- Suede (band)
Infobox musical artist
Name = Suede
Background = group_or_band
Years_active = 1989–2003
Alternative rock Britpop
Label = Sony BMG/Columbia/Nude
Brett Anderson Mat Osman
Bernard Butler Neil Codling Justine Frischmann|
Suede (or The London Suede in the
United States) were an English rock band of the 1990s and the early 2000s that helped start the Britpopmusical movement. Through their several incarnations, they were able to consistently put out albums that charted well, while still holding the respect of critics. Though they never achieved great success in North America, they were considered to be one of the most successful British rock bands of the 90s.Carpenter, Troy. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=897731 "London Suede Begins Recording New Album"] . billboard.com. June 1, 2001.] In 1993, Suede won the Mercury Prize.
(1989–1992) Early history
Suede were formed in London in 1989 by bassist
Mat Osman, singer Brett Andersonand his then girlfriend, Justine Frischmann, on rhythm guitar. They soon added guitarist Bernard Butlerwho was recruited through an advertisement in Melody Makerand used a drum machine as percussion. Suede were signed to RML Records, a label from Brighton. Comedian Ricky Gervaismanaged the band for a brief period before they were signed to a record label. With Mike Joyce(formerly of The Smiths) famously filling in as drummer, Suede's first record "Be My God"/"Art", was printed but never released due to a dispute with the label. The few surviving records out of a batch of 2000 are considered amongst the rarest of Suede collectibles. Simon Gilbert soon replaced the drum machine and Suede signed to Nude Records. Though still living with Anderson, Frischmann was ejected from the band around this time because of her failure to attend rehearsals.
The band's first single "
The Drowners" was released amid an alternative media frenzy that began before the band had released any music. The band was on the cover of " Melody Maker", which proclaimed them as "the best new band in Britain" prior to an official release. The debut single attracted so much excitement because of its sharp contrast to the dying Madchesterscene and the U.S. grunge sound of the time. [Youngs, Ian. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/4144458.stm "Looking Back at the Birth of Britpop"] . "BBC News". Aug. 15, 2005.] Suede were further distinguished from their contemporaries by Anderson's flamboyant looks and unique vocals, combined with Butler's melodic guitar playing. Surprisingly, given the amount of press exposure the band had received, "The Drowners" – featuring two B-sides in "My Insatiable One" and "To the Birds" – was only a moderate hit. Two follow-up singles hit the UK Top 20: "Metal Mickey" and " Animal Nitrate".
(1993–1997) Britpop and Cool Britannia
Their first album "Suede" became the fastest-selling debut since Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Welcome To the Pleasuredome" and it was catapulted onto the charts after a performance on the 1993
BRIT Awards. Featuring heavily-layered production by Ed Buller, the album showed influences from indie rock band The Smithsand David Bowieand other glam rockers which were filtered and blended to create a trademark sound. Their American success was limited, despite securing a tour slot with the Cranberries, who had support from MTV. Moreover, a lounge singer's lawsuitforced the band to stop using the trademarked American name "Suede" (a fate also suffered by fellow U.K. band The Charlatans/The Charlatans UK). For the North American market, the band released all of their future albums under the moniker The London Suede. Anderson wasn't happy about having to change the group's name in the U.S., as he stated: "The London Suede is not the name I chose for the band, I didn't change it happily, and I'm not going to pretend I did." [Strauss, Neil. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE7DB103AF93AA35751C0A963958260 "The Pop Life"] . nytimes.com. Feb 9. 1995.]
Some possible factors cited to explain the band's lack of U.S. success are their quasi-androgynous look and distinct British sound, both of which might have alienated North American audiences. Despite this, the band retained a cult following in the U.S., which was evident by their first four studio albums charting on "
Billboard"'s Heatseekers charts," [http://wc06.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=THE|LONDON|SUEDE&sql=11:0pfqxq8gldae~T5 Suede > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums] ". Allmusic. Retrieved on July 22 2008.] and by Sony feeling it was worthwhile to release the double-album " Sci-Fi Lullabies" in the States. [Prevatt, Mike. [http://www.lasvegasmercury.com/2004/MERC-Jan-08-Thu-2004/22926696.html "CDVS"] . "Las Vegas Mercury". Jan 8, 2004] Following the release of their debut album, the band began work on their highly anticipated follow up single and album in late 1993 and much of 1994. The hectic schedule the band was facing hinted the problems that were soon to come. In February of 1994, the band released the single " Stay Together", which garnered critical praise, also became their highest charting at the time, reaching number three. Despite their growing profile, tensions within the band mounted as they began working on the second album. Anderson and Butler fought constantly; a major issue was the production of the album (again done by Ed Buller). Things reached a head when Bernard Butler quit the band in the middle of the recording sessions, leaving behind tapes containing his ideas for the songs that had been written. The remainder of the guitar work on the album was completed by studio musicians or Brett Anderson.
