Generation Terrorists

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Generation Terrorists
Generation Terrorists.jpg
Studio album by
Released10 February 1992
RecordedJuly–December 1991
StudioBlack Barn Studios in London, England
ProducerSteve Brown, The Bomb Squad (track 8)
Manic Street Preachers chronology
New Art Riot E.P.
Generation Terrorists
Gold Against the Soul
Singles from Generation Terrorists
  1. "Stay Beautiful"
    Released: 29 July 1991
  2. "Love's Sweet Exile/Repeat"
    Released: 28 October 1991
  3. "You Love Us"
    Released: 16 January 1992
  4. "Slash 'n' Burn"
    Released: 16 March 1992
  5. "Motorcycle Emptiness"
    Released: 1 June 1992
  6. "Little Baby Nothing"
    Released: 16 November 1992

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.

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,[1] Generation Terrorists was long-awaited by critics[2] thanks to the members' proclamation that their debut would be the "greatest rock album ever"[3] and sell around sixteen million copies around the world, "from Bangkok to Senegal".[4] 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[5] and also charted within the Top 100 in Japan.[6]


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.

Per the producer Steve Brown's decision, most of the drum tracks on the album were recorded on a drum machine, which was programmed by Brown and the band's drummer Sean Moore.[7]


Musical style[edit]

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".[8] 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."[3] Rolling Stone, PopMatters, Vanyaland and AllMusic labeled the album as "glam rock, punk rock, glam punk, glam metal and hard rock" respectively.[9][10][11][12][13] Other influences on the album's sound include Guns N' Roses and New York Dolls.[9]

Lyrical content[edit]

All lyrics were written by Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire. 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,[14] 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.[15] Examples of the more politically inspired side of Generation Terrorists include the opening track "Slash 'n' Burn", which concerns "third world exploitation",[15] the track "Repeat (Stars and Stripes)", a remix of the band's own anti-monarchy tirade by Public Enemy production team The Bomb Squad[16] 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.[16]

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.[17] Marc Burrows of Drowned in Sound considered the song to be an accurate prediction of "global financial meltdown" and its effects on everyday life.[7] The single "Motorcycle Emptiness", meanwhile, criticizes consumerism as a "shallow dream"[17] that makes human life overtly commercialized.[7] "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".[18]

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".[19] Instead, revolutionary slogans,[20] and rhyme-free verse conveying multiple messages[19] combine to create an album "drenched in Richey and Nicky's cut-n-paste lyrical agitation",[20] 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."

Album cover[edit]

Edwards assumed responsibility for the cover; among ideas he had were using Andres Serrano's Piss Christ,[21] a Jesus figure inside a container of urine;[22] 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 (similar to Mémoires by Asger Jorn and Guy Debord);[23] as well as several other famous religious paintings; but these suggestions were either declined or found too expensive.[21]

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.[2] The album entered the UK Rock Chart at No. 1,[5] selling around 250,000 copies worldwide initially.[24] These sales coincided with the 1992 BRIT Awards, whose winners relegated Generation Terrorists to a peak of No. 13 in the UK Albums Chart.[5] 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 does not 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.[25]

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. These tracks were later included on the Stars and Stripes EP in Japan.[7]

The album failed to chart in the United States, shifting only 35,000 units. Music journalist Simon Price suggested that this was because of the arrival of bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as the "new rock-megastar elite".[26]

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.[27]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[28]
Alternative Press4/5 stars[29]
Drowned in Sound8/10[32]
The Guardian4/5 stars[33]
The Independent4/5 stars[34]
Q4/5 stars[35]
The Quietusfavourable[36]

Soon after its release Generation Terrorists was greeted with a favourable reception from magazines such as Kerrang! and RAW,[5] along with a number 15 placing in the NME Albums of the Year list for 1992.[37] 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".[34] The album's length[30][32] and lack of "quality control"[15][32][38] were common criticisms. Richey Edwards said that "everybody knows the first album would have been better if we'd left out all the crap."[15] 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 critics' 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."[8] 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."[28]

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."[39] In a 2012 "In Depth" feature, Dom Gourlay of Drowned in Sound declared Generation Terrorists to be the most important debut of the 1990s.[40] 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.[41] The same magazine gave the record the award for Classic album in the Q Awards in 2012.[42]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics are written by Richey Edwards and Nicky Wire; all music is composed by James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore, except "Damn Dog", by Jacob Brackman and Billy Mernit.

