I Know I Believe in Nothing but it is my Nothing...


Manic Street Preachers
The Holy Bible – 50 Further Facts
March 2016 (Updated Summer 2018)
Compiled By: Steve Bateman


Having recently added postscripts detailing 'The Holy Bible 1994 Studio Equipment & Recording Sessions Gear' + 'The Holy Bible 2014 Tour Gear' to R*E*P*E*A*T's interview with 'Alex Silva On Engineering/Co-Producing Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible'. I then started thinking about some of the other interesting facts which could perhaps be turned into a timeline-type of feature and act as a companion-piece to that article (which is 5-years-old this month), and although a number of these facts are well-known, others may be surprising or even new to some MSP Fans. The bite-size pieces of information were all written with help from, or sourced from, A Critical Discography, BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes, Dazed, Guitarist Magazine, Manics Promo Materials, Melody Maker, NME, R*E*P*E*A*T, Select Magazine, The Face, Wikipedia and more - a very special thanks to all! Branded as everything from "disturbingly traumatic" to "laceratingly savage" to "a group in extremis" to "a triumph of art over logic" by music critics, here are 50 Further Facts about the dark and divine, one-of-a-kind and acclaimed album that is The Holy Bible.

But just before this, although his best friends and bandmates, James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore, legitimately believe that everything that happened to Richey Edwards, would most likely have eventually materialised in whatever career path he chose to pursue in life. Now older and wiser, they have accurately ascribed the dramatically sped-up disintegration of his personal well-being, followed soon after by his tragic disappearance, to the irrefutable harsh realties, sacrifices and consequences of being a full-time member in a professional touring group. Also putting an enormous part of his rapid decline down to having a creative outlet / emotional sanctuary, whereby Richey plainly and persistently suffered for his art. With both his worldly-wise inspiration and wrath-filled meditations, plus the weight of incessantly and methodically writing erudite / bookish words becoming all-consuming, to the point where sometimes, he was unable to think about anything else.

Crucially though, and against all odds, this unholy outcome didn't hamper or derail the group for long! And by carrying on, thankfully, with the cream of the crop record that is THB, Richey's memory, his heart and soul and his exceptional / captivating highbrow lyrics (bolstered by the tantalising and mesmerising musical handiwork, provided by the other three equally as cultivated, philosophical, sagacious and sincere Manic Street Preachers), shall live on by virtue of a rather significant and all-enveloping LP. Which, remaining in a league of its own, supplies listeners with an unparalleled feast of engaging, exhilarating and enrapturing auditory / mental nourishment. Executed with excellence, attack and immediacy, and bearing all the hallmarks typically associated with a cult classic album. Not only did The Holy Bible raise the stakes with a collection of 13 instantly recognisable songs, when originally released in August 1994, but it is now highly rated as both a work of art and as a true masterclass in cerebral rock 'n' roll...


1. Recorded as a b-side for the Life Becoming A Landslide EP, Comfort Comes famously set the tone for what fans could expect from The Holy Bible. The track was even included on the Japanese Faster CD single, most likely so that listeners could compare the similarities shared by both songs.


2. Proof that the Manic Street Preachers certainly considered enlisting Mike Hedges to produce THB, could originally be found in a July 1996 interview with Select Magazine, whereby Nicky elaborates on wanting to "have him for The Holy Bible's more gothic punk side." While in Kieran Evans' devastatingly brilliant and lauded 2016 Everything Must Go feature-length documentary, Escape From History, James confirmed for sure: "We tried to get Mike Hedges to do The Holy Bible, because of The Cure and Siouxsie And The Banshees etc. He sent us a really nice reply, saying that he would love to work with us but he was booked up."


3. Whereas the plush and opulent residential recording environs used for Gold Against The Soul, Hookend Recording Studios near Checkendon, cost £2,000 per day. By comparison, the since demolished primitive and unheated, 16-track recording facility rented for The Holy Bible, Sound Space Studios situated in the red-light-district of Cardiff (with the area's scuzziness having inevitably seeped into the LP's overall morose make-up), cost a mere £50 per day. Sony did offer MSP the chance to record in Barbados, but the band collectively responded with a resounding: "Fuck off, no way - that's not us!" Now the stuff of legend, they instead dismantled what the group had become, rewrote their rulebook, were focused, well-rehearsed, determined, diligent, dedicated and chose not to use "all the resources at their disposal" - also abstaining from "all that decadent rock star rubbish" - while purposefully staying under the radar. In a rare, archived 1995 American Q&A published on The Quietus, James spoke candidly and straightforwardly about Sony being unaware of the 'new and improved' group's plans after they had used their initiative, as well as how they unfalteringly write songs for themselves first and foremost: "'We've got this album, it's nearly finished. Do you want to come and hear it?' And of course we needed to mix it. But once the record company knew we'd gone and taken control of the situation, and they heard what we were doing, and they heard the directness, the energy and the attitude, they just went for it. They thought: 'Ah well, that's okay.' We took charge of their own destiny and I think they were almost thankful for that. It takes a lot of work off their hands... We do it for ourselves first. There's no prerequisites for what somebody's going to take from you. We just realised at one point that we're in love with failure. Everything we love just completely failed, whether it be an ideology, even religion. I think that's our biggest achievement: we realised we don't want to be in love with failure all our lives, and we want to do something about it." In an interview conducted by PopMatters, when discussing MSP's work shift patterns for The Holy Bible and gaining traction with recording, James divulged: "It was kind of standard practice back in those days. You go to a residential studio and you record a record. Residential studios back then were really lovely places to create and record. But we knew that it was just wrong for the music. Especially with the lyrics that had inspired the music. We knew that it would be a wrong decision to try and create this kind of music, which had threadbare emotions and hard political intent and acute observatory historical references in it. We knew that if we ended up trying to create this music somewhere in Surrey, England, which had four poster beds and every technical specification you could wish for, there would be something slightly off-message about that. I suppose, in our youthful, delusional state, we thought there should be some kind of 'method recording', our version of method acting. We should immerse ourselves in a shitty environment to try and replicate the edge in the music. And that’s what we did. We hired a studio which we had used before in Cardiff, which was kind of in the red-light-area, and had no mod cons. It was a very, very monotone kind of experience. And we decided we wanted that kind of utilitarian vibe to try and rub off in the music, I suppose. It all sounds pretentious and I wouldn’t want to repeat it all now, but we were young." Commuting daily (and starting each new day with engineer/co-producer Alex Silva, by all having morning coffee together in the office next to the studio's control room), Richey - who had just bought a flat in Cardiff Bay which he was decorating and collaging - would pick-up James and Nicky by car, while Sean travelled from Bristol (where his girlfriend was studying) by train. With The Wire treasuring the fact that he could go home to his wife / new house in the valleys every night and watch Sky TV after a hard day's work. Tellingly, with a renewed sense of purpose, a galvanised and revitalised JDB recalled: "I felt alive with something again, whereas before that I was just fearing things - the end of the band, the world not even wanting us to play some shit festival. As soon as we stepped in the studio and started doing these songs, I felt alive with something I hadn’t felt for about six months... It did feel great straight away." "James was the most feverish I've ever seen him work" exclaimed Nicky.



4. Nicky's working title for The Holy Bible was The Poetry Of Death.


5. "Every single morsel of that album is us being in control, for better or worse" once proudly pledged an unbridled Nicky, in adhering to their unassailable beliefs / objectives. And prior to acclimatising to / hunkering down in the back to basics studio, which had minimum production wizardry and was somewhere that the Manics were already familiar with, having previously recorded Suicide Is Painless (Theme From M*A*S*H) plus an assortment of b-sides there, earlier in their career with Alex. In realising Richey's dark visions as songs - who, as a compulsive and prodigious wordsmith, had given great consideration to his educational / illuminating discourse with impressionable listeners, to verse-chorus structures, to lyrical narratives, word selection, syntax, meter, stanzas etc. And now, functioning with an almost innate survival mechanism, was flourishing and reaching the peak of his powers as a compelling songwriter and poet. With unique, profound, stimulating and more thought-provoking, didactic, voluminous and literate lyrics than ever before, which showed a marked progression in the courage, gravitas and genius of his inward-looking and perceptive writing skills. Nicky: "I could tell he was in such a rich vein of this stunning prose and poems. We knew it was going to be pretty special." Although sounding nihilistic, grim and discordant on record - at times, even crude and coarse - most tracks were actually intuitively, meticulously and industriously written, sculpted and demoed by James on an acoustic guitar at his Mum and Dad's house, with Sean also writing the verse music for The Intense Humming Of Evil acoustically. And though it may have been seen by scores of composers as a task beset with great responsibility, JDB effused about how his recipe for success was owed to his indefatigable stamina; fusing motivation with his tools of the trade and chipping away at his songcraft. Which in turn, triggered the organic, masterful, awe-inspiring and unmatched sonic actualisation of (his songwriting foils) Richey and Nicky's torrent of words, bound together with his distinctive singing diction / vocal delivery when dispensing lines, his projection, venting and vocal hooks. On being tasked and entrusted with this duty, relying on his acumen and feeling emboldened after imbibing lyrics, he gushed: "I've got total interpretative carte blanche to do whatever I want and that's really a privileged position to be in... I think our music’s just always been led by the lyrics. That’s given credence and truth by the fact that I need lyrics in front of me to write music. Nicky and Richey would always give me lyrics, and 99 percent of the time I would always write music with the lyrics in front of me, and I would try and let the lyrics inspire the music. I was being given lyrics like Yes, Of Walking Abortion and Archives of Pain. Looking at these lyrics, there were twists and turns in there. There’s some kind of indecipherable, fucked up Iambic Pentameter in there, and I knew that these weren’t normal kind of lyrics, they weren’t even normal for us, really. And I just knew that the music had to twist and turn and convulse with the lyrics, as the lyrics were themselves. So it’s really as simple as that. I love the lyrics, and I remember being given Die In The Summertime and I remember being given Yes very early on, and thinking I must follow this muse that Richey created. Richey had written 70 to 75 percent of the lyrics on this record, and I was being given this stuff and I just knew I had to follow his direction. Otherwise I’d be betraying the lyrics themselves... I don’t really think we were reacting against anything. I think we were just so secluded and so self-insulated against what was going on with the start of Britpop and stuff that we didn’t even pay attention to it. Again, it’s that delusional state of just thinking that you’re right, and I think that’s the place we were in. By the time we’d finished mixing Faster, we still thought it could be a Top Ten hit, that’s how fucked up and deluded we were! Everything was led by the lyrics and they still are. On The Holy Bible, despite the nihilism and despite the misanthropic bent, sometimes the lyrics are so pleading to be understood." Much of James' expressive, beckoning and committed playing on THB, was done using his favourite guitar - a 1990 Gibson Les Paul Custom which he has since christened 'Faithful' - although while laying down tracks, Nicky once accidentally snapped the guitar's neck off! On the long player's challenging / cauterising mercilessness and brutal sense of impending doom - with the band beyond doubt that the staccato nature of some of Richey's unpruned lyrics, is what was the catalyst that helped to stimulate their creativity and generate the constituent components of the album's stern musical framework. Severe / streamlined arrangements and jagged post-punk sound, as well as its desolate and dissonant co-ordinates. One writer astutely noted: "In 1994, Edwards’ mind was a dark place and The Holy Bible has come to be seen as the ultimate musical expression of this period in his thinking. Reflections on the darker parts of life had long been a Manics staple, but not like this... A purging of the whole bloodied wreckage of the 20th Century. The words were raw and close to the bone, suggesting a kind of rock that didn’t just return to the band’s punk roots, but invented a whole new soundworld that dripped with a nihilism and menace that histrionic heavy metal pretenders could only dream of. The Holy Bible (seen not only as a work of art by many, but also as Richey's epitaph) would be exposed, like a gaping wound uncovering the ugly sides of humanity." Famously, as a potential follow-up, Edwards expressed a desire to create a concept album which he described as "Pantera meets Screamadelica." However, MSP's musical maestro and sonic architect, Bradfield, has since countered with doubts over whether the group would have produced such an LP: "I was worried that as chief tunesmith in the band, I wasn't actually going to be able to write things that he would have liked. There would have been an impasse in the band for the first time born out of taste."



6. 4st 7lb - the threshold weight below which death is said to be medically unavoidable for an anorexic sufferer - was the very first song to be recorded for THB on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1994. Talking about this ominous track and the complicated time-signature changes, JDB - whose girlfriend had just called off their engagement - articulately observed: "Of all the songs on The Holy Bible, it has the most amount of words (This Is Yesterday is the simplest) and when I looked at the main body of the lyric, I wanted to reflect the frenetic nature of this vanity that keeps analysing itself and keeps trying to find a reason for something which is so irrational. Then, I wanted there to be a resolution in the end, I wanted there to be some kind of defeat, because the lyrics at the end seem to have a self-knowing wry observation about themselves, that they knew they were being irrational but they couldn't stop it. The one song that I didn’t enjoy writing the music to. There are moments of The Bible where I felt as if I was being really precarious about singing the thoughts of other people channelled through Richey, but I felt slightly uneasy doing that song. I was glad when I finished. I felt like I was prying when I wrote it. It was a weird feeling."


