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Suede
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  • Suede,
  • Dog Man Star,
  • Coming Up,
  • Sci-Fi Lullabies,
  • Head Music,
  • A New Morning,








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Suede

    Suede ( 1993 )
    So Young / Animal Nitrate / She's Not Dead / Moving / Pantomime Horse / The Drowners / Sleeping Pills / Breakdown / Metal Mickey / Animal Lover / The Next Life

    We believe in London. It all started when Brett Anderson and Mat Osman formed a band called Geoff in 1981. A fact that many years later had Elvis Costello visibly shaking in response to Brett's revelation that he'd been in a band called, of all things, Geoff. Brett Anderson, huge Bowie Fan. Mat Osman, a bass player. Much later, enter a talented guitarist name of Bernard Butler. Enter Justine Frischmann, later of Elastica. And, a drum machine. Then, upon advertisting for a regular drummer, Mike Joyce pops up! He used to drum with The Smiths, an obvious Suede influence! Mike didn't end up joining Suede but a drummer named Simon Gilbert did. It was then, and only then that the press flurry began, The NME proclaiming them the best band in britian before they'd even released a single. Justine had left by now, of course. Yet, during 1992 in the prior years to Britpop and when everyone was looking for the new Smiths, did Suede release three stellar singles. Three singles that were clearly from a band obsessed with Smiths, and Bowie, and being English. Yet, Bernard Butler was something else. A guitarist that clearly HAD something. Thus, the debut Suede album was born. Here it is, i'm reviewing them, so I better say something about the record right about now, hadn't I?

    Such was the hype, when this album was first released, I'd already heard all but two or three songs from it. Thus, my initial reaction to this debut Suede set was to be upset by it. It didn't reveal enough that was new, but that was only because i'd heard most of it already, not the fault of Suede, of course. So, putting a ten year upset behind me, what do we have here? We'll speak of the b-sides later, let's focus on those first three singles. 'The Drowners' with its stomping glam beat, glam guitar. And Brett, wailing somewhat ridiculously over the top, but the combination was something we'd not heard before. Akin to Morrissey being backed by The Spiders From Mars. 'Metal Mickey' really got us excited, largely thanks to Bernard Butler. His guitar see-saws all through the track and does some amazing things. The song is fast, rocking, glam and glittery and seedy in a London kind of way. It still sends a chill up my spine, even today. Just so exciting! 'Animal Nitrate' was the third single, a little more aiming for the charts, beautiful pop structure. A distinctive introduction, a proper chorus, etc, etc. Fourth single 'So Young' opens the album, but isn't as good as the first three singles. It makes for a good album opener though. No, not as good as 'Reel Around The Fountain' but it made for a good Suede statement of intent, all the same.

    The other songs here are nearly all good, the brief thrash of 'Moving', the elegant and epic 'Pantomime Horse', the cockney vocals throughout, the utterly lovely piano ballad 'The Next Life', which closes the album. The 'Sleeping Pills'/'Breakdown' sequence is the only segment of the album where your interest or attention drops and the album loses a little. Elsewhere, everything here is strong. It's the kind of album the UK is crying out for, ten years later. An album that seems designed to be important, and to mean something. An ambitious album that takes from the past, yet fuses it together into something new. Ever wondered where Britpop came from? It came from this album, and The Stone Roses. British music suddenly started to mean something again.

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    Jim G JagG7397@aol.com
    Are you mad? The sequence between track 6 ending and track 9 starting (I'm being faecitious! I mean the tracks 7 and 8) are the most breathtaking moments on this breathtaking album. Sleeping Pills is a gorgeous invite into the utterly compelling and beautiful Breakdown. This song is so underrated. Breakdown is the best song on here. And that it's in competition with Sleeping Pills, Animal Lover and the stirring Next Life is no mean feat.The sweeping verses you could listen to for a good few minutes more but then we are treated with a fantastical screech of melodic guitars that you could softly fall asleep to. The words "does your love only come in a Volvo" at one and the same time so eccentrically funny and British and deeply mournful. I've always thought Suede were badly underrated.They are never respected for their influence and always forgotten over their startling debut and follow-up. But everyone knew at the time they were good.


