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Sunday, October 17, 1999 Published at 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK

UK: Wales

Stereophonics kiss too much for Saudis

The Stereophonics hit album has been censored in the Middle East

Top Welsh band The Stereophonics' new album sleeve has been censored in the Middle East after it was branded "indecent".

The number one CD Performance and Cocktails shows two young couples kissing and has sold more 1,250,000 copies around the world.

But the album cover was classed "too revealing" by Saudi Arabian officials.

One couple kissing have been chopped down the middle and turned back to back.

[ image: Saudi authorities say the cover is not decent]
Saudi authorities say the cover is not decent
And one woman embracing her man has been deleted from the black-and-white picture altogether.

It is the second biggest-selling album in Britain this year after Boyzone's Greatest Hits - but judged not to be fit for Muslim eyes in Saudi.

The cover photograph was shot using models as well as staff on the band's V2 record label.

Pier Reid, 31, was delighted to be pictured as one of the kissing couples - but said she was surprised when she was axed from the Saudi cover.

Pier, who is Stereophonics product manager, was pretending to kiss colleague Ray Conroy as he balanced his three-year-old daughter Isa on his shoulders.

She said: "It was a harmless image meant to look like a happy and together couple with their child.

"But when I was shown the Saudi Arabia version I must admit to being a little miffed they chopped me out.

"I know Middle Eastern countries have different attitudes to us and they may have classed it too indecent but we never intended to upset anyone.

[ image: Lead singer Kelly Jones]
Lead singer Kelly Jones
"It wasn't even a passionate embrace and now it looks silly. We've just found the whole thing quite funny.

"The band are quite popular in the Middle East but although they can change the cover they cannot alter the content of the songs."

The hit album by the band from Cwmaman in the Cynon Valley, south Wales, has already gone double platinum.

A spokesman for the Saudi Arabia embassy in London said the album sleeve was not deemed "decent".

He added: "Images of sexual activity are just not allowed in a Muslim country.

"If it was a kiss between a mother and a child it would be fine but anything else is seen as private and taboo."

Stereophonics are among the nominees for this year's Q awards.

The band has been nominated in three categories including Best Album, Best Live Act and Best Band In The World Today - the Manic Street Preachers are also in the running.

The band recently walked away from Kerrang! Awards with Best British Band and Best LP after being nominated in six categories.

The ceremony will take place on 3 November.

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