THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 1)

I’ve decided that Paul Haig should be the next subject for the Sunday singles series. I realise that many of you won’t be that bothered over the next few weeks and months given that he’s far from a household name and indeed could almost be the perfect definition of a cult artist; but I’m a huge fan and feel that his body of solo work, now stretching back the best part of 40 years in which he has continually tinkered and altered his sound, is very worthy of being put under the spotlight.

Paul first came to prominence as the lead vocalist of Josef K, one of the four bands to release material on Postcard Records. They split up in August 1981 and it is fair to say that, like many others, their legacy and impact was only fully realised many years after when the next generation of musicians began to name check them as key influences. His solo career began almost immediately,  but not in any straightforward fashion, signing to a Belgian-based label – Les Disques Du Crepuscule – while opting to also adopt the moniker Rhythm of Life Organisation (RoL) under which he intended to release experimental material, much of which would be far removed from the post-punk, angular guitar sounds associated with his former band.

Indeed, it was as RoL that the first solo 45 was issued, and not on the label to which he had signed.

mp3 : RoL – Soon

Ok….the pedants among you might argue this is NOT a Paul Haig solo record, given that the credits are:-

Stephen Harrison : voice, guitar & lyrics
Paul Haig : other instruments & voice

But it’s an important staging post for what would follow in the succeeding years which is why I’m using it to open the new series.

Soon was issued jointly via Rational Records and Rhythm of Life Records and given two catalogue numbers – RATE 6 and RHYTHM 1 (these things were really important to those of us smitten by how Factory Records were keeping stock of the things they were involved in). Rational was a short-lived label, owned and run by Allan Campbell, who had been the manager of Josef K and would remain a key player in the Edinburgh music scene for a long while to come.  The label would release eight pieces of plastic all told, including the follow-up by RoL, a double-sided single entitled Uncle Sam/Portrait of Heart, both written and performed by the late Sebastian Horsley with Paul’s role restricted to keyboards, bass and second guitar; as such I’m not intending to include it in the series.

Here’s yer b-side of Soon, and it isn’t a cover:-

mp3 : RoL – Summertime

Boths songs are a tad on the light side, very pop-orientated with a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place a short while later on Zoo Records, the label which would launch the careers of so many 80s musicians in Liverpool.

JC

7 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 1)

  1. Yey! I think I mentioned Paul being a perfect contender for a Sunday’s Single series in a comment at some point, and see; I have been heard. At least there will be one closely following this series with a happy grin on his face. As I have more or less everything Paul released up to and including Chain, plus a few 12″ from the Coincidence vs Fate album, this will be a great stroll along a happy memory lane.
    Thanks JC!

  2. It is when you bring you passion and knowledge of this type of ‘lesser known’ artist onto these pages that I think your blog moves above the level of other blogs. I love getting the chance to hear artists / tracks that I rarely hear elsewhere. Thank you for putting so much time into your features.

  3. I had thought Running Away was the starting point for solo Paul Haig, so thanks for posting. I rather like them, particularly the nocturnal feel to Summertime.

  4. Paul Haig released another single under the “group” moniker of “Rhythm of Life”. It is a single which I still have a copy of. It was released on Haig’s Rational Label (Rate 7 …straight outta Canonmills). It features Paul Haig on Keyboards, Bass and Guitar, Stephen Harrison on Drums and Percussion… but surreally it has Sebastian Horsley on “Singing and Guitars”. Sebastian Horsley (Artist and Dandy) was the millionaire heir to Northern Foods/ Northern Dairies. The 7″ is an interesting artifact which Horsley seems to have “vanity-funded” through Haig’s label… Horsley writes in his “unauthorised” autobiography “Dandy In The Underworld” that “So, with a persistence beyond the call of talent I decided to make a record… It cost me a considerable amount of money. As far as noise was concerned, it was like an unsavoury stench in the ear. I designed the sleeve…” Horsley also hosted the extravagant party at the George Hotel in Edinburgh in July 1994 which was Billy MacKenzie’s last public live performance.

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