THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 20)

I promised you last week that the final part of this, what I hope has been an informative and enjoyable series, would be worthwhile.

Those of you who have been with me since the days of the original Vinyl Villain Blog (born 30 Sep 2006, murdered by Google on 24 July 2013) will know that Paul Haig embraced and encouraged the sort of things this and other places do to respect music and musicians.

In March 2009, I put up a post which featured two Edinburgh acts – Paul Haig and Hey! Elastica. To my surprise and anger, Google acted on a dmca notice and removed the post and the links. The bizarre thing was that the offending post had been written on the back of an e-mail from someone associated with Paul Haig’s management thanking me for featuring him previously on TVV, the knock-on effect of which led to Paul himself contributing a couple of lines to the post, which was just a huge thrill for me. Oh and the song was one which was impossible to have unless you owned a particular piece of vinyl from the 80s.

It turned out that Paul and his management team were every bit as pissed off about it as I was, offering encouragement and then getting in touch with Google to express their dismay. Paul then sent me an email to say I had full permission to provide a free mp3 of his single Reason as his way of expressing solidarity with music bloggers whom he knew were doing a lot to encourage the sale of music and not just acting as thieves or pirates.

All this led to the genesis of an idea for bloggers to say thank you back to Paul, which we did by having Paul Haig Day on 6 April 2009, with more than 50, the world over, of us dedicating our posts on that date to his music, whether solo or with his old band. It even got a mention on a music station in New York City!!

The idea was repeated in 2010, and even more bloggers joined in. But what made it particularly special was that Paul offered up, not only more words of encouragement, but provide The Vinyl Villain with the opportunity to feature what was, at that point in time, an exclusive brand new remix of a song:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Trip Out The Rider (remix)

Trip Out The Rider was the lead off track from Paul’s 2009 album, Relive, a work which at long last was seeing him get credit for much of what was happening in the world of indie music, and in particular, his influence of the likes of Franz Ferdinand. It also saw him revisit a few old songs, including Listen To Me (from has time working with Billy Mackenzie and which I featured a couple of weeks back) as well as Round and Round on which he had worked with Malcolm Ross, with the latter including it on one his own solo LPs as far back as 1995.

Paul, in providing the exclusive remix, also let me tell the world that a further remix of Trip Out The Rider had been done by Fred Deakin from Lemon Jelly, the highly innovative UK electronic act, and would be made available as a very exclusive 7″ vinyl single later in 2010….1 November 2010 as it turned out:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Trip Out The Rider (Impotent Fury remix)

And, alongside the track made available via the blog almost seven months previous, was this b-side:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Signals (Impotent Fury remix)

The three tracks have, to this point, been the final single released by Paul Haig. In recent years, he’s gone back to albums only, releasing Kube in 2013 on ROL while 2018 saw him return yet again to Les Disques du Crépuscule for his 13th solo album, The Wood, in which he has pushed the boundaries even further than he did on his Cinematique series, featuring nine pieces of music composed over a three year period, packed with samples, electronica and passages of guitar for which one reviewer wrote:-

“Haig has put together a work that’s in turns provocative, danceable, obscure, immediate and beguilingly rum. What The Wood actually consists of is eight pieces that mostly are dance/trance-orientated with repeated vocal motifs. The concept gives it an added edge and with a little imagination you can feel the eerie peace of the Forest and the skips and dips of the mind. Aside from the concept there is plenty to get one to, cough, ‘cut a rug’. But everything here fits and you have to admire Haig’s craftsmanship in the way it has been put together – producing a musical storybook without words in effect. Forty years into his recording career he’s still breaking new ground.”

The 1980s me might have struggled a bit with The Wood, but my tastes have thankfully expanded. I’ll be saying more about this remarkable album in the fullness of time, but for now thanks for sticking with the past 20 Sunday posts. The spotlight will be turned on someone different, but equally as interesting, from next week.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 19)

Last week featured the unexpected release of Reason in 2007, the first single by Paul Haig in the best part of a decade which came on the back of a run of album releases on his revived Rhythm of Life (ROL) label.

It was followed up, later that year, by the album Electronik Audience, 13 tracks which, for the most part, blended vocals and experimental/soundtrack style music to what sadly, but predictably, was an uninterested audience. Difficult at the time to find in shops but available on-line, it’s an album which even the most hardcore of fans found a strange listen upon release, one which kind of harked back a decade to the sounds of the likes of Daft Punk.

