Saturday, 13 August 2011
This month, there is a 4-part 'Britpop' special, looking at several bands who were always a bit more intelligent than some of their rivals - the featured bands are Blur, Pulp, Suede and Mansun. There is also a look at Madonna's UK singles from 1994 to mid 1996, and Sophie-Ellis Bextor.
"Modern life, well it's rubbish, I'm holding for tomorrow"
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Doesn’t time fly? Next year, it will be 15 years since the release of the first single by Theaudience, whose lead singer was none other than posh pop princess Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Whilst the band themselves survived for no longer than a handful of singles and an album, Bextor (as we she call her in the interests of saving me having to type that double barrelled name too much) has now been doing the solo rounds for over a decade. She may not quite be as omnipresent as she was when she first emerged, but she has managed to release no less than four albums now, the latest being this years “Make A Scene”. With quite an extensive discography now behind her, this is as good a time as any to look at those releases.
With an obviously clever bandname, allowing the band to say at gigs “we are Theaudience, and so are you”, Theaudience emerged in the middle of Britpop in 1997. They were one of a number of female fronted bands that would later get grouped together by journalists as part of a so called “scene” - each of the bands in this “scene” consisted of a glamorous lead singer plus assorted “Sleeper Blokes” (a phrase coined by the fact that nobody could remember the three male members of the Louise Wener fronted guitar band, Sleeper). Bextor didn’t quite fit the indie pop mould - that double barrelled name, her sophisticated glam look - and that gave the band a bit of an edge over their competitors. The band were a six piece, with lead guitarist Billy Reeves taking the lions share of the song writing duties.
They were signed to Mercury offshoot Elleffe, and released their debut single “I Got The Wherewithal” in 1997, the first of several brilliantly titled singles. It was issued as a 1000 copy only red vinyl 7”, and a relatively rare CD, which featured both tracks from the 7” plus two bonus tracks. When the band started to make waves in 1998, the price of these releases rose quite quickly to the £20 mark, although I seem to recall getting hold of the CD in a second hand record shop for about £2 when these prices were still being quoted, which suggests that maybe their value has dropped.
The band headed out on the NME package tour in early 98, and released their second 45, “If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young, When Can You Do It” to coincide. Promo copies featured slightly a different annotation of the title compared to the commercially released 45. It gave the band a top 50 chart position, helped along with the video getting some rotation on MTV, and set a precedent for all future releases by the band - Sophie, with no other band members, was featured alone on the cover of the record. Again, a coloured vinyl 7” was issued, and the photo from this sleeve was later used on a belated US release of “Wherewithal”. A live recording of “You Get What You Deserve”, taped at the London Astoria on the package tour on 25th January when it was still known as “I Never Have Been Done”, turned up on an NME freebie CD “Clean Sweep” in March.
Two more singles were issued prior to the LP surfacing - “A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed” and “I Know Enough" - which in a cynical marketing move, were both issued on two CD’s and 7”, which obviously helped propel both into the top 30.The 7” editions of the latter featured an exclusive vinyl-only B-side.
The band’s self titled debut LP followed in August 1998. As you would expect from such a glam band, the vinyl edition was pressed on glittery vinyl, whilst the CD edition first appeared as a double disc set, with six bonus tracks, a mix of new songs and rarities. The lead song on the bonus CD, “Mr. Doasyouwouldbedoneby”, had first turned up on a Various Artists EP on the Fierce Panda label in 1997/98.
Although Wikipedia claimed the band split after a “disastrous Glastonbury performance”, the band’s Glasto show was in June 98 - before the LP was even out. The band toured in support of the record, including a slot at August’s V98 festival, and work even began on a follow up album. However, Reeves had quit the band by 1999 and the group fell apart.
Bextor’s solo career got off to what you can only describe as an interesting start. In 2000, she was invited to provide lyrics and vocals for a previously recorded dance track called “Groovejet”, recorded by DJ Spiller. The new version, known as “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”, was issued as a single and famously ended up in a chart war with Victoria Beckham, the (at the time) ex-Spice Girl who was launching her solo career at the same time, with her own dance collaboration with True Steppers, “Out Of Your Mind”. When the chart was announced on the following Sunday, it was revealed that one of the most famous women in the world had been beaten to the top of the charts by a woman whose former band’s debut single had been limited to only a few thousand copies - see if you can work out which one is which! “Groovejet” has become such a famous song, it was later reissued as part of Positiva’s “Remixed” series of reissues in 2003, whilst several different overseas editions exist in totally different covers.
Bextor’s solo career would move away from the indie guitar leanings of Theaudience, and more towards the pop/dance sound of the Spiller record. Her debut single on her own, “Take Me Home”, was issued in 2001. Promo copies came in a “lipstick drawn” sleeve with Bextor’s name and a lipstick printed “kiss” on the cover. Her first album, “Read My Lips”, followed in August, and was promoted with a showcase show at the Scala in Kings Cross. Towards the end of the set, Sophie became so excited she hitched her skirt up and flashed her knickers at the crowd - some things just stick in the memory…
The album spawned a classic pop moment in the form of second single “Murder On The Dancefloor”, a gloriously perfect slice of music complete with a brilliantly darkly comic video, in which Bextor, taking place in a dancing competition, comes up with various ways in which she “removes” her competitors from the contest until she is the last one standing, and is thus crowned the winner. Bextor was starting to become a bit of a pop pin-up by this time - whilst the indie boys had drooled over her when she was in Theaudience (including me, of course), she was now starting to get the attention of the mainstream - and posed for the likes of FHM with little clothing on show.
A new song, “Get Over You”, was issued as a AA side with “Move This Mountain” in 2002, with Bextor undertaking her first solo headline tour. Another new song, “Music Gets The Best Of Me”, was released as her fourth solo single later in 2002, and “Read My Lips” was reissued with both these new songs added as bonuses the same year. A live version of “Groovejet” was tagged on the end, as an obvious “incentive purchase” manoeuvre, but - probably due to licensing issues - was a rerecorded live version from a Shepherds Bush Empire gig the previous May. The gig from which this version was taken was filmed and released as a live DVD, “Read My Lips”, in 2003. Included were bonus video clips of the singles, and - in a charming throwback to her former life - also featured three videos by Theaudience as well.
At the end of 03, a newly blond Bextor returned with a new single, “Mixed Up World”, a taster from her more electro/Pet Shop Boys sounding second LP, “Shoot From The Hip”. The album included a hidden bonus track in the form of a cover of “Physical”, originally by Olivia Newton John. The second single from the album, the much maligned (lyrically) “I Won’t Change You”, came backed with a cover of Baccara’s “Yes Sir I Can Boogie”. In what may or may not be a coincidence, Goldfrapp had also covered both “Physical” and “Yes Sir” by the end of 2003 as well.
After the birth of her first child in 2004, Sophie eventually returned to the world of pop the following year, with another dance collaboration. This time, she was billed as “Mademoiselle EB”, and sang on a song by Busface called “Circles (Just My Good Time)”. Her next normal solo release was in 2007, with “Catch You”, the first release from the “Trip The Light Fantastic” album, which continued her love of pop and dance. “Catch You” was released as both a CD Single and a 12” Picture Disc.
Two more singles from the album were released, “Me And My Imagination” - on CD and 12” Picture disc again - and “Today The Sun’s On Us” (CD only), which she plugged on “T4 On The Beach”. Just like at the Scala, there was more knicker flashing going on, although this time it was due to a combination of high winds blowing off the seafront and a ridiculously short dress.
In 2009, Bextor returned with the first of three dance collaborations that would surface before her fourth LP. “Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer)” was recorded with the Freemasons, and was released as both a 4 track 12” and a CD. However, the final two tracks on the CD were Bextor-less, but it did come in a full colour picture sleeve, whereas the 12” was housed in a die cut sleeve instead. The next collaboration, “Can’t Fight This Feeling” with Junior Caldera, was only issued as a physical single in France - but both “Heartbreak” and this song would later turn up on Bextor’s fourth solo LP, “Make A Scene”.
Bextor’s only UK single of 2010 was “Bittersweet”, released as a (very early) taster of the album. It was issued on both CD and 7” Picture Disc, the latter featuring a remix of the A-side on the b-side. The album was originally planned to be issued during 2010 (and titled “Straight To The Heart”), hence the seemingly rather early release for the single. Another collaboration, “Not Giving Up On Love”, with Armin Van Buuren, was released as a single in Germany, and was the third collaboration included on “Make A Scene”, which was finally released this year.
Whilst Bextor hasn’t quite done the “Pet Sounds” of the pop world yet, there are some gems in the back catalogue. I can especially recommend “Shoot From The Hip”, which at times even hints at her indie beginnings. I have listed below the essential and almost essential items from both Theaudience and her solo outings. Again, any formats not listed are generally for the completists only, but the listing for Theaudience is more or less everything they released, as releases on anything other than coloured vinyl or CD are few and far between.
