IT’S HERE, ALBEIT JUST ONE YEAR LATE….

Here we are on Tuesday 29 September 2020.

Exactly one year ago today, on Sunday 29 September 2019, I featured Part 4 of The Singular Adventures of Luke Haines in which I looked at How Could I Be Wrong, which was released on CD, 10″ and 12″ vinyl.

I mentioned that the 10″ version of the single was a limited edition effort with it offering up a live version of Staying Power (a b-side of debut single Showgirl) that had been recorded at a gig in Paris in February 1993. I also mentioned that, sadly, I didn’t have a copy and so couldn’t offer readers the chance to hear this particular version.

Well, a few months back, I did track down a second-hand copy of the 10″ piece of vinyl and have been saving this for today:-

mp3: The Auteurs – Staying Power (live in Paris)

Oh, and I’ve ripped it at 320kpbs too…..

Given that nobody left a comment last time around, I won’t be the slightest bit offended if this is met with a great wall of indifference.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (15)

I’d like this to be considered as an early Christmas present to everyone.

Das Capital – The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines and The Auteurs was released in 2003. Wiki states only that the album features orchestral re-recordings of some of his older songs from The Auteurs and Baader Meinhof periods, along with some new tracks.

It’s fair to say that the few who actually wrote up contemporary reviews came to differing opinions. Ben Hogwood at Music OMH said:-

“Haines comes across as the macabre balladeer, that sinister husky voice of his ever more to the fore. The expansive How Could I Go Wrong does well in this guise with the guitar line (shades of Santana?!) a majestic opener before the strings drape their treble line over the top. What’s evident here and elsewhere is that the music retains its urgency and edginess, nowhere more so than on Lenny Valentino, which still rocks, and on Showgirl, where the complete standstill half a minute in has the same powerful impact.

So what of the new material, 21st century Haines? Well Satan Wants Me is pretty self explanatory, a dirge with Haines spitting “Satan wants me, not you.” Then there’s Michael Powell, where Haines announces, “I’m just a horny devil baby, but I know how to treat a lady.” Dark alley, anyone? All of which leaves Bugger Bognor, a quietly venomous vocal highlighting similarities with Philip Larkin.

Production on Das Capital is heavy on the strings but not usually intrusive, with violins up in the heavens on Starstruck but subtly restrained on the sublime closer Future Generation. The male voice choir in the middle foreground of Baader Meinhof is a nice touch.”

On the other hand, Michael Idov at Pitchfork, in giving the album a rating of 5.1/10, states:-

“Das Capital: The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines and the Auteurs is a primo Situationist stunt. From the title on down, it concerns itself purely with the sound of money. Fat with winds, strings, chimes, echo chambers the size of Wembley stadium and, per liner notes, “the greatest sax solo in the history of popular culture,” the album is meticulously designed to mimic fundraiser quickies like The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays the Music of Oasis. The result, needless to say, is patently and intentionally ludicrous; it could be one of the greatest jokes ever played on a label by an artist.

I can’t help but applaud Das Capital’s meta-architecture, which incorporates everything from the cover art to the attendant interviews filled with bragging about the project’s cost – one small quibble, however, remains: The album is unlistenable………….I would never recommend a living soul to purchase Das Capital, and yet, full marks are due to Haines for making good on the hissed mission statement from his Oliver Twist Manifesto: “You better believe me when I say/ I never wanted to be liked.”

Me? I love it. The very fact that he was able to again persuade a record label to fork out money to capitalise on the recent success of Black Box Recorder with the promise of delivering a ‘best-of’ collection has to be appluaded. The further fact that he stood and delivered something so unexpected and near impossible to market and recoup its costs was the ultimate in highway robbery. Here’s Luke Haines own words from the CD booklet:-

“I cannot afford to buy an island, but I can afford to buy a theme park, or more accurately, Hut recordings in their speculative wisdom have provided me with the neccesary to create an aural them park, HainesWorld if you like. So, dear listener, take your token, climb aboard the waltzer, and as you spin into luxuriant orchestral delirium, hear me whisper in your ear, “I’m the man you camt to see fall into the machine.” I may be paraphrasing David Essex.

Alternately, the CD you have purchased is a brand new collection of old songs re-recorded, mainly of the 92-96 vintage. Why did these songs need to be recorded again? Because they were slipping out of view. Sometimes you have to point out to people what lies in front of their noses. Does this consolidate my place in musical history? You bet.”

