Suede - Head Music
Head Music
Alternative rock
3 May 1999
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Notes / Reviews

Head Music is the fourth album by English alternative rock band Suede, released by Nude Records in May 1999.

Produced and mixed by Steve Osborne, Head Music features a more electronic sound, which was a new approach to their music. The recording of Head Music was plagued with difficulties such as singer Brett Anderson's addiction to crack, and keyboardist Neil Codling's recurring Chronic fatigue syndrome. Despite these events the album still went to number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, however it received more promotion than any of their previous releases. The album received mixed-to-positive reviews, however there were more negative reviews on Head Music than any of their previous records.

Background and recording

After the release of the B-sides compilation Sci-Fi Lullabies, Suede decided to put themselves out of the limelight for over a year. Neil Codling spent most of the year in bed due to his illness and at the same time Anderson's increasing drug habits were becoming a cause for concern. Anderson began to associate himself with people outwith the band, who Mat Osman, seemed to dislike. "More than anything there started to be a whole load of people he was associating with who I just couldn't stand. They had nothing to do with the band, nothing to do with anything but drugs. They were drug buddies."Barnett, p. 219

Suede decided to move on from Ed Buller as their producer. After demoing 15 songs with three different producers,Author unknown. . 14 January 1999. wanting to go in a more produced, electronic-sounding direction, the group chose Steve Osborne to produce the album.Flint, Tom. . Sound On Sound August 2000. According to Anderson, Head Music was Suede's most experimental album,Author unknown. . 14 February 1999. and Osborne's role played into the group's experimentation, "Steve was responsible for a hell of a lot of this album's sound. We chose him first of all because he did this fucking brilliant job on 'Savoir Faire'... It just sounded really exciting and unusual." Osborne's involvement sparked rumours of Suede going in a dancier direction, which the band strongly denied. Osman said, "It's not dancey at all. It's certainly groovier and there's a lot of tracks that are just one or two chords. There's certainly a lot more tracks that work on the level of a groove than we've done before, but that's it."

Osborne was initially hired for one week of trial-run recording at Mayfair Studios, just to see how the process was going to work, or indeed if the two parties could work together.

Suede's biographer David Barnett remembers the day when they did a test-run of "Savoir Faire" with Osborne at the trial sessions. He recalls being offered a crack pipe by two of Anderson's friends. "Naively assuming it to be a hash pipe, I took them up on the offer and was surprised to experience a sensation akin to inhaling several bottles of poppers at the same time. This was my first and last personal encounter with crack."Barnett, David. . The Observer. 19 Oct 2003 Anderson was addicted to the drug for two and a half years, but stopped in late 1999 when somebody very close to him became ill. He has been clean since.

Head Music was recorded between August 1998 and February 1999, several studios were used including, Eastcote, Sarm Hook End, Master Rock and Eden Studios. For guitarist Richard Oakes, the rehearsals for Head Music were unpleasant. With Anderson's wayward behaviour showing no signs of draining, Oakes began to drink more to make rehearsing more endurable. "I remember for quite a few of them, having to make sure that I was semi drunk just in order to turn up."Barnett, p. 220 Oakes also found his contributions being regularly knocked back in favour of Anderson and Codling's electronic experiments.Barnett, p. 223 Anderson felt that because of his spiralling drug use, and Codling's illness, Oakes became isolated from the group further and that the only people who were still together were Osman and drummer Simon Gilbert.Barnett, p. 222 At one point relationships became so strained that Anderson demanded future member Alex Lee to be summoned to the studio presumably because no one else was willing to turn up.Barnett, p. 224

The album is notable for being the first Suede album to have a title track. "Head Music" was one of Anderson's personal offerings, which Nude's Saul Galpern insisted should not go on the album. Osborne actually refused to record it, instead they got Arthur Baker to do a version, however they disliked it.Barnett, p. 225 Osborne eventually relented, but was not so flexible when it came Codling's next offering. "Elephant Man", which is the only song on a Suede album not written or co-written by Anderson. It was recorded, mixed and engineered by Bruce Lampcov.Barnett, p. 225-226 Codling contributed a greater amount of material to Head Music than he had on Suede's previous album, receiving writing credits on six songs. Anderson has said the album was influenced by Asian Dub Foundation, Audioweb, Tricky, Prince and Lee "Scratch" Perry.Author unknown. . 14 Feb 1999

Release and reception

There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of Head Music, with numerous tv appearances including, CD:UK, The O-Zone, Top of the Pops, The Pepsi Chart Show and TFI Friday.Barnett, p. 230 Uncut featured Suede in an 18 page special in May of that year chronicling the band's ten year history, with the sub header "Brett Anderson on a decade of decadence and debauchery".. Virgin Megastores across the UK were re-branded, changing its name to "Head Music" the day the album was released.Author unknown. . 28 March 1999. Commercially the album was a moderate success, and had mixed-to-positive reviews from both fans and critics alike.Sturges, Fiona. . The Independent. 1 May 1999 It was the third album by the group to chart at number one in the U.K..

