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DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: 88skido
Date: May 20, 2011 04:24PM
Introducing the Band - this was was my attempt at emulating a Buddhist chant which i'd first encountered in a temple in Kyoto during an early Japanese Suede tour. I suppose there was also a kind of Orwellian tone here , as there was on much of the album. 1984 is one of my favourite books ever and i often mull over the phrase ' if you want a vision of the future imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever' . I suppose there was something in the crushing, metallic drone of the music which reminded me of this phrase and inspired me to write a kind of fantasy piece about the unstoppable almost military force that a powerful band can become. The reference to Winterland is of course a reference to the last gig played by the Sex Pistols in San Francisco . There's was also a nod to Lewis Carroll in the phrase ' stabbed a cerebellum with a curious quill' , i suppose it parodied Carroll's neo- scientific Victoriana . I was re -reading the Alice books at the time and also reading a lot of biographies about Carroll himself so this inevitably bled through into my writing.

We Are the Pigs - the soundtrack to a riot, a paean to chaos and insurrection again with a strongly Orwellian tone. it's interesting that you can look at what you wrote years ago and realise what you didn't at the time. I suppose this was my comment on an age of excess; a portent of doom; the guilty realisation that this grotesque house of cards that we had built around ourselves could at any point come tumbling down and that the only way to deal with that was to embrace and celebrate it's destruction and to dance around the bonfire . I'd always been fascinated by animal imagery, the whole man-as-animal animagus thing. there was a bit of Lord of the Flies in there as well with the innocent but chilling children's voices chanting at the end . i suppose my vision was of some sort of post- apocalyptic landscape where society has crumbled and man is reduced to his primal childlike, animalistic form picking at the rubble . This was one of the earliest songs we came up with and was always for me a very strong statement of intent which somehow set the scene for the whole album. the title was inspired by an old schoolboy band of mine called The Pigs.

Heroine - I loved this from the moment i first heard Bernard's demo. the guitar part is so beautiful and dark and winding and immediately suggested to me a bleakly sexual lyric. the song is about loneliness and pornography and i suppose is the first song on the album that introduces the themes of isolation continued in 2 of Us , Sill Life etc. i'm casting myself as an 18 year old hormonal teenager , trapped within his drab slum and within the imprisoning power of the female form , unable to break away from this fantasy and form actual relationships. of course i was aware of the Heroin/Heroine thing but have always loved playing with homophones. the opening line is from the Lord Byron poem 'She Walks in Beauty' . the 'Marylyn ' reference was never actually meant literally to Monroe but more as a kind of Venus/ Aphrodite reference .

The Wild Ones- as well as my favourite single song also my favourite bass part on the album. i was listening to a lot of very 'singerly' singers ; Scott Walker, Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Jaques Brel, people with the emotional and musical range to transform a song into a drama. this is what i wanted for the Wild Ones, for it to be a timeless slice of melodic beauty that people got married to and shared there first kisses to. something that embedded it self deep within the sound scape of their lives. it's unashamedly mainstream but hopefully with a depth that belies this simple ambition. it's still my favourite single moment in Suede's history and when interviewers ask me of what i am most proud i always mention this song. The main refrain was inspired by Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas. I remember Bernard first playing this in a soundcheck in America in 1993. he'd often work stuff out just with him and Simon, i suppose to get a sense of how the song would sound loud and live but without it being completed by bass and vocals and therefore still in a fluid , sketch like state.

Daddy's Speeding - A strange story of a dream/fantasy about James Dean' s death. i was immersing myself in overtly cliched Hollywood iconography at the time. i guess it was an extension of the isolation/ pornography themes where i saw people forming relationships with fantasy figures rather than real people; our new communities were soap operas, our new friends were characters in American sit-coms. I wanted to give the vocal a Lennonesque quality, that magical dreamlike way he sang songs like Day in the Life and Across the Universe which i thought would complement the phased , otherworldly tone of the music. there were sections that were directly inspired by How Do You Think It Feels on Lou Reed's Berlin album.

The Power - the last song written for the album and the only song recorded without Bernard. i think you can hear this in the lightness, it doesn't really have Bernard's depth of touch but i remember me , Mat and Simon recording it together at Master rock and it being a fun experience. i suppose there's a nod to Quicksand here if i'm honest and the whole thing emulates that acoustic Hunky Dory feel . i'm sure it would have sounded different if Bernard had been involved beyond the writing phase. It's a simple message of empowerment. i suppose i was feeling proud that i'd dragged myself from a council estate in Hayward's Heath to a position of being one of the most talked about musician's in 90's Britain and that this ( and also the album title's message )was somehow influenced by that trajectory . i know that sound's vain but i think the thrust behind the song was less smug and less self congratulatory . it was meant a kind of anthem to meritocracy ; a belief, rooted in left wing politics , that anyone, despite class and upbringing has the ability and the right to achieve.

