Hits compilations are looked at in so many different lights: You use them to introduce a friend to old bands they aren’t familiar with, you may use them to save discography space on an iPod, or you may just be really into singles. Positives and negatives can be traced from all of the above, depending on who you ask — especially if you’re a purist who must have every single B-side, rarity, and so on and snark at those who claim to be “true fans” if they stray from hoarding all there is to be hoarded.
There’s also the matter of unofficial hits collections that the band never authorized, last-ditch releases to fulfill contracts, and labels dusting off has-been masters for the national consciousness on profit gain alone. It’s safe to say that after Trent Reznor regained rights to his 1989 Nine Inch Nails debut for reissue, the product made great feedback based on direct artist involvement and “up to snuff” production quality.
Did Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler’s setting aside of the past for the sake of quality compilation material truly place The Best of Suede on display?
This double-disc work serves to courteously and elaborately provide an entire generation of new fans (Coachella 2011 attendees included) an intimate peek into Suede‘s back catalog. The London Suede — as they are so named in the States — is not just a Britpop band but the definitive Britpop band, a catalyst for future acts like the B-side-heavy Travis, the tumultuously legendary Oasis, and even Blur. With the arrangement of all but two official singles on one disc and B-sides and select tracks from the first three records on the second, it’s an appropriate time capsule of awesome in a nutshell.
Analyzing the trademarks of “Animal Nitrate” and the acerbic “Beautiful Ones”, deconstructing the somber sobriety of “The Living Dead” or At Your Funeral alumnus “The Next Life”, or marching along to the drums of “Killing of a Flash Boy” or “She” is all moot. It all would still leave much to be desired, when the fact remains thus: If you don’t own their albums, this is the no-question, doubtless expanse of A+, top-rated material, guaranteed.
Will I promise you’ll enjoy every single song as a newbie? No, that would be biased and irresponsibly arrogant or aggrandizing. What I can say is that when you’re at a low point, sometimes the best solution is a little time to bathe in the misery. If you want emotional, powerful alternative rock songs…if you want a vocalist like Anderson haunting your ear canal…if you like any Britpop or post-Brit material…go to the verifiable origin, the point of advance returns.
Trudge the desperation and guitar cries of “This Hollywood Life”, the swank of “Trash” and “Electricity”, the psyche-disco seduction of “Can’t Get Enough” and “She’s in Fashion”. There’s parody and pomp, dereliction and delicacy. This is a sexy, sexually ambiguous, snobby, serene, surreal, and savage Britpop seedling brought to you by the men from which it spawned, a tour throughout our dearest ’90s.
This circle of solid Suede only has one side, so which side are you on?