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Suede is the debut album by the group of the same name and was released in 1993. The photograph on the sleeve is by photographer Tee Corrine and taken from the book Stolen Glances. It remains a remarkably brash and confident record full of classic pop songs and tear stained weepies. This is the first incarnation of Suede with Bernard Butler behind the music. Butler was one of the greatest guitarists of his generation and they were obviously never the same without him (he sadly left in a big sulk after the second album). Butler's riffs, chords and arrangements are epic, immediate, poignant, sad, exciting, candescent. The early Suede story is certainly interesting. They were on the cover of Melody Maker before they'd even released a single so everyone immediately hated them. The hype was justified though and this became the fastest selling album ever in Britain when it was unveiled. This was an era of grunge and shoegazing but Suede were more homegrown and theatrical. Their influences were David Bowie, The Smiths, Marc Bolan and Roxy Music. This album probably invented Britpop but it was Blur, Pulp and Oasis who erroneously got the credit. The first song here is So Young (a single I presume) and a superb way to start. It begins with a monstrous shimmering guitar riff and is very catchy. Brett Anderson's distinctive vocals (think of a cross between David Bowie and Kenneth Williams!) mesh well with Butler's lustrous music here and throughout the album. I like Anderson's vocals because he's not generic like many singers. He got a bit ridiculous later on at times but sings well here and can deploy a falsetto when he has to. His lyrics are rather pretentious but fun anyway on this album. He creates a Suede World, a sort of short hand for a glitter on the breadline manifesto. Looking at mould in an empty cup and seeing star constellations. Often meaningless but sometimes touching.
In So Young he sings of taking the "tide's electric mind" and scaring "the skies with tiger's eyes" (okey dokey!) before moving onto druggy innuendo. Fantastic piano bit in this song. Anderson frequently cited So Young as one of his favourite Suede songs ever. Animal Nitrate is next and one of the more famous Suede singles. A brilliant and dark pop song with fantastic guitars by Butler. This was a big breakthrough song. A glammy pop anthem with knowingly cheeky obtuse lyrics. "Oh in your council home he jumped on your bones, Now you're taking it time after time!" You suspect the lyrics here were a slice of mischief because they knew they would get this onto Top of the Pops and mainstream radio. She's Not Dead is the first melodrama drenched weepie on the album and pretty good as far as melodrama drenched weepies go. Butler's music is beautiful and Brett sings rather nicely here. Love the way they are in perfect sync at the end with Butler's gentle guitar chords mirroring Anderson's falsetto sighs to the fade out. The chorus is lovely. Moving is a simple rabble rouser, somewhat forgettable in the grand scheme of this record. Not bad with the usual lyrical flourishes ("We'll never never play the harp, and we'll stick like sick on the stars!") and some strange yelping noises from the lead singer. It's unbelievable by the way that Suede's classic early b-side My Insatiable One wasn't on this album. I first listened to that on the Sci-Fi Lullabies b-side collection and it's great.
Pantomime Horse is another slow one. Butler's guitars gently spiral into increasingly epic proportions and Anderson responds with one of his best vocal performances. Majestic but probably goes on for too long. "I was conned by a circus hand, Tragic as the son of a superman," sings Brett. I hate it whenever I'm conned by a circus hand. Next is The Drowners, Suede's debut single. This is brilliant. A weird, complex and mysterious pop song that sounds a bit like The Smiths' Hand in Glove. Love the stuttering guitars and the way Brett Anderson pronounces the word "over" in the chorus ("Slow down, slow down, you're taking me Oooooo-veeeer!, And so we drown, Sir we drown, stop taking me Oooooo-veeeer!") You are never too far away here from some good old fashioned playfully suggestive homoeroticism. Sleeping Pills is another kitchen sink melodrama and pretty good. Very atmospheric and overblown (good overblown though rather than bad overblown) with lyrics of water signs and air signs and being long gone to valium. "Too Siamese to catch the leaves from those trees!" Hmmmn. Breakdown is a ballad too and one song that did stretch my patience somewhat when I listened to this again recently. It's nice enough but goes on for far too long. "Back where the cars decide, where the lame star limps an endless mile, have I gone too far inside my mind?" croons Brett. The music is very pretty here but it never quite manages to go anywhere very memorable and becomes somewhat repetitive towards the end.