There’s a couple more equally entertaining and slightly tongue-in-cheek paragraphs, before Haines’ own genuinely hilarious reviews of all the albums he had released with The Auteurs or under his own steam as a solo artists. Here’s some extracts:-

New Wave – My first masterpiece…best debut album of the nineties no contest, and as seminal as the first Modern Lovers; 5 stars

Now I’m A Cowboy – OK, sometimes the artist isn’t the best judge of his work. However this one requires serious reappraisal (from yours truly at least)…The Upper Classes was (yet another) precursor to the burgeoning Brit Pop thingy. My commercial peak to date; 4 stars

The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Remixes by some kid from Wimbledon for £500. A lot of money for a teenager. Never listened to it myself. Went on to sell well in America. 100% of the publishing goes to me: 5 stars

After Murder Park – The most fun I had making a record, written in wheelchair confinement. Sonically great, Albini on top form and me too. An anti-zeigeist gem. Chris Cunningham has made a career out of recycling this sleeve art. Full marks to everyone involved; 5 stars

Baader Meinhof – My second masterpiece. Buy it so that I don’t have to. A testimonial to the joys of analogue recording; 5 stars

How I Learned to Love The Bootboys – Under-rated now and at the time. Unfortunately this record cannot be reappraised due to its anti-sentimental stance; 4 stars

Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry OST – My first foray into film soundtracks and my third masterpiece; 5 stars

The Oliver Twist Manifesto – You are not allowed to make record like this anymore….and as the credits roll, I would like to thank David, Paul and all at Hut Records….I say continue your worthless work and hang your heads in shame; 5 stars.

All that’s left now are these:-

mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – How Could I Be Wrong
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Showgirl
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Baader Meinhof
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Starstruck
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Satan Wants Me
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Unsolved Child Murder
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Junk Shop Clothes
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – The Mitford Sisters
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Bugger Bognor
mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Future Generation

You better be quick, as the links will be removed on Boxing Day (26 December)

Oh, and one more thing. There was a hidden track that could only be played by holding down the rewind button when you went play track 1:-

mp3 : Luke Haines & The Auteurs – Das Capital Overture

This track includes Back With The Killer Again, The Rubettes, Housebreaker, Tombstone, Buddah, Kids Issue, Light Aircraft on Fire, The Upper Classes and Discomania. I’ll leave it hanging around for a bit longer.

This series takes a short break as next weekend will see the introduction of a temporary feature with 22 daily posts covering the entire festive period. Luke will be back on Sunday 19 January.

Oh, and I’m going to see him play live in 2020…….click here for the info!

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (13)

The Auteurs broke up in the summer of 1996.

A few months later, the Baader Meinhof LP was released, a period of time wonderfully recalled in the pages of Bad Vibes, including the revelation that someone high up in Virgin Records, the parent label of Hut Records with whom Luke Haines had a contract, sent this in a fax to David Boyd, the head of Hut:-

“I would like to remind you that Virgin Records did not sign Luke Haines to make political statements. He is signed as an entertainer.”

In response, Boyd sanctioned a photo call at the Munich Olympic stadium where, in 1972 at the adjacent Games Village, 13 Israeli athletes had been killed after a terrorist attack. Haines really was testing everyone’s patience and understanding.

The Baader Meinhoff album gets mixed reviews in that it was loved and loathed in equal measures, best summed up by UK broadsheet newspaper The Guardian stating that Haines had wasted some of his best music on an impenetrable subject matter. No single is released to accompany it…. but there was a one-sided etched single given away free with vinyl copies of the album:-

mp3 : Baader Meinhof – I’ve Been A Fool For You

1997 proved to be a quiet year, but it was at this point in time that Haines formally hooked up with John Moore and Sarah Nixey to create Black Box Recorder.

Chrysalis Records signed the band, something which Hut Records seemed OK about, and in 1998 there were two flop singles – Child Psychology and England Made Me – before the release of a poorly selling album, also called England Made Me.

At the same time as this was happening, The Auteurs had come back together again….I’m guessing it was to fulfill a contractual obligation for a fourth album, as the reasons aren’t quite ever explained in Post Everything, the second volume of Haines’s memoirs, published in 2011 and covering the period 1997-2005. There are a number of aborted efforts at getting the recording process going, but eventually, from August – October 1998, things take shape.

