazepan pills, both of which he declined).

This was given extra plausibility, by the fact that he once mentioned: "We thought whatever he's done, he wants to do. If he's happy, good luck to him." However, when offloading his feelings during a Select Magazine interview not long after - and now disengaged from any sort of emotional anaesthetic / salve - this soul-baring admission, is more than likely a far more reliable and precise representation of his innermost thoughts: "If you have a body, you can let it flood out. Anger and grief. But we were just... suspended. Although the hope is still there, so is the dread. If I get a phone call and it's a wrong number, or the person just puts the phone down it can ruin your whole week... In terms of Richey's disappearance, there was the possibility that Richey just didn't like us anymore. That was a real blow. And that was the only time I wished he'd left us some kind of note saying, 'Boys, it's for the best. But I still love you.' The fact that he just disappeared is very upsetting and I know that's selfish. Between the three of us, we can still be very sarcastic and piss-taking about the whole thing and ourselves and that helps. It's the New Order school of thought, 'Ian Curtis was a twat, 'cos he ruined our American tour.'" Interestingly, Melody Maker would later call to attention an early interview with Edwards, in which he was asked: 'What would you most like to be?' With one of the famed music press 'inkies' revealing how "his reply was simple and unequivocal: 'Any animal that hibernates.'" In 1998, Nicky (who was the closest to Richey, with the pair once being inseparable), managed to maintain an equable disposition when he revealed to BBC2 Close-Up: "I still think about him every single day. Sometimes, I kind of think about what he's doing you know, or what he could be doing, or is he happy? The only thing that I kind of stick to, is that he's done what he wanted to do. Whatever the outcome - and that's the only thing that gives me any kind of comfort - is that he took his decision. If I thought he was mentally unstable or something like that, then I'd feel awful about it. But, to think he controlled what he wanted to do, then it just gives me some grain of comfort, really. And I really don't know, he could turn up on the doorstep tomorrow." In 2008, NME printed the following Q&A with Wire: "Who took it hardest when he left? "His family, definitely - I don't see them as much I used to, just because of kids and stuff, but they're just waiting like everyone else. His Mum and Dad have kept a real sense of dignity, but they get doorstepped a lot. Me, James and Sean didn't see much of each other for a while afterwards. Those three or four months are a bit of a lost period in my life. I remember painting a lot. All pretty crap, but there's some stuff in there about how I was feeling. The worst things at the time were all the fake sightings and rubbish documentaries. But then you can imagine what it would be like now - it would be 100 times worse, because of the tabloids really. There wasn't all this Amy Winehouse sort of stuff back then. In some ways it wasn't that showbiz. It was much more real to us. A Vauxhall Cavalier in a crappy little service station. It was much more Reginald Perrin..." You told NME in 1996 that what hurt you most about Richey's disappearance was the idea that, "Perhaps he just didn't like us any more." Do you still feel like that? "From his family's point of view, I understand them feeling utter abandonment. Now, I just see it as he had to do what he had to do. He made the ultimate choice. Whether it's disappearing or suicide, I take some solace in that he knew exactly what he was doing, although obviously that meant leaving people with a lot of debris and unhappiness. I've learned that you can't judge people when they're in that state." When you talk about him, you use both present and past tense. Have you given up on ever seeing him again? "I don't know if I have, really. I'm genuinely so baffled by it sometimes. I know, with his intellect, that if he had wanted to disappear, he could have pulled it off. He could be living down the fucking road. I know that everything leads to suicide, and I think that 9/10 people would think that he's not alive anymore. But knowing his brain as I think I did, I can never actually convince myself that there is any outcome yet. There's still things that don't add up." Whatever the outcome of his disappearance, what follows isn't a question that can be asked without feeling ridiculous. Nor one that can be answered without delving into the realm of pure speculation. Even so, it's fascinating to imagine what Richey would be like, had he worked through stuff, today.

"I've been thinking about this a lot recently," says Nicky, "with him turning 40 and all that. I genuinely think he would have been uncontrollably creative. I think we would have seen acceleration in him mastering his art, which would blossomed into something more controlled, like novels, or graphic novels which he was really into, to film scripts, to lyrics. I think he would have been a writing machine. I think he could have written the most amazing novel. I would have loved to have seen that blossom. There's so many great things he could have done."" In 2021, Nicky told MOJO: "We would have got back to writing lyrics together more, definitely." Also adding: "I'm a big, big believer in bottling things up! Philip dying was equally traumatic. This newlywed guy took these four kids from South Wales into his house. Such generosity. Such an instinctively clever man. Then Richey coming soon after that, it gave me a real coping mechanism with some deep-rooted sense of loss. Those two instances, much like my Mum and Dad now, they hang over you all the time. It's not always destructive either, because there's some blazingly beautiful moments." While during a 2008 interview with NME, JDB said of Edwards: "Something seemed to kind of mushroom, explode or implode - I'm not sure how to describe it, really." And, as there was "no instruction manual" or any real precedents for what the battle-scarred and idling MSP went through in early to mid 1995. Feeling like a rudderless ship for the first few months, the band have collectively described this impossible situation / reality check, soul-searching and trying to keep their heads above water, as being "like a lost period, Saul Bellow's novel Dangling Man, nebulous and an absolute void and glaze of nothingness, waiting for something to happen." Being driven mad, as with no finality, they didn't know what emotions to have - whether to be scared or grieve about what the future might hold. Interestingly, although the members didn't know if they wanted to be a band anymore, there was never once a conversation about not continuing. With Nicky and Sean having specific memories of Richey, James however, finds it much more difficult to pin down his: "I can't distil what Richey's about you know - it is such a mad mixture, in terms of when I think about him. You know, the velocity of intelligence was absolutely just scary most of the time. The velocity of his commitment to the cause of the band, was absolutely frightening sometimes. But then other times, he'd just be the most absolutely cuddliest person in the world - and so Welsh! Just sit down with some sandwiches and a pot of tea and watch the rugby and get lost in it. So, it's way too complicated to just actually have an abiding memory of Richey, because it's impossible." Continuing with this train of thought, in 2016, Bradfield told The Quietus: "Philip had died. When we were touring Gold Against The Soul, I found out my Mum had got cancer, and subsequently she passed away in '99, but she had a long battle against it and that was going on in the background. And Richey's problems, and then his disappearance, had happened. So it felt like we'd grown up very quickly, in personal ways and also with this very public thing, too." Another important factor worth addressing, is how this sent shockwaves through - and was keenly felt by - the entire Manics community. And, in an act of solace, during this whole period, there was a groundswell of support from a pack of adoring / diehard Edwards apostles, who had become magnetically infatuated with him and who would constantly write letters / send poems to both the group and to the music press, expressing their concern for his welfare. In 1996, Nicky told NME: "About four weeks before Richey went missing, we were chatting. We had so much poetry off anorexics and a lot of it was so shit, even Richey was getting fed up - not another pile of this again. I said, 'Look, I'm gonna have to write a song taking the piss out of their poetry.' And he was laughing, he said, 'Yeah.' Even though he was one - or at least half anorexic, he could still see what I meant. He'd go, 'Oh no, not another fucking poem about eating an apple in the morning!'" Then, addressing the correspondence after Edwards had vanished, Wire said: "To be honest, some of those fans - and their letters and fanzines - have upset me, really. They seem to expect us to do the same thing. I'm not gonna chop myself up and become an alcoholic." Bradfield: "And then professing that they know him. I hate that."

Wire: "Richey was lonely and sometimes he’d latch onto someone and just talk all night. I don’t think he’d mean anything, but a lot of those people think they know him." Bradfield: "About two years ago, when he was going out in Newport all the time, he’d get pissed and go out with a girl and things. He’s the kind of person, if he was asked a question, he would yap and yap. Then these people would turn up in the press, and go, ‘I’m a very good friend of Richey.’ Fuck off, you wanker! You’re not one of his friends. You had a drink with him - he probably tried to pull one of your friends. I hate that." During No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, Nicky states: "The day Richey went missing, a huge part of our kind of rock 'n' roll died." With James adding: "As time goes by, I realise that he was more committed to his art than I ever realised - just too much so! That's what destroyed him, I think." In 2014, The Guardian also reported how Wire has admitted: "I prefer to block it out to be honest with you. Once I knew he was missing, there was a mixture of extreme panic and a nagging feeling that there was something wrong." With the broadsheet adding: "The question the band is most regularly asked about Edwards concerns “finding closure” but, he explained, this is not something he particularly wants." *In December 1994, KERRANG! published the following with regard to MSP attempting to 'break America', along with JDB's thoughts on what could be next for the band musically: "Strangely enough, The Holy Bible may prove more digestible to US tastes than Gold Against The Soul. Possible upcoming dates might even reverse the damage done by Nicky's infamous onstage New York rant about the murder of John Lennon! "This should be the easiest album for the Americans to pigeonhole," James reckons. "They've always told us they can't categorise our stuff on radio. I think they'll be able to see it in 'Alternative' terms this time, rather than be confused with 'AOR' with things like La Tristesse Durera. "It's the most positive reaction we've had from the record company and at the end of the day, you need their support. We're going for a support tour hopefully, but you can never tell with Yankee Land, can you?" While proud of The Holy Bible's uncompromising nature, James admits that the album has sold roughly the same as Gold Against The Soul. "We're not particularly MTV or radio playable with this one, and I don't think we're reaching any new fans at the moment. I can feel the old attitude coming back into us at the moment. I can hear the word 'million' inside my head again! I can feel the need for us to go for a big producer and a massive album again - to try to find that universal thing in people. I think the closest we ever got to it, was Motorcycle Emptiness. People just hear it and it immediately clicks something universal inside them." So after wanting to be bigger than Guns N' Roses, then not wanting to be, the Manics once again want to rule the world. "We always react against ourselves, basically! But on this album we've gone so far down the path of using our own language - 'speaking in tongues' is what I call it - that we owe it to ourselves to get our point across a bit more, to exploit people more." Which is a nice way of saying that the Manics have gone over too many heads. Especially in this, their most traumatic year. "Oh yeah, of course!" James smiles. "We knew that was gonna happen!"" As for releasing an album in the States and touring over there, during a 2009 Q&A with The Independent, Bradfield said: "You know, it is a tiny bit of sweet revenge in finally coming out here again with Journal [For Plague Lovers]. There was that moment when Richey went missing and we'd just had a really good reaction from college radio and the American record company on Holy Bible, kinda like, 'Oh, maybe we do get this band!' Then Richey vanished and down the years it's been, 'Could we actually have something in America with The Holy Bible?' So it feels a bit like revenge against fate and circumstance that we've finally come back here with Journal." **In 2002 (in connection with Edwards thinking that people's existence "is so fucking pointless") MOJO put in print: "Back in his college days, Richey had written to his friend Steve Gatehouse about music's potential: "I have always, always, only sanctioned music with a moral purpose... to me, punk is Isaac Newton." Compare this to a much later interview in Sheffield, printed in the Molotov Cocktails Fanzine: "The fucking tragedy about human life is that it means like, so fucking little, unless you are like Einstein or Newton.

You are just, like, fucking continuous raw cattle that has no control over what it does, that can’t affect its future and yet you live your life when you find some value in it. If a sixty year old man came up to me and said, 'I’ll give you all my experience,' why would I want to take it? What does his life mean? It means bollocks. Now he lived his life, he worked really hard, he struggled, he scrimped and saved, had a couple of children and for two weeks a year he had a good holiday and he fucking died. Big deal. The thought of a six year old kid getting smashed down by a car is sad, but it’s not a tragedy. An eighty year old man dying of ill health is a tragedy because their lives mean fucking nothing. That is the tragedy of human existence, that it is so fucking pointless... The only people who matter are the Newtons and the Einsteins, they're the only things that count. I think if you can beat nature you're worthy, if you can't you're another dying thing." In an early Manic Street Preachers press release, when Edwards was their de facto leader, he actually wrote of MSP: "Everyone needs one beautiful thing in the course of a lifetime." But, by '94, he felt that the Manics had very little respect, telling HMV: "I don't think we're the kind of band that will ever get respect from the industry in which we work, we just tell the truth too much - always have done. You can say anything you want in the business, but the moment you slag off another band you're seen as a pariah. The most boring people I've ever met have been in bands, all sitting around with each other thinking how fucking special they are. You don't often walk into a pub and find a table of builders all talking about demolishing walls. But indie bands particularly like to be seen together. Fucking pathetic they are." ***With respect to the hushed gracefulness of the calming, sleek and silky, Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky, which features beautiful, elegant and sumptuous, gossamer-like harp playing, some MSP Fans believe that the song's title was inspired by a line of dialogue (referencing the black smoke clouds left in the sky after plane explosions), spoken in the 1946 American epic drama post-WWII film, The Best Years Of Our Lives. Which depicts the psychological trauma and several obstacles encountered by veteran soldiers of different backgrounds, returning from war.

44. Shockingly, The Holy Bible was criminally overlooked for the 1995 Mercury Music Prize*, as it wasn't even nominated! Something which remains a source of frustration for Nicky in particular, as for him, it was both a glaring omission and a lax oversight - neglect that he still begrudges to this day! As for other THB era laurels, in 2014, feeling belittled, Wire informed NME: "I remember me and Richey being gutted that we hadn't won Album Of The Year in the NME. I think we were number five or six. Who would have won? Probably Oasis (The Holy Bible was Number Five, Definitely Maybe was Number One)." On being a square peg in a round hole / misshapes, Nicky also recalled: "We went to the NME Awards because we were given Best Radio Session** - it was the height of wall-to-wall Fred Perry, Oasis, Justine and Damon having rows. We went full-military and I've never felt so intimidating and intimidated. Those Awards Shows in those days were just everyone calling each other a cunt, no recriminations as such, it was just fucking mad. But I remember feeling really fucking on my own." *In 2009, the exact same thing happened to Journal For Plague Lovers. Feeling slighted, Wire told Planet Sound: "The only disappointment was not having a Mercury nomination; that perturbed me. The winner should be a new band, but I don't understand why we didn't get shortlisted. Surely Richey's lyrics alone merit a nomination!" **The Manics' live radio session took place on August 31, 1994, for The Evening Session on BBC Radio 1 (which was co-hosted by the influential tastemakers, Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq), where they played Yes, She Is Suffering, Pennyroyal Tea and Of Walking Abortion. James spoke to MTV 120 Minutes at the NME Awards on January 24, 1995, after he had accepted the Radio 1 Evening Session Of The Year Award - which unexpectedly, he didn't feel was the group's strong suit: "[It was] quite a surprise for us, because we're not seen as the most finessed band or the most proficient band, in terms of playing live, and we won that Award! Which is quite a contradiction for us as a band. At the time, no, it wasn't a good experience, because there were only three of us - one of us was ill - and as a band, we don't really feel that confident to do something as a live band, we're more of a recording band. It's a Radio 1 session, it goes out every evening and we played four songs live, and basically, we were just nervous as hell you know? The fact that we won it, well, it doesn't make much sense to us, but we're glad we got it! We took it as seriously as say in the Oscars, where an independent European film gets nominated - they don't think they're going to win, they just realise they're nominated and it was the same for us. We realised we were nominated and there's a certain amount of, ha ha ha, record company word, kudos." Another point worth raising, is how when MSP played Yes live for The Evening Session, JDB attenuated some of the vocabulary used in the track's original lyrics, i.e. 'For sale? Dumb punk's same dumb questions' and 'Tie his hair in bunches, suck him, call him Rita if you want, if you want.' Setting something of a precedent - as Top 10 Albums containing such an indecent and censured word like cunt, are few and far between - during the THB 10 DVD interview, James spoke about the line, 'For sale? Dumb cunt's same dumb questions' getting through Sony's mitts unscathed: "[Yes] was representative of the way we were thinking at the time. I think I remember somebody saying, 'Perhaps you should do a version without the word cunt in?' Because obviously, Yes was a bit of a contender for a single at the time, but we just didn't even consider having an alternate version. We just wouldn't even consider taking the word cunt out of it. So that's the just the way we were thinking - we were pretty uncompromising at the time!" If a single mix of Yes had ever been put out, would the diluted Radio 1 Evening Session version lyrics have been used? Glancing through the lyric sheet however, I'm certain that even more adjustments would have been warranted, as well as a radio edit, in order to be Playlisted / gain much needed airplay. But, as A Critical Discography weighed up, this "would have seriously undermined the impact of the record; the band themselves expressed concerns over this. Additionally, the other singles had not performed particularly strongly and it was probably felt that another single would not improve upon their chart rankings. Finally, at five minutes long, the song was probably at the very upper limits of a commercially viable release, which might have resulted in further damaging cuts."

