on 27 April 2004
One can only wonder what Suede would have go on to achieve if Anderson andButler had not fallen out. The debut and this spectral masterpiece of analbum could easily stand up to any bands first two albums ever, TheBeatles and The Smiths included. Dog Man Star is very much a winter album.Lyrically it is a very paranoid, reclusive piece. It is alleged that Brettlocked himself in his flat in the middle of nowhere with a mountain ofL.S.D. to write it. Bernard's guitar work is incredibly atmospheric anddense, particularly on the near-ten minute Asphalt World the final cut ofwhich upset him due to it's severe edit! God knows what the demos musthave sounded like. By a mile suede's finest album, it is an undeniablyEnglish work, Syd Barrett, Julian Cope, Kate Bush, and yes, Bowie and theSmiths are all in there somewhere. There are a few up beat glam-stompers,New Generation being the best up-beat number, but most of the set isdrug-addled and claustrophobic. Daddy's Speeding is the oddest track, afeedback entrenched eno-style piece about James Dean that eventuallycollapses under it's own weight. The opener Introducing the Band couldalmost be off Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and Heroine surely IS a DavidBowie song. The reason Dog Man Star is such a work of genius though, isthe last four tracks. Roughly 25 minutes of music that is so enormous thatif Brett and Bernard had stayed together, they would have probably landedon the moon. The 2 Of Us is a dark, sparse romantic ballad written about apossibly imaginary lover, Black or Blue is another drug track which couldbe out of a particularly creepy West End musical, The Asphalt World iscolossal and features Butler's best ever guitar work and closer Still Lifeis the last track because it simply can't be followed, so vast andglorious is the orchestral outro. So there you have one of the greatestever english songwriting teams, splitting up under the strain of their ownambition. Please buy Dog Man Star, it proves that Suede are arguably themost underated band of all time.
on 7 June 2011
Suede - Dog Man Star (1994)
Deluxe 2cd/dvd set - June 2011 release review.
Now this may sound silly but to be honest I've not understood the allure of deluxe package before this. I was almost tempted with Pulp's His and Hers and Radiohead's Kid A, but nothing got me going quite as much as when I saw this 2CD/DVD set listed... my heart began to quicken.
This album means a lot to me... Dog Man Star was originally released on my 20th birthday in October 1994. I was a massive Suede fan, having adored their first album as a sixth form student, especially getting lost in the majestic playing of a certain guitarist named Bernard Butler.
Earlier in February 1994, as the charms of Boo Radleys much under appreciated Giant Steps was tempting me away, Suede released the stop gap single Stay Together (finally remastered and released here in almost all it's glory on Disc 2). I found this single just staggering. Being an undergraduate and a cassette man to boot it was the first CD single I ever bought to get the full length version of the single and the extra track (how many bands at the time were worth doing that for?). I taped it and proceeded to wear out my Sony Walkman listening to it. Many say Oasis are the b-sides band, but then these folk have never heard or understood Suede, who set the standard in the 90s. I spent many happy hours on the top deck of buses around Leicester listening with wonder to the guitar heaven of the last 4 minutes of Stay Together, an ingenious, crazed rock opera, or the delicate desperation and beauty of The Living Dead (lyrically along with Still Life Brett's finest moment), OR the soaring majesty of My Dark Star (how many guitarists bother to write a bloomin great solo for the 2nd b-side?). If a band can throw away music this good and not put it on the next album then they must be heading for the flipping moon. Here was a band with genuine white hot ambition. My love for them deepened... this was a band to die for.
So, when Dog Man Star finally arrived 8 months later I was almost beside myself with anticipation. Lord knows how I would have felt had Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler had actually Stayed Together. After hearing the news of the break up my enthusiasm was dampened. I started to wonder, like most Suede fans, what kind of album was going to emerge. But as another reviewer has already mentioned they did have a very good friend in the music press at the time and the NME started to hype the album's release, eloquently reigniting the fire, alongside a picture of a forlorn Brett, being propped up by a harp in a corn field, oooooh the drama of it all.