The crazy thing is that the subsequent results yielded next to no reviews when the LP, How I Learned To Love The Boot Boys, was released in July 1999, but those who were paying attention, rightly recognised it as a masterpiece, such as this from Michael Hubbard in musicOMH, a London-based online magazine:-

If you’re going to be influenced by the music of decades other than the present one then you may as well allow that music to emphasise your own work rather than making your own music emphasise someone else’s.

Bjorn Again are great, no doubt about it – but they emphasise Abba. Who would they be otherwise? It has, in the recent past, been something of a conundrum; lots of ’70s disco music revivalist tripe has been scribed and has spawned comeback careers for everyone from Martha Wash to Burt Reynolds.

All great stuff – I’m sure the ’70s were fun at the time and Boogie Nights was a refreshing film – but really, mes fruits, this is the ’90s. Why live in the past? Why not just learn from it and improve upon it? The case for evolution has not been stronger since Charlie D popped his clogs and finally we have, in the shape of Luke Haines, a man prepared to lead the fightback.

Haines last graced the Albums shelves with his side project, Black Box Recorder’s England Made Me, which I loved immediately. The atmospherics of that record are transferred to How I Learned To Love The Bootboys and given some spices to further improve the flavour. Haines claims this record to be twelve singles; “maybe not twelve hits”, says the nihilist, but we see – and hear – what he means immediately.

At once a personal album (1967 was the year Haines first looked upon the world) and a fusion of myriad styles (Asti Spumante and Your Gang Our Gang, for instance), there are tracks that remind one of everything from The Sex Pistols to Ziggy Stardust, Gary Numan to Blur, yet I suspect that this eclectic record conjures different bands for each listener, depending on what they’ve heard before. Haines refines Numan’s atmospherics, he plays Johnny Rotten subtlely, he uses one or two Bluresque riffs rather than songloads and everything somehow works. In fact, in works bloody brilliantly.

Although every one of these songs shrieks CLASS!!! at the eardrums, stand-out tracks must surely be Asti Spumante, Your Gang Our Gang, Johnny and the Hurricanes, The Rubettes and title track How I Learned to Love the Bootboys. If you don’t yet own this album then you are missing out. Go buy.

In recent years, more writers haved belatedly heaped praise on the album, especially when it was reissued in 2014 as a 3xCD expanded edition in which the original 12 tracks were joined by an album of b-sides and rarities, along with a live album from November 1999, recorded at the London School of Economics, on the occasion of The Auteurs final UK gig.

There was one single taken from the album, complete with two new b-sides  All three tracks are very listenable:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – The Rubettes
mp3 : The Auteurs – Get Wrecked At Home
mp3 : The Auteurs – Breaking Up

The a-side featured backing vocals from John Moore and Sarah Nixey, thus providing a neat bridge between what had just come to pass and what would prove, the following year, to be the commercial high point of Luke Haines as an entertainer.

I’ve previously said that Black Box Recorder wouldn’t feature as part of this series, and I’m keeping it that way. The series will continue, running through early into the new year, with this idiosyncratic look at the solo career of Luke Haines, very little of which has seen the release of singles or EPs, but something in the region of 12 albums. You’ll be pleased to learn that chaval will be lending his talents to this venture…..

JC

PS : I might be away oh holiday just now, but I was reliably informed that an old friend was intending to come out of the woodwork today.  If my intel is good, then clicking here should do the trick.

 

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (12)

After Murder Park entered the album charts at #33, dropping down the following week to #52 before disappearing altogether. Sales are disappointing and Luke Haines decides to call a band meeting and to inform everyone that once all the touring commitments are over, firstly to the USA and then Europe, there will be no more Auteurs.

The front man was already planning his next move which was to take up the offer from the record label to work up the idea of a Baader Meinhof album, but there was to be one last hurrah for the band via the release of an EP about which one critic would later say ‘proved to be one the best things Haines has ever released… and probably the most miserable.’

Kids Issue features four songs, two of which, the title track and A New Life A New Family, hadn’t previously seen light of day.  They were all taken from a John Peel session, recorded on 20 February and broadcast on 8 March 1996, just a week after the release of the new album and just as it was falling out of the charts.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Kids Issue (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Buddha (Peel Session)
mp3 : The Auteurs – A New Life A New Family (session)
mp3 : The Auteurs – After Murder Park (session)

Confession time.