45. Although in '94, Nicky wilfully wanted to embrace the "freedom of commercial failure" again, with a reactionary mindset. By resetting, revamping, refashioning, repositioning and reclaiming what the Manic Street Preachers were, the group only discovered as late as 2014, that in the mid-nineties, their record contract was in serious jeopardy and at real risk. Following their rise from obscurity and building a core fanbase from the ground up, although having underground credibility, 'the biggest cult band in Britain' came extremely close to being dropped by Sony, due to The Holy Bible's low sales - especially as one of the label's top brass was convinced that MSP weren't "commercially viable." The Quietus wrote: "The band's financial position seemed more fragile than ever. "Off the back of The Holy Bible, we thought that was it," says drummer Sean Moore. "We were just waiting for the phone call saying the record company had finally let us go." But, Rob Stringer (at the time, Managing Director of Epic and the reason why THB came out on this imprint rather than Columbia), voiced his belief in the group and at his behest - confident in both the Manics' forthrightness / fortitude and that they weren't ready for the scrapheap just yet / that there was still plenty of mileage left in them. With a casting vote at the record company's, 'Pick Up Its Option' stage, he helped to make sure that this didn't happen and thus saved their bacon! With three other Sony personnel partaking in this very important meeting (who controlled the purse strings), during Escape From History, Stringer remembered: "That's when I went to bat and said, 'We've got do this - out of adversity comes triumph and we've got to see where this goes!'" On BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Bradfield said: "I don't think we were aware of that. We were aware that it might be on the horizon, but we kind of thought we were so good, it wasn't going to happen to us!" Having never once hankered MSP for fizzy Technicolor radio hits / bubblegum pop chart smashes*, or asked them to tone it down / take the edge off their music during the making of The Holy Bible - a monolithic, remorseless, energised, splenetic, gripping and unforgettable album that lures you in, and which people are still reckoning with to this very day! As an instrumental long-term supporter (the Manic Street Preachers were the first signing of his music career, which took place at Sony's Headquarters in London on May 21, 1991), Stringer fought their corner. In 2016, James told The Quietus: "His quote, which other people have attested since, is 'Sometimes you've just got to give art a chance.' Me and Nick have this theory that you can't call yourself an 'artist', in music. Sometimes you inadvertently become involved in something that becomes art, but the moment you start calling yourself an 'artist', you're fucked. It's like when Tony Blair started worrying about his 'legacy'. You know that you're gone, and you've become too self-important. But Rob actually stood up and said, 'No, fuck off, we're gonna give art a chance.'" When grilled by PopMatters the previous year: 'How hard was it to get Sony to release the album in 1994? Was putting it out through a major label a triumph in and of itself?' JDB replied assuredly: "I’d love to give you the usual corny story, where the musician’s saying, 'We fought tooth and nail with our hearts bleeding to get this record out on a major label,' but our experience was nothing like that. Our label, Sony, didn’t question the fact that it was obviously a record that was very dark and that didn’t have any natural singles on it - the lead-off single from The Holy Bible was Faster. The record company didn’t once question that, which is remarkable, really. We’re living in this day and age where record companies are even more conservative than they used to be. If a record doesn’t sell after one album, there’s a very good chance that you don’t get a second shot. This was our third record, and the record company never once questioned the artwork, the content within the lyrics, the way it was mixed, the way it was recorded - which was in quite a lo-fi way. And a lot of that has to do with our A&R man at the time, Rob Stringer, who is now the head of Sony in America. He gave us complete artistic freedom. So that’s a strange story, really. When you’re hearing people talk about such stuff, talk about the battles they go through with the record company, about how there was just some kind of insipid censorship within the record company - but our experience was utterly the opposite. So, there’s no sob story there. It wouldn't happen today, and to be honest, it didn’t happen as much back then either.

We just had somebody that was extraordinary in charge of the record label, and that was Rob Stringer. He had a vision for the record too, not just us. Not all band stories are the same, I don’t think." In 2014, Nicky even told Music Week: "I remember when we brought him down to hear some rough cuts from The Holy Bible, he heard Archives Of Pain and started jumping up and down with excitement. There's a line in it that goes, 'Tear the torso with horses and chains', and he was saying, 'Horses and chains, I love it' - which is kind of insane for a record company guy." While during a 2017 interview with GQ Magazine, Wire restated: "We trusted him as an A&R man and a friend. I couldn’t ask for a better bloke." On THB sticking out like a sore thumb in '94 (and in MSP's oeuvre to this very day come to think of it), in 2015, Nicky elaborated to The Observer: "I don’t think The Holy Bible reflected the consensus. It was the same time as Blur’s Parklife and Oasis’ Definitely Maybe and Britpop. We definitely weren’t part of that. We were delving into something much deeper. Those albums were celebratory, whereas ours was analytical and internalised, and without any celebration at all. Apart from the power of knowledge, I guess. To quote Nick Cave, 'We were kicking against the pricks.'" Speaking frankly to Select Magazine in 1999, about MSP's unpredictable and unbowed approach to creating music - which resulted in diminishing returns between the years 1993-94. Wire insisted: "The one thing that I am proud of about The Holy Bible, is that we didn't do it on the back of success. If you look at Pulp and Blur, they've only made an artistic statement after they've had giant success. That isn't quite as good as doing it when Gold Against The Soul hadn't sold much at all and commercially we were at quite a low ebb." Also revealing to NME in 2014: "There was a post-Gold Against The Soul emptiness and a realisation that we hadn’t got as big as we thought we would have. There was a kind of empty hole that needed to be filled... Shortly before The Holy Bible's release though, we realised what we'd made and we had to play it every night. When we'd been making it, it was our own fucking private universe. But then unleashing that onto the world, from then on, it just felt like a long summer of calamity. Things starting to fall apart, and the more exaggerated and more tabloid and bigger Britpop got, the more fucking internalised and weak and on the edge we started to feel. All those gigs are pretty... the Reading without Richey and wanting to smash everything up, I just stood there looking at the fucking crowd... I don't know where that bravado came from**. Because there was no good feeling around, apart from thinking we may have done the best album ever." Bradfield agreed with humility: "Suddenly it went from feeling we were an impenetrable division, to it just starting to drift away. Richey started doubting everything, absolutely everything and so suddenly from feeling impregnable and completely indestructible, that just started to fade away completely." *In 2009, Nicky told The Fly: "At the start, we were all obsessed with chart hits, we all grew up with Guinness Book Of Hit Singles and we all said we wanted to be huge, but around the time of The Holy Bible, Richey was becoming far less concerned with that side of it and I think this is the logical conclusion of that - he's not writing these lyrics to get hits. It's kind of the purest form of writing I think he ever achieved, 'cos there's no other force involved other than him and his creativity. It just made me realise how much I miss his lyrics and this kind of fierce intellectual, it's like reading Martin Amis or something. It's stuff I could never do. I can do my own thing and do it good, but I could never do this." That same year, James and Sean spoke about chart hits with Filter. JDB: "I'm also proud of the fact that we put out a record that could have lost us our contract, because there were no hit singles on it." Moore: "The first three albums were about the learning process. We were very young and very naive; we didn't understand ourselves and we didn't understand the business. After The Holy Bible, there was a steep learning curve in terms of survival as a band. Since there was not much commercial success for The Holy Bible, we were looking at the end of our career. If the same thing happened today, we would have been dropped after our second album."

In 2016, Bradfield also told This Day In Music Radio: "We'd always really, really respected the single as an art form. If you just look at stuff like God Save The Queen by the Pistols and Complete Control by The Clash, the single is an art form and it is something which is undeniable, when it's right. I think we'd always had that very traditional structure in our heads as a rock band, we thought we need one single on an album and then that'll just make the rest of the album work." All of THB's singles / chart invaders (as well as selected deep cuts and b-sides) have been featured on a myriad of music compilations over the years, including MSP's very own Greatest Hits and Complete Singles collections, Forever Delayed and National Treasures. Although even when dispersed across compilations / anthologies, The Bible's otherness shines through! **As for Reading Festival 1994, taking a trip down memory lane during the THB 10 DVD interview, JDB recalled: "When we played at Reading, when Richey was having some kind of treatment for various ailments, I remember feeling very, very nervous before I went onstage, because obviously you know, one of us was missing for the first time... As soon as I walked onstage, the usual kind of like, little 'Richey Club' at the right-hand side of the stage, some of them were staring into the space where Richey should be, refusing to look at me!" Sean also shared his recollections from his "favourite Reading Festival appearance": "We were ready for a fight sort of thing - get out of our way you know? Just enjoy going out there and sort of creating as much chaos within our little boundary as we could, really. So, we'd come out snarling and spitting and biting... We had nothing else to lose at that time either, so we just thought we'd go out in a blaze of our own glory!"

46. In addition to Sony Music's 'Nice Price' mid-price reissues of The Holy Bible for the UK, European and Japanese markets, which dropped in 1998. The repackaged 10th Anniversary CD/DVD set. 2009's Japan-only CD mini replica of the '94 picture disc vinyl LP and 2011's Original Album Classics package. 2014 marked the release of a must-have, king-sized, lavishly packaged and remastered 20th Anniversary Box Set (curated / compiled by Nicky and dedicated to Philip Hall and Richey). Which, with a comparable weightiness to an actual Bible, also included THB on heavyweight black vinyl in a gatefold sleeve for the very first time - now available separately in a jacket sleeve. The Box Set went onto be bestowed with NME's 2015 Reissue Of The Year Award. For collectors, as a keepsake, the first 1000 copies of the 40-page booklet included were autographed by the band, when purchased directly from the Manic Street Preachers' official webstore. Also, with these vinyls, the first run has 4st 7lb listed as the last track on Side A on the centre labels, but it is actually pressed at position B7. This alteration was communicated by email to those who had pre-ordered the album: "Information regarding The Holy Bible 20th Anniversary Edition: To improve and enhance audio quality, the song 4st 7lb has been moved to track 1 on Side 2 of the LP. It was a last minute decision, so those lucky people receiving the first run of Holy Bible Box Sets, will be getting a rare collectors edition where the tracklisting shows 4st 7lb as the last track on Side 1 (as per the original 1994 vinyl cut)." Wikipedia has placed emphasis on some of the most positive reviews that the re-releases received: "NME described THB as "a work of genuine genius." Pitchfork printed: "In a way, the story of Edwards' spiral into some unknown oblivion is tied to the experience of The Holy Bible, which in retrospect has become a sort of horror-show eulogy for a man who couldn't live with the world around him." Rolling Stone wrote how "even the pall of [Edwards'] absence can't cancel out the life-affirming force that hits you with the very first song." Stylus Magazine opined that "The Holy Bible is easily one of the best albums of The '90s - ignored by many, but loved intensely by the few who've lived with it over the years." While Sputnikmusic dubbed it a "classic" and concluded: "Punk, hard rock, indie and even metal fans owe it to themselves to hear this. Anyone else may be scared off, but may just find they never look at life the same way again." From a purely graphic design perspective, a detectable difference with the 20th Anniversary Box Set and vinyl, is how the dots situated in the spaces between the songs on the '94 front cover tracklisting, have all been erased. However, the unneeded apostrophe in Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'scountrywouldfallapart, has stubbornly stayed put! This conspicuous and oft-spotlighted punctuation mark, was actually amputated from the 1999 MiniDisc version of The Holy Bible. One particularly pleased MSP Fan on social media, once panegyrised: "Some changes are for the greater good!"

47. In relation to The Holy Bible 20th Anniversary Box Set, interestingly, Jenny Saville's painting, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face), is printed the correct way round on the touched up 2014 edition. Whereas the image was flipped the other way on all previously released versions. The only exception, are the paper sleeves that were made to house the promo discs pressed for the 10th Anniversary CD/DVD set, which also have the triptych reproduced exactly as it was painted. As for whether or not the reversed painting used on the original 1994 sleeve artwork, was intentional or accidental, this information has never been revealed.

48. A commemorative tour in 2014 and 2015 - which included 11 UK / Ireland dates, 7 North American dates and 1 final date at Summer Sonic Tokyo in Japan - saw the impactful and predominantly 5 star and 10 / 10 reviewed Holy Bible, being played live in full, for the very first time ever, complete with army camouflage netting stage production and dark, atmospheric lighting. These were not merely concerts, they were highly-anticipated events! Notably, MSP had rejected umpteen lucrative offers in the past, to put on THB shows, because they had never felt that the time was right to take advantage of the LP's supremacy, fearing that it could potentially come across like they were either cashing in on / milking Richey's memory, or, flogging their past as a heritage act. But, when the first batch of UK / Ireland dates for The Holy Bible Tour were announced, there was a deluge of interest, with delighted uberfans clamouring / rejoicing and flocking to buy tickets - a titanic 20,000 were sold in less than 10 minutes! Proof positive, that people's attachment to The Bible (fans and critics alike) and their ardour, devotion, fondness, relish and adoration for a record that stands apart, is inextinguishable and undying! Pulling out all the stops by also reviving their military image once again, for complete authenticity - which harkened back to '94 - James, Nicky and Sean openly acknowledged the technical challenges and heavy emotional burden / uheaval of performing such bleak, graphic and tortured songs effectively*, i.e. of this litmus test, Bradfield said: "Does it sound serrated, does it sound articulate, basically: does it sound like it did at the Astoria in 1994?" Doing their homework by listening to the retrieved multitrack master tapes from Sony in preparation, in confronting both band and audience when played live, as part of a THE HOLY BIBLE: NME INSIDE THE LIVE REHEARSALS commentary, Nicky brought to light: "It did set the tingles off, definitely. I haven't played ...Bible through for a long time. And then sitting down... I guess the power of it did actually really resonate with me and made me think, with a slight tinge of sadness, just as a band, it'd be impossible really to be that brave, with that much conviction, ever again. And we put everything into Futurology, and it's full of conviction. But I dunno if you can ever, for sheer kind of single-mindedness, beat The Holy Bible. Certain records make you feel redundant, like Never Mind The Bollocks and Unknown Pleasures, and it made me feel a little bit like that! It's probably a good thing." In 2009, Wire also told The Quietus: "With The Holy Bible, it seems like [Richey] has lost faith with humanity." Adding in The Irish Times: "The reason why we’ve never sounded like the band behind The Holy Bible again, is because we’ve never been to those dark corners again." JDB also spilled the beans on The Holy Bible's blitzing 'feeling of becoming' in NME, attesting: "I think if there ever was a time when we felt we wanted to do this, it would be on the 20th Anniversary; I think that subconsciously seeped into the battered and bruised frontal-lobe readings of our brains, they switched on... I want people to actually think, 'Fuck, these guys can do this a long time after.'" After carefully gauging the situation, MSP rose to the occasion and the much celebrated, nostalgic and spirited gigs, were documented / preserved in perpetuity thanks to BBC Two Wales' BAFTA Cymru Award nominated, 2015 Cardiff Castle homecoming TV coverage (witnessed by 10,000 spectators). As well as in Kieran Evans' 2016 concert film: BE PURE. BE VIGILANT. BEHAVE - which has a premeditated 'lo-fi DIY ethos', with footage filmed over multiple rapturously-received nights and a faithful live sound recording by Guy Massey / audio mix by Dave Eringa. The dates were only booked after much deliberation. "It's a complete state of mind," said Nicky of the band's fight-or-flight approach to the shows. "You have to be so well drilled; you have to literally hate your audience." With James admitting that although the volume of lyrics is so gigantic, most of the songs were "hardwired in." Excitingly, each night before the set started and by way of an introduction, Bradfield would say: "We're the Manic Street Preachers and this is The Holy Bible," with a heartfelt dedication to Richey always preceding the concluding song, the sledgehammering P.C.P. At the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, Ireland on December 13, 2014, The Herald reported in their live review, how Wire honoured Edwards by saying: "[This gig is dedicated to] my favourite person of all time!"

