20 years of Head Music

On this day in 1999, Suede released their fourth album “Head Music”. Here are my rather excitable scribblings about that day, written in my diary exactly 20 years ago.

Monday, 3rd of May, 1999

So you wake up in the morning and it’s a holiday. Switch on the TV, and something brilliant is on – “The Importance Of Being Earnest” – and then saunter down sunny King’s Road to Virgin Megastore, newly rechristened the Head Music store, to buy the new Suede album. Stop at Safeway’s for some chocolate, the it’s back to your room, to listen to unfathomably glorious songs all day. It’s been a fantastic day.

And “Head Music”? Well I know all these songs so well already, it’s like greeting old friends. “Everything Will Flow” is the most unbearably beautiful song. “Life is just a lullabye-bye… and everything will flow”. Sadness melts into peace gliding into joy infused with despair, and everything will flow.

I can’t forget the thrill of Suede storming on at the Astoria, Brett shrieking “like a man like a woman like a woman like a man!” somehow expressing all the glorious ambiguity that pop music HAS to embody, and knowing we were saved for sure.

“And there’s a sadness in your style…”

A guitar sound of pure filth, like heaven exploding into decadent chaos. And then there’s “Indian Strings”: “Images of violence fill up my mind, and you see the silence, feel it inside”.

And then you sway and groove to the greatest summer hit ever “She’s In Fashion ooh ooh ooooh” and wish you were the shape of a cigarette. This is, basically, an album of 13 great, great pop songs, perhaps the greatest POP! album ever created.

“I love that deafening thundering sound! that sounds like buildings tumbling down!”

Neil wrote “Elephant Man” and thus he is a genius. As is Brett.

“Tears on a pillow, eyes on the phone, you pour all the love that you keep inside into a song, like “He’s Gone”” begins “He’s Gone”. And you cry at the head shrinking brilliance of a song, about writing the song, to the sound of a broken heart creating the sound of a broken heart.

And the title track! On any other album it would be the Big Pop Monster Hit, it strides in suggestively with bubblegum harmonies, then Brett hollers “Give me head!” and breathes in your ear. Suede are like a new band, come to free us from mediocrity, charged and hungry.

It’s all very exciting.

Happy birthday “Head Music”, and thanks for all the memories: the Astoria, the Asylum, the Empire. 20 years on, life is still a lullabye-bye.

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