7. Musically, Ifwhiteamerica... was inspired by West Side Story (James jokingly refers to it as "the American Musical gone wrong"), with its title thought to have come from a quote by controversial US comedian Lenny Bruce. In pre-production rehearsals, the band almost gave up on this song, but Sean said that he knew exactly what to do with it and went onto add one of his most skilful, unrelenting and memorable drum tracks ever! "It’s me trying to be Topper Headon, in a strange sort of way. I remember the quote at the beginning – I did all the samples. Richey would source it and I’d be the one dragging it off old VHS tapes. It’s one of those songs where it just happened, the ideas were there, the little fast tom. I was thinking all the time of London Calling. For us it was the end – third album, everything’s bombing, fuck it, let’s do what we want."


8. The post-punk, metallic and rhythmical guitar riff on Of Walking Abortion was influenced by Magazine's The Light Pours Out Of Me. The song also takes its name from a passage and lifts one or two additional ideas from the radical feminist 'SCUM Manifesto' by Valerie Solanas.

9. Nicky tried to convince James that She Is Suffering could be MSP's Every Breath You Take (The Police) and a huge 'Transatlantic hit'. Now however, not only would Nicky "definitely take it off" the record, but it is one of the Manics music videos he most despises. Drafting in Generation Terrorists producer, Steve Brown, as JDB simply "didn't know what to do with the track," She Is Suffering has also now become his least favourite song on The Holy Bible (after the Manics maligned Revol for years), who humbly conceded: "That thing of using 'she' and 'beauty' as a metaphor never really sat that well with me. I thought we were a bit out of our depth and I didn't think it was one of Richey's best lyrics (neither did Nicky or Richey). I wanted Ifwhiteamerica... to be the single." For its European release, a 2trk and a 4trk tour edition CD single were pressed, which both included the 7" radio edit of She Is Suffering, as well as an exclusive acoustic version taken from a live performance on MTV's Most Wanted. In terms of The Holy Bible as a collection of songs, James has acknowledged that he's "conscious of how many of the album tracks are far superior and much more loved by fans, than any of the singles released from it - with the exception of Faster - which ultimately, is what has led to the LP's survival, prosperity and reverence!"


10. 'Nothing turns out like you want it to.' 'Don't hurt, just obey, lie down, do as they say.' 'Life is for the cold made warm and they are just lizards.' 'I've been too honest with myself / I should have lied like everybody else.' 'The only way to gain approval / Is by exploiting the very thing that cheapens me.' Along with these jolting and transparent key lines and their lyrical thread - words which are brimming with revulsion and revile - plus the unforgiving onslaught of The Holy Bible's dyed-in-the-wool, hell on earth, discontented, resentful and (never once rose-tinted) sour worldview; 'Life is lead weights, pendulum died / Pure or lost, spectator or crucified / Recognised truth Acedia's blackest hole / Junkies, winos, whores, the nation's moral suicide.' Where 'Loser - liar - fake or phoney / No one cares, everyone is guilty' for all that's wrong with the world, which has transformed into nothing more than an unethical and unconscionable 'systemised atrocity.' With a sizeable quantity of The Bible's lyrics using the fallibilities of the past, to illustrate the shortcomings of our present (long a favoured Manics trope); the unwholesome underbelly of society, taboos, having to sell yourself out, geopolitical misdeeds, fragmented hegemony / democracy, capitalism / socio-economic issues, virulent corruption, injustice, political correctness and the inescapable / unrecoverable loss of childhood innocence (the latter of which subject-wise, is more than feasibly the reason why This Is Yesterday and Die In The Summertime were positioned side-by-side in the tracklisting). Other gritty, real-life and odious themes also subsumed and saturated in spite on THB, include how anybody has the capacity to commit nefarious sins or evil deeds - a microcosm of the whole record: 'There is never redemption / Any fool can regret yesterday.' And one of the bravest songs ever penned by Richey, is the chilling, jarring and lurking Archives Of Pain - named after a chapter in a biography of French philosopher Michel Foucault - which seemingly advocates the use of the death penalty for maniacal, fascist war criminals and convicted, unhinged serial killers, who have committed deranged and heinous crimes. Yet are implausibly treated as celebrities by the media, or sinisterly lionised and hero-worshipped; 'Pain not penance, forget martyrs, remember victims.' 'Sterilise rapists, all I preach is extinction.' With JDB adding: "To reiterate the fact, the lyric was about coming from a left-wing perspective, but actually just saying that: 'Despite my political leanings, despite the essence and the core of what I am, I think I believe in Capital Punishment. I believe the punishment should fit the crime.' Our songs are at their best when they're at their most irrational or like three minute well informed news stories... The new album's a lot more dense and obtuse - if it was a book, you wouldn't say there were many sympathetic characters in it. We treated it almost like an essay. We started off with the title, we didn't have one lyric or one piece of music written... We've always been a band who wanted something to believe in, but couldn't find anything and there's one pivotal song on the album, Archives Of Pain. It started out as a riposte to that line in Therapy?'s Trigger Inside ('Now I know how Jeffrey Dahmer feels') and, even though I really like Therapy?, we just couldn't agree with it, so decided to come up with a modern response. It went on to become a Capital Punishment diatribe and by the time we'd finished the song, we sounded like a bunch of right-wing cunts. It's basically O Level Sociology, left and right eventually meet and they become impossible to differentiate from each other. And I thought that's what we'd become, when one side becomes totally fucked-up. We started out as such a traditional working class band, and based all these situations on anywhere we could find a strand of unfilled ideology, but we've drifted further and further sideways. By the end of this song, I realised that we were just a product of our times. We'd believed in so many things only to become disillusioned. That was one of the first songs that we'd finished and it was then that I realised, that the whole album would be quite ambivalent in terms of its morals." In the liner notes of the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Holy Bible, the album is described by Keith Cameron as "a triumph of art over logic" which James found flattering: "It’s always nice when somebody else says it, because you can never say that about what you’ve done yourself, because it makes you an arrogant fool if you make such a statement about your own record or book or film or piece of furniture - whatever you’ve created. But I can see some kind of logic in that statement. I don’t really think a band like us, that comes from a very left-wing area and place in history, ever expected to write a song like Archives of Pain, which talks about Capital Punishment and talks about it within a song - openly questions it and openly investigates and doesn’t condemn. I don’t think a band like us, from a working class area in South Wales, were ever meant to write a lyric like Faster, that has ambitions of overcoming everything with the power of your own will and your own self made intelligence. And I don’t think that would be married to that post-punk influenced music. So there is a natural ridiculousness of us coming from South Wales, from a very working class, proud area; actually doing a record like this was nothing anyone expected. We didn’t either. So I kind of accept Keith’s statement, and Keith is one of the best music journalists Britain ever produced, so I’ll stand by his statement. It’s always better when somebody else says it." Sonically, Archives Of Pain is renowned for boasting one of James' premium, undulating and piercing guitar solos, as well as one of Nicky's finest and most pulsating bass lines, which sounds like it has crawled out from the depths of hell wrapped in barbed wire and laced with malevolence! While in a 1999 interview with Rhythm Magazine, Sean chose this particular track as having the drumming performance he's most proud of, recounting: "It's something I wouldn't normally do - it was one of those sudden rushes of blood. Even now I couldn't really play it to you." Notably, JDB frequently "nagged" Sean to put a harmonizer (studio effects processor) on the drums during The Holy Bible sessions, in order to make them sound boxy / claustrophobic and as Archives Of Pain was in the process of being recorded, Blur's poptastic new single Girls & Boys hit the airwaves, causing Nicky to fret: "It might not be our time." Similarly, James has since disclosed: "I remember being in a taxi with Richey and we heard Oasis' Supersonic on the radio. We felt a bit bowed by it, in a strange commercial kind of way." Referring to MSP's more melodic and accessible side, JDB's Mum, Sue, would even later ask him why they no longer wrote "nice songs" akin to Motorcycle Emptiness.


11. In a 2011 NME Poll, the Manics themselves named Faster as their 'Best Single', which was labelled by the longstanding music publication as "The most incendiary tour de force of their career, the band on the point of glorious combustion. It is the dark heart of The Holy Bible that emerges as Manic Street Preachers' Number One of their own Top 40 hit parade. What else? A Molotov cocktail of post-punk guitars powers along one of Richey's most freeform and barbed lyrical displays. The result of one of the most intense compositions of all time and one of the most exhilarating pop songs of all time." While in April 2018, as part of an 18-month long comprehensive, social media 'song contest' run by the Twitter account, Every Manics Song; "All studio tracks pitted against each other (nearly) to decide the most accurate & unofficial complete song chart ever!" With votes coming from genuine MSP Fans, it was announced that out of over 200+ tracks in their back catalogue, Faster was once again in pole position after being ranked and rated as the band's greatest song (The Holy Bible was also the most popular era and LP - with or without singles included - by average track score). Dissecting the furious urgency of the full-throttle Faster, which was the last time that Nicky and Richey "collaborated lyrically on an even keel," Nicky once stated: "A lot of it is all Richey again and he told me it was about self-abuse... I think it's the most confusing song on the album. I added some stuff about the regurgitation of 20th Century culture, and the way that everything's speeded up to such an extent that nobody knows if they've got any meaning anymore... It's not a post-modern nightmare number, it's more a voyeuristic insight into how our generation has become obliterated with sensations. We could deal with things, but we prefer to blank them out so that virtually every atrocity doesn't have that much impact any more. I don't even know if that's a bad thing, I don't know if we're not on some kind of path to a super-being, where all emotions are lost and everyone finally gets on perfectly because of that... It's probably the first time that we've written a song and not completely understood what we've written... It's my title. I think the outro: 'Man kills everything' is mine. 'If you stand up like a nail...' is a Chinese proverb. So it's a perfect synthesis of everything really. I think 'I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing' is the great catchphrase of The '90s. And for Richey to actually write: 'I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer', it shows an almost heroic self-indulgence. But it makes you great. Because at the time, Blur's Girls & Boys went Top Five and I remember thinking: 'What the fuck are we doing?', just completely ostracised. But then I remember having a moment thinking: 'This is brilliant.' We'd never felt so alone and we really were distanced from everything else. And that's why we were the biggest cult band in Britain. It was one of those moments when you're never gonna do something that good again. You might do something more commercial, more uplifting, which we have done. But the cult-dom of it - I think it was once described as 'a heady mix of Ace Of Spades by Motörhead and Anarchy In The UK.' When Richey gave the finished lyric to James, it had no punctuation whatsoever, who has since categorised this specific song as "One of Richey's soothsaying lyrics. There's a lot of prophesy, in terms of the acceleration of everything - joy, pain, death, consumerism... Also, I can see that Richey perhaps wrote the lyrics for Donkeys, and then shortly afterwards, he wrote Faster. Because where Donkeys is quite self-pitying, I almost felt like he was riposting himself on Faster." Interestingly, the line: 'Self-disgust is self-obsession, honey' was a phrase actually coined by MSP's Press Officer, Gillian Porter, which she used when anatomising Richey's scornful opinion / scathing critique of himself - "That's the truest line on there, probably" he contended. The title is rumoured to have a double-meaning, based around the aforementioned idea of the acceleration of society, as well as fasting, and was also the adopted name for the first recording studio - Faster Studios - that the Manic Street Preachers owned in Cardiff between 2005-2016. In terms of matching the sentiment of the "cold voiced" words with sonic enhancements, JDB with his high level of artistry, wanted the music to sound as if it was regimented, serrated, parallel-lined, compressed, stark and in control of itself, although he "didn't realise that Faster was going to be a single (let alone the lead single) for a long time." And even though it went through 20 reworked overhauls, apparently, the Manics' co-manager Martin Hall was never overly fond of this track at any stage of its development, or indeed the finished version either. The template for this song was Faith No More’s From Out Of Nowhere, with Sean proclaiming: "It's us at our most visceral best, spitting bile. The lyrics weren’t in the form that they ended up in, but just that bit ‘stronger than Mensa’ was enough for us." With JDB admitting: "It was the hardest one to write music to by a million miles (including Sean's drums in the final section). I was worried, as I knew it was the key to everything on the record. So I stomped around, and then put Never Mind The Bollocks on and that was it. Sometimes the way Johnny Rotten’s voice goes down the middle of a song and barely changes, it’s about the twists and phrases and the commitment to the words. And that’s exactly what it needed, that straight line through the middle... It's something that connected with the darker parts of all our selves and it's hard to get a career out of those moments." "It was a defining moment for us. That song laid it all out. It was like a band manifesto" later mused Nicky. Faster was first played live in Thailand at Bangkok's MBK Hall in April 1994 (MSP's first magazine cover feature for The Holy Bible era also took place in Thailand for the NME), and whenever used as the opener in set lists throughout that year, it had an extended intro with James calling out to the crowd: "Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello..." as a nod to John Lydon's greeting on the PiL song, Public Image. At recent THB gigs, the group used Faster (Vocal Mix) as their walk on music. Lastly, for history buffs, The Holy Bible's centrepiece, the adrenaline-charged and primal Faster, was deployed as the lead single on June 6, 1994, which not only officially signalled the start of the promotional campaign for its landmark parent album. But battle ready, also coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy during World War II. It was MSP's very own D-Day. Nicky: "When people got the first taste of Faster and P.C.P. they just felt like: 'Oh, we've got our band back. This is the band we fell in love with, almost even better than before.' I can't remember any negative reaction, really." One music columnist was so taken with the vortical Faster, that he eulogised: "As always, the music was credited to James Dean Bradfield and drummer Sean Moore, but it was Bradfield's contribution which clearly signalled the change in tack: the sheet-metal-cutter tone, the skittish riffing, the new approach to layering and texture, the sharp corners, the brutalism. Forty-five seconds in, it was clear that now the Manics understood that subtlety isn't the opposite of power."


