Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop
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Top Customer Reviews
Aside from some ill-advised nods to English music hall tradition, it is the expected mix of guitars, sly seventies' references, retro synth, the odd bit of cello, delicate, entrancing pop sensibilities and one dance-orientated track.
However, typical Haines also means a display of genius and bravery. No one else around has the guts/ill taste (strike as you feel appropriate) to tackle subjects such as the Yorkshire Ripper and the abusive, grooming potential of pop stardom. No other songwriter is honest enough to deal with the grim nature of growing up in England in the Ford Cortina decade; to remind us it was dominated by a poverty of perspective and a wilful, tacky glossing over of its moments of utter darkness.
There are songs on Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop I know I will grow to love. I already adore the frightening mix of crashing guitar, terrace stomp and tinkling piano of Leeds United with its final chilling refrain of: `The North, the North/Where we do what we want'. The mordant autopsies of deceased Englishness in All The English Devils and Here's To Old England have me semi-seduced. How can you not feel affection for a song with the lines: 'Here's to old England/Sliced white bread and milky tea/Sarcasm, a well-developed sense of irony'?Read more ›
Luke Haines' universe is a special one, filled with terrorists, gangsters, serial killers, fascists, the English motorway system, and an extended cast of unsavoury characters - many of whom are here. Haines likes pop - Billie Piper's `Honey to the B' apparently being model for BBB's top 20 hit `The Facts of Life', while he is apparently cited Falco in relation to the Richard X-remix of `Leeds United.' Despite the 1970s-theme the music has an 80s feel, the keyboards on the opening title track reminding me of something like Freeez or Frazier Chorus, though there is a riff that sounds like a 1970s one hit wonder to me. People forget the 1970s, buying into the `Life on Mars'-version of it - Haines, like Morrissey, doesn't appear to have got over it, and is here to remind us all, notably on the hilarious `Here's to Old England', which is the missing link between `English Scheme' and a certain era of XTC.
`Leeds United' taps into the vibe of David Peace's novels, notably his recent `The Damned United' (the kind of book Martin Amis should have shoved down his trachea) and the Yorkshire Ripper-alluding book in his 1970s-sequence.Read more ›
Ditching the usual alter-egos Haines assimilates seventies textures and sounds-keyboards that squelch like vitreous humour shot out of a cannon , trebly shafts of guitar, handclaps and syncopated beats-but scours it all with his misanthropic world view. Like sucking a spangle only to find it has an aspic centre.
The lyrics are wry , acerbic and as sharp as a titanium stiletto ( "Gary Glitter/He's a bad bad man/Ruining the reputation of the Glitter Band") though as a Northerner I take umbrage at "Leeds United"...though not too much. In terms of song writing it sometimes runs hand in hand with overwrought parody. "All The English Devils" for some reason has tippling Charleston like piano and a silly middle eight while "The Heritage Rock Revolution " could have been a reject from some ghastly West End rock show written by Elton John at his most flabbily excessive , though that may well have been the point. "The Walton Hop" tangles its thorny chords into a bramble infested mess.
This being Haines though there is enough to stimulate the ears as well as the grey matter. The title track is a superb period pastiche while "Leeds United" sounds like the best terrace anthem ever written. "Fighting In The City Tonight" is an hugely enjoyable pop song." Freddie Mills Is Dead" starts with funereal precision before traipsing through a whimsical change of pace and melody. "Secret Yoga" is built upon wide screen keyboards and reminds me of XTC at their most exotically seductive.Read more ›