Vinyl love: Suede “Dog man star”

(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: Suede
Album Title: Dog man star
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2014
Details: 2 x 180 gram, gatefold sleeve

The skinny: Suede’s second album is an absolute classic and yet, I don’t listen to it nearly enough. Definitely not as often as I do spin their first and third records, both of which have already received the ‘Vinyl love’ treatment on these pages and are likely already due for a revisit. “Dog man star”, like many other excellent sophomore releases, was fraught with difficulties from the beginning. It is the last album to feature original guitarist, Bernard Butler, who departed acrimoniously before it was completed. Many are those who feel that he kept Brett Anderson in check and without him, Suede continued further from rock and into pop territory for their future records. Indeed, this one is an epic glam rock opera. The copy I have on my shelves was re-issued on two 180-gram discs by Demon Records in 2014, twenty years after the original album was released. I’ve read plenty of complaints about this particular pressing but it sounds better than the copy I had on compact disc back in the day so it works for me.

Standout track: “We are the pigs”

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.

Best tunes of 2001: #8 Pulp “The night that Minnie Timperley died”

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At number eight on my best tunes of 2001 list, we have “The night that Minnie Timperley died”, a track that also figured on my Top five Pulp tunes post I did back at the beginning of this year.

This particular song appeared on the iconic Britpop band’s seventh and final album, “We love life”. It was never released as a single so I likely didn’t hear it in 2001. You see, I didn’t purchase this album the moment it was released into the record stores. Indeed, and as I’ve mentioned in other posts in this series, I was rather poor when we first moved to Ottawa in 2001, with not enough disposable income to lavish upon the purchase of many compact discs. I certainly remember looking longingly on the album’s simple cover and its adornment of block letters spelling the band’s name when I tortured myself by browsing through Record Runner, my favourite independent music store at the time, long since closed down. I had to content myself to the snippets I could catch on the internet, like the first single “The trees”, until I had stowed enough money working overtime at my call centre job.

When I finally put the CD in the tray and pressed play, track number three hooked me on first listen. To my ears, it most certainly should have been a hit, save the dark subject matter. Not that this has ever stopped Jarvis Cocker and company before. Never one to shy from the dark underbelly of humanity, Cocker mines a dream here, telling the story of a teenaged girl’s murder, lurking in the minds of both the victim and the predator. A song that starts so upbeat (“There’s a light that shines on everything & everyone”) but ends so dark and twisted (“And he only did what he did ’cause you looked like one of his kids”). It feels like Jarvis is playing with us. And if you didn’t pay enough attention, you could be easily fooled and taken in by the funky drum beats, handclaps and jangle, alien synth washes, and Who-worthy rock and roll guitar and bass slam riffs.

It’s brilliant stuff that proves this group was great right up until the moment they broke up.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.