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5 stars is not enough!,
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This review is from: Coming Up (Audio CD)
Too much is said of Suede with Butler, Suede without Butler and this can eclipse what the actual emphasis should be on; the music. To put it shortly, this is a post Bernard Butler Suede album, but it certainly is not the worse for it. This is an iconic record, from the sleeve art to the last note of music. It has always been one of my favourite albums ever (which I class alongside Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles), and it has just got even better with a bombardment of extras and b-sides that litterally leaves the discs almost groaning (in pleasure!).
The actualy remaster here, unlike the first two albums, sounds utterly fantastic. The sound is noticeably crisper and sounds fresh and sparkly - as is the songwriting. Initially, I thought it was a bit odd that 'Together', 'Asda Town' and 'The Bentswood Boys' being b-sides from some of the Dog Man Star singles, but I can see why they have been included here. 'Together' in particular is a wonderful song, now better than ever, which acts like a blueprint for this album. Listening with hindsight, rumours that this was considered at one point for re-recording and inclusion of the album proper could've been a more satisfying track than the album's weak point 'Starcrazy', but 'Coming Up' is such a fun, thrilling record that dwelling on flaws seems distinctly against the mood it brings on.
In a commerical sense this was their most successful album, containing no less than five top ten singles. Stylistically, this is a purer pop vein along the lines of classic T.Rex which some may find dissapointing after the granduer of Dog Man Star. Personally I find it a relief, as the album is not lacking in beauty or fragile moments, and unlike Dog Man Star it does not come across as pompous or stuffy. 'Picnic By the Motorway', 'By the Sea' and 'The Chemistry Between Us' are as louche and beautiful as any earlier Suede ballad, while the up tempo songs abound. Creativity was so high at the time, or perhaps the CD1/CD2 demand for b-sides, that this package is almost overflowing with great songs. Arguably, a lot of real gems were relegated to b-sides as they did not fit the "up" good mood of the record. So, things like the wonderfully cold synth epic of 'Europe is Our Playground' or the wonderous tinkling of 'This Time' didn't make the final cut. Thankfully, they are now given their very own disc alongside a plethora of other top notch songs.
The Demos, unlike theh Butler era, offering some very interesting insight - in many cases being radically different from the final versions. The sing-a-long riff of 'Beautiful Ones' is nowhere to be heard on the slower acoustic demo, and likewise 'Pisspot', an early incarnation of 'Trash' has a completely different draft of lyrics and a warmer sound. The b-sides towards the end of the campaign didn't quite keep the quality control up, so things like 'Duchess', while being pleasant, come across as filler. That said, one has to bear in mind here that the band prior to this release were only expected to provide 2 b-sides per release, as opposed to double that amount.
All in all, a superb reissue, with bonus DVD of concerts, interviews and videos. Literally hours of entertainment for a bargain price. Sure, the packaging is a little on the cheap side - the carboard spine will probably be cracked - but ultimately in this download age, I can see why the record label have cut costs to make so much material available at a great price.