Much to everyone’s surprise, it would take only a further 12 months before a new batch of material, with the album Go Out Tonight….and even more surprisingly there was a fair bit of guitar work in among some fabulous keyboard work. In places, it has songs as light and poppy as Paul has ever released, while also being home to the song Data Retro which harked back magnificently to the era when he almost became a huge star and the likes of New Order (among many others) were in debt to him. There were certainly a number of possibilities for singles but the decision was taken just to go with one and even then, it was download only:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Hippy Dippy (Pharmaceutically Trippy)

Maybe it’s just me, but this is one of the merely OK tracks on the album where there are a number of standouts. But then again, it’s the type of noise that Paul hadn’t been making for a long while and so it was perhaps understandable that this was the one made available above other, better (IMHO) contenders.

One more week to go in this series. And it will go out with an absolute bang. Trust me on that.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 18)

I mentioned in last week’s post that Paul Haig had revived ROL Records in 1999 for the purpose of issuing Memory Palace, attributed to Haig/Mackenzie, and consisting of the music that he and Billy Mackenzie had collaborated on in the early-mid 90s.

ROL has been the vehicle for Paul’s work throughout the 21st Century, all of which in the early part of the decade were albums, with the imagined soundtrack albums Cinematique 2 and Cinematique 3 appearing in 2001 and 2003 respectively. ROL was also the label for the issuing of some more posthumous (and quickly deleted) previously unreleased material by Billy Mackenzie (solo or in collaboration with Steve Aungle) and a live CD by Josef K, featuring two Edinburgh gigs from back in 1981. Again all of this activity was between 2001-03.

It was another four years before the next burst of activity, with the biggest surprise that it consisted of a 7″ single and download:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Reason
mp3 : Paul Haig – Maybe

There was never any real push to make it a hit – it was pushed and promoted largely through Paul’s website and I’m not sure just how easy it was to find in shops. It’s a decent enough and enjoyable piece of music, not as immediate or upbeat as some of his previous 45s, but catchy enough, and with its refrain of ‘It’s time I was leaving…I’m moving on….’ it seemed to be sending out the message that this could be the farewell to the industry.

Thankfully it wasn’t.

The b-side is a short (just over 2:20) but interesting enough song….it was just a real joy to hear Paul singing again after all these years.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 17)

The period after the final release on Crépuscule saw Paul Haig back in Scotland where he rekindled not only his friendship but his working relationship with Billy Mackenzie, the two of them getting together every now and again in Paul’s home studio to work on tracks that could, perhaps, one day see the light of day. Neither of the two geniuses had record deals at the time (which in itself is indicative of the sad state of the music industry) and for the most part, it was all about enjoying one another’s company.

Billy’s suicide in September 1997 was devastating to his family and friends, and even today, more than 20 years on, there’s a sense of disbelief about it.  Paul was sitting on the music they had made, and in 1999 he took the decision to make available nine bits of music they had put down between December 1993 and July 1995 as the album Memory Palace, attributed to Haig/Mackenzie. It was released on ROL Records, newly revived by Paul for the purpose and the first on the label in 18 years.

A few lucky people had been able to hear one of the songs prior to Memory Palace, thanks to a very limited 7″ vinyl release in 1998.

Syntanic was a label based in Vienna which, from 1993 to 2001, released records, tapes and CDs, specialising in exceedingly limited editions.

100 individually copies of the song Listen To Me, backed by two tracks, Looking and Irresponsible, formed the release with the catalogue number nice49. Of these, 15 were even more exclusive with a signed card lyric insert.

It’s not something I have in my collection – there’s currently one for sale on Discogs just now from a German dealer who is looking for £50. I might treat myself at one point in the future…

I’m assuming that the version of the song is that which was released on Memory Palace the following year:-

mp3 : Haig/Mackenzie – Listen To Me

Billy’s backing vocals make this a really moving and emotional listen, and it’s interesting to ponder if a more widely available release would have perhaps troubled the charts….but most likely not.

It’s a song that Paul that has returned to a couple of times. First of all, on his 2009 album Relive:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Listen To Me

I can’t help but feel that Paul would have welled up a few times recording his fresh vocal, thinking back to the happy times he spent with his great friend.

And then, just last year, a different version was made available on the compilation, Goosebumps – 25 Years of Marina Records. It’s a much more gentle and sedate take, and it comes with a wonderfully imagined string section, arranged by Dave Scott of The Pearlfishers. And while it didn’t enjoy a release until 2018, the notes in the accompanying booklet date the recording back to 2005:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Listen To Me (orchestral version)

Worth also mentioning that a track called Looking (the name of one of the b-sides of the Vienna release) was recorded for Paul’s album Cinematique 2, released on ROL in 2001. Again, I can’t be sure if it;s the same as the 1998 single, but here’s the 2001 version:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Looking

I know this post has been a bit all over the place time wise, but I did want to make available all three versions of Listen To Me that I have in the collection.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 16)

Given that nobody was interested in assisting his efforts to become a pop star, it was no real surprise that Paul Haig turned inwardly and that his next release proved to be experimental and as far removed from a commercial sound as could be imagined.

