Recently got around to picking up the Coming Up & Head Music deluxe reissues and I haven’t listened to anything else for a couple of weeks now. Obviously I’ve owned the original albums for over a decade but I wanted to hear a remastered Coming Up since the original started sounding dated almost immediately. Verdict: a slight improvement, but there’s still hardly any low end. Head Music has aged extremely well and still sounds great and modern so the impetus for getting that one was for the b-sides.
In the liner notes Brett writes a few reflective paragraphs about what was going on with the band during recording and gives a little insight on how it all came together but it’s not super revelatory. The best part is when he provides a “if I could do it all over again” re-envisioned track listing. For Head Music, and I’m paraphrasing here, he says “Fuckin’ A I was off the rails while we were making this thing. Holy shit what’s going on with “Head Music” and “Elephant Man”, right guys? How much crack was I smoking? Oh yeah, a fuck ton! No but seriously I was doing a lot of crack. Anyway, I’d definitely axe those two because listening to them now I feel a deep sense of shame.”
Almost all the b-sides to Coming Up were on Sci Fi Lullabies, but I’d never heard the Head Music-era b-sides so that was a treat. Even though they were a lesser band at that point (too much of the wrong kind of drugs!) and Brett had, lyrically at least, practically become a parody of himself, the b-sides were actually surprisingly decent.
But I can’t overstate how bad some of Brett’s lyrics are; just totally bereft of ideas. Besides every other song starting with “She…..” and the comically simple rhyming schemes, he actually sings “We’re the litter on the breeze” AGAIN on “Jubilee”. I mean, they wrote tracks called “Crackhead” and “Heroin” and “Music Like Sex” (!!!) because of course they did!
It’s also weird to think about how Brett was a year younger than I am now when that record came out.
I will say that “Leaving” and “Let Go” are really really great (and if I’m being honest “Music Like Sex” is an earworm even though it’s a dumb song) and the thing I realized after listening to so much Suede is that even a terrible Suede song is still pretty great, so I’m hopeful their new album is going to be good. I mean, I even really liked A New Morning so I think I’ll like it just fine.