CBM reviews

For all your discussions about Brett's solo career.
sunshine
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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 06 Apr 2018, 17:01

Book of the Week: Animal nitrate in mind
Simon Sweetman | Guest writer
Review
Simon Sweetman goes all-out fanboy of a new, tortured memoir by Suede frontman Brett Anderson.
The very best music memoirs ignore the tenets of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Bob Dylan’s Chronicles. They are about the life, the context in and around the music. And they are about the writing.
And so it is with Brett Anderson’s Coal Black Mornings, a “memoir of failure” that helps to position Anderson as the rightful founding father of Britpop, floundering in these pages, rather than succeeding instantly. His anxious dad moving from job to job, passing on a love of art and music through bonkers-but-brilliant vignettes such as the time he refused to swear on the Bible during jury duty, asking instead for a biography of Lizst on which to place his hand; his heart of course was already right there. Elsewhere, arresting images like Anderson’s art-school graduate mother nude sunbathing out the back of the family’s council house evoke the lurid, slightly sleazy lyrics of Suede’s earliest singles.
In just 200 pages Anderson ignores the rift with original Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, bypasses the addiction issues, pays passing lip-service only to the start of the colossal hype and instead tunnels down into the themes that inspired the band’s music, if not the madness.
The best of Suede’s music stands up – and Coal Black Mornings will have you right back on the white-hot edge of Dog Man Star or dancing along the knuckles of that quite phenomenal self-titled debut. The band wouldn’t remain strong or vital forever but the moments when they were are palpable and potent still. And here in the pages of a thoughtful, beautifully written memoir Anderson shows that context is key, that what people derided as posturing was in fact purposeful, informed by an early love of music and by struggle, grit and gumption.
If Anderson is not quite defending pretentiousness he is at least aware of his perceived pomposity. And if you’ve qualified for free school meals and have the olfactory sense of Mum’s cheap hairspray and milky tea then why not hang on to what seems most serious to you? Why be ashamed of what matters most? Suede was described as the most humourless British band since Joy Division; Anderson’s sure that’s a badge of honour. He writes, “Why shouldn’t something as transforming and life-affirming and celestial as music have a heft and a gravity that transcends the trivial and the everyday?”
If you remember the early/mid-90s foppishness of Anderson – and hey, it was the time of the fop after all, from Hugh Grant to Jarvis Cocker, even across the Atlantic to Chandler bloody Bing – he’s here to show the soul beneath it all.
As with Smith’s Just Kids, this is about the lessons from pre-fame daze; about the learning, the yearning, the heartache and breaking that occurs in the making of someone. As with Dylan’s Chronicles this is about pieces of the man that go into the moments within the music – snapshots only though, never the whole journey.
Anderson knows the full fighting glory, the blood and guts story was captured in fairly vivid details in the 2003 band biography, Suede: Love & Poison. And though almost everyone who reads Coal Black Mornings will pine for a second volume – will want his take on what came next – this pre-fame examination exists for more reasons than to simply send one back to the music. It’s been written, first of all, as a way for a father to tell his story to his son, making sense of his life in order for the lineage to mean something. It’s also a deep meditation on what goes into music – these are the notebooks further fleshed out, the inspiration for ‘So Young’ and ‘Animal Nitrate’ is here, as are ‘She’s Not Dead’ and ‘Pantomime Horse’. You start to see these songs, hear them in your head, as the pages turn.
Suddenly we’re at the crucial relationship with Justine Frischmann. She would go on to create Elastica but before that she was a founding member of Suede. And if she wasn’t musically important to that band she was its muse, the early love of Anderson’s life, the motivation for so much of the music, a conduit. She would leave Anderson for Britpop’s other crucial player, Damon Albarn. And though he’s not named directly in the book we feel Albarn’s presence, and we feel Anderson’s rage. He never quite slights Blur though he does refer to so much of what became Britpop as being “a beery cartoon”. He can only mean Blur and Oasis. But we know he mostly means Blur. He does point out that it was he who spotted the graffiti MODERN LIFE IS RUBBISH. That’s as close to mentioning Albarn as he can bring himself.
Vivid descriptions of London in the late 1980s and early 1990s abound, and it’s clear that Anderson’s vision for what became Britpop was more about documenting than lampooning. Britpop eventually became a grotesque, a cartoon version of itself, and Suede wanted no part of that. The grey streets and skies are there in the songs, solemn oaths, broken people rebuilding. It was never about Rule Britannia or Cool Britannia, it was about finding a way through. Surviving.
Suede found their way through by settling into a formula: what might it have sounded like if David Bowie fronted The Smiths? And in doing so they become the next in the ongoing list of Important British Bands.
Coal Black Mornings shows how taglines and marketing schemes are in fact far removed from the dreams of young, hopeful musicians. That trial and error and record collections and an old, cheap crusty turntable (from Boots, of course) are quickly forgotten once hype redefines the aims and intentions, displaces them, replaces them. But it’s the spit and snarl and hopeful hitting out of a young, vital band that is the story we need to remember. Because the rest is not only more recent history, but it’s also the part that is forever replicated. It’s those earliest dreams that continue to inform the very best work of the very best bands.
Without being desperate to state it or make his case for it, Coal Black Mornings is helpful as a reminder of Suede’s importance. Because even if you already thought you knew that, recent music history seems the hardest to keep pinned down. The bands that meant something and moved things in the late 1980s and early 1990s are the ones most easily forgotten. There will always be people quick to remind the next generation that before anyone did anything Elvis did everything. Or that The Beatles were the greatest pop group of all time. (Of all time). But what about the bands that didn’t just aim for beat-combo complacency; the ones that took aspects of what came after Elvis and The Beatles and the other early headline grabbers and then wrestled it into a new shape for new ears. By vice and virtue of too much music, they’re swiftly forgotten.
Put on a Suede record – the 1993 self-titled debut, or 1994’s difficult-classic Dog Man Star or even 1996’s Coming Up (for that matter, 2016’s Night Thoughts is quite possibly the band’s finest effort after Dog Man Star) – and whether for the first or umpteenth time you’ll be transported, taken away to a time and place where the music was “something as transforming and life-affirming and celestial”.
In Coal Black Mornings, Brett Anderson acknowledges that what came first meant the most. Everything that followed was gravy. Everything that was earned came from what was learned in a council flat, with mad and lovely parents. With trial. With error. With heart. With soul.
Coal Black Mornings by Brett Anderson (Hachette, $39.99) is available at Unity Books.
https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/05-04-20 ... sells-meat