I was very lucky to be studying in Sweden at the time of release and when the bleak video for We Are The Pigs appeared on MTV Europe (slotted in alongside Parklife, Green Day's Basket Case and The Cranberries' Zombie!) it was a devilishly good sign... Again, how many bands have ever had the balls to release such a violent, unapologetically disturbing anthem as their first single from an album? Especially the follow up to a No. 1 selling debut? This is a dark s***-stained dream. Brett's opening lines say it all "Well the Church Bells are calling/Police cars on fire/And as they call you to the eye of the storm all the people say "stay at home tonight" followed by a sing-a-long chorus as black as "We are the pigs/We are the swine/We are the stars of the firing line" This is not bum slapping, cockney suggestions of gay sex... this is Clockwork Orange, Paris 1968, an Orwellian nightmare, football hooliganism, nasty sex, Lord of the Flies.... Erm, excuse me Brett... this is terrifying! Bernard wasn't slacking either, the music that man wrote to this day baffles and stuns me.
The album opens with the unnerving trio of Introducing The Band (which still shocks and wrong foots the listener more than ever), We Are the Pigs and the ice cold hypnotic swagger of Heroine. The scene is set, this is no ordinary record. The opening chords of The Wild Ones break the tension and in doing so define the album, despite living in an often hellish world, love can still conquer all. I owe them a debt of gratitude for the hope and joy The Wild Ones has given me over the years and THAT guitar! I swear as Brett wails the title at the climax of the chorus Bernard pulls out a ten story high riff that makes has guitar sound like the roar of a lion, something Ive never heard anyone do before or since.
The delights continue... the emotions swing across the map. New Generation is a blast of fresh air (and would stand out big time on most other records). The Asphalt World is a triumph, the artistry that Bernard put into that epic guitar work is just incredible, at one point you hear not just one but four stunning solos overlaying each other... this is music with 4 dimensions. Lyrically The Asphalt World is mind boggling too with a leather clad Brett enthusiastically delivering a particularly sordid tale of love and poison in the back of taxis in London. Anderson had fire in his belly on this record and indeed his intuition boded him well as he came up trumps again with a wonderfully carefree and sexy reinvention of himself on the entertaining Suede (pt II) follow up Coming Up.
The closing track Still Life is perhaps Brett's crowning glory, I don't know if it's intentional (or if Bernard had left by that point) but they drown out his guitar with lushious, fantastically/bombastically cheesy strings. It almost heads for Bonanza at one point but only after Brett has delivered the vocal performance of his life. It's an overblown, romping celebration of the ordinary and the everyday and it's what make Suede's lyrics and imagery so, so special. The tour film captures the mood perfectly with its reflective study of the minustia of life, on the surface all is still, quiet, unremarkable but underneath the skin there is a yearning so strong its almost unbearable. It's an unbeatable way to finish a record.
Producer Ed Buller does a fine job, despite being attacked at the time in interviews by a post Suede Bernard Butler, his influence over the sessions seems from the outside as a key reason for the split. Buller's use of atmospherics strengthen the sense of loneliness and desperation within Dog Man Star which at the time matched exactly the early fall into winter I was experiencing so far north in Scandinavia. I can still close my eyes and see the autumn leaves falling around me in the weakening sunlight to The 2 of Us, or feel the biting Arctic wind battering me in the face whilst riding when I hear This Hollywood Life. It was a welcome, deranged postcard from my home country.
There are moments on Dog Man Star where Buller (or maybe Anderson) frustratingly reduce the volume on Bernard Butler's guitar, particularly on the exceptional openings to The Wild Ones and The Asphalt World, causing me to often fiddle with the volume. I have always wondered whether this was to build the atmospherics in the songs or was it a direct response to the guitarist leaving the sessions?
This 2CD/DVD remaster is a very special package indeed for several reasons. To suddenly find in the last few days an original, completely different unedited 7 minute version of The Wild Ones that Bernard had originally intended is just fascinating, its a fabulous audio christmas present I forgot to open from 20 years ago. To hear new licks and attacks from what I regard my favourite ever guitarist after all these years is nothing short of exhilarating. Who knows what would have happened if the band had survived and supported his vision? The alternate versions, demos, unreleased tracks, a pile of great b-sides, home movie footage and pictures of the sessions, the interviews, video footage of live shows from Paris and new liner notes lovingly put together by Brett himself, make this the sort of deluxe reissue the album deserves. I caught myself this morning, sitting in my car having arrived at my destination listening again, in awe and wonder to the previously unavailable extended version of The Asphalt World. The tour films too are worth a mention, they effortlessly capture the spirit of the songs.
