Manic Street Preachers in row with supermarkets over new album

Major chains won't display 'Journal For Plague Lovers' cover

Manic Street Preachers have courted controversy once again, with supermarkets refusing to display their new album cover.

‘Journal For Plague Lovers’ is set for release on Monday (May 18), but major supermarket chains will only stock it in a blank slipcase because they fear that the cover image (pictured) will offend.

Some observers reckon that the painting by British artist Jenny Saville depicts a child with a bloodied face, a claim which frontman James Dean Bradfield said was “totally bizarre”.

He told BBC 6 Music: “We just thought it was a beautiful painting. We were all in total agreement.

“If you’re familiar with her work, there’s a lot of ochres and browns, and reds and browns and perhaps people are looking for us to be more provocative than we are being. We just saw a much more modern version of Lucian Freud-esque brushstrokes. That’s all we saw.”

Four of the main supermarket chains – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons – will only stock the album with the blank sleeve cover.

Sainsbury’s music buyer Nicola Williamson said: “We felt that some customers might consider this particular album cover to be inappropriate if it were prominently displayed on the shelf. As such, the album will be sold in a sleeve provided by the publisher.”

But Bradfield was not convinced by the argument. “You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs,” he said, “but you show a piece of art and people just freak out.”

‘Journal For Plague Lovers’ features lyrics left behind by guitarist Richey Edwards, who went missing in 1995. The band analyse the words and remember Edwards in this week’s issue of NME, out now.

Feature – the wisdom of Manic Street Preachers, 1991-2009.

Blog – read the full, unedited transcript of our epic Manic Street Preachers interview.