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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 40
Fri, Mar 8, 2013

“Killing of a Flashboy”
Suede

1994

“♫ All
the white
kids shuffle
to the heavy
metal stutter &
go
♫”

Just like Ian Curtis prophetically raved to his Joy Division band mates about the future electronic sound of Kraftwerk, the end of Suede was signaled with this Dog Man Star b-side “Killing of a Flashboy.” Sounding like a precursor to “She” and “Filmstar” it was if after guitarist Bernard Butler left the band, his protégée used “Flashboy” as a glam like template for the future Brit Pop anthems of 1997’s Coming Up.

According to David Barnett, author of Suede: Love & Poison, William Blake was a huge influence on Anderson when he wrote the majority of the Dog Man Star, after his much publicized break-up when his former paramour Elastica founder Justine Frischmann left Brett for Blur front man Damon Albarn, isolating himself with excess when he explained, “I deliberately isolated myself, that was the idea. It was like, I’m going up to Highgate and write and write the whole fucking album. So I spent a lot of time watching [Mick Jagger’s notorious film] Performance every day of my life. I was starting to go a little bit nuts. I was kind of having visions about songs. I was actually having visions of Armageddon and riots in the streets and inventing insane things, living in this surreal world.”

That surreal world inspired by multiple viewings of Performance and Brett becoming seduced with the writings of Aleister Crowley inspired “Killing of a Flashboy” as Anderson said in Barnett’s book, “It was part of having a very fertile imagination. I was kind of aware that everything was getting slightly strange. I was quite into all these people that have visions and were slightly off their nuts, people like Lewis Carroll. I was into the whole idea of becoming the recording artist as lunatic. I was quite into that extremity, and I was definitely living it.

It would explain everything why in this state of mind, Anderson would leave one of his best songs, “Flashboy,” relegated to b-sides duty. Maybe Butler was against having such a vibrant sultry pop song on Suede’s dystopian concept opus, Dog Man Star. There are regrets from everyone in the Suede camp; Ed Buller chimed in his thoughts when he said, “what a waste of time that was! Killing Of A Flashboy, that’s a great song and should have been on an album.”

Besides persuading Bernard Butler not to leave Suede, one of Brett Anderson’s biggest misgivings is not adding “Flashboy” to Dog Man Star as he explained, “One of my biggest regrets, although I try to only have a few, is the quality we blithely threw away on b sides. “To The Birds,” “My Insatiable One,” “Europe is our Playground,” “Killing of a Flashboy,” “The Living Dead,” and “This Time;” it’s sometime’s keeps me awake at night.”

But Brett Anderson must realize, if “Flashboy” was released on Dog Man Star, Suede, fans wouldn’t have been treated to the release of the magnificent grandeur of Suede’s B-side collection Sci-Fi Lullabies. During the buildup for this glorious release Brett talked about his beloved song orphans to Melody Maker when he said, “They’re some of my favorite songs that we’ve done as B-sides. There’s always freedom you get, when you’re not under pressure and you’re given a bit of extra leeway, when you haven’t got this big thing looming over you – having to write the single or whatever. Some of my favorite songs that we’ve ever written have been B-sides, probably “The Big Time,” “Europe Is Our Playground,” “My Dark Star” and “Killing Of A Flashboy.” I think it makes a pretty good album as well. It hasn’t got any flab on it at all, which is pretty unheard of. If you listen to any double album, there’s this classic thing – it could have been a single album. I think there’s a range to what we do which probably the general public haven’t seen yet. I think the general public will see a different range and a different vision that they might not have done before. People who know Suede and ‘Dog Man Star’ won’t be that surprised but a lot of people will.”

After the epic sensations of Dog Man Star and listening to the similarities between Brett Anderson’s paranoid pop rhythms of “Killing of a Flashboy” and the Coming Up riffed flavors of “She” and “Filmstar;” it’s obvious to me, guitarist Butler heard the writing on the wall and the creative direction was the main reason Bernard left Suede. What would Suede have been like if Bernard Butler never left? Would Coming Up have ever existed? It was said that Brit Pop was born with the birth of Suede. One thing is true, “Killing of a Flashboy” was more than Brett Anderson’s rumored lyrical death wish to the Blur man who nicked his bird; “Flashboy” gave Brit Pop a swift kick in the glam pants and was definitely the song that broke up Suede.

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