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'Luke Haines is Dead' is a pretty comprehensive anthology of Luke Haines various incarnations apart from his pre-Auteurs indie-outfit The Servants and the on-going Black Box Recorder (there are a few missing bits- the U-ziq remix project, the 'Lenny Valentino' b-sides). But here we have 63-tracks from one of the great English-songwriters, replete with sleevenotes from Haines and the wonderful Paul Morley ('63 Ways to Begin An Essay on Luke Haines')- the song 'Discomania' offering the refrain "Kim Wilde is sex!" tying itself to a Morley NME-article in the early 80s. Haines follows in the tradition of Ray Davies, Elvis Costello, Mark E. Smith & Morrissey - songs to put on a compilation alongside 'Victoria', 'How to Be Dumb', 'English Scheme' & 'The National Front Disco'...
Disc One, following 2001's 'Das Capital Overture' takes us back to the early Auteurs-period which was modelled on the first Modern Lovers album, displaying influences such as The Go-Betweens, The Only Ones & The Smiths. I recall seeing The Auteurs support 'Drowners'-era Suede at the Windsor Old Trout & they seemed as strong- pretty much responsible for the Britpop that followed, notably 'Modern Life is Rubbish'('American Guitars' is the evidence for Albarn's bandwagoneering) & 'Suede'. I'm sure Haines feels as bad about it as we all do - the later 'Tombstone' imagining the Columbia, the rock'n'roll cliche celebrated on Oasis' 'Definitely Maybe' going up in flames. I'm sure there are songs here that probably won't make it past the new terror-legilsation from the government!
The box-set is packed with joys, including many alternate and unreleased versions of songs like 'Bailed Out', 'Starstruck' & 'Junk Shop Clothes' - the latter superior to the 'New Wave'-version and once found on a lovely free tape with a music weekly in the 1990s. The wonderful debut single 'Showgirl' is here, alongside follow-up 'How Could I Be Wrong' and the fantastic 'Lenny Valentino.' The second-disc continues with the 'Now I'm a Cowboy' material, offering up better versions of tracks like 'The Upper Classes' (predicting Pulp's big album!), single 'Chinese Bakery' & the lovely 'New French Girlfriend', as well a b-side like 'Modern History.'
Things change halfway through disc-two, 'Light Aircraft on Fire' showing the shift to the bleak 'After Murder Park' and the 'Back with the Killer Again' e.p. (all of which is included here)- the complete opposite to all the coke-inflected self-celebration of Britpop. 'Unsolved Child Murder's chorus "If I die before my parents die" is hardly "All the people - SO MANY PEOPLE!" or "You and I are going to live forever"- more 'The Lovely Bones' written by a depressed Englishman. The material with Steve Albini is great, as subtle as Albini's work with Cinerama and Nina Nastasia and the antithesis of the noise Albini is often associated with (Big Black, The Jesus Lizard, Melt Banana). Things get bleaker on the next disc...
1996 saw Haines drop The Auteurs-moniker and record a one-off concept album called 'baader meinhof' - possibly his greatest work and one of the greatest releases of that pretty sorry decade (a highlight alongside 'Lost in the Former West', 'Tilt', 'The Future', 'Rid of Me' etc...). Here we get the original 'Baader Meinhof'/'Meet Me at the Airport'-single and the rarity 'I've Been a Fool for You' as well as collectable remixes of 'There's Gonna Be An Accident' & 'Mogadishu.' There are great alternate/unreleased versions of songs like 'Future Generation', 'Johnny & the Hurricanes' & 'Essex Boot Boys' as well as joys like single 'The Rubettes' (featuring Haines' Black Box Recorder accomplices Sarah Nixey & John Moore), 'How to Hate the Working Classes' from the soundtrack to the neglected adaptation of 'Christy Malry's Own Double-Entry' & several tracks from 'Das Capital' ('Satan Wants Me', 'The Mitford Sisters'& 'Bugger Bognor').
A great box-set reminding us of one of the great songwriters - only Cathal Coughlan is as uncelebrated; bought alongside the three Black Box Recorder albums its proof that Luke Haines is a genius and you are not? Evidence that its best not to keep these things in anyway...
