When Manic Street Preachers emerged against a backdrop of US grunge and UK baggy in an explosion of Pat Butcher-chic leopard print, eyeliner and literary-political sloganeering, it was like a flock of extremely vocal wild parrots was set loose among the sparrows. Here was a band to believe in – aggressively glam, proudly intelligent and with everything to say. And photographer Tom Sheehan was there to capture their every move.
This gorgeous book, with a foreword by bassist Nicky Wire, is an absorbing reminder of just how visual a band they’ve always been – it was never just about the music. They’re spray-painted and pouting by Karl Marx’s tomb in one of their earliest shoots, preening and playing with grenades on the You Love Us video set, and hauntingly captured in the Paris catacombs around the time of The Holy Bible, just before the disappearance of Richey Edwards, whose beauty radiates from every page he’s on.
And Sheehan was still there afterwards, as they soldiered on as a trio, bruised but not broken, joining them in Cuba as they met Fidel Castro.
This book is alive with the electricity generated by this most special of bands, giving them the respect they deserve.