BEST OF 2013: Reissues and Remasters

A combination of milking the death rattle of the CD and the realisation that well presented, in demand items can be priced pretty substantially has seen a rapid increase in deluxe edition in recent years. As I wrote a year ago, there’s plenty of crap being farmed out with the word ‘deluxe’ on it in the hope of people stumping up cash without really inspecting the goods. However, in amongst this endless conveyor belt of recycling, there are still some tremendous items creeping out into the world.

Considering that most second hand record shops are actually part-built of copies of Fleetwood Mac‘s ‘Rumours’, it probably didn’t need another go through the reissue machine, but one excavation of the past for which we should all be grateful is the ‘Who Is William Onyeabor?’ compilation on Luaka Bop. Having spent five years trying to get approval for this wonderful overview of the Nigerian artist’s synth-heavy Afrobeat funk music from William Onyeabor himself, the resulting collection more than justified the efforts. At least partly sourced from original vinyl copies of this hypnotic music, the sense of being let in on something rather special runs throughout this album. The emphatic joy of a neat refrain repeated to grand effect is to found across many of these songs and your best bet is to just dig in and see what you think. ‘Fantastic Man’ is a fine place to do just that.

The endlessly fascinating, if not entirely consistent, work of Harry Nilsson was given a pretty substantial dusting off for a CD box set covering his work for RCA. While the obvious sources of joy are ‘Nilsson Schmilsson’ and ‘Nilsson Sings Newman’, it’s a delight to see fabulously odd records like ‘The Point’ getting the spotlight cast upon them once again. That record is a particular favourite of mine and this set treats the material with respect, the mastering sounding rich and warm without cranking the volume or compressing the sound especially. It’s going for even less than it was on release now and is a great way to add a remarkable artist to your collection should there currently be a void.

Warners looked to recoup a little of the £1.5 million still outstanding from The Beta Band‘s relatively short but glorious career by milking that wonderful music as best they could. Firstly, all three of the EPs collected together as the cryptically titled ‘The Three EPs’ in 1998 were given vinyl reissues for Shiny Pretty  Expensive Frisbee Day in April, while the albums and assorted bonus material were dusted off for a fairly comprehensive set entitled The Regal Years ( 1997-2004). Considering this was rather clearly a cash grab, it was pretty surprising to see the whole thing shoved into one chunky plastic case with a flimsy booklet and priced very generously indeed. Surely, this was primarily aimed at those who already know the music and rare indeed it is for these things to be done so economically. If you’re missing anything, or just fancy the live tracks, b-sides and small number of demos, this is a very affordable purchase.

Light In The Attic continued to deliver deluxe goodies that actually warrant the price tag. Having spent the past eighteen months remastering and reissuing selected nuggets from Lee Hazlewood’s LHI label, the resultant box set – There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966-1971 – is their masterwork. Comprising four CDs, a DVD and a truly beautiful 172 page book, it is a remarkable feast for Hazlewood aficionados and open-minded music lovers alike. It captures the furiously industrious five-year period during which country-pop maverick Hazlewood helmed his own imprint, signing a diverse array of talent and releasing the finest work of his solo career. The box restores his albums ‘Forty’, ‘Cowboy In Sweden’ and ‘Requiem For An Almost Lady’ to the public glare, expanding on the wonders found on last year’s taster compilation. The less expected treats come on the latter two discs, which cherry-pick from the rest of the archive and include the fizzing, freewheeling garage of The Kitchen Cinq’s ‘Need All The Help I Can Get’ alongside Honey Ltd’s woozy ballad ‘Tomorrow Your Heart’.  Should you wish to dig a little deeper, a deluxe edition adds three data discs, including every single track the label ever released. The sheer quantity is overwhelming but there is a true treasure trove of delights to dip into over the winter months. As the book recounts, Hazlewood’s music wasn’t always treated with love while he was alive. This package certainly rights that wrong.

