The London Suede - Suede - The London SuedeSuede - The London Suede - Suede - The
The Solo Artist, 1998
photo by Karena Bernard
Coming Up Tour, 1997
of Ariana & Nina, Thailand
by Nevin Martell
The London Suede have made three of the
most pivotal albums in contemporary British music, Suede, Dog Man Star, and Coming
Up. Each album showed an amazing progression of style, artistry and songwriting.
co-founder Bernard Butler left in 1995, right after the completion of the epic Dog
Man Star, the pundits thought the band were done for. However, with the addition
of Richard Oakes the band continued on and eventually added keyboardist Neil Codling.
These two new members brought a new dynamic to the band, both sonically and personally.
No longer did guitarist Bernard Butler hold the reins with singer Brett Anderson.
The London Suede had truly become a group, one that allowed for the input of all
Anderson lives in a world of tattooed tears, stolen ice cream vans, jumble sale mums,
blades engraved with babies' names, and graffiti women. It is a strange world, but
not one that is wholly unfamiliar.
Suede's self titled
debut release (1993)
Dog Man Star (1994)
Anderson's vividly futuristic and surreal imagery, there remains a potent level of
emotionality in the London Suede's work. Anderson's world may be one addled with
drugs and European grandeur, but the raw emotions he conjures with his lyrics are
Sci-Fi Lullabies is
the album you should buy to find out what you've been missing about The London Suede,
whether you're a fan or don't own a single album.
London Suede's b-sides are special events. Each time a new single comes out, we rush
out to buy two or more precious new pieces of the London Suede. They are never throwaways,
or, worse yet, shoddy covers and indulgent remixes. Instead, they are rockers, mini-epics,
sweeping acoustic sonnets and glimmering bits of pop. This is why Sci-Fi Lullabies
is the best justified b-sides compilation since I can remember. It's like a new double
album from Suede, though most hardcore fans probably own all the b-sides. However,
for Stateside fans who must pay $10 and up for import singles, this compilation is
a perfect idea. Twenty seven London Suede b-sides spanning all thirteen singles they
tracks proceed in chronological order leading off the set with "My Insatiable
One" and "To The Birds" taken from the classic single "The Drowners."
We proceed through the singles with "Where Pigs Don't Fly," "He's
Dead," "The Big Time" and "High Rising" all off of singles
released from the Suede album. The b-sides display the melancholy ballads and hazy
ambient pieces of soaring pop. "The Living Dead" is a heart-wrenching paean
to a drug user and Brett's touchingly understated vocal plays melancholy with Butler's
guitar. "My Dark Star" finds Ander son highlighting his lyrical prowess
as his voice echoes with remorse; "You'll hide among the covers and wave as
the aeroplanes go by/There's nothing to say when you sleep all day, but "bye-bye"/You
mind will find another, and that's where the days have gone/and all you can hear
is a stereo somewhere playing a pig-of-a-song." That is a sci-fi lullaby.
b-sides for Dog Man Star, starting with " Killing of a Flash Boy" find
the band giving over a true a-side. The song has a staccato, quick-fire rhythm and
a melodic chorus. There were only three singles released from Dog Man Star and the
third single, "New Generation," gave us the first glimpse of Anderson/Oakes
compositions. Though neither "Together" or "Bentswood Boys" is
as instantly memorable as the Anderson/Butler b-sides, if you listen several times
through, you'll find "Bentswood Boys" growing on you. With a confident
acoustic strum, the song traces the lives of the youth who are lost intoday's glam-futuristic
Each time a
new single comes out, we rush out to buy two or more precious new pieces of the London
Suede. They are never throwaways, or, worse yet, shoddy covers and indulgent remixes.
the first single, "Trash," was released from the then forthcoming third
album Coming Up, fans were taken aback. No-one thought that Richard Oakes could fill
the shoes of Bernard Butler. The slice of glittery pop genius that met their ears
blew them away. The singles were the same way, there were true classics buried as
b-sides. "Europe is Our Playground," a concert favorite, and the only London
Suede song with bassist Matt Osmon's creative input, was re-recorded for this collection
to reflect the live vibe of the song. "Another No One," "Jumble Sale
Mums," and "These Are The Sad Songs" were all melancholy bits of genius.
is only one minor problem with this collection -- track selection. Was it really
necessary to make "Modern Boys" a b-side for the Stateside version of the
collection when it was already included as a bonus track on the US version of Dog
Man Star? And there were a number of true b-side classics that were left off; "Painted
People," "Asda Town," "Feel," "Sam," and "This
World Needs a Father."
the one b-side the London Suede ever commissioned, Brian Eno remixing "Introducing
the Band," was left off. However, despite the minor track listing gripes, this
collection stands as a testimony to the London Suede's skill as prolific and solid
songwriters. Sci-Fi Lullabies is the album you should buy to find out what you've
been missing about the London Suede, whether you're a fan or don't own a single album.
12-4-98: More photos from
Reading will be added shortly,
(now that I have my own scanner).
performing at Reading
photo: k bernard
performing at Reading
photo: k bernard
©TransACTION Inc. All Rights Reserved.
performing at Bowery Ballroom, NYC - 1998
in Central Park, NYC - 1998