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When they appeared on the British rock scene in the early 1990s—a bastard fusion of the Smiths and Ziggy Stardust—some called them “The Best New Band in Britain.” At the time, the group—based around flamboyant vocalist Brett Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler—hadn’t released one note of music. What followed was an eponymous album that was to become the fastest–selling d When they appeared on the British rock scene in the early 1990s—a bastard fusion of the Smiths and Ziggy Stardust—some called them “The Best New Band in Britain.” At the time, the group—based around flamboyant vocalist Brett Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler—hadn’t released one note of music. What followed was an eponymous album that was to become the fastest–selling debut in British musical history, as well as a decade of narcotic excess, redemption, and fantastic pop music. Now fully updated to include the inside story of the band’s decision to split and Brett’s new solo ventures, Suede: Love and Poison traces the scarcely credible story of a band that went to hell and back.


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When they appeared on the British rock scene in the early 1990s—a bastard fusion of the Smiths and Ziggy Stardust—some called them “The Best New Band in Britain.” At the time, the group—based around flamboyant vocalist Brett Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler—hadn’t released one note of music. What followed was an eponymous album that was to become the fastest–selling d When they appeared on the British rock scene in the early 1990s—a bastard fusion of the Smiths and Ziggy Stardust—some called them “The Best New Band in Britain.” At the time, the group—based around flamboyant vocalist Brett Anderson and guitarist Bernard Butler—hadn’t released one note of music. What followed was an eponymous album that was to become the fastest–selling debut in British musical history, as well as a decade of narcotic excess, redemption, and fantastic pop music. Now fully updated to include the inside story of the band’s decision to split and Brett’s new solo ventures, Suede: Love and Poison traces the scarcely credible story of a band that went to hell and back.

30 review for Suede: Love and Poison: The Authorised Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tom Boniface-Webb

    This guy knows his stuff Written by one of the closest sources possible to the band, there is no doubting the validity of the writer’s knowledge on Suede, and this makes for a fantastically detailed read. I would be interested in a more objective look at the band too.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    The captivating concealed-autobiography of a toothy prick's adventures in the underworld and underbelly of 1990s Britpop's occasional darlings, Suede. Or Swayyyyyde, as I prefer to call them. If you are interested in the 90s UK music scene, and this band's sometimes Roman Empire, sometimes Reginald Perrin, -esque rise and fall within it, then you will like this book! Worth the price for the photographic evidence of David's peacock-cockatoo-hairdo alone! The captivating concealed-autobiography of a toothy prick's adventures in the underworld and underbelly of 1990s Britpop's occasional darlings, Suede. Or Swayyyyyde, as I prefer to call them. If you are interested in the 90s UK music scene, and this band's sometimes Roman Empire, sometimes Reginald Perrin, -esque rise and fall within it, then you will like this book! Worth the price for the photographic evidence of David's peacock-cockatoo-hairdo alone!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brendon

    Well, it's the only real authorized biography of the band in print, right? In all seriousness, Barnett does a more than able job of telling the story of the band's nascent years through the heights of success and their demise. Now with the band in a renaissance with the trilogy of "Bloodsports," "Night Thoughts" and "The Blue Hour" it's time for a revision. Also, if you're a Suede or Brett Anderson fan, you need to read Anderson's biographical tomes "Coal Black Mornings" and "Afternoons with the B Well, it's the only real authorized biography of the band in print, right? In all seriousness, Barnett does a more than able job of telling the story of the band's nascent years through the heights of success and their demise. Now with the band in a renaissance with the trilogy of "Bloodsports," "Night Thoughts" and "The Blue Hour" it's time for a revision. Also, if you're a Suede or Brett Anderson fan, you need to read Anderson's biographical tomes "Coal Black Mornings" and "Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn" and watch Mike Christie's excellent Suded documentary "The Insatiable Ones."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Howells

