Forthcoming from Suede

Somehow – call it middle-age, or more likely, just sheer music overload – I missed the fact that Suede have a new album coming out in September. Their eighth album is entitled The Blue Hour, and will be released on September 21.

The tracklisting is as follows:

1. As One
2. Wastelands
3. Mistress.
4. Beyond The Outskirts
5. Chalk Circles
6. Cold Hands
7. Life Is Golden
8. Roadkill
9. Tides
10. Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You
11. Dead Bird
12. All The Wild Places
13. The Invisibles
14. Flytipping

You can stream the first two tracks to be made available below, ‘The Invisibles’ and ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You,’ which suggest that this may be one of Suede’s best albums if the rest of the album is of this quality…

The return of Suede


Suede have announced that they will release their seventh album, and their second since reforming, Night Thoughts, on January 22, 2016.

The first track to be made available from the album is ‘Outsiders’ which features a guitar line reminiscent of 80s goth (in a good way, obviously).

The tracklisting for the album is as follows:

1. When You Are Young
2. Outsiders
3. No Tomorrow
4. Pale Snow
5. I Don’t Know How To Reach You
6. What I’m Trying To Tell You
7. Tightrope
8. Learning To Be
9. Like Kids
10. I Can’t Give Her What She Wants
11. When You Were Young
12. The Fur & The Feathers

PLEASE NOTE: I am in the process of moving. Updating of the blog may be a bit sporadic for the next couple of weeks. All those putting in submissions, please bear in mind it will be a while before I can attend to much of them.

Ed x

Interview: Artmagic


There’s all sorts of things that bring bands together. Music is, presumably, a common one, probably the most likely of the lot. A love of drinking and illicit substances has brought bands together-and more often than not, torn them apart. The desire to be thought attractive for commitmentless sex. And quite possibly a combination of two or all three.

In the case of Artmagic, though, it was actually down to Dr. Who. ‘We met because one of my best mates is a massive Dr. Who fan,’ explains Sean McGhee, singer with Artmagic. It turned out he knew Richard’s brother, once we got togther…’ something clicked.

Richard, by the way is none other than Richard Oakes. Way, way back, in 1994, shortly before the release of Suede’s second album, Dog Man Star, guitarist Bernard Butler left the band. His replacement was none other than a young man named Richard Oakes, barely eighteen. As an eighteen-year old bedroom guitarist -one of many in my school and across, well the world- we were green with envy that this talented young man, the same age as us, had got to join Suede. They had, after all, just released what many still hold to be one of the best albums of that decade.

Over the course of the next nine years, Richard helped co-write numerous Suede songs across their next three albums, Coming Up, Head Music and A New Morning. Coming Up was Suede’s biggest selling album, reaching no.1 in the UK and spawning no less than five top ten singles. Head Music also reached no.1, but by the time of A New Morning, the sales were no longer as high as they had once been.

Then, at the end of 2003, Brett Anderson split the band up, announcing that he needed to do whatever it took to get his demon back. This, it transpired, meant getting together with none other than Bernard Butler to work as The Tears, though Suede reformed in 2010.

‘By the time Suede finished, I was pretty glad not to have to deal with about 90% of it [music business crap],’ says Richard. ‘I moved house -which took forever -and by this time thought Sean would have dropped off the map! We had one meeting -and we wrote two songs together. It was quite obvious, even on the first day we were writing we were onto something.’

When I speak to them, the album Become The One You Love has been finished. It was a relatively slow process, despite the chemistry between them. ‘It was only at the beginning of 2010 that we were able to sit down together,’ remembers Sean, though they first met in 2008. ‘At this point, it wasn’t a band it was ‘let write some songs.’ Sean had worked with a number of different artists, including Robyn, Imogen Heap, Alanis Morissette and Britney Spears.

But working together, it became clear that these were songs they needed to do themselves. ‘The songs are very personal,’ Richard says. ‘ When we’d written a handful of songs, it was clear we had to sing them ourselves.’

‘It was always going to be: let’s explore these themes -but accessible!’ chips in Sean.

Become The One You Love is, it should be noted, very different from any of Suede’s albums. the same can be said for the rather fine, four-track EP I Keep On Walking that they released last year. McGhee’s voice bears no relation to Brett Anderson’s, and it’s a different listening experience. This applies to both the songs and the music – in his initial email to me back in January, Oakes wrote: ‘We’ve been describing the album as spectral, often melancholy, adult pop. It’s a collision of influences – Talk Talk, Magazine, Caravan, Field Music, Gary Numan, Scritti Politti – but we’re looking forward, not backwards.’ And this also applies to how the album was made.