THEAUDIENCE ALBUM DISCOGRAPHY
Theaudience (Numbered Glittered VinylLP, 1500 only, Mercury 558 771-2)
Theaudience (2xCD, 6 extra tracks, Mercury 558 845-2)
THEAUDIENCE SINGLES DISCOGRAPHY
I Got The Wherewithal/Je Suis Content (Red Vinyl 7”, Elleffe AUD1, 1000 only)
I Got The Wherewithal/Je Suis Content/Outside Out Of Space/Helen And Polly (CD, Elleffe AUDCD1)
Mr. Doasyouwouldbedoneby (Demo) (featured on the “Cry Me A Liver” EP, 2x7”, Fierce Panda NING 40, with insert)
If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young, When Can You Do It?/There Are Worse Things I Could Do (Numbered Blue Vinyl 7”, Elleffe AUD2, with insert, 2000 only)
If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young, When Can You Do It?/There Are Worse Things I Could Do/You And Me On The Run/The Beginning The Middle And The End (CD, Elleffe AUDCD2)
A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed (Single Version)/Penis Size And Cars (Numbered Yellow Vinyl 7”, Elleffe AUD3, with poster, 5000 only)
A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed (Single Version)/Penis Size And Cars/Ne Jamais Decu/I Miss Leo (CD1, Elleffe AUDCD3)
A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed (Single Version)/Ten Minutes Which Improved My Life/Never Gonna Give It To You (CD2, Elleffe AUDDD3, unique p/s)
I Know Enough (I Don’t Get Enough)/Harry, Don’t Fetch The Water/Magna Carta Vs Matthew Arnold (Numbered Green Vinyl 7”, Elleffe AUD4, with poster, 5000 only)
I Know Enough (I Don’t Get Enough)/Harry, Don’t Fetch The Water/I Don’t Get Enough (PMFF Lite) (Went Down To ‘Frisco Just For The Disco Mix) (CD1, Elleffe AUDCD4)
I Know Enough (I Don’t Get Enough)/Boutique In My Backyard/The Last Seven Minutes With You (CD2, Ellefe AUDD4, unique p/s)
SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR ALBUM DISCOGRAPHY
Read My Lips (CD, 2nd pressing with extra tracks, Polydor 589 968 2, with insert)
Shoot From The Hip (CD, Polydor 986 5834, with insert)
Trip The Light Fantastic (CD, Polydor 170 5086)
Make A Scene (CD, Loaded EBGBCD 001)
SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR SINGLES DISCOGRAPHY
Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) +2 (CD, Positiva CDTIV 137, also on Cassette [TCTIV 137)
Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Spiller’s Extended Vocal Mix) +2 (12”, Positiva 12TIV 137, in die cut sleeve)
Take Me Home (A Girl Like Me)/Sparkle/Take Me Home (A Girl Like Me) (Jewels & Stone Mix)/(Video) (CD, Polydor 587 231 2)
Take Me Home (A Girl Like Me) (Jewels & Stone Mix)/(Mutiny Main Mix)/(Sharp Club Vocal Mix) (33rpm 12”, Polydor 587 231 1)
Murder On The Dancefloor/Never Let Me Down/Murder On The Dancefloor (Parky & Birchy Remix)/(Video) (CD, Polydor 570 494 2, with insert)
Murder On The Dancefloor (G-Club Vocal Mix)/(Jewels & Stone Mix)/(Phunk Investigation Vocal Mix)/(Extended Album Version) (33rpm 12”, Polydor 570 494 1, with insert)
Murder On The Dancefloor (Album Version)/(Jewels & Stone Mix) (Cassette, Polydor 570 494 4, plays same both sides, unique p/s, originally shrinkwrapped)
Get Over You/Move This Mountain/Everything Falls Into Place (Bus Face Remix) (AA side Cassette, Polydor 570 833 4)
Get Over You/Move This Mountain/Live It Up (Acoustic Version)/Get Over You (Video) (AA side CD1, Polydor 570 833 2, with insert)
Get Over You (Original)/(Max Reich Vocal Mix)/Move This Mountain (Video) (AA side CD2, Polydor 570 834 2, unique p/s with insert and postcards)
Music Gets The Best Of Me (Single Version)/(Flip N Fill Remix)/Is It Any Wonder (Jay’s Bluesix Radio Edit) (CD1, Polydor 065 922 2)
Music Gets The Best Of Me (Single Version)/Groove jet (If This Ain’t Love) (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 3.5.2002)/Everything Falls Into Place (Bus Face Remix) (CD2, Polydor 065 923 3, with poster)
Mixed Up World (LP Version)/(Groove Collision Vocal Mix)/The Earth Shook The Devil’s Hand/Mixed Up World (Video) (CD, Polydor 981 2108)
Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Spiller’s Extended Vocal Mix)/(Ernest St Laurent’s Rosetrack Remix) +4 (2x12”, Positiva 12TIVMIX 08)
Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) (Radio Edit)/(Spiller’s Extended Vocal Mix)/(Ernest St Laurent’s Rosetrack Remix)/(Ernest St Laurent’s Spicy Blackbird Remix)/(BMR’s Club Cut) +4 (CD, Positiva CDTIVMIX 08, unique p/s)
I Won’t Change You (LP Version)/(Solaris Vocal Mix)/Yes Sir I Can Boogie (CD1, Polydor 981 5123)
I Won’t Change You/Murder On The Dancefloor (Phunk Investgation Vocal Mix) (CD2, Polydor 981 5124, unique p/s)
Circles (Just My Good Time) (Busface Radio Edit)/(EMP Mix)/(Busface 12”)/(Spandex Mix)/(Spandex Dub) (CD, Justice Brothers JUSTB CDS 003)
Catch You/Down With Love (CD, Polydor 1724021)
Catch You (LP Mix)/(Jay Cox Fizzekal Half Dub Remix)/(Moto Blanco Radio Mix)/(Digital Dog Remix) (12” Picture Disc, Polydor 1706481)
Me And My Imagination/Move To The Music (CD, Polydor 1733077)
Me And My Imagination/Catch You (Riffs And Rays Mix)/Here’s To You/Me And My Imagination (Stonebridge Vocal Mix) (12” Picture Disc, Polydor 1733080)
Today The Sun’s On Us/Duel (CD, Polydor 1741966)
Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer) (Club Mix)/(Radio Mix)/(The Mac Project Mix)/(Bitrocka Club Mix) (12”, Loaded LOAD 132)
Bittersweet/Sophia Loren (CD, Polydor 2737676)
Bittersweet (Album Mix)/(Freemasons 7” Mix) (7” Picture Disc, Polydor 2737677)
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Having released their debut single in 1990, 1999 marked the tenth year as recording artists for Blur. To celebrate, they issued the unsurprisingly titled “10 Yr Boxset”. It included re-pressings of all 21 of the band’s “regular” singles to date, with a bonus “preview“ disc of their then forthcoming new single, “No Distance Left To Run“. Each CD was housed in one of the original sleeves for the relevant pressing, and bonus tracks from all other formats were added - meaning some discs had a running time equivalent to an LP.
Of course, the box set could not cover all bases. It was very impressive, but of course, being a CD format meant that singles originally pressed on coloured vinyl were obviously out, whilst Blur’s perchant for multi-formatting also meant that some singles had appeared in different covers on other formats. Furthermore, gig freebies and fan club singles were also excluded. In this article, we shall look at the singles included in the box, and there is also a list of the “missing” releases absent from the box for the reasons listed above. Promo’s, however, are omitted from this list.
She's So High/I Know
There's No Other Way
Blur’s first three 45’s were all lifted from their often maligned debut LP, “Leisure”, although “She’s So High” was actually issued as a AA-side with a non album cut, “I Know” - a fact more or less written out of the band’s history. “She’s So High” and “Bang” were both issued on four formats each, with each format coming in a differently coloured sleeve.
The 12” of “She’s So High” made reference to the A-side being included in it’s “Definitive” mix, but all copies seem to play the standard 7” edit used on all the other formats. With the exception of the “remix” 12”, all formats of “There’s No Other Way” used the same basic photo, although the cassette edition adopted a slightly different sleeve design.
Both “There’s No Other Way” and “Bang” dented the UK top 40, but the fact that Blur went stellar post-”Parklife” has helped all of these singles - and all other pre-”Country House” releases - sell for quite inflated amounts on the collectors scene. Despite being semi-disowned by the band, even original pressings of “Bang” will fetch no less than a tenner.
She’s So High (Edit)/I Know (7”, Orange p/s, Food FOOD 26)
She’s So High (Edit)/I Know (Cassette, “Single Hippo” p/s, Food TCFOOD 26)
She’s So High (Edit)I Know (Extended)/Down (CD, Purple p/s, Food CDFOOD 26)
There’s No Other Way (The Blur Remix)/Won’t Do It/Day Upon Day (Live) (Remix 12”, “Negative” p/s, Food 12FOODX 29)
Bang/Luminous (7”, Green p/s, Food FOOD 31)
Bang/Luminous (Cassette, Purple p/s, Food TCFOOD 31)
Bang/Explain/Luminous/Berserk (CD, Orange p/s, CDFOOD 31)
The Wassailing Song
Although it wasn’t planned as such, “Popscene” became one of only a handful of non-album A-sides that Blur would release. As such, the single has become something of a cult release, with plenty of Blur aficionado’s (myself included) claiming it to be the best thing the band ever recorded.
“Popscene” was taped during the sessions for what should have been Blur’s second LP. Although it is now being claimed to be the “First Britpop Single”, it doesn’t sound like a Britpop single at all. It’s raw, noisy, aggressive, and about as far removed from the jingle jangle baggy sound that defined “Leisure” as it is possible to get. Although the band would soon after record material that was pure-Britpop, inspired by a “hatred of american music”, “Popscene” actually sounds like a less grungy Nirvana. Given that, during a John Peel Session in 1997 plugging the Pavement/Dinosaur Jr inspired “Blur” LP, “Popscene” was the only old song the band played that night, it does seem fair to state that “Popscene” effectively arrived five years early.
“Popscene” was a relative failure, stalling outside the top 30. Soon after, due to various “happenings“, the second album sessions were abandoned. “Never Clever” appeared in live form only as a B-side, the studio mix eventually turning up some years later on a Food label sampler, whilst the other surviving songs crept out as B-sides. The band refused to allow “Popscene” to be included on the eventual second album, 1993’s “Modern Life Is Rubbish”, claiming that as it had performed so badly on the charts, they believed the fan base didn’t particularly deserve to have it on the record, as they seemed so disinterested in it. And so, the cult of this 45 has grown - when the band issued their “Best Of” in 2000, the track was famously missing from the Audio editions. Indeed, it was not until 2009 that the original version finally made it onto a Blur LP, when it appeared on the “Midlife” compilation.
“The Wassailing Song” is the first of four singles to be omitted from the box set. It was given away as a gig freebie at a 1992 London gig, but is considered by many to be so bad, that some people who got given a copy upon hearing it threw it away! It has never appeared on any subsequent Blur releases.
Popscene/Mace (7”, Food FOOD 37, minor differences in top half of sleeve to version in boxset)
The Wassailing Song (7”, Food BLUR 6, 500-only gig freebie)
And so we come to the single releases from Blur’s - in my opinion - greatest LP, “Modern Life Is Rubbish”. Openly inspired by The Kinks, this was the record that really started Britpop - although other British bands like Suede had started their careers before this album surfaced, this was the first record to really SOUND British. Suede were more glam, Pulp were still finding their feet but “Modern Life” hit the nail on the head. Even the artwork was pure Pop-Art, with the steam locomotive on the front, and the inlay showing the band sitting on a District Line tube train. With it’s brilliant mini-instrumentals ending both sides of the record, it was a perfect record, whilst the noisy likes of “Colin Zeal” and “Coping” recalled the “Popscene” sound.
All three of the singles were issued in multiple formats, including double CD sets with different B-sides on each. “Sunday Sunday” offered up a series of early recordings taped when the band were still known as Seymour, although the second CD included a couple of traditional songs, including the music hall tune “Let’s All Go Down The Strand”. The other track, “Daisy Bell”, got a rare live airing at the band’s 1995 Mile End Stadium show.
“Chemical World” and “Sunday Sunday” appeared on coloured vinyl 7“, both backed with tracks unavailable on any other formats, although the B-side of the former, a cover of Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May”, would later (with selected other B-sides) appear on 1994’s Japanese only CD, “The Special Collectors Edition”.
For Tomorrow (Single Version)/When The Cows Come Home/Beachcoma/For Tomorrow (Acoustic Version) (CD2, unbordered p/s, different cloud formation on image to boxset edition, Food CDFOOD 40)
For Tomorrow (Visit To Primrose Hill Extended)/Into Another/Hanging Over (Cassette, “Squashed up” p/s, Food TCFOOD 40)
Chemical World (Edit)/Maggie May (Red Vinyl 7”, Food FOOD 45)
Chemical World (Extreme Edit)/Young & Lovely/Es Schmecht My Ark (CD2, mispressed copy with opening bars of A-side accidentally missing, Food CDFOOD 45, most copies play regular edit)
Sunday Sunday/Tell Me (Yellow Vinyl 7”, Food FOODS 46)
Sunday Sunday/Daisy Bell/Let’s All Go Down The Strand (CD2 “Popular Community Song” edition in ‘Victorian’ family p/s, Food CDFOODX 46)
Girls & Boys
To The End
End Of A Century
1994 and “Parklife”, the band’s commercial and - to some extent - critical breakthrough. If “Modern Life” had too much scuzzy lo-fi guitar noise for your ears, then this was the album that was Britpop through and through. Yes, there was the punk panic of “Bank Holiday” but otherwise, the album was even more Kinks-like than it’s predecessor.
“Parklife” was a triumphant album, one that fully deserved it’s four Brit Awards the following year, but it’s by no means perfect. At times, it veers a bit too near “Carry On”/”Confessions Of A Window Cleaner” territory, but when it gets it right, it’s faultless. Even the packaging, with the track listing shown in the form of a greyhound race card, is brilliantly conceived.
Having multi-formatted themselves to death on earlier releases, things calmed down a bit for this album. In most instances, the singles were issued on two CD’s with exclusive tracks on each, with other formats simply offering up some/all of these tracks in a different order. Unlike earlier singles, there were no “vinyl only” b-sides this time around.
