|Compilation album by Suede|
|Released||6 October 1997|
|Recorded||1992 to 1996|
Sci-Fi Lullabies is a two-disc compilation album by English alternative rock band Suede, consisting of B-sides from the singles that were released from the group's first three albums. It reached no. 9 on the UK Albums Chart, and received universal acclaim on release. In subsequent years, the record has been hailed as one of the finest B-side compilations in popular music.
The album spans two discs and displays the band in its most prolific era. The first disc is dominated by tracks written by the Brett Anderson/Bernard Butler songwriting partnership (the exceptions are "Together," "Bentswood Boys" and "Europe is Our Playground") while the second showcases the various intra-band songwriting variations (Anderson/Richard Oakes and Anderson/Neil Codling, plus Anderson solo and compositions contributed to by the whole band) that emerged following Butler's departure and the subsequent recruiting of a new guitarist, Richard Oakes and keyboardist Neil Codling.
The album is not quite comprehensive, missing out around half a dozen exclusive songs released as B-sides by the band during the period it covers. Missing Anderson/Butler B-sides are "Painted People" (from "Animal Nitrate"), "Dolly" (from "So Young") and "This World Needs a Father" (from "The Wild Ones" Disc 1), which was the last B-side of the Butler era. Omitted Anderson solo compositions include "Asda Town" (from "The Wild Ones" Disc 2) and "Sam" (from "Beautiful Ones"). Codling's "Digging a Hole" and the band's group effort "Feel", (both from "Lazy"), were omitted from the collection. Live performances released as B-sides (on "New Generation" Disc 2 and "Filmstar" Disc 2) are also not included, neither is Suede's cover of the Pet Shop Boys' "Rent". The track "Eno's Introducing The Band" (from "The Wild Ones" Disc 2) is also not included.
Bassist Mat Osman outlined the band's reasons for the release of the collection, saying: "We had the tracks, we liked them and wanted people to hear them... We were going to release them before our last album (Coming Up in April), but that would have been backwards. Also, a load of bootlegs have begun appearing in Europe, and they cost a sum of money. These are songs we want people to hear. This tends to tie up all the loose ends."
The album is considered an important one for fans of the band, partially because of the wealth of material and partially as many of the songs on the compilation are considered to be as strong as or even stronger than the singles from which they came. In Hindsight, in a 2016 interview with Canadian magazine Vice, Anderson revealed some regrets over the content of the collection, which he felt could have been better and possibly his favourite of all Suede albums.
The album was released to universal acclaim in the UK and US. Some of the strongest praise came from the US music press. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic awarded it 4.5 stars out of 5 and noted that CD1 "is as strong as any of their albums," and that several tracks are "strong enough to be A-sides." Overall he said, "this is absolutely essential material, confirming the group's status as one of the '90s' greatest bands." Tom Lanham of Entertainment Weekly gave the album A status, writing that Anderson is a "tireless diarist, judging from this anthology of 27 U.K.-single B sides, each one—like the grim concert staple 'Killing of a Flash Boy'—as fey, somber, and solid as any album track." David Daley of the Hartford Courant felt the album was akin to a "best of" release, writing: "Far from an assortment of throwaways that didn't make the albums, this essential double-disc, 27-song set contains some of Suede's strongest material... the perfect antidote to Oasis' cartoonish 'Best Band' claims."
Ed Masley of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette rated the collection four stars out of four. Likewise, he also compared Suede to Oasis and admitted that Suede would always be the underdog to their Britpop rivals. However, he said that the songs on Sci-Fi Lullabies "could outshine most of their better-known UK rivals' finest gems." Kurt B. Reighley of CMJ New Music Monthly found the compilation to be overlong and, in contrast to other writers, pointed to the second disc as the strongest. He conceded, however, that "there's nary a track among these 27 that wouldn't have made a worthwhile album cut, and a few that merit A-side status."
The collection was widely praised by several notable music critics of the UK press. Mark Beaumont of NME said that while the second disc resembles a typical B-sides album, the first "stakes a formidable claim as the fourth Suede album in its own right" and is arguably superior to three acclaimed studio albums of the period: Radiohead's OK Computer, Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, and Suede's own Coming Up. John Harris of Select said the album plays like "a retelling of the entire Suede movie script" and is "truly as good as most Greatest Hits albums." Writing for Vox, Simon Price felt that Anderson wrote some of his funniest lyrics on CD2, on the tracks "Young Men" and "Jumble Sale Mums". Aside from "Duchess", which he called "lazy rubbish," he had strong praise for both discs. Adrian Thrills of the Daily Mail described the record as "patchy in places", but with "plenty of high points, the most notable being the rollicking raunch of the early 'My Insatiable One' and the melancholic 'My Dark Star'."