12. A first draft of The Intense Humming Of Evil (the sister song of Mausoleum and some of the earliest Holy Bible tracks to be written, after the band had visited the sites of former German concentration camps during their Gold Against The Soul, European Tour in Autumn '93) was considered insufficiently judgmental by Bradfield, who asked for a rewrite, explaining: "You can't be ambivalent about the Holocaust." Notably, the only member of MSP who can read music is Sean, and for this tense, unnerving and unvarnished composition, his idea was to use the minimalist delineation of modern song structures to make more out of less. Coupled with the propulsive and grinding looped industrial sample, it is unlike any other track in the band's entire body of work. Richey was justifiably appalled by reprehensible and intolerable Holocaust deniers, who deplorably and unpardonly attempted to negate the established facts of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. And the title, The Intense Humming Of Evil, alludes to the sombre, eerie and deafening silence that the Manics noticed while in the grounds of at one-time death camps, where even birds don't fly over (Nicky mournfully remembered: "All you can hear is this humming of nothing.") Something which is also cited in the dour and festering formations of Mausoleum's taught, gloom laden, ravaged and reverberating chorus: "No birds - no birds / The sky is swollen black / No birds - no birds / Holy mass of dead insect." Nicky: "The song was originally going to be dubbed No Birds, but PiL already had a track with the same name. Then, Richey said that he had a much better title, and I concurred, Mausoleum sounded far more scary!" Unveiling to The Quarterly in 2014: "I wrote the original lyric ideas in my hotel room after walking around Belsen. I was struck by the lack of creatures and the silence. There’s greenery and trees, but it seemed to me even nature couldn’t face touching that horror. The first time we went to Japan, we visited the museum in Hiroshima. We’ve always faced up to universal truths as much as is humanly possible and it’s been a good thing for us, because truth’s about the only thing that has kept the band going." And in 2005, Nicky further elaborated to PopMatters: "I find The Intense Humming Of Evil quite unlistenable. It reminds me of our days off (from touring) Gold Against the Soul, when we visited Belsen and Dachau, the death camps, which was in typical Manic Street Preacher fashion. Most bands, on their day off, would look for a pile of drugs or drink or whatever - we decided to visit the death camps on our days off. We didn’t go there for a laugh. We were driving and we felt we should see this. It’s our idea of forcing humanity to face itself. They were pretty startling days. That was definitely one of the seeds for it, really. In Germany, Gold Against the Soul wasn’t selling many copies, and we were travelling around thinking: 'We’ve got to regain our soul.' We were all on the same wavelength. We knew that regaining control was the main priority. Going back to Cardiff and a crappy little studio was the essence of that, really... I think James just really rose to the challenge at this point. He felt a desire to create something really original: sounds of our youth, and the darkness and the melancholy of Wales, transferring that into all the places we'd visited on tour and the death camps of the Holocaust. I think he just loved the challenge of trying to make those words into tunes."



13. Revol (lover spelt backwards) and This Is Yesterday (which musically, was loosely based on Ghosts by The Jam) were late additions to The Holy Bible and were both written side-by-side. JDB told NME in 2014: "It was in our pocket for a long time. That's why two other songs got recorded at the end. We'd lived with it for so long that we realised just in time that it wasn't balanced. Well, in its own fucked-up way."


14. Song titles nearly used include: Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'scountrywouldfallapart, Walking Abortions and No Birds (Mausoleum).


15. A differently sequenced tracklisting of the 13 songs (obviously later revised and re-jigged) also appeared on an early pre-release PR information card


16. Sculpture Of Man is the sole b-side dating from this period, all others were recorded later. Nicky called this "The darkest lyric ever!" With James continuing: "That's completely Richey's. But that just shows how bullet-nosed we were."


17. Although the rock-solid / explosive Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart ("one of the greatest titles of all-time" as claimed by Nicky), and the sedate / tranquillising This Is Yesterday - a fleeting breather that enables The Holy Bible to momentarily transfigure - were long thought to have been the sole work of Wire. When putting together the pristine, exemplary and life-enriching 20th Anniversary Box Set for The Holy Bible, on closer inspection, he actually discovered that Richey had contributed more to both tracks than he remembered. And, if you were to combine all of NIcky and Richey's traded lines and wide-ranging lyrics together, unbelievably, there are over an astronomical 2,800 words across all of the songs included on the record - with Q Magazine trumpeting: "The Holy Bible is among the most lyrically ambitious albums any rock group has made!" But due to the vast amount of pre-internet information, knowledge and wealth of words crammed into these unequalled lyric sheets, some of which could even be classified as prose, or as hard-hitting investigative journalism, and encompass everything from cultural, historical, political and societal connections, to weighty subject matter, to well-read literary references. JDB - sometimes even without a moment to take a breath - recorded far more vocal takes than usual (for comping) so that he sung every syllable correctly, with his astonishing / incomparable voice and outstanding approaches to singing, reacting perfectly to the array of convulsing sonics, abrasive guitar tones and counter-melodies used on different compositions. When probed about the rhythm section's listening habits, musicianship and contributions, Nicky declared: "It doesn't happen often in a band's career when you all start listening to the same sort of music and reading the same sort of things. With us, it was Wire, Magazine, John McGeoch (PiL, Banshees, Visage) was a big influence on James, Jah Wobble was a big influence on the bass sound and Gang Of Four were a big influence as well. It was all the music we grew up listening to. When we first started, Guns N' Roses came along and changed us for a couple of albums, but this music was our natural habitat. Post-punk was what we listened to the most, because we missed out on punk. Sometimes in a band there is a telepathy and even in the rhythm section, with me and Sean, that was happening on tracks like Ifwhiteamerica... it was just like speeded-up Adam And The Ants! We didn't need to speak about it. We just felt like we were doing the right thing." And on the breakneck paced, 2000AD & Judge Dredd, 'Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave!' (a slogan uttered by Tomas de Torquemada, puritanical and xenophobic villain in Nemesis the Warlock) referencing P.C.P., although always much more coil springed, jittery and venomous live than on record, Nicky raved: "You can hear a real joy in our playing!" On a side note, Richey was a die-hard 2000AD & Judge Dredd comic book fan - he even once had a drawing published in an issue when he was younger, winning £3. Then, the ultimate dream of any comic book fan, Richey himself was immortalised within its hallowed pages, when the long-running British science-fiction comic anthology satirised the '4 REAL' incident in a story. The character based on Richey was called Clarence from The Crazy Sked Moaners, and in a different story, Zenith, a character named Domino even wore a Manics t-shirt! Although never used, MSP originally wrote and recorded the fluid and blistering Judge Yr'self, for the 1995 Judge Dredd movie (Richey excitedly told his father that a song might be featured on the soundtrack). But out of respect to Richey after he had vanished, the track was put on the back burner and wasn't completely finished until its poignant inclusion on the 2003 b-sides, rarities and covers compilation, Lipstick Traces (A Secret History Of Manic Street Preachers). As one of the final songs that Richey penned before he went missing, lyrically and sonically, Judge Yr'self patently has its foundations in THB (the music video is appropriately included on the 10th Anniversary Edition). In a 2015 Q&A with Ultimate Guitar, JDB extolled and reiterated about The Holy Bible: "In its own way, even though it's regarded as an album which has a bit of indelible punk spirit in it, it's quite a muso (musician's) album. There are some awkward little time-signatures on there and the drums are very much linked in with the guitars. The bass is very much linked in with the guitars too and the bass is not always on the bass drum. There's a lot of post-punk chords and effected bass on there, which weaves in and out of the music. And it's quite a muso little record really. I'd say it's a post-punk album influenced by bits of Rush. It's a very kind of infused album and there's a hyper-reality about the lyrics."


18. Interestingly, James "never felt completely comfortable as the lead singer of the Manics, until The Holy Bible" – and before then, would have "just preferred to have solely been the lead guitarist, with either Nicky or Richey as the frontman, because they had the cheekbones for it!"


19. In 2004, James unexpectedly admitted to Guitarist Magazine: "Sometimes I've resented putting vocals over the music, especially on The Holy Bible."


20. Carefully sourced by Richey and in-keeping with / highlighting the songs' themes - sometimes adding a menacing and dystopian atmosphere - every dialogue sample on The Holy Bible had to be cleared for usage, in turn, costing Sony a lot of money. In reference to the sample used on Mausoleum, when talking to The Face in '94, Richey expounded: "When J. G. Ballard wrote Crash, he said that what he was trying to do was force humanity to look itself in the mirror, then rub its face in its own vomit. That was what we wanted, too." With Nicky additionally looking to write about the atrocities caused by "the human capability to inflict pain on its own race," and Richey reasoning in another interview: "Henry Miller said 'At the edge of eternity is torture, in our mind's never-ending ambition to damage itself.' That's what we would like to write about."



21. Financially, with all band members existing on a low income at the time - a teeny £250 per month each, later rising to £200 per week - which was an unfathomably minuscule amount of money for an international act signed to a major label. JDB, who "didn’t have a pot to piss in," was still living at home with his parents during the making of this long player, with the others 'clubbing together' so that he could stay in a Marriott hotel one night a week. Notably, part way through recording - after having seen them play live and been magnetised by the Washington DC indie hardcore outfit, later purchasing some of their LPs - one of James' morning wake-up songs and on repeat studio favourites, was Learned It by Girls Against Boys. "I really latched onto that song and I think they had a small bearing in the music I wrote for The Holy Bible, so it’s a good memory for me" he revealed on BBC Radio 6 Music. However, not everyone in MSP recollects Bradfield’s choice of alarm call so fondly. "I remember James' obsession well," laughed a mystified Nicky of hearing the song a lot... "To my pain!" With regard to the unpleasant setting and the seedy side of where Sound Space Studios was located in the red-light-district of Cardiff. Late at night, both JDB and Alex would be aware of prostitutes prowling the streets outside, who even sometimes performed sexual acts with clients in their parked cars.