sunshine
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Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 06 Apr 2018, 17:01

Friday April 6th 2018
Brett Anderson, interview: ‘I’m not one for salacious gossip’
Nick Duerden
Dressed less for the conditions outside, where it is snowing and freezing, and more for rarefied style, Brett Anderson steps into a central London bookshop looking like the archetypal 1960s British gent. The coat is long, dark and impeccably tailored, the trousers narrow pipe cleaners, the shoes surely Italian leather. All that is missing to complete the picture is an umbrella hooked within the crease of his elbow. No matter, for at 50, he is as elegant as, at 25, he was leery and louche. It is quite the transformation.
Anderson makes for intriguing company. Almost everything he says is delivered with arched eyebrow and slightly patronising stare. The impression he gives of not suffering fools makes me feel the fool with every question I dare put his way. “I’ve never been one for nostalgia. I can only look back over 25 years if I’m looking forward, too”
He is here to talk about his new memoir, Coal Black Mornings, and also the 25th anniversary edition of his band Suede’s eponymous debut album. But, he tells me, “I’ve never been one for nostalgia. I can only look back over 25 years if I’m looking forward, too.”
To this end, he points out that Suede remain very much in the present tense. They reformed in 2010 in some style, and there is convincing argument to suggest that 2013’s Bloodsports is among their strongest work. They will release a new album later this year. Is it any good? His left eyebrow becomes a crescent moon. “I think it is, yes,” he says.
Repairing downstairs, where there is coffee and a heater, Anderson keeps the coat on, but removes his scarf, folding it neatly alongside a pile of his books which, later, he will sign. His fingernails, I notice, are perfectly manicured. Suede in 1993. They are re-releasing their debut album, Suede, on its 25th anniversary.
There are many reasons why Coal Black Mornings proves unexpectedly fascinating. It could have gone one way – the obvious rock memoir – but Anderson has very deliberately steered it quite another, offering a portrait of the artist as a young man.
In the early 1990s, he was a towering figure on the British music scene’s periphery: vigorously anti-establishment, wantonly narcotic, sexually ambiguous and unashamedly ambitious. He was to that era what David Bowie had been to the 1970s. If any singer of his vintage was destined to burn out young in pursuit of immortality, it was him.
But Anderson didn’t die. He merely grew older and more reflective. Written with the benefit of such hindsight, Coal Black Mornings is a pronouncedly gentle book, almost coy, skirting around all the big, eventful stuff of Suede at their combustible peak, and instead pursuing the notes in the margin.
It focuses on his early years in a humdrum commuter town: a tiny council house, oiks for neighbours, parents who were wilfully bohemian and inspired him to spread his wings. When he wasn’t driving a taxi to make ends meet, his melancholic father was expounding on his love of Wagner, Elgar and Liszt; his mother made soup from foraged nettles.
“I couldn’t have slept at night if I had spent those 209 pages simply slagging people off. When you come across books like that, I always feel it betrays a lack of substance”
The memoir, which runs to 209 pages, ends just as Suede are gathering momentum. Consequently, there is no recollection of fame and subsequent infamy, barely any mention of drugs (and there were a lot), and even when he deals with the blistering acrimony between him and former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, and a broken heart dealt to him by ex-girlfriend and Elastica singer Justine Frischmann – who left him for Blur’s Damon Albarn, whom he refuses to name in the book – he does so with timidity, as if afraid of fully reopening old wounds.
There is, he insists, good reason for this. “I had no interest in writing a salacious, gossipy book about the fringes of the music industry, and I couldn’t have slept at night if I had spent those 209 pages simply slagging people off. When you come across books like that – books which, incidentally, I rarely bother to read – I always feel it betrays a lack of substance.”
Another reason is that he wrote it for his young son. Children, he believes, don’t want to read accounts of how messy their parents’ lives were before they came along. “Having a kid drags up all these feelings of being a link in the chain, and I had a desire to do something for him, so that he knew who I was, who I had been. So I had to write it with… care.”
If it is difficult to write about the beginnings of being in a band, for the simple reason that this is a story that has been told 100 times before, Anderson nevertheless does it with a convincing flourish.
The frustrations of living beneath your means make for some of the most powerful sections of the book, and when he finally arrives in London, the sense of what’s about to come is palpable.
It is a shame he didn’t make it a meatier book, and offer up his version of what might well have been the 1990s’ most compelling music story, but it does do what all good rock memoirs do, and prompts the reader to revisit the music.
Suede, the album, released in 1993, rescued the UK from what was then in the grip of Nirvana’s grunge hangover, and unwittingly invented Britpop, its success ushering in an ultimately dispiriting conga line of acts attempting a similar swagger. It felt vital and thrilling, and dangerous in a way that music doesn’t seem to manage any more.
Today, he calls it a “flawed” album, but agrees that it captured the period. “It was a very exciting time to be making music, and to be at the forefront of what was, for a time at least, something that felt important, and new.” “I wanted the book to stand as a testament to youth, but also as a piece of literature. It’s about childhood, and dreams, and what happens to those dreams as you grow up”
Careful not to wax lyrical about a bygone era, he pulls himself up short to remind me that the album’s re-release is the record company’s idea, not his. “I like writing new music, not wallowing in what was.” But, I suggest, isn’t the writing of a memoir to coincide with its reappraisal just that – wallowing – and encouraging the rest of us to do likewise? He allows me the courtesy of one of his concessionary smiles.
“I suppose it is, yes. And I did learn that looking back can be valuable, in all sorts of ways. You can learn from it, grow. I suppose that’s why I wrote the book. I wanted it to stand as a testament to youth, but also as a piece of literature. It’s about childhood, and dreams, and what happens to those dreams as you grow up.”
‘Coal Black Mornings’ is published by Little, Brown (£16.99). ‘Suede’, the album, is out now
https://inews.co.uk/culture/brett-ander ... -25-years/