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    Dog Man Star 9 ( 1994 )
    Introducing The Band / We Are The Pigs / Heroine / The Wild Ones / Daddy's Speeding / The Power / New Generation / This Hollywood Life / The 2 Of Us / Black Or Blue / The Asphalt World / Still Life

    They'd split up before finishing this album, key creative member Bernard Butler leaving the group. The tensions present through the recording sessions make their way onto the grooves of this album. The tensions between singer and guitarist improve this album. This is a stunning album. You can spot the songs that were finished after Bernard left, though. It's quite obvious, and it's these songs that mean 'Dog Man Star' isn't a '10' or anything. Yet, this band were clearly at their absolute peak, everywhere else. The brief Eno influenced 'Introducing The Band' leads into the storming 'We Are The Pigs'. It wasn't a huge single for them, yet I absolutely adore this. 'Pigs' is slang for Police. No, not the sting fronted new-wave band, but the actual Police. Thus, the 'Burn' refrain and the sheer delirious Butler guitarwork takes the song to another level entirely. This guitar that sounds like a dozen trumpets and three Mick Ronsons. Brett speaks lots about burning and 'nuclear winds' and this song is a stunning triumph, so impossibly exciting. The nearly equally as good 'Heroine' follows, another Butler guitar showcase topped with evocative Anderson lyrics. Suddely, those Smiths comparisons didn't seem inappropriate at all. We had a new Morrissey/Marr. Then? Oh yeah, THEN?! 'The Wild Ones', a song more beautiful than anything from 'The Bends' album, which Radiohead released a full 12 months later. I just so adore the vocal here, the finest vocal Brett Anderson ever recorded. 'Daddy's Speeding' reveals the experimental Bowie influence, 'The Power' sounds all the world like Bernard didn't play on it, but its ok. 'New Generation' is a stomping pop suede classic and 'This Hollywood Life' a noisy moment full of guitar that no doubt went down very well when played live.

    A few more highlights remain, 'The 2 Of Us' has piano and such a lovely atmosphere. It's sad, very lonely, very beautifully sang. 'Black Or Blue' is a miss, the nine minute long 'Asphalt World' a hit, yet something of an acquired taste. Me? I love it. The quiet 'Still Life' ends up exploding in strings and reveals Bernard Butlers Phil Spector influence. Wall Of Sound? He had a wall of guitar, this is a wall of sound, though. Bernard would/will make a wonderful arranger/producer. Suede would miss his talents through subsequent releases.

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    GAZZA garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Dog man star was an incredibly ambitious record for its time and it still sounds strong today . "this hollywood life" is the only track that doesnt convince totally ."introducing" sounds like brian eno collaborating with george harrison circa 1967 , its a great start to the album . "the wild ones" "heroine" "new generation" are all great pop songs with edgy lyrics coupled with terrific melodies . Theres experimental tracks which try and bring fresh intrumental ideas to the table and of course big orchestral ballads which stray a little into high camp at times . Suede actually could have achieved amazing things musically but instead when butler departed they turned into a glam rock act . They blew it basically . 8/10


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    Coming Up ( 1997 )
    Trash / Filmstar / Lazy / By The Sea / She / Beautiful Ones / Starcrazy / Picnic By The Motorway / The Chemistry Between Us / Saturday Night

    Bernard Butler was replaced with a seventeen year old who had learnt to play by listening to Suede records, and a talented keyboard man name of neil codling. It took two guys to replace Bernard, and for this album at least, they did well. There is less sense of urgency and darkness, but the pop/glam nous remains much the same. The guitar sounds exactly the same, Richard Oakes had dedicated his brief teenage years to learning how to play exactly like Bernard Butler. He didn't have the creativity, but it meant Suede could continue to sound much the same. Brett and Neil Codling became the key creative forces, whether Richard co-wrote the songs, or not. Suede survived, quite spectacularly for this album, which sailed easily to number one at the height of britpop and spawned numerous top ten singles. 'Trash' was the first single and revealed that Suede had gone back to the sound of 'Aninal Nitrate' rather than trying to continue the progress made with the highlighs of 'Dog Man Star'. Yet, 'Trash' is magnificent Suede, it totally works. Brett turns in a great vocal and lyric and the song is Suede all through. 'Filmstar' reworks the Suede glam influences and sounds good turned up loud, 'Lazy' is a simple piece of guitar pop music. It's catchy. Yet, we also want something deeper from Suede. Don't we? We want them to be artistic, in the Bowie/Smiths tradition. Thus, 'By The Sea', a song Neil Codling obviously had something to do with, as it rides upon keyboard melodic refrains. Brett turns in a lovely vocal akin to 'The Wild Ones' and the entire song is touching and beautiful. Hooray!

