Once in the mid-90s I was on holiday in Devon walking down the front in Dartmouth wearing my Heaven Sent t-shirt. This guy tapped me on the shoulder, offered me the headphones he was wearing; "Go on, listen to that". I placed one earpiece against the side of my head. He was listening to "Big Blue World". It was one of those moments; never happened before, never happened since. Just one of those pre-Internet moments when you think "God, someone else gets it! There is someone else who bought Paul Haig records, and I've met them!" After an all too brief conversation concerning, favourite single/album/sleeve/haircut (Big Blue/Chain/Belgian "Only Truth"/shaved at the sides) we said our farewells.
Every time I play or buy a new Paul Haig record I wonder if that bloke in Devon buys them too. Of course, now that we live in a connected world I can, and do, converse with other Haig fans across the world. For a time - over a decade ago now - I ran my own little Paul Haig website and "met" some wonderful people. We had little in common apart from the one common thread - the music of Paul Haig.
Being a Paul Haig fan was never easy. Luckily in my local town I had a pretty good independent record store who were always happy to order in the Crep imports. For a while they bought several other Crep titles and I managed to get all those great compilations. The only problem he had was getting the "Torchomatic" 12" single and I had to wait a good five or six years before finally tracking down a copy.
Anyway, a Paul Haig "best of" was first mooted by Crepuscule around twenty years ago from what I recall, not long after the "Coincidence Vs Fate" album, but it never happened for one reason or another. It's great to finally get a bonafide singles compilation though it's not complete, notable absentees are "Never Give Up", "Surrender" and "Something Good", though the latter was on Circa/Virgin, so I guess those pesky licencing issues are to blame for the omission of that classic. Some of the b-sides - and the odd album track - are included in their place. From the debut solo single, "Running Away" to the chopped down edit of "Flight X" we have the majority of Paul's single releases over his first decade as a solo artist.
The second CD compiles the tracks for the "lost" second album which was shelved by Island. This contains some cracking singles such as "Big Blue World" and "The Only Truth" and some of my other favourites such as "Endless Song" and "Love & War".
Being a fan of Paul's music has always been a mish-mash of contradictions. While his music was easy to "get" and dance to, it could be bloody hard to get hold of. Given the music was so good it was a contradiction in itself why it wasn't successful - even moderately. There have been countless artists over the years who "should" have been successful or at least more widely appreciated by the British record buying public. Paul sits pretty close to the top of that list. Whilst it used to rile me greatly his music wasn't on the radio or helping to sell cornflakes, I have the feeling that it didn't really bother Paul. He went quietly about his craft and his merry band of fans quietly appreciated it.
There's a famous Einstein quote about success and trying not to knock yourself out attaining it. It sums up Paul perfectly for me. He might not be a man of success in terms of sales units but he's a man of value and his music is all the better for it. No compromise.
If you're new to Paul, then this is a great place to start. You won't regret it.