The NME gave it a seven, however criticised Anderson's lyrics saying that "Brett Anderson had nothing new to say." They did, on the other hand call it "hair-raising pop" and that they were "striking out for new pastures." 28 Mar 1999 Andy Gill of The Independent, who harshly criticised Coming Up, gave the record a very positive review. He felt that the album was "broader in musical conception than their previous albums." He also felt that Osborne's influence was critical, saying he "naturally brings a more groove-oriented approach to the band's sound, which is slicker and smoother than before, and better reflects the band's 'chemical generation' outlook."Gill, Andy. . The Independent. 30 Apr 1999

Reviews in the U.S. were mixed. Tom Lanham of Entertainment Weekly called it a "sad, strangely lackluster epitaph." He added, "even the strongest track on Head Music, 'Everything Will Flow', is a cheap echo of vibrant early work."Lanham, Tom. . Entertainment Weekly. 16 Jul 1999 Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club felt the album was their least consistent, saying: "The end result may be the least consistent album in a career marked by consistency, but it's still remarkable and well-represented by the grandiose pop of "Electricity," "She's in Fashion," and "He's Gone," which do sound like proper Suede songs.Phipps, Keith . The A.V. Club. 29 March 2002 Spin gave it 7 out of 10, Barry Walters wrote that "...Suede and Steve Osborne achieve a hard precision that brings back the brutality of early Suede while lending a complex sheen to simplistic material.Walters, Barry. . Spin. July 1999 Head Music has sold about 26,000 copies in the U.S. as of 2008 according to Nielsen SoundScan figures.Caulfield, Keith. . 26 September 2008

Some critics saw Head Music as a major step forward from previous album Coming Up. Christina Rees of the Dallas Observer wrote: "If Suede couldn't erase the influence of Oakes' predecessor, Bernard Butler, on 1996's Coming Up, it has certainly succeeded now..." She also added, "If the "new" Suede didn't show up on Coming Up, it seethes through Head Music."Rees, Christina. . Dallas Observer. 8 July 1999 Similarly an ABC article wrote: "Head Music fills in the gaps of Coming Up and succeeds in being the best record the band has made since its debut, finally laying Bernard Butler's looming ghost to rest.Author unknown. . ABC. 16 October 1999

Fans and critics commented on Anderson's repetitive lyrics and lack of lyrical themes, in particular "Savoir Faire", which received attention and criticism.Segal, Victoria. . The Times. 23 April 2005 In 2002, Anderson admitted that he was "a smack addict for ages".Author unknown. . 16 Sept 2002 Many critics linked the album's lack of creativity to Anderson's increasing drug use, mainly crack and heroin. Nick Duerden of The Independent felt that Head Music was blighted by his descent into addiction, calling it a "rather ugly record".Duerden, Nick. . The Independent 18 Oct 2003 Writing for The Guardian, John Harris had similar views, saying "it was a fair bet, therefore, that the drug played its part in the creation of their most ludicrous album, 1999's Head Music."Harris, John. . The Guardian. 11 Feb 2005

Suede headlined the Roskilde festival in July 1999, playing three different sets over the three days, playing on the main stage and on two of the smaller tents.Dowling, Stephen. . BBC News. In August they headlined the V festival, which was the band's first proper U.K. appearance since Reading in 1997.

Cover art and title

As a joke, the group originally started to leak the album's title to the press one letter at a time.Author unknown. . 16 January 1999.Author unknown. . 14 Jan 1999. But two days after releasing the second letter, bassist Mat Osman announced the album's title and explained where the idea of releasing the title one letter at a time come from: "Saul , head of Nude was hassling for a title, and Brett said, 'I'll tell you one letter at a time until you can guess it." The artwork, which features Anderson's girlfriend Sam, and Neil Codling, was art directed by Peter Saville and designed by Howard Wakefield and Paul Hetherington. Anderson told Saville "I wanted two people joined at the head, sort of listening to each other's heads. He showed me some photos and we eventually got the cover we released."Richard, John.. 27 May 1999



*Brett Anderson – Vocals, Artwork

*Richard Oakes – Guitar

*Mat Osman – Bass guitar

*Simon Gilbert – Drums

*Neil Codling – Synthesisers


*Steve Osborne – Producer, Mixing

*Paul Corckett – Engineer

*Ben Hillier – Engineer

*Bruce Lampcov – Engineer and Mixing on "Elephant Man"

