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The Holy Bible
Studio album by Manic Street Preachers
Released August 29, 1994
Recorded 1994 at Soundspace Studios, Cardiff
Genre Alternative rock
Length 56:17
Label Epic 4774212 (CD)
Producer Steve Brown, Manic Street Preachers
Professional reviews

10th anniversary edition:

Manic Street Preachers chronology
Gold Against the Soul
(1993)
The Holy Bible
(1994)
Everything Must Go
(1996)

The Holy Bible is the third studio album by Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers. It was released on August 30, 1994 by Epic Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music and peaked at number six on the UK Albums Chart. In August 2005, it topped Newsnight Review's viewer poll of the favourite albums of all time, ahead of Radiohead's bigger seller OK Computer. The record is included in the list of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In 2001, Q named The Holy Bible as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.

Contents

Overview

It was the band's final album recorded before the disappearance of their lyricist Richey James Edwards on February 1, 1995. It is considered to be the band's best work by many, although some critics prefer the band's next album, Everything Must Go, the latter demonstrating a different musical style and production outlook, reflecting the absence of the creative direction of Edwards.

The first single from the album, "Faster", was released on June 6 and peaked at #16 on the British singles chart. The single marked a new chapter for the band as the material was both lyrically and sonically different from the music of their previous album Gold Against the Soul. The only hint of the new sound came on the b-side Comfort Comes, which was lyrically and sonically a stepping stone to the band's re-found disciplined, streamlined approach.

Writing

Whereas lyric duties on the two previous albums were split fairly evenly between Edwards and the band's bass player Nicky Wire, Wire has said in interviews that Edwards wrote about 70–75% of the lyrics on The Holy Bible, which may explain why the lyrical themes were much darker than on later albums following Edwards' disappearance. On the DVD included in the 10th Anniversary reissue of The Holy Bible, Wire said he mainly wrote "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart" and "This Is Yesterday" as well as giving many of the songs their final titles.

The song lyrics consisted of many diary/journal entries made by Edwards, and were, in essence, his final writings before his mysterious disappearance on February 1, 1995. In Q magazine's February 2006 100 Greatest Albums Ever! list, where The Holy Bible came in at #69, it was said of the album: 'Graphic, violent torrent of self-lacerating punk fury which infamously details the horrors in Richey Edwards' head before his 1995 disappearance.'

Edwards' lyrics, as well as being darker, were generally of a more personal nature than on previous albums. Gold Against the Soul had shown that the band were able to write songs dealing with melancholy and despair as opposed to the political themes of Generation Terrorists. Even so they were largely about the effect of the wider culture on the individual. In contrast, the more personal songs on The Holy Bible are more revealing of Edwards' own mindset. In parallel with the more personal material, many of the albums songs still dealt with the wider political and cultural themes that had dominated Generation Terrorists , though the new songs drew on Edwards' knowledge of political history more than that album. The tone was also angrier and more judgmental in general, with "Archives of Pain" and "The Intense Humming of Evil" being particularly damning indictments of the evil side of mankind's nature.

In fitting with the darker and angrier nature of the new songs, the references used throughout the album's songs and artwork were more obscure than in the past, drawing less from the world of pop culture and more from the shady world of serial killers and political dictators. Edwards' interest in philosophy was also more evident on this album, with nihilism ("I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing") and misanthropy ("All I preach is extinction") being particularly prevalent. A mood of misanthropy and self-hatred hovers over much of the album, a feeling different from, but not unrelated to, the general feeling of pessimism and despair that had pervaded their previous albums.

As well as the subject matter the actual structure of the lyrics was also different from the band's previous albums, eschewing the more polemical nature of old for a more experimental, fragmented approach comparable to the modernist poetry of T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas or the lyrics of post-punk frontmen Howard Devoto and Mark E. Smith. As well as ignoring a linear narrative, much of Edwards' writing from this period ignores standard grammar and traditional syntax, creating a rougher, rawer feel that arguably creates an even more expressive lyric due to its jagged edges.

Recording and sound

The album was recorded at Soundspace Studios in Cardiff, Wales which was usually used to record demos and mixed in Britannia Row Studios, London, England. It was produced by the band with assistance from little known producer Mark Freegard, whose previous work included The Breeders' 1993 album Last Splash. The overall sound of the album is fairly dense with most tracks featuring multiple interwoven guitar parts. Many tracks begin or end with a spoken word sample and there is increased use of flanger effects on the guitar tracks. The recording quality is of a considerably lower fidelity than their previous albums.

Aesthetic

A performance on the BBC's Top of the Pops in support of first single "Faster" resulted in over 25,000 complaints, due to lead singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield wearing an IRA-style balaclava as part of the band's new military image, à la The Clash's Combat Rock-era style.

The band have said since that the reason for this was because they felt they had lost a lot of focus during the Gold Against the Soul era and believed that having a unified, militant image would bring them together again. The band's military fatigues also represented a change of attitude and newfound intensity that left its mark on the recording, with Bradfield regularly working in the studio for 13 hours a day. This showed on "Faster" which required approximately 36 rewrites over a period of three weeks to end up with the final version which, in Bradfield's words, was "strychnine, like parallel lines with the lyrics". As well as the recording itself, the period of creativity that ultimately resulted in The Holy Bible was equally intense. Edwards was constantly writing during this period as well as reading five books a week, which partly accounts for the numerous obscure references found on the album. The videos for the album's three singles - "Faster", "Revol" and "She Is Suffering" (there was no video made for "P.C.P." which was a double A-side with "Faster") - also featured the band wearing army and navy uniforms.