    'She' continues from 'Dog Man Star', a furious exciting guitar thing that made Suede fans temporarily lose their senses and say "Bernard who?" - such was the way that this entire album works. We missed the fury and the darkness, yet they'd overcome the loss of Bernard very well. 'Beautiful Ones' was a pop song and a big hit single, 'Starcrazy' was pursuing the guitar pop thing a little too much, sounds a little strained and by numbers to me. Yet, the closing three songs are all good. 'Picnic By The Motorway' paints a lovely picture, 'The Chemistry Between Us' had a lovely delicious melodic guitar thread running all the way through it and the closing 'Saturday Night' does that ballad Suede thing extremely well. Bernard who? Well, Bernard produced reminders of his talent with his own records. For the time being, both Brett and Bernard were existing very well apart from each other. It wouldn't continue that way, though.
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    Sci-Fi Lullabies 8 ( 1997 )
    My Insatiable One / To The Birds / Where The Pigs Don't Fly / He's Dead / The Big Time / High Rising / The Living Dead / My Dark Star / Killing Of A Flash Boy / Whipsnade / Modern Boys / Together / Bentswood Boys / Europe Is Our Playground / Every Monday Morning Comes / Have You Ever Been This Low / Another No One / Young Men / Sound Of The Streets / Money / WSD / This Time / Jumble Sale Mums / These Are The Sad Songs / Sadie / Graffiti Women / Duchess

    The key song, almost of my entire life, is 'Stay Together' by Suede. It isn't on this compilation, or any of the Suede albums. The b-sides are here, more of which later. This was during the bernard butler ers. 'Stay Together' was nine minutes long and reached number four in the UK singles charts. How I remember that ten years after the event is just one of those things. I want to get personal now, and reveal a bit about myself. My first love, and we always remember our first loves, was a girl called Natalie Watkins. She lived in Datford, Kent. London, basically. We shared a love of Morrissey, Nick Cave and others. I was nineteen years old and she was the first girl I kissed, and slept with. It was very much an first love kind of thing, we took everything far too seriously yet also had that sheer excitement a first love brings. 'Stay Together' by Suede was our song. I've rarely played it ever since. Look at the poetry I wrote during 1993/1994, most of it was about her. One tells a story of how I proposed to her. 'Stay Together' was our song. Stupid, teenage love. I now have a girl called Vicki, who I actually AM going to spend the rest of my life with. We have our own songs. We have each other, and it's based on reality and sheer love of being with each other, rather than any idealized romantic notion.

    'Together' was the very first Suede song post Bernard Butler. It's lively and good, although ends prematurely. Suede shot themselves in the foot with this compilation. Just as 'Coming Up' had displayed they could survive post Butler, some kind of stunning illusion, thus 'Sci Fi Lullabies' showed us that the post-butler b-sides were nearly all rubbish in comparison to the butler era b-sides. 'My Insatiable One', so good that Morrissey did a cover version. The utterly stunning 'Where The Pigs Don't Fly' that was more a dream than a song. Utterly wonderful, and such a stunning guitar tone, such a feel that the guitar and the vocal produced! The stomping 'Killing Of A Flash Boy' that was from the 'Dog Man Star' era, and better than quite a few songs from that record. Hope arrived with the Neil Codling co-written 'Europe Is Our Playground', an Eno/Bowie inspired keyboard led song, that's superb. Sadly, most of the second disc of this two disc set, is rubbish. Well, not rubbish, just far more ordinary than most of the first disc. The definite highlight of the second disc is a song called 'Money'. Appropriately as far as I'm concerned, as I've never been very good with money, is the sheer sad, melancholic piano sounds present thoughout this song. A great song.

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    ellisjones@gmail.com
    This album is nowhere near as good as your review suggests. The first disc is decent enough, but the second is just poor. There is only one decent Suede album and that's their debut - it's fantastic. Other than that, they're pretty bland.

    Stephen Ryan sryan666@yahoo.co.uk
    I was recently browsing your website casually, when I came across a review of the Suede album Sci-Fi Lullabies. In that review, you revealed very personal details about a girlfriend you had in your late teens, who you are no longer with. I know that this e-mail will probably mean nothing to you, if you even read it, but I just want to say how deeply and genuinely touching it was to read that. It expressed realism, maturity, but also the need sometimes to simply go along and get lost in young love, even when ultimately it is more from the heart than the head. I occasionally read reviews on your website simply because I have a big interest in music, and your reviews are honest and easy to digest, even when I don’t agree. But now I know that you are more than just someone who writes about music. I am delighted to hear that you have someone else now, and that you are happy. To know that you are happy – and people like you deserve to be happy – gives me some comfort. Thanks


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    Head Music 6 ( 1999 )
    Electricity / Savoir Faire / Can't Get Enough / Everything Will Flow / Down / She's In Fashion / Abestos / Head Music / Elephant Man / HiFi / Indian Strings / He's Gone / Crack In The Union Jack