    Suede remain one of my favourite bands. I remember vividly their appearance at the Brits (which at the time was still a cosy back slapping corporate event). I've seen them 3 times: I saw them on the Dog Man Star tour (which introduced their new guitarist Richard Oakes) and was lucky enough to see their comeback gig at the Royal Albert Hall. It's the best gig I've ever attended, there was so much love in the room for them that night which considering they'd almost become the forgotten band of the Suede remain one of my favourite bands. I remember vividly their appearance at the Brits (which at the time was still a cosy back slapping corporate event). I've seen them 3 times: I saw them on the Dog Man Star tour (which introduced their new guitarist Richard Oakes) and was lucky enough to see their comeback gig at the Royal Albert Hall. It's the best gig I've ever attended, there was so much love in the room for them that night which considering they'd almost become the forgotten band of the 'britpop' era was immensely gratifying. I also saw them at Brixton when they played 'Coming Up' in its entirety - another excellent gig. This is several levels up from the normal 'cut & paste' Music Biography. The author was a fan/friend/employee of Suede. It's a reissue of a previous book, but instead of undertaking a rewrite the author uses footnotes to add new thoughts & views to the narrative. This actually works quite well. It's certainly not a white wash, it doesn't stint on either the drugs nor the arguments. The band were great and this book does them justice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Niklas Pivic

    This book is written by a Suede fan. As such, it's a bit of a hagiography, drug abuse and wasted time aside. Still, it's an often funny read about a band that exploded from abject poverty into extreme fame, mainly thanks to the intense partnership between Bernard Butler (guitarist and songsmith) and Brett Anderson (singer and songsmith). As Barnett acts bitchy throughout the book, and occasionally got me to think "oh, when will his self-obsessed ass get edited the right way?", he actually annotat This book is written by a Suede fan. As such, it's a bit of a hagiography, drug abuse and wasted time aside. Still, it's an often funny read about a band that exploded from abject poverty into extreme fame, mainly thanks to the intense partnership between Bernard Butler (guitarist and songsmith) and Brett Anderson (singer and songsmith). As Barnett acts bitchy throughout the book, and occasionally got me to think "oh, when will his self-obsessed ass get edited the right way?", he actually annotated his own words from the first print of this book, when it was called "Love and Poison". An example: The then deputy editor of the NME later confided that, while he enjoyed the book, there were far too many Smiths song references in it for his liking. I counted seven in the first three chapters alone so he may well have had a point. There's also a lot of taking the piss out of himself in this book, for which Barnett deserves credit. From the preface: The lion's share of Love & Poison, the first edition of this book, was diligently thrashed out over the long hot summer of 2003 on a diet of Stella Artois and Camel Lights. Unleashed in September of that year, just as the band were disintegrating, it was an instant critical and commercial success and quickly became part of the Suede mythos; increasingly so in recent years when copies became impossible to get hold of, exchanging hands for silly money on eBay and Amazon. Of all the many flattering reviews, the one that meant the most came from Brett Anderson in the form of a no-nonsense email: “The book moved me. Nice one. xBrett.” Indeed, Suede’s singer was the only member of the band to request precisely zero changes to the original manuscript whatsoever, intuitively understanding that the biography’s unblinking snorts-and-all candor made up for the occasionally schizophrenic nature of its prose. (Although I did once see a copy inscribed in his unmistakable hand with the message “This book is crap!” and I’m not entirely sure he was joking). There's always been a good way from Anderson in terms of retaliation, or just answering idiots: “Throughout the whole of growing up there was a very vivid undercurrent of violence,” Brett agrees. “They always called me queer. I quite liked it, actually, because when you’re insulted by someone you consider a complete piece of shit, how can it be an insult?” It is quite lovely to follow the band's formation at times: “Young guitar player needed by London based band. Smiths, Commotions, Bowie, PSBs. No musos. Some things are more important than ability. Call Brett.” Two people responded. One was “a guy who had a guitar”. The other was a skinny 19-year-old called Bernard Butler. Speaking of seeking people for the band, a drummer was needed: “Well, I’m sorry but I’m afraid we’re a London-based band.” “That’s not a problem, I’ve worked with London-based bands before, I can commute. It’s only a couple of hours on the train.” “Who have you worked with then?” “A band called the Smiths. My name’s Mike Joyce.” Also, when Suede was coming together, Justine Frischmann, playing rhythm guitar and being Anderson's girlfriend, decided to leave both the band and Anderson, going instead for Damon Albarn of Blur: Remarkably, these circumstances, far from destroying the band as might be expected, actually brought its core elements closer together. “It was a weird period because we’d split up and because of that me and Bernard got closer as well because I didn’t have Justine any more as a friend,” says Brett. “Alan has always been a great friend and was there for me and Bernard was there for me as well, he was there for me as a friend. In the early days me and Bernard were good friends and it’s something that people might not know now. There was a weird period where she was still in the band. I was writing songs like ‘Pantomime Horse’, which wasn’t directly about her, but it was a celebration of my own tragedy. It was definitely kicked off by the fact that I was fucking depressed and stuff like ‘He’s Dead’... I couldn’t have written them if I was happy, they were the product of an unhappy mind.” “’I would die for the stars she said,’ that was a reference to Justine choosing Damon over Brett because he was famous and stuff,” adds Alan. “The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory.” Simon Gilbert's journal recants some of the most notorious aspects of the band circa the time when they completely broke up with Bernard Butler—or possibly when Butler broke up with them: June 6: Brett is completely pissed off at the studio. Understandably. June 7: Meeting at studio with Brett, Saul, Ed, Charlie and myself June 8: Charlie went to see Bernard – ‘Brett’s obviously a paedophile because he asked ‘Lisa her age, on her birthday!’ June 9: Spoke to Bernard. Seems he has snapped out of it. For now. June 10: Butler is apparently recording all his telephone conversations. June 11: E x 4. Coke x 1. Acid x 2. Still, the band got better and worse. All in all, this book is a ride, although Barnett's style is its forté as well as its curse; homely as well as far too fan-y, it's a give and take relationship: it gives off a lot of fun, but it's simultaneously like hanging out with a guest that refuses to leave your party. If you hang on, you'll be rewarded, especially if you like Suede and raucous recounts.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Luigi Dall