New Generation - one of the best vocals on the album. this is an incredibly hard song to sing, it requires a lot of vocal stamina, power and range and i don't think i would have even bothered attempting something like this on the debut album. live it always sounds a bit ragged vocally but here the take really hits the mark.
Lyrically it's quite anodyne to be honest. the best line is ' we take the pills to find each other' , a neat little sound bite that summed up my search for belonging through narcotics.
structurally it's interesting in that we had started to successfully incorporate bridge parts in our songs.

This Hollywood Life - my favourite guitar riff on the album; primal , sexual, urgent, it immediately suggested to me a squalid tale of envy and ambition set within the grubby world of the casting couch. I suppose it parallels anyone's rise up the ladder and was an allegory about my experiences in the seedier side of the music business where everyone has to debase themselves to greater or lesser extents in order to succeed.that's just the universal law and you can see it played out every time a band plays a humiliating gig in the back room of a pub to three people, something of which Suede had great experience in the early days. the slurred saxophone at the start was my idea ( as were the chanting kids in WATP) and added at the mastering stage after Bernard's departure. it was intended to convey a distorted journey from bright eyed Hollywood ambition to sleazy compromise. the working title of the song was Trashy which easily could have been the finished title. in fact , maybe it should have been.

2 of Us- a description of the isolation that comes with success but told against the back drop of the world of high-finance , the characters making millions but unable to negotiate basic human emotional relationships; 'alone but loaded' . i suppose, again it was a kind of allegory for my own condition where i would find myself adored on stage but then completely unable to connect and communicate when i stepped into real life . a self imposed isolation followed which built the foundations for many of the themes on the record. ' the snow might fall and write the line on the silent page' is my favourite single line on Dogmanstar. I remember hearing Bernard play the song in Master Rock and being utterly, utterly moved by the consuming beauty and sadness of his performance. to this day one of my most powerful and moving memories of him as a musician.

Black or Blue- A simple autobiographical tale of a failed relationship set against a sub-text of racial tension . a kind of tragic, doomed Romeo and Juliet story. I was the boy from the coast who loved the sound of the underground .
I remember Bernard going to a different studio and playing his parts to this song after he'd actually split from the band as a fulfilment of contractual obligations.

Asphalt World - this was the centrepiece of Dogmanstar; a song that captured the beauty of deviancy in a way that i'd always knew we could . it's elegant , epic and sexual and as we discussed is virtually a page torn directly from my diary of the time. 'she's got a friend, they share mascara i pretend' is for me the key line in the song. i love the way you have to wait for the second verse to get this and all of a sudden when it's delivered the, listener understands what the song is about. the themes of sexual jealousy and arousal never become too overt as to be salacious but sit stealthily within the song's epic frame, commanding the listener's complete attention.
I suppose the music has an almost Pink Floyd like quality in places, the sense of a musical and textural journey . i'd always loved stuff like Saucerful of secrets and The Dark Side of the Moon so i loved the musical parallels i saw in this,but i was just never going to write a lyric like Roger Waters . Yes, the vocal performance was recorded the day i read Bernard's interview in Vox . one of the amazing things about being a song writer is that you can literally achieve alchemy. i took all of the pain i was feeling at that moment and channelled it into my delivery. Whenever i sing the song now i'm always, always utterly, utterly engaged with it and in the moment. i still find it so emotionally consuming.

Still Life - The housewives of Sleeping Pills return to the stage extending the themes of isolation that i had been weaving through the album since We Are The Pigs ( and for that matter weaving through Suede songs since He's Dead) . This song was written very early on and almost made it onto the debut album... but we were just never quite sure how to arrange it. It's a simple story of someone waiting in vain for their lover to come home, sat by the window wondering who the approaching set of head lights belongs to. I suppose i cast myself as the housewife in this song and remember accessing a lot of latent pain in order to summon up the bleak imagery.
There's a definite Scott Walker influence here and i was definitely trying to stretch myself as a vocalist , the move up an octave during the third verse being a testament to that. Looking back i think we possibly went too far and the song would have been more powerful without the OTT coda but i suppose it was conceived very much with the album's journey in mind and as such provided an eloquent end point.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: Jackie
Date: May 20, 2011 04:31PM
wow!! I'll fetch my cassette and put it in my walkman - :)
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: sextius
Date: May 20, 2011 04:44PM
Yes, wow! Thank you for posting this:)
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 20, 2011 04:53PM
WOW!