The interviews are, from this fan's viewpoint, fascinating. I'm glad they stuck to talking about the music and didn't use the interviews as a chance to finally set the record straight or settle an old score. Although neither of them talk directly about the split, there is a lot to be taken from these interviews which for me only adds to the myth and the legend surrounding the recording of such a masterpiece.
As a fan returning back to 2014 Im chuffed to see Bernard pick up his guitar again. I've thoroughly enjoyed his solo work (People Move On is a classic record), McAlmont & Butler (Disappointment, You Do match anything here) and despite the edge being rubbed away on the 2005 Anderson/Butler reunion record Here Come The Tears it's still a great listen. If Neil Young had given up putting out records at his age we'd have missed out on Freedom, Ragged Glory, Greendale and god forbid no Sleeps With Angels!!!
As the Mojo reviewer calls it `Barmy, in a good way' you do have to listen to this album with a forgiving heart and an open mind. If you take Dog Man Star on it's own terms then you're in for a treat. This music is the naked, sepia toned man from the cover, desperately yearning for something greater (and undefined) as the daylight gently fades. It is ultimately an unrestrained expression of tortured youth in all its wasted joys and burning sorrows, along with some of the greatest guitar work ever recorded. Oh rejoice! to hear it all over again.
on 29 January 2006
...and Johnny Marr pops around for a spot of tea.By the sounds of things they weren't just drinking tea...
Dog Man Star is truly sensational. When one compares this effort to what immediately preceded and proceeded it (in Britain at least), nothing else compares with the over-produced, orchestral bombast (notably on Still Life), the claustraphobic intensity (The Two of Us), and brooding menace(Asphalt World) which it exudes. A tip: listen to the latter track whilst driving around a hole of a town, perhaps Weston Super Mare, very late at night. You might have to lock the doors and windows of your car and/or not stop at traffic lights, but it is worth it in order to soak up the seedy atmosphere of low-rent, burnt-out, drug-frazzled 'glam'. It works best if your car is a shitty old Ford (either an Escort or a Probe for apt comedy value).
The Asphalt World aside, the rest of the album, as another reviewer mentioned, is best heard through headphones on a Discman turned up to a level not entirely healthy for one's ears. Even if you do go deaf as a result, chances are there's nothing much worth listening to after having sat through Suede's sophomore set.
While it would be thoroughly misleading to say that the album is one of light and shade (it is unrelentingly bleak), it is characterised by a variety of different styles. Unlike, say, Coldplay, who have two modes (1.bland, and 2.paint-dryingingly, fist-eatingingly, nondescript vapidity), Suede run the gamut from up-tempo glam-rocking in New Generation, through fuzz-guitar-enhanced Smithsian janglepop (Heroine), ending up with the overblown chamber music of Still Life. They even throw in some Eno-ish nuggets of experimentalism (Introducing the Band, and Daddy's Speeding) which, surprisingly, work a treat.
I first heard this album around eleven years ago, and I loved it. Having endured the last eleven years, which have been one disappointment after another where music is concerned, it has increased in my estimations. Dog Man Star is better than anything else Suede ever did (yes, including their fine debut). I would go so far to say that it was the best album of the ‘90s. Buy this album and listen to it repeatedly by yourself when you have the time to give to it the attention, not only that it deserves, but that it commands.
One of the most seminal records of the '90s, by one of the best bands from that decade, is celebrating 20 years since its original release. Reissued and presented as an expansive multi-format super deluxe edition collector's box set, this is the one of the most lavish and -fittingly- extravagant anniversary album releases. However, it is not as comprehensive as one would have thought, featuring most of the tracks from the 2011 3-disc edition, but omitting much that could have been included in order to make this a perfect 20th anniversary release (promo videos, tour footage, demos etc). The 2CD+DVD 2011 set shall suffice for most. This new box set is clearly aimed at die-hard fans, and for what it is offering, is a high quality set, really well-put together, a fantastic collectible. I'd ordered a copy from Suede's website because I wanted the limited to 500 copies only alternate orange cover edition, but was not lucky. By ordering from Suede's website, you also got an exclusive 12" vinyl of "Stay together". Except for these extras, both that edition and amazon's are identical, so I'm still happy. Dark, desperate, reclusive, claustrophobic, elegiac and romantic, this startling sophomore is a musical masterpiece. Though being Suede's second least commercially successful album (behind "A new morning"), it is widely considered as their finest work. As with previous Suede box sets, this is likely to sell out before you say Brettpop, so hurry up, you do not want to miss out on this!
