Friday, March 29, 2013


Suede spent a year generating considerable media hype with a series of singles before delivering the androgynous suburban glam of this pop phenomenon and unwittingly spearheading the Britpop movement.  The group started when University College London students Brett Anderson and Justine Frischmann became involved and decided to form a band with Anderson's childhood friend Mat Osman, who was studying at the London School of Economics.  The trio put an ad in NME for a guitarist and found  Bernard Butler who was studying history at London's Queen Mary College.  Butler had written many songs and had been submitting them with little success after flunking out of school.  

Butler recalls:    "They were very cool; very in-their-own-world. And I wasn't."  He sings:  "In those days, my dreams were pretty much all that got me off. To have a nice place, a little studio, a car... and a woman, which evaded me for many years (unhappy twang)..."

Osman remembers:   "Brett was different, even at school. He was a well-known face around town. He had a reputation. I knew of him before I knew him, because he was an oddity. The first time I met him, he was wearing a pink suit, a raincoat, and he had on a shirt and tie with a tiepin. And he had a long-legged girl hanging on his arm."

Anderson considers:  "It was Bernard who left a week before his exams. He didn't do anything for three years and then he left when we went on tour. We'd never been on stage before Suede. Been in bands, but nobody saw 'em. We're not professional musicians who suddenly found the, er, lodestone...I was quite numb; didn't think of being in a band.  I wanted to be abrasive, so I bought records which I felt expressed something important in myself. Late punk that was – Discharge, Crass and crap like the Exploited...I did feel angry. I was brought up in that environment – y'know, the same old thing. You got no space to express yourself, so you took it out on the football field. It was like living in two dimensions, and then, suddenly, someone shows you the third, which was music. But records weren't enough. It wasn't until I discovered I could play music as well … I started playing my sister's guitar. But Bernard plays it on the album. What he does is quite beautiful, even though he can't play it properly."

Butler would keep drawing from the many songs he'd already written:    "They'd say, Aw, no, don't like that one. So I'd just give them back six months later and it would be, Great song, let's do it! I'd play all sorts of games. You have to, you know...Brett basically came around to it very slowly.  Very closed in, he is. Very difficult to get at. It took a long time for him to trust me and trust my music."

'Wonderful Sometimes' won on the Demo Clash radio show five weeks in a row and led to a deal with indie label RML.  While they were still looking for a drummer, Mike Joyce of the Smiths actually recorded two songs with the group:  'Be My God' and 'Art'.  Frischmann would leave the group after breaking up with Anderson.  By that time, they signed a two single deal with independent Nude Records and were featured on the cover of Melody Maker as the "next big thing" before they'd even released one of them. The success of the singles and the media hype that surrounded the group led to massive anticipation for an album.  They secured a distribution deal with Sony Records and went into the studio with producer Ed Buller.   'Suede' was recorded  at Master Rock Studios in Kilburn in north west London.  The sessions featured Brett Anderson on vocals; Bernard Butler on guitar and piano; Mat Osman on bass guitar; Simon Gilbert on drums; with Ed Buller on synthesizer, keyboards, production, engineering, and arrangements; and Shelley Van Loen, Lynne Baker, and Caroline Barnes on violin; John Buller on horn arrangements; Trevor Burley on cello; Simon Clarke on baritone sax and tenor sax; and Phil on percussion.   All of the songs were written by Anderson and Butler.

'Suede' made its entree at number one in the UK, selling over one hundred thousand copies in the first week and going gold on the second day; making it the biggest selling debut album since Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Welcome to the Pleasuredome' ten years before.  The album received five Brit Awards nominations and won the Mercury Prize, from which the band donated the money to cancer research.  'Suede' also charted at number seventy-seven in the Netherlands, fifty in Germany, thirty-four in France, twenty-eight in Japan, twenty-three in Australia, eighteen in Norway, fourteen on the US heatseekers chart, twelve in Finland, and number seven in Sweden. 

Anderson exclaims:   "We are part of a procession of English bands who trampled their way through history.  It's just what we do. We're singing about our lives and where we are. We're not anti-American, but our culture seeps through. We hate that sort of 'Brits music school of excellence' mentality. Rock's not a fucking community centre. A lot of great music is the byproduct of not being shepherded around, of being left out in the cold on your own, of a certain desperation; some people wanna treat it like the social services. That's pathetic."

"The Drowners" was their first single on Nude Records, going to number forty-nine in the UK.

"Metal Mickey" was their breakthrough hit, reaching thirty-nine in Australia, thirty-three in Sweden, seventeen in the UK, and number seven on the US modern rock chart.

"So Young" made it to ninety-eight in Germany, twenty-five in Ireland, and twenty-two in the UK.

"Animal Nitrate" reached eighty-nine in Australia, twenty-one in Sweden, eleven in Ireland and New Zealand, and number seven in the UK.

"She's Not Dead"


"Pantomime Horse"

"Sleeping Pills"


"Animal Lover"

"The Next Life"

full album:

All lyrics written by Brett Anderson; all music composed by Bernard Butler.

1. "So Young" 3:38
2. "Animal Nitrate" 3:27
3. "She's Not Dead" 4:33
4. "Moving" 2:50
5. "Pantomime Horse" 5:49
6. "The Drowners" 4:10
7. "Sleeping Pills" 3:51
8. "Breakdown" 6:02
9. "Metal Mickey" 3:27
10. "Animal Lover" 4:17
11. "The Next Life" 3:32

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