What a great pre-gig treat!



she will come from Argentina With her cemetery eyes
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: awesome bunny
Date: May 20, 2011 05:24PM
Bruno will get a STIFFY.



Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: skylineswine
Date: May 20, 2011 05:32PM
Thank you for this! Really interesting.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: Jackie
Date: May 20, 2011 05:56PM
it's great listening to the album and reading the explanations to the songs. It's like discovering it from a new angle. It's OK imagining stories around songs that one listens to, but getting the perspective from the people who wrote those is even better.

Even without the explanations, it's a very listenable album. The vocals are fantastic and unique, and this is probably one of the aspects why I like all the other albums with Brett singing. I let my impressions sink in, and then I resume listening to the second side of my sleeveless cassette. Lost that sleeve many years ago, and that is why I had this album earmarked to buy as a re-issue. The explanations sold the album to me in 2011.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: grapevine
Date: May 20, 2011 06:14PM
No way is Still Life overproduced! It makes it!
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: Joe Col
Date: May 20, 2011 07:26PM
This is great. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
Would be nice to have something like this for the other albums, as well, if your time allows.



Joe Col: Respected Member of the Suede Forum since 1958.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: Stevenc1970
Date: May 20, 2011 08:19PM
So is this suggesting BRETT himself played lead guitar parts on "THE POWER"? Bernard once said "That was one song where I wrote the riff and music and left my demo tape behind. Someone valiantly copied the guitar parts for the recording itself."


It seemed like not even he knew he ended up playing guitar... Can anyone confirm? Also, glad to see they're citing "Hunky Dory". One of the best albums of all time and I can totally hear Brett in Bowie's "Bewlay Brothers"... like, "My Insatiable One" perhaps.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: dog food
Date: May 20, 2011 09:08PM
Brilliant, thanks.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: Geceyildiz
Date: May 20, 2011 11:01PM
This was incredibly cool; as an artsy person I love hearing how other people are influenced and how they develop their work, and I'm glad Brett's the type of person willing to share such details about this really incredible album.

And, interesting, too, many of my favorite artists like Brel's work (Bowie's cover of "My Death" is mesmerizing, in case anyone's a fan).

Thank you so much for this!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I want to be a permanent thorn in people's flesh. Or a rose behind their ear." - BA
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: discobunny
Date: May 20, 2011 11:15PM
Listening to Dogmanstar now at almost full blast. Wishing I was at the gig in Londontown. Such a great album. Its not just an album of the 90s but an album of my life. Will love every track forever. xxxx
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: thinwhitejake
Date: May 21, 2011 12:03AM
Nice to see Brett has found his um, "swagger" again.

Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: sextius
Date: May 21, 2011 12:03AM
I have to say again how much I enjoyed reading this. Usually I listen to the music I love very intuitively and very much with, however cheesy it may sound, my heart and guts. I avoid reading about how the lyrics or melodies came about cause that can sometimes take away the magic.
But with an album like DMS that will never happen, so having the opportunity to take a peak behind the curtain of my own interpretations of the lyrics and my own emotions that are attached to every song is absolutely brilliant.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 21, 2011 12:37AM
Brett, you should write a book with a text for all Suede songs :)

[www.facebook.com]
[strange-sound.blogspot.com]
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 21, 2011 12:39AM
Fascinating stuff...
I'm probably alone in this but I always 'read' the line:
"Alone But Loaded"
as - 'alone and pissed' (that's HEAVILY DRUNK, not irritated, American friends).
It seemed to make sense; after all, how many of us have sought solace from loneliness and frustration via the bottle?
One element of Brett's explication / explanation of these tracks which stood out for me as remarkable for its absence was the influence of HIGHGATE.
That might sound odd for non-Londoners, but people should understand and appreciate that Highgate has a very particular (nay unique) almost 'otherworldly' atmosphere. Clearly it's well within London's boundaries, but it's also slightly at a remove from the cut and thrust of city life. It's steeped in Romanticism, with its links to poets (including Keats) - and outlaws (including Dick Turpin). There's a phenomenon commonly known as 'PsychoGeography' which implies that certain places excite and exacerbate psychological tendencies in vulnerable people. Highgate, with its famous Cemetary (Karl Marx's resting place AND reputedly home to a notorious 'vampire') almost certainly excited the young Brett's imagination. After all - his ruminations during a lunch break, a quarter of an hour's walk away (i.e in the very pretty Waterlow Park) resulted in 'Sleeping Pills', one of the greatest Suede songs.
Andy
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: alan
Date: May 21, 2011 03:22AM
bloody fantastic run down of the songs by the key protagonist.

