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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 179
Sat. July 7, 2012

“The Asphalt World”
Suede
1994

“♫ Like big
stars in the back
seat like skeletons
ever so pretty/ I know
a girl, she walks the
asphalt world
♫”

The original unreleased twenty plus minute versions of “The Asphalt World” reached legendary status among die hard Suede-heads longing for this treasure from the ill-fated Dog Man Star sessions to be unearthed. In 2011’s Deluxe Edition of Dog Man Star, Suede fanatics finally got a taste of what could have been, when an eleven plus minute version was unleashed for all to experience. Lead singer Brett Anderson explained the importance of “The Asphalt World” when he said—

This was the centerpiece of Dog Man Star; a song that captured the beauty of deviancy in a way that I’d always knew we could. [The Asphalt World]’s elegant, epic and sexual and as we discussed is virtually a page torn directly from my diary of the time. ‘she’s got a friend, they share mascara I pretend’ is for me the key line in the song. I love the way you have to wait for the second verse to get this and all of a sudden when it’s delivered the, listener understands what the song is about. the themes of sexual jealousy and arousal never become too overt as to be salacious but sit stealthily within the song’s epic frame, commanding the listener’s complete attention.”

The original unedited directors cut of “The Asphalt World” was over 25 minutes long. There was a dispute over Bernard Butler’s guitar solo which is one of the most furiously unheralded in rock history. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Butler’s guitar wizardly that splintered his relations with his Suede band mates. It was an infamous Vox interview in which he trashed Anderson, by saying—“He’s not a musician at all. It’s very difficult for him to get around anything that isn’t ABC. Brett drives me insane.”

Bernard eventually apologized but it was too late, “The Asphalt World” has the unfortunate distinction of being the song that broke up Suede. Butler talked about what caused the arguments during the recording, in David Barnett’s Suede: Love and Poison, when he explained—

I resented the way “The Asphalt World” became as a deliberate guitar wank off. I was just into the idea of songs going beyond the three-minute pop discipline, passing through musical time zones and seeing how the atmospheres could change and what you could do emotionally with all that space. In the end I think the fact that [the middle part] remains instrumental in that section gives the whole album [Dog Man Star] a meditative moment which sums up a lot of the darkness and fraught emotions of the rest of the record.”

Producer Ed Buller infamously claimed it actually took “Three weeks to get right.” It was well worth it for this extended cut of “The Asphalt World” explores the emotional entanglement of never ending flashes of lustful envy. Brett said it best when he so eloquently shared—“Sexual jealousy can be a stimulant too.”

You can feeling the jealousy seething from Anderson’s aching vocal that’s one of the best Brett has ever crooned on wax. Anderson explained the inspiration for his most distinguished “Asphalt World” vocal when he said—
Yes, the vocal performance was recorded the day I read Bernard’s interview in Vox. one of the amazing things about being a song writer is that you can literally achieve alchemy. I took all of the pain I was feeling at that moment and channeled it into my delivery. Whenever I sing [The Asphalt World] now I’m always utterly engaged within the moment. I still find it so emotionally consuming.”

This original unreleased version of “The Asphalt World” is the definitive opus of the brief reign of greatness Anderson/Butler shared as kings of Brit Pop. “The Asphalt World” was Suede’s [Mock One] unfortunate swan song, Bernard left the band and Suede never got to fulfill the promise of Dog Man Star. Coming Up was a worthy sonic bullet from the gutter, reaching for the stars but—imagine what could’ve been with Bernard? Relive the genius of Suede, eleven plus minutes of madness and so much more!

Listen to “The Asphalt World [Original Unedited Version]” here on Suede radio!

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