Additional personnel

*Peter Saville – Art direction

*Nick Knight – Photography

*Howard Wakefield – Design and digital photo manipulation

*Paul Hetherington – Design and digital photo manipulation

UK Singles Charting

* 1999 "Electricity" No. 5

* 1999 "She's in Fashion" No. 13

* 1999 "Everything Will Flow" No. 24

* 1999 "Can't Get Enough" No. 23

US Singles Charting

* 1999 "Everything Will Flow" #28 Hot Dance Music/Club Play


* Barnett, David. Love and Poison. Carlton Publishing Group, 2003. ISBN 0-233-00094-1


Category:1999 albums

Category:Suede albums

Category:Albums produced by Steve Osborne

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Artist/Band Information

Suede (also known as "The London Suede" in the U.S.) are an English alternative rock band. Formed in London in 1989, the group's most prominent early line-up featured singer Brett Anderson, guitarist Bernard Butler, bass player Mat Osman and drummer Simon Gilbert. By 1992, Suede were hailed as "The Best New Band in Britain", and attracted much attention from the British music press. The following year their glam rock-inspired debut album, Suede, went to the top of the charts and became the fastest-selling debut album in almost ten years, helping kick-start the Britpop movement. However, the band's lush follow-up, Dog Man Star (1994), saw Suede distance themselves from their Britpop peers. Although it is often regarded as the band's masterpiece, the recording sessions for Dog Man Star were fraught with difficulty, and ended with Butler departing the band after heated arguments with Anderson.

In 1996 following the recruitment of Richard Oakes and later keyboardist Neil Codling, Suede went on to greater commercial success with Coming Up. The album charted at number one in the UK, producing five top ten singles and became their biggest-selling album worldwide. After the release of the B-sides compilation Sci-Fi Lullabies in 1997, Anderson became addicted to crack and heroin. Despite problems within the band, Suede's fourth album Head Music (1999) was a British chart-topper. Suede's final album, A New Morning (2002), their first after the collapse of Nude Records, was a commercial disappointment. In 2003, after the release of the Singles compilation, Suede disbanded. After much speculation Suede reformed in 2010 for a series of concerts.


Formation and early years: 1989-1991

Brett Anderson and Justine Frischmann met in 1989 while studying at University College London and became a couple soon afterwards.Harris, p. 28-30 Together with Anderson's childhood friend Mat Osman, they decided they had a core of a band, and spent hours a day playing covers of The Beatles, The Smiths, and David Bowie.Harris, p. 32 After deciding that neither Anderson nor Frischmann had the skill to be a lead guitarist, the group placed an advert in NME seeking to fill the position. It ran in the magazine's 28 October 1989 issue: "Young guitar player needed by London based band. Smiths, Commotions, Bowie, PSB's. No Musos. Some things are more important than ability. Call Brett." The advert ensued interest from nineteen-year-old Bernard Butler, who soon auditioned to join the group.Barnett, p. 32 The group settled on the name Suede; lacking a drummer, the band initially used a drum machine.Harris, p. 34-35 Despite Frischmann's efforts as the group's de facto manager, the group primarily scored small-scale gigs around London's Camden Town area.Harris, p. 35

Suede's first breakthrough came with their second demo Specially Suede which they sent to compete in Demo Clash, a radio show on Greater London Radio run by DJ Gary Crowley. "Wonderful Sometimes" won Demo Clash for five Sundays in a row during 1990, leading to a record contract with the Brighton-based indie label RML.. MTV. The song featured on a cassette compilation in April 1990 representing Suede's first official release.Barnett, p. 37 After a series of gigs with an unreliable drum machine, Suede decided to recruit a full-time drummer. Justin Welch briefly fulfilled the role as drummer, though he only lasted six weeks, before joining Crawley band Spitfire.Harris, p. 36 After Welch's departure, Suede placed another advert seeking a replacement. To the group's surprise, the ad was answered by former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. Joyce reluctantly turned down the role of drummer as he felt Suede still had to forge their own identity. He felt that by being in a band that had similarities to the Smiths, he would have done them more harm than good.Barnett, p. 45 Joyce stayed long enough to record two songs with the group, which were set to be released as the "Be My God"/"Art" single on RML Records. The band was dissatisfied with the result, and most of the 500 copies pressed were destroyed.Harris, p. 36-37 In June 1990 Suede found a permanent drummer, Simon Gilbert, through former manager Ricky Gervais. Both worked at the ULU. After hearing their demo and realising the band were devoid of a drummer, Gilbert asked to audition.Barnett, p. 50-51

By 1991, Anderson and Frischmann had broken up; Frischmann started dating Damon Albarn of the group Blur. Frischmann believed the group could accommodate the new situation.Harris, p. 61 However the situation grew tense; Butler recalled, "She'd turn up late for rehearsals and say the worst thing in the world - 'I've been on a Blur video shoot.' That was when it ended, really. I think it was the day after she said that that Brett phoned me up and said, 'I've kicked her out.'" After Frischmann's departure, the character of the group changed. "If Justine hadn't left the band", Anderson said, "I don't think we'd have got anywhere. It was a combination of being personally motivated, and the chemistry being right once she'd left." Anderson and Butler became close friends and began writing several new songs together.Harris, p. 62 However, the band's music was out-of-step with the music of their London contemporaries as well as the American grunge bands. Anderson said, "For the whole of 1991, A&R men wouldn't give us a second look."Harris, p. 63

