Coming Up (album)
|Studio album by Suede|
|Released||2 September 1996|
|Genre||Britpop, glam rock|
|Singles from Coming Up|
Coming Up is the third album by English alternative rock band Suede, released in September 1996 on Nude Records. It was the band's first album since the departure of guitarist Bernard Butler, who was replaced by Richard Oakes. Also added to the band was keyboardist Neil Codling. The album was nominated for the 1997 Mercury Prize. A commercial and critical success, Coming Up was the album that introduced Suede to a worldwide audience, in places such as Europe, Canada and Asia.
Background and recording
After the departure of guitarist Bernard Butler and the lack of commercial success with Dog Man Star and its singles, Suede were being somewhat dismissed by the British music press. Determined to bring Suede back into the mainstream, frontman Brett Anderson decided that the sound of the new album would be the complete opposite of Dog Man Star. "I think the next album will be quite simple, actually. I'd really like to write a straightforward pop album. Just ten hits."
The guitarist to replace Butler was the 17-year-old Richard Oakes, who beat 500 other applicants for the role. Instead of applying for the job like everyone else, Oakes was auditioned on the strength of an impromptu demo tape he sent to the Suede fan club. Despite Oakes's smooth integration into his new role and the band's rejuvenated spirit, Anderson was tired of touring and was keen to get back in the studio with his new songwriting partner. He recalled: "it was becoming really not much fun touring an album that wasn't made by the band." At the time Suede were fatigued with being on tour, a feeling, which was reflected in the b-side, "Have You Ever Been This Low".
To prepare for its recording, the band had immersed themselves in T. Rex's 1972 album The Slider and its successor, Tanx. On the eve of the album's release, Anderson stated: "I wanted it to be a complete turnover from the last album, which was very dark and dank... I wanted it to be communicative and understandable." Long-time producer Ed Buller would be producing the album again. Bass player Mat Osman recalls how Buller was keen on making the album simple. "He was really keen on using all those devices: the big repeated end, the handclaps, the straightforward chorus, make it big and obvious." Two songs which made it onto Coming Up had already been written in the early days of Suede. "Lazy" and "By the Sea" were two of Anderson's own compositions. "By the Sea" was actually written when Suede were recording their first album, which is why the songs opening line is strikingly similar to "So Young".
Unlike the tense and chaotic recording of Dog Man Star, which according to Anderson was mostly written by post, the new material was far more celebratory in both its development and execution. As oppose to the previous album which followed a stringent pattern of Butler composing music for Anderson's lyrics, Coming Up was a more collaborative project. Anderson stated: "Coming Up was more of a meritocracy - if something was good enough, it didn’t matter what the source was." Songs such as "By the Sea" and "She" required the use of keyboards. Faced with the problem as to how to play them live, Suede recruited Simon Gilbert's cousin Neil Codling, who made his début at a fan-club gig in January 1996.
The musical sound of Coming Up is more accessible than previous album Dog Man Star. Its singles were much more successful than those of their second LP, while the lyrical content concerns the band's disaffection at the mid-90s hedonistic, celebrity-obsessed culture; "Beautiful Ones" and "She" are caricatures of British yuppies, celebrities and heroin-chic models. "Beautiful Ones" was originally titled "Dead Leg" after Osman threatened to give Oakes a dead leg if he was unable to write a top ten single. According to Anderson, "The Chemistry Between Us" is about "the emptiness of it all" with regards to taking drugs and partying. The album finishes with a note of optimism in "Saturday Night".
Release and reception
|Los Angeles Daily News|||
Coming Up was a commercial success, removing many fans' doubts about Suede's new line-up. It spawned five top 10 singles in the UK and charted at number one on the UK Albums Chart. The album proved a hit in Europe and Asia and sold 1.5 million copies worldwide. The lead single "Trash" was their joint top charting single along with "Stay Together", reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart, however it outsold the latter making it their biggest selling single ever.
Reviews were generally positive and seemed to respect Suede's new pop sound. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic rated Coming Up 4 out of 5, he welcomed the album's simplicity, however felt that very little progress had been made: "As a statement of purpose, Coming Up is unimpeachable. Though it doesn't break any new ground for the band — unless you count the new-found sense of optimism — it's a remarkable consolidation and crystallization of Suede's talents." James Delingpole of the Daily Telegraph wrote: "Coming Up is their defiant reminder of what made Suede so special... If Dog Man Star was Diamond Dogs, then this is Suede's Ziggy Stardust - extravagant, steeped in glam and unashamedly poppy.