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on 21 August 2005
Luke Haines Is Dead is a brilliant three-CD set comprising of various archived or unreleased material that covers the majority of Haines' career post-The Servants, through his work with The Auteurs and under the name Baader Meinhoff, as well as music released under his own name on records like The Oliver Twist Manifesto and Das Capital. As the other commentator pointed out, there's some material missing from his work, with The Servants, Black Box Recorder and the Auteurs vs. U-ziq remix project all absent here, though it's hardly a problem at the end of the day, with this collection still finding the time to include 63-tracks worth of b-sides, out-takes, session versions, remixes and choice singles, all taken from great albums like New Wave, Baader Meinhoff, and The Oliver Twist Manifesto.
It couldn't have come at a better time... with the current shift in the musical climate moving more towards the kind of British indie-guitar bands that emerged in the early-to-mid 1990's. The Auteurs are still one of the best bands to emerge from that whole scene, releasing their first album New Wave around the same time as Radiohead's Pablo Honey and managing to pre-date the kind of music recorded by Blur on albums like Modern Life Is Rubbish and The Great Escape. As a work of indie-rock perfection there's really no contest between New Wave and albums like Modern Life... or Pulp's His N' Hers, both of which seem indebted to the overall style and lyrical ideology of The Auteurs, circa '93... with the first three Auteurs' albums far surpassing the work of over-rated contemporaries like Suede and the Manic Street Preachers. The songs from the New Wave era are found on disk one, and include alternative versions of classics like Bailed Out, Junk-Shop Clothes, Housebreaker, How Could I Be Wrong, Valet Parking, et al... there's also live versions of Starstruck and Home Again, as well as unreleased tracks and b-sides like Government Bookstore, Wedding Day, High Diving Horses and the brilliant Subculture (the latter also found as a Hidden Track at the very end of New Wave).
The last few tracks of disk one and the first half of disc two cover the era of The Auteurs' second album, the underrated Now I'm A Cowboy, which covers the same lyrical territory as Pulp's 1995 album Different Class, only with a more 70's "glam-rock" feel. In the past, Haines has referred to this album as being a bit derivative of New Wave and a bit too desperate for success, though for me, there's really no arguing with tracks like I'm A Rich Man's Toy, A Sister Like You, New French Girlfriend and, one of my all time favourites, Underground Movies.
As great as the tracks from Now I'm A Cowboy are, the collection takes a turn for the sinister with the next few tracks, culled from the era between 1995-1996 when Haines was in a pretty dark place (commercial failure, relationship difficulties, two-broken legs and hospitalisation), leading to an album like After Murder Park and the Back With The Killer E.P. After Murder Park is one of those underrated masterpieces that really should garner more attention from the likes of Q and the NME, with Haines, the Auteurs and Steve Albini venturing off into an evil world of suicide, alcoholism, child-murder and terrorism. The sound was a lot more abrasive, with distorted guitars replacing the acoustic strum of New Wave (and clearly demonstrating Haines' desire for constant progression) and snarled vocals dragging us through aggravated classics like Light Aircraft On Fire (the first Auteurs' song I ever head, largely because of the Chris Cunningham directed video), Tombstone, and New Brat In Town. Alongside these angular-joys there are also two lovely little songs that seem to hark-back to the sound of New Wave, with the almost Beatlesque-pop of Unsolved Child Murder - with it's Revolver-like French horns - and the pastoral title-track, with it's wilting string section and subtly menacing lyrics ("hi, hello, where have you been... god it's good to hear your voice again, do you miss your brother... darling I will always love you... lying in a shallow grave, there's a church near by and a railway... on a bed of mud and wires, Esme find out where the child is buried...") and haunting refrain... "I'll love you, until the end".
Other standouts from this era include the even-more abrasive Back With The Killer Again, Former Fan, Kenneth Anger's Bad Dream, A New Life (A New Family) and my personal favourite of the moment, Car Crash ("Tuesday... aliens landed in the desert and on Thursday, somebody got murdered..."). Disk three picks up with Haines' 1997 side-project Baader Meinhoff, featuring more songs about death, politics and 70's terrorism. The musical arrangements here are much more progressive than anything by The Auteurs, with eastern influenced strings, fuzzy guitars and tablas. We then get some alternate versions of the best songs from the final Auteurs album, How I Learned To Love The Boot Boys, which saw the sound of The Auteurs blurring with that of his other band, Black Box Recorder.
