1992 had been Suede’s breakthrough, landing a Melody Maker cover before releasing a single track and cracking the UK Top 20 with Metal Mickey.
The first (self-titled) Suede album was brilliant. Provocative, pan-sexual and blessed with a glam-rock crunch courtesy of guitarist Bernard Butler, Brett Anderson’s neon-lit world of beautiful losers hit a nerve untouched since The Smiths.
But the relationship that drove Anderson and Butler was so fractious that the pair split in 1994.
After leaving Suede during the final recording sessions for Dog Man Star (1994) Butler followed the acknowledged Johnny Marr rule and became the guitarist’s guitarist and all-round freewheeling gun for hire. He worked with Julianne Regan from All About Eve, spent a week as a member of The Verve and was considered for Oasis when Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs left.
Following Butler’s departure, the band auditioned for a new member by placing an anonymous advert in the NME cryptically asking for someone who was “into Suede”. When they found 17-year-old Richard Oakes, who was more than capable of replicating the guitar wizardry Butler had created in the studio, the band played on . . .
Everyone had expected Suede to be bloodied and broken but, instead, their music took on a defiant, exciting power, which spoke volumes for the bloody-mindedness of singer Brett Anderson. When it seemed as if the band were on the verge of splitting, he knuckled down and focused on touring the most ambitious album of his career.
The band effectively ceased to exist in 2003. In 2004 Anderson was back together with Butler as The Tears, whose album Here Come The Tears was a moderate success, and it became clear that some of the more monstrous aspects of their reign of terror were being quietly put aside.
Bernard refused to take part in any reunion, as he disagrees with bands getting back together on principle, but Suede Mark 2 have been Suede Mark 3 since 2010, and released a fondly-welcomed album, Bloodsports, in 2013.