20 years old this year. Actually, it feels like much, much longer. Which is strange really. It is my favourite Suede album. Head Music (the album which followed) seemed to mine the precise same soap opera, only with less vigour and determination, far too much gauche and heroin, and far too few fucks given. By the time A New Morning rolled around some time later, I was long gone as a fan. No matter really, because their first three albums had pretty much all that I needed to hear.
There's a toughness to Coming Up which had been hinted at up to that point, on songs like We AreThe Pigs, Killing Of A Flashboy and Metal Mickey. When I listen to the album there are, of course, the songs, riffs, melodies and lyrics. Beyond that you can hear (and feel) the frightening iron will of Brett Anderson pulling his band mates out of the trenches and into the light. The joke always went that Suede had to replace Bernard Butler with two people - Richard Oakes and Neil Codling. In fact, Butler was replaced by a fully catatonic incarnation of Brett Anderson. Largely shorn of their musical largesse (and a little of their finesse), Coming Up is a raw, brutal and unforgiving slice of end-of-the-century life.
With such brutality on show (Trash, Filmstar, Starcrazy) it is logical, perhaps that the record album's more tender moments leave such deep cuts. Picnic by The Motorway could be Suede's Driveby Saturday. Happiness and futility and the futility of happiness as the same pill. Saturday Night is semi-maudlin (Brett's voice a thin tremolo) but carries with it the weight of rare and precious stones. It's a gloriously unfulfilling end to a very wonderful album.
Apparently, Coming Up is Suede's most commercially successful album. The sensation is of being caught up in the middle of a tornado.