Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Beautiful ones

In recent posts I’ve been doing rather a lot of navel-gazing (just a boring un-pierced innie if you’re interested) so it’s about time I contemplated someone else’s.  How about Brett Anderson’s (in a flimsy black lacy blouse, open to the waist…)?

Regular readers may have picked up on my better-late-than-never appreciation of Suede.  I was so pleased to see them on BBC’s Red Button with Lauren Laverne the other night*, performing a perfect mix of songs old and new.  As far as I’m concerned, they’ve still got it as a band.  And, even though he has (perhaps wisely) straightened out a little with age, Brett has certainly still got it in bucket-loads.  I don’t know quite how to define ‘it’ but I’m sure you know what I mean: that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that says he was always meant to be… someone. 

I wish I’d paid more attention to them in the early days.  I remember stumbling across a small piece on them in the NME when they first came into the music papers’ consciousness and, if my memory serves me right, Bernard and Brett were wearing these awful shirts.  I mean, really awful.  Big jumbo 1970s collars and horrible patterns, maybe Bernard even had a tank-top over his (or I could just be imagining that).  Along with the floppy long hair and arrogant pose, I found it hard to tell from the picture what they’d be like musically.  They did stand out, though, and the way I remember my reaction to that first picture proves they had an effect.

However, whilst I quite liked them, I never considered myself a Suede fan; I appreciated some of that Bowie-esque glam quality and Brett’s striking androgyny, but otherwise I took little notice.  I even missed out on their memorable performance of Animal Nitrate at The Brits at the time.  It has so much attitude - I was really hoping I could find it on youtube to post here but no such luck (I managed to see it recently, as we kept a recording of the BBC's 'The Seven Ages Of Rock' which included quite a bit about it.)  Anyway at least I can post a picture from it, navel and all.

The girls fancy him and the boys want to be him - or is it the other way round?

To put it into context, this is Brett’s recollection of that night in a later interview:

“We crashed the party, that was the thing.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt more out of place than that time we performed on The Brits.  It was so ridiculously corporate.  It was kinda like, you know, these snotty little kids getting up there and ripping it up, singing a song about sex in council houses and stuff.  I think that the audience didn’t really know what to make of us.  I just remember finishing the song and just looking at this sort of sea of tuxedoed people…”

Those opening bars to Animal Nitrate have taken their rightful place in my Fave Intros Of All Time, I just love the way it starts...

And as you probably know, they’ve got a new album out in March; from what I've heard so far I'm going to like it too.

* to be repeated Monday 18th Feb.


  1. It's great that Suede are back and going strong. I've caught them a couple of times on the telly of late and they do still have it. Is it Richard Oakes on guitar again? How come Brett and Bernard can never seem to keep anything together. In the early days, my better half liked them more than I did and then I saw them live (this must have been about '95) and I was very, very impressed. I only really know the early stuff (say, up to and including the 'Trash' era) but I must sit down with them again. 'Animal Nitrate' is just fabulous. Everything a great rock song should be.

    1. Great that you think so too. I'm so envious that you saw them when you did; all the live clips I've seen suggest as you say that they were excellent on stage. I thought Brett in particular still had that power and energy in this recent live set, which was really heartening! (Yes 'tis Richard Oakes there.)
      Brett and Bernard... a kind of love/hate/can't-work-together thing perhaps? So often seems to develop between vocalists and guitarists!

  2. A beautiful obession! and a great song!

  3. I've seen clips of that on some documentary.

    After an exhaustive search last night (yes we took a trip down Brit Pop lane last night thanks to this post)...I couldn't find it or the documentary.

    It's a smokin' performance. I've never been a big fan either but, that was pretty cool.

    1. Thanks for looking - I was so disappointed I couldn't find it online too, as it's such a defining moment. If I had been younger I think it would have been my punk moment, like seeing the Pistols for the first time - a no-turning-back point in my early musical forays.
      (Maybe they'll repeat the documentary - if it's the same one we've got it was the Brit Pop /Indie episode of BBC2's 'The Seven Ages of Rock'.)

  4. That album was very very good - they just had something then but one band with one album that connected briefly with me - like Jane's Addiction and Strays which I think is brill but not keen on any other ... odd how that happens sometimes.