Andy Gill of The Independent, however was a harsh critic of the album. In contrast to their first album, he wrote: "two albums and one guitarist later, they sound utterly mined out," he added: "in many ways, it's a step back from Dog Man Star - and their manner grows increasingly obnoxious". Select magazine rated the album four out of five, calling it: "a wondrous pop album, simultaneously immediate and full of scope, a lovely, charming mix of absolute beauty and the thrillingly awkward.
Despite its success in the U.K. and Europe, Coming Up did not win an audience in America, partially because of its later release in April 1997 and partially because Suede only supported it with a three-city tour. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Coming Up has sold about 40,000 copies in the U.S. as of 2008.
Critical reception, however was very positive stateside. Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle wrote: "Oakes more than fills the boots of his predecessor, and the new CD is a pure pop pleasure, thick and sinewy and terribly, cooly [sic] British." Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club had similar views, saying: "The London Suede should, by all laws of musical logic, have disappeared by now. However, after surviving a name change, the replacement of co-songwriter/guitarist Bernard Butler with an obscure 17-year old, and more than a few changes in musical fashion, the band has returned with a third album that's more consistent and accessible than anything it's produced before." James Hunter of Spin gave the album 8 out of 10. He wrote: "the band pushes its case by ascending to heights of absolutely lucid songcraft that, in this often fuzzy era, feels exhilarating."
Suede embarked on a short tour of the U.S. and Canada in May 1997 to support the album, but fell upon bad fortune when their equipment got stolen after playing a sold out show in Boston, Massachusetts on 17 May.
Two years later, Q readers voted Coming Up the 36th greatest album of all time. A worldwide Virgin poll saw the album voted #195 in the all-time top 1000 albums. In 1999, American music critic Ned Raggett ranked Coming Up as the 42nd greatest album of the 1990s. The following year, Q ranked the album the 96th greatest British album ever.
|1.||"Trash"||Brett Anderson, Richard Oakes||4:06|
|4.||"By the Sea"||Anderson||4:15|
|6.||"Beautiful Ones"||Anderson, Oakes||3:50|
|7.||"Starcrazy"||Anderson, Neil Codling||3:33|
|8.||"Picnic by the Motorway"||Anderson, Oakes||4:45|
|9.||"The Chemistry Between Us"||Anderson, Codling||7:04|
|10.||"Saturday Night"||Anderson, Oakes||4:32|
2011 Remastered and Expanded Version
|Disc One: Demos|
|1.||"She" (Greenhouse Demo)||Anderson, Oakes||2:49|
|2.||"Lazy" (Greenhouse Demo)||Anderson, Oakes||3:15|
|3.||"Dead Leg" (Beautiful Ones)||Anderson, Oakes||3:16|
|4.||"Filmstar" (Church Demo)||Anderson, Oakes||2:38|
|5.||"Pisspot" (Trash)||Anderson, Oakes||5:02|
|6.||"Ballad Idea" (Saturday Night Church Demo)||Anderson, Oakes||3:49|
|7.||"Tiswas" (Starcrazy)||Anderson, Oakes||3:20|
|3.||"Bentswood Boys"||Anderson, Oakes||3:14|
|Disc Two: The B-Sides|
|1.||"Europe Is Our Playground [original version]"||Anderson, Mat Osman||4:39|
|2.||"Have You Ever Been This Low?"||Anderson, Oakes||3:56|
|3.||"Another No One"||Anderson||3:52|
|4.||"Every Monday Morning Comes"||Anderson, Oakes||4:29|
|5.||"Sound of the Streets"||Anderson||5:01|
|6.||"Young Men"||Anderson, Oakes||4:37|
|9.||"This Time"||Anderson, Oakes||5:47|
|11.||"Jumble Sale Mums"||Anderson, Oakes||4:17|
|12.||"These Are The Sad Songs"||Anderson, Oakes||6:22|
|13.||"Feel"||Anderson, Codling, Oakes, Osman, Simon Gilbert||5:05|
|1.||"Motown" (Previously unreleased rehearsal room recording)||Anderson, Codling||4:42|
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