The album continued Suede's run of consecutive top ten albums, peaking at no. 9 in October 1997. Despite never placing on any of Billboard's charts, Sci-Fi Lullabies had sold 19,000 units in the US by 2008, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club and Scott Plagenhoef of Stylus Magazine spoke of the effort invested in Suede's B-sides, with the band discarding "failed" ideas or experiments in favour of high quality tracks. Plagenhoef asserted: "Those early B-sides—collected on disc one of Sci-Fi Lullabies remain Suede's strongest collection of songs." Drowned in Sound writer Gareth Dobson recommended the "unimpeachable" Sci-Fi Lullabies along with the band's first two studio albums. The album has been named as one of the finest in the B-side/rarity genre. Independent critic Simon Price hailed it as "the greatest B-sides album ever made." Kevin Courtney of the Irish Times expressed similar views of the album's quality, while admitting that only The Smiths' Hatful Of Hollow could supersede it.
The A.V. Club included the compilation in its list of 35 essential B-side/rarity/outtakes collections. The article described Sci-Fi Lullabies as being "as good as any of Suede's proper albums", and noted that the band's "pre-burnout legacy remains remarkably strong, and decidedly incomplete without such flipside classics as 'My Insatiable One' and 'The Living Dead'." NME featured the compilation in their list of "30 Killer B-Side And Rarities Albums You Might've Missed", noting that Suede's B-sides "were as exciting as anything Britpop could muster." The record was also included in a 2013 NME poll of the 500 greatest albums of all time, where it placed at number 448. On the general quality of Suede's B-sides, the Spin Alternative Record Guide wrote: "Like the Smiths, Suede littered many of its best songs on its B-sides, a case in point being the fine 'My Insatiable One'." A song covered by former Smiths singer Morrissey during his 1992 solo world tour.
The Suede B-sides have been an integral part of Suede's live shows as well as Anderson's solo performances. Favourites from disc one include "The Living Dead" and "Killing of a Flash Boy", which were performed at Suede's March 2010 reunion shows in London. Anderson and Butler made their last TV appearance on MTV's Most Wanted in March 1994, where they performed the popular "Stay Together" B-sides "The Living Dead" and "My Dark Star". In April 1997, Suede played an entire set of B-sides at a fanclub gig at the Kentish Town Forum.
Title and artwork
The title of the album was a phrase considered as a title for the band's second album, Dog Man Star, and is a phrase used in the lyrics of the song "Introducing the Band" from that album. The collection is accompanied by a 32-page, full-color lyric booklet designed by Peter Saville. The front cover, whose artistic similarities to J. G. Ballard were noted by Stephen Dowling of the BBC, features a destroyed English Electric Lightning aircraft abandoned and used for target practice at the Otterburn Training Area in Northumberland. It was taken by North East photographer John Kippin.
|1.||"My Insatiable One"||Brett Anderson, Bernard Butler||2:57|
|2.||"To the Birds"||Anderson, Butler||5:24|
|3.||"Where the Pigs Don't Fly"||Anderson, Butler||5:33|
|4.||"He's Dead"||Anderson, Butler||5:13|
|5.||"The Big Time"||Anderson, Butler||4:28|
|6.||"High Rising"||Anderson, Butler||5:49|
|7.||"The Living Dead"||Anderson, Butler||2:48|
|8.||"My Dark Star"||Anderson, Butler||4:26|
|9.||"Killing of a Flash Boy"||Anderson, Butler||4:07|
|11.||"Modern Boys"||Anderson, Butler||4:07|
|12.||"Together"||Anderson, Richard Oakes||4:29|
|13.||"Bentswood Boys"||Anderson, Oakes||3:15|
|14.||"Europe Is Our Playground" (New version)||Anderson, Mat Osman||5:39|
|1.||"Every Monday Morning Comes"||Anderson, Oakes||4:28|
|2.||"Have You Ever Been This Low?"||Anderson, Oakes||3:52|
|3.||"Another No One"||Anderson||3:56|
|4.||"Young Men"||Anderson, Oakes||4:35|
|5.||"The Sound of the Streets"||Anderson||4:59|
|7.||"W.S.D." (full version)||Anderson||5:46|
|8.||"This Time"||Anderson, Oakes||5:46|
|9.||"Jumble Sale Mums"||Anderson, Oakes||4:15|
|10.||"These Are the Sad Songs"||Anderson, Oakes||6:20|
|13.||"Duchess"||Anderson, Neil Codling||3:55|
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