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"Motown Junk"
Single by Manic Street Preachers
Released January 21, 1991
Format CD, Vinyl record (12")
Recorded Late 1990
Genre Alternative, glam punk, hard rock, indie rock
Length 3:59
Label Heavenly HVN8 12
Producer Robin Wynn Evans --
Manic Street Preachers singles chronology
"New Art Riot"
"Motown Junk"
"You Love Us"

"Motown Junk" is an early stand alone single from the rock band Manic Street Preachers. It was released on January 21, 1991. The track has long been a live favourite from the earlier part of their career to the present day. The title track shows the band during their pinnacle of iconoclastic attitude, such as in the lyric, "I laughed when Lennon got shot". The Motown in the title refers to famed 60s and 70s label Motown Records. The song also displayed their huge cultural scope with a Public Enemy-sampling intro and an outro sample of The Skids.

Both b-sides featured on the single (Sorrow 16 and We Her Majesty's Prisoners) were on the later singles "Slash 'n' Burn" - "You Love Us" respectively - from the band's debut album, Generation Terrorists. The single was the band's first from their then record label, Heavenly Records. Despite its relatively poor charting, the single gained the band much attention from the press.

The b-side "We Her Majesty's Prisoners" was originally titled "Ceremonial Rape Machine", but after pressure from the label, it was renamed.

When performing live, the band begin the song with a few lines from another song. From around 1991 until 1997, James would sing the chorus to the Motown classic "Baby Love", often changing the lyrics on the spot. During 1998/99, the song began with the riff from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama"; since then the Manics have used the "Motown Junk Medley" to pay tribute to Van Halen's "Jump" and Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine". On their May 2007 tour, the Manics used the first verse of "Condemned To Rock And Roll" to begin the song, and during the December tour the band played a shortened version of The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary" as an intro. In the summer of 2008, they returned to preceding live performances of the song with "Baby Love.", whilst for the Journal for Plague Lovers tour in 2009, this song was proceeded by "Stop in the Name of Love".

The band have played the song at virtually every gig since 1990. Nicky Wire commented around 2003 that the day they stopped playing 'Motown Junk' live was the day they stopped being the Manics. It is noticeable, however, that on recent live performances, James Dean Bradfield does not complete the line "I laughed when Lennon got shot", only singing "I Laughed". Critics of the band's "Lifeblood" album were quick to make much of the fact that the song was dropped from the setlist of the band's December 2004 Lifeblood arena tour. It returned for the April 2005 "Past Present Future" tour, as the final song in the set.

The single's cover features a watch recovered from the Hiroshima bomb site depicting the exact moment of detonation.

In 2008, the band added a Johnny Boy Anniversary Mix free embedded version to their official website, which featured spoken dialogue by Richey Edwards.

Track listing


CD / 12"

  1. "Motown Junk"
  2. "Sorrow 16"
  3. "We Her Majesty's Prisoners"


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