Until getting things underway on this series, I had no idea whatsoever that this EP even existed. Wiki states that it reached #163 in the charts….I had no idea that the singles chart went so deep (or least it did in 1996)….which probably equates to sales of about 1,000 (which is a complete guess on my part!).

I did know the songs from their inclusion on a 3xCD retrospective Luke Haines Is Dead that was released in in 2005 but I’ve now managed to pick up a second-hand copy of the actual EP.  These four songs are an absolute delight, and it is hard to reconcile them with the fact that they were recorded at a time when the band was about to give up the ghost………..well, for now anyway, as will be explained in Part 13 of this series which will be here at the same time next Sunday on this very same channel.

JC

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

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (10)

A GUEST POSTING by CHAVAL

Cast your minds back a couple of weeks to JC’s celebration of Chinese Bakery, a single which featured a throwaway line about “Bob Dylan on a motorbike”. For Dylan’s 1966 Woodstock crash that released him from the album/tour/voice of his generation treadmill, Haines’s equivalent was that reckless drop off a wall in San Sebastian.

As well as instilling respect for the difference between sand and concrete, Haines’s leg fractures allowed him an interval of reflection. Like some post-Britpop James Stewart in Rear Window, Haines brooded and read, and like Dylan in 1967, unleashed his creativity in several directions, only tangentially connected with the pop marketplace.

By the end of 1995 and drift into 1996, Haines’s career was all over the place. The Auteurs’ best album After Murder Park was in the can but still awaiting release. Baader Meinhof, Haines’s unhinged, brilliant homage to 70s terrorism, was about to baffle critics with its mash-up of crunching retro-funk, dub and lyrics about hijacks. Always ready to muddy the waters, The Auteurs released the Back With The Killer EP, fresh material that took Haines’s lyrical provocations further than ever, albeit expressed very succinctly (the four tracks clock in at a total of just over nine minutes).

mp3: The Auteurs – Unsolved Child Murder is as uncompromising as its title, a dark depiction of an event dragged from the news headlines and given unsettling intimacy, exploring its devastating effect on a suburban family. Haines says it was based on a childhood memory of a local doctor’s family whose child went missing, presumed dead. Haines’s 70s childhood would prove a rich and often disturbing seam of material from this point on.

Haines had covered vaguely similar territory on Daughter Of A Child on Now I’m A Cowboy, but otherwise the only indie-rock point of comparison with regard to subject matter would be The Smiths’ mawkish Suffer Little Children from their first album. Where Morrissey’s lyric is mostly adolescent melodrama, Unsolved Child Murder is a richly detailed and empathetic depiction of tragedy, irrational desperation and a viciously judgmental world, wrapped up in a gorgeously melancholic tune (the EP version is enhanced with a French horn omitted from the album track that appeared later).

Along with the title track of After Murder Park, it showed how far Haines had shifted from the usual lyrical terrain of mid 90s popular music. The band had just finished recording these tracks in Abbey Road when Paul McCartney looked in and amiably asked if he could hear what Luke had been working on. “I politely decline the ex-Beatle’s request,” Haines recalled. “I don’t want him to be the first person to hear these songs; they’re too good for him.”

This startling work merited that kind of pride, but this EP contains another masterpiece:

mp3: The Auteurs – Back With The Killer Again takes the direct route of Lenny Valentino musically, although the atmosphere is distinctly psychotic. In Tim Mitchell’s deranged non-biography of Haines the author suggests the song is about “a man who takes drugs to turn himself into a murderer”, an explanation that may have come directly from Haines. Certainly the lyric offers a disturbing cluster of allusions to nerve gas, bad dope, primed bombs . . .

Those better versed in 70s counter-culture might be able to identify all the references in the line “John got Barrett for the lot, it must have been the Microdot”. All I can offer is that the Microdot happened to be the name of the early 70s gang of underground LSD chemists eventually busted by Operation Julie (as immortalised in the Clash song), who were rumoured to have links with the German terrorists Red Army Faction aka Baader-Meinhof, bringing it all back home to Haines’s reading lists. “A damning, self-mythologising riposte to the current crock that is the UK scene,” is how Haines described the song.