Through the end of 1991 and early 1992, Suede received a number of favourable mentions in the music press, garnering them slots at shows hosted by NME and attended by musical figures such as former Smiths singer Morrissey. One of the gigs at the ULU in October 1991, which caught the attention of the media was Frischmann's final gig.Barnett, p. 63-64 John Mulvey of the NME, the journalist who first wrote about Suede was at the ULU gig. He said "They had charm, aggression, and... if not exactly eroticism, then something a little bit dangerous and exciting."Leith, William. ". The Independent. 21 March 1993. Retrieved on 1 January 2010.

Signing and early singles: 1992

After seeing the group perform at an NME show in January 1992, Saul Galpern approached the group about signing to his independent record label Nude Records. Suede eventually signed a two single deal to Nude in February 1992 for the sum of £3,132.Barnett, p. 74 Following Nude's offer Suede attracted further interest from Island Records and East West Records, who were keen on signing them long term.Barnett, p. 74-75 Suede were being hailed as "The next big thing" and prior to the release of the group's first single, the cover of 25 April issue of Melody Maker featured the group, with a headline stating "Suede: The Best New Band in Britain".Davidson, Neil. ". 21 April 1993. Retrieved on 1 January 2010

The band's debut single "The Drowners" attracted excitement because of its sharp contrast to the dying Madchester scene and the U.S. grunge sound of the time. A moderate hit, "The Drowners" reached number 49 on the UK Singles Chart in May.Roberts, David, ed. (2006), British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.), HIT Entertainment, ISBN 1-904994-10-5 The band were then approached by Geffen Records and although the Geffen deal was very attractive (Galpern described it as "insane"), the band still had plenty of other offers to consider.Barnett, p. 89 In September 1992 they released their second single, "Metal Mickey", which charted at number 17. It was the only Suede single to crack the US Modern Rock top 10, peaking at number 7.". Billboard. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Shortly after the release of "Metal Mickey", Suede signed to Nude/Sony. Galpern was determined to sign the band long term and struck a deal with Sony - making them a tiny independent label with major muscle backing.Barnett, p. 96 The contract gave Suede creative controls such as the artwork on their releases.

Anderson soon became notorious for causing controversy such as his infamous quote that would resurface in interviews and articles in the following years, that he was "a bisexual man who never had a homosexual experience." In February 1993, Suede went from highly-touted indie band to major chart contenders with their third single, "Animal Nitrate", which went into the UK top ten. The single earned them a last-minute invitation to play at that years Brit Awards ceremony.Middleton, Fraser. . The Herald. 10 March 1993 Impressed by the band's charged sexuality, Suede's first sequence of singles and debut album shocked audiences and critics alike.Womack, Andrew. ". The Morning News. 20 January 2004. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Suede's sexual lyrics made them a rallying point for the alienated, one of the few British bands since the Smiths who united as much as they divided.Duerden, Nick. ". The Independent. 18 October 2003. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Comparisons were being made to David Bowie, though Suede sounded nothing quite like anybody else around at the time, and soon they fell upon what critics quickly deemed was a new movement. Anderson recalls, "I had always been fascinated by suburbia, and I liked to throw these twisted references to small-town British life into songs. This was before we had that horrible term Britpop."

Debut album and American tours: 1993

In the year leading up to the release of their debut album, Suede were the most written-about band in Britain.Sakamoto, John. ". 1 June 1993. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. The self titled Suede entered the British charts at number one, registering the biggest initial sales of a debut since Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasuredome a decade before. It sold over 100,000 copies in its first week of release,Harris, p. 86 going gold on its second day.McCormick, Neil. ". The Daily Telegraph. 31 August 1996. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. The albums release was met with high critical praise and hype. At the time it was hailed as "the most eagerly awaited debut since Never Mind The Bollocks by the Sex Pistols."Phrommayon, Annie. . The Nation. 11 March 1997 Some notable press at the time was the front cover of the April 1993 issue of Select, which is seen by many as the start of Britpop.Youngs, Ian. ". BBC News. 15 August 2005. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. The album went on to win the 1993 Mercury Prize. The band donated the entire £25,000 in prize money to Cancer Research.Barnett, p. 127 Their debut was the only album released in the U.S. under the name "Suede", where it remains their highest selling release.Caulfield, Keith. . Billboard. 26 September 2008.

