Dog Man Star (1994)

Dog Man Star (1994)

We were competing with the great records of the past,” Brett Anderson reflected in 2011; “That’s what we had to prove with it. I was trying to write without any boundaries”. An interesting theory, given that their self-titled debut was the most exciting British rock album since The Queen is Dead, but ever the perfectionists, Suede got together to write the best his work – and one that subsequently ruined the relationship between the main writers of the group!

Suede started Britpop and subsequently grew to hate the genre, no less than Suede guitarist and co-songwriter Bernard Butler. Moving away from the genre, which the band saw as a “horribly twisted, musical Carry On film”, songwriters Butler and Anderson moved to the darker albums of Lou Reed and Kate Bush, Anderson found solace in Scott Walker, Butler listened to The Righteous Brothers . The drugs undoubtedly affect Anderson’s spherical range as he takes on section after section, the psychedelia most prevalent in Monroe’s ode to “Heroine” and the pleasantly Floydian “The Asphalt World.” Anderson’s liberal drug use irritated Butler (Butler despised being treated like a servant because of his reluctance to party) and the two recorded the album, drifting further and further apart than Lennon/McCartney ever had. Butler objected to Ed Buller’s production (Butler was a more than competent engineer himself) and insisted that the others fire Buller and allow Butler to finish the album; Anderson, wary of Butler, refused. Butler left the band before the album was finished, many of his guitar parts were replaced by session musicians (Butler did not play on “The Power”, which is the album’s weakest track), and the band toured the album with seventeen-year-old Richard Oakes as guitarist (position , which he occupies to this day).

But in the vein of tough albums like ‘The White Album’ and ‘Kid A’, ‘Dog’ is all the better for its dark behind-the-scenes politics, Suede playing the same songs in unison but not all playing the same music . Butler (the best indie guitarist of his generation apart from Graham Coxon) imbues the album with his touch, a bluesy charge and a spiritual spell evident in his playing, the Seventies power that blessed McAlmont Butler’s Yes here at its genesis. “New Genesis” came closest to a seventies rocker, big on the drums, aggressive on the guitars, a musical statement with social intent. Delicate piano playing complements Anderson’s baritone perfection on “The 2 Of Us,” a vocal as subtle as his Bowie falsetto brilliance heard on the band’s greatest single, “Animal Niterate.” While “Suede” (1993) had optimism, “Dog” feels barren, helpless, miserable like a Beckett play; “lying in my bed/looking at my mistakes” Anderson echoes over a pained voice, the album’s process is at its most real.

Doom and gloom is thankfully absent from the album’s most obviously commercial track, “The Wild Ones” (still Anderson’s favorite Suede track). Shades of Phil Spector surround his production, Anderson singing a voice demanding and commanding twenty years after its release. “We Are The Pigs” spiraled into Roger McGuinn’s strumming, but erupted into a song angrier than any heard since John Lydon called himself the Antichrist (Simon Gilbert’s finest hour as a drummer, sharp, but strong, reminiscent of The Smith’s Mike Joyce, who preceded Gilbert as Suede’s drummer). “Black Or Blue” brought shades of the esoteric Lennon forward, “This Hollywood Life” more glamorous than glamorous, closer “Still Life” a beautiful ode to The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds”.

Behemoth ‘This Asphalt World’ proved the band’s huge achievement, a colossally audacious nine-minute track (cut from twenty minutes, to Butler’s utter disdain), but one that rewarded the listener with the likes of prog classics ‘Kashmir’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ was done once Genderless in its writing, magnificent in its playing, “Asphalt” shimmered a riff aside as Anderson delivers a career-best performance. The greatest Suede song never played on the radio, “Asphalt” took the band’s main influences, shook them up and beat them.

Despite the album’s grandeur, audacity and genius, it failed to generate the response generated by ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘Parklife’, a critical triumph rather than a commercial blockbuster. But neither “Berlin”, “Tusk”, “Stormcock”, “Queen II”, nor “The Dreaming”, each was the jewel in the crown of its authors, each a treasure for the passionate listener, each a cult for the avid followers who want to avoid the mainstream. And in this family of unusual brilliance, “Dog Man Star” sits very comfortably!

#Dog #Man #Star

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also
Back to top button