The second “To The End” CD included remixes of “Girls & Boys” by Pet Shop Boys, and came in a suitably emblazoned sleeve - although the basic photo was the same as the first CD. With “Girls & Boys” also using the same basic picture cover for the different formats, it meant that it wasn’t until the release of the third single, “Parklife”, that the decision was taken to issue the second CD in a notably different sleeve. The first CD and the other formats came in a “Beer Glass” sleeve, although there were design differences on the 12” edition to the other formats.
“Parklife” was the first Blur album to spawn four 45’s, presumably due to their new found fame, Food figured they could get some real mileage out of the record. However, the band were running out of B-sides, and as such, only three formats were issued for the final single, “End Of A Century“. The B-side of this single as far as the 7” and Cassette formats was concerned, also appeared on the CD, which contained one extra song. Unfortunately, both these b-sides remain two of the worst things the band ever committed to tape, and this was not lost on reviewers when the boxset emerged - the lack of bonus tracks meant that not only did the “End Of A Century” disc have the shortest running time, but it was also the least interesting musically.
Girls & Boys/People In Europe/Peter Panic (CD2, white bordered p/s, Food CDFOOD 47)
Parklife/Beard/To The End (French Version) (CD2, blue “beermat” p/s, Food CDFOOD 53)
Death Of A Party
Whilst “Parklife” was the sound of a band tuning into the Zeigeist at just the right time, then “The Great Escape” was the sound of a band trying just a bit too hard. Not a disaster, but compared to what had come before, an often flawed disappointment. Even “Stereotypes” sounded like a Stereotypical Britpop 45.
In the run up to the album’s release, the band headlined a massive outdoor show at Mile End Stadium, where they performed some tracks off the LP. One of these was the first single from the album “Country House”, and one of the CD Singles issued for the song featured this and three other songs taped at the show, and was housed in an appropriate sleeve depicting the Canary Wharf building. A re-recorded version of “To The End”, with Francoise Hardy (and previously issued as a single in France) was one of the B-sides on CD1, and was a different version to the “French” version of the track that appeared on the B-side of the “Parklife” single.
“The Universal” also appeared in Live EP form - designed to look like a film poster (it was listed as “The Universal II” on the cover), it included live recordings of “Great Escape” material from a recent BBC Radio 1 live session. But after hitting the arena circuit at the end of 95, things started to go pear-shaped. Critics started to turn against them, and internal problems started to surface again. In early 96, the band famously appeared on an Italian TV show but with half the band missing, and performed their latest single with a cardboard cut out of one of the band members on stage along with one of their roadies.
Two more singles were issued that year, although B-sides were again in short supply, and so both “Stereotypes” and “Charmless Man” appeared on one CD format only, rather than two. The former was issued the day before Valentines Day, and thus the 7” edition came in a unique “Valentines” sleeve, pressed on pink vinyl. At the end of the year, the band’s newly launched fan club gave away the first of a planned series of annual Christmas singles - a 1992 demo of a track that would appear on their next LP, “Death Of A Party”, was released as a one track CD Single.
Country House (Live)/Girls & Boys (Live)/Parklife (Live)/For Tomorrow (Live) (CD2 “from Mile End Stadium”, in ‘Canary Wharf’ p/s, Food CDFOODS 63)
The Universal (Live)/Mr Robinson’s Quango (Live)/It Could Be You (Live)/Stereotypes (Live) (CD2, “Live At The Beeb” EP in unique p/s, Food CDFOOD 69)
Stereotypes/The Man Who Left Himself/Tame (Pink Vinyl 7” in “Valentines” p/s, Food FOOD 73)
Death Of A Party (Demo) (Fan Club CD, Food DEATH 1)
On Your Own
I Love Her
With the 1995 arena tour being somewhat evident of a band who had now garnered something of a teenybop fan base, and with question marks over just how good “The Great Escape” was or wasn’t, the band began to re-evaluate what they were doing. Inspired by Coxon’s love of American lo-fi rock, the band began to work on an album that would be a complete U-turn away from “The Great Escape”.
In the summer of 1996, the band played a show at the Royal Dublin Showgrounds, where they showcased two new songs. The first, “Chinese Bombs”, was so fast and over so quickly, it made the Ramones look like Peter Paul & Mary. The second, longer and slower, but still under two minutes on length, was untitled, and being the second new song played that night, was referred to on stage as “Song 2”. The title stuck, and it would prove to be a vital cog in the “New” Blur that re-emerged at the end of the year.
“Beetlebum” was sent to radio at the end of the year, and was quite a departure from the chirpy “Charmless Man”. Both the song and the video had a melancholic undertone - it seemed that for this band, the jolly Britpop party was over, and now it was time for the comedown. Whilst other acts continued to follow the path the band had trailblazed with “Parklife”, Blur were two steps ahead, and 1997’s “Blur” album would show just how uncompromising and ground breaking the band could be when they wanted to be.
Each of the four singles issued from the album included alternate mixes of Blur songs, with a remix of “Beetlebum” turning up on CD2 of the single of the same name. An acoustic version of “Country Sad Ballad Man”, originally on “Blur”, turned up on “Song 2” whilst “MOR” came backed with mixes of both “Beetlebum” and “Movin’ On”. “On Your Own” was backed with live versions of songs from a John Peel session. A live version of “Popscene” was one of the tracks included, and in Australia, the single was marketed as a AA side of the two - further enhancing the cult surrounding the original 45 from 1992.
The boxset made some strange choices when it came to sleeve designs. For some reason, the “Beetlebum” disc used the same image as the original CD1, but with both the band name and title absent. “Song 2” came in the rarer “black” sleeve, as used on the original CD2, rather than the expected CD1 sleeve. Again, the band began to run out of B-sides by the time “MOR” was issued, so the disc in the boxset featured the same track listing as the original CD - nothing more, nothing less. Strangely though, the Dutch edition of the single came backed with a series of acoustic re-recordings of selected Blur songs, but the decision was taken not to issue these tracks in the UK at all.
Fan club singles followed in late 97 and 98. These were notable in being the first fan club releases to include Blur tracks that have not appeared in any other form since.
Beetlebum/Woodpigeon Song (Red Vinyl 7”, Food FOOD 89)
Beetlebum (LP Mix)/(Mario Caldato Jr Mix)/Woodpigeon Song/Dancehall (CD2 in “Blurred“ p/s, Food CDFOODS 89)
Song 2/Get Out Of Cities (Purple Vinyl 7” in “desert“ p/s, Food FOOD 93, CD1 also issued in same cover)
On Your Own/Popscene (Live at Peel Acres)/Song 2 (Live at Peel Acres) (Clear Vinyl 7”, Food FOOD 98)
On Your Own/Chinese Bombs (Live at Peel Acres)/Movin’ On (Live at Peel Acres)/MOR (Live at Peel Acres) (CD2 in unique p/s, Food CDFOODS 98)
MOR (Road Version)/Swallows In The Heatwave (Orange Vinyl 7”, Food FOOD 107)
I Love Her (Fan Club CD, Food LOVE 001)
Close (Fan Club CD, Food CLOSE 001)
Coffee & TV
No Distance Left To Run
1999’s “13” saw the band move further away from their Britpop days. From the gospel sway of “Tender”, to the punk thrash of “B.L.U.R.E.M.I”, to the atmospheric electronics of “Caramel”, this was no “Parklife”. The band further alienated their fan base by opting to play the album more or less in it’s entirety when they went out on tour, even doing so when they hit the festival circuit in the summer - a move which came in for some criticism.
“Tender” was issued on three formats, with a sticker sealed blue vinyl 7” being issued as a non-chart eligible format at a later date. Cassette copies were also all originally shrinkwrapped. “Coffee & TV” came backed across the formats with four remixes of “13” album track “Bugman”, one per band member, with each remix being given an actual song title, rather than just a name of a remix, although these were included in brackets on the sleeve. Several “Bugman” promos were issued just before the release of “Coffee & TV”. A non-chart eligible 12” of “Coffee & TV“, with all four mixes as B-sides, was later issued in a sticker sealed sleeve, and the boxset uses this cover. The same image was also used for the first of the two original CD singles, but was slightly cropped for that format.
The original releases of both “Tender” and “Coffee & TV” had the band name and title on the stickers attached to the sleeves, not as part of the actual artwork, and as the boxset replicates the original artwork, this means no text appears anywhere on the front of the sleeves used in the boxset. Early copies of the box set featured a faulty copy of “Coffee & TV”, which skipped halfway through, and EMI offered to replace this disc at no extra cost.
By the time “Coffee & TV” was issued, details of the boxset had already been announced. As such, when I bought my copies of the single, I decided against opening them, as I knew the B-sides would be available in a couple of months time. As such, you may be able to find sticker sealed copies of all four of the original formats that were released, with the stickers still intact.
Whilst it is not unusual to see boxsets including “bonus” discs, this boxset was unique in offering a preview copy of Blur’s next single, “No Distance Left To Run”. The boxset version used what was to be the same sleeve for one of the CD singles, and the extra track, a remix of “Tender”, was scheduled to be one of the b-sides. When the single was finally given a full release, numerous extra tracks were also added, making the boxset version a bit pointless.
Tender/All We Want (Blue Vinyl 7”, Food FOOD 117)
Tender/All We Want (Cassette, picture sleeve printed at right-angles, Food TCFOOD 117)
Tender/French Song/Song 2 (LP Version)/(Video) (Enhanced CD2 in unique p/s, Food CDFOOD 117)
Coffee & TV (Single Edit)/X-Offender (Cassette, “Half” p/s, Food TCFOOD 122)
Coffee & TV (Single Edit)/Trade Stylee/Metal Hip Slop (CD1, cropped p/s, Food CDFOOD 122)
Coffee & TV (Single Edit)/X-Offender/Coyote (CD2, unique p/s, Food CDFOODS 122)
No Distance Left To Run/Tender (Cornelius Remix)/So You (CD1, Food CDFOODS 123)
No Distance Left To Run/Battle (UNKLE Remix)/Beagle 2/No Distance Left To Run (Video) (CD2, Food CDFOOD 123)
No Distance Left To Run/Tender (Cornelius Remix)/Battle (UNKLE Remix) (12“, Food 12FOODS 123, slightly different sleeve to CD1)
No Distance Left To Run: The Making Of (DVD EP, includes two different videos of “No Distance” and videos for “Tender (Live)” and “Battle (Live)”, plus bonus features, Food DVDFOOD 001)
There was no fan club single at the end of 1999. I shall cover later Blur singles and albums in a future blog.
If you are an indie snob, and want to blame someone for the V Festival, then it’s Pulp you have to have a go at. Fifteen years ago, they organised their own festival at Hylands Park in Chelmsford. Being essentially a Pulp mega-gig, the headliners on the second stage, Elastica, finished their set before Pulp opened theirs, ensuring nobody could miss Jarvis & Co. The following day, Pulp and Friends went up the motorway to do the same thing in Warrington. The decision was taken to use the Chelmsford site for a one day event on the Sunday, and so it was the Paul Weller headlined V96 that took place on the Sunday - the “V” standing for Virgin, who were involved in organising the event.
This year, Pulp are back out on the festival circuit again - the latest in a long line of bands reforming without having a new album to promote. What is interesting is the shows were billed as being with “the original line up”. But when that line up was named, the reaction from some of us older people was “that’s not the original line up”. What the PR people were trying to say was, it’s the line up that did “Common People”. But Pulp had been knocking about for over a decade before that song, so I felt it was only fair to look at the band’s releases, starting of course with those pre-Fame years.
Red Rhino And Fire Releases
The band’s debut release was the 1983 mini album, “It”, on Red Rhino records. Seven songs with a playing time of under 26 minutes, none of the other seven musicians who played on it along with Jarvis Cocker stayed in the band long enough to experience becoming proper pop stars - Cocker has been the only member of the band to be in every subsequent line up. It was a genteel, sometimes fey affair, showing no signs of the euro-disco or grand pop the band would later come to excel in. Few copies were pressed, and the album is now - of course - an obvious collectors item.