22. While refining the Manic Street Preachers' sound / twisting melodies into new shapes, and at the same time, managing to make atypical song lyrics scan and rhyme. Although the THB sessions involved long hours for James in the studio, along with engineer/co-producer Alex Silva - 16-hours per day, sometimes more, 7 days a week for 1 month - who also ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together, he has described it as "one of the best times of his life." Elaborating: "Brilliant memories. All the dark humour around that time makes it seem happier in retrospect than maybe it actually was. Regardless of the lyrics, I remember Richey as being quite cuddly at that point (who was regularly holed up in the studio's office with his Olivetti portable typewriter, typing lyrics, and also went to the odd nightclub in Cardiff with JDB). He didn't seem in the perpetual motions of darkness as the lyrics might imply. It was a happy period, recording that album, even though it was done in bleak surroundings. It felt like we were all pulling in the same direction. I remember thinking if this is our last album, it's a fucking brilliant album to finish on. We felt it was our final riposte." And in spite of the fact that "some bands wouldn't have even used Sound Space Studios to record demos" in the opinion of Nicky - the studio, vicinity, environment and 'method recording' to stay on-message, proved to be advantageous as it fortuitously suited everything about the lo-fi and stylised Holy Bible perfectly! JDB: "Gold Against The Soul was slightly hollow. I think we're a band best following our own lead. We're a band best following an idea or we have a little mini-manifesto before a record. With that record we didn't. We just kind of knew we had to do a second record and keep the momentum going and we fell into that very clichéd trap. I think the record has some good guitar work in it but it's not enough. It's holding up a bit of an empty fortress. The Holy Bible was a rearguard action against ourselves to a certain extent. We knew we'd failed ourselves and fallen into the biggest rock 'n' roll cliché in the world: the difficult second album. So I kind of think to create something that was born of a big idea I suppose. Sometimes you need some creative failure to spur you on. On the first and second album we'd had all the trappings of being a newly-signed act for Sony, we just felt we had to strip ourselves and disavow ourselves of all those trappings of being a signed act to a major record label. It was definitely the best thing we could have done. We actually recorded on smaller tape; we didn't record on conventional tape. We recorded on tape you'd use for demos usually and recorded on very small 16-track decks. Working within those limitations made everything so vital." With The Wire (who habitually wore a football manager-style coat to keep warm in the "freezing studio") recently reflecting: "It makes you realise the power of youth, feeling fearless and, in blunt terms, not giving a shit. Which obviously dims with age and having kids and responsibilities, and all that. It does make you realise the power of the four of us locked away from mainstream Britain in the early 1990s, and how glorious that feeling was." At the end of making THB, James, Nicky, Richey and Sean bought Alex a bottle of Champagne, among other gifts, as a thank you for all of his hard work. However, when he arrived home that day, his long-term partner announced that she was leaving him as he'd spent so little time with her! With Alex jesting that the Manics had "left him with a bottle of Champagne and a broken heart." Also clarifying to Wales Online: "The last day alone was a straight-through 36-hour session and when I got home my girlfriend of five years, with whom I’d just bought a house, said she’d had enough and walked out. That’s still James’ favourite topic of conversation whenever he talks about me - in the nicest possible way, of course." Discussing the mixing stages of The Holy Bible with Mark Freegard, and then, its critical reception, Nicky imparted: "That year in particular, obviously, was the year of Nirvana’s In Utero and everything else - it was a pretty bleak year and it just seemed to all come together at the same time. I remember we were in Britannia Row, which was where Joy Division recorded Closer, we were there when we heard that Kurt Cobain had killed himself. We were mixing The Intense Humming Of Evil, or some other really bleak track. It was a pretty bleak moment - it actually felt like a lot of connections were falling into place... In terms of the press in the UK, I think the difference was that it was the album they’d always wanted us to make. When we first started, I guess they’d been not disappointed, but you know, Generation Terrorists was so cosmetic and glam, and Gold Against The Soul was this cavernous, empty and miserable stadium rock. I think the fact was that the band that they’d wanted to love, all of a sudden they could love. We’d always been a band to cherish critically, but I don’t think we’d ever made the record - maybe with the exception of Motorcycle Emptiness - that people wanted." In a Quietus editorial entitled, There Are No Horizons: The Holy Bible At 20, one penman contemplated: "The Holy Bible has what British groups always used to have over everyone else: a kind of mobility, a liveliness, an aversion to wasted space. It's still hard rock, but it's hard rock coarsened and enriched with the urgency of post-punk and the mordancy of metal. Aside from anything else, it suited the band a whole lot better: the Manics were always capable of generating power, in a seething, pummelling kind of way, but in strict stylistic terms they never really rocked. Sean's drumming was too rigid for that, Nicky's bass lines nailed to the beat - they always sounded like punks at heart. The Holy Bible finds a way to harness that and elevate it. They'd never sound this sharp again... Almost all these songs view their subject through a prism of disquiet, but only three or four are purely introspective... The Manics understand their medium so well, they rarely sound less than totally convincing. Out of the babel and the noise comes a truth, or a set of truths, which have seldom been expressed so abstractly yet with such intense immediacy." Also worth mentioning and something which is a little known fact, is how MSP's longstanding producer, Dave Eringa, had a minor role in the making of The Holy Bible. Although uncredited, he did a recall for the final mix of She Is Suffering as Mark Freegard was unavailable: "I wind James up by saying that that means I worked (in however stupidly small way) on The Bible! The song's atmosphere and texture, was created using a synth pad that runs in the background through the entire track." Dave also mixed Faster/P.C.P.'s bone-rattling and driving b-side, Sculpture Of Man, as well as demoing Judge Yr'self in its original form before the final 2003 mix: "We did a more programmed version of Judge Yr'self during the January 1995 demo session. It was the same arrangement, but more electronic in the drums. It was just a case of finding what worked best for the song. We were just demoing as a tester for the Judge Dredd movie, so it's quite normal to try out a couple of different treatments!"



23. After his initial concerns as to whether or not he'd be capable of even turning some of Richey's lyrics into singable songs: "You crazy fucker. How do you expect me to write music to this!?!" JDB later revealed: "The Holy Bible was the only other time I've had to re-design what I do. That album gave me so much confidence. Once I'd done that, I knew that - in terms of pure musicality - writing a song to whatever words I was given, there was nothing for me to be scared about any more." When asked which Manics lyric has been the hardest to put music to, Sean answered: "Yes was a challenge, hence the time-signature of the song" - with its melody also rooted in The Penguin Orchestra Cafe's Music For A Found Harmonium, as at the time James was writing the music for Yes, he kept hearing this instrumental track being played on the radio.


24. Career-wise and despite having tasted some success, the group still felt like failures, with Richey pondering: "In maybe twenty years we might have an impact on somebody because of what we believe or what we say, but we’re not important now." Placing his first love of penning lyrics way above performing, travelling and doing press - while aware that the extremely high calibre and depth of MSP's vocabulary, was what elevated them to another plane and massively separated them as sui generis, from their peers also operating within the rock sphere. Irrespective of people's acceptance or understanding, Richey (who was incapable of 'switching off' and now devouring a book a day / using references that sometimes JDB and The Wire couldn't even grasp), constantly strove "to write a flawless lyric that would scan rhythmically with James' music, and summed-up exactly how he felt about himself and the world around him." Always treating songwriting as an artform and never aspiring to be compared to any other lyricists - he was especially proud of Archives Of Pain and Die In The Summertime. Nicky (enjoying domestic bliss, preferring instead to concentrate more on his bass playing and "not so much on his game" with lyrics and reading, concluding that his songwriting partner's creative flow and contributions were perfect anyway), even perceptively noted that with THB, Richey invented "A new lyrical language." Infused with intent and ideas, and containing a multitude of searingly memorable, honest and endlessly fascinating words, one of the greatest, most quoted and famous lines of them all remains: "I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing." This was also nearly used as the title for the long player that became known as Journal For Plague Lovers, which in many ways, is a companion-piece to The Holy Bible - with some fans and music scribes even affectionately referring to them as 'Richey's albums', or as 'Richey's Old and New Testaments'.

25. Speaking about trying to connect with, then convey, the complexity of the lyrical content (which refused the brevity typically associated with the concise nature of most song lyrics), James unveiled: "It's just about believing it as much as the author believes it. Sometimes it really was not about questioning anything in the lyric, but just going along with it because you knew there was this militancy here that would only work if you're 100 percent committed to it. For me, it just feels like something that could only ever have been done in Europe. There's a morass of remains. We went through two world wars, and it's man's greatest achievement that we now live in Europe in peace. But the record says that there are ghosts there: it's built on blood, bones and rubble and we still live with those things." Sean has since described the topics tackled in these lyrics as being "as far as Richey's character could go." And even though Nicky has revealed Richey's oft gallows humour, i.e. when handing him the lyric sheet for the macabre Archives Of Pain, how he had a big smile on his face and announced: "Here you go Wire, you'll like this one!" Then, with Revol which covered the sexual peccadilloes of Totalitarian leaders: "You'll love it!" Nicky has still expressed fears that having put so much of himself into his words over the years, that towards the end of 1994, Richey had finally become "an empty shell inside." JDB has even talked about the immense amount of pressure placed on Richey by some people at the time, who after scrutinising the extremities dredged up and ingrained within his lyrics and believing his words to be prophetic, would ghoulishly urge: "If he truly means all of these things, then he'll do something drastic to prove that he is '4 REAL'." When interviewed in '94, Richey was "certain that the group's visit to Belsen, Dachau and Hiroshima, influenced their entire perspective of the role of themselves as individuals and as a band." While James reflected: "The title, The Holy Bible, seems like a very good metaphor for a lot of things. We took the Ten Commandments and realised that they had contradictory failures in Western terms. The album is designed to challenge complacency at all levels. It sounds really pompous and it is, but it gave us a good sounding board for all of the lyrics. It's a sarcastic Valentine to religion itself." However, he was later taken aback after Richey "persuaded him that there's no catharsis in art." "We made the new album without the record company's permission, laid down our own money for it. It's completely uncompromising in every sense, and it's our best album yet. I really hoped Richey would find some kind of redemption in it, but he didn't. And that's upsetting." With regard to Richey's more personal lyrics, when playing Yes live, James is now understandably sometimes unable to sing the tormented line: "I hurt myself to get pain out," which deals with Richey expressing frustrations about his need to self-harm, as he "can't shout, can't scream." With JDB adding: "People will say to me: 'Do you think you did everything you could to stop Richey doing this?' I say: 'Yeah.' Then they'll go: 'Are you sure?' And at that point I just want to fill their faces in." On a lighter note and in relation to the extensive cultural, historical, political and societal signposts + literary references used throughout The Holy Bible, over the years, an inexhaustible amount of MSP Fans, bookworms and English Lit students have all been led to discover a variety of texts, which once caused James to label this long player as "one of the great reader albums." In fact, in February 2017, an unofficial academic book entitled, 'Triptych: Three Studies of Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible' was published. Whereby three authors "reconsider The Holy Bible from three separate, intersecting angles, combining the personal with the political, history with memory, and popular accessibility with intellectual attention to the album's depth and complexity."



26. Length-wise, The Holy Bible clocks in at 56:17, with Revol being the shortest song at 3:04 and The Intense Humming Of Evil the longest at 6:12. On completion, JDB was convinced that the record was a "positive" artistic statement and would do well, as when people heard the messages in the songs, they would think: "Finally, the truth!" He even once summarised the LP as "A Holy Chalice burning through everything it touches." The meaning behind every lyric was also printed in track-by-track notes for journalists (subsequently published in The Holy Bible tour book), with all explanations by Richey and thus further emphasising the ferocity of his mind / intelligence. Echoing James' thoughts, Richey judiciously commented: "If the Holy Bible is true, it should be about the way the world is, and I think that’s what my lyrics are about." Adding: "I went to church for 13-years, I've read most holy books there are, but I don't find much in it apart from cruelty. That's the centre of human existence. It's not a religious album, but the imagery is very important to us."


27. The now iconic album cover, designed by Richey while hospitalised, features a 1993-94 oil on canvas triptych by British artist Jenny Saville, depicting three perspectives on the body of an obese woman in her underwear and is titled Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face). After seeing the painting in a Sunday supplement magazine, Edwards contacted the Saatchi Collection to buy it, but was put off by the £30,000 asking price. Saville originally declined the band's request to use the artwork, but changed her mind after a 30-minute phone call from Richey in which he described every track on the record in detail, giving them permission to use it for free. This particular painting showing a confrontational image of obesity, was chosen by Wire and Edwards because of its portrayal of 'beauty in perceived ugliness'. And, as is the case with all MSP artwork and sleeve quotes, it complements the character and lyrical / musical inspiration of the album within. The back cover features a photograph (painted over by the late artist, model and stylist Barry Kamen) of the group in military uniforms and a quote taken from the introduction of Octave Mirbeau's book, The Torture Garden. This long player is also the first instance of the Manic Street Preachers using Gill Sans typeface with a (Cyrillic-style) reversed 'R' in their album art. The font would be reused on later LPs and has become an easily recognised motif of Manics' artwork. The typeface is similar to one used on 1980's Empires And Dance by Simple Minds, one of James Dean Bradfield's favourite records (coincidentally, the band's third LP and also recorded in Wales), with the sleeve's warfare visuals, sophisticated / clean minimal design and white background, another obvious likeness to The Holy Bible's cover. An additional element worth mentioning, is that of all MSP's albums, this is the only one to incorporate the tracklisting on the front (as did each of THB's accompanying singles) - which with sleeve art, is generally quite a rarity in itself! Finally, when originally released in '94, both The Holy Bible's title and its cover, caused controversy due to the religious overtones of the long player's name and the image of the obese woman in her underwear, which some people called "morbid and grotesque." When interviewed by Music Week in April 2018, Nicky ruminated: "Calling our third album The Holy Bible was brave in retrospect, but when Richey suggested it, I didn't even think about it, it just seemed totally natural. I remember there was one territory in Europe that wouldn't release The Holy Bible because of the title - perhaps a Catholic country, I don't know - and that was the first time I thought: "Fuck me, it is a funny old title." But at the time, it wasn't a debate at all. Fair play to Sony/Epic, they never said a word. It was a much freer time in terms of artistic license."

28. The CD lyrics booklet (which unusually, has the songs in non-running order) features various images each relating to their corresponding tracks, including a photograph of a woman with a parasitic twin, Christian iconography, an abstract piece of fine art of a cum shot, a picture of an apple, a painting resembling American writer / painter Henry Miller. Black & white portraits of James, Nicky, Richey and Sean, a photograph of a group of British policemen in gas-masks, photographs of the gate at Dachau concentration camp and a plan of the gas chambers at Belsen concentration camp. Photographs of each of the Manic Street Preachers as children, an engraving depicting an execution by guillotine in Revolutionary France, a skewed version of Richey's US handgun image and a photograph of Lenin's corpse. The booklet also contains a Buddhist saying from the Tripitaka alongside a dedication to the band's co-manager / publicist, Philip Hall, who had died of cancer in December 1993.