The vinyl box set continued to be a veritable cash cow in 2013, the most desirable containing all of the album output by Can. The fabric coated set replicated sleeve details, included original posters and featured a rather short bonus live album. The audiophile forums have been buzzing about how these were made using the same transfers and masters used to make the SACD releases from a decade ago – largely from people who haven’t heard the box yet – but, to my ears at least, they sound pretty good. No, Ege Bamyasi doesn’t quite breathe as much as my original, likewise Tago Mago isn’t identical in its sound either. However, compared to most vinyl editions of these records you could try and lay your hands on right now, they sound pretty damn good. Mute have taken great care with the pressing quality and with a decent pair of speakers and a functioning volume control you can have plenty of fun with this near essential set of music. It’s not especially cheap, mind you.

However, leading the way in good value, good sounding vinyl box sets this year were the Demon Music Group. After the various stories of mp3 sourced and badly mastered CD reissues for various artists, I wasn’t expecting much, but I wrote about two particular sets they put out and I was hugely impressed. Firstly, they released a box covering all of Suede‘s albums, including ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’ which, along with ‘A New Morning’, had never previously made it to wax. They need playing in a bit, and a delicate touch on your counterweight to avoid sibilance, but these have been crafted with love. Add in a booklet with comprehensive and genuinely interesting interviews with the band by Pete Paphides and this is a pretty impressive package. The individual titles will be receiving releases in February, as the box is pretty much sold out already. The piece I wrote for Clash, giving an album-by-album overview of their career can be found here.

The other wonderful set for which they are responsible only just made it out before Christmas. Replicating the approach to that Suede box, came a gloriously assembled package of the (almost) complete works of The Jesus and Mary Chain. For a band who, initially at least, were all about the sonics, attention to detail when committing their whole discography back to wax was vital. Rest assured that this has clearly been a labour of love. Whether newcomer or hardened aficionado, the importance of some of the material within this box is hard to deny. While the Mary Chain weren’t entirely consistent, their peaks were remarkable and their impact notable. Whether your allegiances lie with direct descendants like My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream or the stoner-rock scene, these albums had their part to play in their existence. While the fuzzed up charge of 1985 debut Psychocandy is one of life’s essential albums, the rest of their catalogue isn’t always talked of in such hallowed terms.

Listened to in chronological order, these six studio albums offer a portrait of a band that never stood still. Dismantling the noise, and with a nod to Lee Hazlewood’s more gloomy tunes, Darklands was a different, fascinating beast. Having let the brooding songs breathe, there followed 1989’s slightly calculated Automatic where the band seemed to lose direction. 1992’s Honey’s Dead was a revitalised hotch-potch of sounds, while 1994’s Stoned and Dethroned was far better than its title implied, blessed with a little intervention from Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. By the time they stumbled to a halt with 1998’s decent but inessential ‘Munki’, the band had traversed genres, inspired many and ensured their legacy.

The accompanying booklet lays bare the stories behind each of these records, making use of more of the interview material previously used for the CD/DVD reissues several years ago. As with any of these reissue projects, as lovely as it is to see the artwork in its twelve inch incarnation, to avoid this being an opulently presented collection of sizeable frisbees, what really matters is the mastering. Thankfully, all is well here, and these albums sound as good as they ever have. Warm bass lines are prominent, the guitars spring from the speakers and the music really breathes. Well, as much as ‘Psychocandy’ ever could.

Boosted by radio sessions, live tracks and fan-selected rarities, it is a truly spectacular time capsule and an enjoyably decadent way to absorb some wonderfully important music. Some of the session tracks fizz in the moment with a vitality beyond those vintage albums, ‘Deep One Perfect Morning’ and ‘Coast To Coast’ especially. While not all of the live recordings feel entirely necessary, this is still a hugely satisfying package and a decent template for how these sorts of projects can and should be done.

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BEST OF 2013: 18. Suede – Bloodsports

The various Suede gigs since they reformed seemed like a decent idea, a sensible way to draw a proper line under the band instead of the dismal way everything petered out grimly with 2003’s ‘A New Morning’. Having meant so much to so many – myself included – it was only right that they have their victory lap and mark their place in history. However, the band got back together and found they had something worthwhile to say again. The well-worn nineties reunion route gave way to more when it became clear that the old frisson was still there.