A 7” single, “My Lighthouse”, was lifted from the album (in a different mix), with a new B-side, “Looking For Life”. Nobody bought it. A second stand alone 45, “Everybody’s Problem”/”There Was”, was issued later the same year, but suffered the same fate. Post-fame, “It” was reissued on CD with the three extra tracks from the singles added as bonuses, before being withdrawn over licensing issues. A second reissue added just “Looking For Life”, as indeed have all subsequent repressings.
The band then signed to Fire, the label on which they would release two albums and a sizeable chunk of singles. The first single was a stand alone track called “Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)”, issued as a 4 track EP on 12” only in 1985. This was followed in 86 by another non-album A-side, “Dogs Are Everywhere”, issued on 12” again with four extra tracks. The band’s second album, “Freaks”, was scheduled for a May 1987 release, and two singles were lifted from the album in the run up to it’s release - “They Suffocate At Night” and “Master Of The Universe”.
“They Suffocate At Night” was released on both 7” and 12”, with both the A and B sides being edited for the former format. The 12” version of the A side was the same as the version on the album. “Master Of The Universe” was issued on 12” only, with the single mix being slightly censored for radio play - not that it probably got much. One of the two B-sides, “Manon”, had originally appeared on a compilation album, and was remixed for single release. By this time, the seeds of the “classic” lineup were in place, with Russell Senior, Candida Doyle and Nick Banks all in the band, although “Freaks“ featured no involvement from Banks. Steve Mackey would join in November 1988, and this was the line up that would record both the next album and the 1994 breakthrough, “His N Hers”.
Another post-fame compilation in 1994 did a fair job of compiling the single releases on Fire from 85 to 87. “Masters Of The Universe” included (nearly) all of the tracks from all of the 12” editions - material from the “Suffocate” 7” was therefore absent. However, the mix of “Manon” was the original compilation LP mix, whilst the other “Universe” B-side, “Silence”, was omitted from the release as Cocker hated it.
“Freaks” meanwhile had flopped, and the band effectively split for a short while, before reconvening in 1989 to begin work on “Separations”, an album not too far short of being a lost classic. In typical early Pulp style, the album was completed in early 1990, but was not released until 1992, due to some sort of record company 'issue'. The second half of the album was where the band showed their Acid House influences, and is a particularly energetic and enjoyable 25 minutes of music. “My Legendary Girlfriend” was the first single release from the album, and is arguably the best pre-fame Pulp song, a good six minutes of propulsive indie, with Cocker’s spoken word segments in the verses breaking out into euphoric choruses. It was issued on 12” only, with two remixes of the closing track on “Separations”, “This House Is Condemned”, as B-sides. A Live version of “Girlfriend” was released as a mail order only 7” in 1992, whilst the original 12” version was reissued on CD - post-”Common People” - in 1996.
“Countdown” was issued as the second single, released in Summer 91. It appeared on both 12” and CD, with both an edited and extended mix of the A-side, along with an exclusive B-side, “Death Goes To The Disco”. This explains why “Separations” included a track strangely called “Death II”. All three tracks from this single later appeared on the 1996 compilation “Countdown 1992-1983” released on Nectar Masters, which appeared mostly in reverse chronological order, with the 12” mix of “Countdown” being used to close the album.
In 1999, Cooking Vinyl issued the quite charming “Pulped” boxset. It did the useful job of compiling the “It”, “Freaks”, “Separations” and “Masters Of The Universe” CD’s into a single package. Each CD was housed not in a picture sleeve, but a plain white due cut sleeve, with the “It” release adding “Looking For Life” as a bonus track. It’s not a particularly easy release to find now, but if you can, it’s a quick way of getting the early years stuff in one easy punt.
The Gift/Island Years
In 1992, the band signed to Gift Records, for whom they would record three singles, each consisting entirely of exclusive material. The first single, “OU”, was released as a 3 track 12” and CD, including two mixes of the A-side. The follow up, “Babies”, would later become one of the band’s more well known songs when it was remixed for an EP release “post-fame” on Island Records. It appeared on both 12” and CD, with the CD edition including an extra track - an instrumental version of “Sheffield Sex City”, the vocal mix of which was on both the 12” and CD. The third single for Gift, “Razzmatazz”, surfaced in 1993 on 7”, 12” and CD. The b-sides were three inter connected tracks that were listed under the overall banner “Inside Susan”, but the 7” edition only included two of the three parts.
Soon after, the band’s first album release on Island was issued, a compilation of most of this material. The album was given the slightly misleading title “Intro”, designed to be an intro to the band, but conveniently ignoring the decade’s worth of material that had preceded it. Repetition was “out”, so the edited version of “OU” and the instrumental mix of “Sheffield” were absent.
And then, in 1994, it finally all came together, as “His N Hers” became Pulp’s critical and commercial breakthrough. At long last, the band had managed to craft a pop sound that matched the genius lyrical tales of teenage sex and bored housewives. If the likes of “Freaks” and “Separations” had sounded just a tad too “unpolished”, “His N Hers” hit the heights time and time again. The songs were superb, and the glossy production gave them that extra gravitas, as opposed to blanding them out. “Babies” was remixed for the Cassette and CD editions, and then appeared as the lead track to the “Sisters EP”.
“Lipgloss” and “Do You Remember The First Time” were issued as singles - they appeared on all the regular formats, but it was the 12” and CD editions that were of most interest, as they included extra tracks not on the other formats. The CD versions tend to be the easiest to track down, as post-”Common People”, these CD editions were repressed. The “Sisters” EP appeared as a 4 track release on ALL 4 formats, not - as Wikipedia claims/claimed - an unusual occurrence in the general music world, but it was a first for the band.
1995’s “Different Class” sent the group into the stratosphere, helped by that famous “Stone Roses Replacement” Glastonbury set, and the single issued just before hand - “Common People”. It was the first Pulp single to benefit from being released on two different CD singles with different track listings, and many future Pulp singles were marketed in much the same way. The cassette single featured the same track listing as the first CD. In 1996, a European only CD Single was issued as “Common People 96”, which featured a unique ‘censored’ version of the track.
“Different Class” was first issued in a die cut sleeve, with six insert cards, which you could place inside the CD booklet in different orders - thus allowing you the chance to have one of 12 different covers. The next single from the LP was the AA-sided “Mis-Shapes”/”Sorted For E’s And Wizz”, the second CD coming in the now famous “tabloid baiting” ’wrap’ sleeve, which caused then journalist/now “Loose Women” presenter Kate Thornton to write a Daily Mirror piece headlined “Ban This Sick Stunt”. Remixes of “Common People”, previously only available on a promo 12”, turned up as bonus tracks on the same format.
The final single from the LP was “Something Changed”, issued on two CD’s with the same track listing, but housed in either a “Boy” or “Girl” sleeve. A cassette, minus the bonus versions of “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E” found on the CD, was housed in the “Girl” sleeve only.
There were more post-”Common People” reissues, at the end of 1996, when all seven of the singles the band had released from “His N Hers” and “Different Class” were reissued on 7”, all pressed on coloured vinyl. The track listings matched the original 7” releases, and in the case where no 7” was originally released, then the track listing offered up the basic A and B side of one of the original CD singles. For the “Different Class” singles, each single was also issued on a black vinyl 12”, in most instances using a “new” track listing by cherry picking tracks from the various different original formats. For the “Something Changed” reissues, the 7” came in the “Boy” sleeve, the 12” in the “Girl” sleeve.
1998’s “This Is Hardcore” reflected something of a comedown period, although the band were still acting like, and were actually still, popstars - a signing for the first single, “Help The Aged”, was conducted at a HMV store in Central London with the band DJ’ing at the same time. The CD edition of the album saw the final track, “The Day After The Revolution”, have it’s final note ‘extended’ by ten minutes to fill up some extra space on the CD. The vinyl edition was spread over three sides, with the fourth side including bonus tracks from the then-recent single release of the title track. The band played Glasto again the same summer, and the album was later issued in a new slipcased cover with a free “This Is Glastonbury” album featuring highlights of the set. The freebie was also available via mail order, and promo copies were also issued in an Island Company die cut sleeve. The three singles lifted from the album after the release of “Help The Aged” all appeared as double CD single sets.
Just as Prince had no choice but to reissue “1999” in 1999, Island reissued “Disco 2000” in the run up to the millenium. The re-release went mostly unnoticed, one of the two CD singles originally released in 1995 was simply repressed again. There were rumours that a coloured vinyl pressing was being planned, possibly in a different colour to the 1996 reissue, but this version of the single never appeared.
If “This Is Hardcore” was something of a post-Brit Pop view of the world, then 2001’s “We Love Life” was it’s second chapter. It had a melancholic streak running all the way though it, especially evident on the lead single “The Trees” - there was nothing remotely “Common People” like on the record, although the subject matter in general was not as dark as the themes explored on “This Is Hardcore“. But it revealed itself to be a superb record, the closing “Sunrise” being one of the most beautiful and epic things the band had ever recorded. It was issued as a AA side with “The Trees”.
The second single from the album, the monumental “Bad Cover Version” was housed in a brilliant sleeve, a photo of a young Mark Webber apeing Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album sleeve, and one of the CD’s included B-sides of - yep - cover versions of Pulp tracks by Nick Cave and Roisin Murphy. The video went one stage further, featuring a beyond brilliant Live Aid style video with Jarvis cropping up as Brian May.
Although nobody knew it at the time, “Bad Cover Version” would turn out to be Pulp’s last stand. The band seemed to go out with a bit of a whimper, rather than a bang , and ended the year with a handful of festival appearances during the summer and a final UK show in Rotherham in December. A hits album, “Hits”, appeared just before the end, and by only going for the ’hits’, thus ignored everything the band had recorded pre-1992. An album of Peel Sessions and live shows broadcast on the BBC turned up in 2006, and at the end of 2010, plans were made to reform with the “Different Class” line up of the band, with the band playing their first show in France in May 2011.
Like numerous bands doing the reunion circuit, there seem to be no concrete plans about how long these shows will continue, nor whether or not a new studio album will be created. The band are not even plugging any material, as “deluxe” editions of the likes of “His N Hers” were already released several years ago. Lisetning to Pulp again does make you remember what a national treasure they were, and that “We Love Life” was the sign of a band going out on a bit of a high, despite the fact that they had by then fallen out of favour with some of the Britpop audience. It would be nice to think that another Pulp album might surface, but until then…
Listed below are most of Pulp’s releases. In recent years, there have been a slow stream of “early years” compilations, but I have only listed those that appeared during the mid 1990’s, as the ones released thereafter ending up including songs that were, by then, all already available on CD. For the studio albums, original releases only are shown. Both “His N Hers” and “Different Class” have since been reissued as deluxe editions.
The singles list is in two halves - the second half lists the 1996 reissues which are of interest as even though the track listings were “muddled” for the ‘Different Class’ 12” releases, buying these in conjunction with some of the original pressings will still give you all the b-sides. It is also worth pointing out that the deluxe edition of “His N Hers” includes all the B-sides from the three singles from the album, so buying the coloured vinyl 7” editions only in conjunction with the deluxe version of the album will mean you don’t miss out on anything. Very clever.
The main singles list includes everything that was of interest at the time of release, so some formats are missing because other formats that were issued included exclusive material (such as the “Babies” 12” which was missing the Instrumental “Sheffield Sex City” that was on the CD only). Any singles that have since become of more interest because the missing songs have since re-appeared, are listed separately.
