THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (11)

Previously on The Singular Adventure of Luke Haines:-

“It was April 1995 before he was in any sort of shape to return to the studio, where he took the songs he had been writing while recuperating and teamed up with Steve Albini, the producer best known from his work with Nirvana, It took just 13 days to finish work on the new album, which was given the title After Murder Park, and it was presented to the record label in May 1995. For one reason after another, its release is consistently delayed and it doesn’t see light of day until 1 March 1996. But that’s a story for another day”

We have now reached ‘another day’, via last week’s wonderful guest contribution from chaval with his thoughts on the masterful Back With The Killer EP.

It took just six weeks for Hut Records to issue the next 45 by The Auteurs, the all-important track to fully showcase the forthcoming album recorded so many months previously with Steve Albini. It came in at just over two minutes in length; it featured a swear word in the second line amidst a lyric that seemed to make little, if indeed any, sense; the responsibility for the promo video was handed to an up-and coming director named Chris Cunningham whose ideas  bordered on the surreal; and it had a title that, in the event of a war breaking out or some sort of aeronautical disaster incurring, faced an automatic radio ban:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – Light Aircraft on Fire

I really didn’t like this single when I first heard it, thinking it was the final nail in the coffin for The Auteurs and indeed for Luke Haines himself. It’s a hard-edged, rockier sort of sound, which to be fair, should have been anticipated given who was in the producer’s chair, miles away from the chamber/baroque-pop that had been such an attraction in the early days. It was only when I read Bad Vibes more than a decade later did it hit me that Haines had come to the conclusion he was both unable and unwilling to play the game in terms of being a pop star, with things like the broken ankles from the fall that had brought a previous tour to an end and the release of the Baader Meinhof single being clear signs that he wanted someone to drive the stake through the heart of his band.

And it was only in listening to the track alongside the others that would appear on After Murder Park on its release a month or so later, did it make some sort of sense why Light Aircraft on Fire had been selected as a single – the other tracks were even less commercial sounding, although many of them bordered on genius, albeit from the mind of a complex individual. It was a long way removed from country houses, cigarettes and alcohol and the lives of common people. The fact that the album had titles such as Unsolved Child Murder, New Brat In Town, Tombstone (in which he dreams of blowing up the hotel of choice for the Britpop cognoscenti) and Dead Sea Navigators are all you need to know, not forgetting a wonderfully powerful version of an old b-side, Everything You Say Will Destroy You.

The reviews were again reasonably positive, with one or two being astute enough to suggest that Haines had things in common with the newly revitalised Radiohead and that songs on After Murder Park would not have sounded out of place on The Bends.

But that was all for the future. The most disappointing thing from the release of the new single was that the b-sides felt like the b-sides, which seemed a first in respect of The Auteurs (albeit the demo showed promise!):-

mp3 : The Auteurs – Buddha (4-track band demo)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Car Crash
mp3 : The Auteurs – X-Boogie Man

All told, it was no real surprise that the single failed to crack the Top 50.

Tune in next week for another instalment is this tale of the top of the flops.

JC

PS : Video bonus

4 thoughts on “THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (11)

  1. Light Aircraft On Fire is a genius song. It’s a wonderful “Fuck You” to Britpop, Music Critics and an industry he obviously had no interest in any longer – that is, if he ever did.
    There are tracks on After Murder Park that are so amazing, none of The Auteurs’ contemporaries can stand anything next to them. Some will argue that Luke Haines, especially by this point, was completely up his own ass, but what he pulled out on this album smells more like roses.

  2. I always thought it was absolutely brilliant that the Auteurs are the only band I can think of who actually added an expletive to the ‘single version’ rather than cleaning it up…!

  3. really chuffed to hear that Rol. The idea did emerge from listening again to the three ICAs you offered up a while back.

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