Tuesday, 2 August 2011
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!