Saturday, July 07, 2007

Underrated albums #8: Suede " Dog Man Star" (1994)

Granted, this may seem like the oddest one to put in this ongoing series, given that there are people out there who really love this album. It's my favourite album of the nineties, and I know others who feel as strongly. Yet there are those who have dismissed it. Q magazine listed it in the 100 top follies of all time. I don't see it in those lists of 'Greatest albums ever as voted for by a handful of people who are persuing an agenda.' Oh, the band were not terribly keen on it either.

For a time in the early nineties, Suede were the indie band. They were covered by Morrissey - debut single 'The Drowners' b-side 'My Insatiable One' was in his set before many people had even heard of Suede, and singer Brett Anderson was interviewed with David Bowie very quickly. Their debut eponymous album enetered the album charts at no.1 in the spring of 1993, and the band swept readers and writers' polls.

Then 1994 happened. Kurt Cobain took his own life, Blur released Parklike and a former roadie for the Inspiral Carpets called Noel Gallagher emerged with his little brother Liam in a band called Oasis.

Not only did Suede suddenly have competition to their crown as the brit band, but there was trouble inside the Suede camp. Shortly before the release of Dog Man Star, guitarist Bernard Butler walked out (he has had an interesting and varied career subsequently, which probably should be the subject of a post at 17 Seconds some other time). He was replaced by schoolboy Richard Oakes
who would be with the band until their demise at the end of 2003.

It's a pity all this overshadowed the relase of what is a stunning album. Lushly orchestrated, and with Brett Anderson's fantastic lyrics. The album was darker than their debut (a friend of mine once pointed out that had this album come out in 1984, Suede would have been considered a 'goth' band). Tales of isolation in suburban life, love, and being well as hints of drug use, which would only be explained in subsequent years. 'The 2 of Us' is the album's highpoint, but the clser 'Still Life' was the sound of a band at the height of their powers. Brett Anderson eventually accepted it was the fans' favourite album by the final tour, and when the band played the album in its' entirety in London in 2003, tickets were changing hands for £1000.

On a personal level, seeing Suede on the tour in early 2005 at the Leicester De Montford Hall was the start of regular gig-going, and the t-shirt is still worn with pride twelve years later.

The album had three hits, but impressively, the epic tracks could have been singles too. For your enjoyment, I recommend the following non-album cuts, before going to buy the album from an independent record shop (Amazon only have one copy in stock at the time of writing).

Suede-'Heroine.' mp3

Suede-'The 2 of Us.' mp3

Suede-'Still Life.' mp3

These mp3s will be up for one week only, but you really need this album in your life.


Anonymous said...

I still remember when their first ,eponymously titled album, came out in the US. I was in grad school and the androgynous cover was just the beginning of new sounds and experiences for this band... I played this album non-stop for 12 months.

It is a testament to the power of good music that this band debuted in the US during the height of Nirvana's and the Seattle sound's "grunge" rock sound. In fact this band should have been the antidote to the derivative bands following grunge's wake.

I will now pull out my old Suede CDs (in US London Suede, but I got the import).


Ed said...

I know what you mean Juan, they should have been the antidote, in the UK they sort of were, but then Blur and Oasis kinda took over. Oh well, may history remember them kindly.

Anonymous said...

It's definitely my favourite Suede album. Can't help feeling that they lost a lot when Butler left.

I'm not likely to be online much in the next few days, Ed, so best wishes for the big day. Hope it all goes well and that you don't follow the Vinyl Villain's lead in blogging whilst away!


Ed said...

Thanks Mike. I am unlikely to be blogging during my honeymoon, unless I want to be getting divorced soon afterwards!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Such a good article, tells everything about the era also.