Manic Street Preachers' Generation Terrorists - 20th anniversary

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This Friday (10 February) is the 20th anniversary of the release of the first album by Manic Street Preachers, Generation Terrorists.

Manic Street Preachers. Photo: Martyn Goodacre

That simple fact is enough to make a lot of people exclaim something along the lines of, 'cor that makes me feel old'. Including me.

It wasn't their best-selling album, even though prior to its release they expressed a desire for it to sell millions before their imminent split.

Neither was it their most acclaimed album, that honour probably going to the caustic classic of psychological and political malaise, The Holy Bible.

So why celebrate this anniversary? Well, it provided six top 40 singles. It introduced four alien-looking, glammed-up Welsh punks to the world. The album's promotion put these eyeliner- and slogan-smeared young men, barely out of their teens, onto magazine front covers in an era in which 'shoegaze' and 'grebo' were genres of serious critical consideration. They talked antagonistically and passionately through a lens of well-read education.

Of course it was Richey's infamous '4Real' self-harm incident that brought them to wider public attention; luckily they had the musical and intellectual chops for this not to became their defining career point. It was a journo-baiting stunt of horrifying, cold, calculating clarity that was designed by Richey to prove a point.

That point was that they weren't a joke. Looking as they did, sounding like they did, it would have been easy to write them off as such. But no joke bands ever delivered a double album, 18 tracks long, that included Motorcycle Emptiness, Little Baby Nothing, You Love Us, Slash 'N' Burn and Condemned To Rock 'N' Roll.

As some of our interviewees admit, it's over-long and sometimes overblown, but it holds up as a Welsh classic. That's why, two decades down the line, we're devoting this week to Generation Terrorists.

Thanks to Katherine Hinds-Payne, @manicstmania, Hall Or Nothing, Ben Marshall, Black Barn Studios and Jarrad Owens in assisting with these features.

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