Suede - Coming Up 20th Anniversary edition (Demon)

Suede – Coming Up 20th Anniversary edition (Demon)

OK Suede nerds, let’s begin with the inventory and take it from there. Some twenty years after Coming Up first signalled the re-branding of Suede, the band (or perhaps their label) have opted to top up their pension pots by re-releasing arguably their most successful album complete with assorted bells and whistles. For the record, this is a 4 CD set comprising of the album, a number of B-sides, unreleased demos and their 1996 Amsterdam Paradiso gig. Just for good measure they throw in a book and a DVD featuring performances from TOTP, Later and the 1997 Mercury Music Prize where Brett Anderson looks suspiciously like Michael Carrick. Oh and an interview with Pete Paphides where the band try to remember how they made the album in the first place which is clearly taxing for Anderson who appears to be about to doze off at any second. They did, however, omit the kitchen sink.

Right, now let’s get onto the serious matter of deciding whether, twenty years on, Coming Up has stood the withering test of time or has it eroded into a sticky, irritating mess like an old corroded battery. Suede fans have always been a feisty bunch, hugely protective of anything and everything to the point of maniacal devotion so I had best be careful what I say next. Some of them may even know where I live. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine now but Suede were once a car crash of a band. In fact, they weren’t even a band, more a collection of individuals who were loosely held together by the one thing they had in common, a festering dislike and mistrust of one another. That Suede fans allowed Bernard Butler to exit the band is a minor miracle and yet there we were, in 96, all privately wondering whether Suede and their new look line-up could cut the mustard. Approximately, 40 minutes later, we had our answer.

Coming Up may not be the greatest album in their canon (personally, I would have to wait another 17 years for Bloodsports to claim the honour) yet it is easily their most accessible and hit-friendly release. For starters, there’s five top drawer singles and I defy anyone to claim this isn’t a cracking 12 months of releases ‘Trash’, ‘Beautiful Ones’, ‘Saturday Night’, ‘Lazy’ and ‘Filmstar‘. As Ray Winstone is so often fond of saying “Have a bang on that”. Throw into the mix that the revered Butler had been replaced by 17 year old Richard Oakes and you begin to appreciate just what a staggering creative pulse was surging through Suede veins at the time, in stark contrast to their previous albums which could suffer from too much other intravenous use.

The line “Class A/Class B/ is that the only chemistry between us” is still a favourite of mine on ‘The Chemistry Between Us’ and is a line I may have used on an ex in the past. Only ‘Picnic By The Motorway‘ fails to deliver the usual glossy camp manifesto for which Coming Up recruited so many new afficionados. It has been over a decade since I last bothered to listen to Coming Up and whilst I generally pour scorn on such unnecessary re-issues, there are instances when a reflective look back can create a catharsis, a soul purging reminder of happier times for old folk like me but if you’re new to the Suede stable, there is really no better place to start. Like Tonka Toys, Suede were built to last.

Coming Up is released on Sept 30th on Demon

  1. Is 7 out of 10 for the album itself or the score for the entire contents of the deluxe edition? This wouldve been a great chance to review those magnificent b sides from that era. The main album itself gets a 9/10 from me, it would be 10/10 were it not for Picnic By The Motorway.

  2. Great review about a very mixed bag of an album. I was a Dog Man Star obsessive at the time so I rather grumpily dismissed Coming Up, and it does have their worst ever song – Filmstar – on it, but it also has some cracking tunes on it.

      1. Worst lyrics of their career. “Filmstar, propping up the bar, driving in a car tonight”. WTF Brett. Amazed they still play it live, awful song.

        1. They aren’t great but I think there were kind of meant to be a bit throwaway and glammy like a Trex homage or something, but if you think those are bad check some of Head Music and A New Morning’s lyrics. Elephant Man or parts of ANM are their nadir for me.I’ll never forget the Brett Anderson lyrics generator they had in the NME or Select, amusing.

  3. Dog Man Star is their best album by quite a way. Whilst not perfect and some of the lyrics and production are a little flimsy now, I still like Coming Up its a lot of fun, its meant to be more glammy, accessible, and pop compared to their previous records.And with Trash they wrote their version of Heroes to an extent.

  4. I hate to lower the tone, but I was with my ex-girlfriend when this came out, and I came to learn that whenever this album was given a spin on the CD player, that meant it was sexy time…

    1. So you’ve only ever listened to it twice then Loz?

      I stand by what i said, ‘Bloodsports’ still hits the spot for me but one of the (many) great things about Suede is their ability to appeal and yet divide so easily to a different demographic. I think we can all agree they generally made a positive contribution throughout the 90s

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