If the other tracks on the EP can’t match the impact of the first two, that’s not to say they are filler.

mp3: The Auteurs – Former Fan continues the murder theme, seemingly from the viewpoint of a Mark Chapman type obsessive whose disenchantment with a former idol turns homicidal. Or it might be a twisted love song, you tell me.

mp3: The Auteurs – Kenneth Anger’s Bad Dream name-checks the underground film-maker (or “pornographer” as Haines somewhat harshly calls him when introducing the song at live shows) and keen disciple of the Satanist Aleister Crowley. Haines’s insatiable cultural curiosity is on display once again, and given a pretty, folk-rock-ish tune.

The EP reached number 45 (says Wikipedia, Haines’s memory says 48), a commercial disappointment in the hit-crazed climate of Britpop, but undeniably a remarkable achievement considering the artistic reach and lyrical ambition.

chaval

BONUS POSTING : ESPECIALLY FOR ECHORICH : A FURTHER SINGULAR ADVENTURE OF LUKE HAINES

Echorich is an incredibly valued member of the TVV community, and when I picked up this comment just a few minutes ago, I really had to respond in the only way possible:-

All the songs that surround the release of Now I’m A Cowboy are what I go back to when listening to The Auteurs. There is so many songs that remind me of the sounds I heard growing up on music from the Downtown NYC music scene. Bits of Johnny Thunders, lots of Television, but filtered through what was then current music tropes. I think back and wonder how legendary The Auteurs might have been if they were around playing CBGB’s in ’76 or ’77.

Not sure if you will include this, but my favorite track from Now I’m A Cowboy, Underground Movies, was only released as a single in either France or Germany. I can’t believe it wasn’t release EVERYWHERE as an album single. Listening to it again today reminds me of how engaging and timeless it is. It also contains one of the best lyrics I have ever heard –

Four weeks later in April
I took her to the doctors
Said, “I’ve no prescription
For compromised solution” – MAGIC!

I hadn’t intended to feature it in the series as, to the best of my knowledge, it was only a CD promo single in France, a country where The Auteurs were highly popular, even more so than they were in the UK. But for Echorich, and also reflecting that two different mixes (more rock orientated and radio-friendly!!) had been made available:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – Underground Movies (alternative version)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Brainchild (alternative version)

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (8)

October 1994.

Oasis go top 10 with their new single Cigarettes & Alcohol.  But the chart isn’t quite Britpop crazy just yet.  The Top 5 slots are held by Take That, Pato Banton, Whigfield, Bon Jovi and Cyndi Lauper.  Elsewhere, singles by Madonna, Elton John, Wet Wet Wet, Boyz II Men, Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross & Mariah Carey, R Kelly and East 17 are riding high.  It’s not a vintage week and Luke Haines is probably very glad not being asked by his label to compete.

But in the absence of a third single from Now I’m A Cowboy, he comes up with an idea to get The Auteurs noticed in a completely different market place.  And Hut Records go for it.

Here’s wiki:-

The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq is a remix EP from British intelligent dance music producer μ-Ziq (a.k.a. Mike Paradinas). It was released October 1994, on Hut Records in the UK then released as μ-Ziq vs. the Auteurs on Astralwerks in the US during February 1995. μ-Ziq remixes tracks from the “Now I’m a Cowboy” album by The Auteurs, about which in his memoir Bad Vibes, singer Luke Haines claimed this album to be his version of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music —that it was deliberately unlistenable and mocking the critics who gave it great reviews.

μ-Ziq at this point was still very much an underground name, whose work was incredibly experimental (in later years he would come to the fore as one of the pioneers of mixing electronic music with drum’n’bass and creating a different sort of sound for clubbers). His work with The Auteurs was the first time he has been commissioned by a mainstream label, and I’ve no doubt that he was selected specifically by Luke Haines for his uncompromising approach to the project. Judge for yourself:-

mp3 : The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Lenny Valentino 3 (8:09)
mp3 : The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Daughter of A Child (6:10)
mp3 : The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Chinese Bakery (4:51)
mp3 : The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Underground Movies (4:40)
mp3 : The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Lenny Valentino 1 (12:27)
mp3 : The Auteurs vs. μ-Ziq – Lenny Valentino 2 (8:50)

I’ve put the times in of each track….you’ll see that the two-minute masterpiece that was Lenny Valentino got stretched out a fair bit.  I can’t imagine the EP got any plays on BBC Radio 1………

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (7)

Chaval told the story last week of how The Auteurs sought to bounce back from the disappointment of a close-run thing with the 1993 Mercury Prize by recording and releasing an astonishing and surreal single that stalled at #41.  He also highlighted just how good the b-sides were, all of which bore well for the release of the next album.