1."Slash 'n' Burn"3:59
2."Nat West–Barclays–Midlands–Lloyds"4:32
3."Born to End"3:55
4."Motorcycle Emptiness"6:08
5."You Love Us"4:18
6."Love's Sweet Exile"3:29
7."Little Baby Nothing" (5:22 on early pressings)4:59
8."Repeat (Stars and Stripes)"4:09
10."Another Invented Disease"3:24
11."Stay Beautiful"3:10
12."So Dead"4:28
13."Repeat (UK)"3:09
14."Spectators of Suicide"4:40
15."Damn Dog"1:52
16."Crucifix Kiss"3:39
17."Methadone Pretty"3:57
18."Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll"6:06
Japan bonus track
19."A Vision of Dead Desire"3:14
Japan 1998 reissue bonus track
19."Motown Junk"3:58
US track listing
1."Slash 'n' Burn"3:59
2."Nat West–Barclays–Midlands–Lloyds"4:32
3."Love's Sweet Exile"3:29
4."Little Baby Nothing"4:59
5."Another Invented Disease"3:24
6."Stay Beautiful"3:10
7."Repeat (UK)"3:09
8."You Love Us"4:18
9."Democracy Coma"3:45
10."Crucifix Kiss"3:39
11."Motorcycle Emptiness"6:08
13."Repeat (Stars and Stripes)"4:09
14."Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll"6:06
20th Anniversary Legacy Edition bonus track
19."Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)" 
20th Anniversary Legacy Edition bonus disc
1."Slash 'n' Burn" (House in the Woods Demo) 
2."Nat West–Barclays–Midlands–Lloyds" (Marcus Demo) 
3."Born to End" (Marcus Demo) 
4."Motorcycle Emptiness" (House in the Woods Demo) 
5."You Love Us" (Heavenly Version) 
6."Love's Sweet Exile" (House in the Woods Demo) 
7."Little Baby Nothing" (House in the Woods Demo) 
8."Repeat" (Marcus Demo) 
9."Tennessee" (House in the Woods Demo) 
10."Another Invented Disease" (House in the Woods Demo) 
11."Stay Beautiful" (Marcus Demo) 
12."So Dead" (House in the Woods Demo) 
13."Repeat" (House in the Woods Demo) 
14."Spectators of Suicide" (House in the Woods Demo) 
15."Damn Dog" (Live) 
16."Crucifix Kiss" (Marcus Demo) 
17."Methadone Pretty" (House in the Woods Demo) 
18."Suicide Alley" (South Wales Demo) 
19."New Art Riot" (South Wales Demo) 
20."Motown Junk" (London Studio Demo) 
21."Motown Junk" 
20th Anniversary Legacy Edition DVD
1."Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair" (a film about Generation Terrorists) 
2."Unseen super eight montage" 
3."Home road movie" 
4."Motown Junk" (video) 
5."You Love Us (Heavenly Version)" (video) 
6."Stay Beautiful" (video) 
7."Loves [sic] Sweet Exile" (video) 
8."You Love Us (Columbia Version)" (video) 
9."Slash 'n' Burn" (video) 
10."Motorcycle Emptiness" (video) 
11."Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)" (video) 
12."Little Baby Nothing" (video) 
13."Repeat" (video) 
14."Nat West–Barclays–Midlands–Lloyds" (video) 
15."Snub" (Generation Terrorists at the BBC) 
16."Rapido" (Generation Terrorists at the BBC) 
17."Band Explosion" (Generation Terrorists at the BBC) 
18."Rapido" (Generation Terrorists at the BBC) 
19."You Love Us" (Top of the Pops) 
20."Motorcycle Emptiness" (Top of the Pops) 
21."Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)" (Top of the Pops) 


Manic Street Preachers
  • Steve Brown – production, engineering, mixing
  • Matt Ollivier – engineering
  • Owen Davies – mixing
  • Marc Williams – mixing assistance
  • Nicholas Sansano – remixing on "Repeat (Stars and Stripes)"
  • Frank Rivaleau – remixing on "Repeat (Stars and Stripes)"
  • Dan Wood – remixing on "Repeat (Stars and Stripes)"
  • Tom Sheehan – photography
  • Valerie Phillips – photography
  • Paul Slattery – photography
  • Steve Guillick – photography
  • Ed Sirrs – photography
  • Paul Cox – photography
Additional personnel
  • May McKenna – backing vocals on "Another Invented Disease"
  • Jackie Challenor – backing vocals on "Another Invented Disease"
  • Lorenza Johnson – backing vocals on "Another Invented Disease"
  • Dave Eringa – piano, organ on "Nat West–Barclays–Midlands–Lloyds", "You Love Us", "Spectators of Suicide" and "Crucifix Kiss"
  • Traci Lords – vocals on "Little Baby Nothing"
  • Spike Edney – keyboards on "Little Baby Nothing"
  • Richard Cottle – keyboards on "Motorcycle Emptiness"

