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  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
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  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, Spanish
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • 6 Music video
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  • 2 Documentaries - Cuba, Tour diary
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Manic Street Preachers - Louder Than War - The Manics Live In Cuba

Sony Music Video/Sony BMG . R4 . COLOR . 57 mins . M15+ . PAL


After bursting forth from Wales with a punkish attitude and an unhealthy Guns'n'Roses obsession in the late '80s, the Manic Street Preachers have endured what can certainly only be described as a rather tumultuous history. After the disappearance of their figurehead, guitarist and main lyricist Richey James following the release of their third long player, years later it still seems nobody knows what ever happened to him. A few years on the three remaining members, plumber-like singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield, Dyson-obsessed cross dressing bassist Nicky 'Wire' and quiet as a lamb drummer Sean Moore, made the decision to soldier on without a replacement. Arguably they became even more successful than ever before after the release of their comeback single, the awe-inspiring A Design For Life, and its truly epic accompanying home, the album Everything Must Go.

Whilst never having garnered other than limited alternative success on these appallingly commercially orientated shores - even their single entitled Australia didnít do the trick - they have a simply massive following in the UK, regularly selling out huge stadium shows and headlining festivals. Still, when they made it here a few years ago we lucked out by getting to see them play pub gigs - a truly phenomenal experience.

So, come the launch of their sixth studio album Know Your Enemy, the Manics wanted to do something a bit special. With the band's rich politically aware history, staunch anti-American stance and in this case a strong Cuban flavour to a number of tracks on the disc, most notably Let Robeson Sing and the self-explanatory for those with any current affairs knowledge Baby Elian, a plan was hatched to hold a gig in Havana, a place few rock bands have ever ventured. Come February 17th, 2001 it happened - complete with attendance by Cuban leader Fidel Castro himself.

The abruptly starting and ending main feature here (no credits - just straight in and out) disappointingly contains only 14 of the 20 songs from this rather historic gig. A curious mixture of back catalogue and new tracks is featured - early classics such as Motown Junk, Motorcycle Emptiness and You Love Us rub shoulders with later hits such as Found That Soul, Australia and the incredibly un-succinctly titled If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next, however fans will no doubt be disappointed at the compete lack of anything from their albums Gold Against the Soul or The Holy Bible.

The Manics manage a pretty good performance, especially considering that the whole occasion could have easily left other bands over-awed and floundering. Some of their long adhered to conventions are even thrown to the wind - Nicky sings live for the first time on Wattsville Blues, confirming once and for all why he should just shut up and play bass, and they even come back for an encore - something this band usually steadfastly refuses to do. A Cuban trumpeter is brought out to great effect on Kevin Carter and Ocean Spray, James' regular acoustic spot is taken up by an understandably poignant rendition of Baby Elian, and they even end with a ramshackle assault on The Beatles' Rock'n'Roll Music - well, the choruses at least, as James couldnít remember the verses!

With many recent UK-sourced DVD music releases truly starting to push the format's boundaries, this disc's claim of featuring almost three and a half hours of entertainment would surely have any fan of the Manics drooling in anticipation. Sadly it's an incredibly misleading proclamation - read on and discover why...


Anamorphically enhanced at a ratio of 1.78:1, the main feature doesnít present the greatest live vision you'll ever clap eyes on. This is mainly because it is so over-processed with effects that grain and other gremmies are introduced to swim about with the occasional speckles. Detail isnít fabulous, and colour tends a little towards the washed out side of things. Still, at least it is of reasonable quality, unlike many of the extras...


Other than an ever-so-slight tendency towards shrillness at times, there's really little to complain about as far as the 5.1 mix is concerned. Surround usage is reasonably good and the subwoofwoof gets a steady and subtle workout that adds to the sonic atmosphere superbly. There is no PCM mix as stated on the packaging, however the 2.0 mix that is included does a reasonable job in its place, even if it is nowhere near as atmospheric as the 5.1 version.


Subtly animated menus are present along with musical accompaniment, and a sometimes slightly befuddling interfaceÖ

Multi-angles: Not actually documented anywhere on the disc at all, three tracks within the main presentation - Found That Soul, Kevin Carter and You Love Us - all offer up four alternative angles. Go for what essentially amounts to a James Dean Bradfield cam, a Nicky Wire cam, a Sean Moore until the cameraman realises how boring it is just watching a drummer so he points the camera at the crowd cam, or the mixed vision as seen if you donít play about with the angles in the first place.

Cuban TV bonus tracks: In this case the Cuban TV is not referring to somebody with similar dressing habits to young Nicky, rather these are the six tracks that SHOULD have been included in the main feature, instead coming to us full frame in utterly appalling, phenomenally blocky vision that makes the average webcast look like high-def telly by comparison. If this was an attempt to be arty it fails, and miserably at that. Sound is only 2.0, and when such tracks as the majestic A Design For Life, Masses Against the Classes and You Stole the Sun From My Heart are pissed away like this, any complaints about their treatment are fully justified as far as I am concerned. You canít even play them all in a row, they must be selected individually. Very disappointing.

Cuba documentary: Hey, 43 minutes of extra footage - sounds good, right? Well, take out the eight songs from the main presentation that reappear here in full (yet only in Dolby Digital Stereo), making up the bulk of the running time, and it isnít such an attractive proposition. Interspersed throughout is some behind the scenes interview footage, shots of Cuban life and people, and some clips of the band meeting Castro.

Tour diary: A slightly more appealing inclusion, this features just under half an hour of material from before, during and after the band's trip, along with street interviews, rehearsals, sightseeing and a press conference - with only a little bit repeated from the documentary. A radio interview and two Castro meeting sections offer an opportunity to branch off to the complete footage - all of which appears in that aforementioned hideously over-compressed vision that is virtually impossible to endure.

Photo gallery: Just 18 shots taken in Cuba.

Discography: All the albums and singles, with cover photos, track listings and extra notes on some of them.

Web links: Stick the disc in a DVD-ROM drive for a link to a 'special' website, whereby after completing a registration form and not getting a code as promised, then solving a slide puzzle map of Cuba, you can access nine more photos, get the code to 'unlock' the eight hidden features on the DVD and click on a link for exclusive Cuba footage accompanied by an Ian Brown (Stone Roses) remix of Let Robeson Sing - it's a bummer it doesnít work then. For those without DVD ROM drives who can be bothered, the site link is http://www.manics.co.uk/dvd1

Hidden bonus features: Eight snippets varying in length from 13 seconds to almost three minutes, featuring crew interviews, on the street vox pop type affairs and other behind the scenes stuff. It's all in THAT dreaded block-vision and accessed at random (which is VERY annoying) by fiddle-farting about on the main menu typing 1(enter), 7(enter), 2(enter), 1(enter) - the date of the gig. Here's a tip - use your remote's search function and check out titles 15-22, it's much less stressful.


To simply label this release a disappointment would be one of the world's greatest ever examples of understatement. Seemingly cobbled together with little attention to detail, thoughts about quality, or indeed honesty when it comes to the blatantly misleading quoted running time (over three hours my buttocks!), there is some stuff here that diehard fans will definitely delight in, whilst otherwise it reeks with the evil stench of corporate exploitation. Whilst such things could be expected from many other bands, I'd never have though that the Manics would stoop so low.

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1174
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      And I quote...
    "To simply label this release a disappointment would be one of the world's greatest ever examples of understatement..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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