    Good read about the seminal band which created three now classic albums and a whole poetic world of council houses, drugs, sex, old fashioned romanticism and legendary songs.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Suede vocalist Brett Anderson once described the career of rock band being formulaic: a story of struggle followed by success, followed by disintegration. 'It’s like the life cycle of a frog. It’s utterly predictable," he said. Although he chose a more reflective approach for his own memoirs, this predecessor, written by David Barnet, a fan who became part of their entourage, takes a more traditional route. It is meticulous in its detail and clearly methodically researched and jigsawed to present t Suede vocalist Brett Anderson once described the career of rock band being formulaic: a story of struggle followed by success, followed by disintegration. 'It’s like the life cycle of a frog. It’s utterly predictable," he said. Although he chose a more reflective approach for his own memoirs, this predecessor, written by David Barnet, a fan who became part of their entourage, takes a more traditional route. It is meticulous in its detail and clearly methodically researched and jigsawed to present the band's chronology. Its 'colour' comes by way of the many and varied interviews - sadly Bernard Butler the key omission. How different would this book have been if he had co-operated? Perhaps a contrasting story would have been revealed. The Suede story charts the band's many successes, it's pressures, the destructive nature of its relationships and the effect of drugs, drugs and more drugs - an ingredient which crucially fractured band dynamics and creative processes almost beyond repair. My only criticism of this book would be the slightly repetitive nature of its later chapters, the descriptions of the band imploding during the recording of their final album and arduous touring which led to greater division, were somewhat drawn out. This book was originally published in 2003 and later updated with annotations by the author, making it intriguingly autobiographical and humorous...although sometimes diverting from the flow of the original text. For those of us who experienced the impact of Suede when they first came to prominence, this book reflects and echoes that miraculous time, the effect that had on their fans and the legacy they left behind which served as a soundscape to our lives.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tim Trewartha

    Am going through a Suede phase at the moment, so this is the 3rd time I have read this book. And it's good, a bit corny in places, but that it more to do with the author's style than anything. I suppose my biggest disappointment with this revised edition is that Barnett has decided not to update the book. The first edition came out just before the band first split up in 2003, so doesn't deal with split, the years 2004-2010 before the reunion, and their excellent comeback album, Bloodsports. Ther Am going through a Suede phase at the moment, so this is the 3rd time I have read this book. And it's good, a bit corny in places, but that it more to do with the author's style than anything. I suppose my biggest disappointment with this revised edition is that Barnett has decided not to update the book. The first edition came out just before the band first split up in 2003, so doesn't deal with split, the years 2004-2010 before the reunion, and their excellent comeback album, Bloodsports. There are a bunch of footnotes added which does deal with some of that, but not in any great detail. Perhaps there will be a 2nd volume?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Phizacklea-Cullen

