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Quite Possibly The Most Underrated Band of All Time
on 7 November 2010
Suede were a band much like The Smiths in that there isn't this mix of good and bad songs - there were no bad songs. Period. I hate the term "Britpop" as much as Suede does because most of the bands with that moniker had a few hits and could be forgotten. Suede were original and legendary. Let's begin with the original genius of the band: Bernard Butler. When I first saw Suede in 1993, I was steps away from Bernard and he opened the show by banging out "The Next Life" on the piano while Brett's voice hauntingly echoed through the old Warfield Theatre in San Francisco. It's a pleasure that that song is included here. The music of Suede's finest crafted masterpieces were penned by Bernard Butler and this 2-CD compilation favors the Butler-penned songs more than the others. This is also a bonus.
Brett Anderson was a unique person. Very eccentric and artsy. With each album, his lyrics diminished in quality, but his voice was always wonderful. The first song I heard of Suede's was a track called "My Insatiable One", which I was turned onto when Morrissey covered it on his "Kill Uncle Tour". It was perfect in that it was inspired by one of my favorite old songs: "The Bewlay Brothers" on David Bowie's gem HUNKY DORY. Brett never really said this, and many may disagree, but when Bowie hits the highs in that song, it's quite similar. That masterpiece is also included here.
Richard Oakes was a competent replacement for Bernard Butler. How could anyone say that there was a huge drop-off in quality when you hear tracks like "Saturday Night" and "The Beautiful Ones" and "Trash"? All three of those excellent tracks are also included here. What was missing from Richard Oakes was the live performance. Bernard Butler was INSANE on stage. You couldn't catch a fleeting glimpse of his face at any point of the show as his long hair shook out of control. He was passionate, excited, and just simply went nuts. I later saw Jonny Greenwood copy this exact style, but Bernard did it first.
Matt's bass was rich and wonderful, as showcased here on "Europe In Our Playground", and Simon was a great drummer. Nothing bad you can say about his skills, as showcased on "She", also included here. You get the best singles, and there's nothing that you'd skip over like "Love The Way You Love", off SINGLES. I was actually pleased that track was left off.
I appreciate that the second disc includes non-singles and b-sides - because, as ANY real Suede fan knows, these tracks were often better than the singles! I love having "My Insatiable One" and "The Living Dead" and "The Next Life" all brilliantly remastered. All Bernard Butler tracks, all absolutely perfect.
I am such a big fan that I am going to get a bit nitpicky for a second here. I wish first that they'd have gone with the original version of "Europe In Our Playground" from the TRASH Single versus the version off "Sci-Fi Lullabies". It's a bit more organic and grandiose at the same time. I also would have opted for the original album version of "We Are The Pigs". The thing with "We Are the Pigs" is, it had that EPIC, EPIC ending! "..We'll watch them, we'll watch them, we'll watch them burn..." - which was completely hacked off of the single version included here. That song is really missing something without the epic ending, though it still features some of Bernard's best guitar work ever. Finally, I wish there would have been room for "Moving" and "This Time". Those missing makes me long for re-issues of all of the albums remastered, with a second disc of b-sides. I'm sure those album re-releases would spark a bunch of Amazon reviews by cheapos whining "I already have all of these songs", but the remastering reinvigorates these songs - giving them new life - and Suede deserve this treatment.
Nitpicking aside, this is one of the finest compilations ever, Unlike most of these "Hits" releases that focus on newer tracks and that add a throwaway new single, this compilation sharply focuses on Suede in their prime, nearly ignoring the substandard "New Morning" album. That album was ok because it was still Suede, but songs from that record don't really tell the story of Suede, nor do they capture them in their prime. Every track here is a gem and their less popular songs usually trump other bands' best singles. Brett and the band hand selected these tracks and they were nicely remastered. This isn't one to miss.