Artist: Manic Street Preachers
Reissues are a tough call sometimes. It's tempting to buy the new version of a much loved album, just to see what is different. All too often (Gold Remasters series, for example) there is no noticeable change in the album itself except that it was two track remastered a bit louder than before. And maybe some nice liner notes. If you are a music collector of any sort, you've been burned more than once by reissues. I was understandably wary of the 10th Anniversary edition of "The Holy Bible" by Manic Street Preachers. But it came with a lot of extras, including a fair amount of things I'd not seen or heard before. So I bit the bullet and ordered it from Sony UK (it is not available in the US, including on Amazon's site. Though you can get it from Amazon UK). A very very nice slipcased digipack with the original lyrics booklet, an additional booklet of ephemera, two CDs, and a DVD arrived.
Disc one is a digital remaster of the UK edition. I listen to this album a lot. The remastering boosted the bass presence slightly and brought vocals forward a little in the mix. It sounds much more "rock". Not worth $30. The album is great, sounds wonderful, but it's not significantly different from the original UK release. It closes out with four live tracks. One nice thing about the extras on this is that they are all actually relevant to the album. Too often I've seen reissues where they slap on some outtakes from 3 other albums. Every live track and demo is a track from the album itself. The live tracks here (Intense Humming of Evil, 4st 7lb, Yes, Of Walking Abortion) are very nice quality, also in contrast to the low grade audience recordings I've gotten on some "collector edition" releases. It's getting closer to worth the money.
Disc two is the US mix of the album. The US mix is interesting. The album is lyrically very stark and morose, with fairly raw and minimalist music. The US version boosts reverb on the guitar and vocals during verses and boosts the guitar a lot during the choruses. She Is Suffering has much more prominent keyboards. I think the UK mix is closer to what the band intended, but it's interesting to hear the alternate mixes. The five bonus tracks are two demos and three tracks from Radio One sessions. The demos are particularly interesting, as even on the bootleg scene it's very rare to find any demos of the Manics. Die in the Summertime is a muddier version with slightly different inflection on some of the verses. Mausoleum is almost the same as the album version, with the exception of a slower tempo and a less interesting transition between the verses and choruses. The live tracks from Radio One (Of Walking Abortion, She Is Suffering, Yes) are well done and surprisingly close to the album versions, lacking only the second guitar and the keyboards.
The DVD is the real kicker for this set. Ten live songs, two videos, a film about the band, and a 30 minute video. All the videos are pro shot from either festivals or TV shows and are great quality. There are three live versions of Faster on this, and it's clear that the ToTP version they are using tracks (there are segments where the lead guitar is playing the two octave double of the riff and clearly James is just playing the root piece). The Butt Naked tracks are strong, with great energy, and the festival tracks have some great moments, but the best part of the live clips are 4st 7lb and She Is Suffering from MTV Most Wanted. James and Nicky play acoustic versions on a spare stage and the pure darkness of the lyrics is overpowering. Bringing the already sparse accompaniment down to just an acoustic guitar and bass makes it all the more impressive. The video for Faster is really just a concert video with studio shot close ups, but it's a pretty decent concert video. The Judge Yr'self video is an anomaly as the song is a track from the rare tracks/b-sides collection. But both lyrically and musically it fits rather nicely with the Holy Bible. The video is a collection of home video clips from life on the road and in the studio, mostly from when Richey was still around. The Yes video is the studio version of the song to very overprocessed live clips and backstage/travel scenery, much of which is also in the Judge Yr'self video. It's a very cool video, with the colorful washouts from the stage and shots of places they've visited. The ending is an interview about the album, how it was made, and why they did an anniversary edition. They certainly believe that it is a more compelling album now than it was 10 years ago.