Saturday, September 17, 2005

MP3: The Auteurs & Luke Haines Revisited

Okay now here's a band i've been looking forward to talking about for a while now. Though I kind of missed out on them first time round, The Auteurs have become probably my favourite band of what some would call the Britpop era. Though hardly anyone know's who they are, the reason is probably that they (saying they I mean Luke Haines) didn't really give a shit about fame, and didn't pander to their audience with easy to digest albums like their contemporaries (The Great Escape anyone?). Haines reputation for being pretty unlikable (like you couldn't tell from his records) obviously contributes, as its a lot less easy to make a star out of someone who isn't kissing everybodys arse 24 hours a day.

Haines formed the Auteurs in the summer of 1992 with girlfriend bassist Alice Readman and drummer Glen Collins. After gigging in London the band were signed to Hut in November of that year, and began by releasing one of the great unknown singles of the Britpop era, in Showgirl, a song so fantastically great that Razorlight made a carbon copy of it for their only good song (with a Cure riff stuck on top of course). A month later the band released their classic debut album New Wave, a record that in my opinion is destined to be (and probably already is) a cult favourite amongst music nerds for all eternity. New Wave was nominated for the Mercury Prize but lost out to Suede's (admittedly rather good) debut. Another single, How Could I Be Wrong, was released and the band went on to tour Europe and America.

Second album Now I'm A Cowboy was released in 1994 by which point cellist James Banbury had joined the band. It featured a similar obsession with British class that gave Pulp so much success the year after with Different Class, and is just as fantastic a record. Like Pulp all of the Auteurs records are dark, literate and extremely British, so its pretty insane that they weren't as successful, though that could be down to Pulp's catchyness rather than their intelligence of course. Singles from Cowboy were the chart invading (well number 20 I belive) Lenny Valentino, and the non-chart bothering Chinese Bakery.

Released in 1996 was probably the bands true masterwork, the Steve Albini produced After Murder Park. Far darker than the first two records, the album featured the single Unsolved Child Murder, released a week before the Dunblane Massacre, which leads us to ask whether Haines could be possibly be satan himself? Or just a really evil Mystic Meg at least. The other single was Light Aircraft On Fire, and both that and Unsolved Child Murder feature pretty fantastic Chris Cunningham directed videos which are annoyingly unavailable on his recent Work Of Director DVD. Oh and yes, a Steve Albini produced cello does sound amazing.

The band played few gigs in support of Murder Park, and after a break they released their fourth and final album, How I Learned To Love The Bootboys, in 1999. It featured the single The Rubettes, which was sadly also to be their last single. However Haines has also been, and continues to be, very busy with side projects and solo releases, most of which are just as great as the Auteurs records.

First came 1996's controversial self titled album made under the name Baader Meinhof, which was followed by a solo album and a soundtrack in 2001. Of course Haines other main (and still active) project is Black Box Recorder, a band he formed with Sarah Nixey and John Moore (of Jesus and Mary Chain) in 1998. They've released 3 albums, 1998's England Made Me, 2000's Facts Of Life and 2003's Passionoia, as well as a collection of rarities, 2001's The Worst Of Black Box Recorder, and are probably most famous for the singles Child Psychology (featuring the chorus 'Life is unfair/Kill yourself or get over it') and Facts Of Life, another surprising top 20 single which I actually found really annoying.

In 2003 an Auteurs collection was released featuring rather ironic re-recordings of classic tracks with full orchestral backing, named 'Das Capital - The Songwriting Genius of Luke Haines'. It's surprisingly pretty great. This year saw the release of a 63 song compilation of 'Auteurs, Luke Haines & Baader Meinhof A-sides, B-sides, Classics, Out-takes, Sessions and Rarities' called Luke Haines Is Dead, and for about £14 it's about the best value musical item you could possibly get this year. It's got highlights of all the albums plus just about every bside, and is pretty much unmissable.

Anyway i've gone on for long enough, all you really need to do is listen to the songs and go buy some albums, thus making you 71% more cool than your non Auteurs loving friends. All the songs here are from the debut album, mostly because it's been top of my iriver playlist for about a month now. For more Auteurs info, you can try this excellent unofficial site, or The Luke Haines Dossier, ooooor The Luke Haines Resource, or finally Tobias Johansson's Auteurs page. Enjoy.

Download: Showgirl - MP3 3.77mb (rapidshare)
Download: Starstruck - MP3 2.75mb (rapidshare)
Download: Idiot Brother - MP3 5.27mb (rapidshare)

(click to buy at

The Auteurs - New Wave

The Auteurs - Now I'm A
Cowboy (1994)

The Auteurs - After Murder Park (1996)

The Auteurs - How I Learned To Love The Bootboys (1999)

Das Capital - The Songwriting Genius Of Luke Haines and The Auteurs (2003)

Baader Meinhof - S/T (1996)

Luke Haines - The Oliver Twist Manifesto (2001)

Luke Haines - Christie Malry's Own Double Entry (soundtrack) (2001)

Black Box Recorder - England Made Me (1998)

Black Box Recorder - Facts Of Life (2000)

Black Box Recorder - The Worst Of... (2001)

Black Box Recorder - Passionoia (2003)

Luke Haines Is Dead - 3CD Collection (2005)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed overview of Luke Haines' career. I just got a copy of Now I'm a Cowboy, and I'm looking forward to getting into it.
-- jonhope

1:33 am, September 19, 2005  
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Blogger steve said...

the auteurs weredefinately not as appreciated as they should have been. unfortunately i bought all the albums on tape so havent listened to them for awhile. but baader meinhof is a masterpiece

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