Statistically, prior to these shows, the tracks most performed to least played (in order) from THB in set lists were: Faster, This Is Yesterday, Yes, Revol, She Is Suffering, P.C.P., Die In The Summertime, Of Walking Abortion, Archives Of Pain, Ifwhiteamerica..., 4st 7lb, The Intense Humming Of Evil, Mausoleum. Another fact worth noting, is how JDB affectionately refers to a hardcore contingent of MSP Fans, who have fallen under The Holy Bible's spell and invariably most crave hearing tracks performed from this record, as 'sick puppies'. There is also an unfailing emotional bond / transcendental synergy between the group and crowd - who hang on every word - whenever these songs are played live. And, not only is this a shared moment, but it is also communal catharsis and a religious experience, because the power of music, is that it is both a great comforter and a great connector! On impassioned disciples who have taken THB to their hearts, assimilated its intent and ideas (often going to great lengths to proselytise, popularise and promote the merits of their favourite album), absorbed its aesthetic and still dress-up for gigs. Which even now, gives some zealous fans a sense of 'belonging' and without exception, whose effort eternally boosts the Manics and they find imperishably gratifying. With oodles of admiration for this fandom, deep connection and special kinship, James wholeheartedly proposed: "The Bible is the pinnacle of that tribal aspect." Some brand new memorabilia was also manufactured for THB 20, including a combat cap, a metal cross pin, dog tags, a lanyard, a limited edition lithograph of Richey's US handgun image (which was also printed on a North American tour t-shirt), as well as other t-shirt designs featuring related imagery such as camouflage, crosses, cemetery gravestones and rosary beads. On the infinitely transfixing, all-consuming, deeply satisfying and fabled Holy Bible's legacy, which seems to somehow magically get better with each and every listen - from its beloved bookends, Yes and P.C.P., to its singles and deep cuts. To Edwards' well-documented self-loathing, pervasive world-weariness and distrust, to his abhorrent, caustic and lambasting assessment of life, in which lyrically - almost like an exposé - he decries the wrongs of the 20th Century world and our seemingly unchallenged conditioned existence. With hard-earned wisdom and clarity - and now distanced from the trials and tribulations of 1994-95, which were waning and wilting for all of MSP - Sean pertinently stated during a 2015 RiffYou Q&A: "Playing [the songs now], strengthens the belief that we had back then. It shows us the reason why we’re in a band. It’s probably a lot less about the musicality and more about the message. We threw every bit of anger and bile that we had contained in us. Over the years, you develop and create new styles. But, there’s still that little bit of burning desire deep within that comes back up to the surface again. I don’t think those things go away. [The album’s] rekindled our purpose. We threw every bit of anger and bile that we had contained in us. It was cathartic in a way, because we were almost cleansing ourselves and putting it on tape. We had a pleasurable experience when recording it. We didn’t feel like we were under any constraints and I think that’s possibly why the album has been revered for its honesty - even the darker elements that are a bit hard for people to digest. But for us, we were just happy with the fact that we could actually express ourselves as truly as we could. We’ve come to terms with a lot of things. This is a celebration of those times in which we felt complete. The sad thing is how the album affected a friend. At the time, you could see him disintegrating and there was nothing you could do about it. So, I think we’ve had enough time to come to terms with those things. As you grow older, you become more understanding - not accepting - but understanding. For us to go back and revisit those things (when aged 24 - 26), all you can do is appreciate the personal sacrifice of some people, and the fact that we were honest as songwriters and that we didn’t hold anything back. There are a lot of chapters that have closed in our story as a group. I think after this, we won’t be revisiting The Holy Bible. We have come to terms with a lot of those things. This is the reason why we did the full album shows in the UK and are doing them in North America: to say that this is the end of this chapter and that we won’t be going back and revisiting it in the future.

And we’ve been honest with our audience about it. There are a lot of people out there who love these songs and we just wanted to give them the opportunity to listen to them in a raw, live element. We might play the occasional song from the album [in the future], but I don’t think we’ll be doing this again. Out of our first three albums, this was the most honest and intense [expression] of how we felt as young men isolated and alienated in our hometowns and wanting to get out and break free. To have an understanding about ourselves personally, as well as mankind. For me, this album is the antithesis of that particular time. I was never a big rock fan and we had to work our way through that to get to The Holy Bible, which for me, is far more honest. I come from more of an alternative, post-punk, background, so this felt more real to me than the first two albums. Although I enjoyed writing and recording those albums, it wasn’t until The Holy Bible where we got raw and honest. That, for me, is the most honest album of that particular period that we recorded." James also declared in PopMatters: "I kind of knew when we were doing it, that there was something about the record. I knew I was part of something - with Nick, Sean and Richey - that was going to have some kind of resonance. I knew it would be intrinsic to quite a high minority of people, if you know what I’m saying? There would be a very large minority of people that the record would connect to, and that it would mean something to them, it would be tangible to them. The album was so locked in to dissecting certain politics, certain events, certain histories, certain psyches, that I knew the record would mean something to somebody out there. For want of a better phrase, I kind of felt as if I was part of something that could become a cult classic, definitely. And then all that kind of rational thinking went out the window when Richey went missing... So I stopped thinking about the record after Richey went missing, because it was indelibly connected to something which was quite a traumatic memory. I think we kind of parked The Holy Bible in our psyches somewhere when we carried on with Everything Must Go, and we kind of tried to protect him, we tried not to touch it. But then ten years later, we realised that The Holy Bible had sold so many more records post-Richey’s disappearance than it did while he was around. It wasn’t much of a surprise to me, but it kind of crept up on us, because we tried to protect ourselves from analysing it, because it seemed like such a pure thing that we didn’t want to sully it with anything... I think there are two categories of records that kind of endure. I think there’s the one kind of record that people say transcends the time that it was recorded in, and it can be recalibrated and you can reimpose it upon any period, and then there’s the other kind of record that sums up the period it was released and created in. I think the second category is what The Holy Bible is in. I think it’s a snapshot of a certain psyche in the early ‘90s, it’s a political snapshot of the post-war era in Britain and Europe, and it’s kind of built in the steps of new Europe’s creation, to a certain degree. It’s not a timeless record, I think it’s a record that really sums up a distinctly different time period." With Wire waxing lyrical to Under The Radar in 2015 about this time capsule: "It is quite uncomfortable, let's be honest, but there is a comfort there, in some respects. Having to play those songs every night... but the reaction of the crowd, really, is what made it easier. Just hearing them sing songs like Mausoleum back to you, three or four thousand people in London just singing those words. Never been a gig like it, really. That kind of communal thing, and of something so dark, made it all worthwhile." Adding in The Observer: "When we play songs from The Holy Bible, it feels good those words are breathing. They are a living entity, those words." While informing Under The Radar again: "I think it’s true artistic expression, musically and lyrically. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my favourite record, but it’s the truest expression of the people we were at that point. You can’t ask for much more than that. It’s just so brutally honest, especially at a time when the rest of Britain was revelling in a totally different genre of music. Kind of makes us feel pretty good, really." In an interview with PureVolume, Nicky also said: "The scary thing is the relevance it still seems to have. And that’s what makes a timeless piece of art, really.

And when you’re going through every little detail of it, you realise that its presence is undiminished, and its topics just haven’t seemed to change - they’ve just come ‘round in a full circle. And that’s when you realise that you’ve actually made something really brilliant, that the whole album has taken on this... this life." In the context of the LP's lore, Wire declared in NME: "Sometimes music is diminished or bands’ memories are diminished, but there’s something about The Holy Bible." Also telling ireallylovemusic in 2004: "I think it stands up really well. I think there are certain albums that form part of my life and everyone else's life that you go back to every few years and I think it has become one of those records. It has become like Unknown Pleasures which sells copies every year. The Holy Bible sells 5-10,000 copies every year to the same sort of people; the sort of people who are interested in that secret history of finding the cult, classic album**. That is what it has become and I'm quite happy with that because I grew up on records like that, be it Marquee Moon (Television), be it Unknown Pleasures (Joy Division) or whatever. Every band needs an album like this. We've really enjoyed the gigantic commercial success that came later, but if a band doesn't have an album like that, it's a hole in their armoury. Even The Rolling Stones had Their Satanic Majesty's Bequest and that's the album that only certain people buy." Many years later, Nicky admitted to BBC Wales: "Emotions are probably the only timeless thing about it - whether it's a darkness or whether it's just an intellect, that kind of gets to people. But like James said, I don't know if you can just transpose it like tracing paper on today, because I don't even know if it would get released today. The conservatism of music and record companies now, I just don't know if anyone would want to take that risk, really?" *In 2015, having endured vicissitudes, miraculously retained an uneroded, dogged resilience and proved their mettle, JDB apprised NME: "[Making The Holy Bible] was like the calm before the storm, but we felt like things were changing. So everything is indelibly etched on our hearts and in our minds and in the music that you hear. It's a time that I vividly remember - and more so than any other time in the band, except for the very start you know? It is just indelibly etched on our souls. So in a sense, it is an album that I can still smell, I can still hear it, I can still see the places we recorded it in and that makes it special in its own way I think... The Holy Bible worms its way into you and gets its hooks into you, and it becomes a challenge to play it in the right manner." Just before the tour, the music publication also printed: "When asked if they were worried they may be in danger of becoming a nostalgia act by playing the shows, frontman James Dean Bradfield told NME: "If it was the only thing we were doing this year then it might be a museum piece, but we’ve just released Futurology and toured it heavily, so these Holy Bible gigs will just bookend all the new stuff we’re doing."" Then, ahead of the Cardiff Castle concert - the icing on the cake of the THB Tour - Bradfield and Wire were interviewed by BBC Wales and asked about their experiences of playing The Bible live. James: "Before we actually made the decision, we kind of road tested our old bones in the studio, to see if we could actually do it and after a bit of practise, we could. I think that was the only apprehension I had, could we actually serve the ferocity of the intent behind everything and it seemed like we could. We kind of felt as if we just wanted our last chance, to celebrate what a lot of people see as Richey's towering achievement within the band. And that's nice, it is. I think when people see us playing it, they do connect it to Richey, they still see Richey. Which is cool!" Nicky: "Sometimes, when we've done Holy Bible songs in normal sets, they never really quite work, because it's such a state of mind, it's such an album of anger in some respects and detail, you have to kind of get in the zone. So doing it as a complete piece, feels better, than chucking Faster in sometimes. You know, I remember doing The Intense Humming Of Evil - one of the few times that we did it - at Manchester Academy in '94 and there was a stampede to the bar! Where as this time actually, I think it hypnotically grinds into you. 20 years to be honest, another year down the line, physically, I'm not sure if we could have done it. It's the most physically demanding record to play; everything's in the wrong place, musically, lyrically, angular, your posture - the whole thing is just really difficult, certainly as a rhythm section!

It's impossible at times and for him to do all that singing, I think it was the right time. The last chance to play it and like I said, for those words to breathe across continents and stuff, for Richey's intellect to kind of travel with us, it just felt like the right time." James: "When you're playing these songs one after another after another after another, it's like giving that football player more of a deep playing role in the midfield, you've got to kind of learn to lay back off some of the playing now and again. It always was hard to play it live, but in the studio, you're in a controlled environment, you do a take, you can have a rest, you can do a take. But it was always hard to play live [even when performing 6 - 7 songs, which is around the quantity that most artists typically play when promoting their latest album]. It just was you know?" Nicky: "[On the 1994 tour] we did a gig at the Cardiff Astoria and the air conditioning broke down - it was the hottest gig of all-time*** and it was the only time we did Mausoleum ever before this tour, and even then, I've seen the footage and James just stops singing. It was so hot and the words were so mad, but now he sings it all!" James: "Dare I say it, there's still a nice challenge to it. We're confronted by the music and the audience is confronted by the music, and that's quite a unique experience as a band, because like I said, all of it is confrontational to the audience and to the musicians playing it. It really is still quite a strange but invigorating experience, when it's going right." Nicky: "It feels pretty special to me as well, that every time we're playing it, all of those amazing words - most of which Richey wrote - they've kind of travelled through the universe these last 20 years. There's people in the audience who know every single syllable you know, which is not easy in itself and the kind of intelligence and just the detail in those words. We've just come back from America [and] we're doing one show in Japan with it as well and all across Britain. To feel those words, just still kind of resonating, is a really healthy thing!" James: "There are kind of like incongruous moments, where I'll invite the audience to sing a chorus back, just to give myself a small break and some of the words they sing back to you en masse, is kind of strange." Nicky: "It's pretty unpalatable." James: "Yeah, when they're singing back the chorus to Mausoleum or Of Walking Abortion... " Nicky: "Or Yes." James: "Or Yes, it's kind of weird, because you associate people singing back like that, as a mob, with some kind of celebration. But it's not! But, they're expressing it, which is weird." Nicky: "I noticed it first at the Roundhouse in particular with Mausoleum, where the chorus just took off you know, without prompting the first time. It was like A Design For Life, but people singing, 'No birds / The sky is swollen black...' It was stunning actually, and that's happened quite a few times on the shows we've done. Even in America and Canada, we still had people singing the chorus of Yes back to us. It's certainly one of those cult albums, that if you liked it, I think you love it forever!" As for the high demand for extra shows / choosing Cardiff Castle as the final British date, Nicky said: "Well, when I put my proposal to the band..." James: "The benevolent dictatorship." Nicky: "As I tend to do, I write them a list saying these could be the gigs for the first part, or maybe we'll try and save something for something special. To be honest, I just wracked my brain, thinking really, from Chapter - I think Chapter was probably the first gig in Cardiff (only 3 people were in attendance in 1988 at the Square Club, including Richey's sister and her boyfriend) - through all the gigs; St. David's Hall, Millennium [Stadium], Cooper's Field with Radio 1, there's not many places we haven't done. We'd always been quite jealous of bands who had done the Castle, so it just seemed like the perfect fit, to go out in style on The Holy Bible, because we won't be doing it again. We're too old to do it anymore! When we did the Millennium, that was one of those natural things and this has certainly felt the same way. It's just sort of taken on a life of its own." In 2016, Bradfield and Wire also looked back on the physicality of performing The Holy Bible live, front to back, as part of an interview with Simon Price for The Quietus. James: "Playing The Holy Bible, knowing you've got to hit your straps, and Ifwhiteamerica... is so early in the set, which is one of the most challenging songs in terms of locking it all in, with the time-signatures and the words.