Metal Mickey is next and a fantastic pop song that is infuriatingly catchy. "She sells heart, she sells meat, Oh dad, she's driving me mad, come see!" I have absolutely no idea what he's going on about but who cares. It's a fizzy pop song with wall of sound guitars and a great chorus. It's the lightest and most throwaway thing on the album but a good addition I think to break up all the angsty epics. I believe, by the way, that Metal Mickey was a children's television series from yesteryear about a cheeky robot. Nice cultural reference there. Animal Lover is another rabble rouser in the vein of Moving. Not bad but nothing amazing. Very fast with impressive guitars. When it comes to rabble rousers I think the early Suede b-side Killing of a Flash Boy was much superior to this and Moving. The final song is The Next Life. This is absolutely wonderful and so bittersweet. It's just Brett Anderson singing and Butler on piano and all about escape and running away to Worthing to "flog ice creams". The hum drum nature of the dream in the song is of course all the more romantic and poignant for its very ordinariness. Very Suede. The Next Life is a simple and lovely song. This remains an impressive album and is certainly one of the great debut albums. It's slightly sad to listen to this though with the knowledge that the partnership behind it would be broken after just one more record. On the evidence here they could have been the Morrissey and Marr of the nineties. This is a great record I think and one I enjoyed listening to again for the first time in ages.
This is one of the most memorable albums I can remember. The first I heard of Suede was The Drowners on Radio 1, late on a night. Hoping that the DJ would announce the name of the band after the song, it was revealed as Suede.
Then the album came out and I had to buy this and I wasn't in the slightest disappointed.
In fact - something suprised me.
This was probably the first album I ever had listened to where I liked every single track.
Although much of it is in a similar style, She's not dead (a strange song with a unique bass sound from the rest of the album), Sleeping Pills (which is wierd but good song) and Breakdown (Slower) and Next Life (Piano) really helped break the album up a little.
Bought on the strength of one song, this is a purchase I have never regretted and this will never be destined for a car boot sale or eBay. No way.
Suede's self titled debut in my opinion is one of the best albums of the 1990s. Though underrated and rarely mentioned these days the album single handedly created the Britpop movement and turned the focus of British music away from the dying drugged up self importance of Madchester and the unglamourous insigificance of the shoegazing movement. At the same time, Suede are a different band from Blur and Oasis because as the last two were roughly influenced by lad culture and the sixties, Suede was always more piqued by the glam rock of the seventies. Suede were unashamedly glamourous but they were also working class which was another distinguishing feature.
For a while it seemed as if Suede were on track to be the biggest band in Britain; the sexy, grinding thrill of "The Drowners" sent the British music press into such a frenzy that they declared Suede the best band in Britain before even hearing any other material. In many ways, Suede succumbed to the hype machine at first though it wasn't until their performance on the BRIT Awards in 1993 that the subsequent singles "Metal Mickey" and "Animal Nitrate" hit the top ten, as well as this album becoming the fastest selling debut in history (now overtaken).
Though Suede were the victims of hype, this album does not let the hype down at all. The first track "So Young" is a melancholic and heartfelt ode to childhood, which shows both sides of Suede's energetic glamour and depressive longing. "Animal Nitrate" is possibly the best song on the album and one of the best of the 90s: it combines Anderson's theatrical style of singing with Butler's layers of guitars while being accompanied by disturbing intelligent lyrics. "She's Not Dead" is a depressive wallowing sort of song with dreamlike textures which turns more pessimistic as it goes on.
Next, "Moving" is energetic and vivacious, demonstrating the members aptitude to creating different atmospheres easily. "Pantomime Horse" is another slow, depressive, minimalist number, but the guitar textures created in it are staggeringly attractive. "The Drowners" was well deserving of the hype, again combining Anderson's theatricality with the slow grinding but lively stomp of the music. "Sleeping Pills" is yet another pessimistic slow song, but again demonstrates the atmospheres the members can create. "Breakdown" is another similar song, but has a more disturbing edge behind the dreamlike meandering.