Prior to that, we were treated to another advance single.  As was all the rage at the time, there were multiple formats – 2 x 7″ singles or 2 x CD singles offering up different choices for b-sides, with either a white or black picture sleeve.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Chinese Bakery

This was another triumphant and superb piece of music, opening with a melancholic vocal and cello refering to someone from uptown going downtown to where the brokers and dealers socialise…and then the bass and guitars kick in with a fair amount of ferociousness.    At any other time other than April 1994, this would have been given all sorts of column inches in the music press as the next essential element in how British indie pop music should be developing…..except that it was released about a month after Blur had experienced their first Top 10 hit with Girls & Boys and in the same week as the debut single by a new band called Oasis.  Oh, and Suede were still riding high although there were rumours that Bernard Butler wasn’t entirely happy with his lot.  In short, the media had enough to keep themselves occupied with concerning themselves about the views of Luke Haines.

Chinese Bakery stalled at #42.  It was a tough one to take.

The white 7″ and CD single offered up two more outstanding cuts as b-sides, with the latter seeming to be a title for a Haines Manifesto :-

mp3 : The Auteurs – Government Bookstore
mp3 : The Auteurs – Everything You Say Will Destroy You

The black CD offered up one new acoustic song and an acoustic version of the new single:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – Modern History (acoustic)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Chinese Bakery (acoustic)

The following month, the album Now I’m A Cowboy hit the shops. Eleven biting, sarcastic, knowing and occasionally angry/resigned pieces of music, including the most recent two singles and a full band version of Modern History. It got rave reviews but it just didn’t really connect with the buying public, albeit it went Top 20 on the week of release. The problem was that it went down really quickly and the record label bosses despaired that it didn’t have any songs to compete with the happy-go-lucky stuff that was coming out of other parts of London and from Manchester. As Haines would relect many years later in Bad Vibes:-

Blur release their annoying Parklife album at approximately the same time as Now I’m A Cowboy. It sells 46 billion copies in Swindon alone and the world changes forever. From this point on anything that sells less than 46 billion is deemed a resounding failure. We are now on a different trajectory.

The coming weeks will show just how very different a trajectory was deliberately chosen……

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (6)

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

chaval

JC adds……

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.

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (5)


I finished last week’s post with mention of Luke Haines incredulous reaction to him and James Banbury, on cello, selling out a gig in Paris in February 1993.  One of the tracks from the show, Staying Power, has been included as a b-side of the 10″ version of How Could I Be Wrong, but such was the quality of the performance that Hut Records tried to drum up more interest in The Auteurs with the pressing of a 7″ single, consisting of live renditions of four more songs, all of which had appeared on New Wave.

The Live Acoustic EP wasn’t put out for general sale via shops, but instead seems to have been available, on request, by return mail. I’m not sure if it the release was widely publicised – I certainly don’t have a physical copy despite being an obvious member of the target audience. Having said that, the fact it is available for as little as £3 on Discogs would indicate a fair number were sent out and that it’s not too rare an artefact.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Housebreaker (live, 1993)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Junk Shop Clothes (live, 1993)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Star Struck (live, 1993)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Home Again (live, 1993)

All these years later, you’ll find that the Luke Haines of 2019 plays shows in which it is just him and an acoustic guitar, and on the odd occasion you might get to hear one or more of the above tracks.

Worth mentioning that the venue was the Passage Du Nord Ouest, one of the most famous and historic music halls in the city which actually closed down in 1996, but re-opened as a theatre in 2008.

Tune in next Sunday for a guest contribution as part of this series.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (4)

The second official single saw the light of day in May 1993.

Despite being one of the best 45s of the era, it was a monumental flop, not getting close to the Top 75.

mp3 : The Auteurs – How Could I Be Wrong

I’ve mentioned before how I’m a total sucker for cellos on pop singles, so you can see why I have such a love for this one.  Indeed, it was this song, more than any of the other early releases, that got me interested in The Auteurs. I still find it hard to believe that daytime radio weren’t remotely interested in playing it.