And the first track is Yes, with all the fucking words in it... The only feeling I can compare it to, is when you have your first proper fight at school. 'See you after school!' kinda thing. And you're thinking about it all the way through Geography, 'FUCK, how am I gonna win this?' And every night, going to do The Holy Bible, was about being scared of the mechanics of performing it, and being older." Wire's view is similar. "The Holy Bible is, on every level, mentally, physically, technically, really hard to play. Obviously it was ten times harder for James, because he was singing across it as well as playing, but you find yourself in awkward positions, playing the bass. Your muscles go into weird shapes. There are a lot of important bass lines on The Holy Bible, there's a lot of responsibility. But I don't think The Holy Bible was nostalgia. It was us trying to get it out of our system. And it didn't feel like nostalgia because it was quite fucking vicious - you had to get into that state of mind." **Famously, as a potential follow-up to THB, Edwards had expressed a desire to demarcate the Manic Street Preachers' sound and create a concept album, even sending Nicky a lyric with a note by post that read, 'Ideas for next album - Pantera meets Nine Inch Nails meets Screamadelica'. Also using Bradfield as a sounding board, MSP's strong-minded musical maestro and sonic architect, later countered with doubts however over whether the group would have produced such an LP / if he'd be able to placate Richey. Having confessed: "I think there was one other worry in the back of my mind and perhaps this is a bit more honest than I have been before," he elaborated during the Everything Must Go 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD interview: "After The Holy Bible, I worried that I couldn't write any music that would please Richey kind of thing. Because I knew that perhaps he wanted to go down the road and do more stuff that was akin to The Holy Bible, or take it even more extreme. And I was a bit worried that as the chief tune-smith in the band, I wouldn't actually be able to write things that he would like, and therefore, there would have been an impasse in the band for the first time, born out of taste and desire - and I was worried about that." In 2020, a discerning and prudent JDB, actually unpicked this inkling further, when he pluckily expanded upon Richey's prospective musical refashioning in an interview with Record Collector. Who queried if he thought 'the Manic Street Preachers' determined endurance stems from Edwards' disappearance in 1995, making giving up unconscionable?' "It's a difficult question... I don't know. It's well reported that Everything Must Go**** [1996's two-million-selling commercial breakthrough] became what it did because of Richey going missing. Richey saw the next record as being this mash-up between Nine Inch Nails, Screamadelica and Berlin. I didn't want to do that record. And we'd never had that experience in the Manics before. And we never did, because Richey went missing. And it's interesting to think, how tense would I have become? How tense would Richey have become? I remember having a vague conversation, saying, 'That's pretty out there, Android' - we had nicknames for each other. But I couldn't have made that record. And I don't think Nicky and Sean wanted to make that record, either. So, it's a question that stretches into the future, isn't it? With four, does it become harder to agree with what the sound of your band is? Perhaps there was a small sign that it would have. I think Richey wanted the music to be more experimental and confrontational. He wanted music that sometimes challenged people to turn it off. That could have led somewhere brilliant. But I am obsessed with melody and musical movement. And Nick doesn't care to admit it, but he's pretty obsessed with melody, too. So perhaps it would have been harder to be 13 albums in, with four of us." Also meditating: "Yes, I'm aware of the mythological version, the icon version of Richey and what people think the Manics could have been if he'd still been around. Because people always become slightly sainted, don't they, if they pass? Trading your heroes for ghosts [quoting Floyd's Wish You Were Here lyric about Syd Barrett], and sometimes one of the reflexes you might have is: he wasn't a saint; he was a person. Richey's much more interesting in real life than the version people hold of him."

In 2021, having always wanted to be a 'lifer' in music, James continued this discussion with BBC Sounds: "Even bands like Wire and Magazine, which I grew up really liking, my favourite songs of theirs are [melodic] songs like Mannequin. So I remember saying to him, 'I'm not quite sure if I can get onboard with that Rich' you know? I remember playing him Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky, the demo of it. I said, 'It doesn't mean that your words don't fit into something which is melodic - look at what we've done to Small Black Flowers...' and he liked it. But, I wish that he'd realised that lyrics like Small Black Flowers... and Kevin Carter, still fitted into a template which was melodic and breathed a bit more. The backdrop of the music, didn't have to be more necrotic and caustic to suit the words, you could still kind of convey a message that those words needed to say, without it being more nihilistic. You didn't have to go down that road. I don't think he realised that, so that was the bittersweet aspect of it, him not being around to enjoy the success and showing him that it was a different way for words like Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky and The Girl Who Wanted To Be God, to fit into a melodic template, rather than him going down the more art rock route kind of thing. So that's what I really like about [Everything Must Go], it breathes more and there's a freedom to it." DJ Stephen McCauley of BBC Radio Ulster, also talked about just how important the Manic Street Preachers and THB are to him, stating: "The Holy Bible was vastly different to every other record on the planet at that time, and to anyone who heard it, it opened up a world of ideas from politics to history to philosophy to literature to film to art, it took you in a completely different direction." With JDB affirming during their interview: "Richey had stamped his identity and his mindset on that record so much!" In 2021, JDB also shared some of his memories of Edwards during a Q&A with Times Radio: "Obviously, a lot of time has elapsed since Richey's disappearance and I suppose lots of other people - whether it be by writing things, books, pieces, articles, or whether it be about comments online - lots of people feel as if they own Richey now, and some people even think they know him better than we did, and you've just got to accept that. It can become annoying and you could spend time saying, 'Well, actually, that's not the way that we saw it.' But, that's a full-time job you know? So at some point, you've actually got to let go of what other people remember, or think about Richey, and what we experienced with him. So, I think we're at ease with that now - there's not that much more there now to discover emotionally, or like historically or factually for us you know? What I'm saying, is that it's been a long time... I remember him as very intense, with an acute perception like no other person you could describe, but balanced by a sense of humour... [When playing live] we leave the space, I never wanted to go to his side of the stage, because I would've felt as if I was standing where he stood. You know, I can't repeat the bone structure that he had - simply, why would I want to try and fill the gap in an inadequate fashion? I don't want to do that! But also, it just felt too unbalanced, for there to suddenly be just the three of us and then to have this hole in the middle of the band. It really was a simple, aesthetic thing and it was a simple, symbolic gesture too. I didn't want to stand in his place, and I didn't want to leave this big gaping hole in the middle of the stage. It wasn't as heavily as symbolic as people thought... But that's the thing about being in the band, sometimes it's full of pretension and sometimes it's just full of practicality." ***In a Melody Maker live review of the Cardiff Astoria '94 gig entitled, A SORT OF HOMECOMING, Simon Price perfectly captured this sweltering show (where, ahead of playing 4st 7lb, Wire joked: "This is what we'll all be after tonight"), also insightfully writing: "The Manics are the only British band worth thinking about in terms of the iconic. The only British band since The Smiths who - and this is rather old-fashioned - mean something. See it in the eyes of the audience, singing every line as if it were stolen from their own soul... The songs Richey mouths silently, as though they're his personal epitaphs." ****Although rising like a phoenix from the ashes with their breakout album, the ageless Everything Must Go, which is really something to behold and a true sonic diamond that catapulted MSP to almighty mainstream acceptance and success, as a trio.

Interestingly, official documentation shows how this critically acclaimed and omnipotent comeback LP - or 'emotional tonic' - could have turned out very differently. As in a 1996 Sony/Epic US press release, Nicky intriguingly revealed: "[We were] thinking it might be better to put [Richey's songs / co-writes with Wire] out on an EP later. But somehow, I think if he's out there, he'd like to hear his songs." Notably, Wire has mentioned on more than one occasion, how he would've liked the lambent b-side, Mr. Carbohydrate, to have been on EMG. Most recently in 2016, when he revealed to Buzz: "I think there’s a case for Mr. Carbohydrate being on there. It’s one of my favourite lyrics and there’s - dare I say it - a quaintness to it and a real Beatles vibe. Maybe Sepia as well. 'In these unwritten diaries / That can never breathe, never breathe' - I love that line. I wouldn’t take anything off. We were on a real hot streak then and I can think you can tell with our b-sides. Dead Trees And Traffic Islands, Horses Under Starlight, Mr. Carbohydrate, Dead Passive. It felt like everything we were writing, was magically unfolding before us without too much effort. A lot of our records take a lot of effort, but Everything Must Go didn’t." With regard to the Manic Street Preachers' words, around this time, the group were often asked, 'How on earth are you going to manage without a lyricist?', as there was a common misconception that Edwards wrote all of MSP's songs. Something that would try the patience of an aggrieved Bradfield and Moore at the best of times, but with good reason, nettled Wire even more so! The working title for the album, was Sounds in the Grass (named after a series of 1946 paintings by Jackson Pollock). While Everything Must Go, famously takes its name from a play by Patrick Jones. Although not overly besotted with this (almost tailor-made) title at the time, Nicky rightly felt that it was befitting of the Manics' circumstances. 'The darkest hour is just before the dawn', as the proverb goes, with Getintothis calling EMG, "A triumph amid the turmoil." At the time, NME reported: "By May ’95, Nicky, James and Sean had begun playing together again at the Soundspace Studios in Cardiff. They vowed not to perform any old songs for a while, but to concentrate on the stuff they’d been trying out with Richey in January. Taking encouragement from their rehearsals, the Manics headed for Normandy in the summer, to Chateau De La Rouge Motte, near Caen, where they worked with producer Mike Hedges. The first day in the studio resulted in Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head for the Help album, an uncannily carefree song. The next track they recorded was A Design For Life, which was already shaping up as a majestic tune. Mike Hedges was adept at this kind of a vibe - the band had heard his stuff with McAlmont & Butler, and Nicky also loved the swoonsome strings on the Everything But The Girl oldie, Baby The Stars Shine Bright. A Design For Life was finished by September and mixed by Christmas, the string section added at Abbey Road in London. It had achieved what Nicky was looking for, 'A sense of melancholic victory.'" NME also asked MSP: 'So what do Richey’s parents make of the band recording and touring again?' Nicky: "His father wanted us to do it as soon as we could. He said it might flush his son out. And we see his sister a lot. We’ve also set up a trust fund so that all Richey’s royalties go into this account under his name. If he ever turns up, he’s got his share. That was really depressing, doing all that legal shit. You’ve gotta wait seven years until he’s declared dead. We were signing - all these forms. We wanted everything to be proper. So if he ever turns up, it’s all there for him. But doing that, it just makes him seem like a number. It was really sad." James: "That seemed like the most final thing. it seemed like we were signing any reconciliation away. And we were mixing Everything Must Go at the time…" Nicky: "It would be overdramatic to say that it was the hardest thing in the world to do, because it wasn’t. We decided not to do any old songs." James: "And we weren’t gonna try to write any music to the lyrics that were left. We would do songs that were already written - they were Manic Street Preachers songs, and Richey had heard them all in some form or another. We created ourselves a safety net, and once we’d got in there it was pretty easy, to be honest. I wouldn’t break down halfway through a song and go, ‘I can’t do it anymore.’"

Nicky: "It was more easy than just staying in and waiting by the phone. Just worrying…" Sean: "Which we’d done anyway, for a couple of months." James: "From then on, it was just like normal itinerary really, thinking of a producer and writing songs, just getting on…" Going above and beyond, the entire incandescent, crossover and history-making Everything Must Go era, as well as the band's ascent / emotional roller coaster and all that it entailed, has been well-documented - with no stone left unturned! From MSP recording with Mike Hedges at his pastoral home studio in Normandy, France, between late '95 / early '96 (Wire told Buzz: "Mike was so crucial to the whole record as a person, and not just as a producer. He was someone we really needed with us, and he was our George Martin for that period. He was someone you could trust like a father and yet he would have amazing ideas with compositions and engineering. And being in that Chateau in France, it was one of those moments when the stars align. Everything felt really natural. We’re not the most natural of bands, but it did feel that way."). To the stories behind the songs, to the three-piece's heartwarming, soul-stirring and acclaimed comeback, to the hordes of smitten 'old fans and new fans'*****, to attaining millions of sales internationally / going multiplatinum, to watershed gigs, to the cornucopia of Awards! But interestingly, the connections to The Holy Bible are plenteous. Firstly, Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier, Kevin Carter, Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky, The Girl Who Wanted To Be God, Removables, Further Away******, No Surface All Feeling, as well as some b-sides including Dead Passive and No One Knows What It's Like To Be Me, all have their roots in the THB time period. As either the lyrics were (mostly) completed and the music for these songs was being worked on, or in some cases, demos had even been recorded (Wire also had bits and pieces squirreled away from 1994, but after having to take up the mantle of writing alone, would begin penning lots of new words from mid-1995 onwards). As for the early Everything Must Go demos, Dave Eringa has since debunked the long-established myth that Richey played any guitar on No Surface All Feeling, telling R*E*P*E*A*T how La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh), is the only song that one of his guitar parts was ever recorded for (it's the power chord you hear in the very first chorus, on both occasions where JDB sings, 'La Tristesse...'). Dave was determined to 'capture' Edwards on tape at least once! On the day of recording itself however, Richey was convinced that this was merely for James, Nicky and Sean's own amusement! Dave also unveiled to R*E*P*E*A*T: "No Surface was the last thing we recorded before he went (literally the day before actually!) and we did use that version for EMG, only adding the coda at the end!" Returning to EMG, initially, before the "dam burst" and they became "more human" as James has put it, in his own words, he was bloody-minded, inflexible and unbending when trying to conserve some of "The Bible's freneticism", i.e. the original version of Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier, until Hedges talked him around. In 2016 - the year that was stamped with a Everything Must Go 20 commemorative reissue and tour - Bradfield told The Quietus: "He was like, 'There's a really good song in there, but what you're doing is fucking awful!' And I kind of knew it, but I was still stuck in The Holy Bible mindset a bit, with that song." It was clear that a change of tack was needed, and so this was a key moment, which ultimately effectuated Everything Must Go's much more immediate, accessible, kaleidoscopic, spine-tingling and swaggering rock sound, as well as its billowing and sparkling, symphonic sheen. Joy Division and Nirvana's influence is still present however, as the title, A Design For Life, took direct inspiration from Joy Division's debut EP, An Ideal For Living. While musically, Removables has touches of "Nirvana MTV Unplugged sadness to it" as noted by Wire. In '96, NME also reported: "Removables dates back more than three years. They could never get it to work. Then someone suggested a vibe more like the Nirvana 'Unplugged' record." Aesthetically, the revered, seasoned and hotshot designer, Mark Farrow's iconic sleeve for EMG, also mirrors The Bible's front cover, due to its minimal design, and of course, the triptych. In which the up close and personal portraits, shot by the exceptionally talented photographer, Rankin, see Moore, Bradfield and Wire positioned in a similar fashion to the female in the Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) painting.