sunshine
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Joined: 14 Feb 2002, 01:00

Re: CBM reviews

Post by sunshine » 07 Apr 2018, 05:31

Apr 6, 2018 4:37 pm
Suede’s Brett Anderson says he “couldn’t have slept at night” if he had “slagged people off” in new book
By Luke Morgan Britton
'Coal Black Mornings' was published in March
Suede frontman Brett Anderson has explained why there’s no mud-slinging in his memoir.
Anderson’s new autobiography Coal Black Mornings was published in March.
Speaking to the i newspaper, Anderson explained that there’s little of him “slagging people off” in the tome because he wouldn’t have been able to “sleep at night” had he written a “salacious, gossipy book”.
“I had no interest in writing a salacious, gossipy book about the fringes of the music industry, and I couldn’t have slept at night if I had spent those 209 pages simply slagging people off,” Anderson said.
The singer added: “When you come across books like that – books which, incidentally, I rarely bother to read – I always feel it betrays a lack of substance.”
Anderson revealed that his son inspired him to write the book. “Having a kid drags up all these feelings of being a link in the chain, and I had a desire to do something for him, so that he knew who I was, who I had been. So I had to write it with… care.”
The book does, however, see Anderson open up about his past relationship with Elastica‘s Justine Frischmann – and he recently credited their split for the evolution and success of Suede.
“One of my favourite things about Justine is the fact that she’s so interested in everyone,” Anderson told The Guardian. “She’s not aloof in any way. It would be easy for her to be, given what she has and who she is. But when she’s talking to someone, she really cares about what their answer is. She’s fascinated and fascinating. I love that combination. And yes, I’m still very, very fond of her.”
Speaking of their split and Frishmann’s departure from Suede, Anderson said: “In lots of ways, it was a brilliant thing. Without it, I might be sort of working in some planning office in Darlington. But I was very happy, living with Justine. We had a fantastic time together, and young love is amazing. But it’s not conducive to creating interesting, tormented, passionate music, you know? I needed some sort of motor to get myself off my arse and have something to write about. The time between us splitting up and her leaving the band was a really odd, sticky, strange thing. Because she was asking lots of questions about the band, and there was a kind of disunity because of that.”
“She wanted Suede to be a different kind of band. And as soon as she left, it suddenly just… it’s like magnets. It wasn’t the missing piece, it was the removal of the piece. Suddenly we just linked, and all four of us, it became a little bit telepathic.”
http://www.nme.com/news/music/suede-bre ... 4fiCYoB.99

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