Following the success of the album, Suede prepared themselves for their imminent American tour in the summer of 1993. During the tours of 1993, tensions began to develop between Butler and the rest of the group. On the first American tour tensions peaked in Los Angeles, when Butler disappeared during a soundcheck. The gig went ahead, but for the rest of the tour the two parties barely spoke.Barnett, p. 122 The tensions grew worse on the second American tour mainly for the fact that Butler's father had died, which forced Suede to cancel the tour prematurely. Butler disliked the bands indulgence on the tour during his bereavement, in which he became more alienated from the band so much that he even travelled separately.Barnett, p. 128 Their American success was limited as they had already begun to be upstaged by their opening act, The Cranberries, who received the support from MTV that Suede lacked. At times Butler left the stage while Suede was performing and convinced a member of The Cranberries to fill in for him.Harris, p. 169 Moreover, a lounge singer's lawsuit forced the band to stop using the trademarked American name "Suede". For their subsequent releases and shows performed in the United States, the band used the moniker "The London Suede". Anderson wasn't happy about having to change the group's name for the U.S. market, as he stated: "The London Suede is not the name I chose for the band, I didn't change it happily, and I'm not going to pretend I did."Strauss, Neil. . The New York Times. 9 February 1995. Retrieved on 1 January 2010.

"Stay Together" and Butler's exit: 1994

In February 1994, the band released stand-alone single "Stay Together", which became their highest charting single at the time, reaching number three in the UK. The single was backed by a collection of strong b-sides; this new pompous sound, however would fracture the band and lead to the departure of Butler.Plagenhoef, Scott. . Stylus Magazine. 23 June 2003 Despite the success of the single the band have since distanced themselves totally from the song, an aversion usually attributed to problems with Butler at the time.Barnett, p. 138 In the aftermath of "Stay Together", Anderson isolated himself and wrote songs for Suede's next album.Harris, p. 170 It was at this time that Anderson eschewed himself from what was dubbed the "laddish Britpop movement", which he was seen by many to inaugurate.Bracewell, Michael. ". The Guardian. 2 September 2008. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Bands such as Blur, Oasis and Pulp began to dominate the music scene, whereas Suede became a lot more experimental and introverted. Tensions grew worse during the recording of the album when Butler criticised Anderson in a rare interview, claiming that he worked too slowly and that he was too concerned with rock stardom. On Anderson, he said: "He's not a musician at all. It's very difficult for him to get around anything that isn't ABC."Barnett, p. 145

At the time Suede were said to be a band who were "unafraid to be out of step with its peers", however, Suede's experimentation would ultimately lead to their separation. The group often recorded songs with long lengths. Osman said he, Anderson, and Gilbert often thought these tracks were the result of Butler trying to wind the band members up.Harris, p. 171 Anderson recalled that Butler and the rest of the group largely recorded their parts separately. The guitarist then clashed with producer Ed Buller, who he insisted should be sacked as he wanted to produce the record himself.Barnett, p. 147 Butler then gave Anderson an ultimatum: fire the producer or I’m leaving. "I called his bluff," says Anderson.Edwards, Mark. . The Times. 14 September 2003 Days after Butler's wedding, he returned to the studio to find he was not being allowed in and his guitars were left out on the street.Harris, p. 171-172 According to John Harris's Britpop history The Last Party, the final words Butler uttered to Anderson were "you're a fucking cunt".Petridis, Alexis. ". The Guardian. 22 April 2005. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Butler left the band leaving parts of the record incomplete.

Dog Man Star, new line up and Coming Up: 1994-1997

Led by the single "We Are the Pigs", Suede's second album Dog Man Star finally appeared in late 1994. The album was well-received by critics receiving rapturous press across the board.Future, Andrew. ". Drowned In Sound. 11 November 2004. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number three, but slid quickly down the charts.Harris, p. 187 The singles from the album charted poorly, though they are still regarded as Suede's best output. Especially "The Wild Ones", which is considered by many to be Suede's finest hour.Author unknown. . XFM. 29 October 2003

In September 1994, Suede announced their new guitarist, 17-year-old Richard Oakes, who after reading about Butler's departure, sent a demo tape to the band's fanclub.Barnett, p. 161 When Simon Gilbert heard Anderson playing back the tape whilst going through audition tapes, he mistakenly believed it to be an early Suede demo. Oakes made his video debut on "We Are the Pigs" and co-wrote the b-sides to "New Generation". Suede embarked on a long international tour during late 1994 and the spring of 1995, before disappearing to work on their third album. In 1995, the group contributed a track to The Help Album charity compilation, covering Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding". In January 1996, the band was joined by new member Neil Codling, a cousin of Simon Gilbert who handled keyboards and played second guitar. He made his debut at a fanclub gig at the Hanover Grand, which turned out to be one of Suede's most important gigs of their entire career. A short set devoid of Butler songs was well received by critics, "...A set that says. 'No Need'," observed Steve Sutherland in NME.Barnett, p. 195

