The music critic David Hepworth once argued that there should be a three month ban on reviewing albums. Despite dashing off reviews as soon as I've heard a new album, it's a theory that I have a lot of sympathy for, three months sounds like a sensible amount of time to allow an initial infatuation to wear off and to realise that an album that you once played incessantly may not the idealized thing that we had wanted it to be! It'd allow time to see the actual work more clearly, warts and all. That way, I wouldn't have written such excitable nonsense about Cigarettes After Sex.
I smile as I think about Hepworth's theory as I play the re-releases, re-issues and deluxe box sets that I've encountered this year. Forget three months, this is music that I've unwaveringly stood by for the best part of three decades.
The music in question is a wondrous 25th anniversary box set of Suede's debut album and a long overdue re-release of all of Momus' recordings for Creation (unavailable for many years and now restored by the good people at Cherry Red Records).
At the heart of these records is some truly exceptional storytelling. Beyond the prevailing fashions of the times amd the more obvious influences (Anderson and Butler owed more to Bowie and Ronson than Morrissey and Marr), there was something more of the searing honestly of the French chanteur about these artists. Momus had been vocal about his admiration for Belgian singer Jacques Brel, whose influence can be heard on the earlier recordings on Create 1: Procreate, but it's Brel's role knack for playing the outsider whilst observing the seedy world around him that is strongest in those early Suede songs. Listen to Brel's Amsterdam (famously covered by Bowie and Scott Walker), before playing Animal Nitrate or Metal Mickey to see what I mean.
I reviewed the Suede box set here.
To cast further light on Anderson's lyrics, his magnificent pre-fame memoir, published earlier this year, frankly portrays the musical obsessions, isolated communities, family relationships, loves and loathings that fed into his music. I reviewed that here.
The young Momus also makes an appearance in Coal Black Mornings as Suede are starting to perfect their sound. Anderson describes Momus as a minor hero, elsewhere he offered the songwriter's debut for Creation (The Poison Boyfriend), as one of the great lost albums, you can clearly see the influence.
I reviewed the three albums (and sundry singles), that make up the Create 1: Procreate compilation here. The breathless listing of the profound What Will Death Be Like, the dark humour of I Was a Maoist Intellectual and the candid synth pop of Hairstyle of the Devil placed Momus in a different league to his Creation Records contemporaries.
I confess that I have still yet to submit a review for Create 2: Recreate (that'll have to wait for the end of the year). It's a long story and a way more complicated affair than it's predecessors. His attempt to create the 'most perverted album of all time' (Hippopotamomus), earned him an infamous 0 out of 10 in the NME, whilst the far groovier sci-fi flavour of Voyager may have been his finest record, but by then no one (in the UK at least), was listening. A full appraisal of his work has yet to be made, but this is a fabulous place to start.
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
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