It (LP, Red Rhino REDLP29)
Freaks (LP, Fire FIRELP5)
Separations (CD, Fire 33026)
Intro (CD, Island IMCD 159)
His N Hers (CD, Island CID 8025)
Masters Of The Universe (CD, Fire FIRECD36)
Different Class (CD, Island CID 8041)
Countdown: Pulp 1992-1983 (2xCD, Nectar Masters NTMCD 521)
This Is Hardcore (2xLP, ILPSD 8066, with alternate version of “The Day After The Revolution”)
This Is Hardcore (CD, CID 8066)
This Is Hardcore/This Is Glastonbury (2xCD, Island CIDD 8066)
Pulped: 83-92 (4xCD, Cooking Vinyl COOKCD 178, original copies shrinkwrapped)
We Love Life (CD, Island CID 8110)
Hits (CD, Island CID 8126)
The Complete Peel Sessions (2xCD, Island 9841397)
My Lighthouse (7” Mix)/Looking For Life (7”, Red Rhino RED32)
Everybody’s Problem/There Was (7”, Red Rhino RED37)
Little Girl (With Blue Eyes)/Simultaneous/Blue Glow/The Will To Power (12”, Fire FIRE5)
They Suffocate At Night (Edit)/Tunnel (Cut Up Version) (7”, Fire BLAZE 17)
They Suffocate At Night/Tunnel (12”, Fire BLAZE 17T, diff coloured p/s to 7”)
Master Of The Universe (Sanitised Version)/Manon (Single Mix)/Silence (12”, Fire BLAZE 21T)
My Legendary Girlfriend/Is This House?/This House Is Condemned (Remix) (12”, Fire BLAZE 44T, later reissued on CD [BLAZE 44CD])
Countdown (Extended)/Death Goes To The Disco/Countdown (Radio Edit) (12”, Fire BLAZE 51T)
Countdown (Radio Edit)/Death Goes To The Dsico/Countdown (Extended) (CD, Fire BLAZE 51CD)
OU (Unedited Verson)/Space/OU (Radio Edit) (12”, Gift GIF 1)
OU (Radio Edit)/(Unedited Version)/Space (CD, Gift GIF 1CD)
My Legendary Girlfriend (Live)/Sickly Grin/Back In LA (Mail Order 7”, Caff CAFF17)
Babies/Styloroc/Sheffield Sex City (Vocal)/(Instrumental) (CD, Gift GIF 3CD)
Razzmatazz/Stacks/59 Lyndhurst Grove (7”, Gift 7GIF 6)
Razzmatazz/Stacks/Inside Susan/59 Lyndhurst Grove (12”, Gift GIF 6. Some copies I believe were issued in a die cut sleeve, not a picture sleeve)
Razzmatazz/Stacks/Inside Susan/59 Lyndhurst Grove (CD, Gift GIF 6CD)
Lipgloss/Deep Fried In Kelvin/You’re A Nightmare (12”, Island 12IS 567)
Lipgloss/Deep Fried In Kelvin/You’re A Nightmare (CD, Island CID 567)
Do You Remember The First Time?/Street Lites/The Babysitter (12”, Island 12IS 574)
Do You Remember The First Time?/Street Lites/The Babysitter (CD, Island CID 574)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (7”, Island IS 595)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (Casstte, Island CIS 595)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (12”, Island 12IS 595)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (CD, Island CID 595)
Common People/Underwear/Common People (7” Edit) (Cassette, Island CIS 613)
Common People/Underwear/Common People (7” Edit) (CD1, Island CID 613)
Common People/Razzmatazz (Acoustic)/Dogs Are Everywhere (Acoustic)/Joyriders (Acoustic) (CD2 in “Night Time” p/s, Island CIDX 613)
Mis-Shapes (Edit)/Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/PTA (Parent Teacher Association)/Common People (Live at Glastonbury 24.6.1995) (AA side CD1, Island CID 620)
Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/Mis-Shapes (Edit)/Common People (Motiv 8 Club Mix)/(Vocoda Mix) (AA side CD2 in “Wrap” p/s, Island CIDX 620)
Disco 2000 (7” Mix)/(Album Mix)/Ansaphone/Live Bed Show (Extended) (CD1, “dance floor” p/s, Island CID 623)
Disco 2000 (Album Mix)/(7” Mix)/(Motiv 8 Discoid Mix)/(Motiv 8 Gimp Dub) (CD2, Island CIDX 623)
Something Changed/Mile End (Cassette, Island CIS 632, “Girl” p/s)
Something Changed/Mile End/F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E (The Moloko Mix)/(Live London Brixton Academy 21.12.1995) (CD1, Island CID 632, “Girl” p/s)
Something Changed/Mile End/F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E (The Moloko Mix)/(Live London Brixton Academy 21.12.1995) (CD2, Island CIDX 632, “Boy” p/s)
Help The Aged/Tomorrow Never Lies/Laughing Boy (7”, Island IS 679)
Help The Aged/Tomorrow Never Lies/Laughing Boy (Cassette, Island CIS 679)
Help The Aged/Tomorrow Never Lies/Laughing Boy (CD, Island CID 679)
This Is Hardcore/Ladies’ Man (Casette, unique p/s, Island CIS 695)
This Is Hardcore/Ladies’ Man/The Professional/This Is Hardcore (End Of The Line Remix) (CD1, unique p/s, Island CID 695)
This Is Hardcore (Album Mix)/(4 Hero Remix)/(Swedish Erotica Remix)/(Stock, Hausen And Walkman’s Remix) (CD2, Island CIDX 695)
A Little Soul/Cocaine Socialism/Like A Friend (CD1, Island CID 708)
A Little Soul (Alternative Mix)/(Lafayette Velvet Revisited Mix)/That Boy’s Evil (CD2 in diff p/s, Island CIDX 708)
Party Hard (Radio Mix)/We Are The Boyz/The Fear (The Complete And Utter Breakdown Mix) (CD1 in “Candida” p/s, Island CID 719)
Party Hard (Radio Mix)/(Stretch N Vern’s Michel Lombert Remix)/(I Hardly Part Mix) (CD2, Island CIDX 719)
Sunrise/The Trees/Sunrise (Fat Truckers/Scott Free Mix) (AA side CD1, Island CID 786)
The Trees/Sunrise/The Trees (Felled By I Monster) (AA side CD2, unique p/s, Island CIDX 786)
Sunrise (All Seeing I - Middle Of The Road Mix)/The Trees (Felled By I Monster)/(Lovejoy The No Jazz Mix) (AA side 12”, unique p/s, Island 12IS 786)
Bad Cover Version/Yesterday/Forever In My Dreams (CD1, Island CID 794)
Bad Cover Version (Video Mix)/Disco 2000 (By Nick Cave)/Sorted For E’s And Wizz (By Roisin Murphy) (CD2, “zoomed in” p/s, Island CIDX 794)
Bad Cover Version (Video)/(LP Version - Audio) (DVD, “Band Aid” p/s, Island CIDV 794)
Lipgloss/You’re A Nightmare (Red Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 567)
Do You Remember The First Time?/Street Lites (Brown Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 574)
The Sisters EP: Babies (Remix)/Your Sister’s Clothes/Seconds/His N Hers (White Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 595)
Common People (7” Edit)/Underwear (Yellow Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 613)
Common People/Underwear/Common People (Motiv 8 Club Mix)/(Vocoda Mix) (12”, Island 12IS 613)
Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/Mis-Shapes (Edit) (AA side Blue Vinyl 7” in “Wrap” p/s, Island ISC 620)
Mis-Shapes (Edit)/Sorted For E’s And Wizz (Radio Mix)/PTA (Parent Teacher Association)/Common People (Live at Glastonbury 24.6.1995) (AA side 12“, Island 12IS 620)
Disco 2000 (7” Mix)/Ansaphone (Orange Vinyl 7”, Island ISC 623)
Disco 2000 (7” Mix)/Ansaphone/Disco 2000 (Motiv 8 Discoid Mix)/(Motiv 8 Gimp Dub) (12”, “dance floor” p/s, Island 12IS 623)
Something Changed/Mile End (Pink Vinyl 7” in “Boy” p/s, Island ISC 632)
Something Changed/Mile End/F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E (The Moloko Mix)/(Live London Brixton Academy 21.12.1995) (12” in “Girl” p/s, Island 12IS 632)
Note: buy the deluxe “His N Hers” and you get all the B-sides from the “Lipgloss” and “First Time” singles, which in doing so makes the original “non extended play” singles worth looking out for. Both singles appeared on 7” (IS 567 and IS 574) and Cassette (CIS 567 and CIS 574).
Most other “original” releases are already listed above, but the original “Mis-Shapes”/”Sorted” AA side Cassette single is also worth looking out for if you are a completist (CIS 620), as the extra tracks from the original CD singles can be found on the 1996 “Common People” and “Mis-Shapes” 12-inches, although it does come in the same sleeve as the “Mis-Shapes” 12”. The “Disco 2000” cassette comes in a slightly differently designed cover as the “Part 1” CD Single, but otherwise is of little interest as the other formats that house the “missing” B-sides from this release also include the two tracks from the cassette as well.
Pulp have also contributed numerous tracks to various compilation albums, the Pulp Wiki site should detail all of these. Party hard.
Suede are the latest in a long line of bands who are currently doing the rounds on the live reunion circuit, but for whom there are no plans to return to the studio. I am not sure that, if I were in a band, I would be happy to just tour a load of old songs to rake in the cash, but then again, I’m not in a band so I can’t comment. What it does mean is that Suede’s discography, at present, is static. Their last studio album was, and probably thus always will be, 2002’s “A New Morning” - although a series of expanded reissues of all five studio albums was conducted earlier this year.
And so, as we wait for the reunions by Menswear, Haven, The Crescent and the umpteenth one by The Verve, it’s a good time to look at the Suede discography.
Suede had gone through several line ups before the much loved Anderson/Butler helmed version signed to Nude records. Earlier line ups had featured no drummer but a drum machine, and soon to be Elastica lead singer Justine Frischmann. The band signed to RML Records in 1989, and contributed a song “Wonderful Sometimes” to a compilation cassette on the label called “What The World Is Waiting For”. A planned debut 12”, “Be My God” was pressed as a limited edition release, but cancelled and most copies destroyed, as the band were unhappy with the results. Surviving copies are now major rarities, and are notable for featuring both Friscmann and ex-Smiths sticksman Mike Joyce on drums. The copies that survived come in plain die cut sleeves, with a plain white label on both sides, and can only be identified by the “RML 001” catalogue number scratched into the A-side’s run out groove.
Once Butler was recruited, and Joyce had left the band, the ’classic’ Suede line up was now in place. Hype surrounding the band started to grow, and before the band had even released a single on Nude, they famously got onto the cover of the Melody Maker, dubbed “The Best New Band In Britain”, not the last time the music weeklies would attempt to out-do each other by name checking somebody before there was a bandwagon to jump on - remember Romo? The interest around the band thus helped the debut 45 on Nude, “The Drowners”, chart just inside the top 50 in 1992.
The debut album, “Suede”, came in a typically controversial “lesbian kiss” cover when released in 1993, the band by now starting to garner interest not only in their Glam/Bowie-esque influenced sound, but also the sexual leanings of the band, mostly Anderson. It was a huge hit, and Suede had pretty much arrived. It was all downhill from here for the next few years. A US tour in 93 coincided with Butler’s father dying, and he took great offence at the rest of the band, who continued to party on tour whilst he struggled to come to terms with his loss. He ended up travelling on the tourbus of Suede’s support act, The Cranberries, instead - and a gulf between Butler and the rest of the band began to develop.
A standalone 45, the towering eight and a half minute “Stay Together”, surfaced in 1994, but by now Butler was starting to lose faith. He later admitted being unhappy that for one of the B-sides, “The Living Dead”, his musical contribution was 'dragged down' by Anderson’s “junkie” lyrics. All of the band later seemed to disown the single, it rarely featured in the live sets and Anderson later said he just felt it was too “bombastic”. The fact that it was also the last Suede release that featured Butler, to be released whilst he was still in the band, was also seen as a factor, on the basis that playing it would have brought back bad memories.
