|Released 10 February 1992|
Release date 10 February 1992
|Recorded July–December 1991|
Artist Manic Street Preachers
Label Columbia Records
|Studio Black Barn Studios in London, England|
Producer Steve Brown, The Bomb Squad (track 8)
Generation Terrorists (1992) Gold Against the Soul (1993)
Genres Rock music, Alternative rock, Punk rock, Hard rock, Glam punk
Nominations NME Award for Best Reissue
Similar Manic Street Preachers albums, Rock music albums
Manic street preachers slash n burn
Generation Terrorists is the debut studio album by Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers. It was released on 10 February 1992 through record label Columbia.
- Manic street preachers slash n burn
- Musical style
- Lyrical content
- Album cover
- Track listing
On the back of significant media attention and a "disproportionately high press profile" generated by the band's previously released single "Motown Junk" from 1991, Generation Terrorists was long-awaited by critics thanks to the members' proclamation that their debut would be the "greatest rock album ever" and sell around sixteen million copies around the world, "from Bangkok to Senegal". Recorded between July and December 1991 and released in February 1992, the album did not meet these sales figures but it was nonetheless ultimately certified Gold in the United Kingdom and also charted within the Top 100 in Japan.
Generation Terrorists was recorded by tracking (the band recording each instrument separately rather than playing it as a live band and then adding the overdubs later) over a period of twenty-three weeks at Blackbarn Studios, near Guildford, England. Despite being credited in the album notes, lyricist Richey Edwards did not play on the album; instead, all guitar parts were played by vocalist James Dean Bradfield.
Describing the album's musical style, The Quietus opined "It had to sound passé, it had to be overdone; if you're trying to bulldoze the shiny edifice of western pop culture, you can't do it tastefully or with subtlety, can you? [...] Generation Terrorists intentionally overplays its hand, overeggs its pudding and spunks its load at every turn". and Pitchfork writer Joe Tangari wrote that Generation Terrorists "walked a weird line between agit-punk, cock rock, romantic melodicism and glam, and was so obviously patterned after The Clash's London Calling that it was actually kind of cute." Allmusic, Rolling Stone and PopMatters labeled the album as "hard rock, glam rock and punk rock," respectively. Other influences on the album's sound include Guns N' Roses and New York Dolls.
All lyrics were written by Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards. All music was written by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore (except "Damn Dog", which is a cover version of a song by the Sleez Sisters from the 1980 movie Times Square). The album's lyrics are politicised similar to that of The Clash and Public Enemy, with the album's songs regularly switching from a critical focus on global capitalism to more personal tales of despair and the struggles of youth. Examples of the more politically inspired side of Generation Terrorists include the opening track "Slash 'n' Burn", which concerns "third world exploitation", the track "Repeat (Stars and Stripes)", a remix of the band's own anti-monarchy tirade by Public Enemy production team The Bomb Squad and "Another Invented Disease", a song whose title was deliberate word play on AIDS and referred to a conspiracy theory insinuating that the virus was manufactured by American biological warfare scientists.
Other tracks combine personal and political themes, implicating a connection between global capitalism and personal struggle; "Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds" was written as a critique of overseas banking credit policies, but also concerned Richey Edwards' issues involving overdrafts and refused loans. Marc Burrows of Drowned in Sound considered the song to be an accurate prediction of "global financial meltdown" and its effects on everyday life. The single "Motorcycle Emptiness", meanwhile, criticizes consumerism as a "shallow dream" that makes human life overtly commercialized. "Little Baby Nothing", a duet between Traci Lords and Bradfield, was described by Priya Elan of the NME as a "perfect snapshot of [female] innocence bodysnatched and twisted".
Wire and Edwards' love of poetry is also evident in their lyrics. Stuart Maconie of Select speculated that the album's lyrics were not primarily written for usage in song format: "You got the impression that often they haven't even been tried out in the mouth". Instead, revolutionary slogans, and rhyme-free verse conveying multiple messages combine to create an album "drenched in Richey and Nicky's cut-n-paste lyrical agitation", with vocalist Bradfield "fitting sentences along the lines of 'Nagasaki royal alienation consumer deathmask strychnine holocaust hate' into the restrictive confines of a melodic rock chorus."
The cover was originally intended to be Andres Serrano's Pisschrist, a Jesus figure inside a tank of blood and urine, but Sony wanted to avoid any religious controversy; also, the royalty demanded for the piece was deemed excessive. Other ideas were the Bert Stern Marilyn Monroe photographs, a sandpaper sleeve that would scratch the album itself as well as anything else that it was shelved by (an old Situationist prank, this idea was used by Guy Debord for his first book Mémoires and by The Durutti Column for their first album The Return of the Durutti Column) as well as several other famous religious paintings.
