Best tunes of 1992: #10 Suede “My insatiable one”

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There are certain bands who have been, at certain points in their career, so prolific that even their B-sides are phenomenal. Such is the case with London-based glam rockers, Suede (known as The London Suede in North America), and this is especially true of their early years. So it came as little surprise to me when I learned that “My insatiable one” was originally released as a B-side to Suede’s very first single, “The drowners”.

I first heard the song the year following this single’s release, when it was included on the soundtrack for the Mike Myers vehicle, “So I married an axe murderer”. Haven’t heard of it? I wouldn’t be at all surprised. I enjoyed it at the time but really, the best thing about it is Myers’ secondary role in the film as his protagonist’s father, complete with the same outrageous Scottish accent he later reused in SNL sketches (“If it’s nae Scottish, it’s crrrrrrap”) and for the “Austin Powers” villain, Fat Bastard.

Oh yeah, sorry, the soundtrack for the film was fantastic too. The La’s original classic, “There she goes”, as well as a cover of it by The Boo Radleys, served as a theme of sorts for the film. And the soundtrack also included Ned’s Atomic Dustbin covering a Charlene pop song, Big Audio Dynamite II’s amazing single, “Rush”, a little early 90s hit called “Two princes” by the Spin Doctors, and of course, Suede’s “My insatiable one”.

The boys show here (on a B-side) why they were such a hot and exciting item back in those early days and why they are considered one of the bands that kickstarted the BritPop movement. Bernard Butler’s athletic and aggressive guitar playing is more restrained on this tune but still very much present, arpeggiating all over the place, climbing up and down the walls, roaring like a lion, while Brett Anderson prances about the stage, vocals operatic and theatrical, playing fey and falsetto, and well, daring, his listeners come along with him for the ride.

“Oh he is gone, he’s my insatiable one.”

The fact that Brett was singing about a “he” being his “insatiable one” raised a few eyebrows at the time and he riled things up even further by claiming at times that the song was about anal sex. Knowing Anderson, though, I would tend to believe his other explanation, the one that posits that he wrote it about himself from Justine Frischmann’s (whom many of you might remember as the frontwoman of Elastica and erstwhile girlfriend of Damon Albarn, but who got her start with Suede and as Anderson’s girlfriend) point of view.

Either way, this is a great tune. A B-side that plays as a single that should’ve been a hit kind of great tune.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.

100 best covers: #69 Cornershop “Norwegian wood (This bird has flown)”

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Chances are pretty good that if you haven’t heard tell of Cornershop, you’ve likely heard their huge, worldwide hit, “Brimful of asha”, bolstered in large part by the fabulous remix by Norman “Fatboy Slim” Cook. The original version of that track appeared on Cornershop’s third album, 1997’s “When I was born for the 7th time”. The album was released just past the apex of the Britpop craze and though neither their sound, style, politics, or ethos necessarily matched up with others from the scene, they were still lumped in with that lot simply because they were there. It was likely thanks to their appearance in the British music magazines I was in the habit of purchasing when I had the coin, and the aforementioned ubiquitous hit, that I purchased the album on CD during my final days of university*. And though I did like a lot of its tracks, it took me a few years to really appreciate what Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres were doing. There was so much going on here – psych, funk, rock, dance, ambient, and traditional Indian music – and the culmination of all this was summed up in this fun cover of The Beatles’ “Norwegian wood (This bird has flown)”.

The original, I’m guessing, needs no introduction. Recorded way back in 1965 for the album “Rubber soul”, “Norwegian wood” is widely considered to be one of the first instances of ‘Raga rock’ and was also highly influential on the burgeoning psych rock movement. The song was written by John Lennon, apparently about an extramarital affair, with contributions from Paul McCartney, its composition inspired by the folk ballads of Bob Dylan. But it all really came together when George Harrison added a touch of sitar, an instrument he had just recently discovered and had started to learn, and all of a sudden, we had our first Western rock song to feature the Indian traditional stringed instrument.

So, in fact, it’s quite compelling that Tjinder Singh, whose band name was a play on the stereotypical vision of Indian immigrants in England, would choose to cover this particular track. Reportedly approved by both Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono, his cover translated the words to Punjabi, upped the sitar focus, and in a sense, whether intended or not, reclaimed the use of the instrument and shone a spotlight on his heritage.

It’s never a fair game to try to rank a cover against a Beatles original but I definitely think Cornershop’s version of this track is worth your time. What are your thoughts?

Cover:

The original:

*”When I was born for the 7th time” eventually wormed its way deeply amongst my favourites of 1997, one of the greatest years for music (in my opinion), and landed on my top ten when I counted them down a couple of years ago.

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.

Vinyl love: Gene “Olympian”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Gene
Album Title: Olympian
Year released: 1995
Year reissued: 2015
Details: 20th anniversary limited edition, gatefold, 180 gram, blue vinyl

The skinny: Back when Gene’s debut album, “Olympian”, was released in 1995, they were being hailed by the British press as the next coming of The Smiths. Of course, they weren’t the first band to have bestowed upon them this dubious and weighty comparison, but in Gene’s case, they not only had the jangly guitars but also a secret weapon in Martin Rossiter, whose vocals rang very similar to those of Morrissey. Close comparison or no, I loved “Olympian”, as did a host of others, and it sold very well. Unfortunately, Gene’s fortunes were tied to that of Britpop’s popularity, like many other bands at the time, and when it waned, so did Gene’s listenership, and their latter albums didn’t sell nearly as well. Nevertheless, when I saw this 20th anniversary pressing on blue vinyl by Demon Records online, I knew I had to have it. And yes, it sounds as lively and fun as it did back then.

Standout track: “Haunted by you”