Star Man Dog (1994)
We were competing with the great records of the past, “reflected Brett Anderson in 2011,” That’s what we had to prove with him. I was trying to write without limits. ”An interesting theory, given that their self-titled debut had been the most exciting British rock album since ‘The Queen is Dead’, but always perfectionists, Suede teamed up to write their best work – and the which subsequently ruined the relationship between the band’s main writers!
Suede started Britpop and later came to hate the genre, none other than Suede’s guitarist and co-songwriter Bernard Butler. Moving away from the genre the band viewed as “a hideously twisted musical film,” composers Butler and Anderson moved on to the darker albums of Lou Reed and Kate Bush, Anderson consoled himself with Scott Walker, Butler listened to The Righteous Brothers. Drugs were undoubtedly an influence on Anderson’s spherical reach as he consumed lash after lash, the most prevalent psychedelic in Monroe’s ode ‘Heroin’ and the pleasantly Floydian ‘The World of Asphalt’. Anderson’s liberal drug use irritated Butler (Butler despised being treated as a subservient for his unwillingness to party) and the two recorded the album ever further away from what Lennon / McCartney once strayed. Butler disagreed with Ed Buller’s production (Butler was more than the competent engineer himself) and insisted that the others fire Buller and allow Butler to complete the album; Anderson, suspicious of Butler, refused. Butler left the band before the album was finished, many of his guitar parts were replaced by session musicians (Butler doesn’t play on ‘The Power’, telltalely, the weakest track on the album), and the band went on a tour. for the album with seventeen-year-old Richard Oakes as guitarist (a position he holds to this day).
But in the trend for difficult albums like ‘The White Album’ and ‘Kid A’, ‘Dog’ is much better for its dark politics behind the scenes, Sweden plays the same songs in unison, but not all play the same music. . Butler (the best independent guitarist of his generation, save for Graham Coxon) imbues the album with his touch, bluesy load and spiritual enchantment visible in his playing, the power of the seventies that blessed McAlmont Butler’s ‘Yes’ here on its genesis. ‘New Genesis’ was closer to a rocker from the seventies, daring on his drums, aggressive on guitars, a musical statement of social intent. The delicate piano playing complements Anderson’s baritone excellence on ‘The 2 Of Us’, a voice as fine as the falsetto brilliance Bowie heard on the band’s best single, ‘Animal Niterate’. While ‘Suede’ (1993) was optimistic, ‘Dog’ feels sterile, defenseless, as hapless as a Beckettian play; “Lying in my bed / watching my mistakes,” Anderson echoes over the aching voice, the album process in its truest form.
Doom and gloom is, thankfully absent, on the album’s most obviously commercial track, ‘The Wild Ones’ (still Anderson’s favorite Suede song). Shades of Phil Spector surround his production, Anderson with a demanding and commanding melodious voice twenty years after its release. ‘We Are The Pigs’ spiraled into Roger McGuinn’s jingles, but it erupted into a song angrier than anyone heard since John Lydon called himself an antichrist (Simon Gilbert’s finest hour as a drummer, sharp, but loud, reminiscent of Mike Joyce from The Smith, who preceded Gilbert as drummer from Sweden). ‘Black Or Blue’ brought shades of the esoteric Lennon, ‘This Hollywood Life’ brighter than glamor, closer to ‘Still Life’, a beautiful ode to The Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’.
Behemoth’s’ This Asphalt World ‘demonstrated the band’s great achievement, a colossally bold nine-minute track (shortened from twenty minutes, much to Butler’s disdain), but which rewarded the listener like progressive classics like’ Kashmir ‘and’ Shine On You Crazy Diamond. ‘had done once. Genre irrelevant in its writing, beautiful in its performance, ‘Asphalt’ riffed over the sideline as Anderson delivered the best performance of his career. The best Suede song the radios ever played, ‘Asphalt’ took the band’s core influences, shook them up, and surpassed them.
Despite the grandeur, audacity and genius of the album, it failed to generate the response that ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘Parklife’ generated, a critical triumph, not a commercial vessel. But neither were ‘Berlin’, ‘Tusk’, ‘Stormcock’, ‘Queen II’, nor ‘The Dreaming’, each the jewel in the crown of their writers, each a treasure for passionate listeners, each a cult. for avid fans looking to avoid the mainstream. And in this family of out-of-the-ordinary brilliance, ‘Dog Man Star’ sits very comfortably!