Work progressed on what would become “Dog Man Star”. Again, sessions were strained. Butler was unhappy with the production work by Ed Buller, and apparently issued an ultimatum to the band - Buller or him. The rest of the band chose Buller, and Butler was effectively forced out of the group. The remaining trio managed to finish the record, but there was the slightly strange situation of promoting a new album with one of the key members now out of the line up.
“Dog Man Star” is regarded by many as the band’s finest hour. I do seem to recall Anderson, soon after it’s release, distancing himself from the album slightly, maybe because of the Butler fallout, maybe because it - at times - recalled the pompous (yet brilliant) histrionics of “Stay Together”, but of the two albums the band recorded with Butler, it’s generally regarded as the superior record. Promotion for the album was aided by the fact that Butler had been replaced by the 17 year old Richard Oakes, who had sent a tape to the band's fanclub after learning of Butler’s exit. Whilst there was some sniggering that Butler was being replaced by someone young enough to still be at school, a quick listen revealed that Oakes could do a mighty good Butler impersonation, and was a good guitarist in his own right. Oakes appeared in the video for the lead single from the album, “We Are The Pigs”, and had some involvement on the b-sides of “The Wild Ones”, but it was on the “New Generation” single that he made his official writing and recording debut. “New Generation” was issued as a AA side with “Together”, thus marking the transition from old Suede to new Suede.
Suede were expanded to a five piece at the tail end of 1995, by keyboardist Neil Codling, and in 1996 released their first post-Butler LP, “Coming Up”. Described by Anderson as an attempt to make an album that sounded more like a Greatest Hits record, it certainly did the job. The sombre, sweeping roar of “Dog Man Star” was replaced by a more direct, poppy sound, and lo and behold, it worked - nearly half the songs on the album were released as singles, all of which went top 10. A young Keeley Hawes turned up in the video for “Saturday Night”, the majestic album closer that showed that without Butler, Suede still had something to offer.
1997’s “Sci Fi Lullabies” compiled many - but not all - of the band’s B-sides, and was the recipient of glowing reviews. Some critics claimed that a Suede B-sides album was better than some band’s greatest hits albums. For some reason, a number of B-sides were left off, whilst there was no space for some of the alternate mixes of the hits that had appeared as b-sides on the “Coming Up” singles. “Europe Is Our Playground” appeared in a new mix, obviously done to try and entice the completists. It was followed by 1999’s “Head Music”, which hit the number 1 spot, but received some negative reviews from some of the critics. Yes, the likes of “Elephant Man” were a bit clunky, especially when compared to some of the material on “Dog Man Star” and “Coming Up”. Suede tended to override any criticism, and each of the singles were sizeable hits. But the end, long drawn out though it was, was in sight.
Work on what would become “A New Morning” started in 2000. Codling left the band midway through recording, which was conducted in a number of different studios and with no less than four producers. Numerous songs and early versions were abandoned, but the album was finally finished by the end of March 2002. Anderson talked excitedly about the album, and admitted that having gone through a major drug addiction during the “Head Music” sessions, this was the first album on which he was totally clean during it’s construction.
So many abandoned takes of the album tracks existed, a special website was set up which contained an alternate version of each song on the LP. The CD could be inserted into a CD-Rom drive, which was then used to access the website. If my memory serves me correctly, only one song could be accessed per week, and it then changed to the next song on the album the following week, but there was no way to copy the songs onto a CDR. Try the CD now, and all it does it open a blank webpage.
“A New Morning” was a bit of a disappointment. It charted outside the top 20, and critics were unsure. The album was a bit too sleek, rather bland and forgettable, and nobody was clamouring to claim it was a classic. Two singles were released, both of which performed OK, but not that well, and the album never really set the world alight. The band did do some interesting things in relation to touring the LP, opting to play smaller venues (a series of shows at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, rather than one big one at - say - the Albert Hall) but it couldn’t hide the fact that “A New Morning” was something of an anti-climax, rather than the beginning of the new start of the band’s career.
A Singles collection, “Singles”, turned up in 2003, complete with the by now compulsory two new songs. The band began talking about their next LP, but then changed tact, and in early 2004, announced their hiatus. Anderson and Butler made up and formed The Tears, remaining band members busied themselves in other projects, and in 2009, the decision was taken to reform the “Coming Up” line up for what was to be a one off show - which was then expanded into a now lengthy worldwide tour.
For each album, the way in which Suede singles were marketed and designed differed. The band did not really do anything in the way of multi formatting for the first album, you only had to buy the 12” or the CD, and that was it, although the radio edit of “The Drowners” made the hyper limited first 7”, and not the other formats of the same release. Each single used a quite striking image, a drawing on a white background, all sourced from - according to Brett - 70’s stock photography.
Stock photography was used again on the “Dog Man Star” releases, although the images had a very different feel to the “Suede” releases. “We Are The Pigs” was the last Suede single to not go down the multiple B-sides route, with both “The Wild Ones” and “New Generation” being issued on two different CD editions, each using the same photo but with design differences between CD1 and CD2. One of the B-sides of “The Wild Ones”, “Asda Town”, was the first Suede song to be released without Butler but with Oakes, and as such this year appeared on the deluxe edition of “Coming Up”, rather than “Dog Man Star”.
With “Coming Up”, the band issued a mountain of B-sides. With the release of the second single, “Beautiful Ones”, the Cassette editions of this and each forthcoming single from the album would include an alternate version of a “Coming Up” track on the b-side. “Filmstar” featured videos on both of the two CD editions released. The multi formatting continued with “Head Music”, with each release coming on at least three formats, each with exclusive material. “Electricity” was issued as a Minidisc single - the first one ever to be issued in the UK - which compiled all five b-sides from the other formats, but was difficult to find. The final single, “Can’t Get Enough”, was issued on three different CD Singles, each housed in different colour picture sleeve.
Both “A New Morning” and it’s attendant singles were issued in sleeves which depicted on the cover, an image of a CD (or DVD) disc, with the track listing printed on the front as well. Each sleeve had a “splash of paint” over the top, to add bit of colour I suppose. Only two singles were taken from the LP, both issued on two CD’s and a DVD single. The one single lifted from “Singles”, “Attitude”, was also issued in the same three versions, although the band had by now reverted to issuing the single in a “proper” picture sleeve.
The singles discography listed below is in two halves - pre and post “Sci Fi Lullabies”, and is based on what was or wasn‘t rare before the deluxe album reissues of 2011. For the pre-1998 singles, I have only listed essential formats and recommended ones, based on what was or wasn’t on “Sci Fi”. For ease of use, where a single was issued on 7” and the b-sides on the other formats were all on “Sci Fi”, this will be described as thus. Otherwise, the Cassette/CD format will be listed as the preferred format. Any single which is not referred to anywhere in the list, is thus deemed a pointless release except to completists (ie. The “Animal Nitrate“ 7“ features one less track than the CD, and this missing track is also missing from “Sci Fi“). The “Singles” CD from 2003 included edited mixes where possible, so this list also works on the assumption this album is already in your collection.
For the singles from late 94 onwards, the CD2 editions - where such things exist - are listed on the basis that they came in unique sleeves, although some of the B-sides are actually available on “Sci Fi”. Several CD1’s are missing from the list, as they used the same covers as the Cassette Editions, and contain nothing that is now no longer exclusive.
ORIGINAL ALBUM RELEASES ON CD
Suede (1993, Nude NUDE 1CD)
Dog Man Star (1994, Nude NUDE 3CD)
Coming Up (1996, Nude NUDE 6CD)
Sci Fi Lullabies (1997, Nude NUDE 9CD)
Head Music (1999, Nude NUDE 14CD)
A New Morning (2002, Sony 508956 9)
Singles (2003, Sony 513604 2)
NOTABLE SUEDE SINGLES 1992-1998
The Drowners (Edit)/To The Birds (7”, Nude NUD 1S. 12“ and CD copies replaced the “Edit“ with the album mix and add “My Insatiable One“)
Metal Mickey/Where The Pigs Don’t Fly (7”, Nude NUD 3S, also on Cassette. 12” and CD copies add “He’s Dead”)
Animal Nitrate/Painted People/The Big Time (CD, Nude NUD 4CD, also on 12”)
So Young/Dolly/High Rising (CD, Nude NUD 5CD, with insert, also on 12”)
Stay Together (Edit)/The Living Dead/My Dark Star/Stay Together (CD, Nude NUD 9CD. 12” exists which omits the “Edit” mix)
We Are The Pigs (Edit)/Killing Of A Flash Boy (Numbered 7” in Gatefold sleeve, Nude NUD 10S, also on Cassette. 12” and CD copies add “Whipsnade”)
The Wild Ones/Modern Boys/This World Needs A Father (CD1, Nude NUD 11CD1, with insert)
The Wild Ones/Eno’s Introducing The Band/Asda Town (CD2, Nude NUD 11CD2)
New Generation/Together (Cassette, Nude NUD 12MC. 12” and CD1 copies add “Bentswood Boys”)
New Generation/Animal Nitrate (Live)/The Wild Ones (Live)/Pantomime Horse (Live) (CD2, Nude NUD 12CD2)
Trash/Europe Is Our Playground (Cassette, Nude NUD 21MC. CD1 adds “Every Monday Morning Comes“ and includes insert)
Trash/Have You Ever Been This Low?/Another No-One (CD2, Nude NUD 21CD2, with poster & insert. Purchasers of this single could order a “Trash” 7” which used the CD2 sleeve, but has the same track listing as the Cassette)
Beautiful Ones/By The Sea (Original Demo) (Cassette, Nude NUD 23MC)
Beautiful Ones/Money/Sam (CD2, Nude NUD 23CD2)
Saturday Night/Picnic By The Motorway (Live) (Cassette, Nude NUD 24MC)
Saturday Night/This Time/Saturday Night (Original Demo) (CD2, Nude NUD 24CD2)
Lazy/She (Live, Dublin Tivoli 10.9.1996) (Cassette, Nude NUD 27MC)
Lazy/These Are The Sad Songs/Feel (CD1, Nude NUD 27CD1, stickered p/s)
Lazy/Sadie/Digging A Hole (Numbered CD2, Nude NUD 27CD2)
Filmstar (Album Version)/(Original) (7”, Nude NUD 30S)
Filmstar (Album Version)/(Demo) (Cassette, Nude NUD 30MC. B-side may play same mix as 7“)
Filmstar/Graffiti Woman/Duchess/Beautiful Ones (Video)/In The Studio (Video) (CD1, Nude NUD 30CD1)
Filmstar/Rent (Live, London Roundhouse 15.12.1996)/Saturday Night (Live, London Roundhouse 15.12.1996)/(Video) (CD2, Nude NUD 30CD2)
Note 1: to clarify, the songs missing from “Sci Fi Lullabies” are: Painted People, Dolly, This World Needs A Father, Eno’s Introducing The Band, Asda Town, Sam, Saturday Night (Demo), Feel, Digging A Hole, the B-sides to the Cassette issues of “Trash“, “Beautful Ones”, “Saturday Night”, “Lazy” and “Filmstar”, and the live tracks from “New Generation” and “Filmstar” - plus the original mix of "Europe Is Our Playground".