    A dull album produced after Suede had nothing left to prove. 'Coming Up' had some effort put behind it, they'd proved they could survive post-butler. 'Head Music' had some good moments, but lacks consistency. You'd hope for something better than the appalingly titled and obviously Kinks influenced britpop by numbers of 'Crack In The Union Jack'. Brett seems to have no new ideas, and the ideas he does have are inferior to his previous ideas. There is an increased electronic influence, yet very few of these songs live upto the best Suede of the past. The second song 'Savoir Faire' is enough of a criminal to be evidence enough. The sound is thin, the song arrangement and idea, barely there. Opener 'Electricity' is better, 'Everything Will Flow' a nice pop song, and another single, 'She's In Fashion' - quite dreamy, yet it isn't enough. 'Indian Strings' is a song you'd hope for something from. It has a good rhythm section groove, yet ultimately isn't something that grabs your attention at all. We have the mellow and quite lovely 'Down'. Lots of keyboard sounds. This is the problem, 'Coming Up' was an attempt to create an illusion that Bernard Butler was still in the band. 'Coming Up' did that very well. 'Head Music' is an attempt to assert the importance of the post Butler line-up, yet all it reveals is that they didn't have enough ideas, or imagination, of their own.

    'He's Gone', which appears towards the end of this album, is a terribly dreary thing. 'Suede' seem to have lost all their energy, even an energetic song like the title track seems forced, rather than born out of any genuine group interplay. The glam has gone, to be replaced by pub-rock in the case of 'Elephant Man', to be replaced by utter electonic crap in the case of 'Hi-Fi', an unlistenable song devoid of ideas. How Suede lost it so suddenly, is something of a mystery, following the hugely enjoyable 'Coming Up'.

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    A New Morning ( 2002 )
    Positivty / Obsessions / Lonely Girls / Lost In TV / Beautiful Loser / Streetlife / Astrogirl / untitled... Morning / One Hit To The Body / When The Rain Falls / You Be long To Me

    This album sold nothing, Suede suddenly didn't mean anything. Yet, the simple 'Coming Up' type pop of 'You Belong To Me' alone places this alongside of 'Head Music', for me. The opening song 'Positivity' sounds cools, a nice pop song - yet where is the band? It seems to me that this is a Brett solo album in all but name. Fine, no problems with that, but this is the same man who ten years previously had decried Morrissey's solo career, claiming any eventual solo career of his own would somehow be far better. On the evidence of this album, he was talking utter shite. The solo career of Morrissey, a career that has seen him sell more records than he did when he was with The Smiths, and retain his critical reception, is something to be marvelled at. Brett Anderson only has an ounce of the talent that Morrissey has. This album is the ultimate proof, although it's not too bad. We'vea bunch of likeable, if unambitious, pop songs. 'One Hit To The Body' is another song that sounds all the world like a solo Brett Anderson showpiece. Yet, the first two Morrissey solo songs were the masterful 'Suedehead' and 'Everyday Is Like Sunday'. The post butler years have destroyed those early Smiths inheritors claims that were made for Suede. You can't just surround yourself with 'a bunch of guys' and expect to recreate the magic of a genuine chemical brilliance, aka The Smiths, or even, early Suede.

    'Lonely Girls' is a lovely song, a piece of string assisted folk niceness. 'Lost In TV' also has an acoustic guitar introduction, seemingly an attempt at moving Suede forwards, yet it doesn't. It can't, it doesn't contain any forward thing, it just sounds kinda floaty and nice. This entire album sounds kinda nice, it's not offensive - yet it offers no examples of brilliance. It's so far down the road from 'Dog Man Star', or even 'Coming Up', that it doesn't bear thinking about. Even little Richard Oakes seems to have forgotten that he ever liked Bernard Butler. He seems to now like forgettable untalented session players that might have brushed up against 'Tears For Fears' instead. From Suede's early ambitions, this is quite a come-down. And, oh my god. The vocal on 'Astro Girl' is hideous. It sounds like some bloke in a pub, it sounds like Robbie Williams - like Brett Anderson has been smoking "a thousand fags".

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    The Magic Wanderer the_wanderer@manx.net
    I loved this album at the time, and was really angry at the way they threw it away, especially releasing Positivity (the worst song on the thing!) as the first single. It is a shadow of their former selves, but still a stronger return artistically than many other bands. Love the site and the reviews by the way. Will have a root round to see if you've done Here Come The Tears...


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    this page last updated 17/06/07


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    Made In Devon. this page last updated 17/06/07



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