I was really into the whole Brit Pop scene in the 90’s but it was Oasis and Blur that captured my attention the most and I apparently missed out on the band that started it all. I did know a handful of Suede singles but they were limited to ‘Animal Nitrate’, ‘Trash’ and ‘Beautiful Ones’ pretty much… oh, and ‘The Wild Ones’ although I couldn’t really recall how the song went but vaguely remembered the video. Anyway, a few days back I suddenly felt like discovering more of their music and so downloaded their ‘Singles’ compilation from 2003. I was briefly considering buying their much-hailed self-titled debut with a cover of the androgynous (but quite obviously lesbian) kissing couple.
But no matter what the so-called purists say about how Greatest Hits compilations and Best Ofs don’t really add true value to your music collection, I decided that the ‘Singles’ disc will give me a good overall view of Suede. What if I got the 1993 debut and didn’t like half the album or something?! It is possible. It has happened before. I never could, for the life of me, decipher the most praised alternative album of all time, My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’. Maybe I wasn’t listening hard enough amidst all the guitar distortion and shoegaze noise. But I digress.
Suede’s ‘Singles’ is a pretty damn good collection of their work. (Don’t ask me why they’re so obsessed with lesbians… I do not know!) It neatly encompasses highlights from all their albums including the last one in 2002. I am not a big fan of the haphazard order though. I prefer listening to a chronologically arranged selection from the artist’s first album all the way to the last one. But at least this collection starts with their best songs from the 90s. From the sleazy sounding ‘Film Star’ to the cheerful ‘Positivity’, the melodious ‘Everything Will Flow’ to the catchy riffs of ‘Can’t Get Enough’ and ‘Electricity’, there’s a lot of variety here. It’s not all Bowie-inspired neo-glam rock. ‘Film Star’ will always remind me of Eddie Izzard’s 1997 stage show ‘Glorious’. That’s where I heard it first. I still have to warm up to some of the songs here, especially ones from the late 90s and early 00s. But overall, it is a great single disc representation of this band.
When people get nostalgic about music, they love talking about the pure carefree pop of the 50’s or the experimental psychedelic rock of the 60’s. While I do enjoy a lot of music from those eras, nothing beats the early 90’s for me. It was the start of my teenage years, the growing-up years. We got satellite television in 1991 and I was suddenly exposed to a ton of interesting music videos on MTV, back when it was still music television! So here’s a list of some of my favourite albums from the early 90’s…
U2 – Achtung Baby
Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes
R. E. M. – Out Of Time
Guns n’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I & II
Michael Jackson – Dangerous
Pearl Jam – Ten
Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger
Nirvana – Nevermind
Metallica – The Black Album
R. E. M. – Automatic For The People
Annie Lennox – Diva
Deep Forest – Deep Forest
Alice In Chains – Dirt
Bon Jovi – Keep The Faith
Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
U2 – Zooropa
Depeche Mode – Songs Of Faith And Devotion
Enigma – The Cross Of Changes
Alice In Chains – Jar Of Flies
Soundgarden – Superunknown
Tori Amos – Under The Pink
Live – Throwing Copper
Oasis – Definitely Maybe
Pink Floyd – The Division Bell
When I saw the news on the internet this morning, I just could not believe it. Whitney Houston found dead in an LA hotel room, at age 48. I was not very aware of her on-going drug addiction but this sudden news still came as a shock. Whitney was one of the first few artists that I really liked growing up.
I remember back in 1986 when she got nominated for the Grammy Awards for hits from her debut album the previous year. My dad used to enjoy listening to quite a bit of her music. So he went and got a cassette of hers. We were living in Delhi at the time in Safdarjung Enclave and this collection of hits looked very much like it was arranged in Delhi itself along with the cover art and everything. 😉 It had hit songs from both her first and second albums, more so from the first; stuff like ‘Saving All My Love For You’, ‘The Greatest Love Of All’, ‘You Give Good Love’, ‘How Will I Know’, ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ etc.
Every year we used to happily look forward to the Grammys, especially cos satellite television had not yet made it to India and this was the only outlet to ‘western music’ that we had back then. I still maintain that in those days the Grammys were of much better quality than today. There used to be another programme called Pre-Grammys on the local channel Doordarshan which showed music videos for nominated songs, roughly one week before the award show. Since Whitney had only recently hit the big time and covered the pop/adult contemporary genre very well, the Grammy academy would lap her stuff up like a kid in a candy store. So anyway, my dad would buy cassettes of Grammy nominated songs every year. And I remember the ones from 1986 and 1987 having a number of Whitney hits.
Later, in the 90’s we got MTV and I discovered rock music :p. So, slowly my attention started shifting from the likes of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston and more towards Guns n’ Roses, Pearl Jam etc. But the Bodyguard soundtrack became such a huge smash that it was hard not to be swept by songs like the Dolly Parton cover ‘I Will Always Love You’, ‘I’m Every Woman’, ‘I Have Nothing’, ‘Run To You’ and so on. Then she did ‘Waiting To Exhale’ and another song with Mariah Carey from ‘The Prince Of Egypt’. Shortly afterwards, my interest started waning.
From around 1999 or so, I pretty much completely lost track of what she was up to. I think she was past her peak and losing popularity rapidly. From then on, I would only hear about Whitney in the news for all the wrong reasons such as relationship trouble with ex-hubby Bobby Brown or some other random airing of dirty laundry in the public eye. But I really had no idea that her drug problem had become so serious. I suppose I kind of assumed that many celebrities do drugs and didn’t think too much about it. As of this moment when I publish this post we still do not know exactly how she died. But anyway, it is a damn shame to lose one of the greatest voices of pop music and somebody who shaped a good part of my childhood musical palette.
Featuring seamless transitions from hard rock to psychedelic dream pop and shoegaze to progressive, I really think this was the Pumpkins at their absolute creative peak. 1991’s ‘Gish’ was not quite there yet (although good in it’s own right) and 1995’s ‘Mellon Collie…’ felt too vast, containing good songs interspersed with fillers. This album though, is just perfect from start to finish. It is such a pleasure to listen to every now and then, even now in 2012. Jimmy Chamberlin’s drumming is nothing short of stellar in songs such as Cherub Rock, Quiet, Geek USA and Silverfuck. Maybe the drugs helped. lol. Maybe not. Though I’m not particularly a fan of the lyrics here or Billy Corgan’s voice, everything comes together beautifully to create that fantastic wall of noise. And I just love those moments like during the last couple of minutes of the song Hummer when the guitars quiet down to reveal the most exquisitely gorgeous acoustic solo. That is the kind of stuff that I seriously missed on their comeback-of-sorts album ‘Zeitgeist’. What the heck happened to all the shoegaze inspirations??? Speaking of which, I wouldn’t mind exploring that genre a little more. All I know about it is MBV’s Loveless which frankly I could not get into for the life of me! (Please don’t hate me.) And I believe ‘She’s So High’ by Blur was also shoegaze-inspired. I love that track. Anyway, Siamese Dream… great album and possibly one of my all-time favourites ever. Perfect for a boring, slow work commute. 🙂