Describing the album as ‘very home made,’ Richard tells me that ‘it was all done at home, in a small back room in North London! That’s the way things are done now. The songwriting has evolved [just as] the industry has.’

‘Every record I’ve done has been done this way,’ Sean notes. ‘ The old thing of the big studio and the record company is kind of gone now.’ Of course, some things do have to follow a more traditional approach, such as for gigs. Live they expand to a five piece, and they tell me that they are looking to play live ‘whenever it’s appropriate!’

They’re also surprisingly modest about their expectations for the record. Sean tells me: ‘We are aware that very few people of fifteen, sixteen could be into this record…we’re not imagining an audience.’

But with a new Suede album on the horizon, what does the future hold for Artmagic? It’s clear that the pair of them do not wish this to be simply a one off. Sean revelas that there will be another album and that the two of themhave ‘talked about ideas’ they have had for it, and Richard has been writing as well. But it’s different than being in Suede.

‘With Artmagic,’ Richard tells me, ‘there’s no rules.’ But what they have managed to do is to -quietly -ably prove themselves in their own right.

Become The One You Love is out now

Suede reform – sorta…


In 2003, a friend texted me to say that Suede were breaking up.

Many people had, sadly stopped caring by this point, but I was not one of them. For the fourth and final time, I went off to see them, this time playing at the then-new Carling Academy in Glasgow. The support band was Razorlight. I paid my final respects, as after all, they had soundtracked a not inconsiderable part of my life. Dog Man Star was and remains my favourite album of the nineties and Oasis could never, ever have touched them in my affections, even at the height of Britpop.

Within a matter of weeks, it was announced that Brett Anderson – who had announced the split of Suede that ‘I neeed to do whatever it takes to get my demon back’ – was working with Bernard Butler, Suede’s original guitarist. Given that the two of them parted company bitterly in Suede in 1994, this was seen as a surprise but good news. They called themselves The Tears and toured. They played Edinburgh on Valentine’s Night 2005, released one album then went their separate ways. Butler has become a noted producer (most famously, Duffy) and Anderson released two solo albums. Which, much as I wanted to love them, were rather disappointing.

So it has now been announced that Suede are reforming. However, Butler is not part of the line-up; sticking to his guns that he finds the wave of Britpop reunions embarassing. So the line-up that will take to the stage of The Royal Albert Hall for the Teenage Cancer Trust will be the line-up that released Coming Up and Head Music. In other words, Anderson, original bassist Matt Osman and drummer Simon Gilbert with guitarist Richard Oakes and keyboard player Neil Codling.

Anderson had said at the time of the original split that it might not be permanent. And I cannot criticise anyone for reforming for charity. But no Bernard? Sigh…

Let’s remember them this way…

Suede -‘The 2 Of Us.’ mp3

33 1/3: Part 1

So…the greatest album of the nineties?

Well, duh, obviously Nevermind, no?


IMHO, the greatest album of the nineties is Dog Man Star by Suede.

…and here’s why.

Between 1992 to early 1994, Suede were actually quite cool and fashionable. Nirvana had shown that ‘indie/alternative’ could get on daytime radio, which was beginning to change. And the artists previously the domain of early evening shows on Radio 1 were starting to make the daytime playlists. Suede were an intoxicating mixture of glam, the gothic and implied sexuality -Brett Anderson’s quote that ‘I’m a bisexual who’s never had a homosexual experience’ was quoted even more than the couplet from one of their b-sides (a b-side, for christ’s sake!) ‘My Insatiable One’ -‘On the escalators/you shit paracetomal.’

By September 1994, things were starting to change for Suede, and not necessarily for the best. I was in my final year of school, and starting to sense that life in a small town would not have to plague me forever. Suede’s second album was anticipated – but the Britpop scene that they were part of, whether they wanted to be or not, was starting to overtake them. Blur had released Parklife a few months previously, Oasis’ Definitely Maybe was bringing laddishness back into fashion (unfortunately) and looking effete was not so cool any more. And Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker was also proving that he could write a dark, deeply sexual lyric.

Had Dog Man Star come out in the eighties, it would probably have been described as goth. And there’s a certain amount of the gothic about the album. With its’ tales of life in suburbia, getting wrecked to ease the pain, dying young and staying pretty…this was the mood of the album. Hints of drug use crept into the album, and then into the interviews. Was ‘Heroine’ just a clever pun…or something more? What about ‘Daddy’s Speeding?’ but ‘new generation’ the final single release from the album was optimistic, and anthemic. I’d picked up the 12″ single on a trip to London, and brought it back, like a talisman.