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Price 1999, p. 61.
  2. ^ a b Price 1999, p. 74.
  3. ^ a b Tangari, Joe (23 February 2004). "Manic Street Preachers: Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of Manic Street Preachers | Album Review | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  4. ^ Price 1999, p. 36.
  5. ^ a b c d Price 1999, p. 79.
  6. ^ "Japanese Chart Positions". Oricon. Retrieved 4 January 2013.[dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d Burrows, Marc (5 November 2012). "Manics Monday: Rain Down Alienation – Generation Terrorists' Key Tracks. / In Depth // Drowned in Sound". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Ellen, Barbara (8 February 1992). "Reviews: Generation Terrorists". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  9. ^ a b Dowling, Stephen (7 November 2012). "Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield Returns to His Roots". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  10. ^ Gratt, John (4 October 2013). "Manic Street Preachers - Rewind the Film review". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  11. ^ Carr, Paul (3 April 2018). "'Resistance Is Futile' Is Manic Street Preachers' Pop Album with Some of Their Most Immediate Songs Ever". PopMatters. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  12. ^ Kravitz, Kayley (30 January 2015). "Archiving Pain: Richey Edwards disappeared 20 years ago, but his genius with the Manics lives on". Vanyaland. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  13. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Gold Against the Soul – Manic Street Preachers | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  14. ^ McLaren, James (9 February 2012). "BBC – Blogs – John Robb on Manic Street Preachers". BBC Online. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d Price 1999, p. 75.
  16. ^ a b Price 1999, p. 77.
  17. ^ a b c Price 1999, p. 76.
  18. ^ Elan, Priya (7 October 2011). "Manic Street Preachers – Their 10 Best Tracks |". NME. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  19. ^ a b Price 1999, p. 78.
  20. ^ a b Beaumont, Mark (10 February 2012). "Manic Street Preachers – 20 Reasons to Love 'Generation Terrorists' |". NME. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  21. ^ a b Rob Jovanovic (3 December 2010). A Version of Reason: The Search for Richey Edwards. Hachette UK. p. 113.
  22. ^ Paul Monaco (2000). Understanding Society, Culture, and Television. Praeger. p. 100. ISBN 0-275-97095-7.
  23. ^ "Mémoires,1959 Asger Jorn".
  24. ^ "Generation Terrorists". Classic Rock. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  25. ^ Price 1999, p. 235.
  26. ^ Price 1999, p. 92.
  27. ^ "Manic Street Preachers – Generation Terrorists (20th Anniversary Edition)".
  28. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Generation Terrorists – Manic Street Preachers : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  29. ^ "Review: Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists". Alternative Press. Alternative Press Magazine, Inc. (March 1992): 90.
  30. ^ a b Aizlewood, John. "Generation Terrorists: 20th Anniversary Edition Review - Manic Street Preachers : BBC Online". BBC Music. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  31. ^ James, Gareth (9 November 2012). "Manic Street Preachers – Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists". Clash. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  32. ^ a b c Lukowski, Andrzej. "Manic Street Preachers – Generation Terrorists (20th anniversary legacy edition) : Drowned in Sound". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  33. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (6 December 2012). "Manic Street Preachers: Generation Terrorists (20th anniversary edition) – review". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  34. ^ a b Gill, Andy (2 November 2012). "Album Reviews". The Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  35. ^ Collins, Andrew (1999). "Generation Terrorists (Q Magazine)". Q. Bauer Media Group. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  36. ^ Mackay, Emily. "Admirably Crude: The Manics' Generation Terrorists, 20 Years On". The Quietus. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  37. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year: 1992". NME. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  38. ^ Ali, contributor (7 May 2007). "Manic Street Preachers - Generation Terrorists". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  39. ^ "50 Greatest Debut Albums: 20-11". NME. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  40. ^ Gourlay, Dom (5 November 2012). "Manics Monday: Why Generation Terrorists was the most important debut of the 1990s". Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  41. ^ "Q 250". Rock List Music. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  42. ^ Savage, Mark (22 October 2012). "Muse, Pulp and Blur win Q Awards". Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  43. ^ "Manic Street Preachers | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  44. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums: {{{date}}}" (in Japanese). Oricon.
  45. ^ "Manics | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart.
  46. ^ "British album certifications – Manic Street Preachers – Generation Terrorists". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 16 July 2014. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Generation Terrorists in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]