THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 6)

If Paul Haig was looking for evidence that Island Records were going to squeeze as much out of him as possible, then it could be easily found with the decision to release a third single from the debut album, despite the fact that the two previous 45s had been commercial flops:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Justice

Look in back on things, the Rhythm of Life album suffered from being recorded and released at a time when changes to electronic music with an indie bent was being transformed by New Order, and in particular Blue Monday, and the production techniques brought by Alex Sadkin to the album were light and disposable in comparison.

The fact that Paul was totally disillusioned with things can be seen from the songs he elected to perform when invited onto an evening show on BBC Radio 1 for a session in May 1983. Four tracks were aired, and none of them were on the album he could have and perhaps should have been promoting. Indeed, he went further by going with a session in which guitars featured prominently as evidenced by this being lifted for use on the b-side of the new single:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – On This Night Of Decision

Worth noting that the producer of the BBC session was John Porter, who would, just a couple of years later, work with The Smiths.

The 12″ release of the single had a bonus track, and it was an earlier version of Justice, produced by Paul himself, and one which had been slated as a potential 45 by his Belgian label only for the licensing arrangement (which I referred to in an earlier entry in this series) to put a halt to things:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Justice 82 (12 inch version)

A few years later, the 7″ version of the song was finally made available via a compilation album.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Justice (original 7″ version)

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 5)

The fact that Heaven Sent had flopped didn’t deter Island Records from having another stab at the pop charts a few weeks later, with a ridiculously upbeat and uptempo pop song which had been subject to all sorts of sounds, bells and drum effects from Alex Sadkin in the producer’s chair. The purists hated it….this fan loved it!!

mp3 : Paul Haig – Never Give Up (Party, Party)

I never actually bought the 7″ version and the above mp3 is ripped from the album Rhythm of Life. I still have my 12″ copy from all those years ago:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Never Give Up (Party, Party)(12 inch mix)

It’s two minutes longer, primarily as a result of a marimba solo in the middle. And unlike the 12″ version of Heaven Sent, I really like the way this has been extended out, albeit it is naff and 80s in places!

The b-side is, sad to say, six and half minutes of torture, with the a-side mixed up and strangled by a remixer called Groucho Smykle. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Heartache (party mix)

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 4)

Paul Morley, of New Musical Express (NME) was one of the most influential opinion-formers of the early 80s.

He was, certainly at one point in time, a huge fan of Paul Haig, suggesting in July 1982 that he, Billy Mackenzie, Jim Kerr and Martin Fry were the potential saviours of pop music. There’s no doubt that Morley was prone to exaggeration but his words and thoughts didn’t do Paul any harm.

Paul had continued to work in Belgium, recording material which ended up being shelved for a while, but not for reasons that the label didn’t want to issue it. Things were moving fast around Paul, thanks in part to his name being mentioned by Morley and others, and Crépuscule elected to accept an offer from Island Records for a licensing deal which resulted in a change of plans that stopped the release of a new single and an album of swing tunes.

Instead, in late 1982, financed by Island, Paul Haig found himself in New York, working with producer Alex Sadkin whose track record had included Grace Jones but was now primarily involved with The Thompson Twins, which perhaps gives an indication of the market where the label was intending to push Paul towards.

There were big expectations from Island for the first single through the new arrangements. It was an update on a track dating back to the Josef K days, although such was the work in the studio that it proved to be unrecognisable:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Heaven Sent

Released with an Island Records catalogue number (IS111), it was a huge favourite at Strathclyde Students Union, possibly because myself and a few mates consistently asked for it to get played and we always ensured we got up and danced to it, and as time went on, so did many other regulars. It got a fair bit of radio play, certainly in Scotland, but the record-buying public didn’t take to it and it stalled at a bitterly disappointing #74.

The b-side of the 7″ was a remix of the cover of Running Away. The 12″ version of Heaven Sent is soooooo 80s, with all sorts of production tricks thrown at it and it extended out to not far short of double its length.

As I’ve said before, I’m not actually all that fond of the 12″ cut as the extra three and a bit minutes veers to being a tad self-indulgent. The b-side was also extended with a segue into one of Paul’s own songs:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Heaven Sent (12″ version)
mp3 : Paul Haig – Running Away/Back Home

If you want to learn how different it was to the Josef K days of not much more than 18 months previously:-

mp3 : Josef K – Heaven Sent

JC

 

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 3)

The first essential single of the solo era. Released on 12″ vinyl on the dance-orientated Interference imprint of his Belgian label, this was Paul Haig making a fabulous synth-driven pop song, with perfect backing vocals from Giles and Samantha of Hey! Elastica who were featured just a few weeks back in the Saturday series.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Blue For You
mp3 : Paul Haig – Blue For You (version)

It seemed really exotic to go into a Glasgow record shop to purchase a piece of vinyl pressed up in Belgium that featured musicians from Edinburgh. I still play this record on a regular basis these days.