The single was made available on CD as well as two vinyl versions – 10″ and 12″.

There were two new songs made available as b-sides:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – High Diving Horses
mp3 : The Auteurs – Wedding Day

These are decent enough songs. maybe not quite as strong as the previous b-sides, but they were far from mere throwaway efforts.

The 10″ version of the single was a limited edition effort and it also offered up a live version of Staying Power (a b-side of debut single Showgirl) as recorded at a gig in Paris in February 1993.  Sadly, I don’t have a copy….

Worth mentioning that the Paris gig is mentioned quite extensively in Bad Vibes, the first of what have so far been two hugely enjoyable autobiographical volumes written by Luke Haines:-

“Early February and Paris is calling me. France is a country where English rock groups traditionally sell jack shit, and so despite all the press attention in the UK weeklies, no one at the record company has particularly high expectations. Then something happens.  The French press add two and two together and come up with 12. You see the album’s called New Wave – which translates as Nouvelle Vague. The band is called The Auteurs. Auteur theory, Cahiers du Cinema, ah, it all makes sense, a band of English Francophiles. Hell, the singer’s name even means Luke Hatred. The second most touted band in Great Britain seem to have French art house leanings.

“The Cellist, Manager Tony Beard and I fly to Paris to test the water with an acoustic gig at the Passage Nord Ouest…a Bohemian venue close to the Gard du Nord station. (The low-key acoustic promotional gig is a sure sign that the record company thinks the artist is going to tank, so keep the costs down and that’s your lot. Ta very much).

“There’s some kind of movie premiere at a cinema a few hundred yards from the venue and they’re queuing round the block for a glimpse of Gerard Depardieu.  Then it hits me.  The punters aren’t here to worship the old French idol; they’re queuing to get a glimpse of the new one.  C’est moi.  The tiny 250-capacity venue sold out in minutes. We could have filled it three or four times over. The gig is a revelation. The French existentialists listen in religious reverance. The New Wave songs deconstruct perfectly with acoustic guitar and cello.  The audience lap it up, surrendering themselves to abandon at the end of each song. Four standing ovations later and I’m back in the dressing room.”

I’ll return to this very gig in next week’s instalment……

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (3)

I ended last week’s posting with the words “There were a number of really strong candidates for the next official single, the one that would, from the marketing perspective, hopefully get the band onto Top of The Pops and lead to increased sales of the album, thanks to more folk become aware of what they were capable of. Except……”

……The Auteurs got sidetracked by an invitation to be part of the Rough Trade Singles Club, whose mission was to save the 7″ singles by offering subscribers a one-off record every four weeks, recorded by artists ranging from the talented but unknown to the highly collectable.

The first release had been in October 1991.  The Auteurs would be the fifteenth in February 1993 .  There would, in the end, be 47 such pieces of plastic before the venture folded.

mp3 : The Auteurs – Housebreaker (acoustic version)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Valet Parking (acoustic version)

Both songs had originally featured on New Wave and the first of them must have been one of the tracks that Hut had been eyeing-up for themselves as a 45, albeit the lyric was maybe a tad dark and pessimistic.

The limited nature of this release meant it had no chance of taking the band into the charts.  Maybe the next time?

JC

PS……delighted to announce that I’ll be getting some assistance with this series as chaval has accepted an invite to contribute the occasional guest posting, starting in a few weeks time.

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (2)

Thanks for the positive feedback after Part 1.  I wasn’t entirely sure if looking at the career of Luke Haines would be of much appeal, but there’s certainly enough there to keep it going for a bit.

The Auteurs released their debut album in February 1993.

New Wave contained 12 tracks and was issued on vinyl, cassette and CD. The majority of folk would likely have gone for the CD version as the format was now very popular thanks to dramatic and regular reductions in the price of the technology on which the discs had to be played and everyone with an opinion was now declaring that vinyl was on its deathbed.

Those who went for the vinyl can be smug as copies these days are fetching decent sums via the second-hand market, especially if you have the version that came with a bonus 7” single:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – She Might Take A Train
mp3 : The Auteurs – Subculture (They Can’t Find Him)

The latter of the these tracks could also be found on the CD, but only if you were clever/patient enough to wait for a little over 20 seconds after the album had seemingly come to an end as it was a ‘hidden’ track. The former, however, was only available via the free 7” single, a situation that remained unaltered until 2005 when a 3xCD compilation was issued.