The album cover is a painting called Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) by artist Jenny Saville. Although the band were originally quoted £30,000 to use the painting by the Saatchi gallery, Saville gave her permission for use of her work for free after a 30-minute telephone call with Edwards in which he described, in detail, each song on the album. Underneath the painting is the tracklisting and above it is the band name and album title, all in the same typeface as Simple Minds' Empires and Dance album. The back cover features a photo of the band in military uniforms and a quote taken from Octave Mirbeau's book The Torture Garden. Of the album title, Edwards said "In every hotel in the world, the only constant is the Holy Bible".

10th Anniversary Edition

On December 6, 2004, an expanded version of The Holy Bible was released, containing 2 CDs and a DVD. Disc 1 comprised a digitally re-mastered version of the original album plus 4 live tracks.

The second CD was the version of The Holy Bible that had been released in Canada (and was planned to be released in the US, which ultimately didn't happen). It had been re-mixed by Tom Lord Alge, who would go on to mix recordings by Marilyn Manson amongst others and is significantly different from the UK version on Disc 1. Nicky said of the remix that "it does beef it up quite a bit actually, gives it a bit of American savvy". Sure enough, the US mix sounds more like a rock album than the less commercial post-punk sound of the British mix. James also commented on the enclosed bonus DVD interview that the overall sound of the US mix is reminiscent of how the tracks sound live. However, not all of the tracks were considered superior by the band - Nicky stated in the DVD interview that although he considered around eight of the US tracks better than their UK counterparts, "Faster" was a better song in the original mix. James mirrored this opinion, expanding the list to not only "Faster", but "Archives of Pain" and "The Intense Humming of Evil", suggesting that in the original mix they were "closer to their roots".

The DVD features a 30-minute interview with the band, the Manics playing "Faster" on Top of the Pops as well as an acoustic performance for MTV's Most Wanted. It also includes live performances from the Glastonbury and Reading festivals, 3 tracks from TV show Butt Naked, the American video for "Faster", a new film for "Yes" and the "Judge Yr'Self" video previously only available as a video stream from the band's official website. The videos for the singles can be obtained by clicking "enter" when the "R" appears on the screen.

Track listing

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Original

  1. "Yes" – 4:59
  2. "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart" – 3:39
  3. "Of Walking Abortion" – 4:01
  4. "She Is Suffering" – 4:43
  5. "Archives of Pain" – 5:29
  6. "Revol" – 3:04
  7. "4st 7lb" – 5:05
  8. "Mausoleum" – 4:12
  9. "Faster" – 3:55
  10. "This Is Yesterday" – 3:58
  11. "Die in the Summertime" – 3:05
  12. "The Intense Humming of Evil" – 6:12
  13. "P.C.P." – 3:55

14."Drug, Drug, Druggy"(live)(Japan only bonus track)- 3:30

15."Roses In The Hospital"(live)(Japan only bonus track)- 4:48

16."You Love Us"(live)(Japan only bonus track) - 3:07

17."New Art Riot"(live)(Japan only bonus track) - 3:00

  • All music Bradfield/Moore. All lyrics Edwards/Wire.

10th Anniversary edition

CD 1: Digitally re-mastered original album and live tracks
  1. "Yes" – 5:00
  2. "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart" – 3:39
  3. "Of Walking Abortion" – 4:01
  4. "She Is Suffering" – 4:43
  5. "Archives of Pain" – 5:29
  6. "Revol" – 3:04
  7. "4st 7lb" – 5:05
  8. "Mausoleum" – 4:12
  9. "Faster" – 3:55
  10. "This Is Yesterday" – 3:57
  11. "Die in the Summertime" – 3:05
  12. "The Intense Humming of Evil" – 6:12
  13. "P.C.P." – 3:58
  14. "The Intense Humming of Evil" (Live) – 4:58
  15. "4st 7lb" (Live) – 4:44
  16. "Yes" (Live) – 4:30
  17. "Of Walking Abortion" (Live) – 3:47
CD 2: US album mix/Demos and radio sessions
  1. "Yes" – 5:19
  2. "Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart" – 3:43
  3. "Of Walking Abortion" – 4:07
  4. "She Is Suffering" – 4:57
  5. "Archives of Pain" – 5:30
  6. "Revol" – 3:05
  7. "4st 7lb" – 5:10
  8. "Mausoleum" – 4:13
  9. "Faster" – 3:53
  10. "This Is Yesterday" – 3:58
  11. "Die in the Summertime" – 3:07
  12. "The Intense Humming of Evil" – 6:14
  13. "P.C.P." – 3:57
  14. "Die in the Summertime" (Demo) – 2:26
  15. "Mausoleum" (Demo) – 3:29
  16. "Of Walking Abortion" (Radio 1 Evening Session) – 3:39
  17. "She Is Suffering" (Radio 1 Evening Session) – 4:25
  18. Yes" (Radio 1 Evening Session) – 4:40
DVD
  1. "Faster" (Top Of The Pops)
  2. "Faster" (Butt Naked)
  3. "P.C.P." (Butt Naked)
  4. "She Is Suffering" (Butt Naked)
  5. "4st 7lb" (MTV Most Wanted)
  6. "She Is Suffering" (MTV Most Wanted)
  7. "Faster" (Glastonbury '94)
  8. "P.C.P." (Glastonbury '94)
  9. "Yes" (Glastonbury '94)
  10. "Revol" (Reading '94)
  11. "Faster" (US Video)
  12. "Judge Yr'self" (Video)
  13. "Yes" (New film made by Patrick Jones)
  14. "Band Interview" (30mins)

Singles

Personnel

References


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