List of contents:
- AUDIO BLU-RAY: High Fidelity Pure Audio blu-ray of album and B-Sides
- CD: 2 CDs in mini gatefold sleeve
- MC: a cassette of album with original inlay
- DVD: with July 2013 interviews with the band, 1994 Top of The Pops and The O Zone appearances, "Dog Man Star" tour films, and "Stay together" promo video
- LP: 12" singles of "We are the pigs" and "The wild ones", and a 7" reproduction of the NME flexi disc in original picture sleeve*
- BOOKS: a 60pp hardback book with notes by Brett Anderson, photos, handwritten lyrics, and ephemera; a 48pp sheet music book with 5 songs
- CARRIER BAG with exclusive design
- PRINT: an A2 poster with "Dog man star 20" artwork
* plus, exclusive gatefold 12" single of "Stay together" when ordering from Suede's webstore
on 28 July 2003
I agree with the other review - Dog Man Star requires a few listens, but it will grow on you until you recognise it for what it is - a masterpiece, one of the greatest albums of the 1990s.
No other "Britpop band", if you can call Suede that, were making
music this ambitious, emotionally dramatic or powerful in 1994.
Brett Anderson is one of music's most remarkable vocalists - if you're in any doubt, take one listen to the album's closing track,"Still Life", one of the most climactic pieces of music I've ever heard. Put this song on and play it LOUD...This album is not for people who prefer lightweight, unchallenging pop. It contains some lush orchestral
arrangements, ambient Bowie-ish strangeness in "Daddy's Speeding", the lush romanticism of "The Wild Ones" and the jump-up-and-down anthem "New Generation". This is one of my two favourite albums of all time. The other is the first Suede album!
Suede have been criminally underrated in comparison with bands like Blur and Oasis. But in the early days of Britpop at least, Suede ran rings around these two bands, producing two albums of breathtaking beauty.
Four or five years ago, there was minimal, if any, talk about Suede - they seemed to have slipped into Britpop's dustbin, despite having preceded said "movement" by a couple of years. Thank goodness, then, that they reformed and their fans have decided to remind themselves of how brilliant they actually were.
Like it or not, there were two Suedes and this release represents the peak of the first - an extraordinary, self-contained suite of darkly glamorous, dislocated torch songs for a post-everything universe. It's important to remind 2011 of exactly how ambitious and isolated Suede were in 1994 - against a backdrop of chirpy indie-pop and stadium-eyeing mundanity, they created an album so audibly crepuscular that the group's fracture was immediately understandable on the first listen. Brett Anderson's lyrics are amongst his best - whilst they are certainly dystopian and, in places, all too redolent of 4am substance psychosis (the creepy, immersive "Daddy's Speeding"), they are playful ("Introducing The Band") and truly soulful - "The Wild Ones" is so strikingly compassionate as to instantly render virtually all their supposed contemporaries hackneyed and lame. Bernard Butler's dilemma is laid particularly bare on this new edition - the previously unheard longer versions of "The Wild Ones" and "The Asphalt World" show him at his most indulgent and his most thrillingly expressive respectively. The fact that the dirty glam thrash of "This Hollywood Life" and the tragic, lonely piano ballad "The 2 of Us" sit side by side on this album is a perfect illustration of the scope and talent these writers possessed together. Throughout, Mat Osman's bass strikes the perfect balance between the melodic and the supportive and Simon Gilbert's bluesy, expressive drumming - the unsung delight of Suede's career as a whole - is deployed expertly.