    1. I know what you mean about just one album with some bands - whilst we've got a few Suede albums and love them all, like you we only have one Jane's Addiction album. And yes, it's Strays!

    2. Strays?

      I thought Furtheron was talking about another band. I had no idea that Jane's Addiction had put out an album called Strays. Ha.

      Jane's Addiction were the first band I can remember that didn't sound like the 80's. Husker Du, Sonic Youth and REM had gained a certain amount of notoriety but, they were all very much 80's products.

      I never saw a vinyl copy of Jane's Addiction (the first release on Triple X..a live album) but, that cassette was least where there were people that mattered :).

      I remember being at a friend's...Steve Roach...sittin' his room giving a commical reading of this very clinical book about the sexual habits of Americans, laughing...listening to that album over and over. Then the clowning would stop because we were struck by some part of the album.

      They had already signed a huge record deal. By the time Ritual came out (and of all the singles that came out of that time when Major labels were gobbling up Independent bands...none of them have ever been better than Been Caught Stealin'). I thought, and I wasn't the only one, that Jane's Addiction were the next thing. I was never their biggest fan but, I did love 'em...I thought they were going to be what Nirvana became. Maybe they would have if they could have kept it together.

      I say all of that, and it turned out to be quite a lot...sorry, to say again that I had no idea Jane's Addiction had put out an album called Strays.

      Guess I should check it out.

    3. You tell a good story so say as much as you like here!
      I lied by the way. Well, not intentionally - but I jsut went to the shelf and found that we still have a copy of Ritual De Lo Habitual, which I had completely forgotten about but which I also like...
      Yes check out Strays! From 2003. Just Because is great - then see if there's the live version from Later with Jools Holland on youtube and be amazed by the two different treatments of the same song. That is if my memory isn't messing me about again. I don't really trust it these days ;-)
      I was a bit of a fan, but in the most shallow way (yes, you know what I'm saying) of Dave Navarro at one time.

    4. Ah, here it is

      I love this. And Dave looks like a little devil. I half expect to see a forked tail hanging down there.

      (From Suede to Jane's Addiction in one move, how strange! Thank you, Furtheron!)

    5. Some of Martha's best one liners have been about Dave Navarro...she recently referred to him as "that goth leprechaun." Ha.

      I'll check it out when I get to the house. The problem is I'm one of those horrible people that can't stomach reunions or reformations. Call it the Second Coming Syndrome...

      Which by the way, if you get a chance, have a listen to Been Caught Stealin' and Fools Gold by the Stone Roses back to back.

    6. Will do, thanks.

      I'm quite open-minded about Second Comings. (Oo-er Mrs...)

      "That goth leprechaun" - brilliant! (I think he looks a bit weird these days, like he's had surgery or something? Hmmm rather than Mmmm now.)

  5. Yes, I was also a little late coming to the very wonderful Suede (just as I'm also a little late coming to the posts on your very wonderful blog) but better late than never (for Suede and your blog). I was invited along to see them play once and I was struck by how Brett Anderson was onstage, particularly in the way he would thrust the mic stand out into the audience for them to sing into. The last time I could remember seeing somebody doing anything similar was years before when I used to see Crass play live. Yes, Brett Anderson onstage reminded me of Crass vocalist Steve Ignorant. I later found out that Brett used to be really into Crass and that he even included their Feeding Of The 5000 as one of his favourite ever records. Which to my mind made Suede even more interesting. Derek Jarman apparently liked Suede as well and to have had him as a fan is also no bad thing at all.

    1. John, thanks so much for the comment and compliment, much appreciated. It's interesting that you came to them late too but that you feel similarly.
      Well I never knew that about Brett liking Crass/Feeding (thanks for enlightening me) - not an obvious assumption! - but I think I can understand what you mean about the live experience comparison (saw Crass many times, just a shame I never saw Suede - I envy you!) I'm sure then that you'll also understand the comment I made above about how if I'd been younger they might have been my punk moment... with their anti-establishment swagger (perhaps not quite the right word but you get the gist) and just the right degree of stylish shockability to provoke some polar reactions.
      I really like the way Brett has aged - just as I like the way Steve has too! It's all good!


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