He was assisted by an old acquaintance, James Nice who, as a schoolboy, had founded the LTM label in Edinburgh in 1983 issuing material by bands previously associated with Factory Records. After attending university, James ended up in Brussels where he worked for Crépuscule and kept his own label going, specialising in the reissuing of long-deleted cult albums and material on the new CD format with some of the biggest sales coming via a Josef K CD compilation and the reissue of the Postcard album by the band. He was keen, however, to issue new albums from scratch and provided a home for Paul to record and release Cinematique in 1991, a wholly instrumental album of imaginary film themes.

At the same time, Crépuscule was determined to do justice to the work that had been shelved by Circa (see last week’s posting for details) and sought about finding a way to have it see the light of day.

And so, in 1993, a full four years after its completion, the album that should have been called Right On Line was released by Crépuscule as Coincidence vs Fate. A three-track CD single was also issued to help support the promotion of the album.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Surrender
mp3 : Paul Haig – Heaven Help You Now (remix 93)
mp3 : Paul Haig – Coincidence vs Fate

The lead track was on the album, and is Paul’s take on a Suicide song dating back to 1988.  It’s quite unlike any other 45 in this series…..and it’s one of his best…..nothing like Josef K, nothing like his electronica period and very like something out of a David Lynch movie.

You might recall that the press release included in last week’s posting refered to the fact that Mantronik had been working with Paul on an update of one of his most dynamic old songs and at long last, it was available. It was well worth the wait.

The final instrumental(ish) track, despite being the name of the parent album, was only available via the single which just seemed to be such a Crépuscule/Haig thing to do.

Neither the album nor the single sold all that well (there’s a shock!!!) and it proved to be the end of Paul’s long relationship with Brussels.  It would also mark the beginning of a very quiet period for Paul, with a full five years before any more new music appeared.

JC

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 15)

So much promise within the press notes to accompany the release of the single….but when it failed to shift copies in any significant numbers, Circa took the decision to cut Paul Haig adrift, and in doing so chose not to release the album, despite Paul and many others thinking it was as good as anything in his career

All I’ve got to offer today is the 18 Feb release with the vocals provided by Voice of Reason:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Flight X (New School Mix)
mp3 : Paul Haig – Flight X (Music School Instrumental)
mp3 : Paul Haig – Flight X (Mantronik Mix)

The decison to put the album on the shelf really was the lowest point in a career which had promised much but inexplicably never ignited with the general public.

Some old friends did,however, come to his rescue……as next week’s edition will show.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 14)

The lack of sales for Chain didn’t perturb Circa Records too much as they were happy enough to provide funding for Paul Haig a return to the studio to make a new album, scheduled for release in 1991.

The new material was being worked up in New York and Chicago with help from Mantronik and Lil’ Louis, along with contributions from The Chimes, whose drummer James Locke had been pals with Paul for years. In an interview given to Melody Maker at the time, Paul said:-

“This is essentially a dance album, but it has a lot of different elements in there that you don’t normally hear on dance albums. There’s a lot of hooks and pop influences, but no rock influences – thank God! The whole idea was to work with different producers and let them get on with it, which was a departure since I’d produced myself for so long.”

“We recorded the stuff with Mantronik at his Sound Factory studio. He works very quickly, rattling stuff off in a couple of hours. He replaced all my beats with a combination of programming and breakbeats, mostly ’70s funk stuff. Louis took a completely different approach. He replaced the rhythm tracks on two of the songs and one we left as was. He works with much more basic equipment – he’s not as computerised as Mantronik. There was absolutely no sampling with Louis, he’s much more into the ‘real musician’ school of thinking.”

The first single in October 1990 gave an indication of what to expect:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – I Believe In You

Yup….incredibly similar to how the Pet Shop Boys would develop their sound in later years…..Paul Haig was, again, ahead of the curve and yet again failed to sell many copies.

Here’s the 12″ edition with b-sides:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – I Believe In You (Life in a Dolphinarium Mix)
mp3 : Paul Haig – Flight X (Long Flight Mix)
mp3 : Paul Haig – I Believe In You (Loop Mix)

JC