Dog Man Star is an album out of time and all the better for it. It’s the album that ensured Suede always meant more to than Oasis ever, ever could. It’s orchestral – not because it aspired to be like the Beatles, but because it aspired to lift us out of the towns that dragged us down, and the Smiths were never, ever coming back. It was the soundtrack of outsiders who longed to escape. In my penultimate term at school my friend Duncan and I got tickets to see them in Leicester – and we were not disappointed. It was a cold night (oddly fitting, given the mood of the album) , and even with Bernard Butler having departed, Richard Oakes’ enthusiasm made up for it.

I was never going to fit in a small town. Why would I want to? There wasn’t a way out…but a way forward. Suede might be falling from grace – but the rugger buggers and townies would soon be left behind. There was…hope.

Suede -‘Heroine.’ mp3

Suede -‘The 2 Of Us.’ mp3

Suede -‘Still Life.’ mp3

Ten for the nineties…1992

Some years in music are pivotal and utterly steeped in meaning and resonance.

1992 was not one of them.

It was summed up by the sheer awfulness of Undercover’s ‘Baker Street’ cover, a hideous dance version of Bryan Adams’ ‘Run To You’ by a band called Rage and the fact that Madonna unleashed a stinker of an album called Erotica, and very possibly showed that you could be over-exposed when she released the infamous Sex book around the same time. It was topped off when Whitney Houston topped the charts with ‘I Will Always Love You’ at Christmas.

The Americans decided that they’d had enough of twelve years of Republicans and elected Bill Clinton to the White House. The Brits were convinced that the Conservatives could not possibly win, and then proceeded to hand them a mandate to rule Britain for the next five years. The big film of the year was Wayne’s World, which led to everyone making statements and then going …NOT! at the end of it. I buried myself deeper in NME, Melody Maker and tippexing my school folders with band names instead of doing as much school work as I should have been. Ah well…

This track was no.1 in John Peel’s Festive Fifty that year. It has to be one of the most requested tracks ever on 17 Seconds. It’s sublime – now watch the video and if you want the mp3 look elsewhere!

Bang Bang Machine -‘Geek Love.’

Some bands are derided for ever. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s time must surely come. Part of the Stourbridge scene (along with Pop Will Eat Itself and the Wonderstuff), this was probably their biggest hit. This was also part of their music compilation Lunatic Magnets which was linked by various clips as the band attempted to do their own version of Reservoir Dogs which was the cult film of the year.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin -‘Not Sleeping Around.’

…and boom! The word ‘Britpop’ had yet to enter the lexicon of the cultural landscape and the so-called ‘scene that celebrates itself’ wasn’t ever going to be a household name kind of thing, but Suede suddenly arrived, looking pretty damn perfet. The music press loved them. Morrissey covered one of their b-sides ‘My Insatiable One.’ Smash Hits claimed David Bowie had invited them to his wedding. Lead singer Brett Anderson claimed he was ‘a bisexual who had never had a homosexual experience’ and was soon being spoken of in the same sentence as both Bowie and Morrissey. In the face of grunge coming in from the US, Suede looked likely to lead the next British assault. In another galaxy their story would have ended far more happily.

Suede -‘The Drowners.’

They say history is written by the victors. ‘They’ may have a point. In the 20/20 perspective that is hindsight, this was Blur’s best single to date. It has been perhaps a little forgotten that at this point Blur were in the doldrums -far more than they would be after The Great Escape three years later seemed to show that they had been overtaken by Oasis. This single limped to no.32, their second album was about to be rejectedby their record company, but Blur knew something we didn’t…

Blur – ‘Popscene.’

…a weird sense of deja vu: at the tail end of 2007, the Black Kids were being hailed by many (including yours truly, less we forget) as being the next big thing. When their debut album was released, the press seemed to turn on them. So it was with Curve, whose first three EPs were far more feted than their eventual debut LP Doppelganger was when it arrived in 1992. A shame, because they were still firing on all cylinders as far as I was concerned…

Curve -‘Fait Accompli.’

I have kicked myself for missing out on a lot of nineties dance culture -too busy listening to Morrissey at the time, as well as going through a ‘I hate everything’ phase, for which I have no-one to blame but myself. However, this DID filter through to me. I only recently realised that Future Sound Of London had been connected with Humanoid, whose classic acid house track ‘Stakker Humanoid’ had made it onto Top Of The Pops four years previously…

Future Sound Of London -‘Papua New Guinea.’