There's also some unreleased gems from the same era, like Get Wrecked At Home, Couple Dancing and How To Hate The Working Classes, which bridge the gap between the sound of New Wave and the direction Haines would take with the Christy Malry soundtrack and Oliver Twist... This disk brings the collection to a close with some songs from the orchestral Das Capital collection, with Satan Wants Me, The Mitford Sisters and Bugger Bognor, which offer further proof that Haines is perhaps the greatest British songwriter of the last fifteen years.
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on 2 August 2006
You know Luke Haines is brilliant. This collection confirms it.

The old favourites are all there, the newer stuff selected is great, but the rarities really make it. There is no drop in quality throughout...this is songwriting of the highest quality.

You must buy this!
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on 19 August 2005
Ok, since I'm an American, I suppose I don't know squat about this kind of music. Well, I can't think of a better UK artist at the moment, although Morrissey's comeback was certainly a highlight. The thing that makes this songwriter so special, is the presentation of the music. The ballads, the waltz like style of some of the songs, the harpsichord and string arrangements etc. The one thing I've never seen mentioned about this performer is his uncanny resemblance to John Lennon. I'm sure being American that I've missed this completely. If I could buy a ticket to see one performer it would be this guy. I'm not sure if he can pull it off live. Maybe the studio is his kingdom. Whatever way this 3 cd collection is just about the most fantastic thing I've heard all summer.
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on 18 August 2005
Haines is head and shoulders above most, if not all, of the so-called singer songwriters that have trawled through the soft underbelly of less than cool Britannia these past 15 years. This 64 track retrospective is a welcome addition for avicionadoes of the graet man's work, featuring a clutch of rareities and unreleased material. It is also beautifully presented with a great Paul Morley piece in the insert. There are too many standouts to reference, but there is just a single recommendation: BUY IT!! Utterly brilliant. The likes of Luke Haines come by only once in a generation. Listen before it's too late.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 November 2011
Given the extensive nature of some of the other reviews present, I will keep this short. Suffice to say that this provides a magnificent selection of Mr Haines' classic songs outside of Black Box Recorder.

If you own no, or very few, previous Haines releases (i.e. The Auteurs, Baader-Meinhof and the 'solo' albums) then this is an essential purchase, and, more importantly, what have you been doing for the last 18 years?

If, on the other hand, you own all (or most) of this (non-Black Box Recorder) material then this collection provides an interesting concoction of BBC session recordings, single and EP release versions and alternative takes, primarily covering the material on the albums New Wave, Now I'm A Cowboy, After Murder Park, How I Learned To Love The Bootboys, Das Capital, Christy Malry's Own Double Entry, The Oliver Twist Manifesto and Baader Meinhof, plus some extras. Needless to say, there are some absolute gems here - in fact, far too many to go into detail - but if I had to pick one standout moment it is How To Hate The Working Classes.

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on 9 October 2005
If by some strange chance you haven't heard of Luke haines or are unfamiliar with the Autuers then what better introduction could this be?.
Spanning a prolific career with an output that would shame any longer serving artiste this box set serves to highlight his songwriting genius.
It;s not even like you could say 'well, the second/third LP was a bit dodgy. All of them different...all of them good..including the various side projects.
I urge you to buy this. This is excellent
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Replete with quirky little gems. Great tunes more often than not and brilliant lyrics provide the solid underpinning. "Showgirl" is but one of several standouts. Although far less well known than the likes of Blur Suede or Pulp, Luke is the equal of any them - and then some. Buy.