Suede released their third album Coming Up in 1996. Anderson said that in contrast to the group's previous albums, which he felt "suffered at certain times from being quite obscure," he intended Coming Up to be "almost like a 'greatest hits'". Lead single "Trash" was popular and tied with "Stay Together" as the group's highest-charting UK single, reaching number three, which helped to make the album their biggest mainstream success. The album brought the band five straight top-10 singles and was a hit throughout Europe, Asia and Canada. Coming Up never did win an audience in America, partially because it appeared nearly a year after its initial release and partially because Suede only supported it with a three-city tour. Nevertheless the album topped the UK chart and became the band's biggest-selling release, setting expectations high for the follow-up. In May 1997, Suede fell upon more bad fortune in the U.S. when their truck full of equipment got stolen after playing a gig in Boston, Massachusetts.. 27 May 1997. Due to the success of the album, Suede secured top billing at the 1997 Reading Festival. Suede's next venture was Sci-Fi Lullabies, a collection of b-sides, which reached number nine on the UK Album Chart. The compilation was well received and is considered by some to be their strongest collection of songs.

Continuing success: 1998-2000

By the time the compilation was released in 1997, the Britpop movement was noticeably waning in popularity, and the band had decided to split with long-time producer Ed Buller before commencing work on their follow up to Coming Up. Before focusing work on their next album, the group recorded a version of "Poor Little Rich Girl" for the Twentieth-Century Blues: The Songs of Noel Coward in 1998.". Billboard. 13 January 1998. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Despite being backed by their second-highest charting single "Electricity", Suede's fourth album, Head Music divided both fans and critics, though it once again took the band to number one on the UK Albums Chart. A synth-infused album that focused less on guitar riffs and more on keyboards, it was produced by Steve Osborne, who had worked with Happy Mondays and New Order. Critical opinion was sharply divided; many felt the records lyrics were too shallow and lacking in substance.Author unknown. . 23 October 2000 Others, however praised the album highly feeling that the group were again taking a different direction and charting new territory.Sturges, Fiona. . The Independent. 1 May 1999

The next three singles released from the album failed to crack the top 10, breaking a run stretching back to the 1996 single "Trash". Anderson also began being criticized more by fans for his often use of redundant vocabulary and limited lyrical themes.Segal, Victoria. . The Times. 23 April 2005 The track which received the most attention and criticism was "Savoire Faire". Though, some critics felt that the albums mixed reaction and lazy lyricism could be linked to Anderson's heavy drug use at the time, especially when he later admitted that he "was a crack addict for ages."Harris, John. ". The Guardian. 11 February 2005. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Speaking of his addiction, which plagued him for two and a half years, Anderson said: "Anyone who has ever tried crack will know exactly why I took it. It's the scariest drug in the world because the hit you get from it is so, so seductive. I wanted to experience that, and I did - repeatedly." Suede headlined the Roskilde and V festivals in July and August 1999 respectively. During 2000 there was press speculation that Suede were on the verge of splitting, which was not helped by Codling's absence at some European gigs. Anderson denied these claims and insisted that Codling was healthy and that they were keen to record the next album.Author unknown. . 2 May 2000 For the whole of 2000 Suede retreated themselves from the pubilc and only played one gig, which took place in Reykjavik, Iceland. The band premiered several new songs that would eventually make it onto their final album.Author unknown. . 23 October 2000

Commercial disappointment and breakup: 2001-2003

Not long after the release of Head Music, Nude Records effectively ceased to exist. Like many of their labelmates, Suede ended up signing to Nude's parent company/distributor Sony to record their fifth album, A New Morning. Between the release of Head Music and A New Morning, Suede wrote and recorded "Simon" as the title theme for the film Far From China.". IMDb. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. The long and troubled gestation of the new album saw keyboardist Neil Codling leave the band, citing chronic fatigue syndrome, to be replaced by Alex Lee, formerly of Strangelove.Cohen, Jonathan. ". Billboard. 23 March 2001. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. In concert, Lee played keyboards, second guitar, backing vocals and occasionally harmonica. The album title, according to Anderson, referred to "a fresh start, a new band and a new fresh outlook" – the singer had been addicted to heroin and crack cocaine, which was having an increasingly deleterious effect on his health. Anderson claimed that A New Morning "...was the first ever Suede record that wasn’t influenced in its making by drugs."Author unknown. . 24 September 2002.

Although the group began work with Tony Hoffer producing,Carpenter, Troy. . Billboard. 1 June 2001. the album was produced by Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur). Overall, seven different recording studios and four producers were used during the two year recording span for A New Morning, and costs estimated at around £1 million.Author unknown. . 30 April 2002. The album was a commercial disappointment which failed to crack the top 20, and ultimately was never released in the U.S.Carpenter, Troy. ". Billboard. 12 May 2003. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. A New Morning was considered a solid enough outing by fans of the band, but critical reaction was decidedly lukewarm and the mainstream public interest had long disappeared. Only two singles, "Positivity" and "Obsessions", were released from the album, the fewest singles taken from any of the band's albums, and neither charted particularly well. Anderson has since stressed his disappointment with Suede's final album, stating "We made one Suede album too many. 'A New Morning' is the only one I don't believe in as much as the other Suede records and I totally believed in the first four, even 'Head Music' which divided the fans."

