Dog Man Star by Suede
I've mentioned before on this site how I happened to find out about Suede for the very first time. I was a major Smiths fan in search of the next Smiths. Suede was labeled as such and their glam rock androgeny only helped fuel my interest in the band. Much like The Smiths, Suede released a handful of successful (in the UK) singles off of a classic debut album and thus established their lead guitar/vocalist song writing duo as the next best since Morrissey/Marr. Dog Man Star was Suede's ambitious follow up album that simultaneously proved that they should be taken very seriously and ended up breaking apart the outstanding song writing duo which formed the core of the band.
My personal experience with this album is rather extensive. Aside from listening to it over and over (and over) I got to see the band live twice in support of Dog Man Star (which is quite a feat given that I lived in Raleigh, NC at the time). The first time I got to see them was at the Masquerade in Atlanta on the 24th of February, 1995. They were my favorite active band at the time so you can imagine I was a bit excited for the show. Turns out it wasn't even sold out and I got to stand pretty close to the stage in that small venue. Then, after the show was over, it was announced that you could go backstage and MEET THE BAND if you purchased a copy of Dog Man Star at the merchandise table. I bought a(nother) copy of this album and got to hang out backstage with Suede for ten minutes or so. They were eating pizza and drinking Red Stripes, very friendly and talkative, and I got autographs from everyone in the band. But that wasn't the only chance I was to have to see them live in 1995. It also happened that I was visiting London at the same time as their scheduled concert at The Royal Albert Hall on the 21st of May. I got tickets to this concert as well and was amazed to see the difference in atmosphere and crowd response. This show was a large venue concert extraordinaire: the tickets were sold out, the crowd was singing along, and there was even a laser light show. Throughout both of these vastly different/equally outstanding shows, Dog Man Star provided the framework for everything.
"Instead of following though on the Bowie-esque glam stomps of their debut, Suede concentrated on their darker, more melodramatic tendencies on their ambitious second album, Dog Man Star. By all accounts, the recording of Dog Man Star was plagued with difficulties -- Brett Anderson wrote the lyrics in a druggy haze while sequestered in a secluded Victorian mansion, while Bernard Butler left before the album was completed -- which makes its singular vision all the more remarkable. Lacking any rocker on the level of "The Drowners" or "Metal Mickey" -- only the crunching "This Hollywood Life" comes close -- Dog Man Star is a self-indulgent and pretentious album of dark, string-drenched epics. But Suede are one of the few bands who wear pretensions well, and after a few listens, the album becomes thoroughly compelling. Nearly every song on the record is hazy, feverish, and heartbroken, and even the rockers have an insular, paranoid tenor that heightens the album's melancholy. The whole record would have collapsed underneath its own intentions if Butler's compositional skills weren't so subtly nuanced and if Anderson's grandiose poetry wasn't so strangely affecting. As it stands, Dog Man Star is a strangely seductive record, filled with remarkable musical peaks, from the Bowie-esque stomp of "New Generation" to the stately ballads "The Wild Ones" and "Still Life," which are both reminiscent of Scott Walker. And while Suede may choose to wear their influences on their sleeve, they synthesize them in a totally original way, making Dog Man Star a singularly tragic and romantic album."Update: I just found a good article on Stylus from 2003. For further Dog Man Star related reading click HERE.
"We Are The Pigs" "The Wild Ones" "New Generation"
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if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list
Another site does their own "Overlooked of the 90's":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s