    Benefiting from being written by someone who has worked closely with the group for most of their career, this is a refreshingly irreverent and enthusiastic (to the point of anorak-ism) biography of one of the most important British bands of the last 30 years. Originally published shortly before Suede's disintegration in 2003, it's been comprehensively updated (mostly through footnotes) to bring it up to date for their 2010 reunion and in many respects benefits from this hindsight. Benefiting from being written by someone who has worked closely with the group for most of their career, this is a refreshingly irreverent and enthusiastic (to the point of anorak-ism) biography of one of the most important British bands of the last 30 years. Originally published shortly before Suede's disintegration in 2003, it's been comprehensively updated (mostly through footnotes) to bring it up to date for their 2010 reunion and in many respects benefits from this hindsight.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Graham R Atherton

    Dogman4star Haha... see what I did there? If you like Suede it’s a great book.. if you don’t then you won’t be reading it anyway. It’s pretty brutally honest.. Q. Just how many songs has Brett written about drugs..?. I lost count.. or was I lost in tv? Anyway I’m off as Europe’s my playground TTFN

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emma Jiang

    One of my old favorites. I used to follow Brett Anderson on his twitter account, which turned out to be fake after 3 years. Lol. Love their relationship, rebellion and betray. Their poison is so powerful and chemical, Animal Nitrate always in mind.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jago

    Brilliant, made me re-listen to every Suede, The Tears, Bernard Butler, Artmagic, McAlmont & Butler and Brett Anderson track I can find.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sylvain

    The book is interesting as it recounts the tale of one of the most influent British band of the 90s. However, I must say, I got bored quite a few times through it. One can only take so much of "drama, drugs, more drama, more drugs". The number of times we read they were doing drugs doesn't make it rock n'roll. Just plain boring. Actually some of the book makes some of the band members totally superficials since you only read about their drug frenziness, not much else. In that regards, it's quite The book is interesting as it recounts the tale of one of the most influent British band of the 90s. However, I must say, I got bored quite a few times through it. One can only take so much of "drama, drugs, more drama, more drugs". The number of times we read they were doing drugs doesn't make it rock n'roll. Just plain boring. Actually some of the book makes some of the band members totally superficials since you only read about their drug frenziness, not much else. In that regards, it's quite surprising how the band members never really seemed to step back and realise how much they are responsible for most of what happened to them. During the Butler's era, the book implies that Bernard was clearly annoyed at them for partying and getting on drugs so much. It seems the other band members didn't understand this and were unfair to him in that regards. On the music side, the book doesn't go into details much about most of them either until well into Head Music. Up to that album, it talks more about inner drama of the band, which can be sometimes informative, but not much about the creative process. I know Bernard Butler refused to be part of the book and I can see why, David Barnett is rather obsessed by who shagged whom and whether or not he was at any given gig. That was boring too after a while. Fortunately, after Head Music, the book is much more interesting regarding the creative process. I enjoyed the chapters leading to the release of "A new morning". I don't know if it's the book's fault or not but the band members never really seem to be united much. They were too happy to complain and drop their band mates. Maybe it's the way it's being told but the members never sounded very inspiring as a band. It was a bit saddening. It's a good book and it made me want to listen to Suede songs I had probably overlooked but I was expecting more than just drama facts.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Biographies of pop stars, lets be honest, are usually, at best, tabloid trash that rarely appeal to a wider audience than the subject's fans. In that sense, it's hard to imagine anyone who didn't at least obsess over a Suede song or two relating to Love and Poison. It's not just a biography of a band that 99.99999999% of the universe hasn't heard of, its a biography written by that band's largest living fan. As an assistant to their manager, he spent a great deal of time touring with them, getti Biographies of pop stars, lets be honest, are usually, at best, tabloid trash that rarely appeal to a wider audience than the subject's fans. In that sense, it's hard to imagine anyone who didn't at least obsess over a Suede song or two relating to Love and Poison. It's not just a biography of a band that 99.99999999% of the universe hasn't heard of, its a biography written by that band's largest living fan. As an assistant to their manager, he spent a great deal of time touring with them, getting to know the various members, and meeting the people the songs were about. This biography is as much a biography of David Barnett as it is a biography of Suede, and in that sense, it is actually interesting. His wit is truly biting, and he spares nobody, himself included, in his scathing commentary. The band themselves, however, come off as shallow, petulant, spoiled and reasonably boring. An accidental Spinal Tap, a silly parody of themselves. Barnett should be credited with not glorifying the authors of his favorite songs, and revealing just how ordinary and greedy and piggish they really are. He does a good job of revealing the bland normality behind the seedy image the band worked so hard to promote for themselves. Ultimately, the book is like a long goodbye letter from a select few of us who once loved this band. It's probably not accessible to anyone who didn't fall in love for the first time to "Wild Ones", those who cared one way or the other why Bernard left, and those who really, for whatever reason, want to read a book that probably would have been better if it had been a biography of its author. David Barnett probably could write a good book about how music can shape life, love and identity. It'd be funny as hell, too. NC