At the time, this album felt strange due to the circumstances of its making and release - it was hard not to feel sorry for Richard Oakes, obliged to mime Butler's parts for television and written off almost instantly due to his youth. Within two years, Oakes would prove himself beyond even the most jaundiced argument but we'll deal with that separately. Today, "Dog Man Star" feels strange because it *is* strange - an exceptional, totally individual statement of incredible skill, vision and emotional weight. And now, you can have it with all its relevant satellite B-sides (as well as a slightly edited "Stay Together") and a useful DVD of single-camera live footage, gig projections and an only-slightly-awkward Butler/Anderson interview. A necessary archive document of a totally singular work.
Suede, from debut single The Drowners (1992) to this album (1994) were as great, sometimes better, than the mass of orgasmic music criticism that greeted them. The fade of quality evident on the albums that followed, & the hollow allure of addiction, put paid to the band here- I have felt this album is bombastic, OTT and turgid- but that's better than anodyne and mediocre. & these qualities can be quite wonderful...Dog Man Star makes sense in the climes of Autumn/Winter & despite the personal relations between Anderson/Butler (who lasted not quite as long as Morrissey/Marr), the obligatory chemicals etc- creatively this is Suede's peak. Where early songs didn't quite meet the hype (Dolly, Movin, Animal Lover)- here they moved into another realm...
Like Berlin, Music for a New Society, or Tilt, it's typically downbeat, OTT and vast- over-produced, but in a good way. Suede's debut was a bit of a disappointment- partly cos five of the songs had been released prior to the debut- but songs like Breakdown, The Next Life & Sleeping Pills lead this way. As did the ridiculously epic single Stay Together- which saw Bernard Butler go into Spectoresque overdrive (this sounds good when compared to Oasis' epic take on Neil Innes How Sweet to Be an Idiot aka Whatever). Alongside brass, strings, and woodwind, there feature singing children, acoustic guitars, sampled voices, weird drones, hails of feedback...this is one to play very loud to appreciate its vast cinematic aspirations...
New Generation and This Hollywood Life are about the closest to Suede of old, their sound (Bowie collides with Smiths) was much more advanced here- see the likes of Heroine (I'm sure it's about drugs really!), We Are the Pigs & The Power- which have the kind of arrangements that Radiohead began to use in their music! Daddy's Speeding builds up to a sonic assault worthy of Kevin Shields- while opening theme Introducing the Band really does go for that Sgt Pepper meets Eno thing.
Many of the tracks are ballads, just about all of it downbeat- The Wild Ones remains one of their greatest moments- even if it fades out too soon (the end lines "Oh, if you stay!" and those falling strings could reasonably stick around forever). The 2 of Us and Black or Blue move into a stark realm dominated by piano, both feel very minimal and make way for the epic ten-minute plus The Asphalt World- which is very Nico on ecstasy and even has that oft-quoted Lou Reed line (How Do You Think It Feels/Beginning to See the Light's "How does it feel"?) requoted as "How does she feel"...The best is saved for last, if you can make it through the draining dirge- Still Life features Brian Gascoigne (Tilt) & moves from a minimal guitar ballad to a soaring collision of Messiaen refiltered through Suede, after they've listened to Desertshore & The Marble Index for weeks on ecstasy. The chorus, and minimal organ, are fantastic "I'll go into the night, into the night/She and I go into the night". Listen to a track like Radiohead's How to...Completely and see this as an influence...
