Stay Together

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"Stay Together"
Stay together song.jpg
Single by Suede
B-side "The Living Dead"
Released 14 February 1994
Format
Recorded 1993
Genre Britpop
Length
  • 4:19 [Edit]
  • 8:29
  • 7:26 [Remastered Long Version]
Label Nude
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Ed Buller
Suede singles chronology
"So Young"
(1993)
"Stay Together"
(1994)
"We Are the Pigs"
(1994)

"Stay Together" is a non-album single by Suede, released on 14 February 1994 on Nude Records. It is the last single released while guitarist Bernard Butler was in the band, though subsequent singles from Dog Man Star feature his music. Although lead singer Brett Anderson considers the single and the video that accompanies it the worst the band has released.[1] It is tied with "Trash" as the highest charting single the band has released at number three.[2] The song also charted in Ireland, peaking at no. 18.[3] The single was released in the US on 26 April as a six song EP, and was the first release by the band as The London Suede. This followed from the successful lawsuit of Suzanne deBronkart, who had been performing and recording in the US under the name Suede.[4]

Background[edit]

Following the death of Bernard Butler's father, relations within Suede started to deteriorate. Butler kept to himself on the following tour of the US, while the other band members "indulged in probably the worst excesses of their career". Butler travelled to concerts by himself or on The Cranberries tour bus, rather than travel with his bandmates. This influence became prevalent as Butler later stated, "Whatever I did on Stay Together was the A to Z of the emotions I was experiencing... defiance, loss, a final sigh."[5]

What was intended as a couple of days' recording stretched out to two weeks. It was later revealed that the song had almost 50 tracks of recorded material on it. According to an entry in Simon Gilbert's diary in the biography Love and Poison, Butler objected to the lyrics in "Stay Together". The entry read: "Lyrics not to be printed on cover of single in case his mother reads it. '16 tears', obviously paedophilic!".[6] The lyrics for "The Living Dead" were also criticised by Butler, at the time he said: "I've written this really beautiful piece of music and it's a squalid song about junkies".[7]

It is known that throughout the decade after its release, the band have largely disowned the song;[8] perhaps because it reminded them of the problems within the band at the time. On the single Anderson says, "I don't think the fuss about Stay Together was justified, I think that was just hype," He shrugs. "I just find it a bit bombastic. I don't think the lyrics are that good either. It's okay, you know, it's okay. I think the b-sides are much better".[7] However publicist Phill Savage suggests that Anderson "can't believe he wrote it about that girl, Anick" (Brett's girlfriend at the time), which is why he has no feelings for it. Anderson has described "Stay Together" as one of the few points in the band's career where hype dictated its success.[9]

Music video[edit]

The promotional video for the song was filmed at Riverside Studios in London. The band's view of the video, directed by Jon Klein, is that it features too much empty symbolism.[10] They feel that parts featuring Butler hanging upside down, playing his guitar, as well as Anderson gagged, are particularly misplaced considering the song's tone. During the video there are small clips of two jumpers about to fall from the roof of a tall building. There is also images of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center in New York.

Critical reception[edit]

Jack Rabid of AllMusic described the chorus of "Stay Together" as the weakest of their singles up until that point. Though, he went on to say that a "dramatic bridge punctuated by uncharacteristic background touches in the form of horns and cello make 'Stay Together' another fine outing."[11] The Spin Alternative Record Guide gave the single a 7 out of 10 rating, saying that, "the 'Stay Together' EP found the group still inhabiting that beautiful-loser persona with a title track that embraced the romance of joint suicide."[12] Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times gave the song 2.5 out of 4 and felt that the song was a step back from their work on the debut album. She wrote: "On this six-song EP, the former Suede tones down the glammy decadence and dramatics that defined its 1993 debut and comes up far less alluring. The vocals still quaver a la Bowie, but now emit less emotion."[13]

Writing for The Guardian, Caroline Sullivan spoke favourably of Suede's new musical direction, saying that "Suede prematurely reach the eight-minute song stage of their career. But what could have been a pretentious misjudgement turns out to be one of their brightest moves."[14] In the book The Last Party, John Harris wrote: "If its opulent packaging – like a double album, its vinyl version came in a gatefold sleeve – seemed designed to confirm that the group had left their indie peer group behind, the music it contained made the point explicit."[15] In 2012, "Stay Together" was placed at number 3 on NME's 100 Best Tracks of the Nineties.[16] In 2015 NME also included the single in their list of 50 must-have EPs, where "Stay Together" was ranked at number 25.[17]

Live performances[edit]

This was the last song ever played at a live gig with Butler, at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, on 12 February 1994.[18] Although he and Anderson performed the B-sides, "The Living Dead" and "My Dark Star" on MTV's Most Wanted the following month. After its release, "Stay Together" was very rarely played live. It was played as the closing song to the ICA residency in 2003.[19] B-side, "The Living Dead" has become a favourite live song over the years, including an appearance at Suede's Royal Albert Hall reunion gig.[20] The Tears also performed the song at a gig at the Sheffield Leadmill in April 2005.[21] Both b-sides were also played at the Dog Man Star night in March 2014. Suede played the full eight-minute version of "Stay Together" as the final encore of their Teenage Cancer Trust gig at The Royal Albert Hall, Sunday 30 March 2014, backed by a string and brass ensemble.

Track listings[edit]

All songs written by Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler.

7" Vinyl, Cassette[edit]

  1. "Stay Together (edit)"
  2. "The Living Dead"

12" Vinyl[edit]

  1. "Stay Together"
  2. "The Living Dead"
  3. "My Dark Star"

CD[edit]

  1. "Stay Together (edit)" (3:55)
  2. "The Living Dead" (2:48)
  3. "My Dark Star" (4:06)
  4. "Stay Together" (8:28)

EP (US release as The London Suede)[edit]

  1. "Stay Together (edit)"
  2. "The Living Dead"
  3. "My Dark Star"
  4. "Dolly" (B-side "So Young")
  5. "High Rising" (B-side "So Young")
  6. "Stay Together"

Charts[edit]

Chart (1994) Peak
position
Ireland (IRMA)[3] 18
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[2] 3

References[edit]

  1. ^ "60 Seconds: Brett Anderson". Metro. 5 March 2007. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 1994-02-20" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Stay Together". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  4. ^ Rosenblum, Trudi Miller (23 April 1994). "Suede to Change Name for U.S." (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved 18 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Barnett 2003, p. 127.
  6. ^ Barnett 2003, p. 138.
  7. ^ a b Barnett 2003, p. 139.
  8. ^ Murphy, John (20 October 2003). "Suede – Singles". Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Harris 2004, p. 168.
  10. ^ The Essential Suede > Videography on Wayback Machine (archived 5 February 2012).
  11. ^ Rabid, Jack. "Suede – Stay Together". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. p. 380. ISBN 0-679-75574-8. 
  13. ^ Ali, Lorraine (24 April 1994). "In Brief". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 December 2016. 
  14. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (11 February 1994). "A bloody racket – Pop/rock". The Guardian. p. A9. 
  15. ^ Harris 2004, p. 134.
  16. ^ Breihan, Tom (16 May 2012). "NME's 100 Best Tracks of The '90s". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  17. ^ Wright, Lisa (18 March 2015). "Small But Perfectly Formed: 50 Must-Have EPs". NME. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  18. ^ Barnett 2003, p. 10.
  19. ^ "Suede Setlist at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England". Setlist.fm. 27 September 2003. 
  20. ^ "Suede Setlist at Royal Albert Hall, London, England". Setlist.fm. 30 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Treat For Suede Heads!". NME. 20 April 2005. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]