"i was just never going to write a lyric like Roger Waters"

can i argue brett did a lot better than roger waters? roger wrote caustic lyrics and alienated his colleagues through being a fuckwit. brett only wrote blindingly brilliant lyrics like the big time and alienated his colleagues by taking too many drugs.

i know who i'd want at my dinner party.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: BowieBoy
Date: May 21, 2011 08:52AM
awesome bunny Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Bruno will get a STIFFY.

Double that! :)

It was better than reading an erotic story!
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 21, 2011 02:27PM
alan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
"
>
> can i argue brett did a lot better than roger
> waters? roger wrote caustic lyrics and alienated
> his colleagues through being a fuckwit. brett only
> wrote blindingly brilliant lyrics like the big
> time and alienated his colleagues by taking too
> many drugs.
>
> i know who i'd want at my dinner party.

Agreed!



she will come from Argentina With her cemetery eyes
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: ladyinred
Date: May 21, 2011 04:49PM
What an amazing album!!what an amazing gig yesterday.
Those songs shaped my life and will be part of myself forever.
Thanks Brett.
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: neonbed
Date: May 21, 2011 06:56PM
Miguel, The Wild One Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Brett, you should write a book with a text for all
> Suede songs :)


Agreed!
That piece... and what Brett said about writing a small essay on Bernard... seems like he's very retrospective now, and enjoying it.

It's time to write your memoirs, Brett !
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: 2-J
Date: May 21, 2011 07:19PM
Brett is one of the few artists (or at any rate, the few pop musicians..) who is as articulate about his art as the most informed critic. Good read!

Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 21, 2011 07:49PM
there's eloquence in passion... very nice and boner-worthy!



"Saddam Hussein ☑ Osama Bin Laden ☑ Col Gaddafi ☑ Mattias Brundin ☐"
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: Geceyildiz
Date: May 21, 2011 09:35PM
alan Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> can i argue brett did a lot better than roger
> waters? roger wrote caustic lyrics and alienated
> his colleagues through being a fuckwit. brett only
> wrote blindingly brilliant lyrics like the big
> time and alienated his colleagues by taking too
> many drugs.


Well you can argue that if you want... ;}

"Caustic" lyrics like these?:

and if I show you my dark side
will you still hold me tonight
and if I open my heart to you
and show you my weak side
what would you do


- From "The Final Cut"


Not to make this a thread about who's more brilliant a writer; I think both have written amazing lyrics. I would just point out that Floyd is more than just 'Another Brick Part 2,' is all...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I want to be a permanent thorn in people's flesh. Or a rose behind their ear." - BA
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 21, 2011 09:41PM
they are both good, but nowhere close the late genius of russel jones ;)



"Saddam Hussein ☑ Osama Bin Laden ☑ Col Gaddafi ☑ Mattias Brundin ☐"
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 21, 2011 10:25PM
Anyone else tempted but stopping themselves reading this?
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: translucent
Date: May 22, 2011 03:50AM
no, why? i thought it very cool of him to post it as i was very interested
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Date: May 22, 2011 07:58AM
So much more in this than the review of each song in NME 3/09/94.
Felt like Brett was pouring out his soul and very nice compliments to Bernard as well.
With so many collective thoughts, what brilliant books Brett could write. ( And not about the Band or the music industry).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


*Give me the power and I'll make them bleed*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Re: DOG MAN STAR - TRACK BY TRACK BY BRETT
Posted by: aarondent
Date: May 22, 2011 08:17PM
Yes, this reminded me of the Dog Man Star ''flexi disc'' (what the chuff were they all about?) that came free with the NME just before the album came out and Brett briefly talked about some of the songs in between snippets of the album ( the days before ITUNES/AMAZON 30 second ''previews'' eh?).

This reads like it was written for a larger audience than us lot and having bought this month's Mojo magazine and read the making of DMS article on the flight back from London this morning, the blurb mentions that there is a track by track description of the album on their website. I can't see it anywhere so I presume this is it.

Anyway, fascinating reading although maybe there is something to be said for the artist holding back on the meanings of their songs (though I'd still read it anyway!). And considering his state of mind when the album was written in the latter half of '93, I wonder is there a touch of revisionism in some of his statements. The Wild Ones I've no doubt does soundtrack first dances at weddings etc. but I'd be a little surprised if that's what one of its original intentions was.
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