Conscious of how things had petered out a decade previous, the selection of material was arduous, with dozens of songs dispatched until it was felt that they had found their form again. The result is the natural follow up to ‘Coming Up’ that never originally came. The album swaggers, fizzes and crackles with life from start to finish. This is not a case of making do because somebody will buy it – this was starting over again. And, to a very large extent, they managed it. I’ve been genuinely surprised how much time I’ve spent with this record over the past six months. ‘Barriers’ and ‘It Starts And Ends With You’ are classic mid-period Suede singles and serve to set proceedings alight pretty quickly. ‘Barriers’ is the perfect statement of intent for an album that looks to re-boot history and reassure the faithful.

‘For The Strangers’ and ‘What Are You Not Telling Me?’ reveal a band once again able to play with your emotions, the former an especially shimmering mid-paced rocker with chiming chords and as good a vocal as Brett Anderson has delivered in many a year. The swooping, swaying chorus marks a very high watermark for the mid-point of the album. To follow it with the punchy ‘Hit Me’ – recently united as a double a-sided single – gets the second half rolling nicely, with that ‘Coming Up’ drum sound setting the tone. There is, inevitably, a bit of nostalgia driving this and, by Christ, I wanted this to be good, but it has displayed a staying power I wasn’t fully anticipating. This is very much Suede Mark II, but it is prime Suede Mark II and, if that’s your sort of thing, then ‘Bloodsports’ is a revelation. This is a comeback on their terms, pitting themselves as their own harshest critics. It seems to have worked, reigniting a hugely creative relationship that didn’t deserve its original final paragraph.

Suede – New Adventures In Lo-Fi

It was only a matter of time before the deluxe bubble burst. As I wrote recently, increased prices for barely increased content increasingly rankles and offering fans a bit of extra card or some expanded artwork in return for a sizeable bump in the price is a disturbing current trend. As the good folk at SuperDeluxeEdition reported, the latest Suede album seemed to suffer from this with a £100 edition, possessing all of two additional songs, a print, a T shirt and a USB containing no additional music, actually not proving to be a definitive version of ‘Bloodsports‘. When this then arrived damaged, missing some of the, frankly already scant, content and with careless errors in abundance, the band’s message board rightly lit up. As is always the way in such circumstances, a number of hardcore fans looked to leap down the throat of anyone expressing a dissenting opinion. As someone who didn’t go near the ludicrously priced versions but was keen to hear the record, I’d been dipping in over there in recent weeks and noted with interest a thread about the digital distortion on several tracks, most noticeably ‘What Are You Not Telling Me?“. A whole passage of the track where the guitar soars and a rather beautiful song should take off is marred by digital crackle in the left channel where the volume has been artificially boosted. It’s clearly a fuck up. You can’t argue it sounds good. It doesn’t. It’s a potentially transcendent moment in the song – why would you actively want to spoil this with a distracting noise?

bloodsports

As a vinyl purchaser, I’d assumed I’d miss out on such woeful mastering for the LP mastering and yet it’s even on there. Having always been a fan of the wax, my move to almost 100% vinyl purchases happened about four years ago after getting truly fed up with the loudness war and its resultant mastering. There’s plenty of forum discussion about it out there if you care to look and Nick Southall, Twitter’s ever entertaining @sickmouthy, wrote a fine piece a few years back about this problem. Generally, mastering for vinyl is a little more sympathetic, largely because you physically can’t crank things too high and expect the grooves to be playable. However, the Suede error is at a key point in the chain as it appears everywhere, including an apparently not especially high fidelity high resolution version they’ve got on sale from select sites.

People make mistakes though, don’t they? No big deal. Fess up and sort it out. Ben Folds released a hideously mastered version of his album ‘Way To Normal‘ to such protests that he later put out a far less aggressively loud version. The initial vinyl pressing of Bill Fay‘s beautiful comeback album ‘Life Is People‘ features some unpleasant distortion on the final side and the label responded to concerns, listened to criticisms and rectified it. Surely, a band as big as Suede would ensure that their employees would respond in similar fashion?