Dog Man Star" (1994) finally appeared, its sales were generally sluggish, though the album was praised by critics. The record was vastly different-sounding than the band's debut. It featured a spacious sound that was fleshed out by strings and a horn section. While Blur's "Parklife" and Oasis' "Definitely Maybe" were fighting for pop supremacy, Suede explored darker territory. The vacant guitar chair was soon filled by 17 year-old guitarist Richard Oakes (initially nicknamed by the U.K. music press as "Little Dickie") before an international tour to promote the album. Many critics and fans alike had their doubts about the ability of the band to move on without Butler, who was an integral part of the band's songwriting. The band broadened their sound with a keyboardist and backing vocalist Neil Codlingfor their third album, " Coming Up" (1996). The first single from the album, "Trash" was popular and tied with " Stay Together" as the group's highest charting U.K. single, reaching number three, which helped to make the album their biggest mainstream success.
The album was a hit throughout Europe, Asia and
Canada, but still not in the U.S. It did, however, answer the critics who questioned whether Anderson and company could produce another hit without Butler. Suede had again changed sound drastically; "Coming Up" featured more of a glam-tinted pop/rock sound, as opposed to the darker elements of the previous albums. Reviews were again mixed, but the album topped the U.K. chart and became the band's biggest-selling release. The band was finally getting the mass video and radio play that they lacked during the "Dog Man Star" period and in many ways fulfilling the hype that characterized much of their early career. The album brought the band five straight top-10 singles. The band's next venture was a collection of B-sides and rarities entitled " Sci-Fi Lullabies", which reached #9 on the U.K. chart.
(1998–2003) Late history and "The End"
By the time the compilation was released in 1997, though, the Britpop movement was noticeably waning in popularity, and the band had decided to split with long-time producer Ed Buller before commencing work on their follow up to "Coming Up". Before focusing work on their next album, the group recorded a version of "Poor Little Rich Girl" for the "" in 1998. Despite being backed by the popular lead single "Electricity", Suede's fourth album, "
Head Music" (1999) was something of a critical disappointment, though it once again took the band to number one on the album charts. A synth-infused album that focused less on guitar riffs and more on keyboards, it was produced by Steve Osborne, who had worked with Happy Mondaysand New Order. Critical opinion was sharply divided; many felt the record was too shallow and lacking in substance, while others thought the album was the group again taking a different direction and charting new territory.
The next three singles released from the album failed to crack the top 10, breaking a run stretching back to 1995's "
New Generation". The b-sides for the singles were also arguably not up to par with their usual standard, which hinted at the drying up of the creative well. Anderson also began being criticized more by fans for his often use of redundant vocabulary and limited lyrical themes. Despite this, even with their drop in mainstream popularity, the band still maintained a large core group of fans. Not long after the release of "Head Music", Nude Recordseffectively ceased to exist. Like many of their labelmates, Suede ended up signing to Nude's parent company/distributor Sony to record their fifth album, " A New Morning" (2002). The long and troubled gestation of the album saw keyboardist Neil Codlingleave the band, citing chronic fatigue syndrome, to be replaced by long-time band associate Alex Lee, formerly of Strangelove. [Cohen, Jonathan. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=805726 "Billboard Bits: Fatboy Slim, Suede, Keb' Mo'"] . billboard.com. March 23, 2001.]
In concerts, Lee played second guitar, as well as keyboards,
backing vocalsand, at one point, harmonica. The album title, according to Anderson, referred to "a fresh start, a new band and a new fresh outlook" – the singer had reportedly been addicted to heroinand crack cocainefor a number of years by this time, which was having an increasingly deleterious effect on his health. He was quoted at the time as saying "we've all cleaned up our drug problems ... which is nice." Despite the rejuvenation of the group's health, the album was a commercial disappointment which failed to crack the top 20, and ultimately was never released in the U.S. [Carpenter, Troy. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1885938 "Billboard Bits: Memorial Day, Anastasio, Suede] ". billboard.com. May 12, 2003.] Although the group began work with Tony Hofferproducing, [Carpenter, Troy. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=897731 "London Suede Begins Recording New Album"] . billboard.com. June 21, 2001.] the album was produced by "big name" Britpop producers John Leckie(who famously produced The Stone Roses' debut LP, as well as records for Radioheadand Muse) and Stephen Street(most famous for his work with The Smithsand Blur), "A New Morning" was considered a solid enough outing by fans of the band, but critical reaction was decidedly lukewarm and the mainstream public interest had long disappeared. Only two singles, "Positivity" and " Obsessions," were released from the album, the fewest singles taken from any of the band's albums, and neither charted particularly well.
