A GUEST POSTING by CHAVAL
When you miss out on a major prize, the correct way to behave is the magnanimous nod at the victors, a half-raised glass to toast their success and a cultivated air of being above such trifling matters.
Luke Haines didn’t opt for that route. Shortly after learning that New Wave had failed to win the 1993 Mercury Music Prize by one vote, Haines could be found at the table of winners Suede.
“What I mean to say is ‘Well done’,” he recalled in his peerless memoir Bad Vibes, “What I actually say is ‘Give me my fucking money now’. With menace.” Suede are tolerant of such behaviour but ugly scenes ensue. Haines isn’t proud. “I have achieved optimum inebriation and am acting like a peasant.”
The Mercury Prize debacle put a line under the baroque, bohemian swoon of New Wave and ushered in a toughened-up Auteurs, disdainful of the cheery bonhomie of the nascent Britpop movement (exemplified at the time by one of Haines’s many betes noirs, The Boo Radleys). The immediate results are a coruscating single that sounds like nothing that has gone before.
The November 1993 release of Lenny Valentino might have confounded fans who were expecting more of the arch, Kinksian New Wave stuff. Instead they got an up-tempo two-minute searing guitar assault with a very strange lyric about the soul of 60s angry comic Lenny Bruce being transferred into the body of early 20th-century movie heartthrob Rudolph Valentino.
mp3: The Autuers – Lenny Valentino
It wasn’t really the stuff of jaunty Britpop chart success and breakfast radio ubiquity, but Radio One put it on their A-list and it came very close to being a genuine hit, stalling at number 41.
The CD B-sides are excellent and essential, Car Crazy being a call-back to the New Wave sound, a cello-driven queasy ballad and an early addition to the canon of Haines road songs. Vacant Lot has a cryptic lyric with a hefty hint of the menace that was to characterise future Auteurs work.
mp3: The Autuers – Car Crazy
mp3: The Auteurs – Vacant Lot
The CD single also included the supposed 12” mix of Lenny Valentino, which is about seven seconds longer and not hugely different.
mp3: The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino 12″ mix
The 7” vinyl single offered an alternative B-side, a strumming and strings obscurity later available on the completists’ CD compilation Luke Haines Is Dead.
mp3: The Auteurs – Disneyworld
Residents of the continent were treated to a double A-side single, combining Lenny V with a Francophile track from the imminent new album Now I’m A Cowboy, of which more next week . . .
mp3: The Auteurs – New French Girlfriend
It’s a genuine thrill to have chaval come on board for this….and I echo every word he says about Lenny Valentino and its various b-sides.