Luke Haines' career has always been one that has been suitably contrary- when they could have turned into a Suede-style-pre-Britpop-act they did a record with u-Ziq. At the height of Britpop Haines opted to make an album with Steve Albini featuring such joyful tracks as 'Unsolved Child Murder' & 'Light Aircraft on Fire.' The one-off, thirty-one-minute long album by 'Baader Meinhof' was amusingly released at the height of all the futile-self-celebration that nonsense like Oasis at Knebworth & the burgeoning mass-popularity of the meaningless Spice Girls.
It could be seen as being in bad taste (a few journos plumped for a 'National Front Disco'/'Satanic Verses' style reaction)- then again, the world of rockandroll has always been happy to nod to the nazis (Siouxsie Sioux, Keith Moon, Throbbing Gristle- I'm not saying whether they were right or wrong) and The Clash nodded to the Red Army Faction (R.A.F.), while Julian Cope wrote some songs during The Teardrop Explodes called 'Stannheim' & 'Like Leila Khaled Said.' Haines isn't celebrating the RAF/Baader-Meinhof - but attempts to write an album, which is kind of pop and certainly leads to what he did with Black Box Recorder, that isn't a bunch of love-songs. The 1970s seemed to be a preoccupation, and returned on The Auteurs' album 'How I Learned to Love the Bootboys' (e.g. 'Future Generation', 'The Rubettes' a few years later. Haines approach to the BM-story is more like a cut-up/novel approach- we're not sure whose POV the song is from and there are several tracks I couldn't really tell you much about...
The The's Matt Johnson nodded ironically to The Sweet's 'Ballroom Blitz' on 1989's 'Armageddon Days (are here again)'- Haines does something similar with the backwards-guitar-loop of 'There's Gonna Be An Accident' which sounds like Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition' (while a bassline on 'Theme from "Burn Warehouse Burn" sounds like the theme to TV's homoerotic cop-classic 'The Professionals'). The standout-track for me remains 'Mogadishu', which not only may or may not refer to a training-exercise, but has some pertinence regarding more recent acts of terrorism. It sounds like an acid-tinged take on terrorist-training- Manson meets Marxism: "Drive me to the city-limits/God is war and love...Captain Martyr Mahmoud says it's a 24 hour flight/When the fireworks hit you/Mogadishu/On a beautiful Saturday night..."- the arrangement of strings, as well as the use of tabla, sixties-style soundtracks and a electronic-loop that recalls the intro to Japan's 'Ghosts' all come together beautifully. Haines sounds like he's singing a devotional love song with the oddest material- which is the kind of thing I like...
'GSG-29' is perhaps the meeting point of Isaac Hayes & John Barry, laying the ground for the final four-brilliant songs - '...It's a Moral Issue' having Swan-Lake-style strings, some glam-guitar & a hint of electronica- before building into some Bernard Herrmann-strings as Haines drifts into sinister-chant (Radiohead's 'Dollars & Cents' rips this off I think!). 'Back on the Farm' sounds suitably 'Ipcress File' and even nods to the rationale for the creation of terrorists such as these, "and the children be politicised/This is the Petra Schelm commando/She was my sister..." The mantra of the album is here (also quoted on the disc), "this is the hate-socialist collective- all mental-health corrected."
'Kill Ramirez' is bizarrely groovy, with the tabla-contributions, the sliding-strings & some Ronsonesque-guitar; while the album opens and closes on alternate-versions of the title track (evoking a circular-feeling). 'baader meinhof' is very much like an e.p., one that seems a bit overlooked and certainly deserves consideration alongside Haines' career-highlights 'New Wave', 'After Murder Park', 'England Made Me', 'The Facts of Life' & 'Das Kapital.' It also fuses music-styles of the era with that kind of historical subject-matter- which is interesting and tells us a lot about music-based nostalgia (Oh, I tap my foot to 'Going Underground' & smile sweetly at the thought of the Iran Hostage Crisis...) A very odd kind of pop-record, but a pop-record all the same...
on 23 July 2003
My mate bought this album when it was 1st released off the back of the stonking 2nd Auteurs LP and hated it immediately. I've only just managed to get him to lend it to me and I can see why. It's not pretty. I can only describe it as a kind of art school funk album about terrorism. When you get over the initial shock, though, it really starts to get under your skin. It only lasts half an hour and so you end up playing twice in a row just to get your fix. The instrumentation is simple but bold and compliments the rhetorical style of the lyrics really well. I can't imagine Haines' reasoning behind the project other than to perplex and annoy the complacent music industry but it only goes to re-inforce how important a talent he is.
on 6 March 2014
This album is the distilled genius of Luke Haines. I personally don't think that any of his other work matches up to this amazing album. The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder, his solo works and others all have standout tracks, but none present such a cohesive unity of vision and delivery as Baader Meinhof.
on 31 May 2003
A typical Luke Haines (Auteurs/Black Box Recorder) offering. He gets onto a particular theme (this time it's seventies terroism) and builds an album around it.
Obviously, it's not for everyone, but if you like his other stuff, this is a good album and definitely the equal of the auteurs albums. LH gets more good moments in a 40 min record than most bands do in an hour's worth.