"Metal Mickey" is a very lively song in comparison, is littered with raunchy glam hooks yet showcases Suedes ability to write working class lyrics on unique subjects. "Animal Lover" is also lively and is lovingly poisonous with it's trashy guitars and venomous lyrics. "The Next Life" is another slow ballad, but has interesting piano playing and is a good way to end the album.
The only big flaw with this album (or advantage, depending on the way you look at it) is that the tracks can be a little formulaic. There seems to be a few aggressive glam stompers and a few wallowing depressive ballads, but it is only on certain tracks where these two song forms can be combined. While Suede's lyrics are also great (especially compared to what followed with Blur and Oasis) they can be a little drugged up and meaningless from time to time. The length of the ballads can be taxing sometimes too. Suede would go more into the depressive pessimistic territory with their next album "Dog Man Star", but would then go into the glamourous stomping with "Coming Up".
Overall this album is a must have for glam rock or Britpop enthusiasts, but may be a little taxing on anyone else.
When I heard that Suede had decided to call it a day I was a bit disappointed. They were one of those bands I'd always wanted to see live and now wasn't going to have the chance. It was then that it struck me that in fact the band had been around for quite a while. From the early days with Bernard Butler and Brett Anderson getting along they made some of their best music, starting with this album Suede. Of course Anderson and Butler have reunited to form the Tears, so my hopes of seeing them haven't gone altogether; it'll just be under a different name.
This debut album from Suede was released back in 1993 and the thing that always surprises me is how good it still sounds to this day. When I first heard the album I wasn't really a fan that was until I hear "Animal Nitrate" in full for the first time. Suede appeared at an awkward time, Britain was gripped in the vice of Nirvana and Oasis were just about to hit the big time with Definitely Maybe. So Suede had a short time to make a name for themselves and that's exactly what they set about doing with this album.
It was clear from the start that Suede would never be a huge band, but they were going to touch a lot of people. With a lead singer that sounded slightly different and guitar riffs that made Suede unique it was clear from the start this was a great album. It did take a bit of time to grow on me, but after 6 or 7 listens I just suddenly feel in love with it. They were a Trashy glam sort of band and that meant their appeal wasn't quite universal. It did however appeal to a hardcore fan base and so Suede began with the combination of Anderson and Butler combining to write an excellent album.
It was a different album to most of the other bands around at the same time. The guitars made the sound and gave Suede a bit of identity. It includes two different styles of songs, those with a more upbeat feel to them and then there are those with a slower, mellower and generally more relaxed sound to them. The guitars really lead each track though and with the backing of some excellent drumming and a decent bass line, it was clear from the beginning that Suede could achieve something. The haunting feel of "Sleeping Pills" in contrast to "Metal Mickey" is probably the best example of the 2 different styles.
While "Sleeping Pills" is a slow, easy going track that relies heavily on Anderson's vocals and an acoustic guitar to give it some identity. "Metal Mickey" is the exact opposite, a much faster pace with the guitars and drums combining to compliment Anderson's vocals. It's within his vocals that Anderson really portrays that Indie glam sound. At times he does sound a little strained but to me that actually works to his advantage. It makes it sound like that's exactly how he intended the vocals to sound and this works in the bands favour.
They are considered to be one of the pioneers of the Indie rock revolution and based on this album its clear to see why. The glam aspect of the album put off a number of people I know, simply because they didn't think it sounded all that good. To begin with I would have agreed but I gave it a chance and it certainly grew on me quickly. It's not a perfect album by any means, there are a few weaker moments but it's more certain passages of a track than an entire track on its own. The lyrics are quite thought provoking and at times sound quite deep. It showed that Suede would have something to offer for a long time, even back then, as Anderson was writing excellent tracks that would stand the test of time.
Overall I do really like this album and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. My favourite tracks have to be "Metal Mickey" and "Animal Nitrate", but as a whole I enjoy every track on the album. It has a very mellow feel to the album that makes it ideal to put on when you want to relax and unwind a little. Of course at times it can be a little too mellow and certainly wouldn't be recommended if you are feeling down. That said I can recommend Suede to most Indie fans, even if the glam sound of the singles doesn't really appeal I can assure you it will steadily grow on you.
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Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 So Young
2 Animal Nitrate
3 She's Not Dead
5 Pantomine Horse
7 Sleeping Pills
9 Metal Mickey
10 Animal Lover
11 Next Life