Release Date: Sep 29, 2017
Record label: Cherry Red
Genre(s): Britpop, Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Film Music, Neo-Glam
Four discs of anything these days is hard to stomach, you might think. But fear not – despite the fact you might need to set aside some serious Wikipedia time to fully digest the myriad cultural references Haines jams into this collection of highlights from his countless solo albums this century, the thing holds together tightly. And before you start moaning that he writes for RC and the review’s biased – well, firstly, screw you, it isn’t – but secondly, his voice and ambition are unrivalled. That, plus the seemingly infinite scope of his subject matter, the musical cap doffing and the sonic experimentation.
In a flat in London, on the bad side of town, Luke Haines scowls while he tunes an unsuitable electric guitar and wonders why his Moog sounds weirder than usual. He’s working on a musical which somehow links Sir Alec Guinness with Little Jimmy Osmond and Iggy Pop, but he’s flustered as Doug Yule is popping in any minute to overdub some backing vocals and he’s run out of biscuits… None of that happened, but like Luke Haines, why should I let the truth get in the way of a good story? .
Three discs of “cherry-picked” tunes that represent the finest of his post-Auteurs solo work (tracks under the Black Box Recorder and Baader Meinhoff monikers are omitted) and one of unreleased and rare tracks is certainly a big ask for the casual listener, but as soon as disc one begins with Haines’ brilliant, disturbing “Discomania” (from the original soundtrack to the deeply unpleasant Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry Brit-flick) you are reminded of the calibre of songwriter we’re debating here, and the prospect of seventy-nine songs from his twisted lip to your ear becomes a delectable proposition..
Luke Haines has been honing his signature amalgam of wry, Dickensian Brit-pop, righteous pub folk, and gadfly art rock since the early 1990s with bands like the Auteurs, Black Box Recorder, and Baader Meinhof. Is Alive & Well & Living in Buenos Aires: Heavy Frenz the Solo Anthology 2001-2017 dispenses with that era in favor of an exhaustive dissection of the English eccentric's prolific solo career, which began in 2001 when he was commissioned to write the soundtrack for the cult film Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry. The four-part set is comprised of a generous 80 tracks culled from Haines' bumper crop of solo outings, with the fourth installment providing the biggest carrot on a stick, as it consists entirely of unreleased material -- with predictably amusing sleeve notes from the artist himself.