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.
Ever since I got transferred from our head office to a plant site, my commute has increased from 7 minutes to exactly 30. This offers a great opportunity to listen to most if not all of an album or CD in the car. In the mornings I usually have talk radio and news on but it’s during the dreary afternoon commute that I crave for music. And radio just does not cut it. So, I have decided to start a running series about the work commute album of the day. Let’s see how long it lasts. 😉
With that intro out of the way, I’ll talk about Noel Gallagher’s ‘High Flying Birds’.
When Oasis split up I was pretty disappointed, not just because I was a big fan but especially since I had not seen them live. Anyway I was curious as to what the two quarrelling idiot brothers would come up with after breaking up the band. I heard about Liam’s Beady Eye (awful name by the way) but simply never gathered enough interest to actually check it out. The much more talented brother Noel was apparently busy with his own plans but somehow it slipped under my radar. I remember Beady Eye being in the news all the time. But I never once heard of High Flying Birds until recently in 2012 when I watched an interview of Noel on the Graham Norton Show. So somewhat belatedly I decided to check this album out.
I’ve listened to it about 2 or 3 times all the way through now. To be honest, my first impression was very lukewarm. This one certainly is a grower. Let me explain. The first things that stood out to me were unfortunately the déjà vu moments (bordering on blatant rip-offs) scattered here and there. For example: Track 2 ‘Dream On’ sounds too obviously like Oasis’ ‘Lyla’ until it really gets going. Track 4 ‘The Death Of You And Me’ has a part where it sounds like Noel simply cut and pasted from The Beatles’ ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite’ from Sgt. Peppers. Of course, I’m not really surprised considering Oasis’ track record in this matter. And I say this as a fan. They’re quite clearly big fans of the Fab Four. But I digress. Another example but a less obvious one is the song ‘Aka… Broken Arrow’ which is quite reminiscent of ‘Part Of The Queue’ from 2005’s Don’t Believe The Truth. Anyway, my point here is that these moments on the album could very easily put off a first time listener who may never give the album a second chance. But for those that do give the album a few listens at least, I think they would probably find this to be a pretty good collection of songs. And the funny thing is, once you start enjoying the memorable songs on this album, those aforementioned “heard before” moments quickly slip into the background. The third or fourth time that I listened to ‘The Death Of You And Me’, I hardly noticed the Beatles’ thing. So I will say that overall I do recommend this album.
Stand-out songs here are opener ‘Everybody’s On The Run’, ‘If I Had A Gun’ which I heard live on TV and immediately liked it, ‘(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine’ and ‘Stop The Clocks’. The others are not bad but they take more time to grow on you. Overall rating: **** stars.