Manic Street Preachers.
Sony Music, 5123869
Released July 14, 2003

Subtitled "A Secret History of the Manic Street Preachers", this is not a completist collection of b-sides by any stretch of the imagination. Even leaving off remixes and live versions, it would still take 3 CDs (this is only two, and it includes live versions). Three full albums worth of B-sides for a band that only has six proper albums. Plus another 4 CDs worth of remixes and live tracks. Damn that's a productive band.

It is interesting to hear the non-album tracks in this context, as I often just load up all the albums and singles as one huge playlist and hit random. As much as they have matured in the past 10 years, the transition from the recent (Valley Boy) to the ancient (We Her Majesty's Prisoners) is as smooth as you can imagine. There is a consistency of sound that speaks well of James and Sean's musical maturity at a young age. Clearly they have become more refined, but without sacrificing any of their energetic rock sound and street credibility. Lyrically the changes are more prominent. There is less effort to cram as many controversial statements as possible into a line, rather moving towards a more minimalist lyrical space where accusations and indictments are allowed room to breathe and expand.

Of the 35 tracks on here, fully a dozen I hadn't heard before and several of the live versions are ones I hadn't heard before either, so I was quite pleased to add this to my collection. I'm surprised at some of the tracks that weren't included, but I suppose that they were left off because they made the hits collection (Theme to M.A.S.H and Motown Junk).

Hot Spots: Rock and Roll Music, Comfort Comes, Dead Trees and Traffic Islands, Sculpture Of Man, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Last Christmas, Train in Vain.

Disc One

  1. Prologue To History
  2. 4 Ever Delayed
  3. Sorrow 16
  4. Judge Yr'self
  5. Socialist Serenade
  6. Donkeys
  7. Comfort Comes
  8. Mr Carbohydrate
  9. Dead Trees And Traffic Islands
  10. Horses Under Starlight
  11. Sepia
  12. Sculpture Of Man
  13. Spectators Of Suicide
  14. Democracy Coma
  15. Strip It Down (Live)
  16. Bored Out Of My Mind
  17. Just A Kid
  18. Close My Eyes
  19. Valley Boy
  20. We Her Majesty's Prisoners
Disc Two
  1. We Are All Bourgeois Now McCarthy
  2. Rock 'N' Roll Music Beatles
  3. It's So Easy Guns 'N' Roses
  4. Take The Skinheads Bowling Camper Van Beethoven
  5. Been A Son Nirvana
  6. Out Of Time Chris Farlowe
  7. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head Burt Bacharach
  8. Bright Eyes Art Garfunkel
  9. Train In Vain The Clash
  10. Wrote For Luck Happy Mondays
  11. What's My Name The Clash
  12. Velocity Girl Primal Scream
  13. Can't Take My Eyes Off You Andy Williams
  14. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel Paul Robeson
  15. Last Christmas George Michael