Well, not quite. In a capital letter monologue which pitched itself somewhere between blasé and contemptuous, ‘Didz’ described poor quality control as charming and insisted that the crapulous mastering is intentional:

“THEY ARE PART OF THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE TRACKS. IT IS HOW IT SHOULD SOUND. THESE TRACKS ARE CERTAINLY NOT CLIPPING, ALTHOUGH BLOODSPORTS IS MIXED AND MASTERED VERY AGGRESSIVELY (THIS IS WHY THEY SOUND SO LIVE AND LOUD ON THE RADIO) AND I CAN HEAR HOW THIS MIGHT BE MISCONSTRUED. THIS APPLIES TO ALL FORMATS.”

Here is the most egregious example of the ‘atmosphere’ they were aiming for, as uploaded to AudioBoo by someone with a not especially imaginative username. Delightful, isn’t it?

Obviously, every artist should make the music they want to make and have it sound however they want it to, but if this is sincerely the effect Suede were after then they might want to be a bit more gracious at receiving the entirely deserved criticism it brings. Having contempt for the people who actually bother to buy your music has always been a risky approach and it’s downright stupid in the industry of the 21st century. But, irrespective of this, if artists choose to actively dismantle and destroy their own music in this way then I guess we should stop talking of it as bad mastering and simply refer to it as bad music.

The Just Played Verdict: The Suede Reissues

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.

suede debutSuede Morning

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.

Continue reading “The Just Played Verdict: The Suede Reissues”

November Reviews–Suede, Orange Juice, Sufjan Stevens & Patrick Watson

I know, I know, two of those aren’t November releases but I don’t make the rules. They’re in the November issue, and that’s the way this works. Now be quiet. The quality appears to be in the old stuff this time around.

suede best of

SUEDE – Best Of’ (SUEDE LIMITED)

There’s an old saying that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Brett Anderson realised this soon after the release of Suede’s fifth and, to date, final album, ‘A New Morning’, and thus marked the end of one of the definitive British bands of the Nineties. Shorn of the epic songs of old, not to mention the vast majority of their fanbase, the album spluttered to an inglorious demise and the band soon followed. 2003’s ‘Singles’ appeared in the lower reaches of the album chart and Suede passed into history with the minimum of fuss. Seven years later, it’s time to have another go, even if the first disc is essentially ‘Singles’ shuffled around a bit, but with three songs taken off. What matters, as ever, is that these songs – ‘Animal Nitrate’, ‘The Wild Ones’, ‘Beautiful Ones’ – still sound as vital and invigorating as the first time you heard them. The two discs serve to delineate between the Suede which went about bothering the charts and the Suede which resided only in long-player form, rewarding those who took the time to get to know them properly. Although the second disc appears to be convinced that Suede stopped recording music around 1997, it does serve to illustrate just how grandiose and absolutely fucking spectacular the Anderson/Butler partnership was capable of being. Absolutely essential. 9/10

Regular followers of the Just Played Twitter will know that this one proved to be a tricky bugger for me, what with the promo having the phrase ‘Suede – Best Of – Promo’ delivered in a monotone voice across the start of EVERY BLOODY TRACK. Odd person that I am, I confess that I actually bought a proper copy of this upon its release last week and I still find myself mentally delivering that phrase over some of the tracks. Quite what it was meant to do apart from drive me to distraction, I don’t know. I also suspected that the mastering wasn’t as spiffing on the promo as it would turn out to be in the retail version and so it appears to have proved. Some of the tracks do genuinely sound better after this polishing and the overall impression you get of the band from this compilation is ‘how they hell did they dribble away to nothing?’ Lovely to have them back – in whatever form.

ORANGE JUICE – Coals To Newcastle’ (DOMINO)

A post-punk pop band with limited chart success and a fluid personnel may not seem the obvious recipients of a definitive collection of their recorded output, but Orange Juice were always far from obvious. Shamelessly erudite and delightfully frenetic, they were never likely to win mass appeal, but lyrics like "here’s a penny for your thoughts. Incidentally, you may keep the change" deserve to be heard again. Frontman Edwyn Collins‘ remarkable musical return after suffering two cerebral haemorrhages has already ensured he is responsible for one of 2010’s essential releases and, with this box set, you can make that two. Under-appreciated gems like ‘Untitled Melody’, ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ and ‘What Presence?!‘ still dazzle while each studio album has much to enjoy. Quite how essential various 12" dub versions are is debatable, but the BBC sessions disc offers unpolished and frankly invigorating takes on tracks from across their catalogue. On this occasion, being comprehensive equates to offering more than you want but, with all of their studio releases remastered and accompanied by a beautiful booklet, you’ve got everything you need. 8/10

