Suede first arrived in my life with the track duo of Metal Mickey and Animal Nitrate but, let it be known, not until 1994 although the band had been doing their thing in the years that preceded the Britpop ‘era’, which hailed some of the greatest bands, songs and originality of the last 25 years. It wasn’t long before Suede became a huge part of the history of it all though, pretty much spearheading the move away from the Grunge scene from the States and towards something much more exciting here in the UK.
From an original line-up of frontman and vocalist Brett Anderson, bass player Mat Osman, and even Elastica‘s Justine Frischmann in the very early stages, they really found themselves when guitarist Bernard Butler (who later moved out on his own, and as part of the excellent McAlmont & Butler) joined Anderson and Osman, and consequentially drummer Simon Gilbert, to capture the attention of the music press and ended up getting signed by Nude Records, right up ’til the label ended in 2003. Remarkably, although the band then split up, like so many indie bands after the 90s bubble had burst and connected creative outlets had run their course, they got back together for a gig at the Royal Albert Hall, to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, and it all clicked. Three years later, they were publicly back and have now hit their 8th studio album with 2018’s The Blue Hour, with the line-up of Anderson, Osman, Gilbert, guitarist Richard Oakes, and all-rounder Neil Codling.
This limited edition release from the wonderful Demon Music Group, who are backed by BBC Studios, follows many in their fast-expanded catalogue of re-released special editions that are giving a mountain of great music and genres a whole new lease of life. Suede’s ‘Beautiful Ones: The Best Of Suede 1992 – 2018’ has a couple of different versions on vinyl and one on CD, but this review version houses six striking white LPs, pressed on 180 gram vinyl. Each record is housed in inner sleeves featuring the lyrics, alongside unique fan memorabilia from Suede fans everywhere, all lent for photographic opportunities and clearly designed to bring back floods of memories from nearly 30 years gone by, don’t say that part too loudly…
What’s particularly terrific about this collection, and why Demon Music are on it, is that this colossal collection has been fused together by the band. From those aforementioned Metal Mickey and Animal Nitrate, that got me into their unique world, they contain the likes of The Wild Ones, Stay Together, The Drowners, We Are The Pigs right onto the big moments – if not the whole album – from Coming Up like Trash, Beautiful Ones, Saturday Night, Lazy and Filmstar. There’s also She’s in Fashion, Electricity, Can’t Get Enough and such superb B-sides (Remember when bands B-sides were just as good?) as To the Birds and My Insatiable One.
There’s also The Asphalt World, Life Is Golden, It Starts and Ends with You, Europe is Our Playground, By the Sea, Heroine and so many more. In total, hitting a noteworthy 56 tracks from a huge career that’s spans generations. Not bad, eh? What makes this set even more particular is the fans involvement, which is crucial with these types of releases. Not only does it go to prove there’s still a substantial fan base, and I always thought Suede garnered a specific type of respect right across the board, but also how much promo stuff people have kept, I know I’ve got a wealth of things from that time as well!
All the marketing goodness and memorabilia is displayed on one side of the vinyl sleeves, so have a hunt to see if you can find yours. Also, as mentioned, you’ve got the lyrics to every song included on the other, and with 12 sides of 180g white vinyl you’ve got hours and hours of Suede to enjoy – if anyone wants to tell me exactly how long that is, please do! I also found the sound quality impeccably balanced, as I’d hoped, even though a selection of folks might prefer black vinyl over white, for various reasons, here I didn’t think it made any difference on the rather vintage record player of mine – as in, it’s been in the family for maybe 35+ years, so tends to be quite vicious if that isn’t on the money.
My only qualm with the set, despite the strength of the gold-like heavy-layered box it comes in, and for the price, is that the records are kind of just ‘in there’ (obviously in their sleeves) but could have been more stylish to have them either bound to make them easier to individually access, as you pretty much have to tip them out to go through it. While the CD has the memorabilia as a book, instead of on the sleeves, something extra as well in that vein would have really set this off as a solid set.
Overall though, this 6 LP set of Beautiful Ones: The Best of Suede 1992 – 2018 (on 180g White Vinyl) is one hell of a way to bring together so many of their absolute top tracks, right through their career. It’s made distinctive because of the band choosing the track listing, and when you’re adding fellow fans favourite memories and moments – literally in print alongside it all – well, that makes every visit to the songs an absolute occasion, which truly celebrates Suede’s deserved place in modern music history.