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How Sex Pistols made Suede's Brett Anderson fall in love with music

Brett Anderson is a man of deep integrity and commitment. Harnessing himself from the ashes of Britpop, Anderson has led his band Suede to greater, more interesting heights in the 21st century. Music, like memories, is shaped by attitude and perspective.

And that’s what The Sex Pistols held in spades: attitude and perspective. Determined to tear down the foundations that had elevated rock to this pedestal, The Pistols based their trajectory on fury, fire and rebellion. ‘Pretty Vacant’s signalled a change in tone for England, ‘God Save The Queen’ championed a new voice, ‘Anarchy In The UK’ was the sound of rebellion. Undoubtedly the most important band of the late 1970s, The Sex Pistols continue to inspire, influence and impart sensibilities on rock bands to this day. What’s important to remember is that this wasn’t a band of virtuosos but a group of rabble-rousers looking to make a change to the world.

Anderson loved the work of the Sex Pistols. In an interview with The Guardian, he praised their forward-thinking and rebellious nature: “Dad obviously hated every bit of punk. I heard this late, having been nine at the Sex Pistols’ height – I hadn’t exactly been po-going down at the 100 Club. But musical scenes seeped very slowly through the country before the internet and it took years for punk to get to Haywards Heath properly.”

“‘Bodies’is a proper rabble-rouser,” Anderson continued. “It gets your blood up and we still play it before shows. The Sex Pistols were a huge influence on Suede too, which people don’t always get. Playing ‘Animal Nitrate’at the Brits was completely inspired by them, a real two-fingers-up-to-the-industry, glam-terrorism thing. The Brits? I haven’t been since, although we’ve had nominations. Going to sit on some table with a load of stuffed shirts talking about downloads… I can’t think of anything worse.”

Personally, I think Anderson showed his punk credentials, and then some, in the ’90s, when he charged on with the band despite losing guitarist/keyboardist Bernard Butler. Written off in certain quarters as a three-piece without a director, Anderson focused his attention on Coming Up, an album that was a surprisingly lighter affair to the records that came before it.

Lushly produced and performed with great confidence, Coming Up exhibits an almost foolhardy attempt to reclaim the crown knocked off their heads by a change of personnel and fading interest in Britpop.

Seated between the choppy ‘Filmstar’ and the dream-pop infectiousness of ‘By The Sea’ comes ‘Lazy’, an angular rocker that features one of Anderson’s grizzlier vocals. He proceeds through the track, embodying a free, wandering spirit before the chorus hits, and he lets out that venomous snarl so commonly heard in punk.

I could be wrong about this, but this sounds like a John Lydon-style vocal. It’s less about the form and more about the feeling, every syllable swallowed wholesale, with contempt for the surrounding environment. For then, it’s back to Beatle territory, as a George Harrison-esque guitar solo bellows through the mist and kicks the band into more pop-friendly avenues.

Undoubtedly a standout track, the song exhibits a punch that feels strangely punk-like. Punk was about exceeding expectations, offering listeners something that didn’t necessarily hang easily in their wardrobes. And that is what makes ‘Lazy’ such an infectious listening experience, as it subverts the tropes fans had placed on the band before delivering an anthem fashioned by panache, swagger and style.

The Sex Pistols disbanded following the departure of Lydon, but Suede had the conviction to carry on even though they had lost someone as valuable as Butler. If that’s not a commitment to the flag, then I don’t know what is.

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