Suicide is but a handful of innovators who, like The Velvet Underground, fall under the Brian Eno rubric: Despite the few albums sold in their lifetime, they still resulted in a massive source of influence for a wide range of musicians who gravitated toward their ugly, incendiary spell. Count among the wreckage of those inspired by Alan Vega’s manic, musky, primal-scream poetry and Martin Rev’s pure, electronically induced, scorched-earth noise Bruce Springsteen (who’s been known to drop Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” in his solo shows), Henry Rollins (who provides liner notes to this Surrender package), Nick Cave (what is his Birthday Party but a tribute to Suicide’s scrawl-and-sprawl?), and a slew of post-industrial morass types and early punks like New Order, Depeche Mode, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and Nine Inch Nails.
Compiling and curating rarities (never-before heard versions of their brutal “Frankie Teardrop” and “Girl,” along with nearly forgotten tracks recorded by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek such as “Why Be Blue?”), and putting them next to newly remastered—but still phlegmy—raw-knuckled classics such as a vicious “Cheree,” Surrender takes the form of something frank and fresh rather than merely ruminative.
Suicide is bolder than to be placed in the past tense (emphasis on the word “tense”). Because if nothing else, the irksome beauty of “Wrong Decisions” (from their fifth and final recording, 2002’s American Supreme), the scabbed-over horror-house of “Dachau, Disney, Disco,” the soul-morass of “Harlem,” and the eerily elegant “Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne” all morph and mind-meld into a smelly, funky, sweat lodge of disturbing tension, a cacophony of the crashing and burning. And every moment is better than the one before it.