Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 17:49 UK

Supermarkets cover up Manics CD

By Georgie Rogers and Lucy O'Doherty
6 Music News reporters

The cover was painted by artist Jenny Saville

The new Manic Street Preachers album is being shipped to supermarkets in a plain slipcase because its artwork has been deemed "inappropriate".

Concerns have been raised that the cover for Journal For Plague Lovers, a portrait by artist Jenny Saville, looks like it is splattered with blood.

Singer James Dean Bradfield called the situation "utterly bizarre".

"We just thought it was a beautiful painting. We were all in total agreement," he told BBC 6 Music.

The frontman disagreed that Saatchi favourite Saville, who also painted the cover for the band's 1994 album The Holy Bible, had intended to depict a bloody face.

"It is her brushwork," he said.

"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."

You show a piece of art and people just freak out
James Dean Bradfield

Bradfield added that the band were frustrated by supermarkets' attitudes.

"You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs, but you show a piece of art and people just freak out," he said.

Supermarkets' word

Four of the main supermarket chains - Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons - are among the shops using the slip cover.

Asda told 6 Music they wanted to be extra cautious in case the artwork upset some of its customers.

Manic Street Preachers in the 6 Music hub
Journal For Plague Lovers is Manic Street Preachers' ninth studio album

Meanwhile Nicola Williamson, Sainsbury's music buyer, 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."

Journal For Plague Lovers, the Welsh band's ninth studio album, sees them set the lyrics of former band member Richey Edwards to music, 14 years after the 27-year-old disappeared from the Embassy Hotel in London's Bayswater.

Bradfield says that the artwork was an integral part of the project and, for that reason, the band had never considered revising it.

"It's the first time ever that we actually feel controlled by the idea, which basically stemmed from Richey's words," he explained.

"So we're not going to censor it or anything, because it is what it is.

"It is bizarre that supermarkets actually think that that's going to impinge on anyone's psyche."

Journal For Plague Lovers is released in the UK on Monday.

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