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It's Gonna Sound Like Van Halen Playing The Supremes, A Real Heavy Metal Tamla Motown - The Western Mail, 22nd June 2009

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Title: It's Gonna Sound Like Van Halen Playing The Supremes, A Real Heavy Metal Tamla Motown
Publication: The Western Mail
Date: Monday 22nd June 2009
Writer: Nathan Bevan

Musical makeovers can be a risky business, just look at Spinal Tap.

In a scene from Rob Reiner's 1984 rockumentary, the fictional US headbangers fell spectacularly foul of their fans by unleashing their new direction - exploratory, free-form jazz - in front of a field of impatient long-haired festival-goers.

But closer to home (and, indeed, the real world) acts like Tom Jones and Stereophonics have tinkered with their sound with more success, something Manic Street Preachers hope to repeat with their next record which they've dubbed as being "heavy metal Tamla Motown".

After the critical success of their Journal For Plague Lovers album, born from the huge compendium of lyrics left behind by tragic guitarist Richey Edwards, the Blackwood band's bass player Nicky Wire said fans could expect something radically different from their future offering.

"It's gonna sound like Van Halen playing The Supremes, a real heavy metal Tamla Motown," said the 40-year-old from Tre-degarimplying maybe a return to the pop pomp of earlier hit singles like Motorcycle Emptiness.

"I know there's a lot of cre-ativitin us and obviously, because I didn't write lyrics on the last record, so I've already got tons of words done.

"I know we're not gonna be short of material, but obviously it's got to be different to Journal For Plague Lovers," he added, referencing the emotional wringer the band put themselves through recording the long-playing tribute to the troubled Edwards, who was finally declared legally dead last November after mysteriously vanishing in early 1995.

Singer James Dean Bradfield also added that the group wanted to make their next work more uplifting. "I think we're going to try and create an experience that brings a bit more joy," he added.

However, the Manics' biographer, Barry-born Brighton-based Simon Price, said he's learned from past experience to reserve judgment until the finished product is out.

"Heavy metal Motown? I'll believe it when I hear it," laughed the celebrated rock and pop critic who penned the acclaimed book Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers) in 1999.

"That Nicky Wire certainly can talk a good game.

"The thing is with those three lads is they'll sit around before writing any songs and come up with all these wildly juxtaposing ideas and styles, all of which sound great in theory, but when they actually start working towards them it always comes across sounding very much like a Manics record.

"There's nothing they can do about that really, they've just developed such a singular, trademark sound over the years that no matter what they do it still comes across as being very much them.

"You can spot a Manics record a mile off, and I remember just before the Lifeblood album came out in 2004 Nicky had been telling me it was going to sound like (British electro-glam outfit) Goldfrapp-meets-late '70s era David Bowie.

"And I could see what he meant, but when I actually heard it just reminded me of a more subdued version of their other stuff. In a good way though."

Simon added that, although a "time-out" after the intensity of much of the subject matter on Journal... was a good idea, any thoughts of some radical departure should be taken with a pinch of salt.

"A lot of the time Nicky goes public with these bold statements and then it comes down it, it's up to James to try and back them up," he laughed.

"That's a lot of pressure to put one person under and sometimes I'm positive James is at home half the time going, 'Oh no, what have you said this time?'."