Dog Man Star is an album that I'm happy to have rediscovered, though it'll never sound good in sunny seasons- would love to see a reissue with a bonus disc featuring other great tracks of this era (Killing of a Flash Boy, Whipsnade, The Living Dead, Stay Together, Modern Boys, one of the few post-Butler highlights Together from New Generation etc). Everything that is bad about this album turns out to be a plus-point- & it's nice to see something that pushes the envelope musically, in line with that vast ambition that followed with Britpop- but delivered retro muzak of an unmemorable nature. Gothic and good- one to file next to Tilt, Music for a New Society, The Marble Index, Berlin, Secrets of the Beehive, Don't Stand Me Down, Laughing Stock...you get the idea-
on 10 June 2011
Like, I suspect, most purchasers of this item, I already own Dog Man Star and Sci-Fi Lullabies. However, I am always happy to replace what I have for remastered and deluxe editions. While the remastered and deluxe edition of Suede's eponymous debut covered all the b-sides already compiled on Sci-Fi Lullabies, and the odd one which escaped that compilation, the b-sides for New Generation appear to have been left off this remasterd and deluxe edition of Dog Man Star. I presume this is because they were the first to feature Richard Oakes, rather than Bernard Butler, and so they will likely appear on the remastered and deluxe edition of Coming Up. I also note that the "long" version of Stay Together on the second disc appears to be at least a minute shorter than the long version on the actual single. Admittedly, much of that outro was noise, but this "long" version could at least have carried on a further 10-15 seconds to include the piano - which I thought was a pretty and fitting end to the song. These concerns aside, this is an awesome compilation. Dog Man Star is almost universally acclaimed as Suede's best album, and I not one to disagree. The extra tracks accompanying the album over the two cds are for the most part as good, if not better, than the album itself. I feel there is not a lot more to say which has not already been said, particularly as I am likely to be preaching to the converted. However, on the off-chance there is some reader new to Suede reading this review, and you are thinking of buying just one Suede album to hear what they were all about - this is that one. Check out the other reviews, then put the album in your shopping cart. This remastered and deluxe edition is great value for money, and I have not even sampled the DVD yet...
on 9 November 2003
An album of great depth and lyrical beauty. Dog Man Star is a masterpiece from one of the most overlooked bands of the 90’s. Open the blinds in your mind and indulge in one hell of a ride. The first half of the album posseses the more straight forward rock numbers reminiscent of their debut but better (We Are The Pigs, Heroine, New Generation), interspersed with some truly innovative songs such as the opener Introducing the Band and the eerie Daddies Speeding. The Wild Ones is a more straight forward romantic pop song with a truly memorable melody. DMS is an incredibly adventurous record that oozes with possibility, and has terrific depth…there’s so much going on and like all classics it will keep you interested for years. The piano led The 2 of Us has to be one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded and makes Coldplays The Scientist seem shallow, some achievement!(My favourite lyric: the snow might fall and write the names on the silent page). The epic The Asphalt World and its unique structure propel the album into the stratosphere and the closing track Still Life is one of the great album endings. There are no weak songs on this album.
I think most people remember Suede for their later more poppy stuff, but to me they became a different band after this album and not nearly as good. Anderson and Butler are one of the all time great song writing partnerships and Dog Man Star is a very special album. It takes a few listens to realise its real power but this is a trademark of many great albums. I urge people to listen to this forgotten album and to remind themselves how great British music can be.
on 15 September 2002
Suede, as a band, have always suffered from two deficits. The first is that their slow, miserable and epic songs are far more interesting than their so-called 'rockers'; listen to, say, 'Trash' and then to, say, 'India Strings' or 'Down', and that proves the point splendidly. After the overhyped debut album 'Suede', it comes as a surprise that this was such a magnificent piece of work; certainly, there are only flashes of greatness on the horribly underrated 'Head Music', and virtually none on 'Coming Up'.
The album begins as it means to go on, with the apocalyptic 'Introducing the Band', which sounds like the kind of thing that Pink Floyd might have written if Roger Waters hadn't been quite so self-obsessed, and had remembered that there was a band over than him. This is swiftly followed by 'We Are The Pigs', which is a fairly typical rock song, with one difference; it's actually good, unlike some of the more vapid excursions in the later catalogue.
Other highlights include 'Heroine' (Byron references ahoy!), 'The Wild Ones' (oddly enough, not half as 'epic' as one would imagine) and 'Gasoline' (in which Anderson's vocals sound as if he had ingested a large quantity of drugs just before recording.) However, the two highlights are yet to come. 'The 2 of Us' is a magnificent love song, which builds up to an almost U2-esque climax as Anderson screams the immortal lyrics 'Alone but not lonely/You and me/Alone and loaded...'
And then the album ends with one of the single greatest songs ever written, 'Still Life'. Imagine a demented, epic cross between Scott Walker, The Divine Comedy, The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life', David Bowie and every single album closer you can imagine that doesn't so much end an album as positively define it, and you're close to imagining the sheer effect of it. Anderson's singing is also absolutely top-class, as the operatic scale of Bernard Butler's composition becomes clear. Altogether now: ''Cos this still life...is all I'm good for too...' Magnificent, epic stuff, and about as essential as a record purchase gets.