The reissues market really thrived on artists from a certain area being tarted up and dusted down to allow middle-aged types to relive their youth. The Who, The Stones, Costello and Bowie, have all been remastered and repackaged to celebrate every two-bit anniversary, with huge sales to boot. However, with the CD market not quite what it once was, the music of the Nineties is also getting a facelift before the bags have truly formed under its eyes. Beck, Saint Etienne, Radiohead and Pulp have all had relatively recent deluxe outings and latest into the fray come Suede.
The trajectory from ‘Best New Band in Britain’ to the chartphobic wet-fart of a finale is fascinating, and the recently released 2CD/DVD sets of all five albums are every bit as good as you would hope. Let’s begin where it all ended: ‘A New Morning’. Having suffered a lengthy and troubled gestation, Suede’s final album was met with critical and popular indifference. After the pop re-birth of ‘Coming Up’ and the drugged, synthetic sound of ‘Head Music’, a polished, optimistic outing – with most rough edges neatly smoothed over – just didn’t really seem like an album they would release. Listened to directly after the previous four records, its flaws remain noticeable if dimmed but, taken in isolation, ‘A New Morning’ still contains some cracking indie jangle. ‘One Hit To The Body’ has a gloriously big chorus and ‘Positivity’, despite being the slick, shuffling first single which signalled the beginning of the end, possesses a great late-period Anderson vocal. The bonus tracks are a mixed bag, with previously unreleased track ‘Refugees’ demonstrating exactly why it had hitherto been hidden from us. The demos, as Brett observes in his splendid sleevenotes, suggest what might have been, stripping back some of the gloss and giving some of these, actually rather fine, songs a chance to get comfortable and spread out a little. As with ‘Head Music’, the b-sides are ripe for a bit of cherry-picking, ‘Simon’ chief amongst them, along with actually-an-a-side ‘Attitude’, previously used to promote the ill-fated ‘Singles’ compilation which served to truly switch out the lights on the band’s original run.