English, twisted and sexual. That’s how guitarist Bernard Butler described Suede in 1992. For a brief moment that was all but lost to most Americans, Suede had the lot. The look, the tunes, the love and poison. To paraphrase singer Brett Anderson, if mainstream music was the rose-covered bed, Suede was the used condom on the floor.
They sounded dead sexy, but the vibe was slightly dirty too. As a still-shy 21 year-old finding his way through suburban Long Island, NY in the early 90s, that seediness was a far cry from my actual life. Of course I took to the sound immediately. It provided a window to another life, draped in swirling, melodic guitar lines and smeared eyeliner lyrics. They remain, despite losing the plot in later years, one of my favorite bands.
And so I was understandably excited when a minor ripple was made in music circles towards the end of last week as news that Suede, that elegantly wasted bunch of British lads that fueled my early 90s music fascination, were reforming for a one-off gig in London to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust charity.
Confirmed in the story, which ran on the NME’s website on Jan. 15, original guitarist Butler, who as of late produced Duffy’s ‘Rockferry’ album, would not be part of the reunion. Instead, Richard Oakes, who stepped in after Butler quit/was sacked during the recording of the band’s epic second album, ‘Dog Man Star’, was on board along with original members Brett Anderson, Mat Osman and Simon Gilbert. Keyboardist Neil Codling is also in on the fun.
So I suppose this is a proper Suede reunion, but not the proper Suede reunion fans, myself included, were hoping for. Butler is truly one of the greatest guitarists of his generation and when he and Anderson reconciled a few years back and put out some new material as The Tears, I think hopes were raised, albeit slightly, that 1992-era Suede might eventually make its way back into our arms, if only for a moment. Still, the news got me excited. Enough so that I checked London flights for February and March, when the gig is reportedly taking place. Judging by the prices, it might be time to start saving pounds and pence.
Even if I don’t make it over, I was lucky enough to catch Suede at the Supper Club in New York City in 1997 – the last time they ever came Stateside – and it’s easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. But that’s a story for another post…