29. All artwork for The Holy Bible singles was licensed (relatively inexpensively) from German artist Martin Kippenberger, and each picture is oil / mixed media collage on canvas dating from 1982-83. Part four of the five-part Fliegender Tanga (Flying Tanga), was used for the first single Faster/P.C.P. Sympatische Kommunistin (Nice Communist Woman), appeared on part one of the two-part single Revol. And, Titten, Türme, Tortellini (Tits, Towers, Tortellini), credited under its French title Des tètons, des tours, des tortellini, was the cover artwork on both parts of the two-part, third single She Is Suffering. Opting for a different aesthetic approach on the limited edition numbered 10" vinyls, these instead feature a montage of Manics tour pictures (P.C.P./Faster) and music video stills (Revol, She Is Suffering). Every format - CD, vinyl and cassette - also comes adorned with a customary related literary sleeve quote and has extra tracks. Faster/P.C.P. was the only single to be issued as a 7" and there is also a 3trk 12" DJ promo of The Dust Brothers (now known as The Chemical Brothers) mixes, in a grey sleeve tagged with the sticker Done & Dusted.


30. Having first begun to outline their intentions for The Holy Bible, lyrically and musically, to management / reporters from late 1993 onwards - songwriting had already commenced in the summer of '93 with tracks including Yes (the very first song to be written for THB) and Die In The Summertime. Both the record's title and August release date were officially announced in early July '94. But, by the end of July, following a particularly alarming bout of heavy drinking and self-mutilation, after going missing for 48-hours and locking himself away in his flat. A vulnerable and sapped Richey was admitted to Whitchurch Hospital in Cardiff, then to The Priory Clinic in Roehampton, for 10-weeks of rehabilitation to help him overcome and recover from his self-destructive problems (depression, cutting himself, alcohol dependency, drug use and borderline-anorexia nervosa, while still mourning the deaths of the Manics' mentor Philip Hall and his best friend at University, Nigel, who had hung himself earlier that year). By this point, he weighed only 6st and was teetering on the edge. James: "Richey's a very academic person, he loves routines and timetables. When we were working he always had timetables that he had to follow. But then we had some time off and he'd spend his time taking drugs and drinking and doing a bit of slashing here and there and that's how it all started really. We've always been a very clinical band because we've always believed in creating some kind of self myth. We've always admitted that, but then it went way beyond that and got to a point where it became really irrational. Before, everything he did was quite rational, he always did things to make a point which we weren't ashamed of. Then he started doing it in private." Long-believing that "There's a certain kind of beauty in taking complete control of every aspect of your life. Purifying or hurting your body to achieve a balance in your mind is tremendously disciplined." Briefly emancipated from this 'redeeming' thought process, with regard to his breakdown, Richey eventually unassumingly elucidated to the NME: "I wasn't coping very well, and I thought my body was probably stronger than it actually was. My mind was quite strong. I pushed my body further than it was meant to go." Though addressed by Hall or Nothing as "nervous exhaustion" in a press release, some supercilious, disrespectful and detestable detractors insensitively, incorrectly and shamefully called this a suicide attempt or astringently pontificated that it was all part of an elaborate publicity-stunt. But the band, though self-confessed press junkies and appreciating 'dirt dishing' sensationalist scandal, were mortified by the distasteful, flagrant lies and obscene misinformation printed in accusatory, inflammatory, exploitative, unkind, slanderous and harmful stories, which were anathema to both them and to Richey's family. And, although for the duration of The Holy Bible era MSP were the subject of a slew of headlines, column inches and write-ups. Because of his susceptibly to being perceived as a 'tortured artist', music magazines/papers later began to single-out Richey on front covers for his saleability, much to the group's irritation and indignation who took umbrage at this. Amid rampant rumours and growing / gnawing media speculation that MSP wouldn't continue without Richey (who abstained from doing interviews for some time after this), a frustrated and reproachful JDB retaliated: "If he hurts himself then he hurts us too, not professionally but personally. There's certainly more than a 50 percent chance that we would've split up if he'd left the band. From the band side of things that's the only time resentment ever came into it. Actually, it's not really resentment, it's more that now and again I was thinking 'being in a band just isn't any good for him, we should just pack it in' but he didn't want that to happen at all. That was the only time when things became compounded to such a degree that it felt like they were going to explode." Tenaciously soldiering on regardless (thanks to their Protestant work ethic) and playing as a three-piece in the throes of these circumstances, to honour their remaining summer festival commitments and to pay for his treatment. After visiting Richey during his stay however, although naturally worried and distressed, James, Nicky and Sean sceptically called into question how beneficial the 'Twelve-Step Programme' treatment actually was to his mental health and well-being. With a despondent Richey, himself even swiftly deconstructing and deciphering its inherent faults, as well as the therapy's over-reliance on, and liberal use of, antidepressants: 'Pass the Prozac, designer amnesiac.' JDB theorised about his inner-turmoil, emotional oversensitivity and the burden of adulthood: "I think he just feels things so fucking intensely. He always had this vision of purity or perfection, a kind of childlike vision, that became completely obliterated." Adding: "A psychiatrist is always going to pick a target to establish the problem and we were scared that the target would be us. In the end, thank God, it was something else." Later conceding that upon leaving the psychiatric clinic, Richey had "come back a completely different person," even as far as wanting to be called Richard. A riled, disgruntled and dejected Nicky, even accused The Priory Clinic of "ripping the soul out of him." Upon reflection however, with deep-seated antipathy, James bemoaned and vehemently asserted his utter disdain for anyone who judged or denigrated Richey: "The only thing that perhaps pissed me off in terms of what's happened to him, is in relation to the terms that people are gonna view Richey. They'll think that he's a walking capital letter 'I' - all ego. And yet on the new album for me, his two best songs are written from his point of view, but through other people, not himself: Ifwhiteamerica... and The Intense Humming Of Evil. I think he's maybe deflected attention away from the way he can write about other people and turned it all on himself. It's the only thing I'm angry about, because that makes him look very vain." Also speaking in defence of his best friend and favourite lyricist, Nicky posited: "As a kind of physical and internalised hatred and dissection of humanity, The Holy Bible is pretty untouchable." And, although he could have easily corroborated JDB's assumption about his unsung qualities. Instead, not wanting to wallow, an unembittered Richey - who by now, had penned such staggering, heart-breaking and contemplative clear-cut lines as: 'I don't know what I'm scared of or what I even enjoy.' 'The only certain thing that is left about me / There's no part of my body that has not been used / Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame / Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave' (Yes). 'I wanna be so skinny that I rot from view.' 'I want to walk in the snow / And not leave a footprint / I want to walk in the snow / And not soil its purity.' 'Choice is skeletal in everybody's life.' 'Self-worth scatters, self-esteem's a bore / I long since moved to a higher plateau.' 'Yeh 4st 7, an epilogue of youth / Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse / I've finally come to understand life / Through staring blankly at my navel' (4st 7lb). 'Scratch my leg with a rusty nail, sadly it heals / Colour my hair but the dye grows out / I can't seem to stay a fixed ideal.' 'Childhood pictures redeem, clean and so serene / See myself without ruining lines / Whole days throwing sticks into streams.' As well as: 'I have crawled so far sideways / I recognise dim traces of creation' (Die In The Summertime). Measuredly, modestly and felicitously averred: "I'm not really worried what people think about me. Because I judge myself harsher, and on more strict terms, than they ever could probably... I have a very childlike rage and a very childlike loneliness... I guess I identify with victims." Likewise, the THB era saw the rise of an infamous fan collective / obsessional subculture known simply as 'CoR - Cult of Richey', who themselves identified with Edwards. This period would also later become the marker for Manic Street Preachers' pre / post Holy Bible phases (first act before second act) and fanbases (old fans vs. new fans). Nicky has even termed fixated and loyal THB devotees, who are extremely precious about the long player, as 'Bible Ites'.


31. By way of promotion and based on Rob Stringer's (currently Chairman of Columbia Records) suggestion, every word from every song was reproduced as a centre-spread advertisement in the music press, in the lead-up to the release of the album - although all explicit words were blacked out. Mirroring the printed lyrics theme, each single - Faster/P.C.P., Revol and She Is Suffering - also had its own full-page and mini press adverts. NME even gave away a free 4trk flexidisc 7" sampler entitled, 'Verses From The Holy Bible', which was sellotaped to the front cover of their August 27, 1994, issue. The excerpts were: 1. She Is Suffering 2. Yes 3. Archives Of Pain 4. Ifwhiteamericawastotellthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart. The latter song is erroneously titled. Also of interest, is that whereas advertisements, promo, reviews etc. used to remind buyers of new releases out on a Monday, as The Holy Bible's release date coincided with a Bank Holiday Weekend, it was instead available from most record shops on the Tuesday.




32. THB was put out on the same day as Oasis' Definitely Maybe: August 30, 1994, just as Britpop was really starting to take-off. The long player (issued via the Epic label and MSP's "most complete album by a long way" according to Richey), reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart and remained in the chart for 11-weeks, but didn't chart in mainland Europe or North America. It did however make a small dent in the Japanese marketplace, where it was released on September 8, 1994, with 3 bonus live tracks recorded at Glastonbury '94. As a devoutly religious country, Italy ostensibly refused to sell the LP at all based on the grounds that the title, The Holy Bible, could be construed as deeply offensive or even sacrilegious by Italians. Though widely-praised by critics upon release, it sold poorly. A 'radio-friendly unit shifter' this was not.


33. Advance Holy Bible promo cassettes, limited edition CD / vinyl picture discs, official out-of-print Thai album / maxi single cassettes (featuring artwork variations), an original withdrawn CD pressing of the US Mix of THB (a small number crept into circulation and surfaced in Canadian record stores in March 1995, but the pushed back date of July for the North American release was eventually scrapped), the UK promo CD for Faster/P.C.P. (which has an infrared coloured sleeve) and live bootlegs. Along with press releases, a Japanese-only promo postcard set, tour itineraries, AAA laminates, hand-written set lists, ticket stubs, posters, flyers and magazine/newspaper clippings - plus of course, any items signed by all 4 members, remain some of the most highly-coveted and prized MSP Collectibles amongst fans.

34. In America, Faster had an exclusive promo CD featuring an action-packed live shot of James on the front cover, plus an alternate music video cut from live footage (filmed at The London Astoria, December 1994). In relation to other alternate music videos, in early 2008, the director of the UK promotional clips for Faster and Revol, Chris D'Adda, posted 'Director's Cut Versions' for each of these videos on his (now deleted) official YouTube channel, with the supplementary notes: "Faster - The original cut of the video before the record company had their way with it! Revol - Original edit of Revol containing various still images which do not appear in the TV release version. Richey came up with pages and pages of ideas for this video including the two blood drenched girls in UN uniform but as usual, it was all a big compromise mainly due to budget restraints. That snow-drift in the corner is made out of salt by the way and I think I remember the flying over mountains bit being archive footage from one of the Superman films!" Both 'Director's Cut Versions' can be viewed here https://vimeo.com/manicstreetmania



35. While touring in early 1994, the group visited army surplus stores and bought clothing / medals to wear onstage, in homage to The Clash and Echo & The Bunnymen's camo apparel / battledress. This military image / impeccable restyle (which later extended to how MSP's gigs and dressing rooms were lit and decked-out) "represented the control and discipline that they were trying to get back" after becoming too 'rockist', as well as "reaffirming their existence" and symbolising "a metaphorical war against everything around them." Nonetheless, at the time, some music hacks / news correspondents did query the mix 'n' match / mismatched approach to the band's uniforms, and also, the hypocrisy of adopting this new look after they had previously written a song, La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh), which sympathised with the plight of war veterans and featured the lyric: "I sold my medal / It paid a bill / It sells at market stalls / Parades Milan catwalks." Unperturbed, Nicky is confident that this is "the best that any band has ever looked" and has since rhapsodised: "I remember when we had The Holy Bible era, just being able to go to army stores and buy all that military regalia and feeling like it was us against the world. Defined within a uniform, if you like - and James’ sailor suit and stuff. That was really fucking cheap. They used to love us in the Army & Navy stores, especially the one in Cardiff. They’d be like: ‘Oh, here you are, we’ve got some new camo in…’" With JDB disclosing how Sean would inevitably buy the most expensive medals, who himself once joked that rather than being the Manic Street Preachers, they had actually metamorphosed into the Manic Street Army. This attire and strengthening aesthetic was used consistently by the group during the promotion of The Holy Bible, including in their press shots, music videos and television appearances. A sneering and enraged performance of Faster on the BBC's Top of the Pops in June '94, resulted in a record number of complaints - over 25,000 - and was extremely controversial at the time. Even making headlines around the country, including in the local newspaper for Blackwood (e.g. 'MANIC THREAT TO THE NATION'), which thrilled Nicky and Richey, due to the Malcolm McLaren-esque scandal after Bradfield wore a paramilitary 'IRA-style' balaclava. James was absolutely right, Faster was infamous "Top of the Pops Gold" and eyeball spinning, retina searing, whiplash viewing - although the next day, Sony were sent into flurries of panic and warned MSP: "You'll never get on Top of the Pops again!"