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jan De la Rosa

    This is a review of the re released version of the book. "I would not have found each other over the gulf of miles, finding that common ground in a band like Suede and it's always more than just a connection to some songs, it's an attitude and an ethos and it defines something in you that makes you connect really strongly to other people". This book slipped through my fingers the first time around and the re released (and corrected and augmented) one it's really great. New material was ent This is a review of the re released version of the book. "I would not have found each other over the gulf of miles, finding that common ground in a band like Suede and it's always more than just a connection to some songs, it's an attitude and an ethos and it defines something in you that makes you connect really strongly to other people". This book slipped through my fingers the first time around and the re released (and corrected and augmented) one it's really great. New material was entered strictly as footnotes so the original narration is preserved. Is a marvelous work of critical adoration and leveled skepticism for the band, their music and the people behind it all.  Is a powerful recollection of facts and history behind songs that have touched me pretty deeply. I could understand now why some of them have this almost chemical reaction on my mood, eroding of exploding, whenever I listen to them. I guess the public of this book it's a pretty closed community of uberfans but as one of them, I enjoyed this stroll on memory lane while it lasted.  Now I have to gift this one to my Flashboy and keep making beautiful and everlasting connections with Suede as soundtrack... for at least another couple of decades.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Gregarious cline

    A great look into a band that, like Joy Division, Big Star and Suicide, eventually get its recognition as one rocks greats as each year passes (Shirts at Hot Topic soon!). Although his "being there" adds some great first hand perspectives, this book suffers from the author being too close to his subjects, which is why it's only a 4 star rating from me. A great look into a band that, like Joy Division, Big Star and Suicide, eventually get its recognition as one rocks greats as each year passes (Shirts at Hot Topic soon!). Although his "being there" adds some great first hand perspectives, this book suffers from the author being too close to his subjects, which is why it's only a 4 star rating from me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    I have to explain my four star rating. Unashamedly, I like gossip. However, its content ensures a definite place for light, casual reading and revealing "omg did he really-" moments and nothing much. Still, it's worth a fun read. I have to explain my four star rating. Unashamedly, I like gossip. However, its content ensures a definite place for light, casual reading and revealing "omg did he really-" moments and nothing much. Still, it's worth a fun read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emperorstephen

    For me it is a brilliant book but I can't speak objectively as it is a book on my favourite band. For me it is a brilliant book but I can't speak objectively as it is a book on my favourite band.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Isobel

    really great book, would recommend this to any suede fan. very interesting and well written.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Ricky Gervais managed Suede? No kidding.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    The band of so much excess and amazing music, Barnett's writing gets you interested and helps you reignite your interest in their timeless tunes. The band of so much excess and amazing music, Barnett's writing gets you interested and helps you reignite your interest in their timeless tunes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    A great book for fans. It's surprising some of the connections they made in the industry, while being unable to quite reach success. The writing is poor, but the stories are great. A great book for fans. It's surprising some of the connections they made in the industry, while being unable to quite reach success. The writing is poor, but the stories are great.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Pallasoja

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tina Mac Bhloscaidh

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chez

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vera

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laila

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jess

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