Suede Sci-Fi Lullabies
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Few debut singles have the impact of Suede's "The Drowners," which helped set the course to Britpop and established Suede as one of the U.K.'s most important bands. In that light, it isn't surprising that the B-sides were considered as important as the A-side -- the slow, grinding "My Insatiable One" was covered in concerts by Morrissey weeks after its release, while the band often closed shows with the majestic "To the Birds." The strength of the "Drowners" B-sides wasn't an anomaly -- it established a precedent of high-quality B-sides that Suede strove to maintain on their first three albums. The double-disc Sci-Fi Lullabies collects the majority of those B-sides, leaving behind the odd live track and remix, as well as the worthy "Painted People" and "Asda Town" and the non-LP single "Stay Together." What's included is stellar, offering an alternate history of Suede. In fact, the first disc -- comprised of Suede and Dog Man Star B-sides, plus the haunting "Europe Is Our Playground" -- is as strong as any of their albums, featuring such essentials as the sleazy "He's Dead," "The Living Dead," "My Dark Star," the storming "Killing of a Flash Boy," the sighing "Where the Pigs Don't Fly," and "Whipsnade," all strong enough to be A-sides. Disc two isn't quite as consistent, which might be because they're all drawn from the singles for Coming Up, but it does find the band exploring their darker, more adventurous side, which they largely suppressed on that record. Unlike most B-sides compilations, Sci-Fi Lullabies is far from extraneous -- for any Suede fan, and most fans of contemporary Britpop, this is absolutely essential material, confirming the group's status as one of the '90s' greatest bands.