36. Talking about wearing the balaclava (which is now a far less intimidating tea cosy at Faster Studio), James later pondered if subconsciously, this was perhaps his own way of "daubing actor's paint" to help distance himself from the personal nature of the lyrics that he hadn't actually penned.

37. Many of Mitch Ikeda's (Manic Street Preachers official photographer) favourite photo sessions and pictures that he's taken of the group date from The Holy Bible era, due to the band's striking look. Visually - and because of the strong symmetry they had onstage with Richey as well - James, Nicky and Sean also believe that this is the Manics at their peak!


38. Beginning in late September 1994, the Manics supported Therapy? in France for 11 gigs, followed by 16 of their own UK / Ireland headline shows throughout October. Before a further 21 European dates supporting Suede during November and December - which by all accounts, with a general air of malaise, was somewhat of a tainted and gruelling slog for MSP and their crew (especially as they were having to keep a cautious eye on Richey round the clock). A plaintive, ailing and yearning Nicky, who himself was languishing, aching and underweight due to anxiety, confessed: "It wasn't making me happy anymore. It was a long tour. Nearly breaking point for the band." With JDB lamenting: "It was the first time I'd thought we weren't all reading from the same page. Richey was marking gigs then (having previously marked every day out of ten) and not a lot of them were getting very good marks. We were enjoying them and he was giving them shit marks. I just thought: 'This ain't making him happy.'" And, while Richey would recurrently take naps on the couch at Sound Space Studios as The Holy Bible was in the process of being recorded, touring was a whole different ball game. Nicky: "He just lived in his bunk the whole time, it was like a rabbit hutch. He was on 60 cigarettes a day, 20 cups of coffee and then he'd complain that he couldn't sleep! He'd stand under this vent on the bus just puffing away." Sean: "He was always trying to get me to teach him how to play Come As You Are by Nirvana. He was obsessed by nailing that. Never did, mind." The band were offered an extended run of gigs across Europe by their concert promoter, but due to the strains on their relationship with Richey, his continued self-harm, anorexia, alcoholism, idiosyncrasies and deteriorating mental health. Who surprisingly, was keen to carry on with life on the road and had been practising guitar more / learning new chords, since his stay in The Priory Clinic. It was ultimately decided, that twinned with James, Nicky and Sean's crumbling morale / exasperation and the fact that one morning, Nicky found Richey outside the group's hotel in Hamburg, Germany, repeatedly banging his head on the wall with blood streaming down his face, pleading to go home, that this wouldn't be a wise-decision. Therefore, 2 of the Manic Street Preachers' own shows in Austria and 1 in the Czech Republic (Prague), which would have been booked to take place after the Suede tour had finished, were cancelled (the rescheduled dates for February '95 would also later be axed). A moment of comic relief did come one night however before this nix, assuaging some of the psychological unease, when JDB's white sailor suit which he bought because he thought Richey looked amazingly cool in his black one (though later joked that although this annoyed Richey, it wasn't nearly as attractive on himself anyway). After gradually rotting away over the course of the tour and smelling nauseatingly horrid, embarrassingly and revealingly, split all around the crotch area as he was jumping onstage! Favoured cover versions in set lists from this era, included Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (Burt Bacharach) and Pennyroyal Tea (Nirvana). James: "I think that we perhaps interpreted the song in a different way. It was to do with an old abortion potion, but the way we took it was like a pun on Penny Royalty (Monarchy) because that's the way we've been forced to look at ourselves at times. We've put a bit more into that cover than others we've done. We thought we'd pick something a bit more contemporary, something that's a bit more relevant to us in its essence."


39. After one particular European date with Suede in Autumn '94, well-documented events and pressures with Richey, who, racked with agony and pangs of helplessness / hopelessness, bedevilled by demons and with a storm brewing inside, was becoming a danger to himself and had once allegedly acquired a meat cleaver intending to chop off his fingers, so that he didn't have to play onstage (it was taken away from him). Then, backstage, following a gig at the Amsterdam Paradiso on November 24, cut himself vertically down his chest - an injury which required 36 stitches according to some reports - had taken their toll on an emotionally drained, conflicted and crestfallen Nicky (who even wrote about the ill-fated Thailand trek on the potent 2001 Know Your Enemy b-side, Ballad Of The Bangkok Novotel). To the point where he told James that he could no longer brush these emotions aside / envisage proceeding with this type of lifestyle and wanted to leave the, by now, impaired band. JDB fully understood, but then went out and got drunk later that night and by the next morning, had completely forgotten that this conversation had ever taken place. On that same tour, the guitar which most of The Holy Bible was written on was lost. At one time, due to his reservations, a pining Richey did consider not touring anymore but soon changed his mind, as he didn't think that by shirking the toughest part of the job which made being in a group feel like a routine, would be fair on the others. When broaching the subject, James, Nicky and Sean had considerately provided him with other options / "exit routes" and never pressurised him to tour. But although not requisite, as an integral member, Richey didn't want to ever feel that he was betraying the band or letting them down in anyway. Around early autumn, he also had some new tattoos inked and in 'Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers)', Simon Price clarified: "There were two intricate circular diagrams, one with the words Hemisphere, Jerusalem, Of Land, Of Water, Hemisphere, Hell, and Mount Purgatory (apparently derived from the seven concentric circles of Hell as depicted in Dante's Inferno). The other bearing the Caina, Antendra, Ptolomae and Judecca, with the condemning additions 'Traitors to their Lovers, Traitors to their Guests, Traitors to their Country, Traitors to their Kindred'. Obscure biblical/classical references, and more fuel to the rumour that Richey had found God in the Priory. The third tattoo read 'I'll surf this beach', a quote from Apocalypse Now." This latter inking, was due to the fact that Richey had become obsessed with the iconic war motion picture and in particular, identified with Dennis Hopper's crazed photojournalist character. He even began wearing the same make of camera used by the actor during filming. Another classic movie name-checked by Richey, owing to its interconnected themes of abject enmity, resentment and repulsion at the black-hearted cesspit of depraved / fiendish vile sickness, and the ungodly putrefaction of a numbed human race 'in these plagued streets of pity.' While at the same time, seeking universal panaceas and wanting to inoculate mankind, waking it from a 'dulling' and diseased 'morality obedient' coma in order to cleanse society and rid all ills, was Taxi Driver. With Travis Bickle's 'June 29th Journal Entry' played over the PA after gigs, as it mirrored Richey's own complete control / self-improvement mindset and strict, disciplined fitness regime which included 1,500 sit-ups a day! Funnily, MSP's Tour Manager always moaned about the weight of Richey's suitcase, as it contained both his Olivetti portable typewriter and dumbbells. Along with his tattoos and newly-dyed ginger hair, Richey also started etching words onto the fingers of his right and left hands, such as LOVE and HUMILITY. Delineating: "I write something on my fingers every day. Mostly LOVE. I never write HATE, because I don't hate anyone. I'm more negative about myself than anyone else. I don't want to waste time. Even though I have terrible experiences with people, I can forget them. I just think 'Fuck off' and that's the end of it." On The Holy Bible's perennially unnoticed positive slant, JDB mulled over: "I think what people miss out, is the actual overpowering sense of victory that you get sometimes when you listen to it. And of course that's overlooked because people think that, with the way things ended for Richey, that there's only ever a negative thing to see. I feel a sense of empowerment. I remember playing it on the road when we were supporting Therapy? in France and I came offstage feeling great every night."


40. Only accepting this offer because they were firing on all cylinders and in such robust, fine form live-wise. Between December 19 - 21, 1994, the Manic Street Preachers played three Christmas shows at The London Astoria, which would be the last time that Richey ever performed with the band - who 'tattered and torn' was unravelling and "peaking in his weirdness" according to Nicky, in turn, adding to the all-embracing, dispiriting and punishing "misery." Having all suffered from spontaneous nosebleeds after soundchecks, due to an unknown problem with the venue's sound system frequencies (every night the crew turned the speakers and monitors down, but there was no change), making JDB, Nicky, Richey and Sean "paranoid that this could lead to brain haemorrhages." On the final night, and as a release of inter-tension (unusually the group hadn't really been getting on for the past few days), the combustible and "edgy" gig ended with the Manics smashing up not just their equipment to smithereens, but also saw them destroying the venue's lighting, causing £26,000 of damage - which could have potentially bankrupted the band! Nicky: "I was so nervous going on every night, that the end was just a relief." And, knowing that they were "on top of their game and stupendously tight" at each of these intoxicating, thunderous and molten shows - MSP in excelsis! In the aftermath of their appetite for destruction at the last gig and laying waste to the Astoria, which "felt brilliant and meant more than any of the songs... until we saw the bill" joshed an emphatic Nicky (who has since unreservedly declared that "much of The Holy Bible era was instinctive"). On that fateful night, he even cannily predicted the symbolic and long-term repercussions: "Something's stopped, something's changed here." In the wise words of Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher: 'The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.' Whenever quizzed about MSP as a live entity during that time - who were always turned-up loudly and along with their last gang in town mentality / individually assembled army fatigues and combat garb, felt at their strongest onstage - James often wistfully remarks how "powerful, united and unbeatable" the band were. Touchingly adding: "If I can be so bold as to say it was our peak, in terms of the way we looked, it's painful to look back at yourself when you're thinner and you're just younger. It makes you realise that that indestructibility of relative youth, gives you such an armour and it gives you such an identity. People don't actually realise, that it's so much easier to be in a band when you are younger and when you've got the ability to wear certain clothes and not feel like a dick. It gives you an armour plating and it makes everything much easier. You're not just only standing behind the music, you're standing behind an image too! And that makes being in a band much easier, because you feel as if you're part of something and there's more than one answer to all of your questions or your accusations - you've got the way you look to fall behind as well and it's a complete armour coating! So, it's kind of painful sometimes, because it's something you can't reclaim and you've got to let that go with the onward march of age." And, when reminiscing about the shows: "I do remember so much about the actual mood that prevailed at those Astoria gigs. There were just lots of little things that were happening at the time, that seemed to add up to the feeling that you felt as if you were part of a bit of 'a moment in time.'"


41. A limited amount of temporary transfer tattoos depicting the face of Jesus Christ and the band's logo, were also handed out at these dates to fans queuing outside the venue on a first-come-first-served basis.


42. Other notable merchandise from this period, includes a balaclava, dog tags, a stunning tour programme and some of the Manics most popular and enduring t-shirt designs, including the CCCP logo, the repeated face pattern of Jesus Christ and 'Who's Responsible? You Fucking Are'.


43. Following Faster/P.C.P., Revol and She Is Suffering - which entered the UK Top 40 at No. 16, 22 and 25 respectively, during June, August and October '94 - Yes was purportedly set to be the last single lifted from The Holy Bible (with the TSB bank aping 'MSP the band that likes to say YES' artwork possibly intended for use as the sleeve). This idea was binned however after the mysterious disappearance of Richey (who'd not long shaved his head as his 17-year-old dog, Snoopy, had recently died and because he also wanted to "shed himself of all vanity"), cementing his place in rock 'n' roll mythology aged 27, on February 1, 1995 - the day he and James were due to fly to the US on a promotional tour. The next day, Martin Hall filed a 'Missing Person Report' on Richey with the Metropolitan Police and Richey's family also placed an advert in their local paper, which ran for three days and read: 'Richard, please make contact. Love Mum, Dad and Rachel.' Although JDB fulfilled the American promo trip alone, as the weeks went by and fears grew - with everyone accepting that the seriousness of Richey's vanishing may not be resolved in the short-term - this meant that all upcoming North American and Asian shows were cancelled. Having long had a frosty relationship with Sony in the States, who'd previously changed artwork / tracklistings and remixed songs without MSP's consent, much to their chagrin. It was genuinely thought that the buffed and shined - which removes the dank decay but never sounds antiseptic - US Mix of The Holy Bible (how many classic albums can you think of with an alternate mix?), which for once, the Manics were really pleased with. Greater label support and audience-focused alternative radio airplay, plus the ample / lengthy North American dates, would help the group to raise their profile and make serious headway Stateside for the very first time. But spookily, Nicky, who always packed weeks in advance of every Manics tour didn't on this occasion, as something inside him told him that they wouldn't be going. In due time, the US branch of Epic then decided to pull the plug on the entire THB release / marketing campaign, citing the Manics' inability to properly publicise the LP by completing their touring commitments as the key reason for this - meaning yet again, that the band were to remain virtually invisible and unknown across the Atlantic. In relation to Richey's vanishing, during the build up to this catastrophic, horrendous and devastating occurrence, as a voracious reader, he had read numerous books about how to disappear and there were also several links to / parallels with other troubled figures / tragic icons, who he had an affinity with and empathy for. These included both Ian Curtis, who committed suicide in May 1980 - coincidentally on the eve of Joy Division's US Tour - and Kurt Cobain. Not only did Richey purchase the exact same type of 'Converse One Star' trainers that Kurt was wearing when he shot himself in April 1994. But, giving this notion further credence, he even had death camp-style striped-pyjamas which matched those once worn by Cobain as a stage outfit (Richey was photographed in these and the trainers during his final interview on January 23, 1995, with the Japanese magazine, Music Life). He also had a similar jacket to one of Kurt's - as pictured in Richey's 'Missing People' campaign poster - and Nirvana's In Utero was found in the stereo cassette player of his Vauxhall Cavalier at Severn View (formerly named Aust) Motorway Services, which was reported as abandoned on February 17, 1995, just a couple of days after the South Wales Police had issued a public statement about Richey's disappearance from the London Embassy Hotel. Richey's father, Graham Edwards, had appeared on Cardiff's Red Dragon Radio to appeal to his son to get in touch and the Manic Street Preachers had also released an official band statement. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight however, JDB, with typical integrity, has admitted that himself, Nicky and Sean should have really picked-up on the intensifying anguished content within Richey's words as a warning sign. Indubitably deducing that during the notorious, blood-stained and unsavoury Thailand trip in April '94, MSP picked-up a 'bug' - figuratively speaking - which symptomatically, they were unable to shake off from that moment onwards. This is also where the cracks first started to show with Richey, who enveloped by darkness, emaciated and scarred, had reached a low ebb and was trying to come to terms with the once latent realisation, that being in a band, along with the non-creative aspects and the ongoing / fatiguing album-tour-album treadmill - which he clearly struggled with, as it was becoming less and less enjoyable and greatly contributing to his blackened mood, chronic insomnia and illness - would never cure any of his plights or his debasing / fatalistic outlook on life. Upsettingly then, for Richey, even with medication it really was a case of from despair to where... If one grain of comfort can be taken from this sad situation and Richey's all-engulfing descent into desperation however - which will always evoke outpourings of grief, as he was a deeply affecting and prolific lyricist whose words continue to be pored over (amusingly, sometimes handing over lyric sheets to James who recalled: "There would be a sly little grin at the corner of his mouth: 'See what you can do to that, ya prick!'") - it's that he once stated: "In terms of the 'S' word, that does not enter my mind. And it never has done, in terms of an attempt. Because I am stronger than that. I might be a weak person, but I can take pain." With Nicky optimistically opining: "Personally, I still think he's alive, although I've got no physical evidence or reason to think that he is. But I do... how can you accept that he's dead, when there's no body, no evidence whatsoever? It's irrational." Compassionately adding: "I can't help thinking: 'Richey, if you could have held on a little longer, maybe then you could have had all these things you wanted. You might have been happy.'"


