Saturday, November 10, 2007
I have finally made a compilation of great Luke Haines tunes. If you would like a copy, let me know. I will eventually send it to you, having first checked that you are not a narc working for the record industry, or Luke Haines himself.
I do not have a complete collection of music by Luke Haines, missing at least one of his solo albums and two of The Auteurs'. I do not have Das Kapital either, this being a weird compilation of his stuff he released himself, only with all the songs re-recorded with lush orchestral backing and then released with a cover indistinguishable from Brian Eno's Before And After Science. But I have a fair bit nevertheless. I list the tracks on the compilation below, with some notes. They are chronologically ordered, apart from the two that envelope the collection.
This is from the concept album about the Red Army Faction that Haines released as Baader Meinhof, probably after reading either Tom Vague's Televisionaries the issue of Vague on those crazy West German ultra leftist nutjob revolutionaries who terrorised their country in the 1970s. This track is an odd bit of very sparse mutant funk with middle-eastern elements and handclaps in which Haines introduces the subject. The lyrics are perhaps incomprehensible to anyone who does not share Haines' interest in the RAF. If you need a primer, check out http://www.baader-meinhof.com/ . I love this tune a lot, though I did find myself wondering subsequently to what extent its recording was influenced by Felt's 'Space Blues'
These three are from New Wave, the first Auteurs album. I've picked more up-tempo numbers. These show off Haines' guitar playing and his rasping vocals. The great story about this album is that when it failed to win the Mercury Prize, Haines assaulted Brett Anderson of winners Suede, claiming that he had stolen the prize money.
'Light Aircraft On Fire'
'Unsolved Child Murder'
These are from After Murder Park, the fourth Auteurs album. This was produced by famous record producer Steve Albini. I find that Albini's spare sound suits the Auteurs well. 'Child Brides' is a particular favourite of mine, though 'Unsolved Child Murder' packs its own punch and always remains topical.
'There's Gonna Be An Accident'
More Baader Meinhof action. I don't get all the references, though 'Kill Ramirez is plainly about Carlos The Jackal.
Black Box Recorder
'Girl Singing In The Wreckage'
'England Made Me'
'Kidnapping An Heiress'
These three are from England Made Me, the first Black Box Recorder album. This band saw Haines collaborate on songwriting with louche individual John Moore, while Sarah Nixey (the then Mrs Moore) provided vocals to songs largely written for her. It took me ages to get the lyrics of 'Kidnapping an Heiress' – for a long time I just saw them as a succession of somewhat threatening one liners ("And we're searching for your daughter", "Nine hundred dead in Jonestown", "And she's lying in the basement" etc.), though closer listening reveals this to be lyrically linked to the Baader Meinhof stuff, in that it is about the kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a bizarre episode that eventually saw Hearst changing her name to Tania and helping her former kidnappers to rob banks. As for 'England Made Me', while the Black Box Recorder is excellent, the solo version I once saw Haines perform live took it to a whole other level, making you finally understand the deeds that made the Empire.
Black Box Recorder
'The Art Of Driving'
'The English Motorway System'
'The Facts Of Life'
The second Black Box Recorder was called The Facts of Life, and saw Haines and Moore writing loads of songs about driving and sexual comings of age. A lot of the male vocals on here sound like they are by John Moore, so maybe he did more of the writing? Or maybe not. Anyway, these three songs are great, but there are loads of other top tunes on the album, if this is the kind of thing you like.
Black Box Recorder
'The New Diana'
These are from Passionoia, the third Black Box Recorder album. I do not like this one so much, feeling that it is a bit swamped by the poppy production they use on a lot of the tracks. 'Andrew Ridgeley' is a total classic, though, a hymn to the other one from Wham!. I wonder what he thinks of it?
'Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop'
These are from Haines' recent solo album Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop, the second or third album released under his name. Some of the songs, like the first one here, are quite popped up, but this seems to work better than with Passionoia. If you are very young or unfamiliar with English culture then maybe the second or third songs contain elements that pass you by. 'Leeds United' talks of a time in the 1970s when Leeds United were a serious force in football and Peter Sutcliffe was murdering women in and about the Red Light districts of Yorkshire towns. 'Bad Reputation' is about Gary Glitter, the 1970s pop star latterly more famous for nonce-crime, a figure so notorious that Haines has to point out at concerts that the song does not imply any sympathy for Mr Glitter. This song for me is a career highlight for Haines, with the delivery of lyrics like 'I was born to be a monster' dripping with malevolence.
This is also from the Baader Meinhof album. Haines liked this tune so much that he did it twice, with this being the elegiac version in which Andreas Baader et al bemoan their failure.
EDIT: I subsequently acquired the second Auteurs album and updated this compilation to include some tracks from it, but I am not going to bother fully editing this post to reflect the new tracklisting.