Indie Rock Music

Manic Street Preachers – Gold Against The Soul

Welsh rock group Manic Street Preachers, London, 2nd June 1993. Left to right; drummer Sean Moore, bassist Nicky Wire, singer James Dean Bradfield and guitarist Richey James Edwards. (Photo by Kevin Cummins/Getty Images)

With the impending release of the deluxe edition of Manic Street Preachers sophomore long player, Gold Against The Soul on 12th June, now seems like a good time to have another look at this overlooked & under-loved album.

Sandwiched between the hugely ambitious flop of their debut album Generation Terrorists (“we wouldn’t be happy unless it sold sixteen million”) & the Post-Punk terror of their bleak masterpiece The Holy Bible, sits Manic Street Preachers first steps away from the upbeat anxiety of the former & towards the desolate internal strife which characterised the latter. Gold Against The Soul was produced by Dave Eringa (who had produced their Motown Junk single, three years previously) at Hook End Manor, an Elizabethan mansion formerly owned by Pink Floyd guitarist, Dave Gilmour.

With production levels more polished & commercially accessible than Generation Terrorists, Gold Against The Soul brings to mind The Clash’s sophomore album, the Sandy Pearlman produced Give ‘Em Enough Rope. A lot of the raw, punk edge seems to have been rolled off and replaced by shimmering concessions to radio friendliness. Also like Give ‘Em Enough Rope, Gold Against The Soul has, despite early indifference, grown in stature in the eyes of the bands fans.

The lyrics are definitely darker & more focused than Generation Terrorists. Lead single From Despair To Where is about the crushing realisation of the futility of adulthood. La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) is named after a line from Vincent Van Gogh’s suicide note & describes the hypocrisy of how we treat veterans & parade them around at the Cenotaph every year. Symphony Of Tourette is a cross between an apology/explanation for some of the offensive statements the band members made around the time (“Let’s hope Michael Stipe goes the same way as Freddie Mercury”, “I hate Slowdive more than Hitler”) & a longing for the social freedom which the writer imagines Tourette’s syndrome affords a sufferer.

The album kicks off with some incredibly powerful riffing on the excellent Sleepflower, one of this writers favourite ever album openers. This ode to insomnia certainly carries a lot of weight & (I read in this article) uses the same guitar amp that was used on the bands independent single, Motown Junk, three years previously.

The singles from this album are beautifully produce & have gone on to be staples in the Manic Street Preachers live show over the years. From Despair To Where is a masterclass in rock radio production. La Tristesse is pure power pop. Roses In The Hospital has a loose limbed, almost Madchester feel to it, instantly dispelled by the profanity in the chorus: “We don’t want your fucking love” – or the cringeworthy radio edit which swaps that line for the songs title sung to the same vocal melody. Life Becoming A Landslide drifts effortlessly between elegaic pop verses, soaring, anthemic choruses & intense crunchy riffing.

On 12th June 2020, the deluxe edition of Gold Against The Soul will be released. The band have put together this trailer, featuring a number of clips of live performances of songs from the album.

Manic Street Preachers have confirmed the re-issue of a deluxe edition of their 1993 second album ‘Gold Against The Soul’ on 12th June 2020.

Available as a  120 page  A4 book featuring unseen images from the band’s  long time photographic collaborator Mitch Ikeda, many personally annotated by Nicky Wire and original typed and handwritten lyrics from the band’s own archive.  It will contain two CDs featuring the remastered album, previously unreleased demos, b-sides from the era, remixes and a live recording of The Clash song ‘What’s My Name’.  

Also available is a 180g vinyl version of the original album with download codes to the extra tracks on CD1 and a digital version featuring all the songs.

Pre Order signed copies of the book via the official Manics store:

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