Our Christmas Open House is this weekend (Saturday) so it’s not likely I’m going to get my long spin n’ swim in. Fortunately, HRH begins her “Leader’s Corp” classes tonight at the YMCA so I can squeeze in my long 80 minute spin this evening instead. And in the wake of this afternoons “craptacular” fartlek run, I guess I could do with a little “easy-ish” make-up time on the bike.
Similar then to my last long spin before I left for Texas (3 weeks ago now) when I caught up on all my favorite B-Sides from one of my favorite bands ever (click HERE), I’m doing the same thing this evening with the ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies‘ by Suede.
Essentially a double compilation album consisting of B-sides and rarities from the singles that were released from the group’s first three albums, it reached #9 on the UK Albums Chart, and met with positive reviews. In subsequent years, the record has been hailed as one of the finest B-side compilations in popular music.
My own history was a love-hate-love kind of relationship. I loved the first album, the second one even more, and I had all the singles on compact disc. I was an avid fan. But my then roommate played the living shit out of both albums and I grew to eventually despise them.
Tonight, I’m hoping to require that love once more.
And, hey, the fact that the album cover also has an airplane on it (bitch!) makes it pretty fucking cool to boot!
Few debut singles have the impact of Suede’s ‘The Drowners‘, which helped set the course to Britpop and established the band as one of the U.K.’s most important bands. In that light, it isn’t surprising that the B-sides were considered as important as the A-side – the slow, grinding ‘My Insatiable One‘ was covered in concerts by Morrissey weeks after its release, while the band often closed shows with the majestic ‘To the Birds‘. The strength of the ‘Drowners‘ B-sides wasn’t an anomaly – it established a precedent of high-quality B-sides that Suede strove to maintain on their first three albums.
‘Sci-Fi Lullabies‘ collects the majority of those B-sides, leaving behind the odd live track and remix, as well as the worthy ‘Painted People‘ and ‘Asda Town‘ and the extended ‘Stay Together‘ which used to haunt me back in university while crushing on a lost love. Shh, don’t say anything to Kelly, but I almost got all weepy then and there on the bike while hearing it again for the first time in, what, 23…24 years?
What’s included is stellar, offering an alternate history of Suede. In fact, the first disc – comprised of Suede and ‘Dog Man Star‘ B-sides, plus the haunting ‘Europe Is Our Playground‘ – is as strong as any of their albums, featuring such essentials as the sleazy ‘He’s Dead‘, ‘The Living Dead‘, ‘My Dark Star‘, the storming ‘Killing of a Flash Boy‘, the sighing ‘Where the Pigs Don’t Fly‘, and ‘Whipsnade‘, all strong enough to be A-sides.
Disc two isn’t quite as consistent, which might be because they’re all drawn from the singles for ‘Coming Up‘, which was more or less where I jumped ship with the band. But it does find the band exploring their darker, more adventurous side, which they largely suppressed on that record. Unlike most B-sides compilations, ‘Sci-Fi Lullabies‘ is far from extraneous – however, for any Suede fan, and most fans of contemporary Britpop back in it’s heyday, this is absolutely essential material, confirming the group’s status as one of the ’90s’ greatest bands.