Sunday, 22 November 2009

Greatest Living Englishmen #17 : Luke Haines

I'm currently reading, and enjoying the good goddamned hell out of, Luke Haines' "Britpop" memoirs Bad Vibes, in which he comes across as something of a cunt, but a glorious one, and cements his position as one of the greatest living Englishmen.

On David Gray:

"Gray also has a nasty tick for lengthy onstage guitar-tuning sessions. Deoowwwing. String goes down. Boowwang. String goes up. Time passes, somewhere a life flickers out, and somewhere a new life begins. Yeah, strum a chord, see if it sounds OK. Murwaaang! No improvement then. Christ"

On The Boo Radleys:

"I didn't think it could get worse than Gray. I have a lot to learn. Tonight we are sharing the bill with the Boo Radleys."

On Pulp's early albums:

"Pulp's career has run like one of those silent movies showing man's early attempts at aviation. Each Pulp release is like a preposterous flying machine trundling toward the cliff edge, only to break up like balsa wood as it flops into the sea."

He's clearly well aware that he was an absolute bastard for a lot of his career, and a lot of the vitriolic, splenetic ranting can be picked apart, or treated as one man's snooty opinions I'm sure, but he still makes a great many good points about all the shit that was released under the banner of Britpop. And it's great fun to note how many people he takes to just because his hated cellist doesn't like them. For me his best album might be the one as Baader Meinhoff, but I like his entire catalogue, and because I'm only a third of the way through the book I'm on an Auteurs kick at the moment.

Here they are playing a song about Lenny Bruce dying of a drug overdose and dreaming that he's in Rudolph Valentino's funeral motorcade on Jools Holland (who now has two shows a week? sign of the end times people, I swear):

Grand song, and as Haines points out, releasing it as a single made it a great record too. And here's a pretty fantastic video for Rubettes from their last album:

Love the way he's integrated into the video there. And finally he makes the excellent point, that I have seen made before, that deep in every Englishman's heart there is a gaping whole that no love can fill, and a hunger that can only be sated by conquering an empire.

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