Tag Archives: Britpop

Noising Machine Singles Club: 10

33637

SUEDE

“WE ARE THE PIGS”

b/w “Killing Of A Flashboy”/”Whipsnade”

Released 9/12/94

(Anderson/Butler)

“We Are The Pigs” was the first single from Suede‘s second album, 1994’s Dog Man Star.  Prior to the release of “Pigs”, the band’s guitarist and co-songwriter Bernard Butler departed due to various inter-band tensions, leaving the remaining three members (vocalist and other co-writer Brett Anderson, bassist Mat Osman and drummer Simon Gilbert) to finish the record and to find a replacement. By the time promotional duties for DMS commenced Suede had found their new axe-man through a demo tape submitted to them through an ad placed in the New Musical Express. Richard Oakes could peel off Butler’s glammest riffs or deftly play his predecessor’s most delicately finger-picked melodies, and could do so at the ripe old age of 17, which was how old he was when offered the spot in Suede. Pretty crazy.

Oakes’ first duty upon joining the band was to appear in the promotional video for “We Are The Pigs”, miming along to Bernard Butler’s playing. The video does an excellent job of dramatizing Anderson’s description of paranoid urban wasteland set to Butler’s ominous yet rollicking musical bed. As you can perhaps ascertain from the lyrics…

Well the church bells are calling
Police cars on fire
And as they call you to the eye of the storm
All the people say “Stay at home tonight”
I say we are the pigs we are the swine
We are the stars of the firing line

And as the smack cracks at your window
You wake up with a gun in your mouth
Oh let the nuclear wind blow away my sins
And I’ll stay at home in my house

I say we are the pigs
we are the swine
we are the stars of the firing line

But deceit can’t save you so

We will watch them burn

“We Are The Pigs” was a single unlikely to have much chart success. But as a statement of intent, and as a taster of the dark, foreboding Dog Man Star, it worked brilliantly. To hear a group of children happily chanting “We’ll all watch them burn” over the sound of a crackling fire in what turned out to be a top 20 single is a wonderfully subversive moment, and it helped align Suede with the darker undercurrent than much of what Britain was listening to in the fall of 1994. It makes perfect sense that the band would tour Europe that year alongside Manic Street Preachers, who had just released their own pitch-black opus in the form of The Holy Bible. The next albums by both bands would find surprising mainstream favor, but at the time they were exiles from the land of Britpop.

Richard Oakes would remain with Suede until their breakup in 2003; Anderson and Butler briefly reunited as The Tears and released one album entitled Here Come The Tears in 2005. More on those later…

The great video:

…a live performance from ’95:

…and a video for one of the single’s great b-sides, “Killing Of A Flash Boy”:

Singles Club: 3

blur_-_tender

BLUR

“TENDER”

b/w “ALL WE WANT”/”MELLOW JAM”/FRENCH SONG”

(Albarn/Coxon/James/Rowntree)

Released 2/14/99

UK: 2

The first single from their 1999 album 13, “Tender” found Blur exploring a music direction more in keeping with the song’s eponymous emotion than much of their previous work. The band’s prior album, 1997’s Blur, saw the band move away from their signature “britpop” sound in favor of a looser, messier approach (this is the album “Song 2” was on). 13 saw them go even farther into weird prog-art-rock territory, with the help of producer William Orbit (who worked on Madonna’s Ray Of Light album, among others). “Tender” gives little indication for what its parent album sounds like, however, as it is a gospel song that leisurely unfolds over the course of seven-and-a-half serene minutes.

Inspired, as much of the 13 album was, by the dissolution of main songwriter Damon Albarn‘s almost decade-long relationship with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann, “Tender” is a hymn of redemption and endurance. This theme is brought to bear simply but effectively by  the chorus’s plea t0 “get through it”, a sentiment made stronger by the gospel choir that accompanies Damon on this little piece of self-advice. Another love touch is the post-chorus contribution by guitarist Graham Coxon. who plantitively sings “Oh my baby/oh my baby/Oh why?/Oh my”. It might not look like much on paper (sic), but it’s very moving in song. Their are no great shifts in the arrangement of “Tender”, just the steady “Give Peace A Chance” percussion and Coxon’s unusually bluesy (for him) guitar figures, but its simplicity, in both musical and lyrical content, is what makes the song so direct, and so great.

It was kept off the top of the UK chart by “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears.

I remember very vividly getting these singles imported when they came out, through sirendisc.com. I was working at the Fleur 4 theatres the day I got them (with my friend Ryan Ingram?), and I couldn’t wait to go home and listen to the b-sides. That was TEN YEARS AGO. Jesus, I feel old. Anyway, it’s a great song, enjoy.

The video, featuring a live performance of the song instead of more typical lipsynched rendition:

Live on Letterman, circa ’99:

And audio of the “Tender” single’s best b-side, “All We Want”:

G.