. . .
Suede was formed by guitarist Justine Frischmann, her singer boyfriend Brett Anderson and bassist Mat Osman back in 1989, but it took awhile for them to release their first album. In in that time, a lot of things happened. First, they they recruited Bernard Butler, who not only was a hotshot lead guitarist, he also had the most Britpop name ever. Secondly, Anderson & Frischmann broke up, and she was eventually booted from the band for preferring to hang with her new boyfriend, Blur’s Damon Albarn.
That turned out to be the best for all involved: Frischmann formed Elastica and wrote songs like “Connection” and “Stutter,” and Anderson and Butler got down to business of writing their big glammy songs that made the British press go absolutely apeshit.
One of those songs was their second single “Metal Mickey,” which I of course didn’t hear until their debut album was released here in the U.S. By which time, the hype was utterly deafening, even all the way across the Atlantic and the U.S., as Suede were supposed to be the best thing since at least The Stone Roses, but even the Smiths, whose gender-bending they emulated or even topped with the controversial (of course) cover of two androgynous people making out.
As for me, I didn’t love Suede (released here as The London Suede because of a lawsuit or some shit) as much as I loved The Smiths (or The Stone Roses, for that matter), but I could totally get behind the big guitars and yawped vocals of the aforementioned “Metal Mickey,” which started with a classic chord sequence by Butler over which Anderson is sings about KatieJane Garside, the lead singer for a band called Daisy Chainsaw.
Well, she’s show-showing it off, then
The glitter in her lovely eyes
Show-show-showing it off, then
And all the people shake their money in time
Here’s the thing: I had no idea what Anderson was singing about, because he was straining at the top of his vocals, and also because I was trying to figure out how much he sounded like my close personal friend Scott Oliver of the Miss Alans. I think I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t that he sounded like Scott Oliver, but rather that he didn’t not sound like Scott Oliver, and given the fact that his vocals were also kinda buried, I wasn’t sure what he was singing, only that I liked the overall sound.
She sells heart
She sells meat
Oh dad, she’s driving me mad, come see
Meanwhile, all around this, Butler is playing his ass off: stuffing a ton of licks, noise, chords and commentary into nearly every bar, climaxing with a stuttering guitar solo that he says was inspired by Dave Davies in “You Really Got Me” though not quite as unhinged as that one was.
Released as the second pre-album single, “Metal Mickey” made it to #17 on the U.K. charts and when Suede was released in 1993, it was no doubt one of the reasons that album topped the U.K. charts. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., despite the usual slate of good reviews, the closest it made was number 14 on the Top Heatseekers chart, whatever in the hell that is.
“Metal Mickey” Live on the Tonight Show, 1993
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