44. Shockingly, The Holy Bible wasn't nominated for the 1995 Mercury Prize - which to this day, remains a source of frustration for Nicky in particular.


45. Although in '94, Nicky wilfully wanted to embrace the "freedom of commercial failure" again with a reactionary mindset. By resetting, revamping, refashioning, repositioning and reclaiming what MSP were, the group only discovered as late as 2014, that in the mid-nineties, their record contract was in serious jeopardy and at real risk. Following their rise from obscurity and building a core fanbase from the ground up, 'the biggest cult band in Britain' came extremely close to being dropped by Sony due to The Holy Bible's low sales. But Rob Stringer (at the time, Managing Director of Epic and the reason why THB came out on this imprint rather than Columbia) voiced his belief in the band. And at his behest - confident in both MSP's fortitude and that there was plenty of mileage left in them - with a casting vote at the record company's 'pick up its option' stage, helped to make sure that this didn't happen. Having never once hankered the Manics for radio hits or chart smashes during the making of The Holy Bible - a monolithic, remorseless, energised, splenetic, gripping and unforgettable album that lures you in, and which people are still reckoning with to this day! As an instrumental long-term supporter (they were the first signing of his music career), Stringer fought their corner by arguing: "Sometimes, you've just got to give art a chance." Nicky: "We trusted him as an A&R man and a friend. I couldn’t ask for a better bloke... I don’t think The Holy Bible reflected the consensus. It was the same time as Blur’s Parklife and Oasis’ Definitely Maybe and Britpop. We definitely weren’t part of that. We were delving into something much deeper. Those albums were celebratory, whereas ours was analytical and internalised, and without any celebration at all. Apart from the power of knowledge, I guess. To quote Nick Cave: 'We were kicking against the pricks.'" And, when grilled in 2015 by PopMatters: 'How hard was it to get Sony to release the album in 1994? Was putting it out through a major label a triumph in and of itself?' JDB replied assuredly: "I’d love to give you the usual corny story, where the musician’s saying: 'We fought tooth and nail with our hearts bleeding to get this record out on a major label,' but our experience was nothing like that. Our label, Sony, didn’t question the fact that it was obviously a record that was very dark and that didn’t have any natural singles on it - the lead-off single from The Holy Bible was Faster. The record company didn’t once question that, which is remarkable, really. We’re living in this day and age where record companies are even more conservative than they used to be. If a record doesn’t sell after one album, there’s a very good chance that you don’t get a second shot. This was our third record, and the record company never once questioned the artwork, the content within the lyrics (even 'cunt's' in Yes got through unscathed), the way it was mixed, the way it was recorded - which was in quite a lo-fi way. And a lot of that has to do with our A&R man at the time, Rob Stringer, who is now the head of Sony in America. He gave us complete artistic freedom. So that’s a strange story really. When you’re hearing people talk about such stuff, talk about the battles they go through with the record company, about how there was just some kind of insipid censorship within the record company - but our experience was utterly the opposite. So, there’s no sob story there. It wouldn't happen today, and to be honest, it didn’t happen as much back then either. We just had somebody that was extraordinary in charge of the record label, and that was Rob Stringer. He had a vision for the record too, not just us. Not all band stories are the same, I don’t think." Speaking frankly to Select Magazine in January 1999 about MSP's unpredictable and unbowed approach to creating music, which resulted in diminishing returns between the years 1993-94, Nicky insisted: "The one thing that I am proud of about The Holy Bible is that we didn't do it on the back of success. If you look at Pulp and Blur, they've only made an artistic statement after they've had giant success. That isn't quite as good as doing it when Gold Against The Soul hadn't sold much at all and commercially we were at quite a low ebb." Also revealing to NME.COM in 2014: "There was a post-Gold Against The Soul emptiness and a realisation that we hadn’t got as big as we thought we would have. There was a kind of empty hole that needed to be filled... Shortly before The Holy Bible's release though, we realised what we'd made and we had to play it every night. When we'd been making it, it was our own fucking private universe. But then unleashing that onto the world, from then on, it just felt like a long summer of calamity. Things starting to fall apart, and the more exaggerated and more tabloid and bigger Britpop got, the more weak and on the edge we started to feel." JDB agreed with humility: "Suddenly, it went from feeling we were an impenetrable division, to it just starting to drift away. Richey started doubting everything, absolutely everything." However, in reference to the Manic Street Preachers excelling themselves and confounding expectations with their blended alchemy, talents and gifts, to the sheer magnitude of the accomplished, venerated and seminal Holy Bible, to its finessed cohesiveness, to its aggressive careening fury and unyielding rhetoric, to its worshippers and its unsurpassed, ever-growing importance after standing the test of time. Singing their praises, author John Niven once deservedly baptised this impressive, inspired and iconic long player - which bleeds character, has now infiltrated / firmly implanted itself in many people's psyches as a first-class, quintessential '90s rock album and really couldn't be improved upon in anyway - as: "The most extraordinary record of their generation... A record without peer at the time and now widely regarded as a career best." Pertaining to its superiority, and immune to any inhibitions / unafraid in his steadfast stance that this long player outclasses countless others, when alluding to the high-water mark that it set and its elite status, James once spewed: "The Holy Bible pisses over so many albums!" When asked by The Quarterly in 2014, about one of the most talked about and written about records in recent memory, which a combative MSP poured every last drop of themselves into: 'The album’s themes include genocide and anorexia, and everyone from Lenin to Pol Pot is name-checked. Is it the most intellectual album ever made?' Nicky (who has distinguished the defiant and iconoclastic long player as "gothic with a small g" and as "completely other," replied: "I think it is, actually. I wrote about 25 percent of the lyrics and Richey wrote the rest. He was devouring all the culture he could and was really on fast-forward. It’s mind-blowing to think what he could have done in a digital world. As it was, he never had a mobile phone or a computer - he just wrote on an old portable typewriter." Also telling KERRANG!: "He can be remembered in different ways. As a brother, a son, an amazing writer, a forensic intellect and a phenomenal, brilliant rock star, the like of which we simply don't have anymore." Richey will forever be frozen in time. Idolised, unfading, immortal.


46. In addition to the 10th Anniversary CD/DVD set and 2009's Japanese-only mini replica of the original LP. 2014 marked the release of a deluxe / remastered 20th Anniversary Box Set, which also included THB on heavyweight black vinyl in a gatefold sleeve for the first time. The Box Set went onto win NME's 2015 'Reissue Of The Year' Award. For collectors, the first 1000 copies of the 40-page booklet included were autographed by the band, when purchased directly from the official Manic Street Preachers webstore. Also, with the vinyl, the first run has 4st 7lb listed as the last track on Side A on the centre labels, but it is actually pressed at position B7. This alteration was communicated by email to those who had pre-ordered the album: "Information regarding The Holy Bible 20th Anniversary Edition: To improve and enhance audio quality, the song 4st 7lb has been moved to track 1 on Side 2 of the LP. It was a last minute decision, so those lucky people receiving the first run of Holy Bible Box Sets, will be getting a rare collectors edition where the tracklisting shows 4st 7lb as the last track on Side 1 (as per the original 1994 vinyl cut)." From a purely graphic design perspective, another detectable difference with the 20th Anniversary Box Set and vinyl, is how the dots situated in the spaces between the songs on the '94 front cover tracklisting, have all been extracted. However, the unneeded apostrophe in Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'scountrywouldfallapart has stayed put (this conspicuous and oft-spotlighted punctuation mark, was actually erased on the 1999 MiniDisc version of The Holy Bible).


47. Interestingly, Jenny Saville's painting, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face), is printed the correct way round on 2014 editions, whereas the image was flipped the other way on all previously-released versions. The only exception, are the paper sleeves that were made to house the promo discs pressed for the 10th Anniversary CD/DVD set, which also have the triptych reproduced exactly as it was painted.