Funny one this, as I’d been looking forward to it for an age and then had to review it in the space of one week’s listening time. It is delightful and, as you can imagine, contains some beautiful music. It comes with a lovely little booklet too, with some nice details to enrich your enjoyment. It does feel like there is occasionally TOO much of a good thing, in terms of the multiple versions, but few box sets escape that problem. Not that I imagine you care, but this is a tricky one for me now as I have all of the content on discs and a pdf of the booklet but, together, it’s still not a box set. Doesn’t seem worth laying out all of that cash for a proper one though. Still, if Domino are reading this and wanted to show their appreciation for this positive review… No? Oh, ok then.

Nov reviews

SUFJAN STEVENS – ‘The Age Of Adz’ (ASTHMATIC KITTY)

Sometimes, it would be nice if people avoided saying a record was ‘overflowing with ideas’ and simply pointed out that, from time to time, musicians need telling to rein themselves in a bit. There’s a good album in here somewhere, along with a fairly annoying one too. Stevens has always had the hallmarks of the tag ‘acquired taste’, and this only serves to reinforce this fact. Electronic noodling and a twenty-five minute song may be big but they’re not clever. When he’s good, he’s very, very good. But to enjoy those moments, you’ll need the patience of a saint. 5/10

A very odd record to review. I suspect it might just about make sense on the fifty-third play but I didn’t have that luxury. I largely stand by what I said here and the good bits are certainly right up there, but he does make it hard work for us sometimes. There’s a cheap, HQ double vinyl out there which I’ve been lured into ordering. Hopefully, it’ll grow a little in my preferred format.

PATRICK WATSON -  ‘Just Another Ordinary Day’ (SECRET CITY RECORDS)

Remember that glacial, shimmering majesty which made Radiohead‘s ‘Nice Dream’ and ‘Let Down’ so remarkable? Lovely, wasn’t it? This previously under-the-radar debut by Patrick Watson, and his band of the same name, ploughs a similar furrow. Delicate piano and faded-photo vocals are the order of the day and, while it lacks the adventure of later offerings, there’s plenty to enjoy. 7/10

Patrick Watson is the band’s name, as well as that of the chief protagonist – honest! Big fan of this lot – their last two outing are worth hunting down (‘Wooden Arms’ and ‘Close To Paradise’) and this early offering is the gentle, less mature kid brother. Still lovely though, and once you love the other two (and you will) this’ll be a worthy addition to your record collection.

2010 inverted

Surprised It Didn’t Keep Telling Me What Was Coming Up

Sometimes you have to stand back and almost bask in the ludicrous decisions taken by the music industry in their endless pursuit to stop filthy little muso types like myself uploading their latest big releases to the internet. Forget the fact that I never would do so for a moment and instead focus on the case of the Suede ‘Best Of’, which contains absolutely no new material. Just to repeat, there are no songs on there which aren’t already available illegally for nowt from the internet, if you’re so inclined. And yet, I put the promo CD on to play, largely to see how these songs I know and love work in this new order and find that every single bloody song has a lifeless depressive droning ‘Suede Best Of Promo’ over its opening seconds. Some occasional successful remastering aside, there is little to send the pirates into states of aural arousal and, frankly, if you’re interested in this release for the altered audio, you’re hardly going to settle for mp3 files bouncing around the internet, are you? However, one very specific outcome of this baffling decision was my immediate dislike of the release, partly because I can’t listen to the pissing thing without feeling like I have some kind of audio description feature accidentally switched on. Why arrange your music in a certain way and then leave people who are meant to be communicating how great it is unable to enjoy the experience?
This follows a fraught few days when I thought I was going to have to review the Orange Juice boxset using six streams, one for each whole CD. Thankfully the real discs were sent on request and I’m now a happy, Edwyn loving, bunny. The Nadine Coyle album remains elusive and I don’t imagine that’ll get into the November issue. I was surprised it stood a chance in the first place, to be honest, but I’d still like to hear it.
October reviews will be posted soon enough and I’ll attempt to offer up a rambling appraisal of recent releases too. The BowieStation To Station‘ box is a beauty but the 5.1 mix is an out and out stinker. Deerhunter‘s ‘Halcyon Digest‘ is staggeringly good (particularly on vinyl), the Matador at 21 box is a bargainous delight and the new Saint Etienne deluxe editions are pop masterclasses. Oh, and I’m a little confused to be reporting back that the Carl Barat album is rather pleasant. I know!

