Stay Together (Suede song)
|Single by Suede|
|B-side||"The Living Dead"|
|Released||14 February 1994|
|Suede singles chronology|
"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. It is tied with "Trash" as the highest charting single the band has released, reaching number three on the UK Singles Chart. The song also charted in Ireland, peaking at no. 18. 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. The State-side name change was the result of a successful lawsuit brought by Suzanne deBronkart, who had already been performing and recording in the US under the name Suede.
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 some of 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." 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!."
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." It is known that throughout the decade after its release, the band have largely disowned the song. Anderson considers the single and accompanying video the worst the band has released, stating, "I don't think the fuss about Stay Together was justified, I think that was just hype. [...] I just find it a bit bombastic. I don't think the lyrics are that good either. It's okay." However publicist Phill Savidge 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.
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. 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 are also images of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center in New York.
Release and promotion
Suede first premiered the song at a four-city French tour late 1993. There was a lot of press interviews at the time, with Brett Anderson appearing on the front cover of Vox and Sky magazines. While in Scotland, The List and The Scotsman wrote lengthy features and interviews with the band to promote the band's Edinburgh gig at the Queen's Hall. Suede secured two performances on Top of the Pops. The first in the same program as Elastica, who made their TOTP debut with "Line Up", in which Suede mimed on a stage ringed by flaming torches. The second as a tribute to Derek Jarman, who died 21 February. To promote the single the band embarked on a three-date mini-tour of Worthing, Blackpool and Edinburgh. "Stay Together" was released in the UK 14 February 1994 on double gatefold vinyl, MC and CD. The single was available in four formats: 7" single and cassette single featuring a "Stay Together" radio edit and "The Living Dead"; 12" single featuring the long version of "Stay Together" and both b-sides; and CD single featuring all four versions. The 12" single was issued in a limited edition (10,000) gatefold sleeve featuring a large band photo inside. The April issue of Select gave away a free cassette which included a piano version of "The Living Dead", recorded at Butler's flat on a 4-track. The single was released on Columbia ten weeks later in the US as a six-song EP 26 April 1994. The EP included the b-sides "Dolly" and "High Rising", released as part of previous UK single "So Young". The single charted at number 3 in the UK Singles Chart. This was the band's highest charting single at the time, which was later matched by 1996 single "Trash". Although Anderson is very keen to downplay the success of the single, and considers the song as a rare moment in the band's career where "hype dictated its success." The single did not chart in the US, although it is considered to be the closest the band came to having a hit-single there.
The single received largely positive response upon release and largely positive comments from musical critics. 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." Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times 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." J.D. Considine and Rob Sheffield focused more attention on the b-sides. The former felt "Dolly" was the "obvious rock hit", while he said, "High Rising," "bring[s] out both the power of Brett Anderson's voice and the beauty of Bernard Butler's melodies." The latter elaborated on one of Anderson's lyrics on "The Living Dead", where he sings "I was the wife of an acrobat." Sheffield said: "It's one of the many Suede moments that feels like heaven for cultists, hell for everybody else."
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." NME awarded it Single of the Week, writing: "Luxuriating in the ambitious, dramatic, exhausting spell of this makes everything else sound like so much ephemera. Like most great things it leaves you utterly silent." 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." He added: "It split the critical fraternity in two: some were seduced by the sense that Suede had massively advanced their artistic boundaries; others believed, not entirely unreasonably, that they had teetered into absolute ludicrousness." In 2012, "Stay Together" was placed at number 3 on NME's 100 Best Tracks of the Nineties. In 2015 NME also included the single in their list of 50 must-have EPs, where "Stay Together" was ranked at number 25.
This was the last song ever played at a live gig with Butler, at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, on 12 February 1994. 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. 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. The Tears also performed the song at a gig at the Sheffield Leadmill in April 2005. 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.
7" Vinyl, Cassette
- "Stay Together (edit)"
- "The Living Dead"
- "Stay Together"
- "The Living Dead"
- "My Dark Star"
- "Stay Together (edit)" (3:55)
- "The Living Dead" (2:48)
- "My Dark Star" (4:06)
- "Stay Together" (8:28)
EP (US release as The London Suede)
- "Stay Together (edit)"
- "The Living Dead"
- "My Dark Star"
- "Dolly" (B-side "So Young")
- "High Rising" (B-side "So Young")
- "Stay Together"
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- Barnett 2003, p. 127.
- Barnett 2003, p. 138.
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- Barnett 2003, p. 135.
- Barnett 2003, p. 137.
- Lappin, Tom (11 February 1994). "Suede's Corner". The List. No. 220. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
- Mabbott, Alastair (12 February 1994). "True Suede Views". The Scotsman. p. 24.
- Harris 2004, p. 135.
- Barnett 2003, p. 140.
- Dog Man Star 20th Anniversary box set (Book). London, United Kingdom: Demon Music Group. 2014. p. 14. SUEDEBOX005.
- "The Select Secret Service". Select. No. 46. April 1994. p. 5.
- Harris 2004, p. 168.
- Sheffield, Rob (2004). "London Suede". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 493–94. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Rabid, Jack. "Suede – Stay Together". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Ali, Lorraine (24 April 1994). "In Brief". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 28 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
- Considine, J.D. (6 May 1994). "Bad imitation Rolling Stones are still no worse than the real thing". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018.
- Sullivan, Caroline (11 February 1994). "A bloody racket – Pop/rock". The Guardian. p. A9.
- Harris 2004, p. 134.
- Breihan, Tom (16 May 2012). "NME's 100 Best Tracks of The '90s". Stereogum. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
- Wright, Lisa (18 March 2015). "Small But Perfectly Formed: 50 Must-Have EPs". NME. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
- Barnett 2003, p. 10.
- "Suede Setlist at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, England". Setlist.fm. 27 September 2003.
- "Suede Setlist at Royal Albert Hall, London, England". Setlist.fm. 30 March 2014.
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- "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. 12 March 1994. p. 43. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
- "Charts.nz – Suede – Stay Together". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Suede – Stay Together". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
- "Årslista Singlar – År 1994" (in Swedish). Topplistan. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2019.