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'Luke Haines is Dead...' is a treat to dedicated followers of one of the two great neglected songwriters of recent years (the other is Cathal Coughlan) - who really ought to be thought of alongside peak-Morrissey, Mark E Smith, Ray Davies, Costello at his most caustic, or Leonard Cohen in apocalyptic mood. The triple-set takes in most of that brilliant career - though there is nothing from the three Black Box Recorder-albums, the remix-project with u-ziq, or Haines' early outfit The Servants. The box-set comes littered with anomalies, rarities, and alternate versions - material from the then disappointing 'Now I'm a Cowboy' is much better in their radio-session incarnations ('The Upper Classes', 'Chinese Bakery', 'New French Girlfriend', 'Everything You Say Will Destroy You'). & it's a pleasure to have the BBC-version of 'Junk Shop Clothes', which was on a free-tape with a music-weekly in the 1990s - which I always thought was superior to the 'New Wave'-version...
This box-set is packed, opening with the gorgeous pop of 'Showgirl', 'Bailed Out', 'Starstuck', 'How Could I Be Wrong?' & 'Lenny Valentino', as well as b-side joys like 'Glad to Be Gone' & 'Valet Parking.' Haines pretty much kickstarted the whole 'Britpop' thing alongside Suede (I saw the two tour together between 'The Drowners' & 'Showgirl')- 'American Guitars' typifies the bandwagon Blur jumped on with 'Modern Life is Rubbish'/'Park Life', while songs like 'The Upper Classes' predict the Pulp of 'Different Class'- as Andrew Mueller has noted in several reviews.
But Haines after '...Cowboy' decided to venture elsewhere - the aforementioned u-ziq remix project, and then a dark album recorded at the height of Britpop with the notorious Steve Albini (Big Black et al, as well as producer of 'Surfer Rosa', 'Tweez' & 'Rid of Me'). Here we get many alternate-versions of that era's tracks - 'Light Aircraft on Fire', 'After Murder Park', 'Back with the Killer Again' - which saw Haines go some dark places (he mentions 'the abyss' in a recent interview with Uncut-magazine). This is typified by xmas-single 'Unsolved Child Murder', "People round here don't like to talk about it/Presumed dead, unsolved child murder/Since they dragged the lake/You know they seemed au fait/Cordoned off some wood and gave the photo to a psychic/Presumed dead, unsolved child murder/If I die before my parents die/If I die before my parents die..." Hardly "all the people - so many people!" or "you and I are going to live forever", is it? Haines goes beyond the lyrical direction of Morrissey's darkest works, 'Handsome Devil' & 'Suffer Little Children'; though would go even further with his next project.
The opening of the third-disc offers up material from baader meinhof, the one-off outfit/concept album Haines recorded around the theme of the Red Army Faction terrorists of the 1970s. This is an album which reads like a cut-up, hallucinatory take on the history of the terrorist gang - though also shares the 1970s fixation apparent in much of Haines' work. We get the title track, 'Meet Me at the Airport', 'I've Been a Fool for You' & remixes of 'There's Gonna Be an Accident' & 'Mogadishu.' Personally, I think baader meinhof is one of the greatest albums released, lyrics as bizarre as "Captain Marty Mahmoud says/It's a 24-hour flight/When the fireworks hit you/Mogadishu/On a beautiful Saturday night", really should be encouraged!
The final part of the third-disc takes up with the not as bad as its reputation suggests 'How I Learned to Love the Bootboys'- including single 'The Rubettes', an unreleased version of 'Future Generation' (imagine 'The Rotters' Club' written by Samuel Beckett, if you like) & 'Get Wrecked at Home.' Haines did the whole British-Engerlish thing as wonderfully as 'Grotesque'/'Hex'-era Fall, & even pips stuff by Morrissey like 'The National Front Disco' & 'We'll Let You Know.' By the end, there are selections from the soundtrack to the neglected 'Christy Malry's Own Double-Entry', Haines' solo-project 'The Oliver Twist Manifesto' (with a great version of 'Discomania', the song with that Paul Morley-like refrain "Kim Wilde is sex!") & tracks from Haines' 'Das Capital' set of re-recordings a few years ago...
'Luke Haines is Dead' is a great compilation, reminding us of one of the great British songwriters and a brilliant career. Haines' has ventured where few others have dared to, still it's best not to keep these things in!
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on 25 February 2009
This is really a wonderful compilation. If you're not adicted this is the only Luke Haines album you need. The last star lost is for the Baader Menhof sessions which I really dislike. Lovely!
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