As within their individual picture frames, James is facing forward, while Sean and Nicky are ever so slightly turned, looking towards the central image. This artwork also pays homage to New Order's abstract sleeves, whose visual style permuted following the dissolution of Joy Division - with MSP describing their new simplified look as a, "non-image." The b-side, Sepia (as found on Kevin Carter CD ONE), not only neatly references one of the Manics' cultural touchstones - the classic Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - during its chorus, but, it was also one of the very first songs ever written and released about Richey. Then, in 2018, as part of Absolute Radio's Classic Album Playback - Manic Street Preachers' Everything Must Go, JDB revealed: "We were aware of a section of our crowd, that were very much in thrall to The Holy Bible. It's very strange, the first album was kind of big you know, especially with Motorcycle Emptiness. The second album took that inevitable second album dip, but then the third album sold less than the second and first album. But, in a strange way, we seemed bigger! It seemed like we were 'the biggest cult band in Britain', because our gigs were selling out and suddenly our audience were turning up en masse, dressed in this military regalia and sailors' outfits and everything you know? All of the stuff that we were wearing! So, we were aware that a lot of our crowd were very, very, strictly adherent to what the Manic Street Preachers was about, and that was The Holy Bible. Suddenly, this became the touchstone for what the Manics should be. So when we came to release A Design For Life and Everything Must Go, we were aware of this section of the crowd, that only wanted to see The Holy Bible version of the Manic Street Preachers - or wanted to see what Richey represented. And we didn't know how they were going to react to songs like A Design For Life, Kevin Carter and Everything Must Go. So, that's touched upon in the lyric, 'And I just hope that you can forgive us / But everything must go.' We were aware that there could be a disconnect between what people thought was our defining moment, The Holy Bible, and this. Everything Must Go, ironically, managed to kind of come into existence and be accepted, because Richey was still part of the record lyrically. Undoubtedly, Richey's influence is still borne upon the record, because his lyrics have influenced quite a lot of the music there. And it's cool - it's a good period to look back on! A lot of people say, 'Oh, [with] Britpop, everything got pigeonholed' and I always get very confused when people look back on it like that. Because it's like, 'Well, there was just lots of really good guitar music around, and lyrically, things were quite interesting you know and you just had true working class expression with Oasis - it was working class rage! Do you see that happening much now in The Charts, in the Top 10, being No. 1? No, you don't, so don't look back on it and think, 'Oh, everything was pigeonholed.' Don't be such a doofus you know? It was a good time - it was!" In 2016, James also told BARKS: "By the time Britpop had broken, we were already safe in our own identity. We did get co-opted into Britpop and we didn't give a flying fuck. We really didn't. I think because we were coming from the other end of what had happened with Richey - which was traumatic to say the least - for us to actually be co-opted into Britpop, felt like a really convenient way of starting again for us. So, it just didn't bother us." With regard to this, Wire said the following during a 2016 Q&A with The Yorkshire Evening Post: "The fact that we had all these songs we were listening to in the studio and recording, we just felt like, ‘If it doesn’t happen now, it’s never going to happen.’ All the stars aligned that we’d made a brilliant record and that people were open to that kind of music and the lyrics. I did feel a quiet confidence that we would go from being 'the biggest cult band' to just being one of the biggest bands." Bradfield recently admitted he had felt jealous at the success of Britpop bands. Wire says he had similar feelings. "From the start, we’d always talked about wanting to be huge and all those clichés that came with it - if you get a bit of power, use it in the right way - so yeah, there was a jealousy, an envy, really, thinking maybe with our words and the things we were saying, we could actually do something positive rather than just reinforce the status quo. There was envy there, definitely." Nicky also enthused to Buzz: "It was that magical moment where as a band, we couldn’t quite believe it."

During the Everything Must Go 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD interview, the Manics discuss this period of time in even more detail. Here are some highlights... Nicky: "With Richey, him going missing wasn't the worst bit in a funny kind of way - it was the year before, it was just nightmarish! There was nothing redeeming about it, people might think there is, but there's not. There's no fun seeing someone you know, kind of losing the will to live." On their worries about being dropped by Sony... James: "Even though The Holy Bible had garnered a lot of respect, it hadn't actually had as much respect, as it's had now perhaps. So, we didn't look upon things in a very optimistic manner." Sean: "We're like that with every album. You know, that's what gives us the fire then, to come up with the next album. We're always thinking we're going to be dropped, but I always feel that's when we come up with our best - when we're fighting out of a corner!" Nicky: "Probably the only reaction was going to be, [was] that we wouldn't do another Holy Bible, because I think financially and emotionally, it would kind of bankrupted us on every level. So yeah, that was not on the agenda. The famous Richey, 'Pantera meets Screamadelica' direction wasn't going to be a reality. I don't know if James had a kind of Phil Spector-esque vision in his head, but only he knows that." James: "If you look at that 'Pantera meets Screamadelica' you know, [it] equals Nine Inch Nails, really. Because The Holy Bible's so compressed and because it was so convulsed in the throes of its own birth or death, or whatever you want to call it, I'm not quite sure. I think we just actually wanted to a breathe a bit after that, perhaps especially me, I actually wanted to be a different singer after that. You know, I actually wanted to get into a bit of phraseology, or I just actually wanted to take a deep breath and be able to sing a line. Obviously, The Holy Bible is pure expression, but perhaps it's almost comparing somebody like Marlon Brando to Laurence Olivier. They're both very valid ways of approaching the creation of art, but just wanting to do it in a very different way." On success... Nicky: "Deep down, however much of an individual and artist Richey was, he kind of didn't mind a bit of success - not in a monetary sense, but just in an attention sense. If he'd had a thought that maybe the audience would swell and swell and swell, that maybe he'd have a chance of going out with Kate Moss... if only he was around now, there could have been a schism. But, that was down to Richey's mental state as much - there was a schism for all intents and purposes, because it was hard work you know?" James: "I think the emotions that were coming out of him were very violent - not even nihilistic - I think they were just violent at that point. I think there was a difference and he just didn't want to fuck around, he wanted the music to suit those sentiments." And on the finished long player... James: "Even though we're much more free on that album musically, it doesn't ever veer into escapism." Nicky: "There's always this myth of, 'Richey casts his shadow over it', and if you're analytical about it, there's just a lot more of my words on there. But the fact that it's imbued with his psyche slightly, it just makes it even better! It would have been a great album anyway - I mean, the tunes are just fucking glorious!" Having not left anything to chance and as outsiders who did manage to subvert the mainstream with elephantine success, after people had fallen head over heels for them. During Escape From History, Wire marvelled: "It's still amazing that [Everything Must Go] sold so many records, because it's not the most palatable. But that was the genius of the times!" While in No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, he charmingly states: "It's just that perfect moment when an underground band goes overground, and it's probably the most perfect moment you can have, because you can only have it once!" Adding in a 2016 Q&A with Gigwise: "In many ways, I see it as everything we said we wanted to do at the start. The idea that The Holy Bible is what we were formed to do is a total anathema to me. Generation Terrorists is the reason we formed a band. All we ever talked about was selling millions of records. We just didn’t have the capability to do it in ’91 and ’92. Fast forward four years and we had the muscular musical and lyrical strength to pull it off. It was a subversive act." It seems unreal now, how Generation Terrorists, Gold Against The Soul, The Holy Bible and Everything Must go, were all released in just a little over 4 years!

As for wanting to achieve world domination on their own terms, in 2016, Bradfield told This Day In Music Radio: "[Richey's] ultimate dream was to subvert things on a grand scale!" That same year, he also spoke to The Guardian about MSP climbing the gigging ladder without Edwards, following the success of Everything Must Go, confessing: "People talk about catharsis, about an emotional connection, but I see being on stage as much simpler. There’s a sporting dynamic to it: I love the physicality, feeding off a crowd the way a footballer would. But then you’d get back to your hotel room and that silence would be deafening. That’s when it hit home. You’d think, 'Richey would have liked that moment tonight.' Like if we played [cult hit] Faster and a very visible minority went mental, while the guys in Sheffield United tops were going, 'What is this?' Richey loved that kind of confusion." Released on May 20, 1996, EMG reached the No. 2 spot and according to the Official Charts Company (OCC) history, out of all the Manic Street Preachers' albums, Everything Must Go has spent the most amount of weeks in the Top 100 of the UK Albums Chart - 103 weeks between June 1, 1996 and June 2, 2016. As for the LP's polychromatic / gleaming singles and their peak positions, EMG had 4 Top 10 hits: A Design For Life (No. 2 / April '96), Everything Must Go (No. 5 / July '96), Kevin Carter (No. 9 / October '96), Australia (No. 7 / December '96), which would go onto spend 14, 10, 8 and 9 weeks in the Top 100 of the UK Singles Chart, respectively. The orchestral and glimmering A Design For Life, remains one of MSP's biggest sellers, while the other singles let loose from the parent long player - which are brushed with echo chamber pop, bossa nova and MOTD Goal of the Month, out-and-out rock montage music contagiousness, respectively - have all been set list staples at one time or another. Rather impressively and pushing MSP firmly into the limelight, A Design For Life sold a mountainous 94,000 copies in the very first week that it went on sale, which was only 7,000 units less than Mark Morrison's chart-topping R&B pop nugget, Return Of The Mack. What could have been... Headline specimens from 1996-97 include, AND IF YOU NEED AN EXPLANATION... – ESCAPE FROM OUR HISTORY – EVERYTHING MUST GO ON – FROM DESPAIR TO HERE – MANICS BACK ON STREET TO PREACH GOSPEL – PREACHERS KEEP THE FAITH – PREACHING TO THE MASSES – REGENERATED TERRORISTS – THE MANICS REBORN – THEN THERE WERE THREE... – WALES' MANIC STREET PREACHERS MAKE A NEW DESIGN FOR LIFE – WE SHALL OVERCOME. *****The concept of 'old fans vs. new fans', was spearheaded by the music press 'inkies' between 1996-97 and focused primarily on how a fairly large amount of original acolytes and devotees, were upset with a wodge of present-day followers who had encroached on their territory. Some of whom, were oblivious to the Manic Street Preachers' history and everything that the band stood for. Most notoriously of all however, was the way in which at concerts, a number of these new fans would openly mock old fans who dared to wear make-up, leopard print, feather boas, army fatigues etc. and would generally consume lots of beer and behave in an obnoxious and off-putting, 'laddish' manner. The root cause of this problem - and something that persists to this very day - is that a substantial amount of people had completely misinterpreted the lyric, 'We only want to get drunk', from A Design For Life (a mistake that Simon Price once astutely likened to the way in which the Bruce Springsteen classic, Born In The U.S.A., is still misread and misconstrued by many). On the other hand, some old fans did turn their backs on MSP and inundated the music press with infuriated letters, which bizarrely, accused the band of selling out and even being unfaithful to Richey for continuing without him! Be that as it may, there were also a lot of letters of solidarity, including one from a pre-fame Pete Doherty. In 2021, NME reported how Wire told Absolute Radio: "He actually wrote a letter to the NME, he was a really big Manics fan and it was when Richey had disappeared and we came back. It was a really sweet letter, and it was sort of along the lines of just let them be who they are now, don’t expect them to be the Manics that they were. We’ve crossed paths quite a few times with him you know, and it always seem he is on the run from something or someone."

******Speaking to Simon Price about Further Away for his outstanding 2016, Everything Must Go 20 retrospective, AND IF YOU NEED AN EXPLANATION, which was published by The Quietus. Nicky unveiled: "We were playing a record (The Holy Bible) that no-one was buying, James was just pissed all the time, Richey was chain-smoking 40 fags a day on the bus... Everything was just an apex of shit. I'd been married and I wanted to be at home, I saw no purpose in doing what we were doing at all, and it was just horrible. I was not a good traveller, I didn't eat anything, I didn't do anything, I just moaned. And I did give the lyric to James, and told him I wanted to fuck off home, but he was way too hungover to take anything in, at the time. But he did eventually come up with something great, as is his wont. It just is a really fucking great Oasis song, basically. The minute he played it to me, I thought it could be on Definitely Maybe." This special editorial disentombs so much more, such as: "The visuals of the Everything Must Go era were notable for their cleanliness and their simple, monolithic quality. Essentially, they were New Order (The embossed metallic sleeve of A Design For Life directly echoes New Order's first post-Ian Curtis single, Ceremony). "Yeah," Wire admits, "The parallels with New Order/Joy Division were obvious." That said, Everything Must Go wasn't the clean break from The Holy Bible that it's often portrayed as being (or, indeed, that it attempted to presented itself as being). There are references to the Holocaust, to genocidal wars in Africa, to dementia, to Sylvia Plath, to painters and photographers, and a song in which Richey empathises with a trapped zoo animal (instead of an anorexic or a prostitute). The sound may have changed, the themes hadn't. "Yeah", says Wire, "Interiors is about an artist with Alzheimer's not knowing what he's painting. It's a pretty fucking heavy theme. And I've said it [many times before] about Small Black Flowers..., the fact that a million people that year bought an album with the darkest line in rock history, 'Harvest your ovaries dead mothers crawl.' You would see couples swaying with each other at gigs, to that!" "There is a continuity [with The Holy Bible], yeah," says James. "At the start, Nick and Richey literally sat down together at a desk to do the writing, and even though Nick's lyrics outweigh Richey's for an obvious reason, there's still a good draft of Richey's lyrics on there. And even though they didn't write together at a desk any more, they still counterweighed each other beautifully." On tilting into Everything Must Go's cathartic gyre, Wire poignantly meditated: "I know it’s a terrible cliché, but it did seem for the first time, that music was some kind of salvation." The esteemed Rolling Stone music critic, David Fricke, actually described the long player as "a record of painstaking melodic craft and thundering execution, a proclamation of physical and emotional cleansing - up to a point." Nicky also once confessed: "In the way we talked about it, we were the most timid we'd ever been, because we were very nervous. It was strange, because it was the most un-Manics we've been about in an album, and then it was the most successful!" Telling The Line Of Best Fit in 2016: "I don’t think we’d ever been comfortable being loved before, but for those twelve months we were." Wikipedia has spotlit some of the most positive album reviews that EMG and its 10th / 20th Anniversary reissues received. AllMusic wrote: "Above all, Everything Must Go is a cathartic experience - it is genuinely moving to hear the Manics offering hope, without sinking to mawkish sentimentality or collapsing under the weight of their situation." The Guardian said that the album "achieved the zenith of the Welshmen's original ambition: to conquer the mainstream with anger, art and soul." While Sputnikmusic concluded that "Everything Must Go is a stellar album, stuffed with great, anthemic songs, and it's a rewarding listening experience. It loses ground to The Holy Bible simply because it's not as unique, but if Everything Must Go is inferior, it's only slightly so." Simon Price meanwhile, wrote of how in the right place at the right time, MSP went full steam ahead: "Trailed by the single A Design For Life, a stirring anthem of working class pride which very nearly topped the charts, Everything Must Go, with its accessible melodies and widescreen wall of sound production, was the album which saw the Manics - buoyed by Britpop while never fully being co-opted by it - become the million-selling act they'd always promised they'd be.