In September 2003, Suede played five nights at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, dedicating each night to one of their five albums and playing through an entire album a night in chronological order, with b-sides and rarities as encores.Carpentor, Troy. ". Billboard. 11 August 2003. In October 2003, Suede released their second compilation album Singles, and accompanying single "Attitude", which charted at number 14 in the UK. The group had begun working on a follow-up album to A New Morning, which was planned to be released after the Singles compilation.Author unknown. . 23 May 2003. Anderson said that "Most of the new material is more aggressive and less song based than A New Morning." He added, "We're spending a lot of time working on tracks that sound nothing like traditional Suede." The planned album never saw release.

On 28 October, after performing on V Graham Norton to promote the Singles compilation, Anderson made the decision to call it a day.Barnett, p. 275 On 5 November the band announced there would be no more projects under the Suede name for the foreseeable future – effectively announcing the end of the band, as they stated on their website: "There will not be a new studio album until the band feel that the moment is artistically right to make one."Cohen, Jonathan and Troy Carpenter. . Billboard. 6 November 2003. Their last concert at the London Astoria on 13 December 2003 was a two-and-a-half hour marathon show, split into two parts plus encore. Anderson made an announcement, saying: "I just want you to know. There will be another Suede record. But not yet."". 13 December 2003.

Other projects: 2004-2009

Immediately after the Astoria gig, Anderson asked Suede's manager Charlie Charlton for Butler's phone number, who soon informed the former guitarist to expect a call.Barnett, p. 278 The pair who had not spoken to one another since 1994, were spotted drinking in London just four days after Suede's final gig.Author unknown. . 7 January 2004 In 2004 the pair resurfaced with a project named The Tears. The following year they released the album Here Come the Tears, which received favourable reviews, however, failed to generate popular interest beyond the duo's hardcore fanbase. One review remarked that the record was not "far from the records Suede made without their errant guitarist".Simpson, Dave. . The Guardian. 3 June 2005 The band have been on indefinite hiatus since 2006.

Anderson has released three solo albums, which received mixed reviews, with the possible exception of his third effort, Slow Attack.Shepherd, Fiona. . The Scotsman. 12 February 2010Gill, Andy. . The Independent. 6 November 2009 Butler has been working as a producer, collaborating with artists such as 1990s, Black Kids, Sons and Daughters, Duffy and Kate Nash. Matt Osman has toured with Brett Anderson, while Simon Gilbert is in the international band Futon. Richard Oakes is recording an album with singer, writer and producer Sean McGhee under the name Artmagic.

In late 2009 there was increased speculation of a Suede reunion. The press appeared to be sensing an imminent reunion, such that one journalist wrote in a review of Anderson's third solo album in October, "Roll on a Suede reunion".Clay, Joe. ". The Times. 31 October 2009. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Anderson insisted that he still stays in contact with his former bandmates and has not ruled out a reunion. Performing at the Jack Daniel's birthday set at London's Village Underground venue, Anderson admitted "I'd quite like to make a band record again, my last few have just been me in the studio with a piano. I can't say whether I'd get back with Suede or not."".

Reunion and subsequent events: 2010-present

Following persistent rumours, the boss of the band's former label, Nude Records' Saul Galpern officially announced on 15 January 2010 that Suede would be playing together again. "It's a one-off gig," he explained of the show, which featured the band's second incarnation. The band played London's Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2010 Teenage Cancer Trust shows on 24 March 2010.Author unknown. . 15 January 2010. Despite the gig initially being billed as a one night only reformation, when questioned on German radio station MotorFM in early February, Anderson refused to confirm that the band would not continue.MotorFM 1 February 2010 The band subsequently announced two UK 'warm up' gigs prior to the Royal Albert Hall show, at the 100 Club in London and the Ritz in Manchester.. Teenage Cancer Trust. 22 February 2010 The trio of gigs were very well-received by critics, including a glowing two-page review in the NME.Thomas, Luke. NME. 31 March 2010

In August the band played at the Skanderborg Festival in Denmark and Parkenfestivalen in Bodø, Norway. In September the band announced that they will release The Best of Suede on 1 November 2010. The compilation curated by Anderson consisted of singles, album tracks and b-sides.. The Quietus. 22 September 2010 Shortly after the release they played a short European tour during late November into December covering Spain, France, Belguim, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany. The band concluded the tour on 7 December at the O2 Arena in London. Suede were recently asked whether they would produce any new material and Anderson has said, "Unless we were all convinced it would be an amazing record, I think we’d rather just leave it alone. It’s not like we have to at the moment, it has to feel special and that’s always been our criteria."Graham, Sarah. . Daily Mail. 26 October 2010

