A GUEST POSTING by chaval
I know what you’re thinking…..wasn’t Part 16 of this series featured last week with the look at Off My Head… and Leeds United? Indeed it was, but this is what should have been posted except technology let us down. chaval sent it over in early December – twice – but on each occasion the contents ended up in cyberspace. We both think the various files that were attached made it too large but neither of us got any notification about things. Anyways, take this a Part 16…..last week’s as Part 17 and next week’s as Part 18. Here’s chaval:-
VALA career curmudgeon whose innovative work was widely admired by his fellow artists while only occasionally flirting with the mainstream. A man with a scathing sense of humour, a habit of getting drunk and abusive in company and a wide ranging contempt for those contemporaries who had found success. His disdain for the people running his industry ran in parallel with a surprising ability to get them to stump up cash for projects with limited commercial appeal, including a work devoted to 70s terrorism. Yep, the English writer B.S Johnson really was a piece of work.
When film director Paul Tickell, rashly filming Johnson’s tricksy, post-modern terrorism novel Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry, happened to hear How I Learned To Love The Bootboys, he realised that if you needed a soundtrack for a film about a clerk who takes a grudge way too far, Luke Haines really was the man.
Happily the commission coincided with a period when Haines was feeling inspired, although not necessarily by the subject matter. He spent an intense ten days in an East London recording studio completing the bulk of the album in the winter of 2000. At that point, he admits, “I have still not seen a single frame of film footage”.
Probably wise. Tickell’s film was a mess, unable to decide whether it wanted to be a 21st-century take on the terrorist mindset, a homage to 60s kitchen-sink realism or a 50s-style Carry On spoof. These things are subjective of course, but I didn’t like the book, hated the film, but rather enjoyed the soundtrack.
Haines was inspired by a completely different story, the true tale of June and Jennifer Gibbons, disturbed twins who grew up on an RAF base in the 70s, suffered severe bullying and abuse and ended up in a Broadmoor psychiatric wing. Their story fuelled Discomania, a song that Haines rated so highly that he returned to it four times on the soundtrack, including a sparse funk version similar to the sound he had explored on Baader Meinhof
Johnson’s book was partly inspired by the Angry Brigade terrorist scares of the early 70s, subject matter close to Haines’s own fascinations although not really explored in the film. No matter, Haines scatters lyrical references to King Mob and Amherst Road (the Angry Brigade’s HQ address) and offers up a scathing slice of 70s underground social history in a track he describes as “prole-baiting”
The other standout on the album is a relentless assault on Nick Lowe’s classic. Lowe is a great songwriter but suffers the curse of usually sounding very affable on record. It’s not a problem Haines shares.
On the album insert, Haines emulates Malry’s habit of listing his grudges at society in the debit column. Number one is “Princes William and Harry not being in the Merc’.
The accompanying picture of Haines channelling a malevolent Johnson at his typewriter looks like a still from a superior 70s horror movie.