There's an inherent irony in the fact that an album which expressed the Manics' desire to be 'freed from our history' is now an immovable pillar of that history, to which they are, whether consensually or not, shackled." The respected music writer, musician and MSP aficionado, John Robb - who is now very much considered to be a doyen of The Music Industry - even noted: "While The Holy Bible has been rightly lauded for its soul-searing starkness and claustrophobia, May 1996's Everything Must Go, combined lush strings and synths with a widescreen guitar sound. It is perhaps a more remarkable record than its predecessor - grappling with a profound sense of loss via a stadium-filling series of anthems, that prove mainstream pop and rock was still capable of generating depth and significance. Everything Must Go is a curious album - part mainstream anthemic blockbuster and part introvert descent into the soul. It was the sound of a band coming to terms with loss without being mawkish. Richey had crashed and burned like an idealistic young Icarus flying too close to the sun disappearing, presumably forever, after the dark, stark Holy Bible. Despite it not being the dark trip traversed by Holy Bible, there are plenty of crepuscular nooks and crannies on the album." With KERRANG! similarly putting in print: "It still trod some very dark ground and it stands as one of the most fiercely intellectual pieces of work to ever shoulder its way through the mainstream doors. Nicky said: "If you look at the lyrics, it's not the most uplifting. but it twisted from pure misery into a kind of warm melancholia."" As for playing Everything Must Go live, front to back, to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, Wire told Buzz: "It was massively hard work to play The Holy Bible. I know that sounds a bit sad, but it’s such a riddle of an album to play live. It takes a load of concentration. There’s not much freedom to it, and you have to get into that mindset and intensity, whereas with Everything Must Go, you can wallow in the glory of it. Its pores stretch out, and it gives you that uplifting melancholia that the Welsh are good at." Whenever asked to name what the greatest Manic Street Preachers LPs are for them personally, and which they also believe will stand the test of time in the rock 'n' roll firmament, James, Nicky and Sean, have consistently chosen Everything Must Go and The Holy Bible, as their most cherished records and as the best of the best! They just happen to be my joint favourite albums of all-time as well, from my most beloved band! Lastly, during an extended interview for the special features on No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, when speaking about the spectre of THB, Wire vows that it "doesn't bother" him if people think of it as the Manics' best album: "The Holy Bible will always be there, whether we like it or not! Myths, spurious stories - that's how culture survives. It never survives with the truth." Adding in the final cut of the documentary, how this long player is a different breed: "The Holy Bible is not lyrics and music as we know it!"

49. As part of 2015's Record Store Day (and giving the 1994 12" picture disc the respect it deserves), a pair of limited edition Holy Bible 12" picture discs were issued in the UK and North America. Both featured unique designs, with the United Kingdom getting the US Mix and the Original Mix being sold exclusively in North America. For vinyl junkies, there are reportedly 1,500 copies of each variant. The UK release deservedly charted at No. 1 on the Official Vinyl Albums Chart.

50. With regard to synopses of the A1 and matchless THB, which many view as a both a musical masterwork and as a geyser of pure hate. Although for some, The Bible has an ineffable quality, there is still a glut of intelligent, eloquent and corking write-ups to choose from. Here are just a handful... Keith Cameron: "The album is best consumed as a holistic torrent of sound. It is its own world and dictates its own logic." Record Collector: "Holding it all together and unquestionably stirring his bandmates to such heights was Edwards’ utterly unique worldview. Coming at a time when angst was the order of the day in rock, The Holy Bible might have seemed like an extension, or even logical conclusion, of that post-Gen X, post-Cobain mindset. Yet hindsight helps us realise that, for all of Edwards’ sloganeering and witty disgust at the state of popular culture, here was somebody for whom 'I eat and I dress and I wash and I still can say thank you / Puking, shaking, sinking, I still stand for old ladies / Can’t shout, can’t scream, hurt myself to get pain out' was an acceptable chorus." Louder Sound: "The Holy Bible’s undated viscera still glistens as sticky and fresh as it did in ’94. It stands alongside Nirvana’s In Utero as an uncompromising slab of foul, rust-mouthed beauty; an open rock wound in a decade that was increasingly patching over its troubles with the cartoon plasters of Britpop." In 2019, the same music publication then put in print: "The Holy Bible will, sadly, always be viewed through the lens of what happened after its completion. But it’s a record to celebrate and treasure, and to revisit on a regular basis. As teenagers dotted in grey provincial towns across the UK, it was our library, our art gallery, our way of starting to make sense of the world. It hasn’t dated a moment since its release, because it sounded like nothing else then, and that still stands today. Defiantly cerebral and turning violence and ugliness into a strange type of beauty, The Holy Bible remains, 25 years on, the single most important British album of the 1990s. Amen." Louder Than War: "A vital piece of guitar music, The Holy Bible follows in the footsteps of great epitaph records such as Closer and In Utero, sharing with them a sense of anguish, disappearing hope, internal pressure and external pain." Gigslutz: "No one else before or since, has articulated the pain of human suffering on record with such beautiful menace and ferocious intelligence." Classic Rock: "The Holy Bible is the line in the sand, It's the last album where Edwards was alive to spit about anorexia, suicide and the holocaust. The last album where Bradfield favoured sharp-elbowed riff over a stadium-sized chorus. The last time the Manics sounded truly dangerous. The official critical line is that The Holy Bible is their grand work, and the hardcore will piss blood to see it dismissed as merely 'superior'. But for the Manics dabbler it is a divisive first purchase, with the savage brilliance of cuts like Faster and She Is Suffering, offset by a general bleakness that isn't for everyone." Drowned In Sound: "Still a masterpiece. It’s taut, uncomfortable and deeply brutal, both in its lyrical content (anorexia / the holocaust, and those are just the songs where Richey’s lyrics are immediately understandable - the rest of the album deals with a nameless dread no person can ever envy) and its pinched, muscular riffs. Listen to it as a suicide note and you’re doing The Holy Bible an injustice; it’s the sound of one man in a close-knit group of friends slowly disintegrating and using his own anguish, to create some of the most brilliant art to be released on a large scale as music in years. It’s pounding and relentless and extremely unsettling and deserves to be discovered in turn by every young, confused teenager. It’s not a suicide note; it’s a warning." While in 3:AM Magazine, author Guy Mankowski decreed: "My thoughts on The Holy Bible are that its use of language and the brutal honesty of that language set a new benchmark for what art can do. The album managed to be a forensic indictment of the age we live in before that age was fully realised, and it therefore shows uncanny and remarkable vision, which we will only credit more with time. Its artwork and lyrics challenge ideas of the physical self. It is a record that proves to me that all art should be political and that if its not it is shying away from a necessary challenge. Lastly, the music on The Holy Bible, to my mind pushed the envelope in terms of how harsh sounding a Top Ten record could be. So it was boundary breaking then, in every sense."

Finally, in reference to the Manic Street Preachers excelling themselves and confounding expectations, with their blended alchemy, talents and gifts. To the sheer magnitude of the accomplished, venerated and seminal long player, to its finessed cohesiveness, to its bellicose careening fury and unyielding rhetoric, to its worshippers and its unsurpassed, ever-growing importance after standing the test of time. Singing their praises, author and close friend, John Niven, once penned a paean in which he deservedly baptised this impressive, inspired and iconic LP - which bleeds character, has now infiltrated and firmly implanted itself in many people's psyches as a first-class, quintessential '90s rock album that really couldn't be improved upon in anyway - as: "The most extraordinary record of their generation... A record without peer at the time and now widely regarded as a career best." Also pertaining to its superiority, and immune to any inhibitions / unafraid in his steadfast stance that this long player outclasses countless others, when alluding to both the high-water mark that it set and to its elite status, in the late '90s, James spewed on MTV: "The Holy Bible pisses over so many albums!" When asked by The Quarterly in 2014, about one of the most talked about and written about records in recent memory, which a combative MSP poured every last drop of themselves into: 'The album’s themes include genocide and anorexia, and everyone from Lenin to Pol Pot is namechecked. Is it the most intellectual album ever made?' Nicky (who has distinguished the defiant and iconoclastic LP as "Gothic with a small g" and as "completely other"), replied: "I think it is, actually. I wrote about 25 percent of the lyrics and Richey wrote the rest. He was devouring all the culture he could and was really on fast-forward. It’s mind-blowing to think what he could have done in a digital world. As it was, he never had a mobile phone or a computer - he just wrote on an old portable typewriter." Also telling KERRANG! that same year: "He can be remembered in different ways. As a brother, a son, an amazing writer, a forensic intellect and a phenomenal, brilliant rock star, the like of which we simply don't have anymore." Richey will forever be frozen in time - idolised, unfading, immortal - and we should thank the stars, that there isn't an expiry date on this cult hero and great thinker's mesmeric words, which came from his prolific pen. With no commercial concessions - from the artwork to the lyrics to the music - The Holy Bible has reportedly now sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide. A classic long player from start to finish, from a once in a generation band, which has left an indelible mark and is routinely described as both a true masterpiece and as life-changing!

"You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretenses of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world."

- Octave Mirbeau (The Torture Garden)

Postscript 1 of 5

Extracts from BBC Radio 4 Swansong - Stuart Maconie presents the story of The Holy Bible (October 2012)

Stuart Maconie: "The album pioneered a use of sampling, in a way that was totally distinct from its use in hip-hop. Richey Edwards decided to precede each track with found samples, extracts from TV or film and found snatches of conversations. It immediately gives the album a sense of reaching out beyond popular music, to a broader cultural canvas." Nicky: "I think come The Holy Bible, the idea of using all these snippets to kind of illuminate and illustrate the words, just felt really natural."

Nicky: "I remember Yes specifically, because it was absolutely brilliant and perfect! The sample is just drama and it's the first thing you hear from a band, who have just made their stadium album and then come back with this... I think Yes always felt like an opening track, as it's really energised and poetic!"

Nicky: "The sample on Archives Of Pain scares me." James: "I don't mean this in a black humorous way, but it is probably just about my favourite song off The Holy Bible." Nicky: "Just thinking about that song now, after recording it and then actually listening to it back, I thought: 'I don't know if this is right for the world, really?'"

Nicky: "Maybe the manifestation of Richey's disintegration, was just unbelievable artistry. There's such a long tradition of that and because he was writing so much, you just felt that whatever happens, it may be that he writes the best novel ever - maybe he'll find lyric writing too easy or something? It just felt that his writing had become to such a level and he was writing so much of it, that in that sense, maybe he'd kind of found himself as an artist. It felt like being around a novelist." Keith Cameron: "I think the sheer welter of ideas on The Holy Bible is one of its strongest assets. Its avalanche of ideas and words, is a band finally unleashing themselves fully on the people, on their listeners and on everyone who chooses to listen."

Nicky: "I think 4st 7lb is one of Richey's most truly terrifying lyrics and expresses the internalisation of himself. In a very strange kind of way though, the security of Richey being in control of himself, was less terrifying than what I said about in Thailand with the knives, where he seemed to be out of control." Simon Price: "I interviewed Richey not long after The Holy Bible had come out, and I was really struck by his ability to kind of take a really clear view of himself and to act almost as doctor and patient. You can see that on the lyrics for 4st 7lb." Nicky: "You could say it's written out of gender, but I think it's pretty plainly autobiographical, especially that amazing line, 'I long since moved to a higher plateau.'"

Stuart Maconie: "The cover might've provided a clue to the contents. A triptych by the artist, Jenny Saville, showing three views of a half-dressed, obese middle-aged woman, looking blankly yet challengingly out of the record sleeve. It's about nakedness, surface impressions, notions of beauty and ugliness. At a time when politics was fighting for the attention of 'Mondeo man', here was an album calling out to those on the margins. Those seeking some extremity and passion, amidst the banal regularity of our public space and discourse. It's not comfortable, it's not politically correct."

James: "I think Die In The Summertime is a real personal moment of genius. I don't think I've really ever seen such brutal and acute images of childhood brought into a lyric." Nicky: "The lyric is beyond disconcerting, I find it pretty uncomfortable."

Nicky: "I think it's impossible for us to judge if The Holy Bible was written as the last thing. I'm not convinced and I don't find anything that definite in the album to kind of portray that, because I think the worst was to come, really." James: "In a strange way, it almost feels like the opposite of a swan song for me, because I think as a lyricist, Richey had suddenly reached a peak that he could have stayed at for a long time. In terms of the lyrics on the album, he was looking inward and internalising in a complete focused fashion. But also, when he turned out this view to the rest of the world, it was so vicious and so concise, but so precise as well - it was just everything! So, he could look at inwards and outwards in equal measure and you just knew that he was hitting the target every time. I think he'd just reached that peak for the first time ever!"

Stuart Maconie: "It's impossible with hindsight, not to look back at The Holy Bible and see the seeds of Richey's breakdown. But Nicky Wire chooses to look at a song like Faster and see in it more triumph than tragedy." Nicky: "I find it a really self-empowered song. I love it, because when I read it, I just thought he's kind of defining himself and if no one else is going to define him, he's defining himself as an artist and a writer! I think his acceleration, you can feel it in that song. It's almost like I can devour and 'I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer.' To actually not just read all the books he read, but to come out the other side, use their influences and actually think: 'I'm a match, if not better than them.'" James: "It's arrogant, but it's cool." Nicky: "Yes!"

Simon Price: "The Holy Bible's a rock record and a history lesson. It's actually the sound of a band who've lost all faith in humanity - it was a doomsday judgement and a kind of cold eyed tally of the 20th Century's worst sins." Keith Cameron: "It's a 50-minute rock record, but it's a whole day's worth of the library and that again, is commendable! Especially during the climate of the times in 1994 - it was the year that Kurt Cobain died and there was a certain yearning for escape, I believe, and here come the Manic Street Preachers with a record that challenges people's intelligence."

Nicky: "Obviously, Richey is someone's son and he's people's friend - there's so many facets which never get explored and which are really, deeply saddening in every way. But, if you're just talking about his abilities as a lyricist - I'm not saying he's reached a peak, because I think he could have been even better - but in terms of being in the band, then it's kind of an unrivalled peak that I can think of." James: "As the last piece of work that he did with us, it's something amazing to be judged upon in eternity, definitely!"


In 2015, prior to MSP's other classic album and masterpiece, Everything Must Go, celebrating its 20th Anniversary on May 20, 2016. Vice published an excellent, RANK YOUR RECORDS, editorial in which James Dean Bradfield ranked the Manic Street Preachers albums in order of importance to him. Sitting at the top of the list was Everything Must Go followed closely by The Holy Bible, with James discussing the creative / recording process for each long player and elucidating how "the biggest influence on Everything Must Go is The Holy Bible."