New Wave was a well-received album in terms of the music critics and the increasing number of fans being attracted to the band. Reviews were almost universally positive, with many comparing Haines favourably with the likes of Morrissey and Ray Davies as a result of his ability to make wry and humorous observations of everyday life in England. There was very much a playful dark tone to many of the songs, cleverly disguised by some ridiculously catchy guitar-orientated songs, beautifully underpinned by the use of the cello. The album would make it to the shortlist of the recently established Mercury Prize which sought to identify the ‘best’ LP released by a British act in a given year (the first award in 1992 went to Primal Scream for ScreamadelicaThe Auteurs lost out narrowly in 93 to Suede’s self-title debut effort).

For once, the critics were right as New Wave is an astonishingly good and incredibly confident debut. There’s not a duff moment throughout its 40-plus minutes; furthermore, the inclusion of both songs on the bonus 7” would not have diminished the overall quality.  Subculture, in particular, is something of a stand-out.

There were a number of really strong candidates for the next official single, the one that would, from the marketing perspective, hopefully get the band onto Top of The Pops and lead to increased sales of the album as the general public become more aware of what The Auteurs were capable of.  Except……………..(ah, you’ll just have to come back and visit next Sunday!)

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF LUKE HAINES (1)

I’ve decided that The Auteurs should be the next act for the Sunday singles rundown, followed by some Luke Haines solo 45s. I won’t be including The Servants or Black Box Recorder, both of which were very fine bands that had Haines in the line-up, on the basis that he was part of a collective rather than the main focus of attention. Another side-project, in the shape of Baader Meinhof, will almost certainly feature…..

For those of you who aren’t immediately familiar with this bona-fide maverick genius of the UK music scene, I’ll use the opening post in the series to set the scene.

Luke Haines was born in London on 7 October 1967. Like many other talented musicians, he tried getting a band going, on more than one occasion, while he was still at school. But it took until he was almost out of his teens before he found himself in a studio when he contributed guitar and piano to the six tracks on the debut solo album released by David Westlake, who was the frontman of indie band The Servants, whose first two singles had been well received by the music press and had found favour with John Peel.

Haines then officially joined The Servants in 1987, appearing on two excellent albums – Disinterest (1990) and Small Time (1991) – although the latter wasn’t actually given a commercial release until 2012 and only after the former had been cited by Mojo magazine, in December 2011, as one of the greatest British indie records of all time. The failure to obtain a contemporary release for Small Time led to the break-up of The Servants at which point Luke Haines made his move to front his own band.

It wasn’t actually meant to turn out that way, judging by an interview Haines gave in 2016 in which he revealed he had wanted to make a solo record but realised he needed a band to play the songs live. He enlisted his girlfriend Alice Readman on bass and his friend Glenn Collins on drums, playing gigs in all the small venues that made up the scene in London and at which you would inevitably find one or more journalists looking to ‘discover’ the next big thing to write up.

There was something of a fuss about the band, to the extent that they were able to go into a studio as an unsigned band and put together a debut album, safe in the knowledge that their management were conducting a bidding war which was won by the relatively new Hut Records, an indie label that was in fact wholly owned and bankrolled by Virgin Records.

The first single was released in late 1992, on 12” vinyl and CD:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – Showgirl
mp3 : The Auteurs – Staying Power
mp3 : The Auteurs – Glad To Be Gone

Showgirl is a very fine debut, one which benefits immensely from the use of the cello, played by James Banbury who would, in due course, become a full-time member of the band. It is, looking back, quite a strange selection for the debut 45 in that it wasn’t really commercial enough to ensure widespread radio play, but it was one which would still enable the muso journalists fans to talk up the band and their potential, pointing out that that they were a cut-above and totally different from so many of their peers making music for indie labels. Yes, there were guitars and there was a distinctly English-type vocal delivery, but the subject matter was off-kilter and distinctly un-rock’n’roll. It very much worked as an appetizer for the release the following month of the debut album…..

Also worth mentioning that the two b-sides are well worth a listen with The Auteurs, akin to Suede (the band the media most often linked them to) wanting to offer up quality tracks on each single so that they would be enjoyed and treasured by fans.

JC