Suicide Alley

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"Suicide Alley"
Single by Manic Street Preachers
Released Autumn 1988
Format 7"
Recorded June 1988
Genre Punk rock, hard rock
Length 2:28
Label SBS 002
Manic Street Preachers singles chronology
"Suicide Alley"
"UK Channel Boredom"

"Suicide Alley" was the debut self-financed single from the rock band Manic Street Preachers. It was released in Autumn of 1988, while they were still an unsigned act.

Only 300 copies were originally pressed. Around 200 came in a picture sleeve. This sleeve is highly reminiscent of The Clash's eponymous debut album, and was photographed and designed by Richey James Edwards (which is why he is not in the shot). Musically, the influence of The Clash, The Skids, and other late-70's punk rock bands is evident - the title track bears a strong resemblance to the Clash's 1978 single "Tommy Gun". Around a third of the copies were released in a plain sleeve, and a handful featured handmade covers with glued-on newspaper cuttings, which were assembled by Edwards.

Because the single was not reviewed by the mainstream music press until almost a year after its release, the release date is often incorrectly stated as August 1989. However, it was first reviewed in January 1989 by the fanzine Beat the Street, who remarked "Makes a change from the glue-bag dirge that has passed for punk in the last couple of years." Several months later, the single was picked up on and praised in music magazine NME, with journalist Steven Wells selecting it as their 'Single of the Week'. Although this endorsement did not provide them with any immediate commercial success, it pre-empted the buzz that would eventually surround the band.

B-side "Tennessee" was re-recorded and featured on the band's debut album Generation Terrorists. The A-side was included on all formats of the later single "Little Baby Nothing", partly to curb the demand for the original single which was changing hands for hundreds of pounds.

The single has the catalogue number SBS 002. The 'SBS' stands for Sound Bank Studio, the studio in Blackwood where the single was recorded. The numbering 002 was meant to add some credibility by implying SBS was an established record label, but there had never been a release with the catalogue number SBS 001.[1]

The band performed the song live for the first time in 22 years at their BBC Radio 2 concert of 27 January 2011.


Capitalising on the fact the single has never been reissued in its original format, unauthorized bootleg copies of the single started to circulate around 2001. They were produced in the original black 7" vinyl, and also in red vinyl. Aside from the fact the original was never released in red vinyl, the bootleg can be easily distinguished from the original even by a non-expert. The vinyl and its label are reproduced quite well, but the sleeve can clearly be identified as a counterfeit. Most tellingly, the words 'Manic Street Preachers' are underlined on the front, and noticeably inferior / pixellated text is in evidence at the rear. This bootleg did not do too much to dent the value of an original copy however, which still commands a high price.

Many sellers will try and represent one of these copies as an original, so it is therefore not recommended to purchase a copy from an auction website or private seller without having its authenticity verified in advance. However, when sold for what it is, many have found it a relatively inexpensive way to add to their collection.

A reproduction 7" single, complete with original B-side "Tennessee (I Get Low)", is available as part of the super deluxe edition of National Treasures - The Complete Singles. "Suicide Alley" does not appear on the main compilation however, despite the 'complete' title.

Track listing[edit]


  1. "Suicide Alley" (Manic Street Preachers), 2:30
  2. "Tennessee (I Get Low)" (Manic Street Preachers), 3:25


  1. ^ "Manic Street Preachers". 1989-09-22. Retrieved 2014-01-31.