Paul would later perform Blue For You in a very rare live TV performance. The backing vocals in this instance are from session singers:-

The song would later be re-recorded for Paul’s debut LP, but this early version is the definitive version.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 2)

The proper debut single was released in May 1982. Paul Haig, as mentioned last week, had signed to Belgian label Les Disques du Crépuscule, but his debut 45 appeared on Operation Twilight in his homeland, a label which was in fact the UK side of his Belgian operations but with some input and support from Rough Trade.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Running Away

A fairly honest update of the original written and recorded back in 1970 with synths replacing the original horns.

mp3 : Sly & The Family Stone – Runnin’ Away

Truth be told, it did feel a little bit underwhelming at the time with very few Josef K fans able to believe their ears. It’s one which has grown on me somewhat, but it does still seem a bit rudimental, almost as if Paul was himself very unsure what his next steps should be.

The b-side is quite different, and isn’t a million miles away from the sound of pre-hit Human League. Again, it took a bit of getting used to, but once it was accepted the angular guitars were now a thing of the past and the electronica had to be embraced fully, this became an early favourite of the solo era.

mp3 : Paul Haig – Time

Both tracks today have been ripped from 7″ vinyl and as a consequence are a touch lo-fi.

JC

THE SINGULAR ADVENTURES OF PAUL HAIG (Part 1)

I’ve decided that Paul Haig should be the next subject for the Sunday singles series. I realise that many of you won’t be that bothered over the next few weeks and months given that he’s far from a household name and indeed could almost be the perfect definition of a cult artist; but I’m a huge fan and feel that his body of solo work, now stretching back the best part of 40 years in which he has continually tinkered and altered his sound, is very worthy of being put under the spotlight.

Paul first came to prominence as the lead vocalist of Josef K, one of the four bands to release material on Postcard Records. They split up in August 1981 and it is fair to say that, like many others, their legacy and impact was only fully realised many years after when the next generation of musicians began to name check them as key influences. His solo career began almost immediately,  but not in any straightforward fashion, signing to a Belgian-based label – Les Disques Du Crepuscule – while opting to also adopt the moniker Rhythm of Life Organisation (RoL) under which he intended to release experimental material, much of which would be far removed from the post-punk, angular guitar sounds associated with his former band.

Indeed, it was as RoL that the first solo 45 was issued, and not on the label to which he had signed.

mp3 : RoL – Soon

Ok….the pedants among you might argue this is NOT a Paul Haig solo record, given that the credits are:-

Stephen Harrison : voice, guitar & lyrics
Paul Haig : other instruments & voice

But it’s an important staging post for what would follow in the succeeding years which is why I’m using it to open the new series.

Soon was issued jointly via Rational Records and Rhythm of Life Records and given two catalogue numbers – RATE 6 and RHYTHM 1 (these things were really important to those of us smitten by how Factory Records were keeping stock of the things they were involved in). Rational was a short-lived label, owned and run by Allan Campbell, who had been the manager of Josef K and would remain a key player in the Edinburgh music scene for a long while to come.  The label would release eight pieces of plastic all told, including the follow-up by RoL, a double-sided single entitled Uncle Sam/Portrait of Heart, both written and performed by the late Sebastian Horsley with Paul’s role restricted to keyboards, bass and second guitar; as such I’m not intending to include it in the series.

Here’s yer b-side of Soon, and it isn’t a cover:-

mp3 : RoL – Summertime

Boths songs are a tad on the light side, very pop-orientated with a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place a short while later on Zoo Records, the label which would launch the careers of so many 80s musicians in Liverpool.

JC

ONE WEEK TONIGHT……

I’m in Ireland this weekend and during whatever down time I have I’m sure to be mulling over what tracks I’ll air during my stint on the decks at Simply Thrilled exactly one week tonight.

I’ve got at least 250 options on the longlist…I need to get that down to 15-18 for an hour-long set or perhaps a little more for a 90 minute stint. just about every time I decide something isn’t going to get played, I give it a listen and realise that I can’t discard it, as happened the other day with this:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Blue For You

An 80s dance classic (and which couldn’t be mistaken for any other decade) on which the former Josef K fella is helped out by Giles and Samantha from Hey! Elastica on backing vocals. It was released on 12″ vinyl in 1983 by the Belgian label Les Disques Du Crepuscule. The b-side was a remix in which Paul’s vocal contribution is removed in its entirety:-

mp3 : Paul Haig – Blue For You (version)

A year or so later, a particularly dapper, handsome and cool Paul Haig appeared on Switch, a short-lived music programme on Channel 4 in which he performed Blue For You

JC