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Luke Haines - Rock and Roll Animals

  by Denzil Watson

published: 29 / 7 / 2013

Luke Haines - Rock and Roll Animals
Label: Cherry Red Records
Format: CD


Potentially terrible but dryly witty and enjoyable concept record from ex-Auteurs and Black Box Recorder front man Luke Haines, which tells of three animals named after Sham 69's Jimmy Pursey, Nick Lowe and Gene Vincent

We've had a concept album about Luke Haines' recollections of Saturday afternoons watching Wrestlers on ITV's 'World of Sport' with his dad. Then an alternative popular history of England via his North Sea Scrolls collaboration with ex-Fatima Mansion's kingpin Cathal Coughlan. So what next from the ex-Auteur and Brit-pop bashing author and all round indie-renaissance man? Try a psychedelic tale for adults and children called 'Rock and Roll Animals' featuring three furry friends: Jimmy Pursey, 'a frisky fox', Nick Lowe a 'solid' badger and Gene Vincent a 'wily' cat. In the hands of many artists this would sound like a truly cringe-worthy prospect. Not in the hands of Luke Haines however. Haines' dry wit and lyrical twists, backed by his now distinctive solo sound, make this another triumph from England's best-loved musical outsider. The key to this and his previous solo efforts is his effortless ability to do things on his own terms while not appearing to be trying too hard be different for difference's sake. As with the aforementioned 'Nine and a Half Psychedelic Meditations on British Wrestling', there is a real warmth to the album, from the opening track 'Magic Town' (a reference to Walton-on-Thames, Haines' place of birth) to the album's title-track closer, 'Rock and Roll Animals', where our three furry friends ascend into space. The album is arguably his most organic to date, partially due to subject matter and partially due to the instrumentation he employs. Acoustic guitars, recorders and xylophones create a kaleidoscope of sound that gives the album an almost medieval folk-like feel in places. Over the top Luke's trademark vocals weave the narrative as the album flows like a child's audio book. As one has come to expect, there's some great Haines-isms in the lyrics. 'Angel of the North' previously appeared on Haines' 'Outsider Music' project but is given the full studio treatment to good effect. As the three rock and roll animal friends confront "a fuck ugly bird (from Tyneside) made of steel and wire" Jimmy the Fox retorts "Who's got a dirty face now?" (a reference to Sham 69's 'Angels with Dirty Faces'). Of the story's three main characters, Haines appears to have a particularly affinity with the Sham's frontman Jimmy Pursey ("From Hersham village, he's a punk rock dog"). There's also a strong theme of righteousness that runs throughout the album. Our three animals are clearly righteous, as are "the Soft Machine, post-Wyatt" but not Led Zeppelin ("They stole the blues"), the Stones post-Brian Jones or the aforementioned 'Angel of the North'. And as long as Luke keeps producing albums like this one, he is also, most definitely, righteous.

Track Listing:-
1 Magic Town
2 Magic Interlude 1
3 Rock n Roll Animals
4 A Badger Called Nick Lowe
5 Three Frendz
6 Gene Vincent (Rock n Roll Mums and Rock n Roll Dads)
7 Magic Interlude 2
8 The Birds...The Birds
9 The Angel of the North
10 ...We Do
11 From Hersham to Heaven
12 Rock n Roll Animals in Space

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Interview (2013)
Luke Haines - Interview
Ex-front man with the Auteurs and Black Box Recorder Luke Haines speaks to Denzil Watson about his fifth solo album ' Rock and Roll Animals', a concept record for adults and children

live reviews

Boardwalk, Sheffield, 7/11/2006
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Luke Haines has never chosen easy targets on which to base his song writing. Denzil Watson finds that the former Auteurs and Black Box Recorder star on typically abrasive form in an empassioned performance at the Boardwalk in Sheffield


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