A GUEST POSTING by ADY HODGES
First, I’d like to thank everyone for their kind comments on my first ICA on Ash. They were nice enough to make me want to have another go, so here we are.
The other month, I was watching The Insatiable Ones, a new Suede documentary and I wondered if anyone had done a Suede ICA, as it’s something I thought I could have a go at. Imagine my surprise when I saw no one had, so I’m attempting it. I don’t claim to be a Suede expert, but I own the first 4 albums, the Sci-Fi Lullabies B Sides collection, the first comeback album, Bloodsports and the latest, The Blue Hour. I have also now heard the other 2 albums, although nothing from them has made this ICA (spoiler alert),
The Beautiful Ones – A Suede ICA
Animal Nitrate (from Suede)
Possibly the most famous Suede song (although that could be Trash). Their first Top Ten hit (at a time when Indie bands didn’t hit the Top Ten) and a song that we forget now was so out of step with the times, all big bold glam rock guitars at the tail end of the grunge era. Somehow its blatant drug references escaped the BBC sensors, as it was a massive radio hit.
Everything Will Flow (from Head Music)
The recording of Head Music was a troubled time for the band, Brett Anderson was a drug addict by this time and keyboard player Neil Codling was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The band largely recorded tracks for the album individually. On top of this, they were also trying to experiment with a more electronic dance influenced direction. Despite this, a lot of the album holds up well, none more so than this track. Fun fact, this song got to number 28 on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, Suede on the Dance chart, who’d have thought it?
The Big Time (from Sci-Fi Lullabies)
Originally the B Side to Animal Nitrate, later collected on the Sci-Fi Lullabies compilation. This is a beautiful ballad, simple guitar, strings, a mournful trumpet solo and poignant lyrics, detailing the tale of a relationship breaking down due to the fame of one of the parties. “Now he’s in the big time, And you’re in the way.”
It Starts And Ends With You (from Bloodsports)
Suede’s reunion has produced 3 albums to date, Bloodsports was the first in 2013. When they toured this album, they played 2 sets, first they played the complete album in order, then after a break they played their singles in chronological order (when I saw them in Southampton, they got up to The Beautiful Ones), which was a brave decision, but I believe the album is strong enough to get away with it. This to me is the stand-out track on the album, very old-school chart friendly Suede.
The 2 Of Us (from Dog Man Star)
Dog Man Star is now regularly held up as Suede’s crowning achievement. Initially I preferred Coming Up, as it is more immediate, but Dog Man Star bears up to repeated listening, as you appreciate more about it and different tracks make an impression. This is one of those tracks, in some ways it’s a typical Suede piano ballad, however, I love the way it builds and then fades, also the lyrics are very evocative.
Beautiful Ones (from Coming Up)
The third album Coming Up was a contrast to Dog Man Star, more direct and poppy. It feels like an album of hit singles and five of them did go top 10. This to my mind is the best of the uptempo tracks, even if it is a bit reminiscent of New Generation from the previous album. It’s a typical rollicking Suede single with lyrics trashing mid-nineties celebrity culture.
Stay Together (Long Version) (from the single)
Their joint biggest hit (along with Trash) and the only standalone single they ever released. This was the first notice that Bernard Butler wanted to start producing epics and this longer version definitely feels like a production where the kitchen sink has been thrown at it, particularly in the four and a half minute outro. A clear signpost to what they would go on to produce on the Dog Man Star album.
Still Life (from Dog Man Star)
Another ballad from Dog Man Star. I prefer the ballads on this album (this, The 2 Of Us, The Wild Ones & Asphalt World in particular), as there are more layers to them. This track builds to an impressive climax, with contributions from the London Sinfonia orchestra. It was covered, surprisingly well, by of all people, Alisha’s Attic on the Childline album, a version worth seeking out.
Cold Hands (from The Blue Hour)
I toyed with sticking a number of tracks at this point. The piano version of My Insatiable One was considered, as was their cover of Shipbuilding, but there are too many ballads on this side of the ICA. We need something lively here and I thought about Metal Mickey, but I eventually settled on something less obvious. Cold Hands is a highlight from the latest album and is a short swaggering blast of energy, that fits nicely here.
Saturday Night (from Coming Up)
The closing track from Coming Up is a melancholic ballad, based around a straightforward guitar figure and some more poignant lyrics. I think the “Sha La La La” refrain as the song fades out is a great way to end this ICA.