Note 2: it is worth pointing out that nearly all of the studio B-sides have been added as bonus tracks to the various expanded editions of “Suede”, “Dog Man Star” and “Coming Up” that were issued this year. This means that some of the tracks that were exclusive to some of the singles (ie. “Asda Town”, from CD2 of “The Wild Ones”) are now available on these reissues. It also means that some of the singles not referred to at all in the above listing (such as the 12” copy of “The Wild Ones”) may be of interest if you own all the deluxe reissues, as a lot of the songs “missing” from those singles have now been compiled onto the deluxe albums - but not all (“Digging A Hole“ is absent from the deluxe “Coming Up“). The deluxe reissues, however, tend to ignore live and demo takes, so the likes of “She” at the Dublin Tivoli remain unavailable except on the original single releases.
SUEDE SINGLES 1999-2003
Every single on every format is shown below. In many instances, each format used a different sleeve, but one or two of the CD1 editions used the same sleeve as the Cassette. Some of the formats shown below now contain no exclusive material thanks again to the “Deluxe” pressings of “Head Music” and “A New Morning”, but once more, certain tracks are excluded from these reissues (ie. the demo of "Down", "Weight Of The World", etc) so try before you buy, as they say.
Postivity/Popstar/Killer (CD1, Nude NUD 43CD1)
Positivity/See That Girl/Waterloo (CD2, Nude NUD 43CD2)
Positivity/Implement Yeah (Cassette, Nude NUD 43 MC)
Positivity/Popstar/Killer/See That Girl/Waterloo/Implement Yeah (Minidisc, Nude NUD 43MD)
She’s In Fashion/Bored/Pieces Of My Mind (CD1, Nude NUD 44CD1)
She’s In Fashion/Jubilee/God’s Gift (CD2, Nude NUD 44CD2)
She’s In Fashion/Down (Demo) (Cassette, Nude NUD 44MC)
Everything Will Flow/Weight Of The World/Leaving (CD1, Nude NUD 45CD1)
Everything Will Flow/Crackhead/Seascape (CD2, Nude NUD 45CD2, with insert)
Everything Will Flow/Beautiful Ones (Live) (Cassette, Nude NUD 45MC)
Can’t Get Enough/Let Go/Since You Went Away (CD1, Nude NUD 47CD1)
Can’t Get Enough/Situations/Read My Mind (CD2, Nude NUD 47CD2)
Can’t Get Enough/Everything Will Flow (Rollo’s Vocal)/She’s In Fashion (Lironi Version)/Can’t Get Enough (#2 Video) (CD3, Nude NUD 47CD3)
Positivity/One Love/Simon (Radio Version)/Positivity (Video) (CD1, Sony 672949 2)
Positivity/Superstar/Cheap (CD2, Sony 672949 5)
Positivity (Video)/Colours/Campfire Song/Suede Secret Gig (Video) (DVD, Sony 672949 9)
Obsessions (Radio Edit)/Cool Thing/Instant Sunshine/Obsessions (#2 Video) (CD1, Sony 673294 2)
Obsessions/UFO/Rainy Day Girl/Obsessions (#3 Video) (CD2, Sony 673294 5)
Obsessions (#1 Video)/Hard Candy/ABC Song/Developing Obsessions (Video) (DVD, Sony 673294 9)
Attitude/Golden Gun/Oxygen/Attitude (Video) (CD1, Sony 674358 2)
Attitude (Demo)/Just A Girl/Heroin (CD2, Sony 674358 5)
Attitude (Video)/We’re So Disco/Head Music (Arthur Baker Remix)/Singles Commentary (Video) (DVD, Sony 674358 9)
For all of the singles from 1992 to 2003, some were edited for single release, but no mention was made on the sleeves. The listings above mirror what was or wasn’t indicated on the sleeve.
OTHER SELECTED RARITIES
Five Alive (Cassette, Melody Maker MMMC ONE, includes “Movin’ (BBC Radio 1 Mark Goodier Session Version)”)
Field Trip (Cassette, NME no cat no, includes “He’s Dead (Glastonbury 25.6.1993)”)
Secret Tracks (Cassette, Select no cat no, includes “The Living Dead (Piano Version)”)
Excerpts From Dog Man Star (Flexidisc, Nude, no cat no, given free with the NME, issued dated 8th October 1994)
Hold On (CD, Melody Maker/BBC CD 97-99, includes “Sleeping Pills (BBC Radio 1 Mark Goodier Session Version)”)
Assorted! (CD, no cat no, includes “Shipbuilding”)
Childline (CD, Island 553030 2, includes “Lazy (Original Demo)”)
Gratis Hits Vol 1 (Cassette, no cat no, includes “She (Original Demo)”)
Haute Couture (CD, Vox HC CD1, includes “Brass In Pocket”)
Steve Lamacq’s Bootleg Session (Cassette, no cat no, includes “Saturday Night (BBC Evening Session Version)”)
Give Me Head (V-Lite Video, Fan Club issue, has to be “snapped” open to play, some unsnapped copies exist, some snapped copies damaged when played and now apparently destroyed)
Let Go/Can’t Get Enough/Since You Went Away/Situations/Read My Mind (CD, Epic EPC 668538 2, European Only Single)
The XFM Live Sessions (CD, Select 01 2000, includes “Elephant Man (Live)”)
Sessions (Fan Club CD, Nude SIS 3 CD, given free with SIS Magazine 27)
Simon (DVD Version)/(Instrumental)/(Radio Version) (Fan Club CD in mailer with insert, Nude PNUD 60 CD)
See You In The Next Life… (Fan Club CD, Sony SIS 4 CD)
If you have no Suede albums in your life, I would suggest you start with the deluxe reissues - the accompanying DVD’s are quite impressive, and it’s a good way of knocking off most of the B-sides. Some of the "rarities" in the list above are also included on these releases. There is a rumour that some copies have been “mispressed”, my copy of “Coming Up” skips halfway through, but that might just be my CD player packing up!
Monday, 1 August 2011
Although it’s shrouded in mystery, next year marks (probably) the tenth anniversary since Mansun split up. Having started their career as what seemed to be a bunch of bandwagon jumping Oasis-alikes from Chester, by the time they released their debut album two years on in 1997, they were being heralded as one of the shining lights of Britpop - helped along by the fact that they didn’t particularly sound like a Britpop band anyway.
When Mansun started, it was difficult to spot just how good they would become. I famously walked out of a Camden Underworld gig in 1995 when instead of Mansun opening for Whale, the running order was reversed and Whale - who I wanted to see - came on first. It was a Radio 1 gig, so I assume the running order was altered for “broadcasting” reasons. And when I saw them supporting The Charlatans a few weeks later, with Northern Uproar, I simply remember being unable to work out which support act was which, so bland did I think they both were. I can just about remember them, and seemed to recall that every song had that drum machine style backing - which considerably bored me.
But by the time I saw them attempting to blow Sleeper offstage at the Ilford Island at the end of 96, with “Wide Open Space” behind them and a slowly burgeoning pogo-ing following, I began to think that maybe I had underestimated them. Gone were those fisherman style hats they had worn the year before, now it was all dyed blond hair and makeup - and when “Attack Of The Grey Lantern” surfaced, critics fell over themselves in trying to praise the record. No two songs really sounded the same, and even the earlier numbers that the band had (probably) played during that Charlatans set, now sounded quite thrilling. Suddenly, it all started to make sense. Here was a band attempting to reach for the skies, unafraid of failing.
After a couple of low key releases, the band signed to Parlophone and released their debut EP, titled “One”. It was the start of what - in collecting terms - would be a fascinating run of releases, fourteen EP’s in total, before finally grinding to a halt sometime after the millennium. Soon after the first EP, it was not too long before the band started to “cheat” a bit with the EP format, as singles were being issued that were the length of an EP, but were turning up on different formats with different track listings - not really what the original concept of the EP in the 60s had been about.
Below, I have detailed the slightly different approach the band took with each release as the years progressed. There were 17 singles releases in total, and five albums - including a best of and a rarities set. I would suggest you check out the Desperate Icons website, seemingly no longer being updated, but which goes into greater detail beyond what you see here.
Take it Easy Chicken - Two EP
Plenty of theories abound around the debut 7”, the 1-sided “Take It Easy Chicken”. Credited to “Manson”, the band later claimed this was a spelling mistake that was only noticed after the single had been pressed, but the other rumour was the band were apparently threatened with some sort of legal action from serial killer Charles Manson, after whom they had named the group, who claimed it was some sort of copyright theft. The second single, “Skin Up Pin Up” b/w “Flourella” appeared on EMI affiliate label Regal, on both 7” and CD. The CD came in a very basic sleeve - basically, it was in a flimsy pouch with no cover - it was one of the pouches you can buy in a box of 25 in Poundland or similar, so if you see a copy in a charity shop, and are thinking “somebody’s thrown the front cover away”, buy it - because that’s how it was packaged.
“One EP” (I shall refer to the EP’s as “EP Two”, or “Two EP”, depending on what reads better from here onwards) was led by “Egg Shaped Fred”, and was issued on 7”, Cassette and CD. Some copies had a hidden fifth track, and although I have seen different websites refer to different formats in relation to which one includes it, I believe the CD was the only format upon which it appeared. The CD also featured an alternative mix of the A-side, although the sleeve made no notable mention of this. The 7” and Cassette mix of the track would later appear on the debut LP, albeit in slightly altered form - “Grey Lantern” ran, for the most part, as one long continuous mix, so where a track was released on 45, the mix for the single was slightly altered at the start, end or both.
The “Two” EP was led by “Take It Easy Chicken”, and was the last release by the Draper/Chad/Hib/Stove line up. In what was probably a deliberate move, this track was not included on the album, but after becoming a top 40 hit, became a staple part of the Mansun live set.
Take It Easy Chicken (7”, Sci Fi Hi Fi 001)
Skin Up Pin Up/Flourella (White Vinyl 7”, Regal REG 3)
Skin Up Pin Up/Flourella (CD, Regal REG 3 CD)
One EP: Egg Shaped Fred/Ski Jump Nose/Lemonade Secret Drinker/Thief (7”, Parlophone R6430)
One EP: Egg Shaped Fred/Ski Jump Nose/Lemonade Secret Drinker/Thief (Cassette, Parlophone TCR6430)
One EP: Egg Shaped Fred (Alternate Version)/Ski Jump Nose/Lemonade Secret Drinker/Thief/Hidden Track (CD, Parlophone CDR6430)
Two EP: Take It Easy Chicken/Drastic Sturgeon/The Greatest Pain/Moronica (7”, Parlophone R6437)
Two EP: Take It Easy Chicken/Drastic Sturgeon/The Greatest Pain/Moronica (Cassette, Parlophone TCR6437)
Two EP: Take It Easy Chicken/Drastic Sturgeon/The Greatest Pain/Moronica (CD, Parlophone CDR6437)
Three EP - Seven EP
Although “EP One” had been notable for featuring slightly alternate track listings across the formats, the first Mansun release to go down the multi-formatting route was “EP Three”, led by a track that would appear on the debut LP the next year, “Stripper Vicar”. Two CD Singles were issued, with different B-sides, and even though each disc contained 3 or 4 songs each, and thus did “follow” the concept of the EP format, the fact that the track listings differed meant that the marketing of the single was really no different to any other band on EMI doing different B-sides for different formats at the same time (such as Blur). The decision to offer different tracks on the different CD’s for each single would be something that would continue right up until the final EP in 2001. To add to the confusion, a 2-track Clear Vinyl 7” was also issued, offering just one of the three b-sides that were on CD2 - and was still referred to as an EP on the front cover! Later 2-track releases did not necessarily do this (ie. EP‘s Four (“Wide Open Space“) and Fourteen (“Fool“)).
