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Music Video Distributors presents
"So steal me a savage, subservient son
DVD ReviewIt was spring of 1992, and the perpetually overheated UK music press, fully engaged in their never-ending quest to discover the Next Big Thing, latched onto a young band from London by the name of Suede (their moniker, "The London Suede," was only ever used in the U.S., presumably because some other band already had that name). The hype was such that one music rag, Melody Maker, declared them "The Best Band in Britain"—this before they had yet to release a single, much less an album.
But in this case the hype was justified. Suede released a series of three excellent singles before their stunning self-titled debut album, which went on to win the Mercury Music Prize (the highest musical prize you can receive in the UK—think "Grammy") in 1993. Their bombastic second album, released one and a half years later, if not exactly received with derision, was not exactly welcomed with open arms, either. The brilliant "Coming Up" from 1996 was widely regarded as a return to form, but subsequent albums have been less than stellar.
Suede is a classic study in youth appeal, and whether calculated or not, they hit all the right buttons in the early 1990s in Britain. The last sexually-ambiguous indie band to appeal to a wide spectrum of listeners, The Smiths, were at this point a spent force, and the UK music press was aching for a replacement, preferably one less effete and with wider appeal. Suede played all their cards right, both in terms of their overall image—their first album featured a picture of two girls kissing, the second an alluring photo of a young man face down on a bed, his leg splayed provocatively—and also in the image projected by "bisexual who never had a homosexual experience" lead singer Brett Anderson.
But make no mistake—their provocative image was more than matched by excellent songwriting skills, at first by Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler, and later, after Butler had left the band, by Anderson and new 17-year-old guitarist, Richard Oakes. Between the two pairs, they wrote any number of classic songs, and when interpreted by the band, their Bowie/Bryan Ferry-influenced sound proved not only highly distinctive, but also popular with their fans and the UK music press.
The so-called "feature" of this DVD is nothing more than a straightforward compilation of the earlier-released VHS of the same title, and consists first and foremost of concert footage from various European venues, edited seamlessly together to give the impression of a single concert. And what a concert it would have been—songs from both their first and second albums, with lead singer Brett Anderson at his sexiest and most dynamic, and a band (despite Bernard Butler's disappearance) that would never be better. This is not your father's concert video—the dynamism of the performances is more than matched by the kinetic visual style, and indeed, the rapid cutting, colored lighting, slow motion, and extreme angles at times remind one less of a concert than an abstract experimental film (albeit one with a killer soundtrack).
The concert footage is followed by a short compilation of tour footage, notable only for Brett's excruciatingly funny imitation of Mark E. Smith of The Fall. The following seven "Tour Films," which are footage that was projected behind the band on tour, are not only fun to watch, but are accompanied by original (not concert) recordings. Unfortunately, they are encoded at the nominal rate of 192 kbps, which is far too low to appreciate the sonic range and fidelity of these classic tracks.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: As expected in a concert compilation, the source footage is the limiting factor here, and the occasional wobblies on vertical lines, as well as the horizontal striations on brightly-lit portions of the image, don't leave any questions about the transfer's video origins. But these minor defects are never enough to seriously distract from the excellence of the performances, and should not keep anyone interested from buying this video.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: For the concert and tour footage, the nominal encoding rate of 192 kbps is more than sufficient; however, it proves a limiting factor in the Tour Films section, which features the original recordings of the songs. It's a shame that Music Video Distributors didn't choose a higher bitrate, which would allow their sonic glory to shine.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsFor any fans of Suede, or anyone curious about them, this is an exciting compilation of live footage, backed up by interesting extras. Highly recommended.
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