Suede are now scheduled to perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on 16 April 2011, and the SOS 4.8 Festival in Murica, Spain on 7 May 2011. NME. 20 January 2011 The band have also announced they they will release remastered and expanded editions of all five studio albums in June 2011. NME. 21 January 2011 They are to perform their albums Suede, Dog Man Star and Coming Up at London's O2 Brixton Academy over 3 nights on 19, 20 and 21 May 2011, NME. 20 January 2011 and at Dublin's Olympia Theatre on May 24, 25 and 26.


Suede's legacy is largely in inspiring the Britpop scene which eventually overshadowed the band's own achievements. Alexis Petridis wrote in 2005, "These days, rock historians tend to depict Suede's success as a kind of amuse bouche before the earth-shattering arrival of Britpop's main course". In an article about the British music press' "ferocious one-upmanship campaign" of the mid-1990s, Caroline Sullivan, writing for The Guardian in February 1996, noted Suede's appearance as an unsigned band on the cover of Melody Maker as a pivotal moment in the history of Britpop:

Suede appeared on Melody Maker's cover before they had a record out... The exposure got them a record deal, brought a bunch of like-minded acts to the public's attention, and helped create Britpop. It was the best thing to happen to music in years, and it mightn't have happened without that Suede cover.Sullivan, Caroline. "Feature: Seeing Stars". The Guardian. 5 February 1996. p. 39.

The year following the Melody Maker cover saw Suede captivate a pop phenomenon of critical praise and hype. Not since the dawn of the Smiths had a British band caused such excitement with the release of just a few singles.Simons, Ted. . Phoenix New Times. 9 June 1993 Suede are regarded by many as the first British band to break into the mainstream from the new wave of alternative rock in the '90s. With their glam rock style and musical references of urban Britain, Suede paved the way for acts such as Blur and Pulp to enter the British mainstream.Author unknown. . Billboard. 7 April 1999 They were influential in returning some of the creative impetus to English guitar music in a scene increasingly dominated by Madchester, Grunge and Shoegazing. A March 1993 article in The Independent wrote that "Suede have had more hype than anybody since the Smiths, or possibly even the Sex Pistols. The reviews are florid, poetic, half-crazed; they express the almost lascivious delight of journalists hungry for something to pin their hopes on."

Suede's laurels would remain intact through their early career until Butler's departure, which the press signalled as the end of Suede. As new rock groups were arriving on the scene, British pop culture was in the midst of a shift towards lad culture and the same critics who championed Suede were now plotting to extinguish them. A 1996 article on the eve of the release of Coming Up wrote the following: "Cast in the classic mould of the androgynous rock star, Anderson appears curiously anachronistic in a British rock scene polarised between the laddishness of Oasis and the suburbiana of Blur and Pulp." In a 2007 article in The Daily Telegraph, Bernadette McNulty wrote that while the frontmen of those bands "are all being bestowed with reverential status, Brett Anderson has become the lost boy of Britpop".McNulty, Bernadette. ". The Daily Telegraph. 22 March 2007. Retrieved on 1 January 2010. Since the Britpop movement ceased to exist, like many bands associated with it, Suede's popularity sharply declined. As one writer put it at the end of Suede's career, "Suede slid from zeitgeist into a smaller, pocket-sized cult band." In the same article, Anderson spoke about their legacy:

"It's not in my nature to be bitter. We may have been overlooked somewhat, but all you need to do is listen to the music. Our legacy speaks for itself." He added, "...Fate dealt us this card, and I don't think we've done particularly badly with it. Music today seems so very worthy, so very dull. Nobody wants to stick their neck out any more, and I think that is a great pity. We did, and we left our mark."


*Brett Anderson - vocals (1989–2003; 2010–present)

*Mat Osman - bass (1989–2003; 2010–present)

*Simon Gilbert - drums (1991–2003; 2010–present)

*Richard Oakes - lead guitar (1994–2003; 2010–present)

*Neil Codling - keyboards, synthesisers, rhythm guitar (1996–2001; 2010–present)

Former members

*Bernard Butler - lead guitar, piano (1989–1994)

*Justine Frischmann - rhythm guitar (1989–1991)

*Alex Lee - rhythm guitar, keyboards (2001–2003)


*Suede (1993)

*Dog Man Star (1994)

*Coming Up (1996)

*Head Music (1999)

*A New Morning (2002)



* Harris, John. Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock. Da Capo Press, 2004. ISBN 0-306-81367-X

* Barnett, David. Love and Poison. Carlton Publishing Group, 2003. ISBN 0-233-00094-1

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