Manic Street Preachers' contrary Sandinista moment now refined and repackaged

Manic Street Preachers' congested sixth album Know Your Enemy has been reassembled as two separate parts

Know Your Enemy cover art
(Image: © Sony)

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Manic Street Preachers were a bankable arena band in 2001 when their Know Your Enemy album confused a few expectations. Across 16 tracks they mixed R.E.M. jangle with disco, outsider indie and Cuban army surplus. The focus on American foreign policy and civil rights suggested that they had reached their Sandinista moment. 

But while The Clash were indulged with a triple album, the Manics’ allowance was an over-stuffed single CD. This reissue project returns the contrary energies of the record (anthemic versus introverted) into two self-contained albums. 

Door To The River is the more welcoming disc and gains instantly from the Avalanches revision of So Why So Sad. This is also a warm setting for Ocean Spray plus the previously unreleased Rosebud, sweet and regretful.

The companion album is Solidarity, a zone for the twisted expressions and their cover of McCarthy’s We Are All Bourgeois Now. The C86 new-bands compilation aesthetic is furthered by Kevin Shields’s appearance on Freedom Won’t Feed My Children. Another extra, Studies In Paralysis, is convulsive like Kurt Cobain. 

Manics completists will seek out the option of a third album and a beautiful demo of Let Robeson Sing plus a cassette version of Wattsville Blues that cares less for melody. Altogether, the project is a useful reclamation. A little-loved record has a fresh case to make.

Stuart Bailie

Stuart Bailie is a journalist and broadcaster based in Belfast. He is the editor of the quarterly Dig With It magazine, and his work has appeared in NME, Mojo, Uncut, Q, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Mirror, The Irish Times, Classic Rock and Hot Press. He was Assistant Editor of NME from 1992 to 1996 and is the author of Philip Lynott: The Ballad of the Thin Man, Trouble Songs: Music and Conflict In Northern Ireland, and 75 Van Songs: Into the Van Morrison Songbook.