I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Franti, and as frontman of Spearhead, he was the first Hip-Hop act I ever saw live. It could have been this or ‘Television, The Drug Of The Nation’ but thistale of how a homophobe gets his comeuppance is pretty groundbreaking. And as at this time rap was becoming ever more confrontational (which was fine) but also displaying aspects of prejudice (which is not fine), it was good to see an act showng it wasn’t all about the benjamins.

Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy -‘The Language of Violence.’

As has been well-documented, in 1992, The Wedding Present issued a new 7″ every month, the a-side being an original song and the b-side being a cover. This saw them make Top Of The Pops several times, have seven entries in that year’s Festive Fifty, rack up twelve top thirty hits…and then get dropped by their record company.

Wedding Present -‘Sticky.’

I wasn’t much into R&B in the nineties, much of it came under the heading of New Jack Swing, a genre that left me cold, mostly. But this track wasn’t like that, and like En Vogue, gave a glimpse of just how big the genre would be in the decade to come…

Shanice -‘I Love Your Smile.’

This wasn’t supposed to happen…or maybe it was. This is actually the track that first brought Bjork into the Top Forty in the UK, being a sizeable hit, even with the mad shoutyness going on, as ever. But by the end of the year the band hd called it a day, with Bjork going off to make a solo album…and actually put the avant garde on Top Of The Pops.

The Sugarcubes -‘Hit.’

Should also be featured here: Ride -‘Leave Them All Behind.’ Jesus and Mary Chain -‘Reverence.’ Primal Scream -‘Movin’ On Up.’ The Cure -‘Friday I’m In Love.’ The Orb -‘Blue Room.’ Faith No More -‘Midlife Crisis. En Vogue -‘My Lovin.’ Boo Radleys -‘Lazarus.’ (Actually, there were good tracks it just felt horrible…)

Underrated albums #8: Suede " Dog Man Star" (1994)

Granted, this may seem like the oddest one to put in this ongoing series, given that there are people out there who really love this album. It’s my favourite album of the nineties, and I know others who feel as strongly. Yet there are those who have dismissed it. Q magazine listed it in the 100 top follies of all time. I don’t see it in those lists of ‘Greatest albums ever as voted for by a handful of people who are persuing an agenda.’ Oh, the band were not terribly keen on it either.

For a time in the early nineties, Suede were the indie band. They were covered by Morrissey – debut single ‘The Drowners’ b-side ‘My Insatiable One’ was in his set before many people had even heard of Suede, and singer Brett Anderson was interviewed with David Bowie very quickly. Their debut eponymous album enetered the album charts at no.1 in the spring of 1993, and the band swept readers and writers’ polls.

Then 1994 happened. Kurt Cobain took his own life, Blur released Parklike and a former roadie for the Inspiral Carpets called Noel Gallagher emerged with his little brother Liam in a band called Oasis.

Not only did Suede suddenly have competition to their crown as the brit band, but there was trouble inside the Suede camp. Shortly before the release of Dog Man Star, guitarist Bernard Butler walked out (he has had an interesting and varied career subsequently, which probably should be the subject of a post at 17 Seconds some other time). He was replaced by schoolboy Richard Oakes
who would be with the band until their demise at the end of 2003.

It’s a pity all this overshadowed the relase of what is a stunning album. Lushly orchestrated, and with Brett Anderson’s fantastic lyrics. The album was darker than their debut (a friend of mine once pointed out that had this album come out in 1984, Suede would have been considered a ‘goth’ band). Tales of isolation in suburban life, love, and being young…as well as hints of drug use, which would only be explained in subsequent years. ‘The 2 of Us’ is the album’s highpoint, but the clser ‘Still Life’ was the sound of a band at the height of their powers. Brett Anderson eventually accepted it was the fans’ favourite album by the final tour, and when the band played the album in its’ entirety in London in 2003, tickets were changing hands for £1000.

On a personal level, seeing Suede on the tour in early 2005 at the Leicester De Montford Hall was the start of regular gig-going, and the t-shirt is still worn with pride twelve years later.

The album had three hits, but impressively, the epic tracks could have been singles too. For your enjoyment, I recommend the following non-album cuts, before going to buy the album from an independent record shop (Amazon only have one copy in stock at the time of writing).

Suede-‘Heroine.’ mp3

Suede-‘The 2 of Us.’ mp3

Suede-‘Still Life.’ mp3

These mp3s will be up for one week only, but you really need this album in your life.