2. THE HOLY BIBLE (1994)

You are currently touring this album. How has that been going?
It’s been brilliant. I said to you earlier that the closest we ever got to having Richey back in the band was writing and recording Journal For Plague Lovers. I think there is a misapprehension on other people’s part that in playing this record we will feel like we’re closer to Richey, but that’s not the experience I’ve had. I just enjoy the technicality of playing this record. The Holy Bible is steeped in some kind of proto-punk spirit, but it’s got quite a few different time-signatures, everything is interlocked, the musicality is based on being tight and knowing what you’re doing. The amount of lyrics I have to sing on this record means I never get to be carefree up there. A lot of the songs have this push and pull to them. My solos are very atonal and go in different areas, and sometimes the bass is just completely connected to itself and nothing else. So you’ve got to commit to playing the music. You can’t fuck around with it. People ask, “Is it upsetting trying to connect with these lyrics again? Is it upsetting looking to your right and not seeing Richey there?” I’m sorry to disappoint people but I’ve been so busy with the technicalities of playing these songs that I never get wrapped up in those things.

What about when you were recording this album? Was it difficult to sing Richey’s lyrics, considering how dark they were and what he was going through?
For me it was more about the technical challenge. It was more a challenge of trying to match the ferocity of the music as the music was trying to match the ferocity of the lyrics. So once you’ve got the lyrics in front of you and I’ve written the music for the lyrics, and have all of the vocals on top, it really was a physical battle for me. The game kept getting higher and higher. You look at the lyrics and you’re like, “Fuck me!” Then you write the music for them, and you’ve done it. Then you try and record it, and you go “Fuck!” Then you try and sing it, and it’s “Jesus Christ! This is like an endless game of Jenga.” That’s what it was like recording this record. I remember having to ask Richey about some of the references lyrically. There were some things in there that I didn’t get at the time. Especially in a song like “Of Walking Abortion,” which had two names I didn’t know about. So I had to go do my own research. I remember asking for some clarification on some things, but 90 percent of the time it would be our message within. That’s the experience I remember making this record. It was a battle because these songs have so many words in them, but a really cool, sporting battle. The strange thing about us, even Richey, is that we’re all massive sports fanatics, which is kind of an indie transgression to a certain degree. This was like, “Let’s get ready to rumble! It’s time for a fucking fight!” Which was good. I liked it. I liked the sporting element of making a record.

Do you understand the rabid fascination with this record?
I understand it completely. It’s a snapshot of a definite period in time. A lot of people think that the qualifications of a “classic” rock record has got to be that it transcends its time. Well, I disagree. I think that sometimes a classic record is a snapshot of its time. It doesn’t transcend the ensuing years, it just stamps that place and time, and that’s what The Holy Bible does. We were young men coming out of the back end of fucking Reaganomics from across the pond. Ten years before we were fucking obsessed with American politics. There was some pretty terrible stuff going on that we found enthralling to watch from a distance. You’re getting stuff like that in “Ifwhiteamerica…” after the fact, of course. You’re getting stuff like “Of Walking Abortion” that is steeped in post-war American history, which Richey was a particular student of. And you’re getting stuff like “Archives Of Pain,” where the left and right throughout 1990s Europe were becoming indiscernible from each other. Just all of those subjects were locked into that time. Some of it might miss its target now, but that’s how we viewed things then. I wouldn’t ever say we’ve made anything as good as The Clash, but the first Clash album never transcends the time that it was made in. That album just sounds brown, it sounds like the 70s. And The Holy Bible has that kind of discordant confusion, that post-ideological fucked-up-ness of the pre-mid-90s. And I really appreciate the fact that it is an album that does that.


I wasn’t sure if you’d pick this or The Holy Bible.
In a strange way, it’s kind of hard to separate Everything Must Go from The Holy Bible. That’s why I put them beside each other. You could say that Everything Must Go was the last record we did with Richey. Obviously you’ve got “Kevin Carter” on there that is quintessentially Richey, isn’t it? You’ve got “The Girl Who Wanted To Be God,” which is half of Richey’s lyric. You’ve got “Small Black Flowers...,” which is pretty much all of Richey’s lyrics. “Removables,” which is pretty much all of Richey. And “Elvis Impersonator,” which is at least 50 percent Richey’s lyrics. There are so many ways to look at this record. Would Richey like this record? I’m not sure. I don’t know. But I know that the last song me and Richey listened to together in the basement of the Embassy Hotel on Bayswater Road before he went missing, after we came back from doing demos in Surrey, we listened to “No Surface All Feeling” and “Small Black Flowers...” And as we pulled into the carpark “Small Black Flowers...” faded and I asked which was his favorite and he said “Small Black Flowers...” by a mile. So I knew that he really liked that song, and there were five songs on that record he was involved with. So there is an argument to say this was the last time we worked with Richey, even though he wasn’t in the studio when we did it.

There’s an abiding, bittersweet feeling to the ensuing success we had with Everything Must Go. There was a bit of serendipity in that even though we weren’t Britpop we got co-opted into Britpop, which I didn’t give a fuck about. It didn’t bother me. To some degree people even saw “A Design For Life” as the epitome of that. But “Kevin Carter” was a song that Richey could have seen how it was possible to be a hit single. Which is a crowning achievement itself: A photographer who killed himself and who actually saw how important real war photography was, and how it led to his destruction. I wish Richey could’ve seen that it was possible to have a hit single with something that traditionally wouldn’t fucking get near the top ten. I wish Richey could have been part of that success and seen that you didn’t have to sell out or whore out yourself to do that.

“A Design For Life” definitely stands in its own right in terms of lyrically wielding how the celebration of class has triumph in it. The first line of one our biggest ever songs is “Libraries gave us power / Then work came and made us free / What price now for a shallow piece of dignity.” There’s no selling out with that lyric. It’s saying what we want to say just in a much more succinct way. And like we said before, the biggest influence on Everything Must Go is The Holy Bible. We decided that we couldn’t go in the same direction as The Holy Bible because we would have fallen into self-parody. It would have been comic abyss, comic gothic. And we knew we had to go somewhere else and let the music breathe. We had to try and say what we meant but with less words. And with some more oxygen in the music and the words. Everything Must Go owes as much to The Holy Bible as it does to any records in our collection.



They recorded at the tiny £50-a-day Sound Space Studios, in a seedy locale near Cardiff's Brains Brewery. "Pete, who owned the place, had this baseball bat," Bradfield later remembered, "because there were always people trying to break in, glue-sniffing, shagging against the door. He would come out with the bat: 'I do not want any fucking discharge on my door!'"

Comfort Comes was a bridge to The Holy Bible. "That song haunts me," said Wire. "It's so fucking minimal and miserable, so bare and raw. And honest."

Late in 1993, they had visited Philip Hall and played him demo recordings of two new songs, Mausoleum and Die In The Summertime... "Oh cheery!" the ailing Hall said. "Thanks for that!" With just weeks to live, their manager approved the new direction. "He was slumped in the corner, and wasn't really with it," Wire recalled. "It was sad. But at the end, he said, 'Yeah, this rock 'n' roll has got to stop - this sounds like you're doing the right thing.'"

The first three songs recorded for The Holy Bible - 4st 7lb, Faster and Of Walking Abortion - were broadly representative of the record's musical and lyrical preoccupations: didactic bulletins from an existential twilight zone. Faster built on Comfort Comes' geometric template, albeit permitting the occasional heroic flash, like cymbals. Bradfield spent three weeks trying to write the music to a lyric that he considered the best he'd been given, finally nailing it at the 21st attempt. "I thought, 'This has got to be a single, it covers so much in one lyric.' So, of course, as soon as I decided that, it wouldn't happen. I was at my Mum and Dad's house, a Friday night, they were out, my Mum was playing darts, and I was thinking I would have to hand this one over to Sean. Then, I just thought, 'Let the lyric speak to you.' I looked at the rhyme and metre of 'I am an architect, they call me a butcher', and thought it's got to be regimented. 'Long live regimentation', that quote from Saul Bellow's novel Dangling Man came into my head. I thought, 'Yes! We can do this!' All the songs were marching towards something, and it just became more aggressive. Straighter. Strycnined. Angular. Colder." With Skids’ Stuart Adamson and Magazine’s John McGeoch his twin post-punk guitar pillars, Bradfield stoked the furnace.

"James was the leader," said Wire. "His musical vision dictated the tone of the whole record. People say it's Richey's album, but James was unbelievably driven. Richey was too, of course, but James seemed the one with the more personal agonies at the time."

Faster would be the last song the pair wrote together: Edwards took six lines from a song Wire had been writing based around the lyric, "So damn easy to cave in / Man kills everything", and finished it off. Nicky suggested the title. "I felt it in him. I remember saying, 'I can't keep up with you, it seems like everything's speeding up in your head...' The acceleration of culture to a point of no return. When he gave us the lyrics to Yes, for example, I said, 'I can't add a single thing to that'. It was a perfect piece of prose. The genesis of Ifwhiteamerica... was mine but we only used four of five lines because Richey's stuff was so brilliant. His masterpiece, 4st 7lb, I didn't touch at all. I looked at that and thought, 'I can't relate to it. I've no experience in those feelings.'"

Although Edwards would be guarded with regard to some of the inspiration for his increasingly internalised writing, he discussed 4st 7lb with Bradfield. "I wanted the first part of the song to convey the freneticism of that vanity. And then, the resolution was the supposed self-control, the defeat you suffer from getting control over yourself and not eating, that's the coda at the end. I remember doing a couple of heroic guitar bits in the coda and Nick popping his head round the corner of the control room. 'Steady on, Slash! This is not the record!'

For all the material's bleak intensity, the atmosphere in the studio was upbeat. Wire's photographs of the session are full of smiles. When Edwards finished the lyric to Ifwhiteamerica... - Sean Moore's drumming masterclass and a critique of US racism that contentiously advocates more liberal gun laws - he pronounced: "Charlton Heston'll like this one!" "There was genuine good humour recording that album," Wire said. "It was very cohesive, everyone was really gentle with each other. You knew the right things were coming together."

In the pre-internet age, the effort required to research the litany of obscure philosophical and political references in songs like Archives Of Pain and Of Walking Abortion was prodigious. Whenever the band was in London, Edwards would frequent the hallowed Reading Room of the British Museum, following in the footsteps of Karl Marx, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf. He also made regular pilgrimages to Compendium on Camden High Street, the capital's pre-eminent independent bookshop. "Richey must have bought well over 150 books from there, it was a running joke in the band," says Bradfield today. "They also sold academic research papers. He'd have a suitcase on the road, just filled with books."

"By that Suede tour, we were absolutely shit-hot," said Wire. "We only played for 35 minutes each night and we were blisteringly brilliant. But the record was dead as a dodo. No one cared. I was very close to leaving the band. I was having chronic stomach pains. James was pissed out of his mind, you wouldn't see him until the evening of the gig, all the rest of the time he'd be sleeping and drinking. Poor old Richey. I didn't feel I was in the greatest position to be the shoulder to cry on. The only thing that kept us going was knowing we'd made the right record."

Bradfield: "People forget that the album wasn't always associated with Richey's disappearance. It was associated with his being as creatively heightened as you could be."

As a group, the Manic Street Preachers haven’t played any of its songs live since 2015. "The reason is, you can’t fake them," Nicky Wire says today. "They are not entertainment, they are a state of mind - a uniform rejection and examination of humanity. A brutal poetry of disgust."



In January 2020, an MSP Fan living in Japan, J on Twitter, thoughtfully translated this ultra rare editorial from Japanese to English. IN THE NAME OF FATHER, AND SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT…SO WHAT? RICHEY JAMES TALKS ABOUT THE HOLY BIBLE - Music Life (September 1994)

The Holy Bible
There will certainly be people criticising the title as blasphemy, to me the Bible is a representation of truth. But looking at organised religion lately, they’re not teaching anything that they should. The Bible is written based on free interpretation. Therefore, this title can be also freely interpreted, at times I feel like we’re even closer to the truth than any other religion. Looking at religion these days, it all just seems very contrived. In Britain there’s a lot of churches that are lavishly built, and it angers me to think it was all paid by the common people’s contributions. You could very well preach at a roadside. The New Testament had no meaning to me, because it's too mild compared to the Old Testament. When I read it at home, I was interested in it in my own way, but when I went to church and heard all of these strange doctrines, I lost interest immediately. The pastor was only forcing his own personal interpretation on us. It’s essential to let the reader have the freedom to interpret. You could also say that about education. There’s no rule saying that an older person is wiser.

“Yes” is the most positive word. Regardless of liking or hating it, people have to work, and continuously buy things, consume, in the endless pursuit of the ultimate “thing”. But they probably never find it. That’s the rule of consumer society. People say all kinds of things about morals, but I think people who do things like spit on prostitutes are disgusting. Misfortunes can happen to anyone. The theme of this song is that people aren't always weak, but they become liars.

The US Constitution is said to be the most liberal in the world, but that is a myth. Only with the assassination of a leader on the level of JFK do they notice something. That is frightening. I think Americans, more than any others, still chase their dreams. For example, when Brits stay at a hotel, at breakfast they just sip their coffee with a blank expression, while Americans are always smiling and wishing you a nice day. That may only be said for politeness’ sake, but they seem to still have some optimism left, probably because the US is still a new country. They still believe in the path to success. In Japan and Europe’s long history, there was a time when they used to say “we’re the best in the world”. But now America is in that time. “We’re the most superior in the world, our morals are above any other”, and that is affecting the world. It’s a threat, because they are powerful. At the end of the song, the Brady Bill is mentioned. Everyone thinks they can be John Wayne because it's a free country, but there weren’t any gun regulations for the last 20 years. However, the times have changed, and as black people have moved into white neighbourhoods, they’re claiming gun control is necessary because the children are unsafe. At a first glance, you may think the Brady Bill is something good, but thinking critically, it’s a bill only made with consideration for the white people feeling they’re unsafe. In other words, the white-dominated society remains unchanged.

Of Walking Abortion
The bleakest song in the album. Fascism is growing stronger in Eastern European countries now. People are despairing about all sorts of things. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, rivalry between nations has not diminished. Every country has to develop naturally, as have Western nations, but with the collapse of Soviet Union these countries are about 50 years behind in setbacks. Perhaps it’s obvious that the only one that should be reviewed is the strong-willed Juche ideology. But with the nostalgia that the past was better, fascist ideology is being revived.

She Is Suffering
I went to church until I was 13. There, if you were late even by 5 minutes, they would harshly scold you. I realised that had nothing to do with religious teachings. Also being told off if I wore torn jeans. I always questioned this, shouldn’t they be teaching about the “truth” in the Bible? We never knew anything other than Western religion, but when we went to Thailand and Japan, we got interested in Eastern religions and picked up some books on it. It was all so simpler and written in a way that was easy to understand than what I was used to. I found it much better than the Christian Bible. According to these teachings, in order to become someone who has the abilities to judge and accomplish things on their own, a person must first start from ‘nothing’. Then, I was thinking about the high rates of divorce in Western countries. People are placing more and more value in financial aspects and outward appearances. “I want to sleep with him because he’s good-looking” or “I want to fuck my girlfriend” - there’s no way a relationship can last when it’s based on that. I’ve been single for 26 years, because I know I couldn’t spend my whole life with a partner if there’s no passion.

