The record companies really had us over a barrel in the 90s. Not only were CD singles usually retailing for £3-£5 a pop, but they were also issued in multi-formats meaning that fans/completists sometimes had to spend almost as much on one single as they would for the LP that it came from.

Sometimes I was foolish enough to buy the different formats, but quite often I would take my pick of one or the other. As I did back in 1996 when I bought something by Manic Street Preachers for the first time. Yup….confession time….my first purchase was the really big breakthrough hit.

It wasn’t that I had any dislike for the Manics in their early years, but they were very much a band that I could take or leave in equal measures. I was never moved enough by any of their first three albums or near twenty singles to spend my hard-earned cash on them – but equally I would never argue in the pub that they weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Like most music fans, I was intrigued by the appearance of band member Richey Edwards, and assumed the incident would be the end of the group.

But this, the ‘comeback’ single in April 1996 was something that I found pretty astonishing on first listen, which must have been on the radio in the morning before going to work. I recall chatting to a colleague later on in the day who I knew was a big Manics fan to tell him how impressed I was with it all, and I recall him raving down the phone that if someone like me ‘had seen the light’, then at long last the rest of the world was going to come to realise that the Welsh combo were indeed the best band that walked the planet.


Anyways, I did go out that same day to buy the single and I was faced with the dilemma of paying £3.99 for the one in the silver sleeve with four different songs on it, or the one with the gold sleeve that had an orchestral version of the single plus a track mixed by The Chemical Brothers.

I went for the latter – something I don’t regret as I’m still quite fond of everything, and I still reckon the single is the best thing the band ever did:-

mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life (Stealth Sonic Orchestra Version)
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life (Stealth Sonic Orchestra Instrumental Version)
mp3 : Manic Street Preachers – Faster (Vocal Mix – remixed by The Chemical Brothers)



  1. Better late than never, JC! I can heartily recommend the Stealth Sonic Orchestra Remix of “Motorcycle Emptiness” too. Oh, and the wondrousness of those Stealth Sonic Orchestra versions is made even more wondrous/surprising when you realise it’s actually the guys from Apollo 440. But you knew all of this, no doubt.

  2. Great to hear these versions and a quick thank you to Jez for pointing out the Stealth Sonic Orchestra / Apollo 440 thing – I love Apollo 440 – but didn’t know that.

  3. The other favourite record company trick was to release a CD one week that contained “Part One”, with a cardboard inlay that said you could buy Part 2 next week.
    I fell for that one a few times …

  4. Agree wholeheartedly I thought they were largely a joke band up until this point the fact that they were rude to me backstage at Redding in 92 had nothing to do with it ( I lie) but on hearing this single I was amazed they could write a tune … of course by the release of Kevin Carter they had left me again

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