Mainstream commercial success has always eluded Luke Haines partly (as confirmed in his autobiography 'Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part In its Downfall') due to his stubborn refusal to "play the game". However, through his work with The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder, the one-off Baader Meinhof concept project and his solo work, Luke Haines is without doubt one of the finest and most consistent songwriters of the past 20 years. This collection consists of 34 songs recorded between 1992 and 2003. 18 are by The Auteurs, four by Baader Meinhof, two from the Das Capital album, eight solo tracks and two from The Auteurs v µ-Ziq remix album. None of his work with Black Box Recorder features on this compilation.
Haines is a master word-smith and his lyrics, that are more often than not filled with plenty of disdain, cynicism and sarcasm, tend to focus on society's misfits and outsiders. And he's got the tunes too. Much of The Auteurs' early work has a cool but subtle 70's glam-rock influence - more Marc Bolan (on anti-depressants) than Bowie - but Haines is never afraid to turn up the amps for full effect, as evidenced on 'Lenny Valentino'. There are plenty of guitar hooks and Haine's sneering, breathy vocals compliment his lyrics. The four tracks from the Baader Meinhof concept album feature dense (almost tribal at times) percussion juxtaposed with strings. The solo material sees Haines experimenting with electronic sounds and more orchestration. The two tracks from the mid 90's Auteurs Vs µ-Ziq remix album are OK, but I wouldn't miss them if they weren't here.
Although not as comprehensive as the 'Luke Haines Is Dead' 3CD retrospective, this two disc set represents excellent value for a fiver. Clocking in at just over two hours with a brief introduction by Haines in the liner notes, this budget compilation is the perfect introduction to his music. Finally, Luke Haines is still very much alive and still releasing music of the highest quality as evidenced on last year's '9½ Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling'.
on 3 January 2013
Be in no doubt: this man understands what is wrong (and therefore what is right) with Britain. He should be Prime Minister. But he will have to settle for being the Indie Guy Fawkes with a gleaming pate, manic glint in his eye and a strangled Les Paul.
Here, collected, are most of his finest moments and for a tidy price too, conscious consumers! The (mis)Hits just keep on coming . . . Chuckle along with Unsolved Child Murder. Guffaw sardonically at the Death of Sarah Lucas, relive those crazy German terrorist capers with Baader Meinhoff. Oh yes, it's Fun Fun Fun all the way with our Mr Haines!
Watch out, though, because under the twisted humour and the guitar grind lies one of the most subtle tunesmiths this country has produced. And there are tender moments here too. Valet Parking comes close to pathos. But fairly swiftly we are back on queasy ground with Light Aircraft on Fire and all is well in Hainesworld once more.
None of these songs troubled the Top 40 and yet they track the real story of Britannia and her struggle to survive. God bless Luke Haines for writing this stuff. Someone had to.
This gets four stars, not the five it deserves, because, being an inveterate LH fan, I really think you need to get his recorded works - be they Auteurs, solo, Baader-Meinhoff or Black Box Recorder - in their entirety. However, if you're looking for a suitably point of entry for his considerable body of work, this does do just fine, and it's modest price tag should be a good clincher on the deal. As the title suggests, Haines has always, defiantly, been a refusenik, a compulsive contrarian, and a resolute decliner of any rock and roll club that would have him as a member. This double CD compilation contains the would-be Auteirs hits - such as the utterly smashing 'Lenny Valentino', in it's 'single mix' incarnation, and the lovely 'Unsolved Child Murder' (I'd love to see an 'X-Factor' wannabe sing that), as well as a couple of tracks from the frankly disposable u-ziq dance remix set, and even those (somewhat duff) efforts, are not without a bit of 90's charm. The lyrical biliousness is tempered by some fabulous tunes and attractive arrangements, and then there are the musically more grumpy and angular experiments that add different dimensions...I could go on, but the music speaks far more eloquently...uneasy listening at its most magnificent.