There are some episodes in an artist’s career that seem fresh and exciting at first, but through the passage of time, start to sound clunky and dated. Conversely, there are also those albums which sit largely forgotten until a ten year anniversary like this one comes along and boots you squarely in the jaw to remind you just what a fine piece of work it truly is. Happily, Manic Street Preachers‘ eighth album slots effortlessly into that latter category. Send Away The Tigers, quite simply, is a great record full of quality rock and pop tunes.
The 2017 edition features, naturally, the original album on the first disc, along with various demos of the songs that were (and weren’t) comprised within, while the second disc contains a multitude of B-sides and rarities, and finally a third houses, in full, the band’s triumphant Glastonbury Festival performance from 2007, along with various promo videos and curiosities such as the boys in rehearsal and a track by track account of SATT. It’s fair to say that the Manics have stayed true to their ethics and always represented value for money.
Hand on my heart though, I must be honest – I never expected to be giving Send Away The Tigers a glowing review. I seem to have a distant memory of it being something of a letdown. Either I’ve warmed to it, the songs simply have matured into fully grown beasts, or – and I must sheepishly admit this is most likely – I never paid it enough attention in the first place. There are some magnificent compositions here, ‘The Second Great Depression‘ perhaps best of all, its lyrics now tragically more pertinent than ever, though single ‘Autumnsong‘ certainly gives it a run for its money, an utterly glorious tune, even if it has a faintly ridiculous pomposity about it. This is the album where the band reverted, mostly, to bare bones rock ‘n’ roll, and you can practically feel the relief bleeding gratefully from James Dean Bradfield’s guitar. Frankly, it was needed.
The real fun part of this box set, however, lies mainly in the demos and rarities, which are delightfully diverse and often surprising, such as their terrific version of Rihanna‘s ‘Umbrella‘, a song I’d previously always dismissed merely as throwaway nonsense, so I’m thankful to them for opening my eyes to the notion that it has, in fact, always been a fantastic pop song. And being humbled is something that happened to me several times over during my immersion in this excellent 3 disc set, another occasion being the demo version of ‘Rendition‘, which, had I been a member of the band, and if Bradfield had brought that to me as a potential key album track, I’m pretty sure I would have said “Um…yes…it’s very…nice, yes, er…maybe we’ll try that later” and changed the subject as quickly as possible, for the rhymes are often cringeworthy, and the falsetto was ‘Orville’s Song‘ high. Good job I’m NOT in the band then, as it’s one of the standout moments, a rambunctious rocker that harks joyously back to their Generation Terrorists days. Maybe there’s a reason none of my bands ever made the big time…
It would be futile to merely give my opinion on the remaining tracks on the original album, however, as we’d just be covering old ground, so let’s turn our attention to the DVD, the blistering Glastonbury performance totally justifying the band’s place amongst the giants of rock, while the track by track interview with the trio is eye opening and informative, as well as highly amusing, especially if you watch Sean Moore, who sits there silently, looking bored and fed up the whole way through. Very amusing indeed.
In summary though, the album itself gets a more than respectable 8/10 from me, most of its content being the band at their best, but it’s impossible not to give the whole package an extra point due to the pure scope of the extras. This is arguably the most essential box set release of 2017 thus far. Just brilliant.
Send Away The Tigers 10 Year Collectors Edition is released on 12th May through Sony Music.
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