Sunday, 7 December 2014

My Top Ten Albums of 2014 - #9

9. Luke Haines - New York In the '70s

Another year, another crazy concept album from the erstwhile Auteur Luke Haines. Following his ode to the Saturday afternoon Wrestling of my childhood, his alternate history of the British Isles in which DJ Chris Evans is burned as a witch, and his twisted children's storybook of rock 'n' roll animals narrated by Julia Davis... comes this, an affectionate tribute to the 1970s New York punk scene led by Lou Reed, Suicide and the New York Dolls. It's another surprising turn from an artist more recently obsessed with (southern) Anglophilia, and yet it makes perfect sense when viewing Haines's career as a whole.

The great adventure begins with Alan Vega Says, in which Haines cheekily pokes fun at the Suicide songwriter's lyrical laziness...
Alan Vega says, as he gets up off the bed
"I'm gonna freeform some lyrics, man
 Straight outta my head
Marilyn and Elvis, 
And a Chevy '69
I've heard it all before
But I don't mind"

And Alan Vega says
"It's gonna be a great big hit"
Well, if Alan Vega says so,
Then it probably is
"And I'm too lazy
To write my own melodies
Here's a tune I borrowed
From the TVPs..."
One of the central conceits of the album thus becomes: Why write a chorus when you can just sing the title of the song four times in a row? (See Drone City, Trick n Kicks n Drugs, NY In The 70s, NY Stars.) Haines breaks with this tradition only twice - on Lou Reed, Lou Reed in which the title is repeated ad infinitum save one short verse, and on Cerne Abbas Man... which really should have been titled Mythic Muthafuckin' Rock & Roll to follow the rules.

Yet, despite this constant repetition, NY is a fascinating album, redolent of the era it evokes and pays homage to. And because of this constant repetition, it's also an extremely catchy earworm of a record that drills its way into your mind and refuses to crawl back out.

Then, just when you think you know what's going on... it all turns a little bit mental. On UK Punk and the aforementioned Cerne Abbas Man, Haines zigs when you expect him to zag and goes all Julian Cope on us, envisioning the famous chalk giant from a Dorset hillside stomping through the States, impressive phallus in hand...
Cerne Abbas Man steps out of the sand
Swings his giant gland into Manhattan
Three letters for priapic Dan
With his cock in his hand
R N R - rock n roll
For the original Rude Boy Man 
That's the great thing about Luke Haines: you truly never know what he's going to do next.

Next up, at #8... nothing compares to a Miley-baiting warrior woman turning raunchy sex symbol at 47.

1 comment:

  1. Never heard of him but do like the lyrics...


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