In Autumn 2003, after the release of their "Singles" compilation album and accompanying single "Attitude", Suede played five nights at London's
Institute of Contemporary Arts, dedicating each night to one of their five albums and playing through an entire album a night [Carpentor, Troy. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1953825 "Billboard Bits: Suede, Diane Schuur, Alejandro Escovedo"] . billboard.com. Aug 11, 2003.] – with B-sides and rarities as encores – in chronological order. After these shows, the band announced there would be no more projects under the Suede name for the foreseeable future – effectively announcing the end of the band, as they stated on their website: "There will not be a new studio album until the band feel that the moment is artistically right to make one." [Cohen, Jonathan and Troy Carpenter. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/search/google/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=2018530 "Suede Calls it a Career"] . billboard.com. Nov 6, 2003.] Their last concert at London's Astoria on December 13, 2003was a two-and-a-half hour marathon show, split into two parts (plus encore) with the first part being "songs we want to play". Brett made an announcement that "there will be another Suede album" to everyone's delight, but added "...but not yet." [Author unknown. [http://www.nme.com/news/suede/15741 "See You in the Next Life"] . NME.com. Dec 13, 2003.] "See you in the next life" was their closing remark.
(2004–present) Post-break activity
In May 2004 Anderson confirmed rumours that he and original Suede guitarist
Bernard Butlerwere working together again – they had written 15 songs and were putting together a band, The Tears, who have since released their debut album " Here Come the Tears", to critical acclaim and with moderate commercial success, though a follow-up seems a distant possibility with Anderson investing time in his solo career and the band officially on hiatus. To date, Anderson has released two solo albums, self-titled solo album in February 2007 and "Wilderness" in 2008.
Alex Lee played a short set with former Strangelove band-mate
Patrick Duffat the Tsunami Appeal Gig at the Bristol Carling Academyon Saturday 19th February and continued to tour with him. He now plays guitar and keyboard with Placebo. Neil Codling has toured as keyboardist for pop singer Natalie Imbrugliaand has played as a duo called "Barry O'Niel" comprising him and Harriet Cawley and live for Brett Anderson. Gilbert is currently the drummer for international band Futon, based in Bangkok, Thailandwhile Osman plays for the U.K.rock band Mista Brown and live for Brett Anderson.
Suede's legacy is largely in inspiring the Britpop scene which eventually overshadowed the band's own achievements.
Alexis Petridiswrote in 2005, "These days, rock historians tend to depict Suede's success as a kind of amuse bouche before the earth-shattering arrival of Britpop's main course". [Petridis, Alexis. " [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/critic/feature/0,,1465039,00.html Frankly I hated Suede] ". " The Guardian". Retrieved on 16 June 2008.] Thanks to the band's popularity British guitar music was once again brought to the forefront paving the way for the success of Pulp, Blur and Oasis. According to the book The Last Party, Noel Gallagherwas said to have written " Some Might Say" in an attempt to create a better anthem than " Animal Nitrate". Recent/current bands inspired by Suede include The Libertinesand The Cribs- with both artists having used Bernard Butlerto record singles - as well as Pete Doherty's offshoot band Babyshambles, The Vines, The Long Blondes, Placebo, Bloc Partyand Franz Ferdinand.
All the chart positions are for the UK, except where noted.
*"Suede" (1993) - #1, #14 (U.S.) "Billboard" Heatseekers
Dog Man Star" (1994) - #3, #35 (U.S.) "Billboard" Heatseekers
Coming Up" (1996) - #1, #17 (U.S.) "Billboard" Heatseekers
Head Music" (1999) - #1, #25 (U.S.) "Billboard" Heatseekers
A New Morning" (2002) - #24
Sci-Fi Lullabies" (1997) - #9
*"Singles" (2003) - #31
See You in the Next Life" (2003)
*"Love and Poison" (1993)
*"Introducing the Band DVD" (1995)
*"Lost in TV DVD" (2001)
; from "Suede":
The Drowners" (1992) #49
*"Metal Mickey" (1992) #17, #7 (U.S.) "Billboard" Modern Rock Tracks [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/retrieve_chart_history.do?model.vnuArtistId=108140&model.vnuAlbumId=131809 Billboard Chart History] ]
Animal Nitrate" (1993) #7
So Young" (1993) #22; non-album single:
Stay Together" (1994) #3; from "Dog Man Star":
We Are the Pigs" (1994) #18
The Wild Ones" (1994) #18
New Generation" (1995) #21; from "Coming Up":
*"Trash" (1996) #3
Beautiful Ones" (1996) #8
*"Saturday Night" (1997) #6
*"Lazy" (1997) #9
*"Filmstar" (1997) #9; from "Head Music":
*"Electricity" (1999) #5
She's in Fashion" (1999) #13
Everything Will Flow" (1999) #24, #28 (U.S.) "Billboard" Hot Dance Music/Club Play
*"Can't Get Enough" (1999) #23; from "A New Morning":
*"Positivity" (2002) #16
Obsessions" (2002) #29; from "Singles":
*"Attitude" (2003) #14
* [http://www.suedestation.com Discography Site]
* [http://personales.ya.com/suede Fan Site]
* [http://suede-music.freeservers.com Fan Site]
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