48. A commemorative tour in 2014 and 2015 - which included 11 UK / Ireland dates, 7 North American dates and 1 final date at Summer Sonic Tokyo in Japan - saw the impactful and predominantly 5 star and 10 / 10 reviewed Holy Bible being played live in full, for the very first time ever, complete with army camouflage netting stage production and dark, atmospheric lighting (MSP had rejected several lucrative offers in the past to put on THB shows). And when the first batch of UK / Ireland dates for The Holy Bible Tour were announced, fans rejoiced, with a titanic 20,000 tickets being sold in just nine minutes - proof positive that people's attachment to The Bible and their ardour, devotion, fondness, relish and adoration for a record that stands apart, is inextinguishable and undying! Also reviving their military image once again for complete authenticity, James, Nicky and Sean openly acknowledged the technical challenges and heavy emotional burden of performing such bleak, graphic and tortured songs effectively. Doing their homework by listening to the retrieved master tapes from Sony in preparation, in confronting both band and audience when played live, as part of an NME Inside The Live Rehearsals commentary, Nicky brought to light: "I guess the power of it did actually really resonate with me and made me think with a slight tinge of sadness, just as a band, it'd be impossible really to be that brave, with that much conviction, ever again... I don't know if you can ever, for sheer kind of single-mindedness, beat The Holy Bible. Certain records make you feel redundant, like Never Mind The Bollocks and Unknown Pleasures, and it made me feel a little bit like that! It's probably a good thing." JDB also spilled the beans on The Holy Bible's blitzing 'feeling of becoming' and attested: "I think if there ever was a time when we felt we wanted to do this, it would be on the 20th Anniversary; I think that subconsciously seeped into the battered and bruised frontal-lobe readings of our brains, they switched on... I want people to actually think: 'Fuck, these guys can do this a long time after.'" The much celebrated and nostalgic gigs (as documented / preserved in amber in both BBC Two Wales' BAFTA Cymru Award-nominated 2015 Cardiff Castle homecoming TV coverage, and Kieran Evans' 2016 film: BE PURE. BE VIGILANT. BEHAVE) were only booked after much deliberation. "It's a complete state of mind," said Nicky of the band's approach to the shows. "You have to be so well drilled; you have to literally hate your audience." Statistically, prior to these gigs, the tracks most performed to least played (in order) from THB in set lists were: Faster, This Is Yesterday, Yes, Revol, She Is Suffering, P.C.P., Die In The Summertime, Of Walking Abortion, Archives Of Pain, Ifwhiteamerica..., 4st 7lb, The Intense Humming Of Evil and Mausoleum. Another fact worth noting, is how James affectionately refers to a hardcore contingent of MSP Fans who invariably crave hearing tracks performed from The Holy Bible, as 'sick puppies', and there is also an unfailing bond / transcendental synergy between the group and crowd - who hang on every word - when these songs are played live! On impassioned disciples who have taken THB to their hearts, assimilated its intent and ideas (often going to great lengths to proselytise, popularise and promote the merits of their favourite album), absorbed its aesthetic and still dress-up for shows. Which even now, gives some zealous fans a sense of 'belonging' and without exception, whose effort eternally boosts MSP and they find imperishably gratifying - with oodles of admiration for this fandom, deep connection and special kinship, JDB wholeheartedly proposed: "The Bible is the pinnacle of that tribal aspect." Some brand new memorabilia was also manufactured for THB 20, including a combat cap, a metal cross pin, dog tags, a lanyard, a limited edition lithograph of Richey's US handgun image (which was also printed on a North American tour t-shirt), as well as other t-shirt designs featuring related imagery such as camouflage, crosses, gravestones and rosary beads. On the infinitely transfixing, all-consuming, deeply satisfying and fabled Holy Bible's legacy, which seems to somehow magically get better with each and every listen - from its beloved bookends, Yes and P.C.P., to its singles and deep cuts. To Richey's self-loathing / pervasive world-weariness, to his abhorrent, caustic and lambasting assessment of life, in which lyrically - almost like an exposé - he decries the wrongs of the 20th Century world and our seemingly unchallenged conditioned existence. With wisdom and clarity - and now distanced from the trials and tribulations of 1994-95, which were waning and wilting for all of MSP - Sean pertinently stated: "Playing the songs now, strengthens the belief that we had back then. It shows us the reason why we’re in a band. It’s probably a lot less about the musicality and more about the message. We threw every bit of anger and bile that we had contained in us. It was cathartic in a way, because we were almost cleansing ourselves and putting it on tape. We had a pleasurable experience when recording it. We didn’t feel like we were under any constraints and I think that’s possibly why the album has been revered for its honesty - even the darker elements that are a bit hard for people to digest. But for us, we were just happy with the fact that we could actually express ourselves as truly as we could. We’ve come to terms with a lot of things. This is a celebration of those times in which we felt complete. The sad thing is how the album affected a friend. At the time, you could see him disintegrating and there was nothing you could do about it. So, I think we’ve had enough time to come to terms with those things. As you grow older, you become more understanding - not accepting - but understanding. For us to go back and revisit those things (when aged 24-26), all you can do is appreciate the personal sacrifice of some people and the fact that we were honest as songwriters and that we didn’t hold anything back. There are a lot of chapters that have closed in our story as a group. I think after this, we won’t be revisiting The Holy Bible. This is the reason why we did the full album shows in the UK and North America: to say that this is the end of this chapter and that we won’t be going back and revisiting it in the future. Out of our first three albums, this was the most honest and intense expression of how we felt as young men isolated and alienated in our hometowns and wanting to get out and break free. To have an understanding about ourselves personally, as well as mankind. For me, this album is the antithesis of that particular time." James: "I knew it would be intrinsic to a very large minority of people that the record would connect to, and that it would mean something to them, it would be tangible to them. The album was so locked in to dissecting certain politics, certain events, certain histories, certain psyches, that I knew the record would mean something to somebody out there. For want of a better phrase, I kind of felt as if I was part of something that could become a cult classic, definitely. And then all that kind of rational thinking went out the window when Richey went missing. I stopped thinking about the record after Richey went missing, because it was indelibly connected to something which was quite a traumatic memory. So I think we kind of parked The Holy Bible in our psyches somewhere when we carried on with Everything Must Go, and we kind of tried to protect him, we tried not to touch it. But then ten years later, we realised that The Holy Bible had sold so many more records post-Richey’s disappearance than it did while he was around. It wasn’t much of a surprise to me, but it kind of crept up on us because we tried to protect ourselves from analysing it because it seemed like such a pure thing that we didn’t want to sully it with anything." With Nicky waxing lyrical when concluding: "It is quite uncomfortable, let's be honest, but there is a comfort there, in some respects. Having to play those songs every night... but the reaction of the crowd, really, is what made it easier. Just hearing them sing songs like Mausoleum back to you, three or four thousand people in London just singing those words. Never been a gig like it, really. That kind of communal thing, and of something so dark, made it all worthwhile... When we play songs from The Holy Bible, it feels good those words are breathing. They are a living entity, those words... I think it's true artistic expression, musically and lyrically. That doesn't necessarily mean it's my favourite record, but it's the truest expression of the people we were at that point. It's just so brutally honest. The scary thing is the relevance it still seems to have. And that’s what makes a timeless piece of art, really. And when you’re going through every little detail of it, you realise that its presence is undiminished, and its topics just haven’t seemed to change - they’ve just come ‘round in a full circle. And that’s when you realise that you’ve actually made something really brilliant, that the whole album has taken on this... this life. Sometimes music is diminished or bands’ memories are diminished, but there’s something about The Holy Bible. I think there are certain albums that form part of my life and everyone else's life that you go back to every few years, and I think it has become one of those records. It has become like Unknown Pleasures (Joy Division) which sells copies every year. The Holy Bible sells 5-10,000 copies every year to the same sort of people; the sort of people who are interested in that secret history of finding the cult classic album. That is what it has become and I'm quite happy with that, because I grew up on records like that. Every band needs an album like this. We've really enjoyed the gigantic commercial success that came later, but if a band doesn't have an album like that, it's a hole in their armoury."


49. As part of 2015's 'Record Store Day' (and as a nod to the 1994 12" picture disc), a pair of limited edition Holy Bible 12" picture discs were issued in the UK and North America. Both featured unique designs, with the United Kingdom getting the US Mix and the Original Mix being sold exclusively in North America. The UK release charted at No. 1 on the Official Vinyl Albums Chart.


50. With no commercial concessions - from the artwork to the lyrics to the music - The Holy Bible has reportedly now sold more than 600,000 copies worldwide. A classic album from start to finish and a true masterpiece!


Postscript

With MSP's other classic album and masterpiece, Everything Must Go, celebrating its 20th Anniversary on May 20, 2016. Here's an extract from Vice's excellent 2015 'Rank Your Records' editorial http://noisey.vice.com/blog/rank-your-records-manic-street-preachers in which James Dean Bradfield ranked the Manic Street Preachers albums in order of importance to him. Sitting at the top of the list was Everything Must Go followed closely by The Holy Bible, with James discussing the creative / recording process for each long player and elucidating how "the biggest influence on Everything Must Go is The Holy Bible"...

2. THE HOLY BIBLE (1994)


You are currently touring this album. How has that been going?
It’s been brilliant. I said to you earlier that the closest we ever got to having Richey back in the band was writing and recording Journal For Plague Lovers. I think there is a misapprehension on other people’s part that in playing this record we will feel like we’re closer to Richey, but that’s not the experience I’ve had. I just enjoy the technicality of playing this record. The Holy Bible is steeped in some kind of proto-punk spirit, but it’s got quite a few different time signatures, everything is interlocked, the musicality is based on being tight and knowing what you’re doing. The amount of lyrics I have to sing on this record means I never get to be carefree up there. A lot of the songs have this push and pull to them. My solos are very atonal and go in different areas, and sometimes the bass is just completely connected to itself and nothing else. So you’ve got to commit to playing the music. You can’t fuck around with it. People ask, “Is it upsetting trying to connect with these lyrics again? Is it upsetting looking to your right and not seeing Richey there?” I’m sorry to disappoint people but I’ve been so busy with the technicalities of playing these songs that I never get wrapped up in those things.

What about when you were recording this album? Was it difficult to sing Richey’s lyrics, considering how dark they were and what he was going through?
For me it was more about the technical challenge. It was more a challenge of trying to match the ferocity of the music as the music was trying to match the ferocity of the lyrics. So once you’ve got the lyrics in front of you and I’ve written the music for the lyrics, and have all of the vocals on top, it really was a physical battle for me. The game kept getting higher and higher. You look at the lyrics and you’re like, “Fuck me!” Then you write the music for them, and you’ve done it. Then you try and record it, and you go “Fuck!” Then you try and sing it, and it’s “Jesus Christ! This is like an endless game of Jenga.” That’s what it was like recording this record. I remember having to ask Richey about some of the references lyrically. There were some things in there that I didn’t get at the time. Especially in a song like “Of Walking Abortion,” which had two names I didn’t know about. So I had to go do my own research. I remember asking for some clarification on some things, but 90 percent of the time it would be our message within. That’s the experience I remember making this record. It was a battle because these songs have so many words in them, but a really cool, sporting battle. The strange thing about us, even Richey, is that we’re all massive sports fanatics, which is kind of an indie transgression to a certain degree. This was like, “Let’s get ready to rumble! It’s time for a fucking fight!” Which was good. I liked it. I liked the sporting element of making a record.

Do you understand the rabid fascination with this record?
I understand it completely. It’s a snapshot of a definite period in time. A lot of people think that the qualifications of a “classic” rock record has got to be that it transcends its time. Well, I disagree. I think that sometimes a classic record is a snapshot of its time. It doesn’t transcend the ensuing years, it just stamps that place and time, and that’s what The Holy Bible does. We were young men coming out of the back end of fucking Reaganomics from across the pond. Ten years before we were fucking obsessed with American politics. There was some pretty terrible stuff going on that we found enthralling to watch from a distance. You’re getting stuff like that in “Ifwhiteamerica…” after the fact, of course. You’re getting stuff like “Of Walking Abortion” that is steeped in post-war American history, which Richey was a particular student of. And you’re getting stuff like “Archives of Pain,” where the left and right throughout 1990s Europe were becoming indiscernible from each other. Just all of those subjects were locked into that time. Some of it might miss its target now, but that’s how we viewed things then. I wouldn’t ever say we’ve made anything as good as The Clash, but the first Clash album never transcends the time that it was made in. That album just sounds brown, it sounds like the 70s. And The Holy Bible has that kind of discordant confusion, that post-ideological fucked-up-ness of the pre-mid-90s. And I really appreciate the fact that it is an album that does that.

1. EVERYTHING MUST GO (1996)

I wasn’t sure if you’d pick this or The Holy Bible.
In a strange way, it’s kind of hard to separate Everything Must Go from The Holy Bible. That’s why I put them beside each other. You could say that Everything Must Go was the last record we did with Richey. Obviously you’ve got “Kevin Carter” on there that is quintessentially Richey, isn’t it? You’ve got “The Girl Who Wanted To Be God,” which is half of Richey’s lyric. You’ve got “Small Black Flowers,” which is pretty much all of Richey’s lyrics. “Removables,” which is pretty much all of Richey. And “Elvis Impersonator,” which is at least 50 percent Richey’s lyrics. There are so many ways to look at this record. Would Richey like this record? I’m not sure. I don’t know. But I know that the last song me and Richey listened to together in the basement of the Embassy Hotel on Bayswater Road before he went missing, after we came back from doing demos in Surrey, we listened to “No Surface All Feeling” and “Small Black Flowers.” And as we pulled into the carpark “Small Black Flowers” faded and I asked which was his favorite and he said “Small Black Flowers” by a mile. So I knew that he really liked that song, and there were five songs on that record he was involved with. So there is an argument to say this was the last time we worked with Richey, even though he wasn’t in the studio when we did it.

There’s an abiding, bittersweet feeling to the ensuing success we had with Everything Must Go. There was a bit of serendipity in that even though we weren’t Britpop we got co-opted into Britpop, which I didn’t give a fuck about. It didn’t bother me. To some degree people even saw “A Design For Life” as the epitome of that. But “Kevin Carter” was a song that Richey could have seen how it was possible to be a hit single. Which is a crowning achievement itself: A photographer who killed himself and who actually saw how important real war photography was, and how it led to his destruction. I wish Richey could’ve seen that it was possible to have a hit single with something that traditionally wouldn’t fucking get near the top ten. I wish Richey could have been part of that success and seen that you didn’t have to sell out or whore out yourself to do that.

“A Design For Life” definitely stands in its own right in terms of lyrically wielding how the celebration of class has triumph in it. The first line of one our biggest ever songs is “Libraries gave us power / Then work came and made us free / What price now for a shallow piece of dignity.” There’s no selling out with that lyric. It’s saying what we want to say just in a much more succinct way. And like we said before, the biggest influence on Everything Must Go is The Holy Bible. We decided that we couldn’t go in the same direction as The Holy Bible because we would have fallen into self-parody. It would have been comic abyss, comic gothic. And we knew we had to go somewhere else and let the music breathe. We had to try and say what we meant but with less words. And with some more oxygen in the music and the words. Everything Must Go owes as much to The Holy Bible as it does to any records in our collection.

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"You're obliged to pretend respect for people and institutions you think absurd. You live attached in a cowardly fashion to moral and social conventions you despise, condemn, and know lack all foundation. It is that permanent contradiction between your ideas and desires and all the dead formalities and vain pretences of your civilization which makes you sad, troubled and unbalanced. In that intolerable conflict you lose all joy of life and all feeling of personality, because at every moment they suppress and restrain and check the free play of your powers. That's the poisoned and mortal wound of the civilized world."

- Octave Mirbeau (The Torture Garden)