The Holy Bible
By David Evans
(33 1/3)

In this short but brimful introduction, David Evans uses the tension between the Welsh notions of hiraeth and hwyl to hang his succinct and powerful case for the enduring power of The Holy Bible. Invoking Richard Burton, he contrasts these terms as the nostalgic looking back at loss and grief of hiraeth compared with the visionary, energetic inspiration of hwyl, packed with the possibility of language creating the world anew. This dialectic helps explain the continued imaginative power and influence of the album, and ensures that this accessible book is able to provide a lucid, detailed explanation of the record that many see as Manic Street Preacher's finest work.

The Holy Bible is of course packed with tensions and contradictions, and that is part of what makes it a great work of art: the argument between the political anger at the world which drives Generation Terrorists and the inward looking fury exemplified by Richey's mental state, the contrast between the bands' position as (albeit minor) pop stars and the recording process in the tiny Sound Space studios in a run down area of Cardiff, the conflict between the desire to sell millions of records while creating a work just about as far from the BritPop Blur'n'Blair Zeitgeist as it is possible to imagine. Self obsession versus self disgust.

By being aware of these strains, Evans is able to identify and examine the central themes and attractions of the album. He puts the record in vital context, political, cultural and historical, and also locates it within the band's own formation and history, reaching back to their childhoods and early adult lives, and forwards both to Everything Must Go (which he insightfully links with its immediate predecessor) and also to the twentieth anniversary of The Holy Bible. His examination of the record's lyrics, while not meaning to replace more detailed studies, is thoughtful and at times revelatory, giving Richey the credit we all know he is due. However, by looking at the music separately, he also accords the respect that JDB and Sean Moore are owed for the lithe, muscular, choppy post punk score which complements the words so well.

The Holy Bible is an album which has stimulated hundreds and thousands of words, not least the 30 thousand plus on this site (start here). It has intrigued, perplexed, worried and inspired an army of listeners. It is thus a triumph that this small book is able to encapsulate so much of what is vital, special and worth celebrating on the record. The heartfelt personal accounts of its life altering and affirming effect on Evans in his own teenage life, 'suffering' from red hair and acne, illuminates his obvious passion for the work, and underlines again that while it may mourn for the passing of purity, pits and perfection, it also inspires and drives human understanding forward. Hiraeth and hwyl.

For anyone new to the Holy Bible, this well written, enthusiastic, literate, easy to read and totally 4Real book is a perfect introduction to why it is a unique record. For anyone who's grown up with it, Evans achieves the essential feat of impelling you to listen to it and think about it again.

The Holy Bible is a record that stands up and out like a nail. This book will help ensure it will not be knocked down.

Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T