Archives Of Pain
As Western society advances, it’s important to create an appropriate penal system within it. For example, a very 60’s humane thought is that a murderer or someone who commits a particularly cruel crime doesn’t always have to be punished, and I think at times humanity can be very cruel. Long ago, someone said that, “Punishment is extremely necessary. It clearly demonstrates to children that if you do a bad thing, you get sent to prison.” But in Britain today, it doesn’t seem that bad to get locked up. You get a meal every day. I think punishment should be more visible to people. In the past, criminals would get sentenced to public dismemberment. There's also the opinion that sentences should be televised. Jeremy Bentham designed a glass prison, where people could have a look inside. That way, the people inside would realise they’re like caged birds. They would see people walking outside in freedom, instead of being stuck inside a stone fortress, oblivious to outside affairs. In 2 or 3 weeks, people easily adapt to prison life as it is. But if they could see what’s going on outside, I think anyone would want to get out of there. They would regret their actions.

Short for ‘Revolution’. And ‘Lover’ if read backwards. From a democratic perspective, Stalin and co. seem very liberal. But with many failed calls to revolution, each time the people wished for a more extreme leader, and the long history of the world shows that such a leader always appears. For example, Trotsky(Russian politician/revolutionary) was a genius, but his influence on the country was small. Stalin became Lenin’s successor, when in reality it should have been Trotsky. The reason was that Trostky was an ideologue, while Stalin seized that position by force.

4st 7lb
A song about anorexia. The number of people with this condition is growing in the west, maybe it’s also happening in Japan, they become apathetic and even lose perspective on life. It is said that we now live in an era of gluttony, but they refuse food, sometimes so extremely that it ends in death. They have no reason to refuse food. They don’t have to starve to death… When there’s television documentaries about this, most people probably think “that’s silly”. Really, it is excessive vanity. But there are people who have such ideas. For me, vanity does not include death.

Mausoleum & The Intense Humming Of Evil
These are sibling songs, so I will explain them as one. Both were written after I visited concentration camps and Hiroshima. When I saw the concentration camps, I was shocked by how systematic it was, and the way it operates like a typical capitalistic business. When I went to Hiroshima and visited the museum, it was forbidden to take photographs. A reasonable request of respect for the dead. But there were American tourists there who kept saying things like “Hey, look at this dead child’s fingernails”, and applauding. When I saw that, it made me so embarrassed, “Don’t you have any fucking respect?” They had zero interest. I felt the same about the souvenir shops. Also photographing as proof they’ve been there. The people of Hiroshima faced such suffering only 50 years ago. History tells us to ignore anything except for what is fact. There are two levels to history, one is history that’s been made into myth, and the other is the sole truth. People place their opinions within the truth and try to make it mythical. If you ignore the accounts of the Hiroshima victims, then what is the point? It’s so sad we're unable to learn anything from history.

This song is quite complex. I wanted to write about how people control their emotions. So far, I have done so many things and there were times I was called a fool. But I know what I’m doing. If I can’t do what I want, then I have to sit around depressed for days or weeks. I think I’ve become better at controlling my pain, and as much as possible, I try to think positively. If the weather’s bad today, then I'll think it will certainly be better tomorrow. I’d rather not have someone tell me I’m foolish for that. Most people turn to alcohol, but that just shows we haven’t progressed from the Stone Age. Aren’t there other ways to deal with it? Even now, there are times when I still get in a rage, but other than that I know different means I can control my emotions.

This Is Yesterday
Why do we choose to forget things, at all? With drugs or alcohol. Westerners think those are recreational, but the truth is that they do it because they want to forget whatever. Social drinking is a lie. Alcohol is escapism. Just go to any pub, there’ll be people drinking in silence. When they leave the pub, they’re pissed. An extreme action just to forget. Then they hug each other like long-lost friends, or get into fights like enemies. Pathetic, right?

Die In The Summertime
An ageing person in their 60’s or 70’s, wishing they could be a child again, looks back at pictures of their childhood, reminiscing about these times, realising the last time they had fun was when they played in the street. For the last 25 years they have been preoccupied with paying loans, not happy at all. So, this person wishes to see the fallen leaves in autumn and the snow one last time before they die.

Named after a drug and as well as ‘Political Correctness’. Both are related to the working class. PC is essentially the search for and censorship of politically incorrect words. Some people think they can attain power by censoring language. In fact, if you repeat certain controversial words 20 times, they lose their impact. In England there’s page 3 (Editor: “The Sun” newspaper always publishes a female nude model on its third page) being cited as an example of gender inequality, but the biggest example in this country is actually the gender inequality in employment conditions, being male-dominated. Page 3 is merely a visual representation of this inequality. The nonsensical part of PC culture is the torture over insignificant words. What a boring, petty sense of values.


For the final Postscript, I thought that it would be fitting to include the complete article, The Holy Bible - According To Nicky And Richey, which was cobbled together by an MSP Fan, who thoughtfully combined both Wire and Edwards' explanations for every song on THB. Nicky's answers come from a 1994 Melody Maker feature entitled, MANICS' NEW TESTAMENT, which was published on August 27, 1994. While Richey's track by track guide was originally penned for journalists, but later reused throughout The Holy Bible tour book as pass notes titled, IN HIS OWN WRITE.

Nicky: It looks at the way that society views prostitutes as probably the lowest form of life. But we feel that we've prostituted ourselves over the last three or four years, and we think it's the same in every walk of life. Marlene Dietrich said that she'd been photographed to death. Red Indians believe that every time they're photographed, a piece of their soul goes. We came to a point when we felt a bit like that. I don't want to come across like Eddie Vedder or something, because we've always made an effort to make our pictures fairly aesthetic. But you just come to a point where you think, 'Why are we doing this?' It must come with maturity.
There's a line in there, 'Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want.' You do get to a position when you're in a band where you can virtually do anything you want, in any kind of sick, low form. It's not something we've particularly indulged in, but it is a nasty by-product of being in a group. Richey: Prostitution of The Self. The majority of your time is spent doing something you hate to get something you don't need. Everyone has a price to buy themselves out of freedom.

Nicky: It's not a completely anti-American song. It compares British imperialism to American consumerism. It's just trying to explain the confusion I think most people feel about how the most empty culture in the world can dominate in such a total sense. I've got an ambivalent attitude to America. I can't tell whether I should embrace it or just be confused by it. When we went to New York, I'd watched Cagney & Lacey so much that I felt like I knew New York already when we got there. The last lines (Fuck the Brady Bill / If God made man they say / Sam Colt made him equal) are about the gun laws that Clinton is trying to bring in. It would disenfranchise the black community, who generally don't have licences. The white rednecks in middle America do have licences, but statistics show they cause as much crime. Richey: America is still trying to convince itself it is positive, enlightened and absolute. Zapruder the first to sow doubts behind the reality/death of JFK. Bradey Bill typical - glorify gun culture until The Massacre gradually moves from the inner cities to the suburbs. The consequence arrives. Still believe Democrats are an alternative.

Of Walking Abortion
Nicky: There's a line, 'Horthy's corpse screened to a million.' Horthy was a Hungarian fascist military dictator before the second World War, and the devotion that a fascist dictator can achieve just shows such a terrible flaw in human nature. There's always a chance that it'll be revived, because there's a worm in human nature that makes us want to be dominated. Richey: East European truths - Horthy+Tisu (anti-Semitic/Fascist) - revived and brought back home. Facts ignored. Carve your mortal certainty there. Should we have been born/still born/walking sideways unable to make a decision of any consequence. Modern life makes thought an embarrassment. Your true reflection=Junkies, winos, whores. Who's responsible?

She Is Suffering
Nicky: It's quite a simple song, both musically and lyrically. It's kind of like the Buddhist thing where you can only reach eternal peace by shedding every desire in your body. I think the last line, 'Nature's lukewarm pleasure', is Richey's view on sex. I can't really explain it, but that's the way he sees it. Richey: 'She' is desire. In other Bibles and Holy Books no truth is possible until you empty yourself of desire. All commitment otherwise is fake/lies/economic convenience.

Archives Of Pain
Nicky: That was the song that me and Richey worried about the most, and did the most work on. It was written as a reaction to the glorification of serial killers. In Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal Lecter is made into a hero in the last scene of the film - people feel sorry for them. It's like that line from Therapy?, 'Now I know how Jeffrey Dahmer feels' (Trigger Inside - Troublegum). I don't fucking want to know how Jeffrey Dahmer feels, and I think it's quite appalling to put yourself in that position. Everyone gets a self-destructive urge the urge to kill, but I don't particularly like the glorification of it. There's a book by Marcel Foucault with a chapter called Archives Of Pain. Richey and I did that book at University, and it had quite an influence on us. It talks about the punishment matching the crime. But the song isn't a right-wing statement, it's just against this fascination with people who kill. A lot of people don't like to see rapists getting off with a £25 fine. That line, 'Kill Yeltsin, who's saying? - well, Yeltsin is a figure of hate to us. A person who's basically an alcoholic... That's a personal, petty Manics thing. Richey: Bentham's 'Panopticon' - visibility is a trap. Foucault - Savagery is necessary. Is revenge justified? Nothing in common with Manson or Dahmer cult and its current fashionability. There is no glory in innocent death. Death/Murder/Redemption part of the human condition.

Nicky: All those lines like 'Breshnev married into group sex', are just analogies, really. It's trying to say that relationships in politics, and relationships in general, are failures. It's very much a Richey lyric, and some of it's beyond my head. He's saying that all of these revolutionary leaders were failures in relationships - probably because all his relationships have failed! Richey: All adolescent leaders of men FAILED. All love FAILS. If men of the calibre of Lenin and Trotsky failed, then how can anyone expect anything to change. Won't get fooled again.

4st 7lb
Nicky: Every word of that is Richey's, and it's pretty autobiographical. I think that when he was admitted to hospital, he was down to about six stones, which, for a five-foot-eight 25 year old, is pretty grim. There's been a lot of media coverage of anorexia lately, and I think for a lot of people it's like the final act of self-control. Nothing can alter your course; you've got to keep control of what you're doing. But of course it's like a slow death. Any association with self-abuse and self-control is quite romantic in a naive sort of way, but obviously, the reality of anorexia is much worse than the idea. Richey: Vanity/innocence/anorexia - True or False.
Finding your own self worth and admiring yourself for it, whatever that involves. Kate (Moss), Kristin (McMenamy), Emma (Balfour), Karen (Sky Agony Aunt).

Mausoleum / The Intense Humming Of Evil
Nicky: These two can be twinned together, because they were both inspired in the same way. Last year we visited Dachau, Belsen and the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, and those three places had quite an intense influence on us, and on the whole album. Dachau is such an evil, quiet place. There's no grass, and you don't even see a worm, let alone any birds. All you can hear is this humming of nothing. In the museum at Belsen, there's the original sign which hung there. It says, 'Welcome to Belsen Recreation Camp'. It's the same with the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. When you're young, you're brought up to think that the Americans dropped the bomb because they had to end the war, and loads of Americans would have been killed otherwise. But when you go there and see the pictures of the whole city completely flattened, and the black rain, and all the people who died from the secondary effects... If anyone goes to those places and doesn't feel an immense sense of loss, they've got no soul. The lines, 'Churchill no different / Wished the workers bled to a machine' are about how Britain always thinks that it has a superior attitude. But as soon as the war was over, the attitude was, 'Let's get back to normal and exploit as many people as we can again. Keep the proles happy, tie them to their machines, and send them out to war again to be killed when we need to.' Richey: Brother/sister songs. Visited Dachau and Hiroshima. What reflections should be for everyone. Otherwise we're all Edward Scissorhands Avon Lady. Winners dictate history. Holocaust one of the few examples where even truth is being questioned. Revisionist historians. Danger of Schindler's List - Portrayal of merely flawed man. Never question our own past - myth of Churchill.

Nicky: Frankly, a lot of it is all Richey again, and I was always completely confused by it. But when he wrote it he told me it was about self-abuse. The opening line is, 'I am an architect / They call me a butcher' - and of course, he's been carving into his arm and all that... I think it's the most confusing song on the album. I added some stuff about the regurgitation of Twentieth Century culture, and the way that everything's speeded up to such an extent that nobody knows if they've got any meaning any more. It's probably the first time that we've written a song and not completely understood what we've written. Richey: Strength through weakness. All morality sown in the soil of the ruling caste. Self-abuse is anti-social, aggression still natural. Society speeding up - finds worth is failure.

This Is Yesterday
Nicky: That's the simplest song, musically and lyrically, on the album. It's about how people always look back to their youth and look on it as a glorious period. No matter what walk of life you're in, you always revert back to childhood and look at it as a beautiful time when, as the song says, 'Someone, somewhere soon will take care of you.'
Richey: Why do anything when you can forget everything. Memory more comforting than future.

Die In The Summertime
Nicky: Again, it's all Richey's, and there's lots of disturbing images, 'Scratch my leg with a rusty nail / Sadly it heals... A tiny animal curled into a quarter circle.' It was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, and I found it pretty disturbing when Richey first showed it to me. Now, of course, it's even more so, and I think this and 4st 7lb are pretty obviously about Richey's state of mind, which I didn't quite realise at the time. Even if you're quite close to someone, you always try to deny thoughts like that.
Richey: Condition of old age - youth always remembered fondly. OAP wants to die with favourite memory month in mind. Adult memories tawdry, of little value.

Nicky: I think that's more than anything about the right to freedom of speech, and freedom of the media. Once the state gets control of that in a country, you know everything's fucked. That's the one thing that I think is really frightening about Political Correctness - the eradication of words. It's just so Orwellian - destroying words, changing dictionaries and changing the meaning of words. Obviously, PC as an idea is inherently good. So is socialism and so is communism, and they ended up being abused. A lot of PC followers take up the idea of being liberal, but end up being quite the opposite.
Richey: Links PC+PCP+New Moral Certainty. Language aimed at the working class. Condemns the very people it aims to save. Self-censorship wrong. 'Liviticus' used by homophobes to justify their hatred. To take one sentence from the bible to justify views very PC. Also PCP the Revolutionary Portuguese Communist.

Interestingly, The Holy Bible tour programme also contains some additional text from Richey next to Yes (Say Yes to Everything), Of Walking Abortion (There is little hope...), She Is Suffering (Salvation is purity), This Is Yesterday (Doing nothing = happy) and Mausoleum / The Intense Humming Of Evil (An individual death means little - millions must mean something). Other quotes strewn throughout include, Men are suppressed we do not suppress them. As well as ...A technicolour collision of glammy eroticism (printed on the inner front page) and ...memory more comforting than future (printed on the inner back page). The tour book also features pictures, lyrics and an MSP bio written by journalist, Adrian Thrills, with the outro reading: "Their current form and attitude indicate that the band are probably more vital than they ever have been. The new album, more than any other this year, captures the violent and uncertain mood of our time. And the band's music - once rooted immovably in traditional rock postures - has grown and developed with their new maturity and awareness. Right here, right now, no British band can claim to be as relevant as the Manic Street Preachers."

A very special thank you to all of the gifted writers, whose inspirational articles are referenced throughout this piece. To all of the super talented photographers who captured the stunning images of the Manic Street Preachers during The Holy Bible era. To MSP Fans everywhere, whose continued passion for the band and their music is truly magical. And of course, to James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, for their extremely special and life-enriching songs, which mean so much to so many! My deepest gratitude to anyone who has taken the time to read this extra-long-form editorial - your interest and time is greatly appreciated! Stay Beautiful.