A Week With… 14. Suede – Coming Up

JP AWW 14

It all sounds rather tinny these days. Still absolutely fucking glorious, but pretty tinny. At the time it sounded vital: stirring music for indie outsiders, the length and breadth of the country. ‘Coming Up’ can never match ‘Suede’ or ‘Dog Man Star’ for atmosphere, songcraft and so many other things but then those two records can’t match ‘Coming Up’ for its thoroughly dirty, unashamedly trashy fixation with decadent living in the nineties. It celebrates not fitting in, not doing the right thing and not giving a shit. It is one of the most confident sounding records I own and it couldn’t really have been released at any other time than the summer of 1996.

jp aww suede

Suede are back now and garnering the rave reviews that pretty much nobody was willing to give them around the time they originally decided to pack it all in, back in 2003. The only time I’ve ever actually seen them live was the tour supporting their last album, ‘A New Morning’, which represented the death throes of a once great band. Having developed a monumental crush on Gemma Hayes, across the duration of her all-too-brief support set, I was even less receptive than I may have otherwise been to Brett Anderson’s dispiriting angry, bitter man routine. I’ve never seen a frontman so completely propelled by seeming disgust and it only served to set the tone for the night.

Despite all of this, I actually rather liked their final outing, and had bought tickets off the back of it, rather than hoping for a nostalgia trip. And yet, left baffled by an almost self-parodying performance it was the irresistible high of ‘Beautiful Ones’ which really connected that night and brought back memories of buying both CD singles so as to complete my ‘collector’s wallet’, right off the back of the CD single of ‘Trash’ having contained a poster of Brett’s handwritten lyrics to that enormous track. Indeed, while subject of much mirth and fairly constant ridicule, it’s Anderson’s lyrics that provided my route back to Suede recently with the publication of ‘The Words Of Brett Anderson’, a signed, miniature hardback book collecting the vast majority of his lyrics from the past eighteen years. It’s a delightful little title and, while there are still moments that make you want to stab your own eyes out to spare your brain any further suffering (“And she’s as similar as you can get, to the shape of a cigarette” anyone?) there are plenty of examples to evoke genuinely fond memories of Anderson and Suede in their pomp. I’ve always adored the heartfelt simplicity of the closing track on ‘Coming Up’, ‘Saturday Night’. “Tonight, we’ll go drinking, we’ll do silly things, and never let the winter in. And it’ll be okay, like everyone says, it’ll be alright and ever so nice.” While hardly groundbreaking, it paints a pretty vivid picture for me and, coupled with a perfectly measured musical backdrop, it is one of my very favourite songs by this quite spectacular band.

The nineties indie-glam swagger of tracks like ‘Filmstar’, ‘Trash’ and ‘She’ are neatly counterbalanced by the epic crooners like ‘Picnic By The Motorway’, ‘The Chemistry Between Us’ and the aforementioned ‘Saturday Night’. One of the band’s best b-sides also dates from the ‘Coming Up’ era. ‘Another No One’, which appeared as back up to ‘Trash’ but which has since become more readily available via the compilation, ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies’, is a stark, stirring and pretty pissed off account of the end of a relationship. If you’ve never had the pleasure, allow me…

Listening back to ‘Coming Up’ now, it sounds very much of a time, without sounding particularly dated. Though that may sound contradictory, I would argue that although it richly evokes a particular moment in time, bringing back vivid cultural and personal memories, it hasn’t become jaded by that association. It doesn’t sound like it’s not fit for purpose in 2010. The reviews that have greeted their recent live comeback would seem to suggest that they’ve all still got it, even if the record buying public decreed eight years ago that that wasn’t actually the case. Spend a little time revisiting whatever Suede you have in your collection and see if their charm is still alive for you; it’s been a strangely invigorating experience for me.