EP Four, “Wide Open Space”, included “Skin Up Pin Up”, originally the second Mansun 45, and was the original version. Acoustic versions of old EP tracks “Moronica” and “Lemonade Secret Drinker” were also taped for CD2. Again, a coloured vinyl 7” featuring just two tracks was pressed,
EP Five, “She Makes My Nose Bleed”, was not ‘marketed’ as such on it’s cover as being an EP at all, but followed in a similar vain to EP Four - two CD’s and a coloured vinyl 2-track 7”. “Flourella”, the b-side of the second single, was re-recorded for CD1, which also included an acoustic take on the A-side. CD2 included another “new” version of an old EP track, with the inclusion of a live version of “Drastic Sturgeon”, originally on “EP Two“.
The “Taxloss” release made no mention at all of being an EP as well, but given that the follow up single, “Closed For Business”, was billed on the sleeve as “Seven EP”, then it’s safe to assume it was indeed “EP Six”. A 12” was issued containing only remixes of the A-side, thus becoming the first Mansun EP to not quite be a proper EP at all. The two CD Singles offered the usual bonus tracks though, with re-recorded versions of the A-side, “Wide Open Space”, and old EP track “Ski Jump Nose” being spread across the formats. A live 2-track 7”, with “Taxloss” on the A-side, was later issued as a fan club only single. Along with “Stripper Vicar”, the lead tracks on EP’s Four to Six all appeared on “Attack Of The Grey Lantern”.
“Closed For Business” was the lead track on “EP Seven”, and was a brand new non-album recording. Just like “Taxloss”, it was issued on three formats, each of which contained exclusive material, although CD2 and the Clear Vinyl 7” consisted only of re-recordings of old tracks as their bonuses (album track “Dark Mavis” and “Stripper Vicar” on CD2, “Egg Shaped Fred” off EP1 on the 7”). The second CD was the first Mansun release to venture down the ‘enhanced CD Rom section’ route, by purporting to include the “Taxloss” video in this section, but when I tried my copy recently, it didn’t work. Perhaps you had to be connected to the internet to get it to work, and with the band now defunct, any micro-site needed to get it to work would no longer exist. Or maybe my copy is just knackered.
Three EP: Stripper Vicar/No One Knows Us (Clear Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R6447)
Three EP: Stripper Vicar/The Edge/The Duchess (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6447, with poster)
Three EP: Stripper Vicar/An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter/No One Knows Us/Things Keep Falling Off Buildings (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6447, unique p/s)
Four EP: Wide Open Space/Rebel Without A Quilt (White Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R6453)
Four EP: Wide Open Space/Rebel Without A Quilt/Vision Impaired/Skin Up Pin Up (CD1, Parlophone CDR 6453)
Four EP: Wide Open Space/The Gods Of Not Very Much/Moronica (Acoustic)/Lemonade Secret Drinker (Acoustic) (CD2, Parlophone CDRS 6453, unique p/s)
Five EP: She Makes My Nose Bleed/The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail (Red Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R6458)
Five EP: She Makes My Nose Bleed/The Most To Gain/Flourella (New Version)/She Makes My Nose Bleed (Acoustic) (CD1, Parlophone CDR 6458)
Five EP: She Makes My Nose Bleed/The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail/Live Open Space/Drastic Sturgeon (Live) (CD2, Parlophone CDRS 6458, unique p/s with poster)
Six EP: Taxloss (Unedited)/Grey Lantern/Taxloss (Lisa Marie Experience Remix) (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6465, with poster)
Six EP: Taxloss (Edit)/The Impending Collapse Of It All/Ski Jump Nose (Live at the Derby Assembly Rooms)/Wide Open Space (Acoustic) (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6465, black p/s)
Six EP: Taxloss (John 00 Fleming Remix)/(Unedited)/(Lisa Marie Experience Remix)/(Gaudi Remix) (12”, Parlophone 12R 6465)
Seven EP: Closed For Business/Egg Shaped Fred (Acoustic) (Clear Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R6482)
Seven EP: Closed For Business/KI Double S ING/Everyone Must Win/The World’s Still Open (CD1, Parlophone CDR 6482)
Seven EP: Closed For Business/Dark Mavis (Acoustic)/Stripper Vicar (Live) (CD2, Parlophone CDRS 6482, unique p/s with poster)
Eight EP - Eleven EP
Four EP’s were taken from “Six”, the band’s second album and regarded by some as their (prog rock) masterpiece. “Eight EP” was led by “Legacy”, with an extended mix making the CD1 and Cassette releases, whilst a ‘Perfecto’ mix of “Wide Open Space” made CD2 and the Cassette. Acoustic versions of old EP tracks, “The Impending Collapse Of It All” and “Ski Jump Nose” completed the cassette’s track listing. A red vinyl 7”, offering some (but not all) of the B-sides from the two CD formats was issued - I understand - at a later date, but was not eligible for the chart.
The astonishing “Being A Girl” was next, heavily edited for single release (down from over seven to just two minutes) and was dubbed “Being A Girl (Part One)”. The two CD’s - between them - featured drawings of all four band members on the sleeves. The cassette offered up another mix of “Wide Open Space”, this time by the Trouser Enthusiasts, plus “Mansun’s Only Acoustic Song”, one of a number of “Mansun’s Only…” song titles (see also “Mansun’s Only Love Song” on the debut album).
“Negative” appeared in both edited and LP form across the two CD releases that were “EP Ten”, with a live “Take It Easy Chicken” on CD2, and “Mansun’s Only Live Song” on the clear vinyl 7”. “Six”, which confusingly, was the “Eleven EP”, was also issued in single form on CD1 of said release, with CD2 including a live “Being A Girl”. A live version of “Six (Album)” track, “Television”, turned up on the coloured vinyl 7”.
Eight EP: Legacy/GSOH/Can’t Afford To Die (Red Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R6497)
Eight EP: Legacy (Extended Version)/Wide Open Space (Perfecto Remix)/The Impending Collapse Of It All (Acoustic)/Ski Jump Nose (Acoustic) (Cassette, Parlophone TCR 6497)
Eight EP: Legacy (Extended Version)/Can’t Afford To Die/Spasm Of Identity/Check Under The Bed (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6497, with poster)
Eight EP: Legacy/Wide Open Space (Perfecto Remix)/GSOH/Face In The Crowd (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6497, unique p/s)
Nine EP: Being A Girl (Part 1)/Wide Open Space (Trouser Enthusiast Mix)/Mansun’s Only Acoustic Song (Cassette, Parlophone TCR 6503)
Nine EP: Being A Girl (Part 1)/Hideout/Railings (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6503, unique p/s with poster)
Nine EP: Being A Girl (Part 1)/I Care/Been Here Before (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6503, with insert)
Ten EP: Negative (Edit)/Mansun’s Only Live Song (Clear Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R 6508)
Ten EP: Negative (Edit)/When The Wind Blows/King Of Beauty (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6508, with poster)
Ten EP: Negative/I Deserve What I Get/Take It Easy Chicken (Live) (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6508, unique p/s)
Eleven EP: Six (Single Version)/Live Television (Clear Vinyl 7”, Parlophone R 6511)
Eleven EP: Six (Single Version)/Church Of The Drive Thru Elvis/But The Trains Run On Time (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6511)
Eleven EP: Six/What’s It Like To Be Hated/Being A Girl (Live) (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6511, unique p/s with poster)
Twelve EP - Slipping Away
And so, we come to the end, and the releases from the so-so “Little Kix”. An attempt to sound more polished, the result was an album that was a bit bland and forgettable. Having said that, I always quite liked “Fool” although Paul Draper admits he hates it and is his least favourite Mansun song! Oh well.
Although all of the singles from the album were issued on three formats, the third format was usually a cassette edition, offering nothing exclusive. “I Can Only Disappoint U” was feature in “Single mix” form for CD1 of the “Twelve EP”, with four new B-sides across the two CD’s. It was later remixed by Paul Oakenfold, and his “Perfecto” mixes adorned the B-side of “Electric Man”, “EP Thirteen”. “Electric Man” was remixed for single release as well for CD1, backed with two new songs, whilst the album mix and an acoustic version appeared on CD2 with one of the “Perfecto” mixes of “I Can Only…”. A 12” in a “DJ Friendly” die cut sleeve was issued, which replaced the acoustic take of “Electric Man” with the second remix of “I Can Only…”. The “EP 13” legend was nowhere to be found on this format.
“Fool” was the last stand, “EP Fourteen”. An edited mix adorned CD1, and new B-sides appeared on both the CD editions. The band slowly ground to a halt, and to celebrate their demise, a 3-CD “Rarities” set, “Kleptomania” was issued, plugged by a 7” featuring two tracks from the set, the a-side of which was “Slipping Away”, and brought the curtain down on Mansun in the same format their career had started nearly a decade before.
Twelve EP: I Can Only Disappoint U (Single Mix)/Decisions Decisions/Repair Man (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6544)
Twelve EP: I Can Only Disappoint U/My Idea Of Fun/Golden Stone (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6544, black & white p/s)
Thirteen EP: Electric Man (Single Mix)/The Drifters/The Apartment (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6550)
Thirteen EP: Electric Man/I Can Only Disappoint U (Perfecto Club Mix)/Electric Man (Acoustic Version) (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6550, black & white p/s with poster)
Thirteen EP: Electric Man/I Can Only Disappoint U (Perfecto Club Mix)/(Instrumental Mix) (12”, Parlophone 12R 6550)
Fourteen EP: Fool (Edit)/I’ve Seen The Top Of The Mountain/Promises (CD1, Parlophone CDRS 6553, stickered p/s with insert)
Fourteen EP: Fool/Fade In Time/Black Infinite Space (CD2, Parlophone CDR 6553, unique p/s)
Slipping Away/Getting Your Way (7”, Parlophone R6650)
In 2010, “Attack Of The Grey Lantern” was issued as a 3-CD edition, with EP tracks being used to fill up discs 2 and 3. The single mixes of the 45’s included on the album were not used, but the ‘Alternate’ version of “Egg Shaped Fred” did make the set, as did the “hidden” track from “One EP”. “An Open Letter To The Lyrical Trainspotter”, off “Three EP”, was originally the hidden track on the original CD in 1997, and retained this position for the 2010 version. Live and acoustic B-sides made the set, but remixes were out. “Closed For Business” and it’s B-sides were also included, as were the acoustic versions of “Ski Jump Nose” and “The Impending Collapse Of It All” - despite being released on the first single from the second album, both were re-recordings of old EP tracks and hence deemed acceptable for inclusion. The 3rd disc ended with a new remix of “Wide Open Space”, but don’t go shelling out 20 quid just for that, as I understand promos exist for this reworking, which should cost you less than the album.
Some of these EP tracks had earlier appeared on “Kleptomania”, disc 2 of which concentrated on “B-sides” and stand alone A-sides. “Kleptomania” also included both sides of the “Skin Up Pin Up” 7”, “Can’t Afford To Die” and “Check Under The Bed” off “EP Eight”, “Railings”, “I Care” and “Been Here Before” off “EP Nine”, “When The Wind Blows” off “EP Ten” and “Decisions Decisions” and “My Idea Of Fun” off “EP Twelve”. The remaining five songs date from the 95-97 period, and are now thus on the 3-CD “Lantern”. A best of set, “Legacy”, was also released a few years ago - both as a bog standard CD and a fancy CD + DVD edition, with all the videos.
Attack Of The Grey Lantern (CD, Parlophone CDPCS 7387)
Six (CD, Parlophone 7243 4 96723 2)
Little Kix (CD, Parlophone 527 7822)
Kleptomania (3xCD, Parlophone 866306 2)
Legacy (CD+DVD, Parlophone 371 6982)
Listening again to “Grey Lantern” recently, it seems a shame the band have become something of a forgotten relic. Draper recently collaborated with The Joy Formidable, Richard Oakes from Suede has recently name checked the album, and so it seems some of us are still well aware of just inventive this band were at times. Nobody seems so excited about Northern Uproar though.