Released on: Gold Against the Soul (Album #2) Columbia Records, 14 June 1993
If there is a track on Gold Against the Soul that has been consistently denied the acclaim it deserves, it is surely ‘Nostalgic Pushead’. Detractors of the album often feel that it begins to drag towards the end, and this song is probably the beginning of that section (given the enduring popularity of [A48] ‘Roses in the Hospital’).
Although the chorus is a little formulaic and certainly lacking the anthemic quality that the best Manics choruses tend to have, there is still a lot of interesting things going on in ‘Nostalgic Pushead’. For one thing, the lyrics in the verses are excellent and very densely packed with more interesting references than any song since [B39] ‘Dead Yankee Drawl’; as with the following song on the album, there’s a lot of wry humour in them as well. Edwards apparently began writing about the persistence of nostalgic icons like the Rolling Stones into the ’90s, but many of the lines seem to be more about the worst elements of London culture. The line “rebellion it always sells at a profit” is surely one of the best on the whole record and could be sly reference to the band themselves, whose musical rebellion was beginning to prove quite lucrative by this point.
The song also begins and ends with a pair of memorable little things from Bradfield: his almost drunk-sounding laugh at the start of the track and his callous “some god” comment at the end of the last chorus. Elsewhere, there are some very subtle but very nice male choir-esque backing vocals in the choruses and a fine guitar solo. All in all, ‘Nostalgic Pushead’ is a great and truly underrated Manics rocker of the GATS era and one good reason for the album as a whole to be reassessed.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“rebellion it always sells at a profit”
Stonehenge – a prehistoric monument made up of standing stones in Wiltshire, England. Strongly associated with New Age culture and Neo-Druidry.
The Stones – common nickname for The Rolling Stones, British rock band formed in London in 1962.
Elvis – Elvis Presley (1935-77), American actor and singer who dominated rock and roll from 1956 to around 1963.
Soho Square – a public square in Soho, London, now dominated by the offices of various media organisations.
Paul Smith – (1946 – ) British fashion designer knighted in 2000 for his services to menswear.
Gaultier – Jean Paul Gaultier (1952 – ) French fashion designer often thought of as the enfant terrible of French fashion.
Cocaine – a crystalline tropane alkaloid obtained from the coca plant, used as a drug, and illegal in most of the world.
Cholesterol – an organic substance classified as a waxy steroid or fat. Known for its potentially negative health effects (especially cardiovascular disease) if allowed to build up in the body.