Tuesday, 23 November 2010

'You wake up with a gun in your mouth.' by @diaryofaledger

I wasn't a fan if the first Suede album.  It was ok, but I didn't really get the Brett love.  To me he just seemed a bit of an arrogant twat and although all the indie chicks seemed to think he was a god and that Bernard was some kind of guitar wielding geek genius, I just didn't get it.

At the time of their second album, Dog Man Star, I was reading the NME every week and the big news was that Brett used to date Justine from Elastic who was now dating Damon from Blur.  How terribly exciting.  Before Blur v's Oasis there was Blur v's Suede and it was much more interesting, in a sort of gloom laden, probably addicted to coke and heroin sort of way.

It was 1994 when Dog Man Star came out.  Just weeks before release Bernard Butler walked away from Suede and my interest was piqued.  Here was a band labelled as the next great British hope and they were falling apart at the seems.  Who doesn't love a bit of tension?

We Are the Pigs had whet everyone's appetite, a stirring guitar, arguably that classic Suede sound of the first album, but tighter and more dynamic.  It's a great great song, but the album is something else entirely.

It might actually be the lost great album of the 1990s, buried under their peers now, Suede's legacy, sadly burned by the slightly half baked albums that followed.  But Dog Man Star delivers at every turn, in parts like a throw back to the '70s, rich in sound and full of guitar solos, but in others it's almost 'show tune' like in its pomp and circumstance.

My favourite moment?  Opening line of The Wild Ones.  Sung so beautifully, so perfectly.  Shivers, every time.

The best song?  I've been musing that all day after some comments on my facebook wall from the artist formerly know as ChestyMorgan.  She went with The Power, which I adore.  The words swimming over the guitar, the anger subdued and hidden from view until you listen properly.  It's got Bowie all over it, but it's a stunning track.

For me though Dog Man Star contains one of the best album closers of all time with Still Life.  There's something Phantom of the Opera about it (and I hate musicals, fact) but the words are gorgeous and warm.  Love at its darkest, the chorus when it comes, so potent and over the top.  It's the sort of song that Muse have been failing to write for the last ten years.  And then, just when you think it's over, the orchestra takes you somewhere else, it becomes like something out of a western and always makes me think of wide open spaces and the bluest, clearest skies.  Brett Anderson may have been an utter twat but on that one song he redeemed himself for me.

There's other moments when the album goes way beyond where I'd ever expected to.  The Two of Us and even the opener, Introducing the Band, just two of the best.  Black and Blue is pretty amazing too.  The album gets more and more showy until that stunning climax, building towards it.  It's that attention to detail in the track listing that I love, as the band become something completely different.

Dog Man Star should have been the album that saw Suede take over the world.  For a while they had us in the palm of their hands but without Butler is was never the same.  For one album they transcended everyone else around them by a county mile, producing something that sounded like nothing else any of their peers could write.

Truly special.  (But definitely an acquired taste required.)


chestymorgan said...

I was at their penultimate gig at the Brixton academy in December 2003 and they closed with Still Life.I wept;although a huge fan anyway Dog Man Star was very much my obsession and that night they played more of it than I'd ever heard them do live before

Wonderful post!(which I've been near pogoing with excitement at the prospect of reading allday)

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