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READ IT IN BOOKS : LUKE HAINES (2)

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As with yesterday, another re-post. This time from 11 December 2012:-

Readers of old will hopefully recall back in early 2009 when I posted a very glowing review of Bad Vibes, the wonderfully funny and acidic take on Britpop as seen through the eyes of Luke Haines.

The follow-up to Bad Vibes was published in mid-2011. Entitled Post-Everything, it was a book I rushed out and bought on the first day it was available…but the lack of any subsequent review will perhaps indicate that I was left feeling a wee bit disappointed with it. It wasn’t that Post-Everything was a rotten read….it was more that it didn’t tickle me the same way as Bad Vibes…..but as with when I go and see a disappointing gig I don’t offer my negative thoughts via this blog.

But the other day I picked up Post-Everything again, and this second go has totally changed my mind as I’m very firmly of the view that it’s not only as good as Bad Vibes but is a more enjoyable and entertaining read. It’s a book that is still incredibly funny in places but there’s also a lot of cracking passages in which Luke Haines got me thinking about lots of different things well beyond music. Oh and there’s a fair bit of piss-taking at famous people – dead and alive – in the music industry which is wonderful to read.

In a way, my view in this book is akin to that when you go back after a while to a record that you rush out and buy and find a bit of a let-down, but as time goes on and you get a bit more used to it – perhaps appreciating the subtle change in sound that the band/singer has adopted – it becomes something of a classic. A bit like Strangeways Here We Come which I initially couldn’t bring myself to like, partly as it was The Smiths break-up album but mainly because there was a lack of killer jangly guitar tracks on it…..but after some nine months once I’d resigned myself to the fact the band wouldn’t be getting back together again I was able to listen without prejudice…..and it is now my favourite studio LP the band ever made.

I used to say that if I ever wanted to be stuck in a pub with two other folk just to listen to what they had to say it would have been Tony Wilson and Bill Drummond. I can pay Luke Haines no higher compliment than saying nowadays I’d love for him to be the replacement for Tony…..although I’ve a feeling that if that particular scenario was to arise it wouldn’t take too long before Haines and Drummond were physically fighting with one another…and I abhor mindless violence!

The period covered by Post-Everything is mid 1997 – January 2006. An awful lot happens to Luke Haines in that period including unexpected chart success and being dropped more than once by one or other of his record labels. There’s a particularly brilliant chapter about the demise of Hut Records and the devious plot that was hatched to get one final wad of money from the bosses under which old songs were re-recorded and sneaked through as back-catalogue. The result was the fantastically titled Das Capital : The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines And The Autuers. And in typical style, not only was it old songs given lush orchestral arrangements, there were a handful of new tunes to enjoy. Seems appropriate to go with some stuff from Das Capital today:-

mp3 : Luke Haines – How Could I Be Wrong
mp3 : Luke Haines – Lenny Valentino
mp3 : Luke Haines – Satan Wants Me

Enjoy

READ IT IN BOOKS : LUKE HAINES (1)

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LHBadVibes

A bit pressed for time just now, but no apologies for this re-posting from January 2009. It follows-on nicely from yesterday’s effort:-

There’s been a substantial number of good reviews about this book…..and here’s another one coming.

For those of you who don’t know, Luke Haines first came to fame as a member of The Autuers, before later making records under his own name, as well as a member of Baader Meinhoff and Black Box Recorder. The fact that first chart success coincided with the rise of a few other UK bands at a time when American bands and grunge was the dominant force. This led to Mr Haines, along with the likes of Brett Anderson of Suede, to be christened as the founding-fathers of Britpop….

But this bio, which covers 1992 -1997, makes it quite clear that Luke Haines had very no time or most of his peers. Indeed, an anecdote that pre-dates The Autuers has the author admitting and illustrating that he has always had an arrogant and cocky attitude, an astounding sense of self-importance and a massive ego. But he argues that he had the talent which justified all of this and therefore has every right to be so dismissive of those in the music industry whom he felt had little or no ability.

There’s a very long roll-call of folk who really do get it with both barrels within the 243 pages, some of them being heroes of mine that I have long loved and admired (e.g. Matt Johnson of The The). Sometimes I was wincing as I read a particularly barbed paragraph, but mostly I was nodding in agreement, or indeed laughing out loud.

By the end of the book, I had no doubt in my mind that Luke Haines is someone who cares passionately about music, but has no time not for the music industry or those who service it. Some of his best passages are about journalists, and he takes great pleasure in some of the things said about him over the years. For instance, one scathing reviewer in Melody Maker thought they were insulting him by describing him as the new Nick Lowe, little realising that for Luke Haines, that was just about as big a compliment he could be given.

One of the other things the book reminded me of was how few Britpop singles went to #1 and how the very highest echelons of the pop charts were as rank rotten during this so-called golden era as they are now – Mr Blobby, 2 Unlimited, Take That, Mariah Carey, East 17 and Robson & Jerome are among the acts that hit the top spot. And what Luke Haines has written has got me thinking just how much of Britpop will be truly remembered in 20 or 30 years time outwith Blur, Pulp, Suede and Oasis (and of course, the first two of these bands had been around for a few years before the actual movement).

I don’t agree with every word that is in the book as I reckon a number of the acts that Luke rails against had some talent. In the introduction, our esteemed author makes it quite clear that he wishes things had turned out differently, and while there’s a lot of bitterness, the vitriol and poison is laced with too much humour, much of it self-deprecating, for the book to leave any lingering bad taste. Indeed in his intro, the author makes it clear the he didn’t set out on an exercise in score settling – although he also acknowledges that the casual reader may have every reason to beg differ – and that what he has written is very much what he thought at the time, not necessarily what he thinks now. Nor does he bear any ill towards the people and characters in the book…..although I think that might just be stretching things a bit far.

I’m guessing that most folk who pop into TVV consider themselves fairly serious music fans. Well, I reckon every serious music fan would enjoy devouring Bad Vibes on first reading, and then a few weeks later will be more than happy to read it again….it’s a real early highlight of 2009.

Oh and it also made me want to go back and listen to some of the great music he’s made over the years:-

mp3 : The Auteurs – How Could I Be Wrong (1993)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Lenny Valentino (single version) (1994)
mp3 : The Auteurs – Unsolved Child Murder (live on French Radio) (1996)
mp3 : Black Box Recorder – England Made Me (1998)
mp3 : Black Box Recorder – Andrew Ridgeley (2003)
mp3 : Luke Haines – Leeds United (2007)

Enjoy