The final front cover of the album was a picture of Edwards' left arm and chest. The arm had a tattoo of a rose with the words "useless generation" in capitals underneath, which was changed to "generation terrorists". This was not without problems, as the original pressing had made Edwards' flesh to be bright pink as opposed to the intended mustard. The back cover featured a design similar to their earlier New Art Riot EP cover, an EC Flag, though this time it was crumpled and in flames. The working title of the album was Culture, Alienation, Boredom & Despair (a lyric from the song "Little Baby Nothing").
Generation Terrorists was released on 10 February 1992. The album sold sufficiently well to enter the UK Rock Chart at No. 1, selling around 250,000 copies worldwide initially. These sales coincided with the 1992 BRIT Awards, whose winners relegated Generation Terrorists to a peak of No. 13 in the UK Albums Chart. Early pressings of the album contain a sample from A Streetcar Named Desire at the start of "Little Baby Nothing". It was removed from later pressings and doesn't appear on the legacy 20th anniversary edition of the album. The success of 1996's Everything Must Go at the 1997 BRIT Awards ensured that sales of Generation Terrorists and subsequent albums Gold Against the Soul and The Holy Bible enjoyed a late surge; the band's debut sold an extra 110,000 copies.
In the US, the track listing was changed, and some of the more political tracks were dropped. "Democracy Coma" was added to make up for this; it was later released as the B-side to "Love's Sweet Exile"/"Repeat", and also appeared on Lipstick Traces (A Secret History of Manic Street Preachers). In addition, four tracks on the US release ("Slash 'n' Burn", "Nat West–Barclays–Midlands–Lloyds", "Little Baby Nothing" and "You Love Us") were remixed by Michael Brauer. These same four tracks also featured live drumming from American drummer Zachary Alford.
The album failed to chart in the United States, shifting only 35,000 units despite its "slick, arena-friendly rock sound", which Simon Price reasoned was because of the arrival of bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as the "new rock-megastar elite".
On 5 November 2012, Generation Terrorists was re-released for its 20th anniversary. There are five editions of the re-release: the original album; a two-disc Deluxe Edition with a bonus disc of demos and a DVD of the documentary film Culture, Alienation, Boredom, Despair, about the making of the album – when purchased from the Rough Trade record store in London it also included a free ticket to a showing of the documentary film, followed by an acoustic gig with James Dean Bradfield on 6 November; a four-disc Limited Edition (3,000 copies worldwide), including, in addition to the contents of the two-disc edition, a replica of a Generation Terrorist tour VIP pass; a 10" collage by Richey Edwards; a 10" vinyl LP of a rare Manics radio performance; and a 28-page book from Nicky Wire's personal archive.
Soon after its release Generation Terrorists was greeted with a favourable reception from magazines such as Kerrang! and RAW, along with a number 15 placing in the NME Albums of the Year list for 1992. Andy Gill, music critic for The Independent, highlighted in a review of the album's 2012 reissue that the music was "derided as sub-Clash" in other contemporary appraisals, but remarked that it "now has an astringent edge". The album's length and lack of "quality control" were common criticisms. Richey Edwards admitted that "everybody knows the first album would have been better if we'd left out all the crap." The underproduction of the album was a common cause of complaint among the band's adherents until the superior mix of the Anniversary Edition in 2012.
Nevertheless, by 2012 critic's perception of Generation Terrorists had remained generally positive. In their retrospective review of the album, The Quietus wrote, "Generation Terrorists should be celebrated, because among its messy feast of ideas it remembers to be fun. There's a cleansing and creative glee in its righteous rage and cultural destruction that's rarer in Gold Against the Soul and The Holy Bible." Allmusic wrote, "Since the Manics deliver these charged lyrics as heavy guitar-rockers, the music doesn't always hit quite as forcefully as intended", stating that the "relatively polished production and big guitar sound occasionally sell the music short, especially the lesser songs", but calling the band's passion "undeniable, even on the weaker cuts [...] Debut albums rarely come as ambitious as the Manic Street Preachers' Generation Terrorists."
NME listed Generation Terrorists as the 18th greatest debut album from the last 50 years, describing the record as "angry as it was bright, the Manics blowtorched their manifesto in pulverising punk guitar squeals." In a 2012 "In Depth" feature, Dom Gourlay of Drowned in Sound declared Generation Terrorists to be the most important debut of the 1990s. In a February 2011 issue of Q it was voted by readers at #77 in "The 250 Best Album's of Q's Lifetime" featuring albums between 1986 and 2011. The same magazine gave the record the award for Classic album in the Q Awards in 2012.
All lyrics written by Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire; all music composed by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore, except "Damn Dog", by Jacob Brackman and Billy Mernit.
1Slash 'n' Burn3:59
3Born to End3:56